Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Battle Lines

I always suspected it was true and now here's the proof.


"Why are books the last bastion of analogue?" Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos asked at an unveiling of the gadget in a New York hotel, referring to the recent revolution in digital entertainment that increasingly has us downloading the music we listen to and even the films and videos we watch.

The assumption at Amazon, however, and at competitors such as Sony and Epson, is that it is the book itself that will become extinct. "The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?" Mr Bezos asked. " It has to disappear."

I'd say it was a pretty clear choice. Using Amazon contributes to the Death of the Book as we know it. If you love books; the way they smell, feel, look on the shelf - then shop for them at bookshops.

Otherwise pretty soon we will all be leading "virtual" lives. Think about it. You prefer the real thing...(Even though it might be more difficult and more expensive!)


  1. Kate MartindaleNovember 20, 2007

    Course we all prefer the real thing, but if it's a choice between three books from Amazon or one from a 'real book shop', I'm going to choose more books every time, especially when it comes to buying for my children. I love literature, I love the stories, I love the content of the books, as well as the experience of shopping for them. I want my children to grow up surrounded by books, reading as much as they can, and I can't afford to buy them as many books as they want to read from 'real book shops'. Sad but true.

  2. Apparently it holds 200 books but are we expected to flick between them? Perhaps there is a 'shuffle' mode at paragraph level? I wouldn't mind some reference books but you get quite a lot of access via current internet ready PDA style devices and who can afford the electronic version of the OED anyway? I wonder how long the batteries last - you can be assured they will fail 1 hour out on the flight to New York.

    I recommend we all get behind Jeff and encourage him to spend his cash on E-Readers - really Jeff just a bit more expensive R&D and marketing and you will be there.

  3. Whilst I see Kate's point and think Amazon must be great if you live any kind of distance from civilisation and therefore bookshops, for me, buying from bookshops has become a bit like eating ethically-reared meat and buying fairly traded stuff. Because that's how I'd like the world to be - personal, moral and ethical. In a perfect world, we'd all have good local bookshops. Sadly, in our town, we lost our last independent last year and now have two Waterstones. But in a Waterstones vs. Amazon fight, Waterstones will win whilst I'm sufficiently pecunious. Because it's a bookshop.

  4. The real thing "difficult and more expensive"? I think not. The kindle supports only its own proprietary format and txt files. So none of the freedom or convenience or freedom of paper books, then. Doubtless , Bezos and pals are rubbing their hands at the prospect of "driving books to extinction", but hardly for the good of humanity, but for the thought of what ( the dream of) proprietary lock-in might do for their profits in the future (and you thought todays publishers were bad).

    b.t.w gdnreader, did you know that membership of a local library in the UK brings free online access to the OED?

  5. Kate - I would love to sell you books cheaper. The trouble is Amazon are able to sell books so cheap BECAUSE THEY MAKE NO MONEY DOING IT.

    Cheap always seems like a good idea in the short term but there are always longer term consequences in my opinion. In this case the demise of "real" bookshops ultimately follwed by the end of "real" books.

    Libraries offer books for free so nobody should not be able to afford to get their kids reading. I have recently taken advantage of bookstart myself - more free books.

  6. When Amazon is all there is, then Amazon will decide what is available to read. It's business in the C21st. Just like the supermarkets - it looks like there's loads of choice, but unless your product has serious backing or you place your livelihood entirely at the retail giant's disposal then it simply won't get seen.

    I shop at independent bookshops simply because I find interesting books that I never would on Amazon, or among five floors of Waterstones. Because someone who is passionate about books (rather than share value) selects them and puts them in front of me. It feels more like sharing than consuming...