Matt HealeyMonday,6 January 2014

The Snap:

Maybe it is just that I am seeing the articles more. Maybe there actually is an increase of articles that are essentially yelling “get off my lawn.” The ones that I have been seeing are bemoaning the migration to ebooks.

The Download:

The most recent article I read was in the The New York Times. It essentially spent many column inches bemoaning the fact that book stores, libraries, and professional book reviewers are gone or going away. The writer’s problem is that book stores used to be a place where consumers could interact with knowledgeable sales associates who could provide recommendations and insight. Well, yes book stores are going away, but only if you define book stores brick and mortar book stores. If you include Amazon, a company I am very impressed with, and Apple, which I am not impressed with but I am sure has an ebook store of some type, then they are not going away. They are just migrating from physical to virtual. The same way the music industry did not go away when the internet allowed us to buy only the songs we wanted rather than a full CD, it just changed. Granted the changes did have a dramatic negative effect on some of the established players in the industry, like Tower Records (Remember them?) and likely some of the producers. These are the same types of effect that the car had on buggy whip manufacturers. Change happens and some of the established players die as a result, like Borders Books. As for advice and insight, I kind of like the Amazon recommendations. I tell it what books I liked and it figures out what I would like based on what other people who like the same things I do liked. I augment this with recommendations from friends and generally have good list of book I want to read.

When it comes to professional reviewers, what makes their reviews better than the reviews of friends of mine or people who like the same kinds of things I do? In many ways my method of getting a recommendation is better for me then some over educated erudite with their nose in the air. Sometime I like what I call mind candy. Books that don’t really require thinking but that are fun to read. They are great for vacation or de-stressing. And they never get positive reviews by the elite reviewers who are “above” that kind of book. Well fuck them (). I was reminded of how much I hate the nose in the air reviewers after reading a review of the play “Betrayal” with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Rafe Spall. I thought the play was great. But the reviewer hated it because when he had read the original Pinter manuscript with stage directions, he felt the play should have been produced differently. He also felt that it did not hold up to the 19 whenever the fuck version that he first saw. So, professional reviewers are way overrated. Amazons algorithm, which is much derided in this article, is far superior.

So I looked up the author of the article and discovered that he works for a small publishing house that produces lesser known titles. These can be great. They can be very fun to read, but are becoming harder to find. The fact is that the publishers of these types of titles are going to die and the authors are going to migrate to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing. His livelihood is in jeopardy so I get why he is upset. He has 2 choices, continue to yell “get off my lawn” or figure out how to survive in a changed world ().

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