America’s Newspaper of Record brings word that Amazon has opened its first bookstore, as in brick-and-mortar bookstore.
The opening of Amazon.com’s first brick-and-mortar store on Tuesday proves that software is not really “eating the world,” as venture capitalist Marc Andreessen put it in 2011.
In his widely noted Wall Street Journal column about predatory software, Andreessen wrote:
“Today, the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon, is a software company — its core capability is its amazing software engine for selling virtually everything online, no retail stores necessary. On top of that, while Borders was thrashing in the throes of impending bankruptcy, Amazon rearranged its Web site to promote its Kindle digital books over physical books for the first time. Now even the books themselves are software.”
Retail stores are still not strictly necessary, and yet Amazon now has one in Seattle. That’s because the book market has proved less one-dimensional than publishers and sellers feared in 2010 and 2011.
In September, The New York Times revealed that the Association of American Publishers had registered a 10 percent decrease in digital book sales in the first five months of the year and that the number of independent bookstores was actually growing.
The failure of the Great Pumpkin to rise from the pumpkin patch and sprinkle the children with free eBooks is hardly surprising. I used to go around and around with moonbat friends about this issue as they were all convinced that we would soon be reading everything from a magic tablet. Physical books were old and stuff so of course they serve no purpose.
As is always the case with Utopians and futurists, they naturally assume that because they cannot see the obstacles to their fantasies, those obstacles must not exist. Full steam ahead! In the case of books, the glorious future of eBooks faced the very real obstacle that they were not a very good replacement for real books. They are and remain, a solution in search of a problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I consume most writing off a screen. I read a book or two per month, sometimes more sometimes less. I read a ton on-line. It has been so long since I’ve held a newspaper I can no longer remember when. The other day, I was getting coffee and someone asked if they had a newspaper. To me, it sounded like he wanted to know where to tie up his horse.
The thing I was never able to explain to my moonbat friends with regards to eBooks is that books as we understand them, along with bookstores, publishers, writers, editors, layout men, illustrators etc., did not spring from nothing. They evolved over time to solve the problem of quickly and easily distributing content to as many people as possible in a way that profits the people involved in that process. It is not easily replaced.
Movable type was invented in 1040. The printing press was invented 400 years later. In other words, it took 20 generations for there to develop a need for the mass production of printed material and a solution to be developed. We have another 30 generations to get us to the paperback that you can take to the beach. The point being is there is a lot of trial and error in those bodice-rippers you wife reads.
Utopians never think of these things as they think that their inheritance dropped from the sky. They have no appreciation for what they see around them. All they know is the sleek looking iPad is cool and all the cool kids have them so let’s close down the bookstores and make everyone read eBooks. That’s an exaggeration, but that’s the level of thinking. The people betting on eBooks were betting that 50 generations of work could be replaced in a wave of the hand.
I say all this as someone who reads eBooks. I read physical books too, but I also read eBooks when convenient. I re-read Camp of the Saints the other day off my tablet. The book is terrible and I would not display it on my bookshelf so I saved the money and downloaded it. The thing is, I don’t read a lot of books that suck and I tend to make notes in the margins when I read so the physical book works better most of the time.
Further, if I leave a book on a plane or at the beach, no big deal. If the sun melts my tablet, that is a big deal. If I drop my tablet down the steps, that’s a big deal, while dropping a book off the roof costs me nothing. These are things the Progressive mind can never contemplate as they see no value in them, because they see no value in people. My preferences are immaterial to the material mind.
This blinkered reasoning is standard fare these days so I’m an outlier. The physical book was as good as it needed to be and mail order was fast enough and cheap enough. For something to replace this model it had to be different, offering things you could never get in a book like embedded video or multidimensional plot strictures for fiction where every reader get s a slightly different experience. Instead eBooks are just books that make your eyes bleed.