Amazon: you monster!

May I rant? Oh wait…yes, this is a blog, which means there is nobody to stop me! For that matter, why else would one create a blog? Hmm. That may have to become another blog post. Regardless, here is my (somewhat mild and uncommitted) rant:

Amazon makes me mad. Unfortunately, it makes me mad because it’s doing a really good job (I know, terrible!). I like books-this may not be surprising to amazonempire1those of you who have read my post on cursive writing, so about two of you…Anyway, I am reading in various places how Amazon and industries like it are gradually pushing the printed word into becoming a type of niche market-more particularly, the stores that sell the printed word are struggling to survive. This should have been prophesied some time ago, as all of the Christian book stores began to shut down, at least up here in Canada. Carpenter shop and Mitchell’s Book Store were probably the two biggest to collapse about five or so years ago as it became to expensive to continue. These stores were catering to a niche market in the first place. So, when book stores themselves began to become a niche, those stores that were niches within the niche (inception!) began to fall into financial difficulties. At the time, didn’t give the collapse much consideration-I was never an avid reader of Christian literature anyway, as I found that often the bar wasn’t set high enough for quality, due to the absence in quantity. But now I am seeing mainstream bookstores begin to suffer. Chapters (again, here in Canada)-seems to be giving up more and more space in their stores for souvenir and crafty-type items, sacrificing space for books in order to diversify their product line. This is smart, and I am glad that they are doing it-but it bothers me that they are forced to do it.

We as a culture are becoming obsessed with the avoidance of human contact. I won’t delve to deeply into this here (this needs to be another blog post!), but I will say that it is beyond my comprehension why we go to such great lengths to avoid working with other people, especially in a society where jobs are becoming increasingly difficult to come by, particularly for those in the younger age bracket such as myself. I go to the bank each day to do my deposit, and I get the opportunity to speak to the tellers, who all know me fairly well. I actually look forward to the experience, as I have really enjoyable conversations with them all. I have also managed to convince the vast majority of them to come and visit my store, and have hooked them on the experience. Many of my customers enjoy spending time at my store because of the conversations that they have with my cashiers, myself, and other customers. I have tried to make my store into an experience. People will shop in it for hours, even though it is only 10000 square ft of retail. They know that they are giving money to a good cause when they shop, but they also enjoy the experience of wandering through the store, stumbling upon all of the strange and interesting things we have, and joking around with the cashiers. These are experiences that you cannot receive through Amazon-which is simply one more of the many industries and businesses that are making money off of our fear of human contact.

Kindle_cartoonBeyond my dislike of the gradual growth in distance between individuals in the human race, I like the written word. There is something entrancing and historic about reading from a book in your hands, rather than reading off of a screen (I’m looking at you Kobo!). I read a lot of non-fiction, and I mark up my books with underlines, comments, arrows, and what-have-you. This draws me deeper into the narrative of the book and helps me to explore the concepts presented in a much deeper level. I am able to interact with the author in ways that are more complicated on a screen. There is also something that I cannot fully explain, but I know to be true: when you read a paper book, you are somehow more connected with it and more deeply involved. I think this may be why screen-reading is popular among some; when you read from a screen, you are removed from what you read. You are like a scientist who never gets his hands dirty doing the experiments or dissections. Reading a book is like doing primary research-reading a screen is not. What do you think? What is it about reading a book that is so very different from reading off of a screen? Or am I just blowing smoke?

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