I have an iPad now, inherited my wife’s #1 when she got a #2. I like some things about it, especially reading my favorite newspapers and magazines in the morning. It’s also handy for checking email when not around the computer. I put some books on it, books I wanted to read anyway and thought it would’t hurt them too much in a digital version. I have started three of the four books I downloaded to it, and the farthest I’ve gotten with any of them is … well, some percentage, I suppose, since I can’t figure out the page numbers. Maybe 25%. One of them is good, so I ordered a real copy in order to finish it. One is okay, and maybe when it’s convenient I’ll get a real copy. One is pretty bad.
I’m just too old. I can’t read a book that is electronic data on a screen.
But this makes me feel like that salmon. As a reader, I am willing to swim upstream and against the rapids to read a good book, but I’m beginning to feel like the digital bear is just patiently waiting with its mouth open to gobble up readers like me, and eventually there won’t be salmon, just one big fat bear.
But if it’s bad for old-timey readers, imagine old-timey publishers!
Amazon is that bear, traditional publishers are the salmon. Once Amazon decided to cut out both agents and publishers in a one-stop-shop-do-it-all, the bell has tolled for them.
I am no longer willing to judge whether this will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing for intellectual and creative life (although I have my suspicions, and they aren’t pretty things to hear), but good or bad, Amazon is going to gobble up all the salmon, even the big fat ones (like Random House) and single-handedly control (which means decide) what there is to read, and you can bet it will be either guaranteed money-makers or crap that nobody else would ever put in print. It was bad enough when mergers produced a publishing behemoth like Random House (with its kazillion imprints), but what will happen when a kazillion is one, a really, really big one … that fat old bear with its mouth wide open.
As for me … I am old, I am satisfied to finish my animated days this way —