Saturday, June 07, 2014

Thank God for Amazon - book shops and their lanky owners are OVER

On Newsnight last night, a schoolboy publisher and a middle-aged glamour puss (oh, all right, Caroline Michel who bosses Peters Fraser & Dunlop - the multi-media/lit agency) talked about Amazon and its ongoing battles with Hachette. This Independent piece gives the guff if you've been snoozing or sleeping with a politician these past few days.

The internet vs book shops fight served as excuse to raise their TV profile: in short, is Amazon a hostile monopoly that wishes to suck the life out of our high streets and turn us all into supine keyboard shoppers prone to bowel cancer from lack of physical activity? A leading question perhaps but the answer is probably a qualified yes. And if that's the case, I say this: thank god or Richard Dawkins for that.

The demise of book shops is a wonderful thing. Since childhood I have associated such establishments with wood rot, dust, poorly stocked shelves - they never have the books I want - and geeky elephantiasis in the owner (in male proprietors especially: unusually tall, scalpy, half-moony speccy, poorly dressed, snaggly of tooth, Oxbridgy in a distinctly unsexy sort of way; underfed but over-weak tea'd and cursed with sociopathic reflexes, such as gazing down on one as if Princess Michael of Kent had reincarnated as a giraffe crossed with the carcass of the late homosexual Norman St John Stevas).

Book shops are all Basil and no Fawlty; places of hushed hostility only crackling with corduroy static and pot-pourri'd with the ever-so faint whiff of skidmarks. Repressed people stand about 'sampling' books they have no intention of purchasing - the equivalent of shoplifting in my view. All those words snatched freely from the page never to experience again the initial thrill of discovery in the brain of this standing loafer. Books bake gently in shop windows, curling at edges and yielding colour to UV-unfiltered nuclear blasting (aka the sun). The grey cheap recycled paper cannot withstand such exposure; but don't expect a discount when you pick up the irradiated item and discover its fragility to human touch - foxed and fucked. The Giraffe Princess St John Stevas at his bell tolling old till - still showing pounds shillings and pence - will demand the full price, which adds another sad £1.25 to his profits since he has had to haggle with the distributor, the publisher and the cleaner for his (or the odd her) cut.

What a sad state of affairs. So, welcome the rise of Amazon as the necessary Dignitas to book shop vendors. Put these dinos out of their misery. I have never yet failed to find the book I want on Amazon. Payment is simple as pie. Delivery is within two or three working days. A sexy post-person with a cute bum hand-delivers my package, superbly wrapped and invoiced. Amazon is just one of many answers to a prayer in the 21st Century, marking the end of avoidable boredom, frustration and employment of thin tall people who drawl and keep the tea industry going. A surfeit of alternative vendors and second-hand booksellers on Amazon ensures competitiveness and survival of the fittest (allowable in the books world) - and the eternity of books in the life of consumers.

If you see a book shop today, pass it by without a second thought. Soon it will be sold off to some delightful gorgeous people with white teeth and in sexy underwear, such as nail technicians.

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