Readersforum's Blog

August 24, 2011

Feeling Out Amazon New York

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:59 am

Posted by Macy Halford

On Wednesday, Elizabeth wrote about a topic not frequently raised on the Bench: feelings. How, she asked, does the closing of Borders, the vanishing of BOOKS · MUSIC · MOVIES · CAFE from the American strip-mall landscape, make us feel? Are we sad? Are we happy? Why do we seem not to care much one way or the other?

Her post came on the heels of another bit of book news people aren’t certain how to feel about. Amazon announced that their new New York-based imprint (called Amazon), which is the company’s fifth but its first intended to rival the big houses (it has the right address and a V.P. with a fine New York pedigree), had bought its first title: self-help-for-guys guru Timothy Ferriss’s “The 4-Hour Chef,” a book that needs to exist because, after you’ve finished your 4-hour workweek and perfected your 4-hour body, you’ll want hobbies like cooking to fill the empty days (also to impress your 15-minute female*).

Here are some of the things various parties felt about the deal. Indie bookshop owners felt angry, and told the Times that they wouldn’t be stocking Amazon’s books, since the company posed a threat to their existence. Timothy Ferriss said that he didn’t “feel like I’m giving up anything, financially or otherwise,” by going with Amazon, and in fact didn’t even offer his current publisher, Crown, a chance to match Amazon’s offer because, he thought, it never could have. An executive at HarperCollins said Amazon was a frenemy—an important customer but also “close to being in a monopolistic situation,” while an agent based in New York said he was “not so convinced that this is the end of the world the way so many doomsayers are saying.” The Times came close to expressing an emotional viewpoint by describing Amazon as “aggressive,” “ambitious,” and in possession of an “unparalleled distribution system” that reaches instantly “into tens of millions of living rooms and onto electronic devices.”

July 30, 2011

Hamptons Hipsters

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:26 am

Posted by Macy Halford
Last weekend, I went to Sag Harbor, which is more or less a Hampton and so has its own branch of Bookhampton, the main (indie) bookstore chain out there. Bookhampton has many well-curated special sections, but one in particular caught my eye:Hipster-Lit-Small.jpgYou can click that image to enlarge, but allow me to zoom in on the crucial detail:

hipster-lit-pic.jpg

The titles listed under Hipster Lit are:

“King Rat,” by China Miéville.
“2666,” by Roberto Bolaño.
“The Gospel According to Jesus Christ,” by José Saramago.
“House of Leaves,” by Mark Z. Danielewski.
“High Fidelity,” by Nick Hornby.
“Elliot Allagash,” by Simon Rich.
“Scorch Atlas,” by Blake Butler.
“Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems,” by Billy Collins.
“Illuminations,” by Arthur Rimbaud.
“Civilwarland in Bad Decline,” by George Saunders.
“Siddhartha,” by Herman Hesse.
“Lush Life,” by Richard Price.
“A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism,” by Peter Mountford.
“The New York Trilogy,” by Paul Auster.

I think this is a very good selection of hipster lit, though I can already hear the banshees howling that it’s incomplete. Where is Eggers? Where’s D.F.W.? Where’s Murakami? (Op! He’s on the shelf above, which I believe belonged to the plain old “literature” section.) Where are Lydia Davis, Miranda July, and Vendela Vida? Why are there no female authors?*

A few points:

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January 15, 2011

Godard on E-Books

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 4:42 pm
 Richard Brody

Last week, Macy Halford, my colleague over at The Book Bench, wondered “What Kindle Wants,” in which she expressed her preference for physical books over the electronic kind. She wrote, “What I as a reader need and desire is a technology with pages and a cover and heft that can be marked up and placed on a bookshelf and kept forever.” She’s in good company. In June, 2000, when I interviewed Jean-Luc Godard at his office in Rolle, Switzerland, for a Profile of him that I wrote for this magazine, he spoke to me of his dissatisfaction with something that did not yet exist: e-books. The subject came up when he explained that he preferred to edit video with analog rather than digital technology, because, he told me, with digital technology, “time no longer exists.” And the example he gave me came not from the cinema but from literature and what he called “the electronic book.” He got up from his chair, brought a book from his bookshelf, and brought it back to his desk.

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