Food for Thought

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Reading at Windycon 42

 

I spend Sundays differently than the rest of the week. Monday thru Saturday each week, I begin writing fiction as soon as I’ve fed the cats and my coffee is ready (usually by 9AM, if not before). On Sunday, I feed the 3 cats and make coffee first (again, usually by 9AM). Then, unless a dynamite idea is left over from my dreams, I spend most of the day immersed in reading.

I begin by glancing at e-mails and opening my paid-subscription digital editions of The Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, NY Times, and local Register-Star. I read news stories and book reviews. I read the digital edition of Publishers Weekly. I order copies of books I want to read from Amazon or B&N.com.

Then I read blogs by other writers and compose my own weekly blog entries. I have multiple blog sites (www.pauliedaleanderson.com, WordPress, Blogger, Tumbler, etc.). Some of my blog sites are exclusively for book reviews while others include book reviews along with my personal thoughts on the writing process.

Once in a while, I’ll toss in a blog entry about something I’ve read in the Sunday newspapers or on other blogs.

This week’s Printers Row from the Chicago Tribune contains John Warner’s thought-provoking analysis of how Amazon’s entry into brick and mortar bookstores may impact readers, independent bookstores, authors, and entire communities where Amazon’s physical presence and cutting-edge technology are likely to appear in the near-future.

Can you imagine a local bookstore where you can order a print-on-demand title and have it placed in your hands—in perfect-bound trade paperback format complete with full-color cover—within an hour or less? I can. And so can Amazon.

Think about that. Any book—including out of print titles downloaded from Google—delivered instantly to consumers. No wait. And no shipping charges.

Amazon has already begun charging sales tax to consumers even on internet orders. They might as well have physical nexus in each state (which they practically do since opening up new distribution centers all over the country). Amazon is perfectly positioning themselves to rival Walmart as the nation’s largest retailer using the same business tactics Walmart uses.

Remember Montgomery Ward and Sears? They began as catalog companies and expanded to have stores in nearly every city and town in the USA. Where are they today? Wards went out of business and Sears desperately sruggles to keep out of bankruptcy by closing stores (both Sears and K-Mart) in unprofitable locales. Will Barnes and Noble be next? It’s rumored B&N plans to close a number of retail stores in 2016.

Warner hints in his article that Amazon seeks to drive its competition out of business exactly the way Walmart did.

I’m old enough to remember walking to my neighborhood drug store to browse paperbacks and magazines and purchase new mass-market editions. Walmart and K-Mart and CVS and Walgreens put those drug stores out of business. Think what an Amazon store will do to independent bookstores and used book emporiums. Is it right? Is it fair?

No. But it IS progress.

And, once Amazon eliminates the competition, what then?

Food for thought on a Sunday morning, kiddies.

Now it’s time for me to return to crafting fiction.

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