When a news organization has to cover an important story like Amazon’s new bookstore, they can usually either find an expert to write the article, or just have a staff writer do it.
Or they can take The Atlantic’s approach, and find someone who has never ever visited either a bookstore or a library and have that person write the story.
No, seriously, Megan Garber’s piece on Amazon’s bookstore reads like she has never been in a bookstore, or a library for that matter. Writing that “There are a lot of shelves. There are a lot of books!”, Garbar goes on to write:
But Amazon Books is also much more than simply another delivery platform. This is a store in the manner of TOMS, with its attached artisanal cafes, and of Anthropologie, with its integrated art installations: It’s a space that encourages patrons to hang out in, to spend time in, to settle down in. Amazon Books, like a Barnes & Noble of yore, comes complete with plush leatherette chairs for relaxed reading. There are open areas for browsing and chatting. There’s a kids’ area. (“Relax, read, and discover great books with your children,” the release invites.)
Which is also to say that Amazon Books is trying to be a place of community—a place where people will meet and hang out. A place that celebrates both introspection and extroversion. A place much like Apple’s buzzing, light-flooded, free-wifi-enabled temples—only with the tech gadgets on display being, for the most part, books.
And to make matters worse, Garber goes on to conclude that “Amazon Books could become something else in the process, emulating institutions that have been their own kinds of cathedrals: libraries”. (I would quote more, but every time I tried I vomited a little in my mouth.)
I haven’t read anything this ridiculous since Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited last year, when any number of fools assumed that libraries are nothing more than warehouses for books, and suggested that we should close all the libraries and give everyone a Kindle Unlimited subscription.
No, Amazon has not opened a library today in Seattle; they’ve launched a bookstore. Amazon Books isn’t doing anything that you can’t find in other bookstores (aside from limiting the selection). Furthermore, libraries do far more than serve as the focal point for a community of book lovers.