Metamorphosis of a book-buyer

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Sometimes I feel like an Amazon lab rat.

Not the Amazon region, rainforest rat. I feel like a Jeff Bezos,, caught-in-the-maze  lab rat.

To make it worse, I seem to enter the maze willingly and in full knowledge of just what I am doing.

When Amazon started selling books online in 1995, I declared, probably loudly, that I would NEVER be a customer. Book-buying was a tactile experience that should be done in a bricks-and-mortar building, preferably one that had a couch and a live-in cat. Books were to be held, pages flipped. You never came out of a true book-buying trip with only the book you entered to buy. There were treasures to be found at every table.

Then Harry Potter came along. I fell passionately and obsessively in love with Harry (and J.K. Rowling) in book one. When the much-anticipated second book was to be released, Amazon promised me to-my-doorstep delivery of the book on the very day of its release.

I jumped into the maze and ate the cheese.

Before long, I had a “Sony Book Reader” and could download a book onto it in mere hours, with my dial-up connection.

Amazon began leading me down the path of believing those trips to the bookstore were just something I no longer had time to do. I bought a Kindle. Then a Kindle Fire.

Not content to just convert my book-buying soul to a depersonalized online experience, Amazon then bought out Audible, the audiobooks service. I had been a longstanding audio customer, all the way back to my iPod days.

Before long I would admit in mixed company that, yes, I read and listened to books on my Kindle, on my phone, in my car and even on Alexa.  There was just no fight left in me. Convenience won, and I followed the other millions of rats into the Amazon maze.

Now, however, Amazon has confused me. After convincing me to abandon bricks and mortar, they started opening their own Amazon bookstores – big ones, plus “pop-ups” inside shopping malls and in retail stores like Kohl’s. The initiative has had mixed reviews, and the pop-up stores are being closed at a rapid rate, but Amazon is now lauding the joy of bookstores, with plans for more stores in the pipeline.

I’m done and have found the exit to the maze. There is just so much change a girl can handle in one lifetime.

Not only that, Amazon, but have a heart to go with that wacky smile. It wasn’t easy coming to terms with my shortcomings and handling the guilt of not having the courage of my convictions back in the Harry Potter days. It’s just wrong of you to change your mind now and try to take me back to hardbacks and leatherbounds.

Be wary, Amazon. I do not suffer betrayal well. If you get me on your side and then change sides … watch out. If I do go back to lugging a suitcase full of books to the beach, they will all be tagged from Barnes & Noble.


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