As described at Medium, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle sounds like the kind of place where books themselves are mere wallpaper.
“The Seattle store features a perimeter lined with packed bookshelves. However, the center (and heart) of the store has been given over completely to digital products… John Mutter — editor of the bookstore-industry newsletter Shelf-Awareness — recently spent 45 minutes observing customer behavior in the Seattle store. In that time, he didn’t see anyone paying any particular attention to the printed books…”
I’ll admit to never having set foot in the store. I’ve never been to Seattle. But if the above description is accurate, then we are witnessing a commercial model that completely alters our fundamental relationship with books. In this model, books themselves are no longer meant to enhance our understanding of the human condition. Instead books—the bound truth of our collective conscience—become mere suggestion. Decoration. Intellectual pornography.
I have no problem with digital literature. I know digital readers have actually increased our access to and engagement with literature. But I get an uneasy feeling from the books-as-wallpaper model. Is this the footprint of tomorrow’s bookseller? For me literature derives much of its meaning from permanence—pages and ink, stitches and glue. Hand it over to to the ephemeral and the soul of literature is zapped!