“If you’re going to invent, you’re going to disrupt.” That’s Jeff Bezos talking. Once upon a time, he was Mr. Amazon. Now he’s Mr. Amazon Publishing. For good and ill, he’s inventing a seismic disruption of the book world. Journalists chronicling this sea change tend to follow the money. The latest swirl, for instance, “Random Penguin,” involves a possible merger between Penguin and Random House as a response to the Amazon juggernaut.
But I don’t need a rundown on mergers and acquisitions to get the picture–it’s right under my nose. Check the Oct 29-Nov 5, 2012 print issue of The New Yorker. Double truck, pages 64 and 65. I’ll copy it here:
Nice, right? Attractive. Intriguing. Lots and lots of literary real estate filled with high-concept, high content, touchy-feely design. In fact I have to check the fine print up at the top to be reminded that I’m looking at an advertisement, not some kicky collage-art statement. In fact, this is a book ad. We’re selling a book here. Not in a tiny column stuffed with seamy line art and bodice-ripper type. Not in a sad array of thumbnails across, say, The New York Review of Books (a periodical I love-love-love, but no one’s winning awards with those ads). Instead, we’re grabbing eyeballs with a marketing version of gestalt right in the heart of Reader Central.
And what forward-looking institution made this happen? Some high-design indie imprint? They don’t have the dough. Some high-dollar Big Six Powerhouse? They’re the last to lead with punchy communication. Nope. It’s Amazon Publishing, people, Amazon Publishing. They’re changing the game by changing the playing field at my level, the level of writers to readers. I mean come on! You’re an author or an editor or any kind of make-worthy-books-happen publishing professional, don’t you secretly want to sign up with an operation that’s selling books aggressively, inventively, disruptively?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of monopolies. To switch metaphors here, no way do I think we should all run for the Amazon lifeboat, the one that created the tsunami in the first place. But we do need to take a lesson.
So, in the spirit of re-invention, I went ahead and mocked up a version of my own two-page spread. [Note to any reckless zillionaires out there: it’s ready-to-print should you feel the urge to stake me to a little prime real estate on the pages where my future readers congregate.] Until then, it’s been a good exercise to think bigger and better. Money makes things possible, true. It also opens the mind outward to new possibilities. Imagining I was blessed with Amazon’s resources, I let a team of disruptive jinn inspire a fuller expression of my novel:
Even if I don’t find the pennies to hit the major media with this layout, I want to thank Amazon for reminding me to animate every invitation I extend to readers with the vibe, the feeling, the flavor of the writing within.