And How to Have More of Them By Alfie Kohn Learning by doing, a common shorthand for the idea that active participation helps students to understand ideas or acquire skills, is an established principle of progressive education.
In Epstein founded Anchor Books, the highbrow trade paperback publisher; eleven years later he was one of the founders of the New York Review of Books, and for many decades was an eminence at Random House. His admiration for Bezos was mixed with a Gumption definition essay bemusement; he knew that for Amazon to really revolutionize bookselling, physical books would have to be transformed into bits and bytes capable of being delivered seamlessly.
Otherwise, Bezos would have built only a virtual contraption hostage to the Age of Gutenberg, with all its cumbersome inefficiencies.
Instead, he dreamed of machines that would print on demand, drawing upon a virtual library of digitized books and delivering physical copies in, say, Kinkos all across the country.
The bookstores that might survive in this scenario would be essentially stocking examination copies of a representative selection of titles, which could be individually printed while customers lingered at coffee bars awaiting the arrival of their order.
Ultimately, Epstein would devote himself to this vision. Like all great and obsessed entrepreneurs, his ambitions were imperial, his optimism rooted in an overweening confidence in his own rectitude. We in answer fire a broadside of flesh at it and cry Yes! A slightly built, balding gnome of a man, Bezos often struck others as enigmatic, remote and odd.
If not exactly cuddly, he was charismatic in an otherworldly sort of way. It was like he could be a Martian for all I knew. A well-meaning, nice Martian. Amazon, by contrast, was virtually limitless in its offerings.
Bezos was then, as he has been ever since, at pains to assure independent bookstores that his new business was no threat to them.
The independents were alarmed by these and other aggressive strategies. Clerks at the chains might not intimately know the tastes and predilections of the surrounding neighborhood, but the price was right: The death toll tells the tale. Two decades ago, there were about 4, independent bookstores in the United States; only about 1, remain.
And now, even the victors are imperiled. The fate of the two largest US chain bookstores—themselves partly responsible for putting smaller stores to the sword—is instructive: But the very idea of owning a bookstore strikes most savvy investors as forlorn.
In recent weeks, Microsoft Corp. For many of us, the notion that bricks-and-mortar bookstores might one day disappear was unthinkable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader.
These magical devices, ever more beautiful and nimble in design, have only to be lightly rubbed for the genie of literature to be summoned. Appetite for these idols, especially among the young, is insatiable. For these readers, what counts is whether and how books will be made available to the greatest number of people at the cheapest possible price.
Whether readers find books in bookstores or a digital device matters not at all; what matters is cost and ease of access. Then try to find a bookstore. Bookstores have lost their mojo. Yet still there is no peace; a new war rages for the future of publishing.Author and Speaker Scott Berkun.
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Being a guy who writes science fiction, people expect me to be well-informed about the current state of the field—as if I'm a book reviewer who reads everything published in my own approximate area.
(This is a little like expecting a bus driver to have an informed opinion on every other form of.