ago, there were about 4,000 independent bookstores in the United States; only about 1,900 remain. Bezos also knew that in 1992 the Supreme Court had ruled. Many publishers and authors were flabbergasted, accusing the Obama administration of having gone after the wrong culprit. As Wired put it, when you buy the Kindle Fire, youre not buying a gadgetyoure filing citizen papers for the digital duchy of Amazonia. It found that some employees risked stroke and heat exhaustion while running themselves ragged trying to fulfill"s that resemble the onerous conditions so indelibly satirized by Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times.
But Bezos may now discover that cutting out the middleman isnt all its cracked up to bethat its surprisingly easy to fail in the neo-Victorian enterprise of publishing, especially when it comes to finding readers for worthy books. In the late 1990s Bezos bought m, the authoritative movie website. Amazon has sixty-nine data and fulfillment centers, seventeen of which were built in the past year alone, with more to come. But as Amazons six other publishing imprints (Montlake Romance, AmazonCrossing, Thomas Mercer, 47North, Amazon Encore, The Domino Project) have discovered, in certain genres (romance, science fiction and fantasy) formerly relegated to the moribund mass-market paperback, readers care not a whit about cover design or even. Im grumpy when Im forced to read a physical book because its not as convenient. In 1994, four years after the first Internet browser was created, Bezos stumbled upon a startling statistic: the Internet had been growing at the rate of 2,300 percent annually. In 1994 Americans bought 19 billion worth of books. Small-press publishers were beside themselves. According to the Pew Research Centers most recent e-reading survey, 21 percent of American adults report reading an e-book in the past year. Like all great and obsessed entrepreneurs, his ambitions were imperial, his optimism rooted in an overweening confidence in his own rectitude.
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