“Books After Amazon,” an article by Onnesha Roychouduri about the economic and cultural impact of the growing power of Jeff Bezos, online selling, and the Kindle. It's an interesting article about which I may have more to say when I get time, but for the moment let me just quote the words that are used throughout the article as a kind of indignant, wounded refrain: "You can’t sell a book the same way you sell a can of soup."
Of course, we've seen this metaphor many times before, but I must say it rubs me the wrong way. What exactly is so demeaning about selling a book like a can of soup? Soup is food. It nourishes people, sustains life, and when well-made it provides significant physical and esthetic enjoyment. Producing and selling soup provides an important and valuable service to humankind.
Maybe we in the book business like to imagine that our work is far more noble, exalted, and high-minded than selling soup. If so, we should get over ourselves. (And maybe we would sell more books if we spent as much time and energy thinking about the needs and wants of readers as soup companies spend thinking about the nutritional requirements and flavor preferences of their customers.)