In praise of the irrational and the ‘still small voice’

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm

During recent Sussex train trip I cast an envious but contemptuous eye over a smart young couple who were reading from an e-book reader. Usual ungracious thought of ‘that is not ‘proper’ reading’ issued. No self respecting lover of literature would disgrace the author etc and so forth yadda yadda. But a Tennysonian ‘still small voice’ inside said yes but you could take all your journals and books on this thing… hmmm… As with Tennyson’s The Two Voices I’m torn; between the love of a rich bookshelf and the utility of a Kindle.

Not many are torn if Publishers Weekly is to be believed:

“Amazon released more mind-numbing results for 2010, announcing a number of records and new milestones along with difficult-to-understand statistics. The top line was stellar with total sales for the year up 40%, to $34.2 billion, while net income rose 28%, to $1.15 billion. In a prepared statement chairman Jeff Bezos said the company passed two milestones in the fourth quarter–its first time sales topped more than $10 billion in a quarter with actual sales hitting $12 billion; and “after selling millions of third-generation Kindles during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on,” even while sales of paperbacks rose.”

All this is not Rational is it? Consumers aren’t meant to behave like this. All this fluidity will have businesses running around for years wondering why their rational selves don’t fit irrational humanity.

William Butler Yeats offered up:

Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart

Something about Amazon represents the quixotic anti-reason more akin to human beings than the logical and linear. More Bartók than Beethoven, Shostakovich than Strauss. Western Rational business models have found their ladder doesn’t reach to the top of the wall and they’re left jumping on the top rung but still can’t see into the garden on the other side.

Still haven’t downloaded an e-book; Penguin books are the moral high ground of books, plus they feel wonderful to the touch and carry the scars of travel. Nothing like paper technology… it’s the future!

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