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Keeper of the Books vs Monopoly by Amazon.com

April 5, 2008

“Der Bücherworm” by Carl Spitzweg

If you have been a regular here for any time, you know that I love librarians. But librarian is such a weak word to describe these gods and goddesses. In The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey there is one of my favorite descriptions of these special people:

What a vapid job title our culture gives to those honorable laborers the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians variously called Learned Men of the Magic Library, Scribes of the Double House of Life, Mistresses of the House of Books, or Ordainers of the Universe. Librarian – that mouth-contorting, graceless grind of a word, that dry gulch in the dictionary between libido and licentious – it practically begs you to envision a stoop-shouldered loser, socks mismatched, eyes locked in a permanent squint from reading too much microfiche. If it were up to me, I would abolish the word entirely and turn back to the lexicological wisdom of the ancients, who saw librarians not as feeble sorters and shelvers but as heroic guardians. In Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian cultures alike, those who toiled at the shelves were often bestowed with a proud, even soldierly, title: Keeper of the Books.” In the opinion of historian Barbara Tuchman, librarians believe that “books are humanity in print.” Librarians are guarding mortal flesh, and if books are not protected, the past dies.

So, Keeper of the Books it is.

Library

Maybe you have noticed, maybe not. There is a slow crumbling of the written word in our society. At my local level, in my school, it comes as the loss of our librarian. My school has an incredible library. With grant money, our Keeper of the Books is able to purchase thousands of dollars worth of reading materials every year. She is a master at her job, because this library is fantastic. Due to budget cuts, next year this Keeper of the Books will have eight hours a week to do all the magic she does. Can you imagine that? Eight hours to choose books to purchase for the library, check out books, check in books, shelve books, advise students on what they might like to read (the most important part of their job, I believe), help teachers put together materials for their lessons, teach students how to write a research paper, etc etc etc. Eight hours?! So there goes the library. Please check and see what is going on in your local school system. Are you seeing the same trend? Voice your opinion to the school board if you are.

On a national scale, we see Amazon.com trying to force a monopoly on the publishing business. This very short article from The Wall Street Journal explains it succinctly:

Amazon Tightens Grip on Printing
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

Amazon.com Inc., flexing its muscles as a major book retailer, notified publishers who print books on demand that they will have to use its (Amazon’s) on-demand printing facilities if they want their books directly sold on Amazon’s Web site.
The move signals that Amazon is intent on using its position as the premier online bookseller to strengthen its presence in other phases of bookselling and manufacturing. Amazon is one of the biggest booksellers in the U.S., with a market share publishing experts estimate to be about 15%. Amazon doesn’t comment on sales.

To read more in depth information about this monopoly in the making, please go to Murder by 4 blogspot

You will also find a petition you can sign, and addresses to which you can voice your opinion. Please take the time. I am afraid that soon, our children will not have the reading opportunities that we have taken for granted. To sign this petition, you can also go directly to

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/protectPOD?e


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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2008 10:27 pm

    Just another day in the world of capitalism. I don’t think Amazon.com really cares about what we think.

  2. April 6, 2008 3:47 am

    I’m sure you are right, but nothing ventured…….
    I have to try, anyway.

  3. April 12, 2008 7:35 am

    Thank you for popping by my site and speaking on the subject of heroes.

    You mentioned three excellent candidates and I’ll add another: Jiddu Krishnamurti. My favorite quote from this Master:

    “When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”

    Amen to that.

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