We Baby Boomers were the first American generation from the middle and lower classes to attend college. Our parents didn't read books. We discovered them and fell in love with them. By graduation day from college we likely considered them sacred. From dorm to our first apartment to our first house we lugged at least 10 cartons of books. Now, we read in The New Yorker that Amazon.com considers books a business. Here is that article by George Packer.
Although I became a ghostwriter of books and am myself a published author of three print books, I no longer revere them. They, just as Amazon.com frames it, are a business. For my clients in professional services they are a necessary marketing tool, the price of entry to be taken seriously and to go to the next level.
What caused me to leave the cult of celebrating books as a very special medium? A number of things.
To begin with, my doctoral studies in literature and linguistics led to unemployment. As is happening to new graduates of law schools, we who were finishing up dissertations in the humanities (even from "good" schools) couldn't find jobs. It was brutal being derided by the work world for "spending so much time with books."
Secondly, some of my clients are Millennials. They never heard of, never mind read, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens and Chaucer. That did affect my value system. After all, society does pass the torch to the next generation.
And, third, being a book author can be a heart-breaking experience. And financially devastating. As the article points out, half of self-published authors only make about $500 a year. I make way more than that in 24 hours ghostwriting an opinion-editorial for placement in established media.
Amazon.com is sending an appropriate signal to would-be authors that to them it's all business. That's exactly what I inform prospects who discuss their book plans with me. I ask them, "How will this help your business?"