Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mugs Like Us

Had drinks yesterday with Giacomo over at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central. The Blue Points were fresh, the waiters were surly, and the place was crawlin with tourists. It's nice to experience a still point in the turning world. I had a lovely Pinot Blanc from the North Fork, Giacomo had the Brooklyn Lager. Made for a comfortable three-thirty in the afternoon kind of chat. The kind in which two people can solve all the world's problems.

Big Gee'd snagged a coupla hot leads and a nice consulting gig. "It's ninety-nine percent politics, poot. You know the personalities in this business. You gotta deal with 'em. You and I have been around long enough, we know what they want."

We talked about e-books and agreed that nobody's got a handle on it. Sales are soaring but that's because e-books cost less than half of physical books. "What happens when publishers get goosed by Amazon and have to start pricing them fairly for market? That revenue stream ain't gonna support the current infrastructure."

"Then there's the device issue -- how many people want another electronic gizmo in their bag? I'm stickin with my iPhone if I wanna scan a text. If it's a whole book I'm gonna read and the book is important, I'll buy it or borrow it from the library. The good thing about e-books, it's separating the wheat from the chaff. It's a perfect format for pop genres, professional reading, journalism, instant books, anything that's easily digestible and perishable. They should try out a new slogan -- 'if you want to forget what you've read, read the e-book.'"

Giacomo looked at his beer and smiled. "It's actually a great time to be in the business -- everything's in flux. In chaos. And chaos means there's opportunity for mugs like us."

We went up to Posman's, near the 42nd Street and Vanderbilt entrance. By any measure, it's a very good bookstore -- from the window displays to the featured tables to the mystery section. It knows its clientele and caters to them beautifully, commuters, business people, tourists, the lunch crowd. It's not a big store, but it doesn't have to be: the books are hand selected and the turnover is rapid, so you're always seein something fresh. What a wonderful place to browse.

An older well-dressed couple was pesterin the guy at the register. "When is the new Steig Larsson coming out? Doesn't he have a new one soon? Can you look it up for us?"

Big Gee and me. We were in our element and it felt great.

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