Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The funny thing about Amazon as Big Brother is George Orwell had bad bookshop memories

Perhaps the funniest thing about the accusation that online bookseller Amazon acted as a Big Brother in deleting unauthorized copies of British author George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four from customers’ Kindle
e-book readers is that Orwell had bad memories of working in Booklover's Corner, a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead, England.

If you have time, read Orwell's “Bookshop Memories,” a humorous autobiographical essay that was originally published in the British magazine Fortnightly Review in November 1936. Here are the opening and closing lines of Orwell's essay:

"When I worked in a second-hand bookshop -- so easily pictured, if you don't work in one, as a kind of paradise where charming old gentlemen browse eternally among calf-bound folios -- the thing that chiefly struck me was the rarity of really bookish people. [...] The sweet smell of decaying paper appeals to me no longer. It is too closely associated in my mind with paranoiac customers and dead bluebottles.”

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