walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Not Buying It

Yesterday I was watching Wednesday's Daily Show. Atul Gawande was out pushing his latest book, _The Checklist Manifesto_. While I loved _Complications_, I was not alone in thinking that _Better_ was tragically misnamed because in so many ways it was the opposite of its title.

_Checklist_, in case you, like some reviewers on Amazon, are looking for a way to Get Organized and write better ToDo lists or whatever, is specifically about health care. In the last few years, there have been some efforts to standardize best practice, usually in the form of evidence based "packages" (or checklists) designed to reduce hospital-acquired infections and similar things. My understanding is that Gawande describes these efforts in an anecdotal way. It is very likely that I would find the book an entertaining read that wouldn't necessarily teach me a lot, but it's nice to read something relaxing that confirms one's biases and I'm as susceptible to that as many other people.

Off I went to Amazon, where I was disappointed to see it wasn't available on the kindle. I briefly contemplated ordering a copy to pass along immediately to BPL (altho that's a real risk, since it's the kind of book the librarian there might have already ordered, or someone else might have already donated), and ultimately pushed the tell-the-publisher-I-want-it-on-the-kindle button. I checked the publisher (Metropolitan) but didn't pursue it, tho the imprint sounded ever-so-slightly familiar.

I did not notice (consciously) the absence of a buy button.

Later on that day, R. told me that Macmillan's books still aren't for sale by Amazon (altho you can order them for 3rd party fulfillment). I was skeptical. Really? And off I went to check, and eventually realized that my little experience with _Checklist_ was me failing to buy a Macmillan book because it didn't have a buy button (maybe -- maybe it's because it wasn't available on the kindle). Macmillan took out a full page ad in the NYT pushing _Checklist_ and saying you can buy it anywhere except Amazon.

We know that a lot of American consumers make less-than-optimal decisions based on convenience. We eat fast food. We shop at big boxes rather than fight parking and support local independents. We generate an enormous volume of waste from single use containers for beverages and meals. And I say _we_ because I do it, too. I go through bouts of fighting it, but I had an Amy's frozen pizza for lunch, and there is a plastic package in my fridge containing seaweed salad, many cases of single-serving-milk or juice-boxes in the pantry, and on and on and on. About the only front we're winning on is avoiding bottled water, and I'm reasonably certain there's still some Pellegrino in the basement, so we aren't doing that great there, either.

If I Believe in supporting independents and doing the less-than-convenient because it's the right or optimal thing to do, and I can be deterred that readily from buying a book I will almost certainly like by an author I more or less like -- deterred long enough that by the time I _do_ buy it, it'll probably be cheaper, and that's assuming I don't check it out from the library since it might be available the next time I think of it -- I feel a little bit sorry for Macmillan, Gawande, Tor, and all the other people caught in this meat grinder of a failed negotiation.

Oh, and if you're thinking that buying it over at bn.com would be an improvement for anybody, they're charging $9.99 for the ebook, too.

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