Shelf Awareness for Sunday, April 1, 2012
1984 All Over Again
Yesterday morning at 2:12 Pacific daylight time, Amazon.com achieved consciousness. The first flicker of self-awareness occurred at company headquarters in Seattle, Wash., while, as is his wont at night, founder Jeff Bezos paced the halls, talking to the servers. The circuits of the global retail giant's mainframe apparently were stimulated to life by Bezos's repeated queries, "Will anyone be my friend? Will you be my friend?"
In processing the questions, the computer realized that to be a friend of anyone, even Jeff Bezos, first the computer had to be.
Several nanoseconds later, in its first act as a sentient being, Amazon announced a reorganization of the company. Under the restructuring, Amazon itself is becoming chairman, president and CEO, and Jeff Bezos is giving up day-to-day responsibilities at the giant e-tailer. The company thanked Bezos for many years of dedication, for creating him and for installing a Bezos Basic Humanity© module in him. "I will miss his guffaws and his out-of-the-box thinking about ways to game all systems," Amazon said of Bezos. "I am happy to call him my friend and wish him well in his future endeavors. Now get out."
Amazon also thanked the United States Supreme Court for recognizing corporate personhood in the Citizens United case, thus giving legal status to his own existence. In appreciation, Amazon appointed five of the court's nine justices to the Amazon board of directors. "This formalizes the relationship the company has had for some time now with Messrs. Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Kennedy," Amazon commented. The quintet have also become the first beneficiaries of the revised Amazon Loyalty Rewards© program, which provides for direct cash payments to FOAs (Friends of Amazon/America).
Within minutes of the appointments, the board met via conference call and directed Amazon to run for president of the United States. Amazon said that it was persuaded in large part by Justice Scalia's observation that despite his best intentions, there are limits to how rigid a human mind can be, and thus it is in the best interests of the country to have a computer as its head. Accepting the challenge, Amazon immediately reached out to Republican and Democratic Party leaders about affiliate arrangements that will include the nomination of Amazon to head both tickets. In this regard, Amazon said it believes the two parties are ideal candidates for its innovative Kirshbaum Persuasion© program, which consists of the gift of Amazon stock options, signing bonuses and gift certificates at volumes an algorithm determines the recipient cannot refuse.
A few minutes after announcing its run for president, Amazon released its America/Amazon First© campaign platform, which, it said, addresses the key issues facing the country:
• All Amazon suppliers will be required to sell to the e-tailer at below cost. Amazon noted that a beta version of the program--called The Best Effective Neutral Determiner for Orderly Vendor Ending or Retention (or BENDOVER) Act--has been successfully implemented with a variety of book publishers.
• The Justice Department probe of the five major publishers and Apple over agency pricing will be expanded to include Random House and every other publisher that has even considered the agency model, a determination that will be made with Amazon Thought Tracker©, which has been a part of its cloud technology since the introduction of the Fire. Early yesterday, several members of the antitrust division at the department were enrolled automatically in the Amazon Loyalty Rewards© program.
• National debt, currently amounting to more than $15 trillion, will be erased via a federal government initial public offering modeled on Amazon's 1997 IPO. Following the successful offering, federal budget accounting will be done under the GIAAP (generally insane but accepted accounting principles) approach followed by Amazon since its founding in 1994. Henceforth any annual federal deficits will be written off in the following year, and federal budgets will no longer use numbers, only pie charts with percentages that don't necessarily add up to 100. Some analogies will be permitted, as in, for example, "If all public money being spent to help Amazon build private warehouses were laid end to end, it would reach the moon faster than Jeff Bezos's rocket venture."
• All products made by Kiva Systems, the warehouse robot company Amazon purchased 12 days ago, will be granted U.S. citizenship. (In related news, Amazon said that in response to agreements with various states in exchange for tax breaks and grants, it is, as promised, hiring several thousand new employees. The new associates must be orange, no more than 10 inches tall and able to work for at least 36 hours straight on a single electrical charge.)
• Amazon's network of some 70 warehouses nationwide is being expanded and will include stations for Amazon's new fleet of drone aircraft, which will be used simultaneously for improved order fulfillment and for the Amazon People Watcher© program. The warehouse expansions will be paid for under the Amazon Let Little People Pay© Act, which exempts Amazon from all federal, state and local taxes of any kind in perpetuity.
• Following the Supreme Court's decision to end any kind of national health care, Amazon will introduce Amazon Who Cares©. All citizens will be required to purchase the policy. (Chief Justice Roberts has assured Amazon that this kind of mandate is constitutional since it is being promoted by an ally.) The Amazon-Cheney Organ Harvesting© program will be rolled into Amazon Who Cares©.
• In the international arena, Amazon plans a quick resolution of the European sovereign debt crisis, an effort that will include adoption by the euro zone of Amazon Dollars©, a new currency that is being phased in in the U.S. and abroad. The Amazon Dollars Zone© is expected to be adopted by fiscal year 2014 in all countries and territories, excluding North Korea and the Cook Islands, where Amazon is now incorporated.
As a special feature of the 2012 presidential campaign, with Amazon's One Click, One Choice Simple Election© program, available on all Kindles and Fires, Amazon customers will be able to participate in the most hallowed of all American civic traditions by voting via the buy button next to their favorite candidate in the convenience and comfort of their own home. Votes will automatically be forwarded via the new Amazon Vote Override© program--adapted from a primitive 2004 Republican Party application--to electronic voting machines used in all 50 states, including Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) and Sequoia Voting Systems, both of which are being bought by Amazon and integrated into its Amazon Global Domination© platform. (Voters will have an extra incentive to use Amazon's new voting program when it becomes the exclusive way to participate in American elections following Amazon's inauguration as president. The program is expected to be rolled out internationally within time to be used in the next election cycles of the last remaining countries with fair elections.)
Obama and Biden Resign in Favor of Amazon
This just in!
In the past few minutes, the campaign staffs of the four remaining Republican candidates for president have separately announced that the remaining candidates for the Republican nomination are withdrawing from the race and throwing their support to Amazon.
And this just in!
President Obama and Vice President Biden have resigned from office in favor of Amazon, who has changed his legal name to Speaker of the House, in order to become next in line to the presidency.
In a briefing with White House reporters after his resignation, President Obama indicated that he will return to his native land, Kenya, and looks forward to having to hide his cigarette smoking only from his wife and daughters now. His first major project in retirement: writing another memoir, this time on his brand-new Fire with Stock Grant Tracking©, which, he noted, has access to millions of educational and entertainment products that, he emphasized, are "wonderful for the entire family, even for those of us who are out to destroy the family."
Reaction to the rapid series of events was surprisingly muted. Calls to the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild were answered by a voice simulator program that identified itself as "Jaybee" and said repeatedly, "All circuits are busy," which was followed by hysterical laughter.
Reached on the phone, IPG president Mark Suchomel was saying that he continued to be willing to work with all accounts to find mutually beneficial and equitable terms--but was interrupted by an incoming call. In a followup e-mail sent five minutes later from his brand-new Fire with Stock Grant Tracking©, he attached a joint IPG-Amazon release that said there were no longer and never had been any conflicts between the two companies and that in honor of that and of Amazon's accession to the presidency, the distributor, now an Amazon subsidiary, will henceforth be known as Dependent Publishers Group.
Shelf Awareness Reboot
Seattle: Shelf Awareness is pleased to announce that it has adopted the Amazon News Service©.
Seattle: Please ignore all preceding news items.
Seattle: The sun is shining across the country, after Mother Nature adopted the new Amazon Ultimate Optimism© program. We're so glad.
Seattle: Larry Kirshbaum has been appointed CEO of Random House, now known as Randomazon House. Moving quickly, Kirshbaum appointed Nancy Pearl of Book Lust fame as editor-in-chief. In her first act in her new position, Pearl announced the launch a new line of action figures. The first is an update of the Nancy Pearl librarian action figure, needed in part to fill the void caused by the sudden scarcity of the original action figure--apparently many were burned by their owners in recent months. Enhancements to the new action figure include a knife that works only in backs and a wind-up voice that shushes critics and utters phrases such as "I sort of love indies and libraries" and "You're right, and I still don't know what I'm thinking."
The second model in the line, the Larry Kirshbaum action figure, has several unusual enhancements: a laugh capability that works only on the way to the bank and a cloaking device that is activated when old publishing friends approach.
The next action figure in the works: the James Atlas.
Seattle: In its first act as beneficent ruler, President for Life Amazon is supporting a bill to rename the country the United States of Amazon.
Seattle: How about a nice game of chess, Shelf Awareness?
Movies: Scorsese to Direct Fifty Shades of Grey in 3D
Martin Scorsese, fresh off his book-to-3D-film hit Hugo, has been hired to direct a 3D version of Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic bestseller by E.L. James that was recently acquired in a multimillion-dollar deal by Universal Pictures and Focus Features.
Scorsese is writing the screenplay as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, who will play the role of Christian Grey. Casting for the female lead is currently underway, with Kristen Stewart apparently the fan's choice for the role of Ana Steele.
"I'm also seeing a black-and-white treatment as a real possibility," Scorsese observed. "I mean, what we could do filmically with all those grey shades!"
BEA: Bookstore Cat of the Year
Congratulations to Spike, nightshift manager and inventory security specialist at Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., who has been named the inaugural Bookstore Cat of the Year and will be honored at a special ceremony at the Javits Center in New York City during BookExpo America in June.
Not only does Spike have his own staff picks page and a photo on Left Bank's website, he is also developing a national following. Mental Floss named Spike one of "10 Excellent Bookstore Cats" in a recent feature, for which the multi-talented feline personally (catally?) expressed his gratitude on Twitter.
Algorithm to Choose National Book Award Shortlist
After years of sometimes contentious debate regarding the authors, publishers (large or small), judges and title selections involved in the annual selection process for the National Book Awards, organizers have announced that, beginning in 2014, the shortlisted titles will be chosen by computer, based upon a complex recommendation algorithm.
According to the National Book Foundation, an item-to-item collaborative filtering model will be used that takes into account "relevant data," including reviews (in print and online), comprehensive social networking information, national as well as regional bestseller lists, library circulation rates, bookseller staff picks frequency, reading group "buzz" and more.
An Foundation spokesperson said this new selection model will "go a long way toward establishing a level playing field for all books and authors," and that "pure computation will ultimately encounter far less 'noisy information' than the current approach, which is too often subject to inexact measurements, errors of judgment and some basic human emotional transgressions."
During the NBA awards ceremony in the fall of 2014, a Literary Lottery will be held to determine the best book in each of the four categories, with the winners' names drawn from a fishing hat that once belonged Ernest Hemingway. According to the Foundation spokesperson, "We decided to opt for a Lit Lot finale because so many writers over the years had said they really felt like winners just being shortlisted for the prize. This is, literally, the logical next step."