Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

There’s no replacement for the thrill of browsing in a bookstore

Washington Post – “…The covid-Zoom era has made bookshelf snoops of all of us. Late-night host Seth Meyers has reshuffled stacks of books on the endtable in his attic where he’s now taping his show, treating his copy of Colleen McCullough’s novel “The Thorn Birds” like it’s a discount Ed McMahon. (A Goodreads list is keeping track of his selections.) Celebrities and experts compelled to conduct interviews from home have been committing naked acts of performative shelving, putting on their best intellectual face for the webcams, inspiring plenty of speculation about the speakers’ inner lives — or at least a few rounds of “Spot ‘The Power Broker’.” But squinting at strangers’ bookcases is only so satisfying, and as weeks in quarantine have dragged on, I’ve wanted a browsing experience that’s more promiscuously bookish. For a dedicated reader like myself, it’s a serious loss: Shuttered bookstores are a reminder of how much of our reading lives is a process of discovery, and how online retailers’ attempts to re-create the discovery experience tend to be huge letdowns. Algorithms can tell you what you like based on what you’ve said you liked before. They can also make a few guesses at what you might like based on what other people say they like that’s related to what you’ve said you like. But they can’t introduce you to the thing you might like for the first time, all for yourself…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.