The Missing Invisible Worm

Lee Child on Amazon’s real-life bookshops – and why we should be worried

Nothing sells books better than physical displays in bricks-and-mortar locations. Millions of people passed by bookshop windows or airport bookstalls, and saw The Martian, and some vague impression clicked in and they said, “Oh yeah, that’s supposed to be cool”, and they bought a copy, and enjoyed it. Same for the other anomalous titles. That is still how books get sold. Research bears it out. Physical eyeballing is way ahead of any other prompt, be it word of mouth, spam, social media or other kinds of advertising.

Despite what I wrote back in 2008 — eBooks: The Invisible Worm — I’ve begun browsing at Barnes & Noble. And I’ve found books that look interesting that I haven’t seen mentioned in my daily Internet use.

Child is correct about how most everyday people discover books.

But I wonder if he’s aware of the bigger threat to reading overall that VR will pose?

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