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Friday, January 29, 2016

I Am Not (i.e., No Longer) the Target Audience

As this post began taking shape in my head, where a lot of preliminary writing takes place while it looks as if I’m only washing dishes or driving or doing nothing at all, I had in mind to title it “Slow Pleasures versus Immediate Gratification” or (I wasn’t sure), “Immediate Gratification versus Slow Pleasures.” Anyone who has read this blog before or knows me at all doesn’t need to guess which side I favor. Yes, I’m a slow food, slow books, slow walks kind of woman. I don’t even think fast, although in my defense David likes to say, “She grinds slow, but she grinds exceeding fine.”

I was thinking about the online behemoth’s goal of delivering books within 2 hours of anyone placing an order. No, as a small, independent bookseller I cannot do that. Well, if the customer is in my shop, and the book is in stock, I can do it faster, but otherwise? Order a new book from me, I’ll place an order on Monday (if I have enough to meet the minimum), and books will usually be delivered by Thursday and can be picked up that afternoon or Friday or Saturday. It doesn’t take an eternity (some customers have been surprised to get books “so fast”), but it’s way more than a 2-hour wait. Sorry! C'est la vie chez moi! 

And it's hard for me to frame or view my reality as a problem. Because, to me, even a book in hand is the antithesis of immediate gratification. It isn’t a coffee or a slurpy to go, nor a candy bar to stuff into your face behind the wheel.

o    Anticipation is a huge part of the reading experience.

o    Waiting until you have time to open the book at leisure is part of the reading experience.

o    Putting a bookmark between pages, setting the book aside, and turning out the light is part of the reading experience.

So why shouldn’t a waiting period between ordering and receiving also be part of it?

But I know, I know -- !!! (I knew long before anyone kindly informed me, too.)

Waiting and anticipating are not enjoyed, because (a) this is the modern world; (b) modern people want and expect immediate gratification; (c) I am a dinosaur; and – as I have pointed out to David on more than one occasion, whenever he shakes his head in wonderment over advertising we both find thoroughly repellent and off-putting – (d) I am not (and we are not) the behemoth's target audience.

In sad fact, no one is aiming at us at all any more, except to try to sell us things we don’t even want to think about, and I can say emphatically that we are in no damn hurry to get those things, either, so -- Back off, world! We did not choose life in the slow lane to be harassed at any age! We’re just hoping not to be roadkill before our time.


Deborah said...

I'm currently reading Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman. I can completely relate to this blog in terms of reading, anticipation, enjoyment. I thought I'd read all of Kellerman's books but missed this one somehow. First, it was joy to find a new book since I have enjoyed everything she's written. Then, anticipation of reading the book. How I loved the anticipation! And when my eyes were too hard to stay open and my mind to tired to keep engaging I turned off the light anticipating time today to read the book. I am anxious to keep reading but already mourn the ending of the book because it's been such a delightful experience anticipating and reading. I guess I'm a dinosaur in some ways too.

P. J. Grath said...

Deborah, someone who sent me an e-mail comment on this post said something like you said about finishing a book. She wrote (in part),

"...The experience of getting a book is very much diminished by using my Kindle (which I sometimes do). The anticipation is part of the pleasure. The Kindle is too quick, much too quick.........and there are no pages to turn.

"I am a slow reader, too. Every word goes deliberately into my head, by itself. If I'm really loving a book, I often pace myself to prolong the pleasure. Getting to the end is a dreaded consequence of beginning in the first place."

I also thought of my pleasure in ordering garden seeds by mail. By the time the seeds arrive for planting, I have completely forgotten the pain of writing the check, and it's just like opening a present! I also remembered telling someone I wanted a little Cajun accordion and the person telling me I could find one online and get it right away. I said I wasn't in a hurry and wanted to enjoy wanting it for a while. I did that and then came across one in an antique shop in Florida. Serendipity! I loved having it for several years and eventually sold it to someone else who was delighted to come across it in my bookstore. Serendipity again! Immediate gratification can be ordered up; serendipity is always, by definition, a delightful surprise!

Gerry said...

I fully agree. I am aging out of consumer culture a day at a time. (And yes, not at all interested in some things people think I should buy!)

I suspect the problem is a collision between demography (the progress of the boomer bolus along the python's digestive system-remember the python? I digress . . . ) and the overwhelming tsunami of marketing. People with "stuff" to sell seem panicked.

I am in rebellion. Moving along more slowly. Reading real books, some of the most rewarding discovered through you. Making chicken soup in a graniteware soup pot for heaven's sake. Time to walk Miss Sadie and the Cowboy. They still want to zoom along, but I'm the boss.

P. J. Grath said...

Gerry, your comments are always so pithy! "The boomer bolus along the python's digestive system" -- holy cow! No, I don't remember the python, but somehow the image makes perfect sense to me.

I'm a person with "stuff" to sell. That is, books. To me, though, books are not "stuff." I'm not panicked but do get discouraged at times, especially in winter.

This week I received e-mails trying to persuade me to buy a psychic reading ... an engagement ring ... an online M.B.A. A lot of marketers are not sifting through their demographics very carefully in the first place.