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How Many Books Are There On Amazon?

Posted July 29, 2017
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Prior to the invention of the printing press in 1450, almost no one in Europe had ever read a book.

First, there were not that many books around.

Books had to be carefully hand written, a process that could take years.  There was no paper. Paper did not exist either. Instead, books were written on parchment - treated lambskin.  

It was complicated and expensive.

Even when a book was produced - one at a time - it was written by scribes and monks. the only people who were in fact literate.

The writing was only part of the 'book'. They were also hand decorated with drawings and paintings in every available space.  Often many people would work on a 'book'. 

Even then, they were not done, becuase they were then bound in massive leather covers (the books themselves were quite large) and often covered in jewels.

Books were not considered as things to be read.

(They remind me of some of the large 'coffee table books' that one finds in high end clothings stores, or the homes of rich, shallow people today). They were meant as decorative items.

they were often so heavy and unwieldy that they required a special wooden stand to support them.

One story says that Petrach, the 14th Century Italian poet tried to hold one of these books, dropped it and broke his leg. 

A book was meant to decorate a home, not convey an idea.

The advent of the printing press changed everything.

Because of this piece of technology, it was now possible to publish a 'book' far more easily and far more cheaply, and do it over and over again.  

More books were made in Europe in the second half of the late 15th Century, some 8 million, than had been made in all of prior European history.

Now, let us turn to video, film and television, our own lingua franca.

The average American, sorry to say, only spends 19 minutes a day reading.

We do, however, devote 5 hours a day to watching TV.

Television and movies are still made the way those monks and scribes made those medieval books in the 14th century.  A 'team' effort - expensive - time consuming - heavy - and jewel encrusted.

There are not a lot of them.

And they are expensive to make, like the books.

Now, do you know how many books are avaialble on Amazon?

3.4 million.

And here's an even more interesting statistic - a new book is added every five minutes.

That's kind of amazing.

And each book represents another different idea - history, science, cooking, art, sports.. you name it. It is RICH in content.

It is rich in content because each book is written by one person with a passion for a story to tell or an idea to convey.

Television is not so rich.

Just go see what is on TV now.

And why is there such a paucity of ideas on TV?

Becusae it is made today the way the monks made a book.


The advent of the iPhone, with its capacity to shoot, edit and share is the Gutenberg's Printing Press of the 21st Century.

It can do for television and films what the printing press did for books - open the door for everyone to express and publish their own ideas.

As we all spend so much time watching TV or video, don't you think this might be a good idea.

We do.



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