Wednesday night after the writers group I was chatting with some friends. One of them said, "You should read The Yiddish Policemen's Union." And I agreed, I should. It's been a couple people who've recommended that book to me, and I'd agreed then, too.
This time, I thought, "Ho, Ho, this will be good." I excused myself and ran out to my car, I retrieved my Amazon Kindle DX. This is a fairly pricey bit of kit, but I'm a gadget fiend and my wife is tolerant of my excesses. I returned and sat down to show my friend the ultimate coolness.
I turned on the Kindle's radio and patiently waited for a connection to the Kindle store. Finally, it came back and I entered into the search box, "The Yiddish Policemen," figured that was enough and hit enter. A short wait. Nothing.
I tried something else. The Kindle isn't the easiest thing to type on so I kept thinking I'd typoed or something. No joy. Then I tried "Chabon" and I got a few hits. I found a hyperlink from the Amazon page to everything written by "Michael Chabon." It came back with a list of three books.
None of them were anything I'd ever heard of, and all the books that I had heard of were absent.
"Way to go, Amazon." Then I realized they were just reflecting the decision of the publisher. "Way to go, Harper Collins." Instead of gloating about what a great device the Amazon DX was, we went back to the previous conversation about what makes a corporation "evil" and what Amazon did last month deleting "1984" off customers' Kindles without permission.
This is what's known as a market failure. I was quite willing to pay whatever Harper Collins was willing to charge to buy a copy of this book. They weren't willing to sell it, but there are other books in the world I can read.