The little book

To those of you who frequent bookstores, you are aware of the latest literary phenomenon. Actually, it’s something that been with us quite a while, but not in such a small format. I call it the phenomenon of the “single-read little book.” You know the topics – life, love, sex, money, power, etc,. Of course, you can intuit the titles: “The Short Concise Guide to…”, or “The Ten Rules of …”. Then there’s the not so “little book” series, called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To….”. Subjects that I remember as part of the Compete Idiot series range from Eastern Philosophy all the way to taxes and finance.

It’s part of the quick fix. It all has to be quick, everything. Except if it’s good. Then it also has to be long. From hit movies to their sequels (i.e. “Lord of The Rings” or “Spiderman”), from one Olympic record to the next, from a double-decker to a triple-decker, from Viagra to Cialis, the good must by necessity get better, and the long must get longer (no pun intended). It doesn’t matter if you don’t want it, or don’t know about it. Someone will eventually stuff it in your face.

I myself don’t frequent bookstores, except when I take a plane trip, which I do about ten times a year. With travel delays being what they are (the long get longer), I invariably end up spending hours browsing in the airport bookstore. And there, stacked up like postcards at the checkout counter, are all those “little books” that I’m talking about. From a marketing point of view, picking up that little book, browsing through it and buying it is the same as buying that breath mint or tabloid paper at the supermarket checkout counter. It’s called “impulse buying.” The quick fix. It’s all most of us know.

At this rate, it’s only a matter of time till someone writes a “little book” titled something like “Ten Points on The Fall of the Iron Curtain and the Integration of Europe.” I can see it now. The Complete Idiot series will then jump right into the act and write their next book called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Democracy.” It will be the perfect short read, when you have time to kill at the airport and nothing to do except to digest your triple-decker burger, pick up your “Spiderman II” DVD, and count your Viagra tablets.


The New Presenceautumn 2004

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