March 19, 2013

Naming Amazon’s new literary publishing imprint, Little A


They really do call him “Uncle Jeff,” by the way.

Uncle Jeff: Okay gather around guys, time to talk strategy. We have this new publishing imprint to make our own … what are we making?

Sycophant 1: Books, Jeff.

Uncle Jeff: Books! We have this new imprint to make books. Because as we all know, people still think we have something to do with books, somehow. I dunno. Anyhow, it’s basically free and maybe it’ll sell a washing machine or two, so we’re doing it. Thing is, we need a name.

Sycophant 2: What happened to “New Harvest”?

Sycophant 1: It sounds like a granola bar. Also somebody here got all excited and leaked that photo of us chasing our temp workers in that combine last year and now we can’t really talk about it as much anymore.

Uncle Jeff: Come on, you and I know that was funny. Plus we paid them at least a couple bucks above minimum wage for it so what’s the problem?  But forget it. New name. I’m thinking; Book Publishing Co.

Sycophant 2: I don’t know if …

Uncle Jeff: What?

Sycophant 2: We’ll talk to legal.

Sycophant 1: Can’t we just use the Amazon name somehow? That has good associations, right?

Uncle Jeff: Yeah, exactly. It’s why I chose it in the first place. I want people to think of a relentless force of nature, drowning and devouring all in its path, uncaring, malarial, to be feared. I wanted a watchword for the dark unknown that we unleashed on the market, when we subjected the very essence of knowledge and humanity, our books, to a loss-led rapacity that would strip the flesh off of even Adam Smith’s Free Hand like so many piranha. Also I thought that ‘a-to-z’ logo was neat when we came up with it. But yeah, mostly the murky unstoppable horror thing.

Sycophant 1: … um …

Sycophant 2: … Maybe we steer clear of ‘amazon’ this time. Or abbreviate it.

Sycophant 3: ZON!

Uncle Jeff: Yes, thank you Timmy. Somebody remember to feed him? Oh, what about just ‘A’?

Sycophant 1: I think we could work with that. Maybe we look to …

Uncle Jeff: And the A is sharp looking. And the points all have blood on them. An A that says don’t mess with me or I will cut you. And make it big. Massive. And under each leg there is, like, a crushed bookstore, with sad people in shabby clothes sort of weeping beside it. And oh, under the other leg is a publisher. I don’t know how to draw that, but maybe it could just be a pile of books and bones? And the books are being ground into the ichor and mud beneath the power of A. A rises up like a razor monolith above these books and these sad supplicant booksellers, and maybe behind it the sun is rising on a new day, the dew glistens on a field of shoes and toilet plungers and messed up state infrastructure and there, astride the biggest fiercest washing machine of them all is me. Jeff. Do you see it gentlemen? DO YOU SEE IT?

Sycophant 1: Jeff, I …

Uncle Jeff: And make them give me muscles. Big muscles.

Sycophant 2: That is a great idea, Jeff. A very good idea. I think we all agree with that. But what if, just hypothetically, instead of a huge Murderous A we made it a little A? Maybe softer? Not so scary?

Uncle Jeff: Fine. Whatever. Run with it. It’s not like the books have anything to do with any part of our business. Now if you guys will excuse me, I have my 4:00 kitten hurling date with Holder coming up.



Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.