November 22, 2012

Amazon destroys the English language


Tim Ferris

In a brilliant post on the joint efforts of Amazon and Tim Ferriss to promote Ferriss’ Amazon-published The 4-Hour Chef, New York Times reporter David Streitfeld wonders if the first victim of savage self-promotion might be the English language. Highlighting a deal Ferriss struck with pirate file-sharing site BitTorrent to promote his book, Streitfeld writes:

The first victim here is going to be the English language. The BitTorrent post announcing their deal with Mr. Ferriss would earn a flunking grade from a high school English teacher for lines like, “We’ll be distributing the writer’s process: the photos, drafts, videos and recipes that shaped Tim’s journey.” And then there’s the reference to “Julia Childs.” Mr. Ferriss himself seems to be getting so overwrought about selling his book that he is writing sentences like, “It’s the Red Coats versus the colonies, and I must take attack using different means.” Can’t figure out which side he’s on? Me neither.

On the notion that Ferris’ has been “boycotted” and “banned” because Barnes & Noble won’t sell his book is stores, Streitfeld is even more critical: “This is nonsense.”

What follows, however, is not a victory for clarity: “If he is challenged on this, it is free publicity. If he is not, many will buy his argument.”


Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.