Mr. Amazon’s Bookshop: A Conversation with the Butler

[This is the third instalment of Mr. Amazon's Bookshop. A list of all instalments is here.]

No matter how often I went back to Mr. Amazon's shop, I never
could understand its workings. I often hinted to the man behind the
desk that I would like to know, but he ignored me. I even asked him
once in a direct and semi-serious manner: "what do you have down there
behind that desk Amazon? How do you get these books? Is it mole-people,
Amazon? Do you have hoards hordes of mole-people slaving in darkness down
below, running back and forth in some gigantic basement-warehouse
bringing you the books you need?" He smiled vaguely. "Not at all sir.
No mole-people for us. We keep our books in a Cloud." And that obscure
remark was all I could get from him.

Fortunately, there was someone I could always ask when I needed
information, and that was Google, the butler. So one evening in June,
as he brought me my glass of sherry and teaspoon of laudanum, I asked
him what he knew about Amazon
"Amazon sir? Oh yes, I know him well." Google's usually impassive
expression revealed a hint of disdain. "Can't say I like the fellow
very much – a bit big for his own boots if you ask me – but I do find I
often recommend his book shop when people ask me where to get books. He
has a remarkable collection."
"How does he do it Google? He only has one tiny corner shop and
it looks like he has no room to store anything, yet whenever you ask
him about a book he comes up with it. I can't fathom the man."

"One shop? I think not! You don't get out much these days do you
sir? Mr. Amazon has set up shops in every city, town and village I can
think of. And in each one they look the same. A desk, a person, and an
empty room, and yet he produces the books you are looking for when you
ask. Some people say all these stores are connected by a series of
tubes that run from one to another underground, so books can be shipped
from one to another at a moment's notice."

"With mole-people, right! Mole-people with preternaturally strong
forearms pushing trolleys underground from shop to shop! I knew it!"

"Er no, sir. No mole-people that I know of, although you may of course be right… But I do have my own theory."

"And what's that?" I asked, rather deflated at his understated scorn for my idea.
"They aren't books at all. He never lets you touch them, does he?
It's some kind of an illusion. A clever one, but an illusion
nevertheless. It's about as real as that Cloud he talks about. Oh yes,
I've heard that one. Believe me, he has warehouses. Big ones. And
mole-people too, I wouldn't doubt. Almost certainly mole-people."
"You don't like him very much do you, Google?"

"Well, we do cross paths from time to time. Let's just say he doesn't stock my guidebook and leave it at that."

I had to admit, once the laudanum calmed me down, that Google's idea
was more probable than my own. But both were just hypotheses, with no
obvious way of testing them. I was drifting off to sleep, with visions
of smoke and mirrors dancing in my head, when I suddenly realized how I
could put his theory to the test…

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  1. I thought it was all about collective action with you Tom, and sure enough, according to Mr. Wikipedia “A group of moles is called a labor.” You are indeed clever 🙂

  2. Certainly not clever enough to know what a group of moles is called.
    Do moles even form groups? I picture them digging in isolation. Maybe if they work for Mr. Amazon though.

  3. I like the mole-people (and their preternaturally strong forearms), but I think the word you wanted is ‘hordes’.

  4. Perhaps the hordes of moles dig in isolation forming an intricate labyrinth. The labor meet in a secret underground cavern once a year to join mole hands and sing that Coke song about teaching the world to sing (labor ideology can’t compete with a good jingle!!!).

  5. Their. Its fixed know.

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