Two thousand nine was one big gloomer,
Cruel to poets bent on humor.
Versifiers can’t be funny
When everyone is losing money.
Pink slips issued, long knives flashed,
Departments cut and imprints slashed,
Luncheon budgets compromised,
Bookspan party vaporized,
Editors abruptly laid off,
And don’t get me started with Bernie Madoff!
O Muse, I pray, your face make visible
And help this bard pen something risible.
Novelists who couldn’t get work
Found it on the social network,
Washed up hacks got off their bums
And took to texting with their thumbs.
Now any writer sane or dotty
Calls himself a twitterati,
Producing literary treasures
In hundred forty unit measures.
The future Milton, Pope, or Keats—
Immortalized in deathless tweets!
Right-wing books were all the vogue,
Topped by Sarah’s Going Rogue,
Birthers, ’baggers, mavericks,
Cheney, Armey, and other Dicks—
Where righties once were Balkanized,
We’re Limbaughed, Becked, and Malkinized.
What’s a liberal house to do
When red state bucks turn spreadsheets blue?
Behold the Sony, Nook, and Kindle,
Spawn of Gutenberg and Tyndale.
Every day a new device
Bids to win a market slice.
Tipping-pointward e-books tramp,
Overrunning print books’ camp.
Ten years ago a callow stripling,
Now every month shows volume tripling.
Stymied what to name its book,
B&N all names forsook.
Riggio’s choice had punsters grinning,
Smarmy innuendi spinning.
Nooksters had the final laugh:
Preorders soared clear off the graph.
Two thousand nine—the year that we
Were taught the benefits of “free.”
A book is now considered bought
When it is sold to you for naught.
This paradox makes perfect sense
Unless you hope for recompense.
We learned that zero is a price.
If you’re the buyer? Really nice!
If you’re the seller? Lots of luck.
With gratis—hard to make a buck!
It’s fine for paradigms to shift
As long as authors don’t get stiffed.
“No one reads,” said Apple’s Jobs,
“Atrophies your frontal lobes.
Video is where it’s at.
Stuff your e-books in your hat.”
When market share began to dwindle,
Jobs paid grudging heed to Kindle,
Then cashed in on the book bonanza
With an iPhone app called Stanza.
Ah, Steve, hypocrite lecteur!
In rare display of harmony,
Authors Guild and AAP
Beat the drum and blew the bugle
To advocate the pact with Google,
Appealing to Judge Denny Chin
To strike a blow for opting in.
William Morris wasn’t thrilled,
Tried to get the package killed,
Alleged the Authors Guild had copped out,
Urged its clientele to opt out.
Five million orphaned books await
Judgment Day for Settlegate.
Wal-Mart slashed its hardback pricing,
A ploy to make its books enticing.
Soon every superstore and mall mart
Had a hack at matching Wal-Mart.
In jumped Amazon and Target,
Leaving retailers geharget.
Three sixes were the Devil’s sign,
Now replaced by nine ninety-nine.
We scoff at prophecies of Mayans
And offer toasts to healthy buy-ins.
So what if 2012 draws nigh?
Prognostications? Mike’s our guy.
Seers of yore are mere ersatz kin
Compared to clairvoyant Mike Shatzkin,
We hope his crystal ball discloses
A featherbed of ruby roses.
So raise a glass and shout “L’Chaim!”
To all who sell ’em and all who buy ’em.