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.

Attention shoppers!

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.