“Did We Do Anything Wrong?”

Yes, Nick Bilton, you did. You are an embarrassment.

“Did we do anything wrong?”

Anyone that asks that question is probably guilty.

The most egregious lede I have ever seen in 60 years of reading The New York Times:
My wife and I sat cross-legged on the floor of a local Barnes & Noble store recently, surrounded by several large piles of books. We were searching for interior design ideas for a new home that we are planning to buy.

As we lobbed the books back and forth, sharing kitchen layouts and hardwood floor textures, we snapped a dozen pictures of book pages with our iPhones. We wanted to share them later with our contractor.

After a couple of hours of this, we placed the books back on the shelf and went home, without buying a thing. But the digital images came home with us in our smartphones.

Later that evening, I felt a few pangs of guilt. I asked my wife: Did we do anything wrong? And, I wondered, had we broken any laws by photographing those pages?

It’s not as if we had destroyed anything: We didn’t rip out any pages. But if we had wheeled a copier machine into the store, you can be sure the management would have soon wheeled us and the machine out of there.

But our smartphones really functioned as hand-held copiers. Did we indeed go too far?

Yes, you and your wife went too far.

And your tacky little iPhones’ theft of copyright wasn’t the half of it.

About Bookstores
I have a lifelong love of bookstores. In the 1960s, I was a traveling book salesman, calling on retailers, wholesalers and libraries in the East and throughout the Midwest. I knew and loved the book buyers―the gregarious Anne Udin and Richard Gildenmeister at Halle Brothers in Cleveland, Shirley Poynter in Milwaukee’s Boston Store, Ilah McDermott on Madison Avenue and Karl Kroch of Kroch’s & Brentano’s in Chicago.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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