SE: In your discussion of Amazon you argue that it has made the business of bookselling more of a science than anyone has previously been able to. That is, its success is basically due to being able to sell more books more quickly and efficiently than anyone in history. You cite some incredible stats: books sit on Amazon's shelves an average of 18 days, compared to 161 in a traditional bookstore. Amazon turns over some books as much as 150 times per year, compared to 4 times a year for traditional stores. And, in fact, recent stats indicate that Amazon is growing its booksales while traditional bookstores are flat or in decline. First, what is the downside to Amazon's model? What do they do poorly? And secondly, what can traditional bookstores do to compete with does Amazon's incredible efficiency and reach?TS: The major downside of the Amazon model is what goes on behind the scenes, out of site and essentially out of mind. Most of us interface with the company through its website, where we’re greeted with an extraordinary range of books and other consumer goods. But what do we really know about Amazon.com, beyond its attractive website?Indeed, many of us forget that the website isn’t just a portal through which we enter the Amazon store. It’s also a conduit through which Amazon quietly enters our everyday lives to engage in intelligence gathering. Amazon knows more about which books we’re interested in and have purchased than just about any bookseller around. This occurs as a result of its sophisticated client tracking capabilities, which transform our browsing around the Amazon website into an opportunity for data mining. The problem here isn’t surveillance per se. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Amazon’s personalized recommendations, which are the result of my own and others’ computer-aggregated browsing and buying habits. The problem lies with the asymmetry of this relationship. There’s little possibility for opting out of any or all of Amazon’s surveillance practices, much less of finding out what the company thinks it knows about us—erroneously or otherwise. Its data gathering and retention is all the more worrisome in a political climate in which, despite whatever thaw we’ve seen under the Obama administration, the USA PATRIOT Act remains the law of the land.