The sped-up culture that delivers that novel to your doorstep overnight is the same culture that deprives you of the time to read it.

This ambiguity—fiction as virtue and vice—sheds light on a larger truth about all the components of Amazon’s administration of literary life just enumerated: as state of the art as they may be, they are to some degree self-contradictory, or at least conflicted. For instance, if what fiction most essentially is for us is a volume of commodified time, one of the most notorious facts of contemporary literary life is that there is so little time for it. This is especially so inasmuch as reading a novel is a relatively long-term commitment compared with other forms of cultural consumption. It is an expense of leisure not everyone has or feels they have. In other words, the sped-up culture that delivers that novel to your doorstep overnight is the same culture that deprives you of the time to read it. Retail Therapy