where trouble was needed

September 5, 2013

Grammar, Jeff Bezos, Grammar Please!

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 12:58 pm

Dear Jeff – I was pleased to read in your letter to Amazon customers this morning that you are "passionate about books." Indeed, so am I. As an avid reader, I tend to expect good grammar. One thing that worries readers about the changing scene of book publishing, it is sloppy copy editing.

So I was disappointed to read this line in your letter:
"Kindle is the best-selling e-reader in the world for six years running. "

How do we parse this? Are you saying this is a good product for six-year-olds who run? Obviously not. You mean to say that for six years, up to and including the present, Kindle has been the best-selling blah blah blah.

I understand that you may not like the phrase "has been" next to the name of your precious Kindle, but were that you primary concern, you could easily have written :

"Kindle is the best-selling e-reader in the world, and has been for six years running."

As I recalled also that you have taken over the Washington Post, I felt all the more urgently the need to bring this to your attention. Please ensure clarity concerning past, present and present perfect and all other points of grammar.

Far more than your best-seller rankings depend on it.


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