Book traders

Some book traders have a mission. They assemble little corners on their book shelves or in tiny cupboards reserved for their passion or mission. In some book shops you’ll find a corner devoted to a specific language or translations, in some a world region is represented as a specific predilection. The choises are as numerous as there are books. Of course, from an economic point of view national and international bestsellers will be shown in the most prominent places. Second come books for children, cooking, life and travel guides. All those are the cash cows for book shops and traders.
But beyond those, it is always worth the effort to search for those little carefully curated corners in a good bookstore that derive from the vision or mission of the book trader, employed or owning the shop. In some areas this contributes even to a small community building. Readings of authors add to the function of book sellers to build a relationship to their non-random book buyers. I keep going back to my favourite book stores and libraries with those curated corners for decades and across countries to find inspiration and updating of special topics.
There is a danger that we are going to lose all this professional work of thousands of well-trained book traders that guide readers in addition to publishing houses, literary critics, numerous awards and huge marketing campaigns of derived products (as with Harry Potter). Living up to your mission while running a book store must be a great experience. If is really increases the buyers and readership for the topic, would be a great result. However, I suppose many bookshops manage to keep their little curated areas despite economic pressure to go with the mainstream marketing campaigns and top selling books and gadgets.
With the decline in the number of smaller book shops (in Germany from ca 5000 to 3000 in about 20 years) we see a parallel increase in number of franchises of the big book sellers (Thalia.de 500 stores in D). Big chain increase seems to cause fewer professionally trained book traders (-10% in D) within a country. For younger generations TikTok (BookTok) has taken over large parts of the “book counselling” of book traders previously. This was a big event at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023 as well.
Time to rush to your local bookstore and book trader before it is taken over by a big chain or simply disappearing silently. We are likely to lose many of those book traders with a mission to make this world a better, more beautiful, more tasty, enjoyable or inclusive place.

Teaching Ethics

Ethics is frequently taught by referring to reference cases, moral dilemmas and readings on the evolution of the discipline as some ethical issues arise due to technological innovations. Some fundamental ethical principles pertain to professional standards or so-called codes of conduct. This is also part of the sociology of professions which includes the societal and political role professions and professionals. The medical profession has been subject to ample research already. And yet it is important to notice that there is a renewed effort to include into the teaching of ethics “The hard truths about medicine and the Holocaust”. (AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(1): E59-63. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2021.59). Eugenics were practices well before WWII. “Legal coercive sterilization, which progressed to the notorious “euthanasia” (medically sanctioned murder) program” (p.59) were the beginning. Medical doctors were not reluctant to implement the Nazi medical doctrines. “Most joined eagerly, earlier, and in much greater numbers than other professionals” (Chelouche, 2021; Kater MH, 1989). Physicians made the horrors of Nazi ethics efficient in its implementation. Nazi physicians had a strict ethical code which priorities obedience to the state rather than to the individual.
Research and experiments conducted by medical doctors during Nazi rule is analysed by Weindling (2015). In summary he states “Nazi experiments were accepted forms of science at the time, conducted not only in concentration camps but also in hospitals and clinics across Germany”.  This concise overview of recent research by Tessa Chelouche in this field is not only important to teaching ethics in the medical and care professions, but it is of high relevance to much broader audiences and many more professions like judges. Only the awareness and guarding against a renewed failure to respect human values and human rights of the individual allow us to advance humanity. Decentralisation of power, checks and balances, professions following widely accepted principles rather than authoritarian rules can avoid another failure. Teaching about this is a “conditio sine qua non” and not a nice to have part of the curriculum in schools as well as professional colleges.

Medical Personal

Like in many other professions, medical doctors and nurses are in short supply. Labour markets in Europe have changed from high oversupply (unemployment) to shortages of mainly skilled persons. 20 years ago, such skill needs were already visible in projections. In 2023 the discussion of skill needs is spreading to more and more professions. The medical professions are no exception to this rule. Even the best paying jobs will not be filled in sufficient numbers. The German institute for the medical profession (www.zi.de) forecasts, in my opinion, a lower bound estimate of medical doctors for the year 2030. Their projection is based on an underestimation of the growth of the population (war in Ukraine), which they see as about constant until 2030. From the recent figures on the population of Germany there were 1.5 million persons moving to Germany and a loss of more deaths than births of 327.000. Migrants are on average much younger than the German population and, therefore, overall aging of the population is reduced. Tough news for those daring to do projections. Thanks to the immigration of younger persons there will be more persons contributing to health insurance and pay for the higher costs of a rapidly aging population.
Following the projections of the distribution of specialists needed, we shall need more urologists, eye specialists and substantially more psychotherapists. This originates in the aging of the population and the higher demand of younger persons (post Covid-19), as well as refugees, in need of psychotherapeutic assistance.
So-called hog-cycles tell us for the medical profession, with a “production time” of 10 years for a medical doctor, that we are already far behind schedule to address the future skill needs of the aging medical profession and population. This strengthens the need to get serious about prevention of avoidable diseases. Stop reading here, stand up and go for walk. It is the best-practice-solution taking account of the aging of the medical profession and the population as a whole.