Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don't be evil, Amazon, and abandon your scorched-earth policy

You've probably seen this already, but if you haven't, go read Richard Russo's "Amazon's Jungle Logic" at the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/opinion/amazons-jungle-logic.html?_r=1&hp.

In a new low in shopping promotions, Amazon is giving shoppers a discount if they go into a brick-and-mortar store, compare prices on an item using some price-compare app, and then buy the thing on Amazon.

On a world-affairs scale, that may not amount to much evil, but on an everyday-consumer-life scale, that's evil. It's even ratcheting up a notch the ethically dubious practice endorsed by staid old and usually not corrupt Consumer Reports of test-driving a car or checking out consumer electronics at your local dealer and then ordering it online to save money.

Here's a tip: those brick-and-mortar stores don't exist as free showrooms for online businesses, although Amazon.com would like to think they do. If we keep using them that way, pretty soon those free showrooms won't exist, especially in the book world. You won't stumble on books or find a gift by looking around a store filled with books, because there won't be one near you.

I still do buy from Amazon.com, especially when it's some book of lit crit that no indy bookseller would have or when sending a gift that would mean an hour in line at the post office. But I turned the tables on Amazon by printing out the "wish lists" of gift recipients. I plan to head down to the friendly independent bookseller with those lists later this week--and I won't be doing so with any Amazon Judas app in tow.


Dr. Koshary said...

It is indeed evil. I gripe all the time, I know, about Ghosttown, but this article certainly makes me thankful that there is a fine independent bookstore in town where I feel virtuous spending my leisure coin.

P said...

Here's more cause for frustration: Amazon hires junior copywriters at 77k/year (the seattle branch does, at least), ON TOP of a 15k signing bonus. Yet more evidence that "going corporate" will always have an upper hand.

undine said...

Dr. Koshary, I'm thankful we have one, too.

V--I don't know whether to be sorry or glad to learn that a junior copywriter at Amazon can make so much more money than I do, but thank you for that information. The dark side pays better, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Re: printing out the wish list and buying locally? Mwhahahahaha! You're an evil genius. Except *not* evil.

Anthea said...

Yes, I saw this article too and saw a piece about the tv news. I use Amazon to keep a list of the books that I'd like but I'll buy them at local bookstores. Ack about the junior copyright's salary!