Thursday, March 15 2012

Reasons I love Amazon, #317a

[Update: since I first posted this, some idiot Marketplace dealer’s auto-pricing system has jacked their (virtual) copy up to $999. Plus $3.99 shipping, to add insult to injury. Wonder how long it will take their sloppy code to notice that the used book they plan to buy from someone else and resell at 8x is now over-priced by 5x?]

I ordered a book of the sort that’s in print but out of stock everywhere, so that all the dealers list it at prices ranging from 1.5x to 15x. Amazon’s order confirmation (which, as always, reached my inbox before I could switch windows) said, “no idea when we can get a copy, but as soon as it shows up, we’ll get it out to you”.

That was Monday at noon. Yesterday at 5pm, they sent an update: “found one, expect it Tuesday”. Two minutes into today, another update: “okay, you’ll have it tomorrow”. With free shipping, of course.

(and they bought 8 copies, just in case anyone else wants to start studying Japanese swordsmanship)

Local book stores could give me this sort of service, but past experience suggests that very few will, and even fewer will do it consistently. Right now, I’d have to drive 90 miles to reach one that might, which stretches the definition of “local” a bit. Amazon isn’t driving the competition out of business with predatory pricing and sales-tax avoidance; they’re doing it by being a better book store. And a better furniture store, appliance store, hardware store, etc.

I love book stores, but after reinventing themselves as coffee shops with a small selection of books sandwiched in between the videos and the sandwiches, I really have no reason to go to one. The only ones left worth patronizing are the used book stores, which still have some actual variety on their shelves, to surprise and delight the customer. And a lot of them stay in business by listing all their stock on Amazon.

(and yes, after my first two nights in the dojo, all sorts of underused muscle groups are complaining)