Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyThe Amazon Problem

  • Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:51:11    Permalink

    Everybody in the book biz – antiquarian, used, and writing ‘em – seems obsessed with the dominance of Amazon. So, after watching the Patriots – Texans game, and then the Brocos – Chiefs, I snuck in a segment of “60 Minutes” which featured an interview with Jeff Bezos before tuning in the Redskins - Giants game.
    According to Jeff, warehouses are going up everywhere and Amazon has plans to deliver everything to anyone instantly. His vision of consumer paradise includes flying drones that will drop packages weighing up to five pounds at your doorstep. 
    In fact, the entire sequence was a puff job - with the affable Charlie Rose lobbing easy questions - for Amazon and the benefits it will deliver. Jeff, it seems, has our best interests at heart. As far as he’s concerned, keeping us Consumers happy is Job One. (He didn’t have much to say about the tens of thousands of human drones filling orders in his breathtakingly enormous warehouses.)
    That was all fun, but the best part was listening to Bezos, at the end of a long, and I must say prescient, segment of self-justification, saying, “Companies have short life spans, Charlie… Companies come and go.”
    I’ve always believed this, and I don’t think my attitude is Pollyana optimism or head-in-the-sand denial. The bigger Amazon gets the less stable it becomes. Looking back, we’ll be amazed at how short a lifespan the whole Amazon concept had, and how much we bought into it – for a moment.
    Meanwhile the big job, for us booksellers and writers, is finding new ways to sell books. Allowing ourselves to become dependant on Amazon and then complaining about the power Amazon exerts over us is, well…
    Speaking of selling things, my kids and I have started a new family business in the parking lot in front of Celia’s Flower Studio.
    As in every such operation, the customer is assisted by a jolly but slightly sketchy old coot in a Santa hat who’s been keeping himself warm in front of a balsam bow fire, and fortified with nips from a well concealed bottle of hooch.That, of course, is my job.

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