The New York magazine has an excellent article on Amazon, one that asks a question that matters to all of us, it Amazon good for books–and thus authors?
newyorker.com/reporting/2014 … ntPage=all
Here are two significant quotes:
It wasn’t a love of books that led him to start an online bookstore. “It was totally based on the property of books as a product,” Shel Kaphan, Bezos’s former deputy, says. Books are easy to ship and hard to break, and there was a major distribution warehouse in Oregon. Crucially, there are far too many books, in and out of print, to sell even a fraction of them at a physical store. The vast selection made possible by the Internet gave Amazon its initial advantage, and a wedge into selling everything else. For Bezos to have seen a bookstore as a means to world domination at the beginning of the Internet age, when there was already a crisis of confidence in the publishing world, in a country not known for its book-crazy public, was a stroke of business genius.
Next is this about Roger Doeren of Rainy Day Books in Kansas in 1995:
Doeren considered this, then asked, “What’s your business model?”
Bezos said that Amazon intended to sell books as a way of gathering data on affluent, educated shoppers. The books would be priced close to cost, in order to increase sales volume. After collecting data on millions of customers, Amazon could figure out how to sell everything else dirt cheap on the Internet. (Amazon says that its original business plan “contemplated only books.”)
Afterward, Doeren told his partner at Rainy Day Books, Vivien Jennings, “I just met the world’s biggest snake-oil salesman. It’s going to be really bad for books.”
Selling books simply to gather data on people to sell them other stuff doesn’t suggest any great love of books does it? In retail sales that’s treating books as a loss-leader just to get them to the store.
to gather data on people
Also a reason to shy away from a lot of “free” software.
My humble estimate of ALL business people is that they exist mainly to separate customers from their cash.
And that they would ALL love to gather data on those customers, if said data led to more cash.
Me, I can’t wait for the day when Amazon knows what I want before I want it.
If only readers were so prescient!
Sorry, Mike, I know you are serious about these issues and I respect that.