Posts Tagged ‘amazon’

Why can’t I pick it up at the store?

October 22, 2014

So, one of my kids is having a birthday and my mom wanted me to order a book she could give him – the Complete Calvin & Hobbes. My mom lives in the middle of nowhere, so we agreed that it would probably be easiest, and best, for me to buy it, wrap it, and give it to my son for her, rather than her try to find it and then give it to him whenever we get back in her general direction (though that’s happening next week).  If you don’t know, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is a box set of either trade paperbacks or hardcovers.  Since I don’t really want to give Amazon my book buying business, I went to Barnes and Noble’s website and was thrilled to see it was about 40% off.  I noticed a button that said, “pick up in store.” Clicking this gave me a list of local B&N’s, and suggested I call them for pricing and availability.

wait, pricing? But I just got a price off of your website. Why would I have to call a store to see what their price is when you just told me your price?

Because the brick and mortar stores charge whatever the hell they please, that’s why. Instead of being 40% off, it was 0% off.  Contrast this to my buying experience at that company on the leading edge of online retail, Menards. I was able to buy a trashcan, a handcart, and a broom, click on an option to “pick up in store,” pay for it, and then magically pick it up at a service desk at the store. Memards can manage to figure out how to make this work for trash cans and push brooms, why can’t Barnes & Noble figure out how to make it work for books?

Needless to say, I saved myself forty bucks, ordered the book off their website, and had it shipped to my mom’s house at this point. Because, well, why wouldn’t I? I saved myself a good chunk of money, saved myself the drive to the store, and I didn’t find myself tempted to buy some stuff I didn’t need like I did at Menards when I got there and then shelled out for a back of Brach’s candies and some on-sale sanding disks. I guess the Barnes and Noble store I didn’t go to didn’t have to sell something at a lower than retail price, but then they didn’t get to sell anything at all. It’s still sitting on their shelf. On top of that, my order qualified for free shipping from B&N, shipping that has to cost them more in the long run than just chucking one extra box set of comic books onto a truck that would have been going to one of their stores regardless.

I get not wanting to take money out of the mouths of their stores, but they did that today when I couldn’t just buy my book and pick it up at one of their stores. It was silly, it was stupid, and it gives people no reason not to just go to Amazon, because they’ll mail the thing to your door just as well. Get in the game, B&N, and use your natural shipping/distribution hubs -your stores –  more to your advantage.

The Loss of Book Culture

June 14, 2014

I was showering this morning when I started thinking about a coupon I’d just gotten from Barnes and Noble in my email for 15%  off a purchase, and how I probably wouldn’t get to one of their stores regardless. I used to live in Borders. I loved Borders. Their stores made sense to me, and I would make sure I went at least one a week just to browse. That doesn’t happen any more. Part of it is the lack of proximity. I now have to drive at least a half hour on the expressway to get to either a Barnes and Noble or a Books-a-Million, the latter of which is really more of a reincarnation of Media Play than a bookstore. Now, a half hour isn’t a ton of time. It’s not so far out of my way that it would preclude me from doing something I really wanted to do.

Which is part of the problem now. Going to a book store isn’t something I really want to do. And it hasn’t been since Borders shut their doors. This isn’t a knock on the remaining book stores. All of them have their positives, and can be very nice places. I just have no interest in going.

So I wonder how many more out there are like me. Former book people, maybe even current book people (the library now stands in for my book browsing fix), who just do not feel the same pull to go into a bookstore and just browse. With the collapse of Borders, among others, how many of us were turned into the cold and ended up finding other fires to warm ourselves by? I miss Borders. A lot.  The world of books hasn’t been the same since, no, not even with little indie bookstores that all us feel bad for not supporting better.

And then there is the elephant in the room, Amazon, which has been in the news lately for trying to badger Hachette into a poor deal for the publisher. If we’re going to think about book culture, going to the stores, wandering around, flipping through pages, Amazon is the antithesis of this. Yeah, you can sometimes browse a few digital pages, but you don’t have the other people wandering the aisles, you don’t have the clerks willing to offer advice and suggestions, you don’t have the communal coffee shop-ish area, you don’t have any real interaction. You have point. You have click.  You have no community that exists in any real tangible sense.

Maybe society is changing away from the sort of experience I have noticed myself dropping away from. This could be just a single story in a larger movement.  I miss my Borders, though.

Book links! nanananananananana

March 26, 2014

Buzzfeed has a list of all 339 books mentioned in Gilmore Girls. It wasn’t a show I was ever interested in, but it’s an impressive list. I’m curious how many shows could match it.

Amazon customers got some refunds from publishers.  I think the whole lawsuit is ridiculous, and I still want to see the publishers just not sell their books through Amazon. If they really worry about Amazon becoming too powerful,  cut off the supply and begin creating a new ecosystem centered around their own websites selling their books. They could also hook up with Apple in the future, or MS, or throw more weight behind Barnes & Noble, and create their own website similar to the itunes store.  In the end, I don’t trust Wal-Mazon.

Writers, go (mid-) West. Alright, I did have a long blurb here but wordpress hiccuped and lost it. Good post, a lot of good links to further readings from recent writers of the midwest. I’m searching for Rust Belt Chic from my local library right now.

Books Links

February 6, 2014

Well, Haruki Murakami has horribly insulted some town in Japan.  Within his newest short story, a woman tosses a smoke from her car window and the main character makes the comment that all people from this woman’s town must be horrible litterers. I omit the name of the town from my blog in fear of bringing their wrath down upon me.

Amazon is venturing into publishing.  Okay, they’ve been there awhile but the Seattle Times is finally writing about it. Good read.

Alright, so JK Rowling isn’t exactly thrilled with having Hermione and Weasley become an item.  I’ve since seen debates springing up across the web about it. Yes, Harry was perfect for Hermione. Weasley and Hermione had a genuine romantic give and take.  The only one perfect for Harry was Ron. Wait…no, I think that last one was just me.  My only real response at this point  is who cares?  She wishes she had written the books differently. Okay. Most authors probably have similar wishes at some point. She isn’t kicking your dog, she isn’t irrevocably destroying your faith in God. She’s just saying, “hey, maybe I could have done something different.” Big deal.

Book Links

January 28, 2014

Dean Koontz had a hangout on Google+ the other day. Go here if you’re interested. I’m not a big fan of their video player, it keeps wanting to close when I switch tabs and try to come back to it later, but from what I have listened to in snippets and pieces, it seems like a good one. It’s also a long one (~54 minutes) so you’ll have to set aside a chunk of time to watch it entirely. I sort of wish they would have just an audio version for us folks who maybe don’t h ave a killer internet connection and who don’t want to put up with buffering, lag, and everything else. Or google can get their own high speed installed in more places (preferable).

Have a cup of coffee, chat about Murakami. This is actually one of a serious of articles about Haruki Murakami. This one’s about a jazz cafe turned book cafe where Murakami fans gather and gab. I liked it, but I’m a Murakami fan. So…

And here’s a link I haven’t put up before, but probably should have. It’s an organization for independent book stores. I always have a B&N link with stories I review, because I’m really not a fan of Amazon’s practices related to the book industry,but I should push the independents more, too.  For a vibrant community, and a healthy industry, support your local book stores.

Book Links

September 30, 2013

Leave it to Texas. They have decided to open a new library…without any books. It might make budgetary sense, but the idea of a library being essentially a Mac Cafe doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it is just a cultural inevitability, though. I know there have been sales numbers over the past year that has shown the market for ebooks slowing, and that there is a renewed hope for paper and cardboard to hang on as the present and future principle form for books, but I just don’t see it.  Not with wages stagnating, population growth and growing urbanization making living spaces smaller, and the general desire to comfortably lug whatever the hell we want with us to wherever we want to take it.  Hardcopy books will likely, eventually, go the same way hard copy movies and music appear to be going: towards a niche market.

Please don’t buy my book on amazon. Author Jamie Clarke wants you to buy his book direct from the publisher, instead. He has  a website up promoting his cause, and I encourage folks to go and check it out. And if you want his book, buy it from the publisher (and get it early!).  As always, I support the majority of antiAmazon sentiment, but I’m not familiar with Clarke’s work. I’ll be checking it out, though.

Finally, TC Boyle has a new collection of stories coming out. 15 years worth of stories covering 900+ pages. I enjoy Boyle’s work, though I haven’t made enough of a dent in his last collection. Still, I look forward to this one.

Book Links 8-16-13

August 16, 2013

To visit a much posted topic here, yet more stuff about the Apple vs Government case. Anyone remember how way back at the beginning of the trial the judge commented that Apple was essentially boned? Well, she has a reputation for pre-judging her cases.  If you’ve read pretty much any of my other book links from the past few months, you know where I fall in this argument. I think Apple was entirely in the right, and it’s a joke that Amazon, the company that legitimately worked (works) to corner and monopolize the ebook market was hit with nothing.  I’m looking forward to Apple’s appeal.

Publisher’s Weekly has a blog post about bundling digital copies with damn near everything and wondering why the publishing industry doesn’t do it. My take is that it’s too foreign. Movies and music have always had a certain malleable aspect to their delivery the moment it became possible to be pulled into the home.  Each have went through a variety of formats (8mm, video cassette, DVD, reel-to-reel, audio cassette, CD, etc.) and have been open to being copied, swapped, and manipulated by their consumers in ways that publishing just hasn’t.  Aside from sitting down and either transcribing or xeroxing something, there wasn’t a convenient way of copying something for someone else to read.  You also couldn’t easily manipulate a text outside of a pair of scissors and some scotch tape.  The idea that your product not only can, but needs to, be creatively packaged and sold doesn’t have any real traction for publishing.  Their idea of a bonus feature has been an author interview in the back of the book, or perhaps a chapter or two of the author’s next book. If you wanted something with annotations, something that provided a weighty bonus feature, you were likely looking to pay a few extra books and having to special order a special edition.  What usually happened was that any sort of bonus usually became another book, or a magazine article, something that could be published entirely separately and monetized over again.

Which is awesome for writers and publishers. It’s just not something that has prepared them very well for what they should, and need, to be doing now.

Also, have to say, there are always exceptions to the rule. I don’t have the title off the top of my head, but I know at least one book I have had a music CD packaged with it featuring music created by the writer to go along with the book.  I think I bought it at a Border’s Closing Clearance Sale, and I still haven’t read it, or listened to the CD. So maybe there is also a lack of interest in readers for extra material, though I’m fairly certain that if I got a CD of some bizarre music with a Stephen King novel, I’d have probably listened to it in the car on the way home.

Anyway. The kid just brought me the mail, and it’s sort of thrown my entire thought process out of whack. I have no idea how anyone is productive at all when there is a kid in the house.

Book Links 5-20-15

May 20, 2013

Apple is still fighting.  I think the government going after Apple and publishers for the agency pricing model is ridiculous considering how  Amazon was allowed to develop a strangehold on the ebook market before that. It might have forced people to spend a few more bucks in the short term, but I think it was providing for a more robust publishing industry in the long term.  While the publishers have caved, Apple continues to fight, and I applaud them and wish them luck. Also, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this bit about their tax haven practices is coming out now. Considering the big banks were allowed to skate after tanking our economy, politicians complaining about Apple gaming the tax system (legally, as they admit) rings hollow.

On the flip size, Amazon wants to profit by the government going after Apple/publishers, but they don’t want to lose any blood over it. They are fighting to keep their data/info out of the public eye, and out of the courts. I think they are wrong. they are clearly a major player in this, and they deserve  to be pulled into the fight.  They are the only major interest that will greatly benefit by the government winning their case.

Stephen King’s next book, Joyland, won’t be released as an ebook. I like this, except it’s not really his next book. It’s his next book published by the small, independent press Hard Case Crime. I still applaud the move, but it’s not like it’s his next, big publisher release. And you can still buy the physical book off of Amazon.

Not book related, but David Carr’s new article about telecom giants giving us crappy, overpriced cable is a must read.

Just some snippets of opinion

April 24, 2013

I don’t want a new Gatsby movie. Especially a musical. By Baz Luhrmann. I enjoy the book, I sort of enjoy the old Redford movie.  I don’t see Dicaprio as Gatsby or Tom or anyone else from the book. I’d rather just see it left alone, or done by someone who isn’t, well, Luhrmann. No offense, but Moulin Rouge, Romero + Juliet, and Australia don’t inspire huge amounts of confidence and I’m not looking forward to Gatsby getting that treatment.

I don’t want a new prequel to The Shining. What made the original Shining movie great wasn’t Stephen King, it wasn’t the hotel, it wasn’t Colorado. It was Stanley Kubrick directing Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duval, and Jake Loyd. Want proof? Look at the more recent tv miniseries.  To pile on the negatives, this wouldn’t have King’s blessing and it will be based on material even he cut from the original book.  Want to do a horror movie set in a hotel? Great. have at it. Just leave The Shining out of it. And, for God’s sake, get good people involved.

I don’t want Amazon getting involved in every damn part of media experience. This includes television. I’m complained about Amazon enough, but on this level I feel roughly the same about a handful of companies owning the majority of our television and radio stations, how our newspapers are being swept under larger and larger umbrellas, how cable/phone companies have increasingly monopolies, etc. It’s never good when one company has their hands in too many cookie jars.

I don’t want to never read another Roger Ebert blog or tweet. I have Ebert’s RSS feed in my google reader, something else I don’t want to see go away, and I haven’t ready any of the posts that are still marked unread. I’ve read them on Ebert’s actual blog site, but through the reader. Because then they would no longer be unread. And they would disappear. I don’t want them to disappear. I watched Siskel and Ebert, and I was crushed when Siskel died. I never warmed to Roeper. I became a devotee of Ebert’s website.  He was really the only the movie critic I bothered to read any more. I’ve found his like/dislike to be a fair barometer of how I will enjoy a movie. Right or wrong, I found that I often agreed with him on whether or not a movie was worth watching. We probably disagreed on why, but if he liked a movie, I was reasonably confidant in it. Now, well, I don’t know.

Alright, I think I’m done. Just an ugly day, and I feel gripey. Had to get it out of my system, I guess.


house work, lasagna, Boston, gun control…

April 18, 2013

this is really just going to sum up a whole week’s worth of adventures, misadventures, impressions. First…

I tried to fix a toilet. It was leaking between the bowl and the tank, and after deciding it wasn’t leaking from the bolts that connect the two, I figured it was the gasket between the two. So I got the gasket, and an extra set of bolts, just in case. Everything went awesomely well. I got the tank dried out, I got it off the bowl. I replaced the gasket (the old one was cracked down one side and looked rough in general). I got everything back together. I flushed it. And the fill valve/ball failed. So I go to Lowes, and buy a new fill valve kit that is supposed to be compatible with any toilet. Okay, great. $15 for this, and the $10 or so I already spent on the other stuff, is still far cheaper than buying a new toilet. The problem is that while it’s apparently compatible with any toilet, it’s not compatible with any overflow tube.  whoever did the internals originally used an overflow tube that had the flapper literally built around it, instead of off to the side like pretty much every other overflow tube/flapper on the market. So now I have to either get a new overflow tube, or go back and buy parts to piece meal the entire system together. I’m getting a new overflow tube and will have essentially replaced all of the guts in the toilet. Lesson learned. Whenever you have to replace one big component in a toilet, just buy the kit and replace all of it. Saves hassle and money in the long run.

I’ve also been busy cleaning up the basement. It’s a mess. It doesn’t appear to have been cleaned in years. It’s frustrating, it’s aggravating, and it feels like it never ends. It sucks. But I know I’m making progress. I need to go down and finish sweeping it up today. get some more junk out of it. Etc. Then I can start looking at patching holes and maybe putting a topcoat on to level it. I can also start cleaning up the section of the basement that has a sandstone floor, which is also where I need to use a couple of floor jacks to level the kitchen floor. I’ve found a website that is supposed to teach me to calculate dead and live loads, which I can use to determine who big of a beam I should use. So, soon I will be delving deep into the realms of math. I’m not looking forward to this.

On a slightly related note to cleaning up the house, our trash hasn’t been collected this week. Apparently teamsters are on strike, it hasn’t been resolved, and so my big blue container is just sitting beside the road, waiting. I finally fired off an email to the trash people today, bitching about it, and asking how they are going to refund a week’s worth of their payment to me for the lack of service. I got a call back in like ten minutes, and they’re actually taking more than the week’s worth off my next bill (though apparently because it’s easier to take a round amount off played a fair part in this decision). However, I still have a bunch of trash that needs to be put into its big blue tub that is currently full with last week’s trash. As you can imagine, the amount of trash is a bit higher than normal since we’re cleaning up a house that has been vacant for a year and was nearing foreclosure.

Publishers are starting to complain a bit more about Amazon. Here’s my problem, though: they might bitch about it, but what are they doing about it? Not a whole lot as far as I can see. They need to wade into the digital retail space, and assert themselves. Either work harder to make another site (like B&N) the place to buy books, or set up their own sites.  Of course, this doesn’t touch Amazon hauling in cheaper editions from other regions, their tax advantages, etc. But I don’t see publishers really moving to fight those problems, either. What I see is an industry that is crying and moaning while the rats nibble it to death.

No on is talking enough about CISPA. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does that people get so riled up about the government possibly putting restrictions on buying a gun, but you barely hear a word over things like the Patriot Act, CISPA, etc. The government takes away our civil rights piece by piece and that’s fine, but threaten to restrict what rifle we buy…

Speaking of gun control, yes, senators are cowards. there’s been some talk about why, about how the NRA is too powerful, etc., but I think what it really comes down to is the horrible gerrymandering we allow to happen every ten years when the census come around. Whoever is in charge takes the opportunity to create the most ridiculous and advantageous districts imaginable to all but guarantee the election/re-election of folks in their party while limiting whatever gains are likely possible by their opposition. It creates an environment where 90% of the population might favor something, but senators and congressman only have to worry about the fraction of the populace that actually votes for them, and often only the fraction of that from their own party. This is because with the ridiculous redistricting maps, they are more vulnerable to challengers from within their own party than in the general election. So we have politicians pandering ever more to the extreme elements of their own bases because they know that trying to gather votes from across the aisle is a losing strategy. Want better legislation and better politicians? Put redistricting in the hands of third parties or in bi-partisan coalitions.

Okay, and I just discovered that the coupon for 10% off my next purchase at Lowes isn’t working. So, despite wanting to buy my crap online and just have it shipped to me, the cheap part of me is thinking that I will  have to print off my list of stuff and drive over to the store and buy the stuff in person and bitch about the coupon not working. Which I’m not looking forward to because I really don’t care for one of the people working the customer service desk who is really the least helpful person I’ve met at a customer service desk anywhere. On the other hand,  I could probably bring the lawnmower home with me and be able to mow the yard tomorrow.

Also, Sears has not called me to set up a delivery time for tomorrow. This does not fill me with hope and confidence in Sears.

Financial regulators who managed to find no reason to go after Wall Street executives who caused the 2008 financial crisis...are now getting jobs on Wall Street. Shocking.

There’s a first listen on NPR of the new album by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You.  I’ve been listening to it as I write this blog up, and it’s good. At the very least, go to NPR and give the album a listen. It’s 40 mminutes of Martin on Banjo and Brickell singing.  Yesterday I was watching a youtube clip of Steve Martin on the Tonight Show in 1978 with Johnny Carson, and the artistic journey he’s made is pretty amazing. I don’t know enough about music to comment on Edie Brickell, though I’m probably going to look up some more of her music after listening to this.

Alright, I think that’s all for now. I need to try to be mildly productive in other areas for awhile.