Monday, December 26, 2011

Psalm

The Lord is our shepherd
The flock has found wanting
And so put out to pasture.
We now lead thirsting to water;
We now restore souls.

Though we walk through
The Valley as the Shadow of Death,
Fearsome and evil, we say
“Thou art with me.”
With rod and staff
We comfort.

And prepare a table before others
As though they were enemies;
Anoint our own heads with oil;
Run bitter cups over and serve.

Surely goodness and mercy
Have fled from us as days
Follow days, and we have dwelled
In the wilderness without God
Too long.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Amazon's Offense

All week I’ve been fuming. Nothing gets my goat like Amazon, and they’re at it with disgusting abandon. On Saturday, December 10, their new promotion goes live: price check an item in a retail store with the Amazon app for smart phones, then buy it from Amazon for an additional 5% off, up to $5. The promotion lasts only a day, but still, in the busiest season of the year, in the month on which many retailers rely heavily for future existence, and on what tends to be the biggest shopping day of the week, Amazon encourages consumers to flip the bird to store owners and employees who pay rent and taxes to be considered more than a free showroom, all for a measly five dollars.

Not only has Amazon been aggressively attacking books in short-sighted bursts of lunacy, but many consumers still go along with them. And the new campaign only capitalizes on a practice that already occurs frequently.

Now, maybe I’m getting ahead of my furious self. Dan Mitchell at CNN Money seems to think so, that my outrage is misguided because the Amazon campaign will deal most damage to other giants like Walmart and Barnes & Noble. He goes on to dismiss any concern that local stores will be affected because “those kinds of stores were mostly obliterated years ago” and the “victim is theoretical” in instances of Amazon’s greedy money grabs and sales sniping.

Tell Capitol Hill that Bailey/Coy Books was merely theoretical.

And, for the record, the Elliott Bay Book Company wasn't obliterated; it moved to a new location.

Other arguments pose that Amazon’s new campaign will bring foot traffic into stores. Once there, customer’s are positioned for impulse buys. It’s a funny thing, 5% is. It’s not enough to get people off their couch to try and get a deal. No, it’s a discount designed to entice shoppers who already bothered to leave the house. Then, in the store, that added discount (up to five measly bucks) is designed to tip a customer on the fence toward buying from Amazon, where prices are already gouged deeply, and shipping costs are nil. Impulse buys are never Nathan Myhrvold’s elaborate cookbook and food-porn masterpiece, Modernist Cuisine ($625, available at Elliott Bay Book Co.); they’re more likely to be chocolate bars, greeting cards, and Bananagrams. But those don't really pay the bills, do they.

It has never been a small irony to me that Amazon chose a Bradburian name like Kindle and Kindle Fire for their e-reader, as they continue to set fire to booksellers, publishers, and writers alike. Why Jeff Bezos and company hate books so much, I’ll never know. But I urge all readers to strike against Amazon and not buy into their underhanded ploys for business. You’re smarter than Amazon. Buying from them is like saying you don’t care what you’re buying, where it comes from, or who it’s for.