Friday, December 09, 2011

There is only one word for this

and that is "evil." I'm talking about Amazon's latest assault on ethics via their "price check" app—and here are two people who do a better job of explaining why it is unethical than I can...

From Time's Entertainment page (do take the time to read the whole thing):

But sometimes a customer will pick up a book, examine it, maybe read the first few pages, and then casually take a photo of it with their smartphone. At first, because I am a naïve and trusting individual, I thought the customers were just particularly taken with the cover art. But after witnessing the practice a number of times, I realized this was not the case, and that the browsers in question were being sneaky. This, according to New York Times reporter Julie Bosman, is called ‘showrooming’ by some booksellers (though I had never heard that phrase). You could also call it something else — “evil.” The general idea is that customers have started to use the bookstore as a place to handle, but not purchase, merchandise, like a Ferrari dealership, where you don’t actually expect to drive one home off the lot. According to a recent Codex Group survey, 39% of those who purchased a book on Amazon looked at said title in a bricks-and-mortar store first before heading online.

And, from the American Booksellers Association, an open letter (again, go read the whole thing):

We could call your $5 bounty to app-users a cheesy marketing move and leave it at that. In fact, it is the latest in a series of steps to expand your market at the expense of cities and towns nationwide, stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries.

<idle musing>
Hey, if you live near a bookstore, use it. Of course, if they don't carry what you are looking for, they can order it. Or, if you are looking for obscure ANE or academic biblical studies stuff, use Eisenbrauns. We are family owned, pay taxes, support the community, and even have live human beings who can answer your questions—well, usually we can answer your questions!

Oh, by the way, a recent study in Maine found that 58% of the money from buying locally goes back into the local community. However, if the "local" business is a national chain, that drops to 33%. I just wish I could find that link again...
</idle musing>

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