Prime Day and Amazon-a-versary

Today is Prime Day at Amazon, a day in which there are special deals for Amazon Prime members.

Prime Day 2017

The main deals are on Amazon products like the Kindle or the Echo.  Not exactly as interesting to me as the Steam Summer Sale, but I’ll go take a look all the same.

Today also happens to be an anniversary for me with Amazon.  Twenty years ago today, July 11, 1997, I placed my first order at Amazon.com.  You can go see all of your order history on your account page, which can be both fascinating and disturbing.

My order was for a book, because at the time Amazon was pretty much an online bookstore.  But they were expanding into music CDs as well.  The whole thing wasn’t profitable yet, but it was the dotcom era and people were interested in grabbing market share first and making money later.

That second bit was the catch of course, and the downfall of companies like Netscape.

I went to Amazon.com twenty years ago because they had selection beyond even the largest local bookstore.

Today the profitable enterprise that is Amazon it is my first stop for all sorts of things.  I recently bought a replacement filter for our refrigerator from them.  It has become to people today what the Sears catalog must have been for those in rural settings back towards the end of the 19th century, and then some.  They own Twitch and the Internet Movie Database and Goodreads and Alexa and Audible, each of which touches my online life.

Amazon is hardly perfect, but they do seem to be here to stay.

4 thoughts on “Prime Day and Amazon-a-versary

  1. Coppertopper

    Because it has and is trying to become all things to all people I have been making a concerted effort to buy local now. Computer parts – will just find a place locally that will match online pricing. Same with just about anything else that has been an impulse buy for me in the past. The difference is taxes of course – but that supports my local infrastructure so not a bad thing. I can’t avoid shopping online all the time but when even the retail salesmen at the local home goods tells me he buys everything from Amazon, then doesn’t get the irony of what that means for his livelihood….

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Coppertopper – In California Amazon collects the sales tax, so that gap has been closed.

    And the irony is that Amazon has started looking into physical storefronts as there are things that people don’t want to buy online. Not sure if that means you’ll be able to buy an Echo at Whole Foods, but soon Amazon will have a store front not too far from me.

    The real downside of Amazon is that it is supposed to be a pretty miserable place to work. I know a couple of devs who went to work for them and hated the corporate culture that Bezos promotes.

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  3. Bhagpuss

    I work in a bookshop where we are all assumed to loathe Amazon as the biggest threat to our very existence. Guess what? I love Amazon. Even though I get 50% discount on books from where I work I still buy most of my books from Amazon because most books I want are either not available through the distributors we use or are out of print. Amazon marketplace gets me things I would otherwise never see – or hear about.

    There’s a great SF trilogy by Mick Farren, generally known as “The DNA Cowboys”, in which everyone gets everything they need delivered to them from a place known only as “Stuff Central”. Amazon *is* Stuff Central!

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  4. Shintar

    Speaking of Amazon store fronts, have you seen this? We were shown that video at work yesterday and it looks pretty incredible, so of course I was immediately sceptical of how well it can really work.

    Apparently my own first Amazon order was placed on Amazon.de in October 2001 and was for a calendar. What can I say, I love fancy calendars and on that front they beat our local store long before I started looking for books online.

    Ever since I’ve seen how Amazon handle things “on the other side” though (my employer sells on the Amazon marketplace), I’ve become a lot less enamoured with their methods.

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