For once, too much of a good thing has actually happened. Amazon has thrived long enough to see itself become the villain.
If something can be legally purchased, with the exception of ivory, animals, and real estate, it is sold on Amazon. Sold at prices set as low as Amazon possibly set. Even willing to operate at a loss, and with little regard to the manufacturers costs, Amazon’s priorities are variety and low pricing.
I should love them, we all should. They’re here to solve our problems.
Wal•Mart without the in-store horde experience.
Ikea without the desire to consciously uncouple from your loved ones.
That’s a whole lot of upside, but all the invisible downsides remain.
It’s also nothing new to say that ordering through Amazon, especially when the item can be found locally, passively supports the big box-ification of the world.
That’s the entry level of the argument. That’s basic. I love my local bookstores and record stores. Unfortunately, for those in many parts of the country, those stores are fewer and further between, if existing at all.
For electronics or video games, the average American would have to to suffer national chains of nonsense, from GameStop’s boy’s club culture and devalued buybacks to Best Buy’s abject failure at everything, in order to buy local.
In New York City, for independent electronics products, we have Tek Serve, Mikey’s, and a few extremely seedy video game shops. That’s a mere hand-full of options for the most major of metropolitan areas.
The new problem, though, is Amazon’s use of leverage to continue their role as our shopping overlords.
Take pre-orders for example: they have become a major part of how most product sales are measured today. Few are looking to measure a long-tail anymore, so for more and more goods, companies only want to talk about first week sales. It’s inherent to the information overload in the media. Open big or go home, off of our front pages and top sales charts.
Amazon has decided to use this simple view of modern business, to leverage content creators to bow to their lowest-price-possible whims. Content houses like book publisher Hachette and Disney have both lost the ability to pre-sell content, most notably popular films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I guess now’s a good a time as any to explain the virtues of patience and the evils of a monopolistic business to your kids.
Through their dominance, it’s extremely likely that Amazon will win in the end. Hachette and Disney are not saintly companies, but it’s not for the best if Amazon continues to dominate and push us down this path.
All of these tactics done in the name of lowering prices, and if we look to the music industry, we’ll see the complete and systematic devaluing of art. $9.99 albums and 99 cent singles were just the a pause en route to today’s freemium/streaming only reality.
This will make it increasingly harder for emerging and developing artists to consider their craft a viable option in life.
Sure, there’s logic to be made that the price of the product must drop, as digital goods have no print, shipping, or inventory.
As Amazon owns the ebook market, has a sizable chunk of digital music sales, and has now bought and ruined comiXology, the leader of digital comic book industry, the limits to what business they want to literally own are rapidly expanding.
Amazon’s even made its own below-sub-par Android phone, a market that Samsung had all but dominated during the last decade.
Not satisfied with shipping via postal services, Amazon is trying to add drone & door to door to their delivery methods.
You can’t pick winners and losers in the free markets, libertarians will respond.
The concern, though, is a world without winners and losers, and just Bond villain-lookalike Jeff Bezos selling you all of the things. That can’t be good for competition
On rare, rare occasion, like when a vendor only allows purchase via Amazon’s PayPal competitor, I’ll have to bend. Or if there are no local alternatives that provide a tolerable alternative, even with my reluctance factored in.
Now that you’ve made it this far, I’ll make good on my promise. Here is the completely unrelated but awesome Grimes ft. Blood Diamonds video for “Go.”