Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Behemoth

It seems to me that there's a larger disconnect in the Amazon v. Hachette brouhaha than just books. I may be delusional in the end, so bear that in mind.

The online world is so programmed to shop at Amazon first that it appears - and this is with only minimal research - that there are no successful self-publishers who have not used Amazon. Hybrid authors also offer direct from their websites DRM-free PDFs of their books but they are also listed on the online giant's books pages. In short, Amazon is the be-all, end-all online shopping experience no matter what anyone wants to believe.

This isn't Amazon's fault. It is one of their successes but it troubles me. With the demise of locally-owned video, record, and book stores over the last 15 years as well as the desire of people to shop without pants, we are heading for a scary future ala Wall-E with the online behemoth standing in for the Buy n Large Corporation.

A lot of control is in the hands of Amazon. It dominates in a way that has been forecast for decades, eating up small shops and sites and developers with impunity.

And I'm part of the problem, too. I acknowledge that I've bought a great deal of merchandise from Amazon because the discounts were too good to ignore. The convenience they offer is intoxicating and I've often bemoaned the loss of local book stores and music stores. I miss talking to the staffs at these places who would get to know me and my tastes a little. They were so much more fun than the "Other people who bought this also bought..." lines at the bottom of every page I visit on Amazon.

In the end, Amazon should just be one more retailer in a world filled with retailers. It shouldn't be the one-stop shopping experience that even grocery stores have tried to be. It's good for people to move about in the world. Yes, we're busy but to be honest we could probably spend less time watching streaming tv and film, right? Would it hurt to analyze how much screen time one spends each day?

Maybe priorities are skewed. Determine what's more important. It's up to the individual. For my own part, I don't want to be essentially confined to a moving chair on a star ship looking for a new planet to ruin. Maybe I'll spend more money on particular items and maybe it'll take longer to get to me if I buy online. That's okay. I don't mind.

Because I'll try to support creators I like as directly as possible. If someone chooses to self-publish and offer their stuff directly I'll try that first. Then I'll head to other online retailers than Amazon.

Or maybe I'll have to put on some pants and head out to a bricks and mortar store with real live people in it. What a concept.