Amazon Books

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An Amazon Books store opened on the North Shore, and I wanted to see how a store without visible pricing could possibly hope to succeed. With my background in bookselling and retail, and as an Amazon Prime member, I was especially interested in learning about how in-store transactions got processed and whether or not that elusive thing known as "Customer Service" would be present. 

And I made a commitment to myself not to purchase any books there, since I'm on a personal campaign to jettison those of my existing books that I no longer read or care about but have some market value left (to family for free, or to other readers for as much money as possible on eBay). Books I purchase these days are either ebooks, or Audible books.

So how did it go?

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Well, it's a gorgeous store, in the way that I think Apple stores are gorgeous. It doesn't look like an Apple Store, but it does have that same clean, open, thought-through look and feel to it. It's comfortable and it looks like a bookstore.  

About a quarter of the store is devoted to Amazon electronics, which allows the customer to interact with Kindle and Alexa hands-on instead of online. Online shopping is a wonderful thing, but you can't see and touch (and interact) with things like you can in a brick-and-mortar store. So in that regard, Amazon Books is a showroom - and it is especially a Prime showroom. 

And if you're saying "well I like shopping online because I like to read the comments" all you have to do is open the Amazon app on your smartphone, scan the item, and read the comments. Alternatively, you can take the item you're interested in to one of the scanning stations in the store.

The title selection was eclectic but engaging, and browsing was really fun. The checkout procedure seemed quick and easy, again making use of a customer's Prime membership, or for non-Amazonians, the old fashioned card-swipe way. It appeared to be frictionless. And customer service was also good, and respectful to browsers. I engaged with one Associate who was obviously a book person, and with whom I bonded (as a book person and former bookseller myself). He answered all my questions and was quite clear about Amazon's mission with Amazon Books - to showcase amazon.com.

The title selection was eclectic but engaging, and browsing was really fun. The checkout procedure seemed quick and easy, again making use of a customer's Prime membership, or for non-Amazonians, the old fashioned card-swipe way. It appeared to be frictionless. And customer service was also good, and respectful to browsers. I engaged with one Associate who was obviously a book person, and with whom I bonded (as a book person and former bookseller myself). He answered all my questions and was quite clear about Amazon's mission with Amazon Books - to showcase amazon.com.

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All in all, I was impressed. I didn't ask Alexa any questions, but despite my best intentions, I did buy a book. 

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Read Your Kindle Library On Your iPhone/iTouch!

I just downloaded a new, free application from the iTunes App Store called "Kindle" that lets me read any book stored on my Kindle on my iTouch/iPhone.

And whenever I stop reading on one device, the other device has it bookmarked.

Brilliant! Now I can read with a backlighted screen when I need to, or when I don't have my Kindle with me.

Click here for more information from today's New York Times

John Updike

John Updike is dead at 76. He has always been my favorite American novelist.

Michio Kakutani captures some of the reasons why in her remembrance:

"It is as a novelist who opened a big picture window on the American middle class in the second half of the 20th century, however, that he will be best remembered."

"In his most resonant work, Mr. Updike gave “the mundane its beautiful due,” as he once put it, memorializing the everyday mysteries of love and faith and domesticity with extraordinary nuance and precision."

"In Kodachrome-sharp snapshots, he gave us the 50’s and early 60’s of suburban adultery, big cars and wide lawns, radios and hi-fi sets, and he charted the changing landscape of the 70’s and 80’s, as malls and subdivisions swallowed up small towns and sexual and social mores underwent a bewildering metamorphosis."

Kindle


I consume a lot of printed content, especially books.

I’m always reading more than one book (frequently several) at the same time, because reading is my relaxation strategy and what I choose to read depends on what frame of mind I’m in at the time.

My Kindle has become a paradigm shifter, like my iPod. These devices enable me to read and listen wherever and whenever I want.

My BlackBerry is an important communication device, but my Kindle and my iPod are important to my soul, and that’s a whole other magnitude of importance.

If you were hoping to get a Kindle for Christmas,it looks like you're probably out of luck, and it appears that you have Oprah Winfrey to thank for it.

But if you’ve decided to get one, wait until it is back in stock at amazon.com instead of buying another kind of electronic reader. The dedicated wireless link to amazon.com and the instant gratification of being able to download a free chapter or two from a book you’ve just heard about on NPR can’t be duplicated by any of the Kindle’s competitiors.

Yes it is expensive – but so was your iPod when you first bought it, and think about the difference that has made in your life.