Wednesday, May 28, 2014

No more Amazon

Dear Reader,

A rant is about to follow. read it at your own risk. Or if you'd like to do something about the trending economy, please read on.

I do not shop at Wal-Mart. I refuse to support their way of doing business. I refuse because what they have done is to drive small businesses out of small towns. This allows more people to buy more stuff and spend their days driving out to the Wal-Mart Mall on the outskirts of town. They do this instead of buying a hammer ot T-Shirt or prescriptions from their next door neighbor who then retires to Florida, leaving someone in his house with an upside down mortgage and no one to sponsor the little league team your kid plays on. Because Wal-Mart doesn't contribute like that. They contribute to the Walton family in Arkansas.

I told you it was a rant. I warned you.

Now it's Amazon. They have driven most of the independent bookstores out of business and it seems Jeff Bezos is on his way to doing the same to lots of other stores too. Please don't think I'm wild about the retail businesses that may disappear. They are vulnerable because they have relied on the manufacturers and sale prices to bring people to their stores. So they have failed to build their brands, so so so.

Phil Rosenthal wrote in today's Tribune about the dirty tricks Amazon is pulling on Hachette, publisher of perhaps many of your favorite authors: Scott Turow, James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell and others. I am not pleading the case of Hachette, because they haven't done anything for me personally, but because they are a legitimate publisher. They work with authors to create quality books. The kind that have lots of readers and no split infinitives. What I mean is, they are publishers, with editors and designers and a history in the profession. They are not working for the lowest price tag. They are looking to create product that has merit first, followed by quality production and widely available distribution.

None of that comes at the lowest price! This is not a process which lends itself to automation beyond the mechanical parts.And Amazon has made it's business all about saving the consumer money. This is not a workable business model, because it only looks at one thing---efficiency.

Mr. Rosenthal refers to Scott Turow, one of our most popular and prolific authors. Even he doesn't crank out lots of books, relative to a product that can be made on an assembly line with robots. Even a cr company needs to make many, many times more items per year than Mr. Turow can possible make. Or Stephen King or anyone else. If we continue as a society to buy cheap, sooner or later what we are going to get will be cheap.

We are seeing it now in the manufacturing arena. If we don't want to buy a knock off product from a low cost provider overseas, or we can't squeeze a few more cents out of the hourly of our own citizens we can't find it. We have demeaned factory work to the point where employers are unable to find capable workers because they are going to more valued jobs.

Buy books from Barnes & Noble. Or from your local bookstore if you're lucky enough to have one. And find your shoes and clothes and electronics from someone else too. There are plenty of good buys out there. Keep someone in business for a change instead of going for a little cheaper. None of us needs much more stuff anyway. And Amazon will get us in the end, if we empower them.

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