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Amazon Isn't Evil
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Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2014 | 3:02:27 PM
Tough being a local business
I feel bad for smaller brick-and-mortars that continually get "showroomed." But there's not a hell of a lot they can do about it. They're at the mercy of the internet (not just Amazon) and frugal consumers. That's the way it is. Evolution.

I do keep going to a local pet store because the people are nice and knowledgeable and they do grooming. I could easily get all the pet supplies I get from them online for a lower price, but i like supporting a local business that cares about its customers. But this is the exception. I don't show the same courtesy when it comes to books, home goods, and electronics. It's right to tablet or laptop, and Amazon is usually my destination.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2014 | 2:53:35 PM
Re: Books & Textbooks
From my sons' experience, college textbook prices are way up into the triple digits.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/7/2014 | 2:35:44 PM
Re: Books & Textbooks
Textbooks right now are priced in the double digits. I'm happy that Amazon is there to break their monopoly.  Textbook publishers charge you even more for moving the chapters around and adding it to the newer version.


I think local libraries will be the ones surviving; they need to work on offering better coffee though.  
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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10/7/2014 | 2:28:24 PM
Re: When is the Amazon of education coming?
I hear you, TerryB. If ever there was an industry ripe for digital disuprtion, it's higher education. Some universities, like Georgia Tech and University of Oklahoma, are embracing digital. Others would rather invest in their climbing walls and food courts.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2014 | 1:39:30 PM
On state sales taxes, Amazon had an advantage
I llisten to Jim Hightower's rants on NPR and enjoy them, but you can't form a business philosophy out of what he says. He's more radio opportunist than populist. And as Rob points out correctly, he's not thinking rigorously when he cites special treatement for Amazon, when it applied to all on-line merchants. The online companies to me had an unfair advantage over bricks and mortar in that they are commerce that the states found hard to regulate -- mainly, collect sales taxes. There's no good reason they shouldn't pay sales taxes, which would put them on a more equal footing with local merchants. Amazon resisted as long as it could, dragged out negotiations, agreed at first to pay only in states where it had physical facilities or in the most powerful states that called it to the table, such as New York and California. This was a factor in local bookstores closing, which I too greatly regret. But it's a sub-issue of the larger disruption going on, and that disruption would have continued even with sales tax payments. Hightower is always crying "unfair." Do we want a modern ecoomy or not?  
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
10/7/2014 | 1:37:33 PM
When is the Amazon of education coming?
I don't think I'll be around to see it but can't wait until online education disrupts what passes for advanced education these days. Talk about a broken market. And I'm not talking about Harvard, look at what places like ITT Tech charges these days.
K Carlson
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K Carlson,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2014 | 12:16:14 PM
Amazon a Primary Disruptor (and Punching Bag)
Agreed. The bit on showrooming is a tired argument against online retailers like Amazon. It shouldn't be called "showrooming" in my opinion. It's just shopping. Simple as that. People have always gone to different stores, compared items, and returned to the place where they got the best value for their dollar.  That behavior was not invented online. Online only enabled more efficient shopping behavior.

I wrote a blog on this a while back which you can read at Carlson On Commerce dot com (search for "stop whining").

It's clear to me that those whining about showrooming haven't yet embraced the new normal. They have relied on consumer impatience and the "switching costs" one could associate with going to yet another store. Now that those costs have been lowered, what has always been possible is much more common.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2014 | 9:43:12 AM
Re: Books & Textbooks
I like local bookstores as well. There's a largish one that's hanging on in a nearby town, mostly because it pulls in big name authors to sign books. How long it will last, I don't know. Small merchants of hard commodities -- books, electronics, hardware -- will have a hard time competing with the big online and B&M players. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2014 | 9:18:23 AM
Books & Textbooks
Textbook publishing needs to be disrupted way past just Amazon undercutting school bookstores for physical texts. There's little reason that high-school- and college-level textbooks should not be almost exclusively digital, able to be dynamically updated as new discoveries are made, extremely searchable, and with rich multimedia. Oh, and able to be transported without giving students backaches.

I do, however, miss local bookstores, which Amazon almost certainly drove out of business. Our last local store closed more than a year ago; even though it had a cafe and hosted music and readings, it couldn't compete.
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