EDitorial ± 29-Jan-2001

Amazon And On And On

In September 1998 I took the plunge and bought a computer for use at home, about which more another time. On 17 October 1998 I took a further plunge and made my first online purchase, daring to type my credit card details into a web page. None too surprisingly, this was at the recently opened UK site of Amazon, which at that time sold only books. A few days later a Royal Mail man knocked at the door and there was my brown amazon.co.uk parcel, containing:
  1. Open Me I'm A Dog, by Art Spiegelman
  2. Zodiac, by Neal Stephenson
  3. Curious George's Are You Curious?, by H. A. Rey
  4. Close To The Machine, by Ellen Ullman
  5. UNIX Power Tools, by Jerry D. Peek, et al
If, like George, you are curious, the above list contains one computing handbook, two children's books, an eco-thriller, and a non-fiction work about life as a programmer. An eclectic selection.

Earth's Biggest Selection

I was hooked. Since that first package arrived I've become an Amazon devotee. It's not just the discounted prices (which are often eaten up by the delivery charge anyway), but the little things, such as:

  • customer reviews: see what other "real" people think about a potential purchase
  • front covers: if I can't see what the book looks like, I'm not interested
  • alerts: when a new book is published from an author I've bought before, they drop me an unsolicited email
  • freebies: for being a regular customer I got a thermal coffee cup in 1999, then a Jenga-type wooden puzzle in 2000
  • customers who bought this also bought: what an inspired idea
Lastly, if you've tried the UK site, try the original & best US site. Admire the way it constructs pages for you based on those you've already visited. See list-mania in action as you flick through other people's top tens. Wonder at the sheer number of categories, from lawn & patio to new cars! Sigh as you read the sad sentence, "Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S."

Be seeing you!