Amazon.com’s fall

I was an early adopter of Amazon.com. I was one of those people who in the mid-90s was looking for a way to monetize his site, even if it was just a little and at the time, the only real thing to do with sites is to throw the Link Exchange banner up (a service I think is extremely missed btw). Then, amazon came along, giving people something like 10% of the profits for linking books on their site and all was great. People bought, and though it wasn’t much money, in those days it wasn’t too much to expect somewhere around $10-20 per year.

Then Amazon became a big money making machine at some point, and not for the websites that made it grow. It started slowly first adding movies and music which in all honesty were welcome. But sooner than later they started adding products left and right. To me, the more disturbing thing was that originally Amazon somehow provided their own products… they were the ones that sold everything, not another store… But even this changed at some point… It started by merging with CDNOW.com which was a great site in its day who now provide itse music and movies, Borders provides books, Target provides a ton of stuff, Toys R’ Us provides toys, etc… What once was the internet’s first superstore soon became one of the internet’s many super malls.

On top of this, at some point they kind of ninja’d in a lowering of the commission that they handed to their website parters, first with anything that wasn’t books but then to books… I think it is currently at 4% (it actually wasn’t bad that they had a lower percentage for electronics as even at 1% if you sold 1 item you’d general make more from it than you would off a book at 10%). In addition to this, they also took many of its discounts off the site… it used to be that in general most items at amazon were between 20-40% off the market price, this difference made it ok to shop through them as this discount made up for the shipping costs and still often made it cheaper than going to the store… no longer. Now if you go there you are often lucky just to get 10-15%, many times it is at 0%.

As if all this wasn’t bad, I went to Amazon earlier this week and it seems that they have stopped altogether being a single store. Before, at the very least, while the music was provided by cdnow, books by borders, etc… if you bought a book, a cd, and a shirt, they’d all come in one package for one price. This isn’t even possible anymore as in addition to these sponsors, it has essentially become like eBay where the entire store is now dominated by individual sellers.

I attempted to buy birthday presents for 3 children, and two packs of underwear earlier from Amazon and ended up with items coming from no less than 5 different stores, only 2 items from the list of about 7, would come from Amazon at their shipping cost. NONE of the items barring one from amazon had any sort of discount. So I canceled the order… we tried again with only the amazon.com items and another which we have been having a difficult time finding. So down to two stores… we looked at the price… $90. The item from the other store sold for $4, but its shipping cost $8. What was worse is the only way we figured this out was by taking the item out of the cart as Amazon is smartly not even posting the shipping cost breakdown anymore… but essentially you pay $8 per store at least… that means that first order would have cost nearly $50 just to ship to my house! You can’t even search Amazon without having these other stores in the search results which would have been fine, but now I can’t even fully tell what amazon has without them… their searches of results is full of crap I refuse to buy due to additional shipping costs.

Amazon, far and away is no longer the deal it was originally and it is no where near being convenient which was the other early draw. It is no wonder they keep trying to come up with new ideas other than the store to keep afloat such as a search engine and a digg machine… because I have a strong feeling that their sales are dropping on average and the only way they keep it up is by adding new stores and new side features… I personally am blacklisting them as an online seller after this last experience, even though I have generally bought between 6-10 items per year for the last 10 years from them. I am also not going to be listing their advertisements on my site any longer, and they have been a premier advertiser for me largely because they provided many different products that I could place with a single plan. I don’t know who is going to replace them in any way, but I know they need to be replaced so I will look.

Humanities Building, the one no one likes

Today in the Wisconsin State Journal was an article about the future of the Humanities Building on the UW Campus. This building has been on the chopping block for the school over the last couple of years and it has been at the center of a large debate, as the article accurately suggests. There is a lot going on with the building which is sad, and good that it is getting the attention it is after years of neglect in the city… I will give my personal take on it, as someone who has grown up in Madison, and as someone who has attended classes in it.
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Sicko

On Sunday I went to the Sundance Cinema with my roommate and saw Sicko. I thought it was fairly good, not as good as Bowling for Columbine but much better than Roger & Me, and slightly better than Fahrenheit 9/11.

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Why Digg.com has become irrelevant

I have been a long time reader and user of Digg.com. I have had apps on my homepages for years to get the latest stuff off of Digg. The idea is great, allow users to choose what news stories are actually worth looking at and which ones aren’t. However, over the last few months I have noticed an alarming trend with the site and it stems largely from the fact that users make up stories for the sole purpose of putting on Digg.

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Bush’s new plan

Bush seems to be perpetually 3-10 years behind on this Iraq War thing. When the war started, he was about 10 years behind. He thought they had WMDs like it was the Persian Gulf War, and he was about 10 years away from having a plan to attack. Now miraculously he has come up with a plan to send in 20,000 more troops, something he should have done 3 years ago. And honestly, if he had come up with it 2 or 3 years ago, I would have supported him. But now, I could care less about Iraq’s “freedom.” Not that I think there is any freedom in being forced to adopt a government your conquerer tells you to adopt. I am sick of the war, it has no purpose at all. The proof of this is that the purpose seems to change within our own government every 6-9 months. There is no reason to be there, and they don’t want us there anymore, so why would we put ourselves in more? We don’t wanna be there (american polls prove this), they don’t want us there (them killing us proves this), why are we there? There’s no freedom, there’s no WMD’s, there’s no money (Bush did promise that we’d use the Oil in Iraq to fund the war).

One thing I gotta say about Bush’s pretty little speech last night is that he actually assumed responsibility for something. Will wonders never cease. Though I do take note that his responsibility is only that he failed to have plan in attacking Iraq. He doesn’t assume responsibility for the lies he told us when he got us there, or the lies he told us once we were there, or the lies he keeps on telling us on a daily basis. His lies are aparantly not his responsibility. I also find the timing more than a bit humorous. You think he’d show responsibility a year ago this time if he wanted to send in 20,000 troops? Hell no! But he needs the support of the House and Senate which don’t do his will anymore as if he is the king of America. So it is essentially a suck up. Well Bushy old buddy, pucker up because it’s gonna take a hell of a lot more than that.