Friday, March 4, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

As if I needed to remind you, we live in an instantly gratifying world thanks in part to the microwave oven, instant oatmeal, and the Internet. Along with that, we are hunter-gatherers of discounts and low prices. This means that if I find a perfect deal that can be delivered to me immediately, I’m winning. No questions asked.

These kinds of decisions allow us to have more valuable time and money to waste. They also bear unfortunate consequences for others. For example, I love saving money on Fuji apples and Swiss Miss Pudding at Wal-Mart, but I’m inadvertently hurting smaller businesses by doing so.

Wal-Mart cart

What can I do?

As a consumer, my instinct is to get the greatest value out of my purchases. Naturally, I’m going to worry about my needs before I think about how I am hurting the community via my shopping decisions. Call it “being selfish,” but I don’t have enough money to change my behavior simply out of good conscience.

Did I mention how convenient Wal-Mart is?

Today, “Mom and Pop” businesses aren’t the only victims of consumer negligence and Wal-Mart is not the only culprit. We are witnessing the final days of the bookstore. Borders has recently filed for bankruptcy and Amazon is mostly to blame.

If you know anything about Amazon, it’s not hard to understand the situation. They offer lower-than-retail prices on books and other products that they’ll deliver right to your door in a neat little package. It’s cheaper and more convenient than going to the bookstore. What more could you ask for?

Amazon box

Apparently, you could ask for much more.

If you thought it was easy enough to purchase books already, Amazon is also selling the Kindle. This device is a portable e-book reader that can be thought of as an iPod for books. You can now carry your entire book collection with you wherever you go in a sleek lightweight tablet. I would formally welcome you to the future, but I’m still waiting for jet packs and flying cars.

With this shiny new piece of technology, you could purchase and instantly download any title that you wanted for less than the price of a new print copy. No more will you have to wait for your books to be delivered nor will you pay for shipping and handling. Because of this, we’ll have to invent a word that means “more convenient than convenient.”

How about “morvenient?”

Kindle

Just as “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the Internet is killing the bookstore and “we can’t rewind; we’ve gone too far.” I’m fine with all of it. I have always thought of bookstores as over-priced and pretentious anyway. Amazon allows my purchases to be lower-cost and morvenient. In the end, isn’t that all that matters?

Excuse me while I bow down to my corporate overlords…