Bless me Father for I have sinned. It's been ... longer than I wanna think about since my last Confession.
WHAT SINS DO YOU HAVE TO CONFESS, MY SON?
Well ... this is gonna sound kinda weird, but ... I've bought ... rather a lot of stuff from Amazon.com over the past 3 years or so ... & I'm feeling kinda guilty about it.
IN WHAT WAY, MY SON?
Well ... I see in the papers that Borders has gone bankrupt, all their stores are closing ... and those used book & record stores I used to support haven't been seeing me as much....
AND WHY IS THAT, MY SON?
...Well, cos those clever folks at Amazon just make it so gosh-darned easy to order stuff from them, ya know? I mean, you browse their site, maybe you're not even planning on spending any money, & then you see something you've always wanted & it's even available CHEAP, & then.... Well, you click, you order, & a few days later it's in your mailbox. It's addictive, really.
I NEVER ORDER ANYTHING OVER THE INTERNET. IT'S THE SPAWN OF SATAN.
I know what you mean, Father. I was a little worried about that too, at first. I was a little paranoid my 1st coupla orders, wondering if stuff was gonna get to me, if it was gonna get lost in the mail, if my charge card'd be compromised, if my identity'd be stolen -- but it's all worked out fine.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PERSONALITY BEFORE YOU CAN HAVE AN IDENTITY.
...Thanks, Father. And you can forget about that donation I was gonna make to the Church Fund. Can we stay on topic here? My point was the folks at Amazon are ENABLING me -- & HAVE been for the past 3+ years!
IN WHAT WAY, MY SON?
They're taking advantage of my biggest weakness, my biggest addiction -- books & music! Other people have booze or drugs -- I've got books & music ... and coffee and junk food .... But my life would be meaningless without music & books. & the folks at Amazon KNOW this!
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS, MY SON?
Because of all the great cheap stuff they list! CD's for a coupla bucks! Books for a penny! CD box-sets for $15! It oughta be illegal! With prices like they've got, it's VERY hard to resist impulse-buying until you empty your bank account!
YOU SOUND LIKE YOU'RE DOING A COMMERCIAL. AND WHY DOES ALL THIS MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY?
Well ... I don't feel THAT guilty. I mean, we ARE out here in The Sticks. I haven't been in a Borders store in a couple of years -- the nearest one's almost 20 miles down the road in Gig Harbor. There's another one 25 miles away in Tacoma -- just half a mile up the road from that Half-Price Books store I haven't been to in a couple of years, either. And don't get me started about the REALLY GREAT used record stores all along 6th Avenue in Tacoma -- I haven't been to any of those in probably three years....
AND YOU FEEL GUILTY BECAUSE...?
Well, I'm sure they all must've been paying an employee or two based just on how much business I used to do there -- so I feel kinda responsible for Borders going under.... There was a Barnes and Noble store in Silverdale, 15 miles north of me, up until a year or two ago -- it was like they closed it when I wasn't looking. That was a nice big store, too.... The Borders store in Gig Harbor had only been open a year or two....
YOU DO STILL SPEND SOME OF YOUR MONEY IN LOCAL STORES, DON'T YOU?
Well, yeah. My favorite local used bookstore, BOOK 'EM, is only about two miles up the road from me here in Port Orchard, & I've spent a lotta money there over the past eight years or so. But they can't have EVERYTHING....
DOES AMAZON HAVE EVERYTHING?
No. Actually there's a lot of off-the-wall stuff they DON'T have. For instance, Philip Harbottle's VULTURES OF THE VOID -- a history of bottom-dwelling low-rent science-fiction publishing in Britain in the '50s & '60s -- sounds like Comedy Gold, right?
HMMM, THAT DOES SOUND PRETTY GOOD....
Not available. And some things are just WAY too high-priced: Algis Budrys' OUTPOSTS collection of book reviews and essays is priced at over $150!
THAT'S TOO DAMN HIGH!
That's what I said, Father. I'm shocked at lots of prices for books & CD's I dumped years ago. If I'd known you could get that kinda money for that junk, I woulda gone into business for myself. ... But here's the thing: Amazon makes up for the shockers with the dirt-cheap prices they've got on so much other stuff!
Like, for instance, creepy forgotten horror novels from the '90s -- a penny each! Old science-fiction novels from the '70s -- a penny! Even counting the shipping costs, the total's less than what BOOK 'EM would charge me if they even HAD the books!
I SEE ... AND YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T BE READING THAT HORROR STUFF....
CD's cheaper than dirt! King Crimson's FRAME BY FRAME best-of for $15! It's nuts! Brand new Camel & Caravan best-of boxes for half-price! It's outta control! Van Morrison's ASTRAL WEEKS for $3! It's so ridiculous that even someone who's as broke as I am can pile up the stuff! It's freakin' great!
YOU'RE RAVING. YOU SOUND LIKE YOU'RE IN A COMMERCIAL AGAIN. ...AND YOUR GUILT?
Well, I know BOOK 'EM's stayed in business partly because of the amount of money I've spent there & the number of books I've donated over the years... but I feel bad that I haven't kept my money circulating in the local economy, if you see what I mean....
THAT'S SILLINESS, MY SON. AMAZON IS PART OF THE LOCAL ECONOMY. AND THEY JUST OPENED UP A NEW BUSINESS COMPLEX ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF SEATTLE RIGHT NEXT TO LAKE UNION -- THAT'S ONLY ABOUT 20 MILES AWAY AS THE CROW FLIES. YOUR PURCHASES PROBABLY ARE KEEPING SOME OF YOUR NEIGHBORS EMPLOYED. SO REST EASY, MY SON.
...I ... I never thought of it that way before. Thank you, Father.
AND MY SON?
WATCH IT ON THE IMPULSE BUYS, OK? YOU HAVE TO HAVE ENOUGH MONEY LEFT TO EAT. YOU CAN'T LIVE ON BOOKS AND MUSIC LIKE YOU DID WHEN YOU WERE 19 OR 20.... AND GOD KNOWS THERE ARE WORSE ADDICTIONS YOU COULD HAVE.
Right. Thanks, Father....