Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Should Amazon buy Radio Shack?

Several articles are talking about Rob Peck of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s suggestion that Amazon could buy Radio Shack if the latter declares bankruptcy. Here’s one that I thought had a good discussion of the idea:

MarketWatch article by Jennnifer Booton

I don’t really see it. They certainly don’t want the name or the operating strategy. Generally, when Amazon takes over a business (IMDb, GoodReads, Zappos) it keeps the name and the business runners…and the basic system.

Would owning the physical stores do them any good? Well, first, that would depend on the leases, but let’s skip that.

Many Radio Shacks now are tiny, and they don’t seem to me to have a good layout. I don’t think people would go to an old location out of habit, and then shop at an Amazon store.

They are in expensive malls in many cases.

I suppose they could become lockers, where you can pick up your Amazon orders in your town, but it doesn’t seem like the most efficient place to do it.

Would a strictly Amazon hardware place work? Kindles, Kindle Fires, Fire TVs, Fire Phones? Nope, I don’t see it…maybe as a pop up store at the holidays, but not year round.

It’s not to Amazon’s advantage to encourage you to go to physical stores. They live online…it would be like a shark trying to stalk a New York alley. 😉

Who had a bad summer?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find another three month period that was so negative for Amazon, in terms of public relations. Yes, people didn’t like it when Amazon removed a George Orwell book from their Kindles, and they are still having some repercussions from that, but generally, they got past it.

Recently (in the September 5th issue), Entertainment Weekly did a Summer Winners & Losers piece. In the books category, they classified Amazon as a loser, saying in part that they had made enemies of “…book publishers, the German Government, George Orwell’s estate, and Stephen Colbert — to name a few.”


Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

is being pegged (prematurely, in my opinion) as a loser. I have one myself, and there are some real attractions to it. I’ve recently used Firefly a few times to identify TV shows: worked great! Within about ten seconds, it could tell me the name of the episode, who the actors are, and so on. I suspect Amazon will give it three years…if developers start really building for Firefly and dy-per (dynamic perspective), I think it could be a solid 15% player in the SmartPhone market…and a much bigger moneymaker than that for Amazon.

However, Amazon’s success (in terms of sales and market share, not profit) has depended to a large extent, in my opinion, on good will with customers. It doesn’t help that many of the customers’ favorite authors are part of Authors United, which is about to send a new letter to the Amazon boardmembers. You can read the letter here:

It’s worth reading. They make some important points, including that many of them are not Hachette authors, and are therefore not directly impacted by what I call the Hachazon war.

I think this short excerpt from the letter sums up the argument:

“Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last?”

Going to the Board (and publishing their contact information) is an interesting tactic. The Board could pressure the company to change a position.

That’s not to say that I agree with everything in the letter. Amusingly, they suggest that Amazon can’t be forced into doing anything. I say that’s amusing, because Amazon has in the past always lost when they’ve gone up against the big publishers…text-to-speech and the Agency Model are two good examples. In the latter case, it took the Department of Justice to make a change.

That history might be part of what may have convinced Amazon to do an “end around”…to try to keep customers without being so reliant on the tradpubs (traditional publishers). We now see that many of Amazon’s bestsellers are not published by the tradpubs. Would it take a long time to get people to make that switch? Sure, but Amazon is famous for taking the long view.

That can’t possibly do it if the customers aren’t on their side, though…

Checking in on my free Flipboard magazines

I continue to be amazed at the growth of my free Flipboard magazines.

The main idea is that you can use the

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

app, which I read every morning anyway on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

to “flip” articles into a magazine of yours, which you make available to other people for free.

To me, it’s a different medium, in the way that Twitter is.

I doubt I’ve had anything else which has reached more people…although I don’t make any money directly from it, and it certainly doesn’t satisfy my creative nature like this blog does.

Don’t worry…I still love you best. 😉

The Measured Circle

“A geeky mix of pop culture, tech, and the weird world”

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,278 readers
  • 5,630 page flips (by other people of my article choices)
  • 6,124 articles

ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

“The long-running blog about the world of e-books and publishing, which is one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store, brings you related news stories”

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

  • 654 readers
  • 35,590 (!) page flips
  • 3,607 articles

The Weird Old Days

“Has the world always been weird? These news stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries bring you tales of lake monsters, the Hollow Earth, ghosts, and more! Edited by Bufo Calvin, of The Measured Circle blog. Note: these articles reflect the culture of their times. As such, they may use terms and concepts which some modern readers will find offensive”

  • 112 readers
  • 381 page flips
  • 269 articles

Doc Savage Fanflip

“Doc Savage, the forerunner of Superman and Batman, has been one of my fictional heroes for a very long time. Thanks in part to Doc, I try to better myself to help others, and to do so with “…no regard for anything but justice.” A “fanflip” is my new term for a Flipboard magazine by a fan, dedicated to one topic. I will bring you not only Doc Savage news, but Doc stories and resources from around the web. Think of it as a scrapbook with news.”

  • 100 readers
  • 272 page flips
  • 89 articles

As you can see, The Measured Circle has the most readers…but ILMK has by far the most article flips by other people.

For more information on them, see Update on my free Flipboard magazines.

What do you think? What would Amazon’s best strategy be to get public opinion back…or do you think they haven’t lost it? Do you think Amazon is working to make the tradpubs irrelevant to their success strategy? Should Amazon buy Radio Shack? Would that be like Futurama coming back after it was canceled? 😉 Should Amazon even have brick and mortar stores? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

6 Responses to “Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well, one might have said that Apple & Microsoft having brick & mortar stores didn’t make much sense either. I too am dubious, but in addition to a place with product pickup lockers, perhaps they could have a print on demand facility (I’m not much of a fan of POD — but maybe for some …).

    A big part of both the MS & Apple stores isn’t about product sales, but as a customer service/product exchange point — and they are both getting good marks for that.

    There will always be some who find the whole online thing difficult. Some will just like a place where they can go and talk face to face with a real person.

    It might be a way to put a human friendly face on Amazon (and perhaps address some of the negative PR perceptions). Keeping the stores small with a friendly staff — not really focused on product sales (although in-store kiosks could facilitate some of that).

    At the end of the day B&M is just another distribution channel/customer touch point. Done right it might have some value.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Oh of course (beats self upside the head :grin), store would be a great place to showcase new products like fire phone, fire tv, kindle fires, etc with a knowledgeable (and did I say friendly:grin) staff to guide customers through the kind of hands-on you’ll never get at an AT&T store, or at Staples.

  3. Man in the Middle Says:

    Amazon certainly hasn’t lost MY favorable opinion. I really like that they take the long view, and seem to genuinely care about what’s in my best interest too, rather than only their own. The whole big publishers’ war against Amazon seems to me to entirely miss the point of their problem, which is that I am never under any circumstances going to pay what they wish I would for a Kindle book. Simply unnecessary. For $3 or less, I can get nearly any category of book I want, and know Amazon will pay its author more than I ever got per book as a published trad press author.

    I long ago chose the Kindle format as my only Ebook format, and won’t ever change, short of Amazon going under. Apple, B&N, et al could have won me over once, but they were too greedy and uninterested in my needs back when I cared. I still love my iPad and our iPhone, but only use the Kindle app for reading on either.

    Similarly when shopping for anything else. is now ALWAYS the first place I check when shopping for anything hard to locate or of questionable quality or value. The combination of easy orders, quick shipping, honest reviews, and great customer service when anything goes wrong is simply unbeatable. I recently bought something at Bed, Bath and Beyond via their online shipping because it wasn’t stocked by our local store, and was glad they matched the Amazon price, but my later conclusion was, why didn’t I just order from Amzaon? Same price with slower delivery and more hassle doesn’t cut it, even though I like shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond for things they DO stock.

    I see no value in Amazon buying Radio Shack. I used to love that store, and visit it weekly. But back then, it stocked electronics parts I needed for projects, and no one else handy did. Now they typically do NOT have whatever I went theire seeking, and Amazon does. With 2 day shipping, wating for delivery is almost never an issue.

  4. Stephen Says:

    I believe it would be much more likely that Amazon were to buy out UPS or some other national delivery service. They could stock Amazon branded products and lower delivery costs.

    Radio Shack (I managed one in the 1990’s) lost its identity. Anyone buying it would have a hard time convincing customers to go back.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Stephen!

      I do think Amazon has been working on becoming a delivery service…their talk of drones, for example, and all of the fulfillment they do for other companies. As to whether they would do that strictly for Amazon originated shipments (including those third party products), or buy something that would be a courier for shipments unrelated to Amazon (as UPS would be)…not sure. When they bought Kiva (a robot company), they clearly wanted to continue to serve other customers, so it’s possible.

  5. Round up #284: nicer readers, one book for world readers | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack? […]

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