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Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

America's Most Well-Read Cities

Amazon has just released its third annual list of the Most Well-Read Cities of America — a ranking based on per-capita “sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format.”  Here are the top 5:

1. Alexandria, Va.

2. Knoxville, Tenn.

3. Miami, Fla.

The Economics of Toilet Paper

You never know what kind of useful information will turn up in your in-box. From a reader named Darin Haselhorst:

Steven and Stephen,

Thought this might be right up your alley.  An analysis only a true cheapskate could love.

I get very frustrated trying to compare prices on “paper products” at my local supermarket, Safeway.  They have various marketing terms meant to confuse the average consumer, regular, double, mega etc., making nearly impossible to compare prices on the spot.  So, I threw together a little spreadsheet (attached).

The price as Safeway was not all that surprising until you compare it to the price for which Amazon is willing to deliver it to your front door.  The Amazon Subscribe and Save program is about 30% cheaper than going to the store.  Not too bad.  If you have Amazon deliver 5 items on automatic delivery, they will take an additional 20% off the entire delivery.  A deal any true economist simply cannot pass up.

Its surprising to me that Amazon is willing to deliver to your door for approximately half the price Safeway has on their shelf.

Jeff Bezos Retrieves Apollo Rocket Engines From Ocean Floor

Fascinating story, told straight-ahead here by Reuters, and by Bezos himself here, with great photos and some commentary. From the Reuters article:

A recovery team funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has plucked two rocket engines from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean that were used to send astronauts to the moon more than 40 years ago.

And from

Located several hundred miles off the east coast of the United States (see this cool GeoHack map identifying the location of S-IC wreckage from the Apollo missions), the engines remain the property of NASA. Bezos said when he announced the salvage mission last March that if one engine was recovered, the space agency would likely want it displayed at the Smithsonian but that he’d asked NASA to allow a subsequent recovery by his privately funded team to be housed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash., where Amazon is headquartered.

Will Amazon's Same-Day Delivery Model Hurt Newspapers?

In Nieman Journalism Lab blog post, Ken Doctor explores the possible effects of Amazon’s shift into same-day delivery on newspaper advertising revenues:

Here’s what most hurts most about the new Amazon threat: It aims directly at the one category of newspaper advertising that has fared the best, retail.

Classifieds has decimated by interactive databases. National has migrated strongly digital. Retail, which made up of just 47 percent of newspaper ad revenues 10 years ago, is now up to 57 percent of newspaper totals. Now that advertising, albeit in just a few markets initially, will have to compete with Amazon-forced marketplace change.

Doctor also considers the implications of the move for Google, cityscapes and shopping centers, and employment.

(HT: Marginal Revolution)

Why Does a Caucasian Dollhouse Cost Nearly 70% More Than an African-American Dollhouse?

If you were shopping on last night for a Fisher-Price “My First Dollhouse” with a Caucasian family, you would have been asked to pay $63.99. If, however, you wanted to buy what looks to be a nearly identical “My First Dollhouse” with an African-American family, the price was only $37.99.

Amazon reviewers have taken note, and aren’t pleased. When my son Solomon (11 years old) wandered past my computer last night as I was looking this over, he didn’t need any prompting: “That’s so racist!” he said.

Is it? What is it that we’re seeing here on Amazon — racial discrimination? Price discrimination? Neither?

The Birth of Book Pirates?

| About 250 Kindle users are using Amazon’s tagging system to boycott e-books that cost over $10, claiming that an e-book is more “restricted in its use” than a paper book and should therefore cost less, reports Wired. One of the boycotters’ main complaints: you can’t lend out your e-books to friends. When digital music fans were confronted with this . . .

How Many Reviews Are Too Many?

| Does the 3,250th review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have any influence on an Amazon customer? An Economist article says it does. In fact, says the article, the more online reviews a product has, the more likely people are to buy it. If reviewers know the reviews they write have influence, it may help answer Levitt’s earlier . . .

Are You Upgrading Your Kindle?

Some things — Terminator, Elvis — were better in their original incarnations. Forbes‘s Andy Greenberg thinks the Kindle was too. The Kindle2, which came out this week, doesn’t “feel as natural for reading” as the original Kindle, Greenberg writes. Its “cold and slippery” aluminum back and smaller page-turning buttons, he says, make the Kindle2 seem “more interested in wowing customers . . .

Kindle: Only in the U.S.A.

If you’ve visited the home page of anytime in the past several months, it’s hard not to notice its big house ad for the Kindle (and now the Kindle 2). And I don’t blame them. Amazon is an amazing company that could probably sell just about anything. (As a writer, I am grateful they started out with books.) With . . .

Does the New iPhone Have Dumping Its GPS Stock?

Mere hours after Apple’s announcement of a new GPS-enabled iPhone, I received this e-mail from Is this in response to the new iPhone? Wouldn’t surprise me. never ceases to amaze me in its responsiveness, flexibility, and willingness to try new things — even if a lot of them fail. Experimentation is so cheap on the web that it’s . . .

‘How to Read a Book for Free on Amazon’

That is the headline of Rafe Furst‘s blog post here, and that is the subject of his post as well. It is a very entertaining read (hardly surprising, coming from Rafe), especially as he leads up to describing the holy grail of Amazon free grazing: the Minimal Amazon Covering Set, about which Rafe has also set up a Wikipedia page. . . .

Will the Amazon Kindle Be the Next ‘Must-Have’ Technology?

Amazon has just introduced a new e-reader called the “Kindle,” and it looks like a fantastic piece of technology. The company must have high hopes for the Kindle — today, when you type “,” into your browser, you get a letter from Jeff Bezos touting the new product. I have to say that it looks quite enticing. Amazon also provides . . .

More Amazon Shenanigans?

We have posted in the past about reviewers — their motives, their celebrity, and even some reviewers who seem to game Amazon’s commenting system. Much more recently, I blogged about a strange shakeup in the Amazon best-seller rankings. From the comments that followed, it appears that the Amazon algorithm wasn’t re-jiggered, and that the change had nothing to do . . .

An Earthquake Hits Amazon’s Sales Ranking

Anyone who’s ever written a book — and these days, who hasn’t? — can tell you that watching your sales rank on can be a pretty fun sport. But something happened recently that made it a lot more fun for some people, and a lot less fun for others. I noticed the change the other day when I checked . . .

Amazon Innovation

One of the many reasons I love is the regularity with which it experiments with new features on its book pages. It is literally a dynamic website, much more so than many other sites that actually offer more fresh content. For instance, Amazon has just introduced a nifty new treatment of its customer reviews: providing a little graph that . . .

Incentivized Potter-ing: Amazon Runs Harry Potter Pre-Order Contest

The final installment in the Harry Potter series is near (much to the dismay of its profiting publisher), and the release date for lucky No. 7 is fast approaching. Meanwhile, is marking the occasion by running a contest called “The Harry-est Town in America.” Whichever town pre-orders the most copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will receive . . .

A Bunch of Books We Like asked us to compile of list of good economics books (well, books that are at least loosely concerned with economics), and since we’re often asked that same question by our readers, I’ll go ahead and post the Amazon link here.

Who Is Loyd Eskildson, and Why Does He Game the Review System?

There’s a Top 100 reviewer named Loyd Eskildson — that’s what he calls himself anyway — who is not only prolific but, um, hyper-current as well. What do I mean by this? Well, it seems that any time you see a review by Eskildson, it is near the very top of a given book’s page of reviews — even . . .

More Fake Reviews

In light of earlier discussions here about Amazon reviewers, here’s a lovely little story out of Hollywood about fake movie reviews.

What does a politician do after he leaves office: write amazon reviews

In response to our last post, a reader named “A” pointed us towards an interesting article about Newt Gingrich’s second career as an amazon reviewer. Gingrich cracked the coveted “top 500 reviewer” rank in 2004, but has now slipped to #599. Gingrich abruptly stopped reviewing in December 2004. I guess we will never get to know his opinion on Freakonomics. . . .

Why Do People Post Reviews on Amazon?

I can understand why little-known authors and their friends post reviews of their own books at amazon. Judy Chevalier has a paper that finds that good online reviews sell a surprising number of books. (A bad review suppresses sales even more than a good review boosts sales, which also makes sense.) More puzzling to me is why everyday people post . . .