Much to my husband’s dismay, I have a book addiction. I’ve never met a book that I wasn’t eager to add to a teetering tower in my office. Since I’m a reviewer, I get more books than I can possibly read from publishers — it is rather amazing and terrifying how eager they are to send me books. Not that I’m complaining. I was one of those girls who’d rather get a book than a Barbie doll. Never could figure out what you did with one of those.
For me, though, it’s not enough to receive books by the pound from publishers — there are always books that I want — need — to purchase. I mean, what’s a girl to do when she knows she has a copy of V, but can’t quite figure out where it might be stored (yeah, the daughter of a librarian, and I can’t come up with a good storage system for my books)? Buy a new one. Thomas Pynchon isn’t complaining. It’s only embarrassing when I have to explain why I have three copies of Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence (let’s just say it’s a long story and I don’t come out looking good). And since some members of my family fully support the loaner book concept, it’s not like we don’t have spare copies of Snow Crash hanging around. Just in case.
So, with one thing and the other (mostly the other), I was spending a lot of money at Amazon buying books. Not just the books I wanted, but extra books because I needed to hit the $25 free shipping mark. I never paused to examine the logic behind my actions: too much self-reflection can only lead to therapy. I’d buy a book, discounted from $7.99 with nominal shipping…and then up the value of my shopping cart until I had twenty-five bucks worth of merchandise. Because it was all about the free shipping. Free is a bargain, though I heard a lady on the radio say today that there’s ain’t nothin’ free anymore. I’m sure she’s wrong.
Naturally, I was skeptical when the whole Amazon Prime thing was explained to me. See, what happens is you essentially pay to get free shipping. Counter-intuitive. Free is free. Paying for free is somehow distasteful. There were discussions — heated discussions involving a particularly lovely tower of novels. Apparently the height and balance were potentially harmful to the lives of felines. More discussions. Something about buying extra books (that I apparently “didn’t need”) to save money…which didn’t really save money at all. If I was so gung-ho on being fiscally responsible (I wasn’t, but I pretended), I could spent $79 dollars once, get free shipping for a year, and somehow save money.
Ditto for other members of my same household. Not naming names, but someone has a bit of an addiction to John Coltrane and robots. He needs the free shipping. That Coltrane kid keeps releasing new stuff. Amazing, considering.
Let me break this down. Let’s say that somehow I got myself into a situation where I need to review a book called True Confessions by Rachel Gibson. Now, I’ve wracked my brain and am fairly certain that I do not already own this book. I am also fairly certain that even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to find the book in my garage. Also, the spiders this year are legion, and the black widows are multiplying. That’s another story.
So, even if I had the book, I am leery of spiders. Thus, because I said I would review this book, I must possess it (there is a little rule where you’re supposed to read the book you’re reviewing. Unfair.). So, hmm, I could hope it’s available at Vroman’s because I have to go there in the morning to buy a birthday card. Or I could just, oh, pop into Amazon and buy the book. Here’s the beauty: free shipping. Yeah, it cost me (or someone in my household) $79 dollars for this free shipping, but trust me when I say that this initial investment was earned back by the end of January 2006. Ditto for the previous year.
Now, let’s say that I must have True Confessions in my hot little hands overnight. For a flat $3.99, I get next day delivery. No questions asked. Except if I have to explain why I had to have V overnight when I knew a month in advance that I needed to read it. I really try to limit the overnight thing because, you know, I am fiscally responsible.
How good is this deal? Let’s just that in two days (probably really Monday because it’s Thursday night and I was doing a live Amazon Prime demo here), I’ll have True Confessions in my home. The review will be posted live soon thereafter. Promise kept, shipping free, and everyone is happy.
Fine print: weigh your purchases versus your investment. Be fiscally responsible. Don’t drink and access Amazon. Always tip your bartender. Also, Prime works for stuff other than books.