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Dropping Profits Sends Amazon In Odd Directions

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the do-you-like-my-song-and-dance dept.

152

tabdelgawad writes "The Washington Post has a story detailing how Amazon has purchased the rights to turn a recently published book into a feature-length movie. The article also outlines other 'strange directions' Amazon has taken in response to declining profits and a plummeting stock price, including moving into the grocery business and producing original live webcasts and streaming shows."

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The old saying goes... (0)

Soygen (911358) | about 8 years ago | (#15801442)

In the business world, it's a jungle out there.

Re:The old saying goes... (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#15801548)

If Amazon wasn't too concern about pursuing profits to please Wall Street, they wouldn't be doing all this weird stuff and have a more predictable business model. Maybe it's time that Amazon accept being a blue chip company like Microsoft instead of a being a king of the jungle wonder stock like Google.

Re:The old saying goes... (1)

stevesliva (648202) | about 8 years ago | (#15801644)

Maybe it's time that Amazon accept being a blue chip company like Microsoft instead of a being a king of the jungle wonder stock like Google.
Once they do this, they're guaranteed to have relatively predicitable, boring earnings growth with no new innovative ways of earning money. With a P/E and PEG way above Microsoft's, there is sort of a baked-in expectation that Amazon will capitalize on its brand and its customers to grow into new markets and not be so predictable. So they'll be trying some stuff that won't be a sure bet, hoping that they'll find some big winners. But if they try nothing at all, and end up being valued the same way as MSFT, the stock is in for a 50% slide.

Re:The old saying goes... (2, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | about 8 years ago | (#15801703)

Consider how many times you will hear "amazon.com" in reference to this movie all over the news etc... Sure it seems strange, but considering the advertising budgets that corps. the size of Amazon have, it may be a good deal. And the movie may even make some money, to boot.
I haven't shopped at Amazon in a loooooooong time (the whole multiple stores and sellers in the Amazon search, so when you go to check out you have 10 different shipping and handling fees, that drove me off...) but I have heard their name mentioned a bunch lately b/c of the movie thing....

Re:The old saying goes... (1)

XPACT (711220) | about 8 years ago | (#15801787)

Not only that drives me crazy , but the fact that they charged me tax + shipping. There supposed to be no tax on the item that I have purchased that was one of the reaosons I did it, I could have bought it from a local store insted. No more business with them. They lost me as a client.

Re:The old saying goes... (1)

Ignignot (782335) | about 8 years ago | (#15802007)

It is just like a sick or dying tree - they will start shooting off new branches in an attempt to survive.

Re:The old saying goes... (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | about 8 years ago | (#15802065)

Still, I don't think it's right that they're going in odd directions. It would be far better if they went in even directions.

We'll Tell You What You Like (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 8 years ago | (#15801445)

The book, which was published in May by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, a division of German media giant Bertelsmann AG, was slow to be reviewed by mainstream outlets. But Amazon sent galleys to 100 of the site's top customer reviewers, who lauded it. That helped propel the book to the top of Amazon's fiction list, much the way bloggers and other non-mainstream media outlets such as YouTube create groundswells of their own. Positive reviews followed, in The Washington Post, USA Today and elsewhere.
Is it just me or does it seem like Amazon selected a book from an unknown author and made sure the public liked it. Most books are good--if they weren't, they wouldn't be published. The fact that it's sold only 30,000 copies and they're already seeking a movie deal tells you something. Hell, I've read Stanislaw Lem novels that have sold millions of copies world wide and only one has been made into a movie.

They probably got him to sign over the rights for nothing and then started pushing the book to set up the movie:
Amazon did not disclose how much it paid author Keith Donohue for the movie rights...
Donohue would not disclose how much he was paid for the rights to his book, but offered, "I'm still here," meaning his day job.
Poor guy. Sounds like another Anthony Burgess who sold the rights to make A Clockwork Orange into a movie to The Rolling Stones for around $5,000.

This kind of reminds me of a media outlet gone wrong. Or American Idol informing people of what good music is. You really have to wonder if Amazon found this book and said "this is a really good book" or if they said "find me a book that will translate well to the big screen."

You want to make money? Find an acceptable product or well known name and shove it down America's throat. Instant cash. Examples: Mission Impossible 2, corporate boy bands with music written by teams of people, any media that follows a standard high selling formula, etc. Next up? Amazon studios presents their new movie ... "A Revenue Stream We Hope to Tap."

In TFA, they even admit it:
No longer content to remain in the online retail market, Amazon.com is heading into the movie business...

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801504)

Did you have a point, or were you just venting about how you hate anything that is marketed broadly?

My Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801557)

Did you have a point, or were you just venting about how you hate anything that is marketed broadly?
If you don't have an attention span: Corporate America is driven by shady practices that destroy the chances and revenue of the real artists/workers. Our consumerist attitudes unfortunately only reinforce this cycle.

I'll post anonymously since this is clearly redundant.

Re:My Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801580)

That's unfortunate. What can we do about this?

Simple: Avoid the Trash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801649)

This story isn't being made into a movie because it's a great story. It should be moved to other forms of media if it truly is a great story and it can be done well.

The motive behind making this into is a movie is the special effects opportunities and Amazon needs a hit to bail itself out of the toilet.
The book's fantastical story line could play well on the screen, thanks to special effects, and might be able to tap into the audience that turned the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" novels into blockbuster films.
They're praying for special effects. That's it.

They know that eye candy sells and that's what they're banking on. You shouldn't see a movie for superficial reasons.
--
That's unfortunate. What can we do about this?
Identify the sh*t that the movie industry and corporations are trying to shove down your throat and avoid it. How many DVDs are sitting on your shelf that you've only watched once? How many movies have you walked out of thinking that you were just jilted out of $10? Don't let it happen to you. If a movie is over marketed and smells of crapulence (Batwoman, anyone?) don't see it. Teach them a lesson.

Re:Simple: Avoid the Trash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801706)

Couldn't you just as easily see the independent flicks that are much better in quality, thus encouraging production of such movies? After all, companies like Netflix and Amazon stock them right alongside the mass-marketed Hollywood crap.

Nobody's forcing you to see the bad movies, and the ever-increasing number of avenues for independent content (the web, Netflix, etc) makes it possible for you to live without the bad movies forever. Or is it just the thought that other people see these movies that upsets you so much? Hating Joe Sixpack is so overdone on Slashdot that it's cliche.

Re:Simple: Avoid the Trash (1)

sanaz (713237) | about 8 years ago | (#15802012)


Thanks, but I think I'll see a movie for any reason I want to. Imagine not seeing a movie because YOU thought it was for the wrong reason! I understand your basic idea, but this was truly pointless.

Re:My Point (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15801704)

I know you're just funning, but the answer is to give the money to local business whenever possible, especially for goods that are manufactured/grown/etc locally. Think globally: spend locally.

30,000 COPIES!!! CALL SPIELBERG!!! (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 years ago | (#15801609)

I thought the same thing when reading the article. 30,000 copies is absurd compared to better selling books that never stand the chance of making it on the silver screen.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15801639)

Most books are good--if they weren't, they wouldn't be published.

Oooh my!

Hell, I've read Stanislaw Lem novels that have sold millions of copies world wide and only one has been made into a movie.

Bloody shame, because Ikarie XB 1 (Voyage to the End of the Universe) showed such promise.

KFG

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801748)

Most books are good--if they weren't, they wouldn't be published.

Oooh my!

Hell, I've read Stanislaw Lem novels that have sold millions of copies world wide and only one has been made into a movie.

Bloody shame, because Ikarie XB 1 (Voyage to the End of the Universe) showed such promise.

KFG
Do you always manage to add this much to the conversation? You've given me a lot to think about. I'll meditate on that post for 7 years in Tibet.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15802020)

I'll meditate on that post for 7 years in Tibet.

Don't know where you are, but California might be a lot closer; and has more Chinese in it.

KFG

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (3, Insightful)

DaveInAZ (944478) | about 8 years ago | (#15801714)

Is it just me or does it seem like Amazon selected a book from an unknown author and made sure the public liked it.
No, it's not just you. That's exactly what they did. It's a morally shaky practice, but it's SOP in the publishing business to generated hype by any means possible and falsify sales numbers by overshipping, knowing that vast numbers of those books will be returned. But once they're shipped, they count. So, while I hate all this b*llsh!t and deception, it's not just Amazon, either. If the New York Times bestseller list is b*llsh!t (and it is!), why should Amazon's top seller list be any different? (Damn, I'm getting cynical in my old age. Oh, wait...I've been cynical since I was 12. Nevermind.)

Personally, I find it far weirder that they've gone into the Grocery business. I went to Amazon this morning, to see if I could hear a snippet of a new album, and there was Tony the Tiger, hawking cereal on the Amazon home page! What possible advantage could there be for the average person in ordering their corn flakes online, paying shipping charges, and waiting two weeks for them to show up? Are they going to order their milk from Amazon, too, and hope it get to them before turning into cheese or exploding in the back of a hot mail truck? I doubt it, so they're going to have to go to the store, anyway, so what's the point? And, what was Amazon thinking?

As for American Idol, am I going to trust a bunch of "Reality TV" (an oxymoron, if ever there was one) watchers to tell me what's good music? I don't think so. These are people who probably aren't even aware that the sound from their TVs is approximately as good as the sound from a Dollar Store radio, and wouldn't understand how that's relevant, or why that's a bad thing, if they were told. But, hey, these are the same people who gave us our current President, so how wrong could they be? Right?

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | about 8 years ago | (#15801872)

Here's the idea on groceries.

1)Amazon sells only in bulk. So margins are higher. It isn't meant for impulse shopping, unless you want 10 boxes on impulse.
2)Amazon Prime. Free 2 day delivery. With this, the grocery store becomes useful, you don't need to wait 2 week. If you absolutely do need it today, 3 or 4 bucks for overnight.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (0, Flamebait)

Moofie (22272) | about 8 years ago | (#15801999)

"It's a morally shaky practice"

Huh? What kind of crazy morals are YOU talking about? The only "morally shaky practice" would be if Jeff Bezos came to your house and told you he'd kick your dog if you didn't buy the book.

"Morally shaky"? I'll tell you what's morally shaky: Blaming somebody else for your own free actions. Don't like the book? Don't buy it. If you buy the book, and you don't like it, that's nobody's fault but your own. Caveat emptor.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (1)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | about 8 years ago | (#15801746)

You want to make money? Find an acceptable product or well known name and shove it down America's throat

Worked great for Starbucks with
Akeelah and the Bee [forbes.com] didn't it?

It's much easier to make something good and desired in the first place, unfortunatly doing that is very hard.

I have no idea why Amazon thinks they're uniquely positioned to do this, it sounds like panic and confusion to me. If it works and they make buckets of cash and/or beautiful art then they're geniuses and all is forgiven, but it right now it just looks like they've lost focus.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (2, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | about 8 years ago | (#15802069)

I have no idea why Amazon thinks they're uniquely positioned to do this, it sounds like panic and confusion to me.

They're trying to leverage the expertise in their pool of customer reviewers, who gave enough positive feedback for Amazon to move forward with this. Really, this isn't a bad idea - circumventing traditional book critics and going right to a group of customers to try and get ahead of the "next big thing."

I wouldn't overreact to this story, as it's prompted by a lousy 2nd quarter earnings report. Let's check back 6 months down the road and see how the story spins...

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (3, Informative)

Blink Tag (944716) | about 8 years ago | (#15801857)

Most books are good--if they weren't, they wouldn't be published.
Sorry to burst your bubble. I used to sit next to the book buyer for a major online retailer. The movie buyer was on the other side of her. Publishers rely on "the long tail." Most books (and movies) are junk, you just may never see them all in a virtual store. Brick and mortars only stock things that will actually sell because space is a paramount.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (2, Insightful)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | about 8 years ago | (#15801883)

Most books are good--if they weren't, they wouldn't be published.

I disagree. Perhaps you've been unable to frequent a bookstore as of late. Find any book by L. Ron Hubbard, open it up to any page you wish, and gasp in horror. If you still remain unconvinced I implore you to inspect the contents of any celebrity written book, and hopefully you will find one that isn't ghost-written. Also, feel free to check out any of the ego massaging political books with titles such as "Lying Liberals and the Obease Conservative that Eat Them".

Many books, and I'd say most books, are published because publishing houses need to make money, and not because the books are good, which leads me to your next comment...

You want to make money? Find an acceptable product or well known name and shove it down America's throat. Instant cash.

Which is a sentiment I totally agree with. Harry Potter anyone? Oh, my, did I touch a nerve?...

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (1)

mochan_s (536939) | about 8 years ago | (#15802039)

This kind of reminds me of a media outlet gone wrong. Or American Idol informing people of what good music is
corporate boy bands with music written by teams of people

Look at Motown. Anonymous songwriters, musicians to create music. Same formula as boy bands. Even if you look at musicians who are deemed real, their sound is so much affected by the studio and the producer of their music that it's impossible to see where the band starts and where the production team ends. The product isn't completely done by the band, the artwork is done by someone else, the recording is done by someone else, the mastering is done by someone else and who knows what studio help they get.

Just look at bands or artists that have fallen out of public favor because their music is outdated. Their quality seems to take a huge nose dive even though they are the same band. They just don't have top notch producers working on them that without it, they're not as polished and good.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | about 8 years ago | (#15802348)

Just look at bands or artists that have fallen out of public favor because their music is outdated. Their quality seems to take a huge nose dive even though they are the same band.

Perl Jam isn't nearly as popular as they were with Ten and Vs., yet their music is better than ever.

Not all good bands or artists sell out.

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (1)

Pollardito (781263) | about 8 years ago | (#15802224)

You want to make money? Find an acceptable product or well known name and shove it down America's throat. Instant cash. Examples: Mission Impossible 2, corporate boy bands with music written by teams of people, any media that follows a standard high selling formula, etc. Next up? Amazon studios presents their new movie ... "A Revenue Stream We Hope to Tap."
actually, most of those items (MI:2 aside, that's just another example of the sequel-fest we're used to seeing in movies and games) are examples of taking something that's NOT by a well-known name (i.e. cheap!) and using your own promotional machine to make it well-known and get it sold. another example is Oprah's book club, which this Amazon model seems to mirror exactly

Re:We'll Tell You What You Like (2, Interesting)

morcego (260031) | about 8 years ago | (#15802526)

Most books are good

You obviously don't read much.
Most books are mediocre.

Karma (1)

Burz (138833) | about 8 years ago | (#15801453)

...for patent abusers.

"Ha-ha!"

I've kept to the original FSF + /. boycott (1)

Szplug (8771) | about 8 years ago | (#15802086)

for however many years. I've bought once or twice, but only after I couldn't find it on abebooks or cdconnection. I doubt that's what's done it but it's nice to see things go your way :)

Well (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801474)


They could always sell their "one click" technology.

Re:Well (5, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15801715)

They could always sell their "one click" technology.

I think you have that wrong. Try they could always sell their one click "technology".

A new chapter (1, Interesting)

eneville (745111) | about 8 years ago | (#15801492)

One of the most depressing things about the IT world is the number of books one must read for a subject, consider C, it takes many books for one to become a guru, but other more 'modern' languages are simplistic, and perhaps one or two books is all it takes to grasp java/c#/python etc etc.

Could this be the result in the change of trends?

Has wikipedia and it's subordinates taken the place of the dead tree library?

Re:A new chapter (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 8 years ago | (#15801895)

Try the other way. THe C language spec is about 100-200 pages. THe Java language spec fills a bookshelf, and you can buy multiple books on its odd little tricks (try reading Java Puzzlers) without understanding them all. Our Java guru wasn't able to figure out half those puzzles. C has no puzzlers, the language is amazingly simple and straight forward- it does exactly what you say.

Re:A new chapter (1)

JebusIsLord (566856) | about 8 years ago | (#15802338)

That's misleading. The Java "spec" contains the language and an extensive standard library. The C language spec does not include the standard C library at all since it isn't part of the language itself.

Syntactically Java adds very little to C. It is larger, but not by much. I would say they are both syntactically simple languages. Something like Pascal is much more complicated because they mashed all sorts of common functions right in to the language itself.

If you want to compare the standard C library to the standard Java library, that is another thing. Yeah, Java's is bigger. Doesn't mean you have to learn it all to do the same stuff you would in C, however. Actually, you have to learn a lot less!

Re:A new chapter (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about 8 years ago | (#15802174)

Man, that's one of the depressing things about being a doctor too: having to read up on all of the latest data on current diseases and treatments. What'd I get myself into?

Prepare to be toppled! (4, Interesting)

boxlight (928484) | about 8 years ago | (#15801526)

That's weird, my (uninformed) perception was that Amazon had solidified it's place as the king of of the hill and was doing exceedingly well.

Funny how you don't really know who is really succeeding until you look at the bottom line.

Is it possible that the big web 1.0 succeess like Amazon and Ebay might be toppled by some as yet unidentified jauggernaut the way Microsoft toppled WordPerfect and Lotus123 back in the day?

boxlight

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (1)

Gulthek (12570) | about 8 years ago | (#15801647)

What the hell is web 2.0 exactly? If a website uses AJAX is it part of "Web 2.0"? Does a "Web 2.0" use an updated version of the hypertext transfer protocol? Do web browsers connect at port 160? What?!

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (0, Flamebait)

Millenniumman (924859) | about 8 years ago | (#15801828)

Go to wikipedia.

In the search field type "web 2"

Press go.

Read.

Wikipedia needs to be a verb, like google. So when people ask what things like web 2 are you can tell them "wikipedia it!".

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (1)

jrobinson5 (974354) | about 8 years ago | (#15802179)

How about "wiki it!"? Rolls of the tounge a lot easier.

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (4, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | about 8 years ago | (#15801742)

2 possible paths:

A. Make a big budget movie even though you are a retailer...
B. ????

-or-

A. Get rid of the whole thing where someone spends half an hour shopping on your site, filling their cart, thinking that they are getting a good deal, but when they get to the checkout they find that each item was from a different seller and all the shipping and handling is separate, so it adds like $60 to the bill.... Yeah, get rid of that, and then B may be:
B. Profit!!!!

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801977)

You seem to be rather upset by that. I always read the "ships from and sold by" line on every product listing, and I've never been burned that way. Maybe they didn't do that when you last shopped there.

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15801743)

Is it possible that the big web 1.0 succeess like Amazon and Ebay might be toppled by some as yet unidentified jauggernaut the way Microsoft toppled WordPerfect and Lotus123 back in the day?

One of the primary axioms of business is that the best way to lose first place is to act like you're in first place. If you want to keep first place, you have to perpetually act like you're still in second place. Complacency kills.

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | about 8 years ago | (#15802374)

That's weird, my (uninformed) perception was that Amazon had solidified it's place as the king of of the hill and was doing exceedingly well.

Funny how you don't really know who is really succeeding until you look at the bottom line.


And they even farm out all their stuff to India now.

You'll never catch me ordering another tech book from them again. They like the US market as consumers, but loathe them as employees. Nice.

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (2, Interesting)

archen (447353) | about 8 years ago | (#15802657)

I used to order tons of stuff from Amazon. But over time I've noticed problems. Any electronics (yeah I used to get random electronics from Amazon) I can get cheaper and faster from newegg. And some things have a waiting time for a MONTH! What really pisses me off about Amazon is if you order 3 items, then you often end up with 3 shippers and thus 3 times the shipping cost. It's usually cheaper and faster to go to a store on the way home from work. To me amazon had everything right when they did it themselves. Then they turned into this "farm everything out" center that is just for central billing and screwed it all up.

Ebay is still ebay, and if they screw it up, it will be for different reasons.

Re:Prepare to be toppled! (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 8 years ago | (#15802687)

Far too much hype is what we normally read about Amazon. Remember, Bezos is a former Wall Street guy and Amazon only survived, not necessarily thrived, by dint of his "creative financing" skills (like sending out nonordered books to Euro addresses to demonstrate to unsuspecting investors how "international" Amazon was becoming --- don't believe me? Check with UPS to see how many returned:not ordereds they received.). Also, consider how many rounds of layoffs a relatively young company like Amazon has already experienced. What is it now? Four? Or five???

I prefer bn.com (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801527)

At this point I frankly prefer Barnes and Noble to Amazon. B&N has finally caught up with Amazon as far as I can tell in terms of hugeness of inventory for books and DVDs, and all that stuff Amazon sells that isn't books and DVDs... well, who cares? This zshops thing is just a crappy version of eBay, and there are better places to buy used books [abebooks.com] .

What I've really found that's interesting lately is that if you order from bn.com from inside of a barnes and noble brick and mortar store, they waive shipping. So if I want something, I can stop at a B&N on the way home from work; and if they have the book I want I can go home with it immediately, if they don't have the book I can just ask them to order it from the website and I get it in a few days without even having to pay for shipping. It's kind of the best of both worlds.

Plus Amazon's switched to this MSN Live Search nonsense. What purpose does amazon.com serve at this point except as a repository for politically biased book reviews? As far as I'm concerned, screw 'em.

I prefer anything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15802192)

Same here. I've bought a lot of books at amazon a while ago, but not anymore. When I compare the prices to the countless other places selling books online, they don't have the advantage, and often they don't have some of the books I want (some are moderately hard to find), while others do... And if you ever want a book in any language other than english (like french), then amazon (.ca) is the worst of all the online stores (we've got bn, chapters.ca, renaud-bray, archambeault, etc). Their selection of french books is at most 5% of what the others have (and again, prices being higher than the other places...)

And I've been receiving what I'd call spam from amazon lately. I don't mind a little bit of emails for promotions that could interest me, but I'm getting emails more like:

you've bought this [photography] book, and we've noticed people who bought that book also bought [some other photography book] by Mr Smith. Mr Smith just put out some boring stupid fiction romance story or such [a category of books I've NEVER bought from before], so we thought you'd be interested...

I've opted out of their emails, have blocked their address, and will not buy anything from then anymore.

As far as their book reviews go, they're heavily biased indeed. I wouldn't base my purchasing decision based on that. I buy the books I know are good (seen them at the library before, like the publisher/author or such)

Re:I prefer bn.com (2, Informative)

dR.fuZZo (187666) | about 8 years ago | (#15802580)

This is just my personal experience, of course, but, with the exception of some of my transactions with the 3rd party sellers on Amazon, I've always had excellent service and never had a problem with them. On the other hand, I placed only a handful of orders with Barnes & Noble, and they messed up three times. Personally, I'm fed up with B&N.

Re:I prefer bn.com (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#15802599)

all that stuff Amazon sells that isn't books and DVDs... well, who cares?

Yeah, it isn't like Amazon has watches, sporting goods, and just about anything that doesn't require special permits to sell.
/works there

3rd party shippers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801535)

i don't shop there anymore because your stuff dosen't come directly from them anymore. you now have to deal with shipping fees from 6 different companies to place one order. screw that!

Re:3rd party shippers (1)

Spades_ (175131) | about 8 years ago | (#15802613)

There's two things that may be going on here, it might be sold by Amazon and drop shipped by their distributer...in this case it should still fall under their shipping rates... but the way Amazon works, you might not actually be buying from Amazon at all. Usually below the item they will tell you if you're purchasing from some one else, in those situations you get charged shipping based on whoever it is you're buying from.

When buying, just make sure you buy from Amazon, and you shouldn't have a problem with getting billed shipping from 6 different vendors...

With apologies to Yeats... (4, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 8 years ago | (#15801540)

"Come away, human author, take a venture capitalist by the hand/for the stock market's more full of bullshit than you can understand."

Inevitable (4, Interesting)

LaNMaN2000 (173615) | about 8 years ago | (#15801551)

It is inevitable that Amazon would chase businesses that offer better ROCE than their core. They took on tremendous debt to build a distribution infrastructure and see single digit profit margins as a result. Meanwhile, "virtual" companies like eBay, Google, Yahoo, etc. are able to get better returns on their assets. In the past, Amazon tried to be an e-commerce platform and license their services to Toys R Us and other firms but ran into problems because they were essentially hosting sites for their direct competitors. Now, they are trying to branch into unrelated "virtual" companies like search, media, etc.

Speaking for myself (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 8 years ago | (#15801556)

I'm a bit surprised by this as my spending at Amazon has only increased in the last 8 years. Amazon is my preferred supplier of books and games. I'd say more people are doing so.

Re:Speaking for myself (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | about 8 years ago | (#15801619)

I'm a bit surprised by this as my spending at Amazon has only increased in the last 8 years. Amazon is my preferred supplier of books and games. I'd say more people are doing so.

Are you sure everything you buy on amazon.com actually comes from amazon, though? I know a lot of the stuff I buy actually comes from other retailers that amazon hosts. I don't know if amazon recieves any percentage of the sales price from that or if they just get a flat fee, but in either case, it may not really be helping them much.

article summary (1)

noneme (917222) | about 8 years ago | (#15801562)

wild amazonians purchase rights to stolen boy!
movies of this exploit to be sold online, leaving authorities confused and aghast!

stocks plummet.

Stolen Boy (1)

krell (896769) | about 8 years ago | (#15801689)

"wild amazonians purchase rights to stolen boy!"

I wonder what ever happened to them. They just weren't the same after the lead singer and the drummer left in 2003. I hope Amazon re-release their entire catalogue.

Prawns (0, Offtopic)

Pilferer (311795) | about 8 years ago | (#15801614)

I have a suggestion.

Prawns.

Sell streaming, high quality prawns.

Re:Prawns (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15801666)

Don't you know? You can get in trouble for putting prawn on the Internet!

Re:Prawns (1)

triskaidekaphile (252815) | about 8 years ago | (#15801737)

Only if the vein is visible. Otherwise the SMAA (Shrimp Moral Authority Association) will say it's art and not prawnography.

Re:Prawns (1)

Pilferer (311795) | about 8 years ago | (#15801740)

Actually, upon further investigation, I notice they sell Beneficial Insects (40) [amazon.com] . What kind of book store sells "Praying Mantids: 6 Egg Cases" ? One that's trying to be too much of everything...

Desperation + Poor Management = (2, Insightful)

Roody Blashes (975889) | about 8 years ago | (#15801643)

Crappy business model.

I used to work at a company that did the same thing. What they did, they did poorly, because management had a poor attitude toward employees, customers, and partners.

Rather than fix these things, which would have soiled their resumes by admitting error, they desperately attempted to cut costs to ridiculous extremes and move into new market segments that didn't in any way leverage their strengths.

Last I knew, they were still losing money (now that they can't cut any further) and competent employees were fleeing for their lives to much better and more stable opportunities.

Re:Desperation + Poor Management = (1)

nbannerman (974715) | about 8 years ago | (#15801668)

Up until the last line, I would've sworn blind you worked for a certain company from Redmond ;)

While this news is moderately interesting..... (1)

8127972 (73495) | about 8 years ago | (#15801658)

..... Can we get back to posts about Google?

Declining profits? (1)

jimibee (980271) | about 8 years ago | (#15801662)

It's not as if Amazon has been making money for very long. If I'm to believe wikipedia, they weren't actually profitable until 2003.

They are listening to the stockholders (3, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 8 years ago | (#15801682)

Revenue is up, traffic is up, but earnings are down. That is accountantcy jargon that translates as: "We are doing more but doing it less efficiently". And the stockholders noticed. They began selling.
When Amazon management noticed that, they looked for some new way to use their cash and traffic to make return on their investment. Why movies? Probably because the movie business requires - among other things - up-front investments and lots of advertising. It makes sense.

Re:They are listening to the stockholders (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15801936)

Lessee; we're doing worse and worse in our core competency, which we've been at for over a decade, but haven't even come close to recouping our initial investment yet, so we'll solve the problem by gathering whatever cash we can find under the sofa and plunge it into a horrendously expensive business in which we have no experience and know nothing about.

Well, yeah, sure, if you put it that way it makes perfect sense.

KFG

Re:They are listening to the stockholders (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 8 years ago | (#15802073)

A mere decade or so is short-term for a business that size. Sure, if you or I do something for that long and don't make a profit, then we should quit.
But businesses that big exist on a different time scale than you and I. They can be judged successful if they have a trend that indicates that they will make money in another decade or two.

Re:They are listening to the stockholders (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#15802362)

Size has nothing to do with time scales. It's all about financing. That is what determines your time scale, no matter the size of the business.

Nor is the size of a company any indicator of its potential for success. A one man outfit can get filthy stinking rich on a single transaction, a large firm can go broke on a billion transactions. It's about profit margins, not sales.

None of which has any relevance to the wisdom of a bookseller in the red going into the movie business.

Love your handle though.

KFG

Re:They are listening to the stockholders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15802001)

That is accountantcy jargon that translates as "We are doing more but doing it less efficiently"

I left Amazon in 2004, predicting that their chaotic technology organization would someday hurt their bottom line, and while schaedenfraude is something I try to avoid, it is nice to feel like I've been proven right.

The root of the problem is the Werner Vogels boast about how software developers operate their own software at Amazon, and how this results in higher software quality. I guess there would be something to that boast if their technology org had any degree of stability. Unfortunately for Amazonians, the "flat" and "flexible" Amazon management structure means that development managers and directors are always scrambling to prove themselves worthy of promotion by chasing sexy new initiatives, and they're constantly breaking up or reorganizing their teams without any cognizance of their ongoing support obligations.

As a result of this, a lot of Amazon software -- critical software -- is abandonware. Their main webserver software, obidos (you may remember it from old urls) was not owned by anyone. This was a 2GB monster that contained a huge amount of functionality. It was tempermental and very fragile and desperately needed some expert care and attention. But it wasn't sexy, so no one wanted it, and as a result, it would take us weeks or months to build and push out the simplest Obidos change. At that point, they were still using Obidos for a ton of stuff, and its failures were costing them cash.

So my boss, smelling an opportunity, volunteered to take over Obidos. At that point, our team consisted of three deployment engineers, a couple of program managers, and me. None of us had ever written a line of C++ in our lives. I left shortly thereafter.

My problem with amazon (4, Insightful)

vossman77 (300689) | about 8 years ago | (#15801691)

Amazon used to be so organized, but now its categories are vitually worthless. I search for USB thumb drive, I get 10,000 thing unrelated to it even when I'm in the correct category I get non-thumb drives and there are several nice thumb drive not in the correct category. For computer stuff now I go to newegg.com, at actually organized.

Re:My problem with amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801864)

Perhaps newegg will sell you a grammar checker?

The lagging economy? (3, Insightful)

mind21_98 (18647) | about 8 years ago | (#15801700)

Or could it be the slowing economy causing Amazon's profits to drop? I mean, having to pay for your McMansion and to fill up your 10mpg SUV has to dip into your discretionary income...but yeah. I can't imagine Amazon making movies. *shrug*

Re:The lagging economy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15802333)

Wow from what I've heard of the sagging American economy is that it keeps growing and growing. Or is it just down for you because of the time you spend on Slashdot and no longer have a job?

A last hope (3, Informative)

UCSCTek (806902) | about 8 years ago | (#15801730)

Amazon should look into it's own Gold Box and hope it finds a discount on a corporate diversification plan.

I'm not that surprised (4, Interesting)

rmcd (53236) | about 8 years ago | (#15801749)

It has seemed to me for a while that Amazon is slipping. Their web site, long a model of clarity and usability, has become confusing with the proliferation of non-Amazon sellers. For example I recently did a search for a book and the top listing in the search results was only for used copies, while if I clicked the second listing I got the usual Amazon page for the book. Since you can buy used copies from the main page for the book, I don't even understand why the separate page existed, let alone that it was the first search result.

I have also had several bad experiences with free shipping. In one case, I ordered Christmas gifts well in advance. After a week or so, they moved the expected shipping date past Christmas due to the item supposedly being out of stock. I complained by e-mail (why were they only telling me this after the original shipping date had arrived) and they apologized and shipped it immediately. Umm, was it in stock or not? It could have been a supplier issue, but I also wondered if they were just trying to see how I would react.

I have returned to buy.com after ignoring them for several years. Rotten-looking web site with very poor information about items. But I have found them faster and often less expensive than Amazon.

I expect that Amazon will survive for a very long time and do lots of business, but I don't see how they're ever going to be highly profitable.

Their return policy has changed, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15802186)

It used to be that you could return anything if you weren't satisfied (electronics I think were always an exception) but now, you have to have a reason. And they really bust your chops.

I have to agree with you, thy're going down hill.

Re:I'm not that surprised (1)

Saganaga (167162) | about 8 years ago | (#15802212)

I have returned to buy.com after ignoring them for several years. Rotten-looking web site with very poor information about items. But I have found them faster and often less expensive than Amazon.

Just wait until you have a problem with a buy.com order. Their customer service department has become an absolute joke...the reps are completely powerless; either unwilling or unable to solve problems. After getting a terrible runaround on missing items on one order and a double billing on another order last year, I swore that I would never again use buy.com.

buy.com's business model now seems to be:
1. Take order & charge customer's credit card
2. Fail to deliver what's promised
3. Tell customer that problem will be cleared up "next week", etc.
4. Repeat step 3 several times
5. Finally fix customer's order, or give refund if pressed (or wait until customer disputes charge with credit card company)
6. In the meantime you've been earning interest on customer's money...
7. Profit!

I strongly recommend you think twice about continuing to use buy.com. They are not what they once were.

Re:I'm not that surprised (1)

rmcd (53236) | about 8 years ago | (#15802339)

I believe you and appreciate the warning, although so far I've had a very good experience with them. I do have to laugh when you say "what they once were". Years ago when Buy.com was a newcomer, they shipped me the wrong item (I think it was a book or a computer item). I exchanged it following their procedures, and then they proceeded to ship me TWELVE copies of Foolish [buy.com] and Belly [buy.com] -- at that time it was a VHS two-pack.

My colleagues started to look at me strangely!

Re:I'm not that surprised (1)

Saganaga (167162) | about 8 years ago | (#15802417)

Good point...I think that as long as nothing goes wrong with your order, buy.com is probably ok. But woe unto you if anything does go wrong. And maybe that was always true, and I had just gotten lucky up until last year.

3rd-party sellers can be good (2, Insightful)

bodrell (665409) | about 8 years ago | (#15802435)

It has seemed to me for a while that Amazon is slipping. Their web site, long a model of clarity and usability, has become confusing with the proliferation of non-Amazon sellers. For example I recently did a search for a book and the top listing in the search results was only for used copies, while if I clicked the second listing I got the usual Amazon page for the book. Since you can buy used copies from the main page for the book, I don't even understand why the separate page existed, let alone that it was the first search result.
You are certainly not the first, or only, person to complain about all the non-Amazon sellers at Amazon.com. Am I the only one who really likes being able to buy used books and CDs, or having the option to buy strange products from Amazon without having to register my name and address with yet ANOTHER web retailer? I have never been confused about which products are eligible for free shipping and which are not. For used CDs, it is a very simple calculation: shipping is $2.49. If the price differential between the used CD and the new one is more than $2.49, I save money buying the used one. However, selection, rather than cost savings, is the main reason I like the Amazon Marketplace. I listen to a lot of foreign music that is simply not available, either new or used, in the US. Through the Amazon Marketplace sellers, I've been able to buy "import" CDs for less than I would pay for domestic CDs at the bargin bin in Best Buy. And for out-of-print books, I have yet to see a vendor with a selection even close to Amazon.com's.

I must admit, though, that I wish there were an "advanced search" feature beyond the current offering, including the ability to limit results to products shipped by Amazon itself.

Re:I'm not that surprised (2, Insightful)

monopole (44023) | about 8 years ago | (#15802579)

A great understatement. I've ordered books that are listed "usually ships next business day" with next day shipping, only to have the book ship 2 months later. Trying to cancel this order was impossible since it "was already being processed".

Amazon used to have highly responsive customer service representatives, who had wide discretion. When they tried to organize they were fired and phone responses were outsourced to Belfast and e-mail responses to New Delhi. I assume that the webpage management has been similarly outsourced.

Amazon has always been the vendor of last resort for me. They established themselves by dumping product below cost, decimating independent bookstores in the process. Now that they have to service this debt and compete on a level playing field, they pursue "odd directions" to cover up the weakness of their core business.

I suspect that the ever overrated Jeff Bezos will eventually go down as notable failure similar to Kozomo but on a much grander scale.

Filmy business... (1)

bayankaran (446245) | about 8 years ago | (#15801792)

The article says 'profit projections disappoint ' - this means amazon cannot match the growth they had the last 5-8 years anymore. I think its normal for a company of the size of Amazon.

But I am curious how 'filmy business' will increase the profit of Amazon? If you make 5-8 films one might become a hit and rest (if you are lucky) will breakeven. If you make a really good film, over several years it will give you a profit - but that is not going to reflect on your quarterly statements/projections.

I think they are tempted after seeing the DVD sales of films like CRASH (sold more than 5 million units.)

Re:Filmy business... (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | about 8 years ago | (#15802144)

It's not a bad idea exactly. Most movie studios sell their DVDs for say $10, the retailer will sell them for $15.

Amazon can sell their DVDs for $15, which makes it much more profitable. They also can plug it for "free" and know a lot about their customers, which can really affect sales.

Here we go again (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | about 8 years ago | (#15801795)

Will the studios ever come up with something new, instead of churning out just another movie remake [imdb.com] ?

Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15801851)


When you concentrate your efforts on patenting "one-click sale" and other similar "innovations", the core business suffers. That's why I never shop at Amazon, even if the price is OK which, by the way, practically never happens lately.

For tech books, see BookPool [bookpool.com]

Third Party Merchants (5, Interesting)

robklaus (661537) | about 8 years ago | (#15801888)

I think they've gone terribly wrong in the level of integration they have with these 3rd party merchants.

There is no way to limit searches for items to be stricly from Amazon. I've had mixed experiences with the 3rd party folks, and really I would prefer to buy directly from Amazon, but hunting through hundreds of search results to find what Amazon ACTUALLY sells is incredibly difficult and a major PIA. This has sent me to others for recent purchases.

Re:Third Party Merchants (2, Insightful)

hxnwix (652290) | about 8 years ago | (#15802520)

Hear hear. Why did Amazon massively invest in distribution & warehousing infrustructure when they clearly hope to become nothing more than a gigantic Ebay Stores ripoff?

They are ignoring their profitable core competancy to provide services that their customers neither desire nor expect from them. It used to be that I went to Ebay for used books & such and Amazon for new books, DVDs and popular consumer electronics. Now I buy new books from B&N, continue to purchase used items from Ebay and I have a netflix subscription for my DVD fix. Amazon couldn't hope to compete with Newegg for electronics. Bye bye, Amazon.

Calling All Grammar Nazis! (1)

adavies42 (746183) | about 8 years ago | (#15801950)

"Send", dammit! What's so hard to get about subject-verb agreement?

Re:Calling All Grammar Nazis! (1)

Xeger (20906) | about 8 years ago | (#15802234)

Ahh, but what if "dropping" is being used in the transitive sends? Perhaps Amazon has dropped some profits by the side of the road, and the act of dropping the profits sends them in odd directions.

Microsoft: The Movie (0, Flamebait)

Live_in_Dayton (805960) | about 8 years ago | (#15802000)

Call this post flame bait, but I have to ask, how would Microsoft do a movie?

Glad I Passed On The Job (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15802295)

I am definitely happy with my decision to not accept a job offer with Amazon.com. I was recently flown to Seattle to interview with Amazon.com for an accounts position, specifically dealing with their new toy division.

During the interview, I stayed in the conference room where 4 Amazonians interviewed me, one after another. I was annoyed that the interviewers were asking the same questions. They pretty much were reading off a script; however, the third interviewer at least was different enough to keep away from the script and go to the whiteboard for a quick logic session.

THE SHOCK. The offer that Amazon made me was laughable. When I was informed of the offer I asked if this was for real, and how this compared to other wages for the position. I was told that the offer that they gave me was on the high end.

I was utterly disgusted at the offer, and couldn't understand why they even bothered to fly me up to interview. After all, for the wage they gave me, Amazon could simply have recruited from the Seattle region.

Only after talking to those who were experienced with Amazon.com I realized that Amazon had horrible working conditions. Their benefits are lousy, and they pay many University level positions by wages. Yes Wages.

In the end I quickly realized they don't conduct what we business folks regard as a "balanced score card." That is balancing the needs of ALL Stakeholders. Stakeholders obviously include employees, investors, etc... From my point of view Amazon was way too focused on employee cost cutting. From my observation, they placed very little of that into human capital, and instead hope their brand name and aging business model will carry them forward into....well I don't know what.

Possible Test (1)

darkfather (471575) | about 8 years ago | (#15802457)

Does anyone else see this as a test of Amazon's capabilities? What if it works, and the film is a hit? I see them selling marketing services for unknown books, overlooked films, and unheard of directors. And using "The Stolen Child" as their poster child.

The Washington Post got it wrong (1)

Black Art (3335) | about 8 years ago | (#15802492)

They are patenting the idea of taking a published book and turning it into a movie.

damn the man (1)

BadMackTuck (910473) | about 8 years ago | (#15802538)

save the empire!

Tired of Amazon (3, Insightful)

PizzaFace (593587) | about 8 years ago | (#15802540)

Sure, the inventory's huge, but Amazon is cumbersome to browse. More and more of their listings are obsolete and no longer stocked, and too many are just listings for 3rd-party sellers. Amazon's prices aren't that great, and the customer feedback is actually more limited than what some other sites offer. Customer support is bureaucratic too.

In the brick and mortar world, a big department store can beat small specialty stores because one-stop shopping really saves time. But it doesn't take long to hop from one website to another. If Amazon's corporate goal is still growth through diversification, it could become a dinosaur and lose business to more-narrowly focused competitors, which often sell at lower prices (e.g. Bookpool [bookpool.com] ) and are easier to shop (e.g. Newegg [newegg.com] ).
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