Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2006 Issue

Would You Like Fries With That? -- Amazon Sells Groceries

Azon

In an email, Amazon informs us they are now selling groceries.


By Michael Stillman

Amazon.com, the world's best-known bookselling site, recently expanded its offerings with the announcement that they would now be selling groceries online. In a letter from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos published on their site, he noted that during the test phase, people have been "ordering everything from Kashi cereal to Jiffy Pop popcorn." Maybe, but a click to their grocery store brought up a page featuring Special K cereal and Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. That hardly scratches the surface. There are at least six brands of tuna, five more of anchovies, ten of mustard, six of pepper, fourteen of salt (who needs fourteen brands of salt?), eight potato chips, nine of diapers (did you know there is a diaper brand called "Tushies?"), five of macaroni and cheese, and four of batteries. In all, Amazon tells us they have 14,000 nonperishable food and household items.

Jeff tells us, "My kids are thrilled to have Annie's Mac & Cheese delivered right to our door." I wouldn't be. That stuff must have a million calories and enough fat to reconstitute a whale. "As if it weren't already a staple of their diet," he notes, "yesterday they asked if they could have some for breakfast." I think my daughter has asked that too. Another reason not to buy groceries from Amazon.

I'm old enough to remember when Amazon was a bookselling site. Seems like ages ago. I guess there isn't anything they don't sell today. Their home page is a cacophony of changing items, as it tries to remember who I am, and what I want right now, versus ten seconds from now, when it will give me a different set of choices. Were it not for its reputation, I doubt I would have any idea that this is a bookselling site. Obviously this works for Amazon, and their rollout of groceries after a trial run means that they will probably sell lots of them as well. They clearly are not book people, but they are astute businessmen. I may prefer the old Amazon, but I certainly can understand why they would go where the dollars lead them. After all, how many booksellers would refuse to carry mac and cheese if their customers wanted to buy it from them?

So I got to Amazon's home page after reading Jeff Bezos' letter, and do you know what they have waiting for me? Seriously. They must remember that my interest is in books, and my daughter mac and cheese, because there waiting for me is a copy of Macaroni And Cheese, a book by Marlena Spieler. I can now eat and read about mac and cheese at the same time. But I personally cannot stand the stuff, so why would I want to do either?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions