Amazon dead by Mar 19, 2001
October 23, 2000 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Amazon dead by Mar 19, 2001 Just thought you like to know the exact time of death of That's according to Downside's Deathwatch is a cash-flow analysis. The death date is simply the day the company will run out of cash, based on their reported liquid assets and loss rate. When the cash runs out, something bad for stockholders has to happen.
posted by lagado (31 comments total)
Link courtesy of NTKnow
posted by lagado at 9:02 PM on October 23, 2000

...well their info/predictions seem to be old and/or wrong. i.e.'s death day was four months ago but that company is still alive.
posted by gluechunk at 9:37 PM on October 23, 2000

I don't think they accounted for outside IV drips...
posted by owillis at 9:58 PM on October 23, 2000

From what I've read, the head of Amazon claims he can switch to profitable operations pretty much any time he wants to.He's continuing to lose money because he can and because he has a purpose to accomplish by doing so. But there are apparently lossy things they're doing which can be stopped, and the company would suddenly be in the black.Or at least that's how he's telling it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:00 PM on October 23, 2000

Well, I'm totally convinced by that argument! ;-j
posted by lagado at 10:08 PM on October 23, 2000

That argument works? Well heck, I've got a student loan officer I need to "discuss payment terms with" then! Thanks for the tip! :-)
posted by youhas at 10:41 PM on October 23, 2000

The silly thing is, if Amazon had stuck to books and not decided to be Wal-Mart, they would have been profitable 2 years ago. And they do books really well. IMHO, the online book space is still somewhat open, of course no one would give you VC money for it...
posted by owillis at 12:08 AM on October 24, 2000

Yeah, I read that Amazon works on a 'get bigger faster' model or something like that.
Actually, I don't think that Amazon will ever go bankrupt.
Find me a guy who's into online shopping and doesn't use (among other shopping sites, of course).
Okay and even if you know of some people who don't use, they're surely a decreasing (?) minority, I think.
posted by kchristidis at 4:01 AM on October 24, 2000

I quit using Amazon to buy stuff during the patents stink. But I use their site *all the time* because it is most excellent. And I can slowly, slowly, feel myself getting drawn closer to the deathstar of patent oppression...
posted by mecran01 at 5:51 AM on October 24, 2000

I don't use Amazon, and have never purchased anything from them. In the past few months I've bought books, CDs, domain names (okay, okay, but it's still an online purchase, dammit! :-) and various gadgetry via online stores.

I stopped visiting completely Amazon when they got their one-click patent. The only times I visit now is when following links like the thread a month or so back about the Hitler-lovin' book review.
posted by cCranium at 6:07 AM on October 24, 2000

I was watching last night on HBO, and at one point they were showing that The Turner Diaries was available at Amazon.

At what point does Amazon's decision to sell such books cross the line from "free speech" to "reckless profiteering"?

Also, I noted back in the day at my site (I'll refrain from self linking) that the author of The Anarchist's Cookbook has gone on record at Amazon asking that the book not be sold anymore. However, Amazon has opted to continue selling the book despite this request.

Part of me says, "First Amendment! You can't ban one book in favor of another!"

Part of me says, "Yeah, BUT..."

What do YOU say?
posted by ethmar at 6:15 AM on October 24, 2000

yeah, just the other day i was watching tv and was grossly offended and thought, now why can't the government do something about this?! and then I really started thinking about how much in this world just OFFENDED ME and how I really believe that there should be a gov't agency removing from public culture anything that offends people. What a vibrant culture we would have then.

okay, that was far more sarcasm than you deserved but it goes back to a simple point; if you don't like something, you don't have to read it/look at it/listen to it. we have a first amendment right to free speech. that amendment has been eroded in the past few years and it goes both ways. the same people that outlawed hate speech also made sure ralph nader couldn't get into a presidential debate.
posted by bliss322 at 6:49 AM on October 24, 2000

Frankly, Ethmar, I'd be scared to live in a country where you couldn't buy The Turner Diaries. (This would seem to include Germany, although I can certainly understand why the Germans would be frightened by extremist speech.) If we don't maintain a strong First Amendment, what's to prevent the next series of Palmer raids? Or a crippling of, say, anti-WTO organizations in the same way that the Anti-Sedition Act was used to cripple the American left?

Not that I like Amazon. But I'd like them even less if they (like certain other giant corporations) decided what was appropriate for me to read and listen to.
posted by snarkout at 6:58 AM on October 24, 2000

>it goes both ways

Indeed it does.

However, my question (which admittedly was not articulated as clearly as I'd intended) is: Is Amazon providing an invaluable service by providing a source for books that may be considered "undesirable" (even Harry Potter books can be lumped into this category) by some, and in doing so, are they engaging in reckless profiteering by doing so?

Does Amazon sell [controversial book title here] because it fills a void for consumers, or are they using the "buckshot" approach to selling and trying to make a quick buck off of anything and everything?

Then again, the 8,000 "departments" at Amazon pretty much answers that question. :-)
posted by ethmar at 6:58 AM on October 24, 2000

>Then again, the 8,000 "departments" at Amazon pretty much answers that question. :-)

yeeah, i'd agree on that one. i think amazon could care less about moral/ethical concerns as long as it makes a dollar and doesn't cause controversy. case in point, they were thrilled to continue with their "dynamic pricing strategy" until they were caught, at which point they flustered around and put a stop to it.

for the record, i don't shop at amazon (i don't agree with their business practices), but, sometimes, i do search there for products and then go elsewhere to buy.

posted by bliss322 at 7:46 AM on October 24, 2000

oh, and to your question, yes, i think amazon does do a service to the community by having such a stockpile of books. i still don't shop there, but if all other sources of literature in the world suddenly go away, then i might consider it. :)
posted by bliss322 at 7:48 AM on October 24, 2000

I don't understand why it should be an issue for us, ethmar.

I doubt they (Amazon) or any other huge bookseller took the controversy of the book into consideration when stocking it, it's just another product they sell. If they make money, they'll stock more, if they don't make money, they'll send it back to the publisher.

Doing anything else just doesn't make for Good Business Sense (TM).

(note: I've never even heard of The Turner Diaries, and I have no idea what it deals with, or how controversial it may or may not be.)
posted by cCranium at 8:16 AM on October 24, 2000

The Turner Diaries is a novel about race war in a near-future America, written by a white supremacist. It's something a must-read for Identity Church types and the like. I haven't read it, so I can't comment on how inflammatory it is beyond its subject matter.

And to contrast, cC, Walmart doesn't sell "parental notification" albums; Amazon does. Walmart might be basing this on sound business decisions -- playing up a "pro-family" identity that will deflect criticism about chainstores putting mom-and-pops out of business and build brand loyalty in small-town America -- but I suspect it's more because Sam Walton was a profoundly conservative man (and one of his sons is helping fund the school voucher movement and various right-wing initiatives).
posted by snarkout at 10:09 AM on October 24, 2000

Ethmar: The author of the Anarchist Cookbook does not own the copyright on the book. He screwed himself by handing that over to the company that originally sold the book, so he doesn't have the right to pull it from circulation.

I don't understand how anyone could be in favor of a bookstore pulling controversial books off the shelves. Does society really need to be protected from moronic fantasies like the Turner Diaries?

On the subject of Amazon.Com, I spent at least $500 a year there. The products always arrive quickly, and whenever I send an e-mail to customer service, I always get an answer within 24 hours. On the other hand, I've had nothing but aggravation from Barnes & Noble trying to get the company to honor a free eBook offer that remained on its site, in true bait-and-switch fashion, for more than a week after it stopped making the book available. I've gotten three different answers from three different customer service reps.

I think has a valuable name and reputation to online consumers and isn't going to disappear anytime soon. To me, the biggest obstacle with any online store is trust, and has probably gotten more shoppers to trust the company than any other pure-ecommerce company. How much is that worth?
posted by rcade at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2000

rcade: Amazon is one of the shining examples of what business on the Internet can be, despite their constant red inked books. As has been alluded to above, the regular losses they're suffering is because they're expanding to so many different areas so quickly.

I highly respect Bezos and what he's created, I just can't stand some of the crap he and the rest of Amazon's higher-ups have decided to do as a company. I think the fact that someone I respect so much (Bezos) would pull this kind of crazy shit (patenting one-click shopping, the whole fluctuating price thing) makes me that much more vehemently opposed to shopping there. :-)
posted by cCranium at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2000

Does society really need to be protected from moronic fantasies like the Turner Diaries?

A certain Federal Building in Oklahoma City comes immediately to mind.

Naturally, that's a can of worms unto itself. Yanking books (let along TV shows, movies, and video games) due to violent content, no matter how fictional, is certainly not the answer to the world's problems.

But I question Amazon's motives for selling some of the books that they do. I realize we can argue all day long about "what constitutes OK books for Amazon to sell", but (for example) books that promote, not merely provide neutral instructions for bomb making crosses the line (in my world) into a realm that Amazon might better have left untapped, for want of a few extra bucks.

Meanwhile, the book banning wagon has arrived in Santa Fe, Texas. Baaaaaad Harry Potter! Baaaaaad!
posted by ethmar at 11:31 AM on October 24, 2000

A certain Federal Building in Oklahoma City comes immediately to mind.

John Hinckley tried to kill President Reagan to please Jodie Foster. Should we criminalize Jodie Foster so that her performances don't fall into the wrong hands?
posted by rcade at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2000

In the interest of disclosure (and gratuitous self-promotion), I have a vested interest in the sale of irresponsible books by Amazon.Com.

If you're going to blame books for killing people, start with this one.
posted by rcade at 11:48 AM on October 24, 2000

Touche, rcade. I was waiting to see who would be first to say that.
posted by ethmar at 12:08 PM on October 24, 2000

I'm a firm believer in cheap rhetorical flourishes. That may be one of the reasons I'm so excited about Fightin' Al.
posted by rcade at 12:57 PM on October 24, 2000

Until Amazon lets you buy stuff without registering, making an account, becoming a member, surrendering your email address, choosing a password, and all that unnecessary crap, I'm not buying anything from them.

At least real-world bookstores still let you pay in cash.

posted by Mars Saxman at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2000

Mars, I agree completely. And when I tried to buy from Barnes and Noble, I got all the way to the end and was ready to check out -- and in addition to the "checkout" button there was a "register" button.

Pressing the checkout button did nothing except repeat the page. Apparently it refuses to let you check out if you're not registered.

At which point I decided not to buy anything from B&N. And I sent a scathing letter to their webmaster about it.

I don't buy from Amazon for exactly the same reason, and there are a large number of other sites I avoid for the same reason: I do not want to login. Calling it "My Gronk" doesn't make it mine, it just makes it an invasion of my privacy. In particular, if they keep my credit card info online I want nothing to do with them.

What I want is to fill out the form from scratch every single time. Some sites let me do that. That's what I want.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:45 PM on October 24, 2000

Hey having your Credit card number online is completely safe.

Nevermind the fact that I got a call from my credit card company the other day that informed me my card's security was jeopardized and needed to issue a new one.

Yup, completely safe. Now go home and forget this ever happened. Forget. Forget. Forget.
posted by john at 3:58 PM on October 24, 2000

There are millions of people who don't buy from They are called "residents of the state of Washington." See, the sales tax here is 8.5% ...

Since moving here, I've bought exactly one thing from Amazon, and it wasn't a book, but second cradle for my Visor. Even with shipping and tax it was cheaper to order it from Amazon than from Handspring. My books and CDs, however, now come from, who keeps giving out cash-off coupons.

posted by kindall at 4:56 PM on October 24, 2000

Well, whatever. All of you say what you will, but Amazon will be DEAD by Mar 19, 2001.

Dead I say, totally deceased, kaput --- mark my words.
posted by lagado at 5:27 PM on October 24, 2000

Amazon Sales Soar. That was a quick turn around...
posted by astro38 at 8:33 AM on October 25, 2000

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