the wonderful world of veena.

24 January 2014

retail review: amazon.

Yes, I'm new to the Amazon bandwagon. But better late than never, yeah?

For years, I was emphatically opposed to buying anything off Amazon. I don't necessarily know why I was so opposed to it, but I was, and after a few years it almost felt like it was a principle of mine: don't buy things off Amazon.

I know for books it was because I was morally opposed to purchasing books from any outlet other than Barnes & Noble. First it was just because I loved the store, and then it was because I worked there, so I felt a loyalty and also an obligation to buy all of my books from the store. When my brother gave me his hand-me-down iPad, I downloaded the Nook app and purchased any digital books through the B&N website.

I knew Amazon offered other products as well, but I just always believed I could find them for just as cheap somewhere else. Once I get something stuck in my head, it's there to stay, and that was the case with Amazon. Nothing and no one could change my mind.

And then, one day in mid-2013, it just kind of suddenly changed all on its own.

I was looking to purchase and download a book, and I was really put off by how much it was on the B&N website. I can't remember which book right now, but I remember being astonished that it was nearly $13 for the Nook version. For me, half the point of e-books - the first half being the ease of traveling without the weight of lots of books - is that they are supposed to be cheaper than the print version of books. I still love the print version when it's an option, but there is definitely something to be said for e-books every now and then. And suddenly I found myself let down by Barnes & Noble.

On a whim, I decided to see how much it was on Amazon's website, and to my amazement, the Kindle version was nearly half the price. I still wasn't ready to take the plunge, but it definitely piqued my interest, so I did a little more digging.

Eventually I discovered Amazon Prime. I know, I know, I'm only about 3 million years late to the game, but that's just how I roll. Anyway, during the course of my explorations, I learned that as a Prime member, you get a lot of really great deals on Kindle books, including being able to borrow books for free from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library. We all know I'm a sucker for free things, and free books are at the top of that list. I was hooked.

Upon further exploration, Britney mentioned in passing that Prime members get free two-day shipping on most items as well as free access to Amazon Prime Instant Video, their online streaming service for television shows and movies. Also, as a student [this was maybe a week before Graduation, so I was still technically a student], the normal $80 annual fee for Prime membership was slashed to $40.

Here's a little equation for you:
cheaper e-books + free books to borrow + free two-day shipping + free online streaming, all for half the normal price, = sign Veena up.

So sign up, Veena did.

And I have to say, in the 8ish months that I've had the membership, it's been some of the best $40 I've ever spent. It's so nice to order something on a Monday evening and have it at my front door by Thursday afternoon. And with the free shipping, I don't have to save things in my cart until I get to a certain total in order to qualify, which has been great. My brother uses it as well, so it's gotten pretty good use in our household for everything from books [primarily] to DVDs to bulk office supplies to a handbag for me to everything in between.

I sometimes find myself getting lost in the website, just searching for hours and finding plenty of things I don't need but that look appealing simply because they are Prime-eligible. It's become my latest way to waste time. Clothing. Movies. Accessories. The options are endless.

It's also been a great way to compare similar products by different brands. The user reviews are generally pretty helpful if I'm on the fence about something, and it's great to have everything in one place.

In addition, my brother got me a Kindle for my birthday to allow me to take advantage of the Lending Library. I've found myself actually enjoying reading on the Kindle, and just last month Amazon introduced another new feature - each month, I get early access to download 1 of 4 upcoming releases. In layman's terms: Amazon sends me an email with 4 books that are releasing in hardcover the following month - 1 fiction, 1 thriller, 1 romance, and 1 young adult book - and I can choose one to download for free. Yes, for free. That's pretty amazing.

Not to mention that you can get some really good deals on Kindle books in general. I downloaded The Book Thief when it was only $2, and I found another book for $.10. Yes, that's right, I said 10 cents! For a book! That's unheard of. And there are plenty of others that are available for extremely reasonable prices. And new releases and other popular books, not just older, more obscure titles. And for me, if the print version is only a dollar or two more, I can just order it, get free shipping, and have it in two days. If that's not a win-win, I'm not sure what is.

Even though I discovered the wonders of Amazon later than most other people in the universe, my love and admiration for it is no less than anyone else. It sometimes takes every ounce of willpower that I have to not just purchase everything I have "Saved for Later" in my cart all at once.

Things might get out of control if I ever get a job that pays real money. Old Navy has some stiff competition for my favourite website these days...

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