As a household, we have been all over the ease and efficiency of Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping on practically everything for the annual fee of $79. That’s $79 a year, or about $6.60 per month, so as not to find parking and fight the crowds to buy grain-free cat food or chlorine-free diapers while loading up the car with an infant in tow, invariably at a big box store like Costco or Target anyway (the latter of which does not presently exist within the city limits). The ease of delivery right to our door prevails over revving up our car at over $4 per gallon of gas, even where it’s still a rare transportation choice for our public-transit lifestyle. The annual fee includes free streaming of plenty of movies and TV shows, which, as an aside, prompted our household to defect from Netflix. Amazon, however, was built on book sales, so I was quick not even to question its ability to fulfill a recent order I had for several new baby board books in a Babylit series of Romeo & Juliet, Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, and Alice in Wonderland, all by Jennifer Adams, that would be gifts for some special babies turning one. I was confident I’d have these in my hands within a matter of a few days, if not two days.
To my unpleasant surprise, Amazon revised it’s delivery date on several of the books, some reasons having to do with lack of current stock or its inability to ship these certain items in pre-order status on their actual release date. This left me scrambling to find these books locally. The interaction of technology, namely Google Shopping, which helps identify “nearby stores” that have your item, and the real bookstores themselves, with people who actually pick up the phone within three rings and then walk over to the actual shelf to check if a book that their database says is in stock indeed is, and then holds said books for you, saved me from showing up at the party empty-handed. WIN for the independent bookstore, which I confess I have always morally loved, but only irregularly financial supported. The detour the Amazon fail provided enabled me to discover a local shop that I’ve passed, but never walked into, Alexander Book Co., and one that used to be one of my neighborhood bookstores, Books Inc. in the Castro. I heartily thank both booksellers for being there this past week.