Kyle Maxwell

Just me.

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Why I shop Amazon over B&N

I have two separate coupons from Barnes & Noble because I made the mistake of buying one of their $25 memberships. Usually, when my family goes to the mall, I hang out at B&N to read and maybe buy some magazines while hanging out at their subpar licensed Starbucks cafe. (The service and drink crafting are nowhere near what a real Starbucks provides.) For online ordering, I’ve been an Amazon customer for at least 10 years and have an Amazon Prime membership for “free” two-day shipping. This costs something like $70 / year and probably isn’t really worth it, either, since a slightly slower shipping option is free when you spend $25 or more anyway.

So occasionally I get emailed some coupons to use either online or in the store. Generally it’s 15% off one item, the most expensive item in your basket / cart. For signing up online with my membership account, I also have a 20% coupon code. I’ve been looking to get a copy of Wikinomics, so this seemed like a good test case.

With my 10% membership discount, B&N charges $20.12. They have a free shipping option; let’s go with that. Tax comes to $1.66, so if I don’t apply any coupons, this will run me $21.78. If I apply my code for joining, I get a $6.27 discount (can’t figure out where that 20% is), but the shipping isn’t free anymore. This means tax applies to it, too. My new price is $21.74, for a $0.04 discount. Hmm.

Well, what about the other one? Yeah, the story gets worse. The 15% discount takes $5.26 off, but shipping and tax change, so the “discounted” price is $22.83. I will spend $1.05 more.

Is any better? The regular price for the same book is $18.45. Now, for me, shipping is “free” (sort of), so that is my final price. Amazon doesn’t collect sales tax for some reason, and while this is a bit of an advantage, in my jurisdiction that would be $1.52 and so the final price would be $19.97. Leaving that issue aside, if I were paying shipping, it would be $3.00 (I believe) and so my price would be $21.45.

This is less. And it’s less confusing.

The only thing I’m still considering is what it would cost me in the store; that’s where B&N still has an advantage, as there’d be no shipping cost at that point. I wouldn’t make a special trip just for one book, though, particularly with gas prices where they are.

I think I’m going to stay a loyal customer for now.


New books I’ve ordered

These are supposed to arrive this Monday from

Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer: I read parts of this when it was serialized but not the whole thing. It was touching and explored some interesting social and scientific issues.

Coyote by Allen Steele: Some other stories in this universe have been really interesting so I want to get started from the beginning of it.

X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking by Jeff Gordinier: The author was on Think (a local public radio talk show) and this sounded like something really interesting.

A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting by Hara Estroff Marano: Recommended by my doctor.

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