I first started using Amazon in earnest around two years ago. If fines and reservation fees are factored into the calculation, and I buy the bargains, it costs about the same as a public library. It is especially useful for the obscure titles and for gifts. For as little as £2.50 I got books delivered in two days. This is especially useful when the public library stock gets smaller by the year.
A month ago I ordered Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby. I hoped to get an insight into his simple and readable prose style. It had been on my To Read list for years and, after ordering from Amazon, I struck it off. Unlike Nick Hornby, I am not one of those who buys books and then doesn’t read them – I am far too thrifty for that sort of thing.
And that’s how the story ends – nothing else happened. The book wasn’t delivered so I will never use Amazon again – and that includes that daft solution-looking-for-a-problem, breadth-is-more-important-than-depth thingy called Kindle. This will mean more trips to the West End to visit Foyles and generally more wasting time and drinking too much coffee – a small price to pay.
When I was a teenager, I used to read Melody Maker and in the back pages they sold mail order Levi jeans for a quarter of the high street price. I bought some and they never turned up. It was the first time I’d ever used mail order. And the last.
Then e-commerce came along. I too was swept along with the sheer groovy modernity of it all though there was something deep inside me niggling away and telling me this is little bit like mail order. Sure enough I joined the ebay craze and once again, goods didn’t turn up. It’s a modern paradox that in an era when there is diminishing trust in politics and institutions, we become more reliant on a transaction where there is too much trust required at one end and too much temptation given to the other.
So never again, and I will probably never read Polysyllabic Spree because it will only remind of of my own foolishness.