January 26, 2005

Cleaning out the Amazon Wish List

Recently I started using Netflix, after years of hearing recommendations and then, finally, when my parents started using it. Can't have the parents be more tech-saavy than I, just wouldn't do.

You'd think the biggest bonus is being able to rent cheaply. But not really; I can rent cheaper from the local video store. Nope, the biggest benefit is that I can put movies I want to see on the list, and then not have to think about it. I get a recommendation for a movie, see or hear something that reminds me of a movie, and then I don't have to think about it. Centralization of my movie wishlist, and someone to auto-send me stuff. Niiice.

So, after a total of 3 weeks, my parents have a combined 50 movies, and I'm over 200 (including TV shows extending over 6 or more CDs, admittedly, but there you go.) This also removes some of the more "experimental" and "reminder" items off of my Amazon wish list, which I use as a catch-all for things I like to use. Now, it's really a wish list for DVDs, at least. If it's on there, I want to buy it, not see it someday to see if it's any good.

Which got me to thinking, what else can I remove off my wish list?

Books, that's always a problem. I'd love to get books from the library in this way, but first, I live in Atlanta, a place where "library" seems to be synonymous with "waste of taxpayer money" or "place where evil things lay in wait for children" -- so they're very underfunded (Except in the outer burbs, where they're funded well, but are under the "responsive to the customer" philosophy, and I'm not interested in John Grisham, Stephen King, or romance novels.) Second, for whatever reason, no one's realized that current search technology, wishlist technology and libraries could be combined.

The second one is easily solveable with Jon Udell's Library Lookup -- you can lookup a book, and from there it shouldn't be too hard to extend the process of creating a wish list, even if the list is held on your computer. Not as good as a web-based one, but it would work.

Actually, now that I think about that, that's a really good idea: create an account, pick the libraries, it holds your accounts, you pick the libraries you want to pick stuff up with... could be neat.

This also means I have to go to the library -- a disadvantage, but one that's easy to overcome with time.

One really nice example of a commercial "book rental" service is O'Reilly's Safari service, which I can't recommend higher. Tons of tech books, I can switch them out once a month, and 20 slots (each book remains in a slot for 1 month, so you can rotate them in and out) costs about as much as 5-8 tech books. Considering I own... too many... that I've read once, then don't use (I don't even use Red Hat, why do I have a copy of "Learning Red Hat Linux"?) it's a great deal for me. But it's only tech books.

Another good service is Audible.com, which does audio books. I was not into audio books before this, but once I tried a couple, I was hooked. $20 bucks a month

So, what about CDs. And so I ask -- why not a CD rental ? Evidentally, Japan has such services, which is interesting; and another one has appeared, but has literally around 40 CDs only, 4 of which are Shania Twain and another 4 are Brittney Spears. At $260/year.


Which then goes to the question: why is this not something common? Turns out, it's illegal. You can do this with things other than audio recordings, and that chances are likely that Ongo Bongo is illegally operating.

No wonder iTunes is taking off -- it's the cheapest and easiest solution available, aside from P2P services. Which is not to say it's that great; but it's there, and it's cheaper than buying a whole CD and then finding out you hate the band. But iTunes doesn't have a wishlist, either.

Well, that's at least cleaned out my Amazon Wish List some, and given me a few new projects I can work on.

Posted by Ted Stevko at January 26, 2005 02:11 AM | TrackBack