Monday, September 13, 2004

Shopping On and Off Line 

To make up for attending Noreascon without my partner Yeong, I spent Sunday with him doing his favorite passtime: shopping, in this case for a particular household gizmo that he's lusted after for some time, which gizmos are fortunately nowhere near as expensive as they were just a year ago.

We happen to live in an area replete with electronics stores -- Fry's, Best Buy, Comp USA, Circuit City, Good Guys, and a high-end place called Magnolia -- so we learned a lot by visiting each, asking slightly different naive questions each time as if we hadn't already been to the other stores, then balancing the options and our budget and making a decision. Then we came home and ordered it online. From Amazon.* For a better price than any of the stores offered, though in point of fact all the physical stores were out of stock of this particular model aside for an occasional floor model.

I realize we've done this now several times--spent a day, or several days over a period of weeks, driving around the city shopping, and ended up buying online for less. Still, the point is you can't omit the in-person experience. You have to see what you're going to get, make a decision about what's acceptable, which is difficult to do by simple online browsing. Amazon is great if you already know what you're looking for, but it can't replace serendipitous browsing in a physical bookstore.


*Which, as you no doubt already know, provides Locus Online a modest commission for every item ordered through the links we provide, e.g. Amazon, at no additional cost to yourself.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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