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[P]
Authenticity for sale

By madams in News
Mon May 15, 2000 at 04:11:26 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The commercial internet took off when someone figured out how to use it as a tool of commerce. What were the original online stores? They were sites like Amazon.com, Egghead, and CDNow; sites that sold mass-produced, mass-market commodities. At the time, it made perfect sense to sell the kinds of products that most people would be likely to buy: books, CDs, electronics, etc. But are some Internet-shoppers yearning for more? Isn't anyone selling things that weren't produced in a factory?

[editor's note, by rusty] As should be obvious, the author is not associated with any of the sites named in this essay.


Sites such as GUILD.com and alibris seem to be answering "Yes!" to these questions. GUILD.com connects artists with buyers, while alibris maintains a database of used and rare books for sale. The founding idea behind alibris is very akin to that of Amazon.com: provide a categorized, browsable site that acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers (for Amazon.com, this meant distributors, while for alibris it means used book dealers).

For example, anyone who needs the first edition printing of that Grant F. Gilmore classic The Problem need look no further. Alibris is also a community, included discussion areas devoted to and articles about used books.

GUILD.com has a different feel to it. Most of the works on the site are new and many of them are one-of-a-kind. Just in case you need a US$7500 Post Industrial Cuckoo Clock to wake you up in the morning, GUILD.com can deliver.

Now, don't let my facetious remarks fool you. I think sites such as GUILD.com and alibris are a welcome relief from commodity exchanges like Amazon.com. But what kind of relief is it? Both GUILD.com and alibris sport the slick interface and crafty salesmanship as Amazon.com and CD.now. Both sites advertise in mainstream periodicals .

Compare GUILD.com to specialized sites like Pan African Imagery or the grassroots Original Art Works. Original Art Works even has a gallery of art by school children (not for sale, of course). Sites like these have much more of a community spirit to them then the manufactured communities of GUILD.com and alibris.

So maybe authenticity is only relative. GUILD.com still panders to mass-market appeal, even if it is selling limited-edition wares. But whether you are buying from Amazon.com and alibris, or GUILD.com and Original Art works, it still comes down to consumer empowerment, especially if you have US$45,000 to spare.

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Related Links
o Amazon.com
o Egghead
o CDNow
o GUILD.com
o alibris
o The Problem
o US$7500 Post Industrial Cuckoo Clock
o Pan African Imagery
o Original Art Works
o art by school children
o US$45,000 to spare
o Also by madams


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Authenticity for sale | 18 comments (18 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
This sounds more like a commercial ... (1.00 / 1) (#12)
by duxup on Sun May 14, 2000 at 06:13:50 PM EST

duxup voted -1 on this story.

This sounds more like a commercial than something to spawn a discussion.

Whatever they sell, online stores s... (1.00 / 1) (#14)
by farlukar on Sun May 14, 2000 at 06:22:46 PM EST

farlukar voted 0 on this story.

Whatever they sell, online stores seem to me hardly any more than postal order companies.
You choose want you want and some time later it's delivered. The concept is the same, it's just the internet hype making it "special".
______________________
$ make install not war

Re: Whatever they sell, online stores s... (none / 0) (#18)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 16, 2000 at 10:28:04 AM EST

This is an excellent comparison, the only thing different is the fact that the Internet companies are doing it wrong. Last figures I heard for Amazon.com were that it cost them $40 PER ORDER to process a request for books. It doesn't take a genius to realise that this is a sure-fire way to make a loss. The interesting thing about 'Internet' businesses rather than 'Regular' businesses is there supposed use of integrated supply chain and 'b2b' (Business to Business) technologies rather than their choice of market arena. It doesn't really matter what they sell, what really makes a difference is that their procurement system automatically calls their supplier and updates the accounts/inventory. This is what the (urgh!) E-Business is really all about. (And this is where the likes of Amazon are failing due to disparate systems). My point, when I get there, is that niche markets are different product lines aren't the interesting bit, the tech and process engineering that goes on behind them are. - Icarus Hey, my ID's in the ePost.

[ Parent ]
looks like an advertisement to me..... (none / 0) (#10)
by thelaw on Sun May 14, 2000 at 06:33:36 PM EST

thelaw voted -1 on this story.

looks like an advertisement to me....

I didn't really 'get' this article ... (3.30 / 3) (#9)
by Marcin on Sun May 14, 2000 at 06:39:31 PM EST

Marcin voted 0 on this story.

I didn't really 'get' this article :) Maybe it's too early in the morning and i'm still waiting for my coffee to cool down so I can kick start my brain. It seemed to me just to be an ad for guild.com and alibris.com..

I would have thought that it makes sense that the web is a perfect place for a niche store because you have both lower costs (most likely) than a physical store, and also a greater audience.. most people on the Internet (i'd think) are still in the higher income brackets and so more likely to purchase your stuff..

Feel free to let me know if i've missed the point :)
M.

Yeah, so?... (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by Velian on Sun May 14, 2000 at 06:49:43 PM EST

Velian voted -1 on this story.

Yeah, so?

Interesting - while I don't necessa... (2.00 / 1) (#2)
by torpor on Sun May 14, 2000 at 07:39:02 PM EST

torpor voted 1 on this story.

Interesting - while I don't necessarily agree that sites like Amazon.com and Egghead were the first e-commerce sites (the Internet shopping network comes to mind {www.internet.com, back in the bad old days}, as do a few other sites that pre-dated Amazon, such as stockroom.com), I think it's still very valid to discuss the issues raised, and this article is a lot more intelligent than some of the other articles making the rounds on weblogs these days...
j. -- boink! i have no sig!

It's quite interesting to see speci... (2.50 / 2) (#5)
by fluffy grue on Sun May 14, 2000 at 08:59:36 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

It's quite interesting to see specialty stores like this cropping up. Until now, I'd only seen such items sold on eBay and the like, and maybe a very few on Yahoo! stores (my brother recently showed me how cool shop.yahoo.com is, btw), but never any standalone antique shops. Some various specialty shops such as Furtail (a friend of mine runs it; it's not like I go hunting around for furry pr0n all the time... no, really!) have been cropping up lately as well, but those are VERY small-scale, and most of the furry pr0n^H^H^H^Hart I see sold online is through eBay.

Myself, I think this is a good thing. I hate shopping because it means dealing with people, and this means less dealing with people to get stuff, even specialty items, without having to put myself at as much risk as I do when I buy on eBay.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Yet another press release? *sigh*.... (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Sun May 14, 2000 at 09:41:58 PM EST

Pseudonymous Coward voted -1 on this story.

Yet another press release? *sigh*. Your revolutionary business model interests me not. Tell it to an MBA or another marketing drone. It's a shame -- an idea like this is worth propagating, but a writeup with "GUILD.com this" and "GUILD.com that" just looks tacky.

I buy books and CDs online...but no... (1.67 / 3) (#8)
by End on Sun May 14, 2000 at 10:13:38 PM EST

End voted 1 on this story.

I buy books and CDs online...but nothing can compare to the ancient feel of being in the dusty bowels of the old local bookstores near the University of Minnesota, and every now and then I get the urge to head on in there for a good old fashioned impulse buy.

-JD

True dat! The internet is becoming... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by MoxFulder on Sun May 14, 2000 at 11:30:37 PM EST

MoxFulder voted 1 on this story.

True dat! The internet is becoming a bastion of mass market conformity. When I first used the web about six or seven years ago, nobody was on it except scientists and curious hacker kids like myself. Fortunately the original Internet hacker culture and community survives in some sites and newsgroups :-)

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes


In addition to these sorts of sites... (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by adamsc on Mon May 15, 2000 at 12:14:01 AM EST

adamsc voted 1 on this story.

In addition to these sorts of sites, I expect growth in the related category of delegated shopping. There are quite a few things that people would buy if they knew where to go but don't have time to research. All of this is a good thing, as mass-market consumer goods is really a tight market. Online vendors can sell things cheaper but they can't yet make up for the fact that the same product can be purchased locally much faster than it can be shipped. Moving into categories where this is not true greatly increases the value of buying on-line.

Too commercial. While rusty disclai... (3.30 / 3) (#15)
by konstant on Mon May 15, 2000 at 01:21:06 AM EST

konstant voted -1 on this story.

Too commercial. While rusty disclaims that the author is associated with the sites, I can't help but think this commentary would fit well inside a glossy promotional brochure.

seems kind of marketing-esque with ... (1.00 / 1) (#16)
by aml on Mon May 15, 2000 at 02:03:00 AM EST

aml voted 0 on this story.

seems kind of marketing-esque with a mealy-mouthed ending.

Ok.. This is about consumers and th... (2.00 / 1) (#1)
by Inoshiro on Mon May 15, 2000 at 03:04:07 AM EST

Inoshiro voted 1 on this story.

Ok.. This is about consumers and the internet. It's just that the ending needs to be reworked. Could we have a longer ending with more detail on how this consumer empowerment is happening, thanks to the internet?

--
[ イノシロ ]

These guys are spending millions on... (1.00 / 1) (#3)
by FlinkDelDinky on Mon May 15, 2000 at 03:15:21 AM EST

FlinkDelDinky voted 1 on this story.

These guys are spending millions on advertising to get the names associated with providing certian kinds of markets.

What's going to happen when people find google and odp? Those are pretty much the sights I use when I'm really looking for a thing or service in a serious way. Besides, I haven't used Amazon since they pissed me off with that patent thing. You know what? I haven't missed them at all.

How are these sights going to compete with quality search engines?

I'm not quite sure what the authors... (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by Dacta on Mon May 15, 2000 at 03:18:30 AM EST

Dacta voted 1 on this story.

I'm not quite sure what the authors point is, but I do beleive that the internet makes business producing high quality goods which are expensive, yet there isn't huge demand for possible.

WHu? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 15, 2000 at 12:14:59 PM EST

"The commercial internet took off when someone figured out how to use it as a tool of commerce."

D-oh!

Authenticity for sale | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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