March 14, 2017

Amazon goes site-specific


If you’ve ever read MobyLives, you know that Amazon are a bunch of fuckers who gut regional job markets, drive around in stupid trucks, have attempted to rob the Brits of “queuing up” (one of their purest and most vigorous forms of cultural expression), and are generally a disaster for human civilization.

If you’ve ever been to Austin, Texas—land of taco supremacy, brilliant journalists, joyously independent retail, and enviable slack—you’ve probably come across “Keep Austin Weird,” the catchphrase created by librarian Red Wassenich in 2000, which has served as an anti-corporate rallying cry for the city’s scraggly masses ever since.

It was, then, with all the subtlety of a narc in Groucho glasses that Amazon, in time for Austin’s beloved South by Southwest festival (which opened yesterday), found a bare patch of wall somewhere in town and scrawled “Keep Amazon weird” on it. Luckily, the excellent book people of Book People, Austin’s fabled indie bookshop, spotted the incursion and clapped back in the most elegant way possible:

Yeah, don’t fuck with Book People, Amazon!

Here are a few more campaigns to look forward to from the Amazon marketing department:

1. New York City: “Amazon — Fuggedaboudit

“Nothing says ‘authentic NYC experience’ like having  your Tony Robbins book, a half-gallon of milk, and three AA batteries delivered to your door by a flying robot! When it comes to sustainable local jobs, recommendations from professional human booksellers, and ever leaving the house again, you too can say Fuggedaboudit — hey, I’m walkin’ here!”

2. San Francisco: “A Golden Gate — To Savings!

“I left my brick and mortar, headed for the Frisco Bay! Hella savings are the real San Francisco treat, and prospects are great with our new Amazon Books location. Where else can you read ‘Search Engine Optimization For Dummies’ on the Google Bus?! You might even say we’re on a mission to beat the competition, and consumer data is the tastiest burrito of all! Wavy gravy, maaan!”

3. Washington, DC: “Get Tired of Winning — With Prime!

“Look, having Amazon Prime—Jeff Bezos’s uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Bezos at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, Princeton University, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a data-driven market saturater, if I were a bookseller, if, like, OK, if I ran a bookstore staffed by humans, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a job-guzzling corporation they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Started in Seattle, decades without a profit, went there, went there, did this, built a fortuneruined some lives—you know we have to give our, like, credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the Washington Post deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these bookstores are (Prime is powerful; Bezos’s uncle explained that to us many, many years ago, the power and that was twenty years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the drone program, the treasure truck, the physical stores—now it used to be one, now it’s four—but when it was just the one and even now, I would have said it’s all in the data collection; fellas, and it is, fellas, because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the booksellers are smarter right now than the algorithms, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us. Adult coloring books are on discount all next week!”



Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.