Adam goes wild purchasing stuff on the Web; Amazon upgrades music.

I Find Karma (
Thu, 23 Apr 1998 16:29:39 -0700

Just as we had committed to using Amazon for books

and MusicBlvd for music

Amazon goes and changes its music policy to be IDENTICAL to MusicBlvd's.
Anyone know if they are in partnership over the music thing? If you're
curious about the new Amazon music ordering policy, see the attached 10K
file at the end of this. Until then, prepare to hear the story of how
today I am officially no longer afraid to order stuff over the Web.

The first time I ever bought anything over the Web, sadly enough, was
last December when Dan Kohn recommended "A Random Walk Down Wall Street"

and I was too lazy to go shopping so I just ordered it off the Web.
Great book, Dan -- thanks for the recommendation. It wasn't that I had
had any hangups about ordering stuff off the Web, I guess. I just
didn't do it.

Over the last few months, I've ordered a few more books from Amazon.
Today, however, I ordered books from Amazon AND music from MusicBlvd for
the first time -- thereby expanding the number of businesses I do
ecommerce by a factor of 2 (that would be an order of magnitude for
anyone keeping score at home in binary). And it's like that saying,
once is accident, twice is coincidence, three times it's real. Anyone
have any recommendations of a third place I can buy stuff over the web --
on my budget, mind you -- so I can make it real?

First off, why am I suddenly buying stuff today? Well, I had a backlog
in Greenbook #10 (don't ask) of stuff I wanted to buy, and FINALLY I
managed to pay Rohit back the $2500 I owed him this week (again, don't ask).
So I was feeling pretty good about myself, and like any woman who is
feeling good about myself, I felt like shopping. So... want to hear my
inventory of purchases? I'll start with Amazon and move out from there.

First, Hakon and Bert's seminal work on style sheets. I've recently
decided to escalate my knowledge of style sheets and although this book
covers only CSS1, it is both a handy reference and a portable guide.
I'm watching for the second edition to come out later this year, but for
now I've ordered

Next up, Rohit, me, RobHarley, and RobHarley's Flamethrower of Doom +6
visited a modern art museum in Basel, Switzerland in January, where I
became enamored with an artist named Jenny Holzer who among other things
has this list of classic oneliners collectively known as "Truisms." So
I ordered the book corresponding to this, with additional essays, in the
hopes of downloading Jenny's Truisms into my head

much like the 20,000 other one-liners I have floating around in there

It's amazing I've been maintaining MsgList for almost ten years now and
(a) I have not made any money off of it, and
(b) I still haven't written any decent scripts for parsing and
spewing (aka "chug and plug") portions of the list.

'Nuff said. I next continued my obsession with screenplays by
purchasing 1998 Oscar winner for best screenplay, Good Will Hunting.
This screenplay REALLY bothers me because
(a) I could have written it.
(b) The authors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon didn't write it.
Rumors from

tell me that their original script was doctored to the point
that the final version is completely different.
And we all know that Aint It Cool News is always right about such
things. Nonetheless, I'm adding the winning screenplay to my bookshelf
next to my screenplays for Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction, Slacker, Clerks,
Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. One day, you'll see, I'll write my very one
Good Will Hunting, and I'll call it Good Rohit Khare or something

Speaking of Good Rohit Khare, I just found out Sunday that there were
two science fiction works written by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
in the 1980s that profoundly influenced our hero's inner psyche.
Unfortunately Amazon was out of the two books but I asked them to look
for them for me anyway. For the record, they are Nature's End

and War Day

and maybe if we are real nice to him Rohit will share with us what these
two books mean to him and his life. While you're at it, Rohit, explain
the concept of "geek age" again because I just don't get it. Is this
anything like Josh's "gay age", or is it more like that Emotional
Quotient stuff from a few years ago?

Anyway, speaking of out of print books, I once again begged Amazon to
look for a copy of the Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Grammar for me --
I *NEED* this book. Way too many people are asking me way too many
questions nowadays that I'm fixing to dodge...

I was thinking about purchasing Hamlet on the Holodeck

or Amusing Ourselves to Death

or Data Smog

but then opted against them, instead choosing the classic, The Medium is
the Message

Then I checked out the pop culture section. As an aside, was anyone
else terribly disappointed by the "Revealing Cartman's Father" episode
of South Park last night? I mean, it did have a variety of tasteless
stuff we haven't seen before in South Park -- amputee nurses,
cannibalism, and hermaphrodites -- but the explanation of Cartman's
father, to quote Cartman, "really pissed me off." Next year's Star Wars
prequel better give us a much better "hero's father" story.

So there I was in Amazon's pop culture section, and I decided to make
much ado about nothing by choosing a book on Seinfeld. I can't believe
there are only four new episodes left -- I think, Rohit, that this more
than anything will now inspire me to work. With the exception of the
Simpsons, television becomes virtually ignorable... so anyway, I picked
up this Seinfeld book, an unauthorized tribute (not that there's
anything wrong with that).

I also saw a crumby Amazon review of what they consider the four best
XML books to be, and luckily the Connolly/Khare opus was there

but I already own it so instead I went into the "new and interesting"
section and found, once and for all, Rohit's DREAM WOMAN. Her name is
Diana Benson and she has this new book called the Mile High Club that
sounds absolutely fascinating

so I looked at some of the reviews and after reading about life with the
First Class
> I have no doubt that every word you wrote is true. But the outrageous,
> insulting misbehavior, the rudeness, the devilry exhibited by some of
> the actors, players, musicians and others is downright disgusting. And
> these people (using the word loosely) are supposed to be our idols? Our
> paragons of perfection? I don't think so, at least not in my book! Boy,
> you sure managed to open my eyes a little farther! Thanks, Diana, for a
> good (and well-written) book. I enjoyed reading about this chapter in
> your life. Your expressive style had me hanging on every word and made
> it hard to put the book down.

and then reading the interview with her

> I decided to write Mile High Club to finally answer the questions
> that, I and other MGM flight attendants, had been asked for years by the
> Media and the general public. Not only is the public thirsty for
> celebrity stories but curious about the airlines industry. More-the
> mystique of flight attendants (stewardesses). Much had been rumored
> about the crews of MGM Grand Air annow that MGM Grand Air no longer
> exists "it is time". MGM Grand Air was a unique airline with unique
> experiences.

I decided that this was book was a must-have. If you're still curious
about her, Rohit, check out her website

I'll bet Dr. Timothy Byars likes her. She's a "dirty girl"...
Hey, speaking of Tim Byars, I searched Amazon for his book but found
nothing. Tim, weren't you going to write a book? Or did I imagine that too?

So after finishing Diana Benson's website, I smoked a cigarette and
completed my Amazon order -- it'll be like 92 bucks if they manage to
find the three books I put on order.

So then I mosied on over to MusicBlvd and picked some picks that people
have recently recommended to me.

>From joebar, I chose Skinny Puppy's "Remission"

>From mike, I chose Hepcat's "Right on Time"

[heard it in Blockbuster's listening bar and loved it -- thanks for the
pick, Mike]

>From janie and lisa, I chose Holly Cole Trio's "Don't Smoke in Bed"

>From Andrew Pam, I went for the Moog Cookbook

>From rohit, I chalked up Vanessa Mae's "Classical Album 2"

>From reardon, I decided to round out my Velocity Girl collection (except
that MusicBlvd doesn't offer Simpatico on CD so I guess I'll have to buy
that one locally) - I got Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts

and the Velocity Girl EP

and I already had Copacetic

so like I said, I'll have to search for Simpatico. Maybe from Amazon's
site. Hang on, let me try it right now. Hey, cool, I found it

Hang on for another second. Click, click, click, ordered. Man, that
felt good. Okay, so now I have all of Velocity Girl's albums on their
way. Too bad the movie "Two Guys and a Girl" doesn't have a soundtrack
currently available...

So that's what I ordered. Too bad Amazon doesn't let me merge two
orders I make on the same day. Now I pay shipping twice, oh well.
Let's see if they're smart enough to merge my two orders one hour apart (ha!).

Anyway, if you're curious about Amazon's new music policy, I'm including
it below like I mentioned I would earlier. And now I'll get back to the
messages vs. events death match post I've been planning for a while...

> From Thu Apr 16 09:11:04 1998
> To:
> Subject: Associates - IMPORTANT UPDATE
> Dear Associate,
> We have some important news for Associates who recommend music titles
> in our catalog, and according to our records your site is one of
> them. In a few days we'll be introducing some big improvements to our
> music selection, changes that should help you earn more than ever
> before. These improvements will also require that you make some small
> but critical changes to your links during the next few days. Please
> read this carefully and save a copy of the message to help you update
> your links. Here's a brief summary of the important information
> you'll find in this announcement:
> * Payment on EVERY item that a customer orders during their visit
> * Thousands of new music titles coming very soon
> * Much faster shipping on Music CDs
> * Changes to the Operating Agreement
> * Changes you must make to your links to music titles
> * Other changes to our music catalog
> Many of you have asked us to provide a much bigger selection of music
> CDs--we're about to add thousands of new titles to our catalog. You
> also told us that you needed much faster shipping than the 1-2 weeks
> we've been offering, so we'll soon improve that to 2-3 days on most
> music CDs. With this much larger selection and much faster shipping,
> you can easily increase your music sales and better serve your
> visitors. That's great news, but here's the best part:
> You've been asking us to pay you a percentage of everything a visitor
> orders from when they visit from your site, and we're very
> pleased to announce that we've found a way to make that possible.
> Starting soon, you will earn a 5% referral fee on every music CD that
> a customer orders during their visit from your site--whether it's the
> title that you linked to or not. If a visitor follows your link to a
> particular music title and then buys five different CDs while they
> shop at, you will get 5% of the selling price of EVERY CD
> they order--not just the one you recommended. You'll also earn 5% on
> every book and every other non-book product ordered during that visit
> as well.
> In order to support these new features of our Associates Program,
> we've also made some important changes to our Operating
> Agreement. Every music CD ordered will now earn 5%, regardless of
> whether you linked to it directly or the customer found it after they
> arrived at While in some cases you'll earn less for a
> particular music title than you did before, with much faster shipping
> and lots more titles to choose from, we know that more of your
> visitors will be likely to place orders. We'll also pay you on all
> the extra items they order during their visit, so overall you'll be
> able to earn more than ever before. Nothing will change for books
> except that we will now pay you even more--5% for every additional
> book that a customer buys during their visit. The books you recommend
> will continue to earn 5% to 15% just as they did before.
> Along with all these improvements come a few necessary chores, and
> you'll need to update your web site in the next several days. Due to
> changes enforced by our suppliers, the product codes for all of our
> music products are about to change. Unfortunately, this means you'll
> need to change your links to match these new product codes.
> At the end of this message, you'll find a list of all the music titles
> that visitors clicked on from your site in recent months. The list
> shows you the old ISBN that you linked to and the new product code
> that you should link to next week. There's also a new link format for
> you to use, but don't worry too much about it--the new format is very
> similar to the old one and the changes will be easy for you to make.
> While we are adding a lot of new products to the catalog, we're
> removing a few as well. Market research and our own experience show
> that cassettes make up a very small percentage of music sales. We
> know that some of you have recommended cassettes in the past, but I'm
> sorry to report that we have decided not to carry music cassettes at
> present. In most cases, you should be able to find a comparable CD in
> our catalog once the new titles show up.
> As part of the catalog upgrade process, the old music ISBNs in our
> catalog will be removed. We hope to have the replacement items back
> into the catalog very soon thereafter, but for various reasons it may
> be several days (even a week or more) while we set up the new catalog.
> Books will not be affected by the changes, but we don't know exactly
> when the new music titles will appear in our catalog. For those of
> you who recommend classical music on your site, note that these titles
> will remain temporarily unavailable in our catalog for many weeks
> afterward. We will bring them back as soon as possible, you should
> plan to disable these links until you hear from us about the new
> classical music titles being added to the catalog. We will notify you
> all as soon as we know the exact date that they'll return to our
> catalog, and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience that may
> result.
> On April 21, the old ISBNs will be removed from our catalog. You
> should change your old music links to the new product codes and link
> format by that date. Use the information in the table below to make
> those changes; it will be a very short process for most of you. If
> you now link to some music title that isn't on this list, don't
> worry--just take down the old link and look up the title in our
> catalog when the new music products come online.
> Once you change your links, please remember that the new links won't
> work until the new music products are added to our catalog. Some time
> after April 21, hopefully within a few days, we'll send you an email
> message telling you that music is once again available--your links
> should work fine after that. We realize that this might be a bit
> awkward for your visitors, and suggest that you temporarily disable
> your music links during this brief outage. Once again, we apologize
> for any inconvenience that may result.
> Once your new links are working, you'll have a lot of new music titles
> to choose from. Many of you will want to look through our catalog at
> that time and add even more titles to your links. At around this same
> time, we'll officially announce the new payment plan to all our
> Associates - and begin tracking sales of every item on the orders that
> result from your links. This should happen at the same time the new
> music titles arrive, but we'll let you know the exact date when the
> tracking software is released. Once all of this has taken place, you
> should take a moment to review the new Operating Agreement as well.
> The old link format that you have been using looks like this:
> The new format looks like this:
> There are three things to look for when changing each link:
> 1. We have dropped the "A" at the end of your account code - it is no
> longer necessary.
> 2. ISBN changes to ASIN, reflecting the fact that an "International
> Standard Book Number" makes no sense when referring to a music CD.
> (ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Item Number in case you were
> wondering)
> 3. The equal sign (=) changes to a slash (/) which helps some mail and
> word processing software recognize that this can be an active link.
> Caution: Some characters in a new ASIN may be letters - watch for the
> difference between the numeral zero and the letter O. Chances are if
> that if your new link points to the wrong title, this is the problem.
> Needless to say, there are a large number of Associates who will be
> making changes over the next couple of weeks. We're also preparing to
> send quarterly payments near the end of April. As a result, we expect
> an unusually high volume of email over the next several weeks.
> Please, if you encounter any difficulties when changing your links
> start by re-reading this message carefully and examining your HTML
> closely before sending us email to ask for help. It's important to
> remember that until you get the next email message from us, telling
> you that music titles have been added back into to our catalog, your
> links are not expected to work properly.
> Since it may not be possible for us to respond to you as quickly as
> usual for the next few weeks, we're asking for your help in sending
> only the most urgent problems to us during this transition. Of course
> we'll be here if you need us, but your patience and cooperation during
> this time is appreciated. We'll make every effort to provide you with
> help if you really get stuck.
> Here is a list of the ISBNs people have recently clicked on from you
> site, along with the new product code (ASIN) and the title of the
> item. Note that if the ASIN shows just a line of dashes (----------)
> we may not have this item in the new catalog. In that case, make sure
> to search for the item once the new catalog is back online - a new
> edition may be there instead.
> ---------- ---------- ----------------------------------------------
> 6302187508 B000003CY7 Wtwp Classical Talkity Talk Radio
> 6303074014 B000000I1K Essential Fripp & Eno
> 6303429017 B000003OVE Civilization Phaze 3/2 Cds & Book
> Thank you once again for your participation in the
> Associates Program, and we wish you great success.
> Sincerely,
> Tom Schonhoff
> Associates Program


Lisa Simpson: Our top story today... in a move that could affect
children townwide, the library book purchase committee slashed its
budget by 3%. First on the chopping block: periodicals.
Krusty the Clown: Boring!
-- The Simpsons