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Book on Bezos and Amazon features Spokane’s Etailz and the ‘race to zero’

A Spokane e-commerce company, Green Cupboards, shows up on page 304 of the recent book, “The Everything Store,” by Brad Stone. The book is subtitled: “Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” and it describes pretty effectively how Bezos evolved the online site from a bookseller to a company that practically sells anything.

Like many other competitive online retailers, the Spokane company is willing to share revenue by selling items through Amazon's Marketplace system. When sales happen, Amazon takes a share.

The book was written before Green Cupboards switched its business name to Etailz. The private firm operates out of the McKinstry building near downtown.  Here's the section in the book:

Even sellers who thrive in Amazon's Marketplace tend to regard it warily.

Green Cupboards, a seller of environmentally responsible products, like eco-friendly laundry detergents and pet supplies, has built a 60-person company almost entirely via Amazon, despite the fact that founder Josh Neblett says that Marketplace enables “a race to zero.”

His company is constantly competing with other sellers and with Amazon's own retail organization for the lowest possible price and to capture the “buy box” — to be the default seller of a particular product on the site.

That furious price competition tends to drive prices down and eliminate profit margin. As a result Green Cupboards has had to get more Amazon-like to survive. Neblett says the company has gotten better at sourcing hot new products, locking up exclusives, and building a lean organization.

“I've always just considered it a game and we're figuring out how best to play it,” he says.




Here are you key deadlines for last-minute holiday orders and shipping

So if you're one of those who buys items online as gifts, here are some critical deadlines for shipping presents.

With our own research and help from LastSleighDays.com, we put together this list for when your final deadline is.


  • Dec. 21: free two-day shipping: Order as late as midnight  9 p.m. PST (varies by item) and usually just Amazon-processed items, not just storefronts using Amazon.
  • Dec. 23: one-day shipping (usually $2.99 per item. Same conditions as above.
  • Dec. 24: local express delivery ($3.99 per item) while available only in select cities.


  • Dec. 19: standard: delivery, by 11 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 21: express delivery.by 11 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 23: priority mail, by 11 p.m. EST

Best Buy

  • Dec. 20: standard: Dec. 20 by 3 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 21: express: Dec. 21 by 1 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 22: fastest mail rate, by 1 p.m. EST


  • Dec. 18: standard: Dec. 18 by 10 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 19: express: Dec. 19 by 10 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 21: fastest, by 12 p.m. EST

Harry & David

  • Dec. 18: standard: Dec. 18
  • Dec. 20: express, by 10 a.m. PST
  • Dec. 23: fastest: Dec. 23 by 10 a.m. PST


  • Dec. 19: standard: Dec. 19
  • Dec. 20: express: Dec. 20 by 2 p.m. CST
  • Dec. 23: fastest: Dec. 23 by 2 p.m. CST


  • Dec. 21: standard: Dec. 21 by 11 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 22: fastest: Dec. 22 by 5 p.m. EST


  • Dec. 21: standard: Dec. 21 by 11 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 23: fastest 3 p.m. EST


  • Dec. 20: standard (first-class): Dec. 20
  • Dec. 21: express (priority mail): Dec. 21
  • Dec. 23: fastest (priority mail Express).


  • Dec. 19: standard: Dec. 19
  • Dec. 20: express: Dec. 20
  • Dec. 22: fastest: Dec. 22

Amazon launches new service that discounts past purchases of actual books

Amazon on Tuesday unveiled another Kindle promotion, a service called Kindle MatchBook.

It works this way. If you've purchased hardcover or softcover physical books from Amazon, the company will give you at least a 69 percent discount on a Kindle ebook version of that book.

The Kindle prices will be from $2.99 all the way down to … free. That's what they say.

Only a certain portion of the Amazon bookstore qualifies for the MatchBook option. The list of those titles is here.

Since these are all Kindle ebooks, you either need a Kindle device or the free Kindle app on your PC, Mac, iPad, Android tablet, and mobile phone.

The general view is that this is another tactic by Seattle-based Amazon to keep customers interested in the Kindle family of readers. The timing is right, as Amazon keeps contending for a decent share of the upcoming holiday gadget shopping list.

Sun Valley Birthed WashPo Deal

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post Co.'s Donald Graham used Allen & Co.'s media conference in Sun Valley last month to solidify the sale of one of the country's most venerable news organizations. Reuters reports that the $250 million deal was agreed to after just two meetings during the July conference in Idaho's most well known mountain resort community. Allen & Co.'s annual conference attracts the biggest names in media, politics, business and even sports (the commissioners of all four major professional sports leagues attended this year)/MagicValley.com. More here. (AP file photo)


Amazon CEO Buys Washington Post

The Washington Post Co. has agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos (pictured in AP file photo), ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations. Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to the Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses. Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days. The Post Co. will change to a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Post thereafter/Paul Farhi, Washington Post. More here.

Question: What's this say re: state of modern American journalism?

Which sites are the most liked and most disliked by business owners?

Website 99designs recently polled 1,500 small business owners, start-ups, entrepreneurs and design decision-makers on graphic design and its importance to their business.

The results make for a decent read. We feel a post is warranted since we also saw recent stories in the WSJ that suggest many businesses are now hungry not for MBAs, but people who are saavy in design and product development. (Story at WSJ.com may be behind a paid content wall.)

The survey results that are easiest to digest involve colors and popularity.

Namely, the survey asked for which colors owners associate with success. Answer: Blue most associated with succes. Fifty-seven percent said blue is their idea of success; the second most cited color is green (35%) followed by white (32%), black (29%) and red (21%). Purple was the color males least often associate with success, while women were least likely to select orange.

Then, on which brands are seen as having best logo and best website, the results are predictable:

  • Apple topped the lists for best logo and best website; also on the best logo were Nike, Coca-Cola and FedEx.
  • Most disliked logos and websites: Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Pepsi, IBM and Google.
  • Best websites: Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Nike.
  • Worst websites: Wal-Mart, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace and Microsoft.

MySpace, really?  Who looks at MySpace?

Amazon breaks ties with ALEC

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Internet retailer Amazon.com Inc. is dropping its affiliation with a conservative political group, in part because of some of the positions the American Legislative Exchange Council has taken, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Amazon’s decision follows that of several major companies around the country who have announced in recent months that they are leaving ALEC. Liberal activists have led a coordinated campaign to highlight how ALEC operates and some of the controversial pieces of legislation the organization endorsed. Full story.


Amazon Best Xmas Seller? Levis

The top clothing product sold on Amazon.com in December — hands down — was Levi jeans. In a $Money article, reporter David Goldman writes: “Levi's jeans were the most-purchased clothing items. In fact, Amazon customers bought enough jeans that, when folded and stacked, would make 2,500 Statue-of-Liberty-sized piles.” More about Amazon's top sales here.

Question: I'm currently wearing a pair of Levis. In fact, I have 5 other pairs at home. Love the comfort and the look. How about you? How often do you wear Levi jeans?

Jobs biography is Amazon’s top selling hardback book of 2011

The biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson has been Amazon's biggest-selling book of 2011, the online retailer announced.

The accomplishment is impressive since the book did not start selling until late October.

Despite its hardcover success, the biography of Jobs ranks No. 3 on Amazon's Kindle bookstore.

The Kindle bestsellers so far are “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins and, at No. 2, “The Litigators” by John Grisham.

Who are the deal-friendliest web sites among online retailers?

Yes, we've become fixated on simple-to-read blog lists.

Today's list, via Dealnews.com, is a rundown of what they call the 10 deal-friendliest retail sites. TWo of the sites are from Seattle:  Amazon and Costco.

They are: 

1.       Amazon 

2.       Walmart

3.       Sears

4.       Best Buy

5.       Kohl's

6.       Target

7.       Home Depot

8.       Macy's

9.      Lowe's

10.   Costco

For the full story, go to the page at DealNews.

Amazon Introduces Kindle Fire

Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com, introduces the Kindle Fire at a news conference today in New York. The e-reader and tablet has a 7-inch (17.78 cm) multicolor touchscreen. Behind him is a projected display of magazines that will be available on the Fire. Story here. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Question: What is the last electronic device that you have purchased?

Hike down Amazon more than a walk in the woods

ADVENTURING — You think mosquitoes are bad in the the Idaho Selkirks?

How about venomous stingrays, killer bees, rabid vampire bats, electrifying thunderstorms, previously uncontacted tribes and a bazillion welt-inducing insects?

A Discovery News report tipped me off to Ed Stafford, a 35 year old British explorer who devoted more than two years to walking the length of the Amazon River, from source to sea. 

He finished the journey last August and published a book in June. In a video, he recalls the misery as he wrote in his journal along the way.

A trailer of a show that's yet to become available in the United States suggests it’s full of juicy entertainment.

Meanwhile, Stafford’s adventures — he hasn't retired — can be followed on his website.

End Notes: Paper Books, RIP

It will likely be many more years until all printed books are replaced by e-books. But perhaps in history “books” it will someday be noted that on May 19, 2011 Amazon.com Inc. announced that “after less than four years of selling electronic books, it’s now selling more of them than printed books.” (Read item at end of today's business page briefs column.)/Rebecca Nappi, End Notes. (Newsday archive photo: Ken Spencer)

Qeustion: Do you read e-books yet? Will you miss printed books, hard or paperback, when they finally die?

Amazon To Start Kindle Library Loans

Item: Amazon to launch library lending for Kindle books/Nancy Blair, USA Today

More Info: The world of Kindle reading soon will get bigger: Amazon today said that later this year it will launch library lending for Kindle books, from over 11,000 libraries in the U.S. The Kindle Library Lending feature will be available for all Kindles and Kindle apps, Amazon said. The company did not give a more specific time frame for launch of the service.

Question: Would you be tempted to buy a Kindle, if you could use it to check out library books?

Does BigDeal.com really offer shoppers great penny-auction deals?

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Nick Darveau-Garneau

Nicolas Darveau-Garneau PictureEarlier this week we called Nick Darveau-Garneau, the CEO of San Francisco-based BigDeal.com.

This site is one of the increasingly popular penny-auction sites that invite consumers to hunt down good deals on electronics and household items. 

We're posting a portion of the interview with Nick, who explains how the BigDeal  auctions and bidding operate.

The pitch that caught the eye of Office Hours was the claim that real people are finding real deals on some items, such as getting a new Kindle for less than $10. 

Here's the basic way it works: A person becomes a member by spending a minimum amount to earn bidding dollars. For now, that minimum is $22.50.

The idea is to be the last person bidding, as the auction clock runs down. Each bid you make costs you 75 cents; each successful bid you make on an item pushes the item price up one cent. If the item clock is finally coming down to 30 seconds or less, each new bid, whoever makes it, pushes the clock back to 30 seconds. 

If you don't win, the amount of money you've bid can be applied to “discounted retail” price for that same item, offered by BigDeal. In other words, if you don't win it at auction, you can buy it at a discounted retail price. And BD has the item drop-shipped.

Darveau-Garneau said the auction-sale items offered come from wholesalers and discounters. 

And yes, the auction items “won” will cost the bidder whatever the item price is at the end of the auction, plus shipping.

What we like about it:

  • Things are legit, in that the listings are all backed by BigDeal. Products are not bogus or knockoffs.
  • There's a “Bid Buddy” option that lets bidders auto-bid, within time limits.
  • It's generally a good way to buy an item you really want. If you don't get the item, you can apply the bid amount as a discount against the “competitive” purchase price.

What we don't like about it:

  • It's hard to track or find a given item. Say you want a Canon G12 camera. Good luck finding BigDeal auctions for the G12 without major effort.
  • Item prices for sale for those who don't win that item are nothing special. You can nearly always beat the BigDeal price by shopping on eBay, Amazon or Buy.com, just to use three instances.

See the rest of the post below. 


Amazon ranked tops for online customer satisfaction, survey says

Seattle-based Amazon scored No. 1 in a recent online survey of shoppers asked to rate companies'  customer service.

The survey, provided by the Temkin Group, asked people to rate their shopping experiences with 143 different companies.

Using about 6,000 surveys from purchases made this past January, the Temkin ratings looked at a number of factors customers used in judging the experience of buying products online.

The result was a factor that Temkin called the “net goodness” rating  that came from three major components: Functional, Accessible and Emotional.  To get more information on the method Temkin used, go to the Temkin overview.

The survey mostly looked at retailers, banks, hotels and financial institutions.

Kohl's was ranked No. 2. Notably, another Seattle company, Costco, ranked No. 3 in the ratings. Others in the top five were Lowe's and Sam's Club.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/business-tech/#ixzz1Iajbmn15;

Chart credit: Temkin Corp.

Three state companies make the Fortune fastest-growing list

Three Washington businesses  — Amazon, Coinstar and F5 Networks — have been added to Fortune mag’s list of 100 fastest growing companies.

All three have headquarters in the Seattle area. F5, which makes network management services and tools, has an engineering office in Liberty Lake.

Amazon moved to No. 30 from its previous rank of No. 52. Bellevue’s Coinstar ranked No. 61, followed by F5 Networks at No. 64.

Fortune’s full list is here.  The Sept. 6 issue also features a section on Washington, profiling the state as a center for world-class innovation and featuring its new export initiative, designed to complement President Obama’s National Export Initiative.

You can see the Washington special section at ChooseWashington.com.