Amazon Prime is now available in the Netherlands
Could this be a door opening for authors to reach the Dutch market?
As an author (on Amazon and elsewhere) but also from a consumer perspective (from a long-time Amazon user in the U.S.), I have mixed feelings about Amazon Prime coming to my newly-adopted home in The Netherlands.*
Amazon from an Author’s Perspective
Amazon is just plain awesome. Yeah, that about sums it up for me.
Their products for readers are fantastic (Kindle, Goodreads, Audible, etc.) but their tools for authors to sell their books are unsurpassed (Amazon Marketing Services, Giveaways, Kindle Unlimited, etc.). I’ve written about how the ebook market in Holland is going to get, ahem, clobbered by Amazon if they don’t make it easier to buy books (Kobo, Bol.com and LeesID. Help! Amazon, take me away!).
So, as an author, I’d love Amazon to have a more prominent role in the Dutch ebook (and audio) market. Absolutely.
“Welkom, Amazon! Kom lekker binnen!”
But then there’s the other side of the story …
Amazon from the (Dutch) Consumer’s Perspective
A friend from California visited me this past week and we walked around Utrecht (and later Amsterdam) together. The cobblestone streets were teeming with shoppers and cafe goers, the restaurants were packed, and my friend noticed all of the “tiny” shops with brand names he didn’t recognize.
Neither of us is a big shopper, but we wandered into a few of the shops to browse. We found:
- a postcard that turned into a candle holder,
- peanut butter with white chocolate chunks ( = heaven for someone who desperately misses Reese’s and pretty much loves anything with peanut butter),
- a water bottle made out of bamboo,
We talked about how Macy’s (an old-school, major American department store) just closed down in his hometown of Santa Barbara and how most people buy online.
“Shopping has become less of a social event and more of a task to be completed. We used to just “go hang out in the mall” but now we click and we’re done.” — US tourist in Holland
Amazon is just killing it–almost literally–in the States. Brick and mortar stores are going out of business and even online retailers are throwing in the towel (e.g. is Barnes & Noble still around?).
The worst case scenario is that Amazon comes in and no one in Holland ever leaves their house again. Of course, an extreme and very unlikely example.
Then my adventurous friend brought up an example of how Amazon offers what no one else can offer:
He was cycling (yes, bicycling) from San Diego to Denver (for those not familiar with geography in the U.S., that’s about 1,217 miles or 1,959 kilometers … yes, my friend is a machine) and he needed a cigarette lighter power supply that had two outlets. Let’s see, Radio Shack is out of business and the mom and pop general store in northern Arizona just wasn’t going to have it. The solution? Amazon.
With a few clicks and a few bucks, the item would be delivered to any address the next day. Done. Boom. Thank you.
It’s that kind of service that I both love and fear (for those cobblestone street retailers in quaint Utrecht).
I started writing this post more to congratulate Amazon for making a foray into the Dutch market so that, completely egotistically, I could buy really boring electronics for cheap and so that Dutch consumers could finally get their hands on my latest books and download them with a single click onto their brand new Kindles.
So is it one or the other? Is it either:
- People get to buy my books with one click, or:
- The end of social civilization as we now know it?
What’s it going to be?
I think I’m taking things to the extreme. But it’s one thing I love about it here: people are in town, shopping, drinking beer on terraces in cafes, not just clicking and buying and returning to watch Transparent.
For the record, the press release was about Amazon Prime being available for Dutch Amazon clients to get Prime benefits from Amazon Germany. In other words: free, next-day delivery, movies, etc.