Why Not to Trust “Buy Now” Buttons

Digital Media Ownership Is Partly Based on Lies

The multibillion-dollar digital media marketplace is built, in part, on a lie. Companies like Apple and Amazon entice their customers to “buy now” and “own it in HD.” But consumers don’t own anything at all, at least according to the license agreements that accompany those sales.

Recent years have exposed the fault lines in our conception of digital ownership. Amazon has deleted purchased copies of e-books, including Orwell’s 1984, from the Kindles of its customers. Apple disables access to iTunes purchases when users move to another country. Google-owned Nest unilaterally bricked …

When the World Came to My South L.A. Door

Amazon Is Nothing New, in the 1930s and ‘40s Salesmen Delivered Everything From Fresh Doughnuts to Steel Guitars

I remember most clearly the things that aren’t here anymore, the things that I saw as a child in our neighborhood in South Los Angeles.

In 1937, when I was …

What Does Amazon Want to Be When It Grows Up?

Facing Staggering Losses, the Confused Online Business Can’t Afford to Be All Things to All People

Amazon recently announced a staggering $437 million loss over the third quarter. This three-month period included the disastrous introduction of its new smartphone, a misstep for which the company has …

Why Do We Love Being Frequent Flyers, Buyers, Shoppers, and Eaters?

In Exchange for Our Data, Customer Loyalty Programs Give Us Discounts—and a Sense of Intimacy

I am having a hard time being loyal to all my loyalty programs. I have frequent flyer/buyer/rider/sleeper/eater/drinker cards with two airlines, three hotel chains, a grocery store, two booksellers, one …

My Store Just Died

What We Lost When Rocket Video Closed Its Doors

On October 7, Rocket Video, the last great independent video rental store in the city of Los Angeles, closed its doors for good. I was Rocket’s manager. The store had …

Amazon Wars

States Must Tax Booming Online Retail

Battles with online retailers, particularly Amazon.com, are raging from New York to North Carolina, Oklahoma to Colorado and Texas to, now, California. This is good news for lawyers but no …