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Amazon Is Turning 20; or, My Life in my Amazon Order History

Thursday, July 16, 2015

For those of us who did most of our “growing up” prior to the internet age, it’s often times hard to remember (a) how in the heck we managed to live before it and (b) just how long it really has been around.

That’s why, when I started receiving notifications of specials “just for Prime users!” surrounding Amazon’s 20th anniversary (yesterday was their official birthday), it freaked me out a little bit that they’d actually been around since I was 24 years old. When I was 24, I was still living with my parents in the Washington DC area and had had AOL, and an email address and what limited internet access there was in 1995, for less than a year. In April 1996, when I struck out on my own and moved to Nashville, I “upgraded” from AOL to a local (?) ISP using Eudora Mail and Netscape (anyone here old enough to remember those?). Things changed rapidly over the next few years, and by the end of the 20th century, I had Bellsouth’s super-fast dial-up and was rockin’ and rollin’ in the new internet age. And that’s where my sixteen-year-long relationship with Amazon comes in.

(And I know this is probably of no interest to anyone but me, but it was very interesting to go back and be able to pinpoint what I’d been doing in my life in each of these sixteen years, just by seeing what I’d purchased on Amazon.)

1999 # of orders: 5
1999 # of items: 11

Even though Amazon opened up (virtual)shop in 1995, I didn’t hear about it for several years. And it wasn’t until it had been around several years that I was brave enough to try it. My very first orders?
Amazon 1999

Two vintage books that completed a series I’d picked up in my ’tween years (and those were vintage even then), and two Star Wars Extended Universe books. A month later, I’d pick up the first three books in the X-Wing series (more Star Wars) and then, in the fall, a couple of books by Ann Radcliffe for my Enlightenment Literature course my first semester back in college. That was also the first year that I used Amazon for Christmas-gift shopping.

The 2000s
Reviewing my purchase history over the next several years, it was great insight not only into my own reading and music preferences, but a great way of tracking the ages of my niece (born in 1995) and nephews (born in 1999, 2002, 2003) by the gifts I purchased for them for birthdays and Christmases.

2000 # of orders: 14
2000 # of items: 34

Orders of note: some classic children’s storybooks (The Story of Ferdinand and Corduroy) as gifts for my niece; Encyclopedia Brown books for my sister’s birthday; some Lori Copeland, Stephanie Grace Whitson, and Tracie Peterson books for me; and several Southern Gospel CDs for my mom.

2001 # of orders: 29
2001 # of items: at least 47
(4 orders wouldn’t load correctly)
This was the year I ordered all of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series, a lot more Tracie Peterson books, and started venturing out into non-book/music items, like a car charger for my cell phone and a fondue pot for my sister for Christmas. It’s also the first year I ever sent anyone Amazon gift certificates.

2002 # of orders: 23
2002 # of items: 30

By the decreased number of leisure items and the increased number of books ordered for school (such as How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Daughter of Fortune, Bless Me, Ultima, and several others for my Comparative Lit seminar), my work load, now in my third year back in school, was increasing quite a bit. I now also had a DVD player by now, because I ordered several, such as the Jesus of Nazareth 1977 miniseries, Disney’s Cinderella, and the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring.

2003 # of orders: 25
2003 # of items: 43

This was the year that I really started exploring what Amazon had to offer beyond just books, music, DVDs, and small items. This year, I ordered a 5-CD-changer stereo, computer equipment and software, sunglasses, and a clock-radio. These were alongside more books for school, most of Jane Austen’s and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books on cassette tape, and plenty more books, movies, and music. I ordered the stereo in December to celebrate completing my bachelor’s degree!

2004 # of orders: 31
2004 # of items: 62

For the first almost-six months of 2004, I was out of school—between finishing my BA in December and starting my master’s program in June. So I did a lot of catching up on reading, movies, and music. But once I started grad school, there’s a gradual decrease in the number of books ordered for personal pleasure and increase in the number ordered for school assignments. I also ordered subscriptions to Writers Digest and Writer magazines in this year. And, most importantly, 2004 is the year that Horatio Hornblower—and thus Lt. William Bush—came into my life on DVD.

2005 # of orders: 28
2005 # of items: 57

Hello Prime Membership; goodbye paying for shipping! Several important cultural icons entered my life in 2005, not the least of which was Amazon’s Prime Membership option. I joined that year and haven’t regretted it a day since (except maybe when I was unemployed and it renewed automatically with no warning and I’d been counting on that money for something else—but it all worked out in the end). It’s the year that the sixth Harry Potter book came out and I decided to see what all the hubbub was about—I started with the first audiobook on CD, and before I was halfway finished with it, I’d ordered all six books in paper/hardback. It’s also the year that I started supplementing my music library with lots of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and their colleagues while working on first finishing and then revising Stand-In Groom for my master’s thesis. I was also realizing just what a great resource Amazon was for me to be able to get research books for what would become the Ransome Trilogy. Most of the books in this post came not just from Amazon, but because of their “customers also bought” feature. (This was also the first year I ever downloaded an audiobook from Audible—burned to CD for listening—but that’s another post!)

2006 # of orders: 30
2006 # of items: 44

More research books! (A good 60-70% of those listed on the page linked above.) More Harry Potter! More classic-standards music! More DVDs! Toner for the laser printer and the specified fancy paper so I could print my master’s thesis for submission and binding. My first MP3 player, to celebrate completing grad school. Oh, and a Chicago Manual of Style for my new job as a copy editor for a book publishing company.

2007 # of orders: 39
2007 # of items: 54

Now that I was finished with school and working on my career, I had more time for leisure reading. The problem was that after all the reading I was forced to do for grad school, and because of my daytime job of editing, I no longer had the desire to read. So a lot more of these orders were DVDs, music, personal products (perfume, sample-sizes of expensive hair products), and non-fiction (more research and writing craft books, cookbooks, etc.). The one major book purchase that I didn’t make through Amazon this year: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I got it at Barnes & Noble and did the whole release-night-madness thing. (But I did get the audio version on CD from Amazon.)

2008 # of orders: 41
2008 # of items: 64
2008 # of digital music orders: 1

Along with the usual suspects from above—gift certificates, books, music, movies/TV on DVD—the most important and special thing I ordered (pre-order placed 7/23/08, shipped 12/26/08) was Stand-In Groom. Even though I knew I’d be receiving a few dozen copies of it from my publisher, being able to order MY book that I’d written from Amazon and get a shipping notification email and seeing name as the author of the book being shipped was something I’ll never forget. And this year, for the first time, I ordered something online which didn’t need to be shipped and which wasn’t a physical entity—I downloaded an MP3 album from Amazon straight to my computer. Since I’d already gotten in the habit of ripping all music CDs to my computer, to listen to either while working on the computer or to take with me in the car on my MP3 player, this was the beginning of a new music era for me.

2009 # of orders: 38
2009 # of items: 67
2009 # of digital music orders: 11

I had two books release in 2009: Menu for Romance and Ransome’s Honor. And I pre-ordered A Case for Love on June 9, 2009, even though it didn’t officially release until January 2010. Had ordering my own books from Amazon become old-hat at this point? Not on your life! It was just as exciting every single time to get that email notification that the book had shipped! Those 11 digital orders represent several entire albums and, something new and exciting to me—individual tracks. I could now get only the songs I liked without having to purchase the whole album!

The 2010s
By this decade, online shopping was no big deal—everyone was doing it. I’d become such an ingrained Amazon shopper that by 2010, Amazon was the first place I’d go if I was interested in purchasing something, from the small to the large. (It’s still the first place I go to read product reviews, but it’s not the only place I shop online anymore—and more recently, I’m more likely to read book reviews on Goodreads rather than Amazon.) It’s also the year in which my Digital Orders would really start to outpace ordering stuff that has to be shipped.

2010 # of orders: 38
2010 # of items: 54
2010 # of digital orders: 72 (individual items not counted)

As orders or pre-orders this year: Love Remains, The Art of Romance (pre-order, shipped 4/29/11), Ransome’s Crossing, and Ransome’s Quest (pre-order, shipped 7/6/11). This year, I ordered as many non-book items as I did books: my toaster oven (one of the best purchases I ever made!), coffee, a Flip video camera, a VGA cable to hook my laptop up to the TV so I could watch Netflix (I’m so happy I have a Roku now so I don’t have to do this anymore!), a document shredder, a coupon organizer wallet to keep the bookmarks for all of my books organized for signings and events, home fitness equipment, mailing supplies for sending out signed books, and so on. On the digital front, CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!! Boy, was I into that this year—probably because I was laid up with a broken ankle and couldn’t get out much to hear it elsewhere. I also ordered a lot of soundtrack/instrumental music this year—from Michael Giacchino’s scores for Lost, Up, and Star Trek to 100 Greatest Film Themes.

2011 # of orders: 32
2011 # of items: 49
2011 # of digital orders: 223 (individual items not counted)

So, at the end of 2010, I broke my ankle and was laid up at my parents’ home in Arkansas from November 2010 through February 2011. And while, financially, this was one of the roughest years in my entire life—I wasn’t making enough money with my books to be able to make up for the loss of freelance editing income due to publishers pulling as much as they could back in-house to keep from having to lay off as many people—the people around me were extremely generous. Through the generosity of a couple of different writing groups, this was the year that I was able to get my Kindle and a new camera. And with advances from a couple of books I turned in and signing the contract for the Great Exhibition books, I was able to get a new/more memory MP3 player, a wireless printer/scanner/copier, and a projector so that I could use PowerPoint presentations for the workshops I gave monthly to my local writing group. In addition to the releases of The Art of Romance and Ransome’s Quest this year, it was also the year my last contemporary, Turnabout’s Fair Play, released, shipping on October 27, 2011. Toward the end of the year, I ordered a couple of books to learn more about the Jewish culture—as I’d started working in September as a part-time admin assistant at Congregation Micah in Brentwood, TN, to try to make ends meet. This is also the year that I fell in love with Criminal Minds, ordering all the available seasons on DVD.

When I scrolled through my digital orders, it was page after page of classics downloaded to my Kindle. It’s the library that every English major should have, and a whole bunch of books that I’ve never, and will never, read.

2012 # of orders: 29
2012 # of items: 32
2012 # of digital orders: 105 (individual items not counted)

It’s obvious that I went back to work full-time in 2012 (April), because there are a bunch of things on there that I ordered for my desk and then for the office I was moved into after a few months (desk organizers, specific pens I liked, and an iPad cover for the refurbished iPad they gave me). I also upgraded the MS Office on my home computer to 2010, brought home The Avengers on BluRay—and the first seasons of Grimm and Once Upon a Time. I pre-ordered Follow the Heart, which released the next spring. And this is the year in which I got rid of cable TV for a while—because I ordered two sets of digital rabbit-ear antennae for my TVs. This is also the year in which I truly became a convert to reading on my Kindle, and not just as an excuse for collecting as many free classics as I could. Most of my digital orders are books—a few of them are classics, but most are more recent books that were free, usually because of a special promotion for a new title the author had coming out. And, as usual, there’s lots of music downloaded, as well.

2013 # of orders: 36
2013 # of items: 49
2013 # of digital orders: 64 (individual items not counted)

So bittersweet . . . 2013 was the year my two last books, Follow the Heart and An Honest Heart, released. By the time AHH came out, I’d already learned that my publisher had decided they weren’t going to publish fiction any longer and that I didn’t have to continue to force myself to try to write the third contracted book—which I was very happy about. The increase in the number of TV shows on disc (DVD or BluRay) that I ordered this year is testament to the lack of cable TV. I also ordered some photography textbooks for my niece for her high school graduation gift this year. It’s also apparent by my order history that this was when the psoriasis on my hands and feet started and/or started getting really bad, because there are lots of lotions, creams, and ointments in my list! In my digital list, I see almost all of my own books for my Kindle, lots of 1980s music, Julia Quinn’s entire Bridgerton series, and, as to be expected, lots and lots of books.

2014 # of orders: 32
2014 # of items: 55
2014 # of digital orders: 45 (individual items not counted)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been so recent, but according to my order history, Christmas 2013 was when one of my BFFs gave me my first Bobbleheads (Thor and Man of Steel) because in early 2014, I ordered a couple more (Loki and Iron Man) and, later, some Funko Pop! figurines (Daryl and Carol from The Walking Dead and a pre-order of Dancing Baby Groot).

And look at them now! (June 2015)

And look at them now! Most have been gifts, but there are a few of my own Amazon purchases, too. (June 2015)

More lotions and creams for the psoriasis. And lots of gifts for others—including circular knitting needles for the cloche-style hats I made for my friends for Christmas. On the digital side, I ordered Meghan Trainor’s album, Game of Thrones seasons 1–3, albums from Steve Tyrell and Seth MacFarlane (yes, really), the season pass for Season 5 of The Walking Dead (no cable), movie soundtracks (both albums from Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, Game of Thrones, Captain America, and more). And lots and lots of books.

2015 # of orders so far: 13
2015 # of items so far: 21
2015 # of digital orders: 15 (individual items not counted)

Of the twenty-one items I’ve ordered so far this year, eight have been gifts, four have been TV/movies on DVD/BluRay, seven have been health/fitness items, one was a modular storage shelf for my kitchen, and one was a book. My digital items include the movies Ladyhawke and Pitch Perfect, Season 4 of Game of Thrones, the first five tracks from Maddie & Tae’s new album, and the rest are books.

When did you first start using Amazon? Do you still use them? What are your go-to items that you only (or usually) order from Amazon?

One Comment
  1. Monday, July 20, 2015 10:47 pm

    Goodness – the first time I used Amazon in 2004 was to order and ship a book for/to my parents, and a text book that was shared between three of us at university. Now, I should probably look at setting up an “Amazon Addict’s Anonymous.”


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