I read with horror the latest Amazon news. Jeff Bezos said on 60 Minutes that he is testing using drones to deliver packages. Drones! Some people who order from Amazon will receive their packages in under an hour. Wow. I have to admit, I went from horror to amusement pretty quickly. I found myself walking around my house folding laundry, doing chores, just chortling and muttering, “Drones.”
I can’t imagine what I would do if a drone delivered me a package, or I saw a drone in my neighborhood delivering a package. How odd would that be? An unmanned aircraft delivering packages seems like a colossal mis-use of technology. Only an ego as large as Jeff Bezos could think this up. This sort of delivery system begs for these things to be shot down by ornery folks who just need something to do and steal the package contents.
Sadly, it will just be one more thing indies have to explain: Sure, you can get your package 40 minutes after you order it, but Amazon still won’t sponsor your kid’s Little League. How odd will it be to have packages delivered this way? As Amazon continues to eschew the human touch in favor of automation, the indies will continue to value human interaction.
I like people and find there is a real benefit to actually interacting with them. The exchange of information is critical, for customers and us. I learn from my customers every day, not by reading some computer aggregate, but by talking to them. I learn what’s happening in their life that informs my book buying decisions, i.e., did someone just lose a pet? Maybe I should order Dog Heaven? Is there a spate of divorces happening in town (that always seems to be the way)? Maybe I need to beef up the life issues section. And of course, the information exchange about authors and beloved books just makes me a better bookseller.
While we might not deliver by drone anytime time soon (okay, never) we will continue to fly our Flying Pig high and proud as we continue to deliver the best personal service we can, just like all the indies. There is so much more to a good store than speed, and drones or not, I’m convinced all good indies will remain long after the drones have been grounded.