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FutureShop: How the New Auction Culture Will Revolutionize the Way We Buy, Sell, and Get theThings We Really Want Hardcover – January 19, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In his attempt to take eBay into the realm of social theory, Nissanoff leans heavily on "temporary ownership," an endless cycle of consumption where each purchase is looked at not as an acquisition, but as a stopgap that will be auctioned off after its utility has been extracted, and the next bigger and better thing will be partially bankrolled with the proceeds won (at auction, naturally) from the last. It's sort of "One man's trash is another man's treasure," but substitute "used designer briefcase" for "trash." Nissanoff stresses buyers only purchase things that really excite them and carry a high resale value (big ticket swag from Chanel, Fendi, Rolex, Hermes and the like). "The money you recoup when you turn in your expensive stroller, for example, can be put into a new bike for your child." The book, however, ignores a large segment of society: poor and lower middle class people, many of whom don't have computers or the means to buy a $4,600 watch. Similarly, Nissanoff's model assumes people will want to spend the time and energy tracking auctions, bidding, hawking their own stuff and making endless trips to the post office to send off their used handbags. Though it has an exciting promise-people buy newer, bigger, better, shinier possessions all the time, so why not put them to work?-Nissanoff's theory is directed at too narrow a range of consumers to carry a revolutionary consumption wallop.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ignore the all-too-familiar bizspeak paradigm shift and business model (among other phrases). Instead, focus on Internet entrepreneur Nissanoff's germ of an idea, spawned by eBay and a fairly new luxury auction e-company that just could curb America's love of materialistic spending. Think of the brilliant "pre-owned certification" programs hawked by such upscale brands as Lexus, Rolex, and BMW. Consider millions of gifts and items left languishing in closets, thanks to duplication or nonnecessity purchases. Remember the rage over Beanie Babies, a true phenomenon in e-trading. All of those trends, coupled with a yearning for alte zakhen ("old things"), may well convince U.S. consumers and companies that temporary ownership has its psychic and financial rewards. The author is persuasive, acknowledging present-day e-auction issues such as the lack of true liquidity in specific categories and forecasting a dramatic rise in auction facilitators, "dropshops," restorers, and new market channels. But the underlying question still persists: How many Americans will truly change buying behavior to create a robust trading marketplace? Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Happily, it went way beyond what I already knew and made a very compelling case for how and why online sites have taken off, why they still have plenty of room for growth and expansion and how they're changing shopping habits. I'd venture to say that online shopping is still in its mid-phase, not fully mature yet. But soon it will be in full bloom.
Also, sites like Ebay often catch the early wave of interest in certain styles, especially renewed interest in retro styles. It is no coincidence that soon after Fiestaware and other pottery started taking off and getting HUGE prices there that major companies did revivals of the brand. It is a way of staying on top of consumer trends and, sometimes, of setting new ones. It is a give and take, back and forth process. What sells online can often be found next season in a store or what sells THIS season in a store may be found for much less online.
The author isn't just theorizing about what takes place on the web. He was one of the most successful entrepreneurs so he really knows his stuff and the facts and statistics he gives readers are indeed fascinating and made me think about how online shopping was evolving.
One of the greatest things about online shopping is how often a bargain can STILL be found, even a steal. When my son left for college, I sold his nearly new guitar for a fraction of the price we'd paid and someone out there got a great deal. Just think of it - someone can sit down at the keyboard, comparison shop at various retail stores and then find the SAME item for much less, all in the space of an hour or less! No travel to and from stores, no wasted gas money, etc.
Anyway, if you're interested in how our lifestyles are being affected by the auction culture, this book is one you'll want to read. You're bound to learn something new, even if you're an experienced seller or buyer!
Further, he states that soon auction dropshop locations will be as prevalently widespread as Starbucks. I think not. In fact, the auction dropshop store that opened in my neighborhood closed due to lack of interest after just a few months.
The fact is eBay and other online auction sites are changing things because they eliminate a middle man and wonderfully facilitate consumer to consumer transactions. That the author is a middle man himself is telling. And that he seems to believe that these dropshop businesses will thrive is way off base, and demonstrates a clouded lack of understanding of the marketplace based upon his own ulterior motives.
The book is not well-written either. Each chapter seems just like a re-read of the last chapter (like filler) and it doesn't really progress any new ideas that weren't already made early on in the book.
It is well written for a book of its type, with a clear, direct, no-nonsense narrative. As for the text itself, it presents several intelligent and observant insights into the online-auction phenomenon, and what implications it might have on commerce and general society. The book's real substance, however, is somewhat unexpected, and, I'm sure, quite unintended by the author. When read ten years after publication, 'FutureShop' raises an important question: why did some of the author's predictions come to pass, while others never materialized? Through the lens of hindsight, we are therefore provided a wholly separate study, now on the subject of prediction (or, rather, the marked difficulty of making them with any degree of accuracy). By dissecting the book's hits and misses in this regard, we are given clues to this age-old logistical riddle.
Likewise, I discovered the book to contain another, equally unexpected study: that of human psychology, the consumer mentality in particular. In reading between the lines, we see the author's assumptions, ideals, and mental blind spots evident throughout the text, on everything from economics to morality, as to present the partial psychological picture of a typical, modern-day consumer. For instance: when hypothesizing about how certain monetary incentives might drive future trends, the author never considers that man might act, instead, on other priorities entirely (such as, say, auctioning a used object so that another person might make use of it, rather than throwing it away and denying that use while burdening the environment with more trash, etc). Personally, I found these instances of mental tunnel-vision to be telling, revealing the perceptions and assumptions carried by a great many people these days (or so my experience would suggest). And, considering that it's with this narrowed sense of possibilities that the author based his predictions on, we are in turn provided clues as to why predictions fail.
All in all, I benefited from reading 'FutureShop,' directly or indirectly. So, thanks to the book's author, subjects, and publisher.
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