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I started selling furniture on Craigslist 18 months ago. While searching for pieces I actually needed, I began to notice, “Hey, the desk this guy is asking $50 for would totally sell for $150.” Being freshly unemployed, I slid into the furniture flip game, and now I buy lamps off of Amazon and resell them on Craigslist for twice (sometimes five times) as much. Last month, lamps paid my rent. 2018 has become the year of my Lamp Baronry.
“I think, effectively, you have a company that has conspired with about a billion consumers and technology to destroy brands,” argued Scott Galloway, a founder of business research firm now called Gartner L2 and a professor of marketing at New York University Stern School of Business, in a presentation last year. “Their attitude is that brands have, for a long time, earned an unearned price premium that screws consumers.”
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In April, Bezos announced that Prime membership had exceeded 100 million paid members worldwide. Bezos unveiled the figure in his annual shareholder letter — published since 1997 and widely considered a must-read among executives and business leaders around the globe — and noted that in 2017, Prime gained more new members than in any previous year. By comparison, Netflix at the time had 125 million subscribers.
There need not be a documentary about the Syrian catastrophe to rally the world around its cause—just as, in Matthew Heineman’s previous film, Cartel Land, there was no need to vilify the world of Mexican cartels or the DEA or the paramilitaristic nationalists patrolling our Southern borders to confirm that murder and drug trafficking are bad. The threats are known and the stakes understood, at least conceptually. And yet, by offering dedicated, deeply intimate portraits of the people caught up in these crises, Heineman complicates them beyond all repair, placing himself in undoubtedly death-defying situations to offer a perspective whose only bias is instinctual. So it is with City of Ghosts, in which he follows members of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group committed to using citizen-based journalism to expose the otherwise covered-up atrocities committed by ISIS and the Assad regime in Syria. In hiding, in Turkey and Germany and at an event for journalists in the U.S.—in exile—these men, who Heineman characterizes as a very young and even more reluctant resistance, tell of both the increasingly sophisticated multimedia methods of ISIS and their hopes for feeling safe enough to settle and start a family with equal trepidation about what they’ve conditioned themselves to never believe: That perhaps they’ll never be safe. Heineman could have easily bore witness to the atrocities himself, watching these men as they watch, over and over, videos of their loved ones executed by ISIS, a piquant punishment for their crimes of resistance. There is much to be said about the responsibility of seeing in our world today, after all. Instead, while City of Ghosts shares plenty of horrifying images, the director more often that not shields the audience from the graphic details, choosing to focus his up-close camera work on the faces of these men as they take on the responsibility of bearing witness, steeling themselves for a potential lifetime of horror in which everything they know and love will be taken from them. By the time Heineman joins these men as they receive the 2015 International Press Freedom Award for their work, the clapping, beaming journalists in the audience practically indict themselves, unable to see how these Syrian men want to be doing anything but what they feel they must, reinforcing the notion that what seems to count as international reportage anymore is the exact kind of lack of nuance that Heineman so beautifully, empathetically wants to call out. —Dom Sinacola
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Beginning in October 2016, Prime members in the U.S. receive access to a rotating set of Kindle e-books through Prime Reading. Some magazines and travel guides are also available through the service. Prime Reading is unrelated to the Kindle Owners Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited, and Kindle First, all of which continue to be available.
On May 10, 2016, Amazon launched a Video Service called Amazon Video Direct which allows users to place videos available to rent or own, to view free with ads, or to be bundled together, and offered as an ad-on subscription. Amazon will pay creators 50% of the revenue earned from rental or sale of the videos, but for ad-supported videos, the makers will get a portion of ad receipts.
Promising review: "This will be the most emotional review I’ve ever written. There are millions of different toys to choose from on this planet but to find toys that satisfy my children is quite an accomplishment. I have three boys with Autism, so for me to find a toy that is so good for their motor skills and dexterity is amazing. This has to be the most brilliant toy I have ever purchased. To this company: Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. From this moment forward you have a lifelong customer.” —christina piemonte
The revamped Echo Plus looks much closer in design to the standard, cloth-covered Echo for a friendlier appearance in your living room. It’s got better sound and, like last year’s model, can act as a hub for your smart home gadgets. There’s also an integrated temperature sensor that can trigger Alexa routines based on a room’s temperature. Priced at the same $149.99, the Echo Plus goes up for preorder today and ships in October.
Portland filmmaker Matt McCormick begins his very personal documentary with an astounding shot of a nuclear mushroom cloud from high above the Earth, a droning ambient soundtrack roaring to a fever pitch as the explosion takes explicit shape. From there, McCormick narrates the story of his grandfather, one of the U.S.’s select B-52 bomber pilots burdened with flying world-clearing, 4-megaton nuclear weapons on marathon missions over North America, staying ever-ready to drop them on Russia should the Cold War come to a disastrous head. The film’s strength is its wordless, practically impressionistic sense of gravity when pouring over so much found footage and assorted documents from the time, detailing just how much of the world’s destiny was shaped by human beings as susceptible to error—to the failings of the human body—as any one of us. Scored by Portland ambient artist Eluvium (Matthew Cooper), Buzz One Four stays so compelling in its powerfully non-verbal wandering, one wishes McCormick got rid of narration altogether. —Dom Sinacola
Some commentators have argued that the Amazon website is not equipped to provide a quality experience for browsing, searching and discovering fashion ranges. After all, Amazon established its position by serving as a kind of catalog for products that shoppers buy based mostly on specifications, such as books and electronics—but fashion shoppers tend to browse and buy differently.
In April 2014, Amazon announced its Amazon Fire TV set-top box system, a device targeted to compete with such systems like Apple TV or Google's Chromecast device. The Amazon set-top box allows for streaming videos from sites like Amazon's own streaming service as well as others such as Netflix or Hulu. The device also supports voice search for movies, as well as gaming, which includes special versions of Minecraft, Asphalt 8, and The Walking Dead. Amazon announced the Fire TV Stick in October 2014. The device replicates much of the functionality of the Fire TV.