airmiles-logoWhen I got home the other day, the Beloved excitedly volunteered that he had a way to save the book people. The AirMiles people had sent him some coupons for use at a grocery chain during the holiday season. They are a pricier chain, so we don’t do our main grocery shopping there. But they are right down the street from us, they have good parking, and they carry a few items we like, so we do shop there sometimes.

And when we looked a little closer at the coupons, we found to our surprise that they were personalized specifically to us and were for these few specific items we buy there. There was the ‘fresh tomato’ he gets for his salads. There was the ‘enriched rice milk’ I buy for my morning coffee. And the boxed Mac and cheese we buy when we have kids over, and the ‘Amy’s frozen entree’ for the nights we’re too lazy to cook. Every coupon was specifically for something our family has bought at that particular store.

bonus milesSo, there was his question: why aren’t the book people doing this? What was interesting about the AirMiles thing was that they weren’t actually offering us money off of something—just ‘points’ we can collect for various uses (usually a discount at the gas pump to defray the cost of the Beloved’s lengthy commute). So even in a world of agency pricing, where Amazon can’t discount the list price, they still could potentially offer a scheme like this. What if the Prime or Kindle Unlimited programs offered ‘Prime Points’ you could collect for eventual rewards? And what if they could customize an offer for you every now and then to give you ‘bonus points’ if you availed yourself?

Fictionwise (rest in peace!) used to do this. A few times, they would send me a ‘complete the series’ offer, where books which were part of a series I’d bought from were reduced with a coupon code. Why not? Or how about a new releases coupon code, personalized to authors whose works you’ve bought? Hey, Joanna, we see you have bought a Nora Roberts book before. Get the new one now, and we’ll give you ten extra points. I’d do it! If the AirMiles people can get me to shop at a more expensive grocery store with something like this, then surely Amazon could talk me into a new release once in awhile…

We’ve been watching one of those ‘make over your business’ reality series on Netflix this week, and they had an episode specifically which addressed this. The business, a bra shop, casually let slip to their expert consultant that they had 80,000 names in their customer database. And what were they doing with it? Keeping a record of what each lady bought, so they would know her size the next time she came in. The consultant had to explain to them that they knew more about the customer than their size. They could be sending promotions and offering special events to these people! What a waste to be sitting on all this data—and not to be leveraging it.

So there you go, Amazon. Leverage your database. What have you go to lose?


  1. Amazon does do this…sort of. You earn points when you pay for anything on Amazon using the Amazon Visa card, then you can use the points for anything you choose. Amazon also accepts points from CitiBank cards, Chase, and Amex cards. No need to collect a minimum number of points, you can use whatever you have no matter how small.

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