Every day, millions of people use Amazon, but not a lot of people know that it’s actually a much bigger company with a greater impact than the average consumer might know. Amazon’s reach is pretty astounding, and it’s constantly pushing the bounds of what it can do.
Recent news that Amazon has a plan to deliver stuff to your front door with a drone, within half an hour of your ordering it, made a big splash in the media. It’s still in prototype testing right now, but if anyone could pull off a crazy business stunt like this, it would have to be Amazon.
1. Amazon delivers groceries
First, Amazon will deliver food to your house! How awesome is that? It’s pretty cool for the busy young professional who doesn’t have time to shop, a family that needs hard-to-find foods because of their organic lifestyle, or elderly folks who can’t get out of the house but still like to cook their own rather than order in.
The service includes delivering non-perishables in bulk, and in isolated areas on the West Coast, fresh foods as well. Amazon wasn’t the first company to try to deliver fresh, organic groceries, but nobody else has done it on this large a scale.
2. The company saves you money on college
Amazon used to be the go-to place for students to buy their textbooks at discount, but now Amazon is renting textbooks. Many textbooks can be rented via the Kindle and the Kindle app.
That’s right: you don’t actually have to shell out for a fancy Kindle device in order to take advantage of the e-textbook phenomenon. You can download the app on smartphones and tablets, and use the Kindle “reader” on laptop computers.
The great thing about renting books via Kindle is that you don’t have to worry about returning them on time; they just disappear from the device when your subscription is completed. Plus, if you need more time, it’s easy to request it with a couple of clicks.
As a bonus, students get a discounted rate on Amazon Prime, a service that offers free two-day shipping and movie streaming, among other things. And while we’re on the subject of Kindles …
3. It’s changing the practice of book publishing
Sure, other companies have e-readers, like the Barnes and Noble Nook, but Amazon is unique in that it provides a platform for aspiring writers to self-publish a book online for very low up-front cost.
Authors can give the book away free or charge a small price, generate some name recognition and a fan base, and away you go. Self-publishing used to be extremely expensive, and it came with an ugly stigma that the author wasn’t willing to go through the proper process and get an agent — which is hard to do in itself, especially these days.
Will we ever live in a completely paperless world? Probably not. But so many books and textbooks going digital will undoubtedly be a positive change for avid readers and scholars.
4. Amazon runs the government
Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but Amazon designed a data system to track all of its massive order traffic, and that server was so awesome and worked so well that they started running other people’s databases too.
Whose? Well, the CIA’s for one. Yup. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency outsourced to Amazon to run their computers. Who knows what they’re storing?
They also power the ever-addicting Netflix servers, which means we can all binge-watch television shows to our hearts’ content, with our bulk-ordered Easy Mac (while avoiding our e-textbook assignments and study for finals).