Monday, September 11, 2017


Lunches at work are usually nothing to write about, however every now and then, we get an external restaurant that makes a memorable dish. A couple of weeks ago, that was the Cajun shrimp po’boy. The sandwich was relatively simple: a toasted baguette, a big of mayonnaise, some shredded lettuce, and seasoned Cajun shrimp, however the taste was amazing. I had an inkling about the origin of the name po’boy, but the price of the sandwich betrayed that thinking. A bit of research on the web revealed a couple of origin stories. The most plausible and heartwarming was on Wikipedia: that during a 1929 street car workers’ strike, restaurant owners served the sandwich to their striking colleagues for free, jokingly referring to the strikers as poor boys, after which the sandwiches took the name, and in the Louisiana dialect shortened to po’boy.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Amazon Bookstores

In an era where most retailers are trying to decrease their physical presence, Amazon is doing the opposite  by opening physical bookstores across the US. I visited one last weekend, and was very impressed with the genius of using the store to promote Amazon services and devices.

First, unlike most bookstores that carry books on nearly every subject in the Dewey decimal system, the Amazon store carries a much smaller collection of books that are bestselling amongst customers in the geographical area. There were best sellers in fiction, art, cooking, business, self-improvement, health, children’s books, popular science, and that’s it. The pricing model was genius: if you have a prime membership you get the Amazon discounted price, and if you don’t you pay the book’s list price. My guess is that this will drive prime memberships as store patrons will opt to become prime members to nab the books they like at a discount.

Second, the store has prominent displays of the Kindle, Fire, and Echo devices, with helpful staff that answers any questions you have. Having the devices on display, and allowing customers to hold them and learn how they feel in their hands is very powerful. I was tempted to get a Kindle device despite my love of the Kindle App on my phone and tablet, and a Fire HD for the kids in addition to their iPads.

Third, despite the store being much smaller than typical bookstores, it felt warm and inviting. The store even had some comfortable chairs and couches for people to sit down, and enjoy a book or two.

It would be interesting to see how these bookstores fare when other stores failed. Apple, Microsoft, and now Amazon are proving that properly designed store can work, allowing people to touch and feel the products they are thinking of buying ahead of making a decision.