Amazon, eBay And The New Liquidity

By | November 5, 2004

I bought a second-hand book off Amazon the other day and was boasting about it to a friend. He wasn’t impressed. “We never buy anything new anymore,” he said. Clothes? Thrift shops. Toys? Yard sales. Books, CDs and whatnot? Amazon or eBay. Only food seemed to be something he bought new, and even then I got the impression he was mulling other options on that. All this made me wonder: Has the Internet pushed us into a new phase, where possessions aren’t possessions anymore, but stuff we have until someone comes along with an offer decent enough for us to sell?

Amazon, for example, lists all the books and stuff you’ve bought (scary, sometimes, seeing your literary life flash before you on the screen) and makes it very, very easy for you to list them for sale. So why not? If you set a price that you’re comfortable with, why not see if someone wants to buy? Why not list everything we own online, set a price for each and just see what happens?

Of course some of us want to keep things like books forever, but if this whole process makes goods more liquid, you can always buy back again what you sell later. Maybe people on eBay do this already: Not necessarily needing, or wanting to sell, but if the price is right, why not? I really, really like my new Rockport shoes, but maybe someone might be willing to pay more for them than I reckon they’re worth. Welcome to the New Liquidity.

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