Post #53: Pre-Order Purgatory

I have to vent for a minute about the sudden (or so it seems to me) availability to pre-order forthcoming whatever.  Books, music, movies.  You can buy anything in advance these days.  Let’s say you do some searching to see what’s new out there.  Whatever purveyor you’ve searched (iTunes, Amazon, etc…) will tell you not only what is available, but they’ll show you what’s not available, or what you can pre-order.  And sometimes they won’t even delineate between the two in any obvious way.  This annoys me.  Now, I like knowing what will be available, this gives me something to look forward to, but do I need to know six months in advance?  And it begs the question, why would you buy something that you can’t even have?  I’m a Coldplay fan and I remember that for months before their new album Mylo Xyloto came out, it dominated the iTunes charts.  Was far outselling the bestselling available album of the moment.  This is weird to me.  I mean, there’s no limited supply.  They’re not going to run out of downloads, are they?  Not to mention, if you’re enough of a Coldplay fan to even consider pre-ordering, you’re not going to forget that they have an album coming out, so why not just buy it when you can actually listen to it?

A couple months ago I was looking at Michael Chabon titles on Amazon because I’m a loser and its what I do for fun and my eyes popped out of their sockets when I saw the colorful icon for his new novel Telegraph Avenue.  Breathless, wetting myself (not really), I clicked on the icon, which gave no indication that this title might not be available for purchase right his very second, then waited to click “Buy Now” only to find out that “this title is available for pre-order and will be released on September 11, 2012.” And this was a couple months ago, which means they were advertising this book for pre-order six months before it comes out.  What the hell?  Why do I need to know this far in advance?  Why torture me?  It’s not like they’re offering me the first five chapters for pre-ordering or something, so there’s basically zero incentive.  Occasionally with album pre-orders, you get the single ahead of time or the album will automatically download when it’s finally available, so that’s pretty cool I guess.  Or not.  We’re already the most advanced buying culture the world has ever seen, and now we don’t just buy what we want, we buy what we are going to want as well.  And it works.  If pre-orders didn’t get people to buy more, Amazon and iTunes wouldn’t offer so many of them.  It’s fairly simple.  It’s like, want better TV shows?  Stop watching shitty ones.  Want a less gossipy culture?  Stop reading Yahoo OMG and TMZ.

It’s like those tantalizing previews for the juicy looking upcoming blockbuster, a preview for which just started and you now can’t wait to see, only at the end of the preview you find out that its release date is a year and a half away.  So far away that you could be dead by the time it hits theaters.  When this happens, I don’t feel excited.  I feel deflated.  I feel like Ralphie from A Christmas Story.  You know the part, when he finally solves the Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring mystery and he’s so stoked, only that instead of finding out a worthwhile secret to justify his time and effort and live up to the anticipation, it’s just a reminder to drink his stupid Ovaltine.

His response?  Say it with me…

Son of a bitch.

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