Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Passing the Amazon Meme

This idea went public on May 3 when Meagan MacArdle, an editor for The Atlantic, started it and named it a meme [1]. She credits an anonymous friend as the initiator. The suggestion, in her words: “Go to your Amazon orders page, and see what the very first thing you ordered from Amazon was.” This thing touched me by way of Brandon at Siris [2]. For bookish people this sort of thing is irresistible. At Amazon, under Your Account, you’ll find Your Orders, and with a little looking you discover a year-by-year listing. Brandon found it necessary to qualify his listing because his—and mine too—began with gifts for others. The idea here is to discover the first things you bought for yourself. Here is the list of my first five purchases beginning in February 1999:

Postscript Language Tutorial and Cookbook, Adobe Systems Inc.
Postscript by Example, Henry McGilton et al
Imaginal Worlds: Ibn Al-‘Arabi and the Problem of Religious Diversity, William C. Chittick
The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn Al-‘Arabi’s Cosmology, William C. Chittick
Quest for the Red Sulphur: The Life of Ibn Arabi, Claude Addas
Yes. We do put our money where our mouth is, as it were. My very, very first one? It was a gift Brigitte asked me to find; we bought it in November 1998; it was a book by Diana Vandervoort entitled Temari: How To Make Japanese Thread Balls—and I submit that that book too fits the profile wonderfully well…


  1. What a funny idea... to check back like that. I tried but couldn't figure out how to access my purchasing history. I'll try again anohter time becuase I am curious, when did I first purchase something from Amazon and what was it?

  2. Interesting. Also interesting to see the number of orders by year.

    My first order from Amazon was a novel called "What She Saw..." by Lucinda Rosenfeld. I have absolutely no memory of this book and can only assume that I ordered it as a gift for somebody.

    Here are the number of orders per year, and what they contained. It was fun to go back because I get we get a little gift card from work every year for the holidays, so it was fun to look back and see the things I picked up for myself. I also thought it was interesting to see that the assortment of purchases reflected Amazon's growth from just books:

    2000 - 2 orders (2 books)
    2001 - 2 orders (2 books)
    2002 - 2 orders (1 book, 1 CD)
    2003 - 2 orders (3 books)
    2004 - No orders
    2005 - 4 orders (1 DVD, 1 gift card, 3 books)
    2006 - 5 orders (1 spool weed trimmer line, 7 books)
    2007 - 4 orders (2 DVDs, 1 CD, 1 book, 1 pie-rolling board)
    2008 - 7 orders (6 books, 2 DVD box sets)
    2009 - 5 orders (9 books, 1 computer battery)
    2010 - 2 orders (1 book, 1 gift card)


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