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September 13, 2005

Amazon's new best friend is... Coinstar?


Today's the day Amazon invades the Coinstar space.

Full disclosure: not only am I almost certain that I am Amazon's best customer in Charlottesville, Virginia, but I also use the Coinstar machine down the street at my neighborhood Kroger whenever my change bowl starts to brim over with hard money.

I love Coinstar: the noise that accompanies pouring the change into the tray, the machine's internal sorting and grinding, and finally the little slip of paper that emerges which I take to the register where they give me real cash money — lots of it, sometimes over $100.

Sure, the coins were real cash money — in fact, strictly speaking, more real than the paper bills I exchanged it for — but they weren't convenient.

Just like those giant stone wheels that some societies used as money, coins are not easy to transport.

What I don't like is that Coinstar has slowly but steadily bumped up its take over the years to where they now take 8.9% of your money to transform it into paper.


That's a pretty nice rate of return, don't you think?

If your bank offered you that much interest on your money you'd be out of the market in a New York or Bonn minute. But I digress.

Amazon's figured out a very nice angle in bringing Coinstar into its orbit.

Here's how it works:

1) You do the usual Coinstar thing with your coins

2) Instead of taking your usual paper slip and redeeming it for cash, you

3) Press the Amazon button on the Coinstar machine (3,500 machines across the country will be upgraded this week for the Amazon experiment) and out comes an Amazon gift certificate for the full amount of your coins.

So — you can take your cash less 8.9% or you can spend the full value of your money at Amazon.

Most fascinating it will be to see how this works.

Can the virtual become real and vice versa?

Coinstar, based in Bellevue, Washington, introduced its "Coin to Card" program last year when it began swapping Starbucks gift cards for change in three test cities.

Success with Starbucks led Coinstar to roll out the program more widely in February of this year with four real–world retail partners.

Amazon, based in nearby Seattle, is Coinstar's first internet partner.

Jeez — everybody's pairing up lately.

Larry Ellison somehow buried the hatchet with Tom Siebel, his arch–enemy for many years, and just bought Siebel Systems for $5.85 billion; and of course eBay just paid $2.6 billion for Skype (you had a heads–up here on this one: I've been hyping Skype and VOIP in this space since last year).

Where's my new best friend?

Who will partner with bookofjoe?


I don't mean to sound needy, but... doesn't anyone like me?

September 13, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Tracked on Sep 14, 2005 8:50:10 AM


Oooooh! I forgot:


Posted by: this just in: | Sep 13, 2005 9:33:02 PM

some partnership opportunities:

booknomo' (an automated travel agency)
bookofjoeblow (if you decide to enter into an illegal drug cartel...or for that matter to offer illegal activities of another nature entirely)
bookofrosie-o-and-joe (talk show format for BOJtv)
bookthemofo (new name for your medical witness consultancy?)

I could go on.

Posted by: this just in: | Sep 13, 2005 8:19:44 PM

Oh Joe, I like ya...How bout a merger. Turn your head and Book of Joe? We could make pirolettes that...when set next to a computer, automatically make the page go to Book of joe? ehhh...maybe not lol

Posted by: Cortney | Sep 13, 2005 6:05:19 PM

You can also use Coinstar to donate to your favorite charity (which is what I do at my local Kroger).


And, Joe, I propose we create a media conglomerate (sorry, partnership just didn't sound as fun) - you read all the newspapers, I read damn near all the magazines. Together...all the words you need to know.

How bout Book of Everything and Nothing? Or Book of Joy? ;)

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Sep 13, 2005 3:09:07 PM

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