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Enter Amazon. Its "Honour System" is licenced to third party web sites (such as Bartleby.com and SatireWire). It allows people to donate money or effect micro-payments, apparently through its patented one-click system. As far as web sites are concerned, there are two major drawbacks: all donations and payments are refundable within 30 days and Amazon charges them 15 cents per transaction plus 15(!) percent. By far worst deal in town.
So, why fuss?
Because of Amazon's customer list. This development emphasizes growing realization that one's list of customers - properly data mined - is greatest asset, greater even than original content and more important than distribution channels and digital right management or asset management applications. Merchants are willing to pay for access to this ever expanding virtual neighbourhood (even if they are not made privy to customer information collected by Amazon).
The Honour System looks suspiciously similar to payment system designed by Amazon for Stephen King's serialized e-novel, "The Plant". Interesting to note how needs of authors and publishers are now in driver's seat, helping to spur along innovations in business methods.
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.
Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com