What I mean by an Amazon boxes collector
My interest in Amazon boxes sparked up around the year of 2008. It has been 8 years since I started collecting boxes. I currently have a total of 77 different kinds of Amazon boxes (including discontinued types) in my possession.
There was an article interview published about 3 years ago in Excite Bit Koneta called "The mundane labor of Mr. Saito, the man who set himself to collect all types of Amazon's boxes" (writer: Ms. Yakisoba Kaoru). Some of you might have heard of it before. That very Saito was yours truly.
Even without being a collectors, there is a good number of people who have towers of these boxes at their own places. Amazon boxes have this strange charm that makes you want to leave them there without throwing away.
I have to be honest, the boxes do get in the way.
When I tell this to other people they are shocked. "What!? You are a collector and yet you say the boxes get in your way!?" But I mean, simply imagine how it is like to have 70 cardboard boxes at your place. No matter how you look at it, they do get in the way.
Then why do I keep collecting these you ask? It's because there are so many different kinds, and I am determined to find all the types that are yet to be seen. I would like to present you the psychology of a collector, step by step.
The reason I started collecting boxes was the existence of pattern numbers
The moment you aspire to walk this path is always preceded by a particular motivation. In my case, it was the discovery of pattern numbers.
Take a look at one of your Amazon boxes.
They are those "XM05" things found where the arrow is pointing. Amazon boxes always come with this sort of pattern number.
The existence of these pattern numbers is important. For a collector, they are more than just some letters and numbers.
For example, here you can see there are XM06 and XM08 boxes. By looking at this, you can infer the existence of something between numbers 06 and 07, the existence of a number XM07.
"If there are XM06 and XM08, there MUST be a XM07." It is easy to deduce this much. In other words, pattern numbers are an implication of the existence of boxes not yet known.
The next moment, wouldn't you be thinking to yourself: "I wonder how is the XM07 box like? I want to get hold of one!" You would, wouldn't you?
Even a collection that starts off poor can grow huge before you even realize. Maybe it's due to a completionist kind of impulse, you just learn to enjoy collecting those pattern numbers.
In a previous article called "What kind of hobby is complete riding?" I talked about collecting records being fun. It's the same thing.
I keep getting more and more boxes I didn't have before. And then I fill up my list. That labor is just fun.
The charm of Amazon boxes
It is fun to gather pattern numbers. But still, there are endless kinds of products with pattern numbers in this world. Then, why collect specifically Amazon boxes? That has to be purely because of the huge charm these Amazon boxes possess.
I want you to take a look and see how the boxes are really like.
So let me show you the trunk room.
There are quite many Amazon boxes stored inside. It might look like the sort of dumpster you would find on the back of a restaurant but, this, is my collection.
The sheer amount of boxes had started to shrink my living space, so last year I decided to move them all to the trunk room. But I will elaborate on this later on, for now I want you to look at the boxes. Look at them.
There is a wide variety
There are Amazon boxes of each and every size. This is one of the huge ones I have, the XY10. The ones you can see next to it are the XM01 through 08 that I had shown you before, so in comparison you can tell this one is quite the monster.
But XY12 doesn't fall behind XY10. It's so big even a small person could fit in entirely.
Of course there are small boxes as well. The one on top is the a528a, which is probably discontinued by now. It is the smallest box in my possession. In second place comes the XY30, a small box still available. It's the perfect size for delivering paperback books.
There are also others that are super long and narrow (XZ09),
and others that are surprisingly thin (XY36). Such unique boxes can only be obtained by purchasing very specific articles (like a cutting mat, for example). This is exactly what you'd call a rare box.
Last year, Amazon themselves announced that they had approximately 90 different kinds of boxes. This caused a huge shock among the Amazon boxes collector community. I currently possess 46 different types of boxes, which means I have finally gone past 50% of the completion rate.
That said, it's not like one can just go and get the boxes by themselves. You have to do shopping on Amazon and pray that you receive a box you did not have before, you can't do anything but wait. Might be even more difficult than completing the Pokédex.
Also, information regarding Amazon's boxes is held as top secret, they won't tell you even if you ask. I couldn't even get any data for this article. But in any case, knowing all the details would just take a big part of the fun from it, so there really is no need to know.
The multiple uses for these boxes are shrouded in mystery
One of the charms of these boxes is that the way each type is supposed to be used is shrouded in mystery.
For example, here we have XM07, XM08 and XM11 but,
They all have the exact same size. What is this supposed to mean......
By turning them upside down, we can see the differences of the XM11. I get that, but what purpose does this minuscule variance is supposed to serve? By the way, there are many other same-sized boxes with different pattern numbers besides these ones.
There might be many people who, in the past, purchased a single book and yet received it in unnecessarily large box. The train of thought "if I purchase an item about this big I can get this one box for sure" doesn't really work for the users. Because of this, it can become extremely difficult to acquire specific boxes you have in mind (save for those with extremely particular shapes).
By the way, did you know that the stuff written on the lower part of the statement of delivery may hold a clue as to what kind of purpose that specific box serves?
Check the bottom part of the statement of delivery enclosed within the box and,
You will always find the box's pattern number. This might be key to solving the mystery.
This might be a huge discovery! So I set myself to inspect the details within the statement of delivery and found out that the box recorded in it and the one used were indeed...... actually not the same. The statement would ready number XM02, and yet the one that arrived was a XM05. What is even going on here.
But that's part of the fun.
The struggles of an Amazon boxes collector
Even a seemingly simple labor such as gathering Amazon boxes can bring moments of hardship and struggle exclusive to a collector. Like say, the model change of boxes.
The ones I showed you until now were mainly my present boxes (I call them the fourth generation myself). This series starts its pattern numbers with "XM", "XL", "XX", "XY" and "XZ", and we know there are about 90 different kinds of them. They were introduced in 2011. Most of the information you will find on the web will be in regards to this one generation.
You might wonder, then, how it was before them. There was a third generation (again, I call them that myself) that was since around 2005 (?) until 2011. You might not be able to tell them apart just by looking. It features boxes with pattern numbers starting with "BX".
Brimming with enthusiasm, I collected those from the BX series and even took a collection shots such as this one. Back then I couldn't possibly imagine that the boxes would go through a full model change.
When the boxes generation shifted on 2011, I panicked a bit. I mean, I collected dozens of these aiming to complete the entire box series, and now they will be no more. On top of that, newer boxes would start coming out one after the other in no time. All my collection so far would be reset back to zero at once, and I would be forced to start anew an everlasting box gathering from square one.
Just like last time, it is impossible to know for how long the current generation will run. Sooner or later they will be replaced with newer boxes. When that time comes, it will be back to square one once again, and the box collecting cycle will start anew. That's how this hobby works.
And even before that, there was a time (around 2004 I think?) where the boxes came with a slogan that read "and you're done." printed on them. Although we know there are several pattern numbers, their regulation system is not clear. They were all shaped the same (just like the XM05) and it seems there weren't many size variations.
Even older boxes didn't even come with something akin to a pattern number (around 2003 I think?). Not even a bar code. In retrospective, they were pretty simple times. I don't own any boxes older than this but, knowing that Amazon.co.jp was founded near the end of 2000, it is obvious there are boxes that have existed since the beginning of their time.
The problem with physical space
There are other issues besides the model change. A hobby that involves collecting boxes can easily become the target of criticism. It seems to look like nothing but trash to outsiders, somehow.
Back when I was just starting my box collection, when I was living in the company's dormitory with Amazon boxes. Although I only had a few back then, I had disputes with the dorm mother as she would regularly come around by my room and tell me to throw away my trash (Amazon boxes).
When I started living by myself, I could finally enjoy collecting boxes in freedom. But not for long, as they started piling up and I ran out of places to store them in. My living space started to become more and more crowded.
There were cardboard boxes coming out of every nook and cranny. Even since back then I started to think how much they were getting in the way.
Before long, I got married and I was powerless in front of my wife who commanded me "Do not bring the cardboard boxes into the new house". So I had to borrow the trunk room and store them in there. It gradually became a serious matter.
Amazon boxes have accompanied me for 10 years of my life here (literally). It may all sound exaggerated but I am constantly thinking to myself "What's the deal with these boxes". For some time I was searching for stuff like a "box to put in boxes", I felt very lost.
Putting aside the costs of the trunk room, I believe it is the most optimal solution.
What I think of the latest Amazon boxes
Lastly, I would like to write my opinion as a collector in regards to the Amazon boxes of recent years.
I believe they have trascended an existence as a mere packaging tool, and become a representative icon of Amazon.
Lastly, I would like to write my opinion as a collector in regards to the Amazon boxes of recent years. I believe they have trascended an existence as a mere packaging tool, and become a representative icon of Amazon.
Another example: the 15th anniversary model. They are from last year so many of you might remember. What is nasty about these is that they could only be obtained during a limited period of time. Also, the designs printed on them would be different, but their pattern number would be the same as pre-existing boxes.
In addition to those, there are boxes made in collaboration with other companies that come with cartoon characters printed on them. They too, have the same pattern numbers.
Collectors of any sort might understand that, when a subspecies such as these appear, the collectors community is thrown into chaos. "How many can I get?", "Is it even fun to strive to get those?" and "Listen, if you come this far you just have to get ALL of them, right?" are some of the conflicting thoughts that arise during these situations.
As I said before, the beginning of this hobby was the discovery of pattern numbers. The pure desire of slowly filling in the gaps between those pattern numbers. It was nothing but for fun.
More boxes will keep coming. I still scratch my head in thought when I ponder how to deal with these kinds of special boxes.
Although many thoughts will go through one's head when collecting Amazon boxes, you gradually start to feel emptiness.
Fellow collector Miura Jun, in his book "How to make a work of nothing" goes over personal hobbies (obsessions), and quote:
"I don't want to be someone who people look at and say 'He's at it again' but rather 'He's still at it'." I can relate to this feeling.
I wrote everything I think regarding Amazon boxes in this article. I will continue to work in order to get people to look at me and say "That guy is still at it." With that, I bid you farewell.
A lot of people ask me this so I will go ahead and say it. I don't really like the American Amazon's boxes, they are kind of tasteless.