Auction Nation: Auction Nation

Town square, community center, social scene--eBay turned into much more than an auction

Melissa Wicker likes to shop for her friends. And she has a lot of friends--nearly 8 million, at last count. Of course, the word friend is used loosely these days, in an era when e-mail establishes instant intimacy between total strangers separated by thousands of miles. So it's no surprise that Wicker, 46, an assistant district attorney in Isle of Palms, S.C., hasn't met many of her new friends in the flesh. But they're on her mind when she cruises clothing stores and comes upon a tantalizing markdown in designer duds. She buys by the armful, goes home to her computer...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!