Posts tagged with "amazonfail" - Faerye Net 2010-01-31T14:12:41+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Amazon won't sell these books 2010-01-31T14:12:41+00:00 2010-01-31T15:22:23+00:00 <p><a href="" title="These books are not available from Amazon, 1/31/2010 by Felicity Shoulders, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="These books are not available from Amazon, 1/31/2010" border="0" /></a></p> <p>I&#8217;m a little disappointed to see only writers and publishing industry folks talking about Amazon&#8217;s dispute with Macmillan. Short version: Amazon has a dispute with Macmillan Books over one small aspect of their business (ebooks) so they pulled <b>all</b> their <b>paper</b> books from sale. They are throwing their weight around in a maneuver straight out of the WalMart Monopolist&#8217;s Handbook.</p> <p>I know the previous #amazonfail furor was over social justice, and this is &#8220;just business&#8221;. A lot of readers also have a personal pocketbook-pug in the ebook-pricing dogfight. But publishing is the business of selling </b>ideas</b>, and that makes it everyone&#8217;s business. I&#8217;m by no means saying everyone needs to delete their Amazon account as a few authors have done. To be honest, I&#8217;m not doing so. I haven&#8217;t bought a book from Amazon in a long time because of their strong-arm tactics toward publishing companies (they did something almost identical to a UK company) and print-on-demand sellers. I intend to continue that policy.</p> <p>All I&#8217;m hoping is that some folks outside the publishing industry &#8212; readers, consumers who are affected by this &#8212; read about this and think about it. Books are the lifeblood of our civilization, the strongest thread connecting past and future. I&#8217;m not gnashing my teeth with anger over this dispute, and I&#8217;m not asking you to do so: I&#8217;m just saying that, given Amazon&#8217;s powerful place in the bookselling industry, this is an important conversation, and one everyone who reads and loves books, paper or digital, should pay attention to.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s some reading:<br /> <ul><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Just the facts Friday, from the New York Times</a>.</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Macmillan&#8217;s statement</a> yesterday.</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Cory Doctorow&#8217;s BoingBoing post</a>.</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Tobias Buckell on this situation, and e-book pricing in detail</a> (long, quite thorough) (Mirrored on <a href="" target="links">SFWA&#8217;s blog</a>).</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Live feed on the #amazonfail twitter topic</a>. Tweeters who&#8217;ve been voluble include <a href="" target="links">the Science Fiction &amp; Fantasy Writers of America (<span class="caps">SFWA</span>)</a> and <a href="" target="links">Tor author Jay Lake</a>.</li></ul></p> <p>If you decide to do something, here are some ideas:<br /> <ul><br /> <li>Buy a Macmillan book (Tor, Forge, St. Martin&#8217;s, Picador, Farrar Straus &amp; Giroux, et c.) from another retailer, like <a href="" target="links">Powell&#8217;s</a>, this weekend.</li><br /> <li>Commit to buying all your books from another retailer.</li><br /> <li>When you link books from your blog or website, link to another retailer (I use Powell&#8217;s: their <a href="" target="links">Partner Program</a> is nice.</li><br /> <li>Write an <a href="" target="links">email to Amazon</a>, telling them if you disagree with their actions. If you&#8217;re taking any business elsewhere, you can tell them this way.</li><br /> <li>Blog about this, <a href="" target="links">delicious</a> links about it, whatever comes naturally.</li><br /> <li>If you&#8217;re on <a href="htp://" target="links">Twitter</a>, retweet messages and links about this.</li><br /> <li>If you&#8217;re on <a href="" target="links">Facebook</a>, post links or update your Facebook status so your friends hear about this.</li><br /> <li>If you belong to <a href="" target="links">Flickr</a>, take a photo of any number of Macmillan books and contribute it to <a href="" target="links">my new group, &#8220;Amazon won&#8217;t sell these books&#8221;</a>. I love taking photos of books (weird, I know) and I hope this will cause some conversation.</li></ul></p> <p>Thanks for reading!</p> <p><strong>Update, 3:18pm, 1/31/2010:</strong> Amazon has announced they will acquiesce to Macmillan, in a <a href="" target="links">post on their Kindle fora</a>. The tone of the announcement, I feel, is very misleading. It paints Amazon as the victim of Macmillan&#8217;s strong-arm tactics, even while it admits Amazon pulled the books. Choice language: &#8220;&#8230;Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.&#8221; They don&#8217;t mention that Macmillan wanted to charge as little as $5.99 later in the book&#8217;s life cycle.</p> <p>So now that I&#8217;ve read their spin, I have a correction to make to this post: I <em>wasn&#8217;t</em> angry. Now I am.</p> <p>Amazon hasn&#8217;t said when they will restore the books, and I would still love to see your Macmillan books added to the Flickr group &#8220;Amazon won&#8217;t sell these books&#8221;.</p> Why amazonfail matters 2009-04-13T12:16:22+00:00 2009-04-13T13:00:48+00:00 <p>By this point we&#8217;ve reached the existential phase of the <a href="" target="links">amazonfail debacle</a>, where everyone has acknowledged something happened, has vented their anger, and is now asking underlying questions &#8212; how and why did this happen? Who did it? And of course, should we still be concerned?</p> <p>While Amazon&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">&#8220;glitch&#8221; response</a> is inadequate, it does seem to indicate that they&#8217;re planning on fixing it, which seems to me to have caused a certain wave of relaxation in those angered by the removal of <span class="caps">GLBT</span> literature, feminism and <a href="" target="links">disability texts</a>, and more. Yes, it&#8217;s very unlikely that Amazon did this deliberately. Yes, internet outrage at this point does little good (except possibly to <a href="" target="powells">Powell&#8217;s</a> sale numbers). I&#8217;m just not sure people should be standing down yet. Even when it&#8217;s fixed, there are causes for concern. As explored in <a href="" target="links">this Making Light post and comment thread</a>, there are definitely plausible scenarios this occurring because of inadequacies in the meta-data provided by publishers and Amazon. (<a href="" target="links">This post at Dear Author</a> gives great specific meta-data breakdowns that may show why <em>Playboy</em> escaped the purge and <em>Heather has Two Mommies</em> did not.) However, as writer <a href="" target="links">Lawrence Schimel</a> said <a href="" target="links">over at Making Light</a>, somewhere, someone had to decide that &#8220;gay=morally objectionable&#8221; (&#8216;adult&#8217;) in order for this to unfold. And as other commenters, such as albatross, mention there, Amazon didn&#8217;t give consumers a choice of filtered versus non-filtered searches.</p> <p>And that&#8217;s what&#8217;s really troubling to me. Amazon has made an empire on selling everything all the time: KitchenAid mixers to people in pyjamas at 2 am, esoteric camera repair manuals to some dude on his lunch break, three books and a racquetball racket at the same time. They&#8217;re so huge that sales rank on Amazon is a crucial metric for a book&#8217;s performance. They chose to protect consumers from &#8216;potentially offensive content&#8217; in a lazy, slipshod, and reductive way that stigmatized the mention of homosexuality and transgenderedness as much or more than explicit heterosexual acts, not to mention violence. They chose to remove their sales rank, important to publishers and authors, in order to change what consumers see. But before they did it stupidly, they chose to do it at all. They decided that an Amazon consumer didn&#8217;t get any say in whether they saw the plain search results or the Bowdlerized search results. They decided to abridge the full functionality of their website without notifying customers or letting them have a choice. They decided we are all children, and they know what&#8217;s best for us.</p> <p>For a company that made its fortune on selling anything and everything, that&#8217;s a stupid decision. For a company that sells books, it&#8217;s wrong.</p>