It's Time to Turn Your Back on Amazon

Why the Online Giant's Fight with a Publisher Signals the End of Guilt-Free Amazon Purchases

It's Time to Turn Your Back on Amazon
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LOOK AT ALL THESE BOOKS you can buy at University Book Store but not Amazon.

Everybody’s talking about Amazon right now. And for once, they’re not talking about Amazon with the respectful awe that typically accompanies Amazon chatter. (“They’re totally creepy, and I love my local bookstore, but I got five pounds of basil, a Doctor Who shower curtain, and six gift-wrapped copies of My Struggle delivered to my front door in less than 24 hours for 20 bucks, soooo…”) The conversation right now feels different. Last week, Gawker’s Tom Scocca called for an Amazon boycott, citing the company’s omnidirectional “ruthlessness” and, as he put it, Amazon’s apparent attempt to “extort” financial concessions from a major publisher. Jack Shafer at Reuters wrote about the pain and heartbreak of closing his Amazon account, but he felt compelled to do it for a more personal reason: He thinks Amazon’s snotty corporate attitude is embarrassing its customers. (“I take it personally that the company doesn’t think it owes me even a half-baked explanation for why I can’t buy some books from it.”) For the first time since Amazon began, ordinary people are talking about the company not like it’s a magical blowjob-dispensing internet genie, but like it’s a common playground bully.

So what happened? In a nutshell: Amazon is picking a fight with Hachette Book Group, the third largest publisher in the world. Hachette refuses to buckle under Amazon’s demand to sell their e-books for less than Hachette believes those books are worth. In response to their perfectly valid concerns, Amazon is gleefully shitting in Hachette’s pool. Customers searching for Hachette books on Amazon face a variety of frustrations: Sometimes, the books take weeks to ship (for customers accustomed to Amazon’s nigh-instantaneous Prime shipping, this is like being asked to wait for the duration of three lifetimes and one Terrence Malick movie for a book to arrive). Amazon isn’t allowing customers to preorder upcoming Hachette titles, including the newest J.K. Rowling novel. Sometimes, as with Sherman Alexie’s best-selling novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, customers can’t buy the book from Amazon at all, with the retailer urging them to shop from another vendor instead. The problem is, in a post-Amazon world, the number of other vendors is significantly diminished: Amazon’s tendency to cut prices below profitability has resulted in scores of shuttered booksellers across the country. We now live in an America dotted with “bookstore deserts,” where people would have to drive for hours, maybe even a full day, to browse the stacks at an Amazon competitor.

The Hachette dispute started early in May, but a February New Yorker piece written by George Packer set the stage for all this anti-Amazon discontent. Packer interviewed Dennis Johnson, the publisher of small independent press Melville House, who has long been the only publisher willing to go on the record about his distaste for Amazon’s sketchy business practices, and his perspective in Packer’s piece helped cast the retailer in a dimmer light. Anonymous publishers complained about Amazon’s “squeezing [their] nuts” in order to score bigger discounts, and Johnson told stories of arrogant Amazon employees complaining about his anti-Amazon bias, urging him to “get with the program.” (Over the last few years, Johnson has also become the nation’s most dogged anti-Amazon journalist; Melville House’s blog, MobyLives, has been a consistent source of information for the myriad ways Amazon has been strong-arming publishers, workers, and local governments out of money in dogged pursuit of the bottom line.) Packer’s article seems to have broken some sort of pro-Amazon spell in the media: Recent coverage of the Amazon/Hachette dispute has not been kind to Amazon. A simple Google News search reveals Amazon’s problem in headlines:

“Amazon Bullies Publisher…” (The Mac Observer, May 16)

“Amazon Is Messing with Book Sales for a Major Book Publisher” (Business Insider Australia, May 23)

“Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers” (Boston.com, May 23)

“Amazon Moves to Tighten Grip on E-books” (Houston Chronicle, May 23)

“Amazon Tightens Noose Around Hachette…” (PC Magazine, May 26)

“Amazon Turns Screws on French Publisher” (The Register, May 28)

“Authors Angered over Amazon’s Dispute with Publisher” (NPR, May 29)

Here’s the thing: This tactic of Amazon’s is not new. They pulled all their “buy” buttons for books published by Macmillan in 2010 over a similar pricing dispute, blocking customer access to books by authors like Charles Stross, Hilary Mantel, Jeffrey Eugenides, and John Scalzi. But for whatever reason, that business dispute didn’t capture the general public’s attention the way this one has. This time around, people care. “Sad how many of my fellow liberal authors are silent about Amazon’s libertarian bullshit,” Sherman Alexie tweeted on May 23. But the ranks of outspoken anti-Amazon authors is certainly larger than ever before. Novelist Mary Doria Russell called Amazon “evil”; local author Jamie Ford tweeted that Amazon was being a “bully,” and responded to criticism by tweeting, “It’s hard to sympathize with a $58 billion corporation that gives little to charity and rarely speaks.” Best-selling novelist James Patterson mused on Facebook that he doesn’t understand how this tactic “is in the best interest of Amazon customers.” In a speech at Book Expo America on May 29, Patterson had even stronger words: “Amazon… wants to control book selling, book buying, and even book publishing, and that is a national tragedy. If this is to be the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed, by law if necessary.” Social media is full of anti-Amazon sentiment. And the protests are expanding to the real world, too: University Book Store recently put up a display of Hachette titles that they’re proud to carry, boasting that their customers don’t have to wait to start reading.

Amazon boycott threats are popping up everywhere. The retailer has become so ubiquitous in their daily lives that some would-be boycotters are expressing worry about an Amazon-less world. It’s not as bad as they think it will be: In 2012, the Seattle Times published an editorial by local author Maria Semple about the necessity of shopping for things in person, in your community, rather than “in a flurry of clicks.” She’d somehow been tricked into thinking that she just didn’t have time to go to stores. “Shopping on Amazon had made the idea of parking my car and going into a store feel like an outrageous imposition on my time and good nature,” Semple wrote. “Amazon had gotten me out of the habit of going to bookstores, to shoe stores, to toy stores. So I simply got back in the habit.” So was it the huge hassle that she’d somehow made it out to be? Not at all. “Guess what? My life didn’t change one bit.” And it made her feel more connected to the world. “We need to preserve our neighborhoods, our small business, our local economy. Isn’t having a toy store in Ballard worth circling the block for a parking space and paying $4 more for a board game?” (By the way, Semple’s best-selling novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a hilarious send-up of Seattle tech culture, is one of the books you can’t buy on Amazon right now, thanks to their anti-Hachette campaign.)

For the first two weeks of the Amazon/Hachette dispute, Amazon maintained a stony silence. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Amazon’s corporate strategy has always involved a complete lack of engagement with the press, unless the coverage is guaranteed to be as positive as an Amazon press release (like 60 Minutes’ embarrassingly gushy profile of Bezos earlier this year). I’ve been writing about the company for six years now—one of my first stories for The Stranger focused on the company’s complete lack of charitable giving—and I call their PR hotline (206-266-7180) on a regular basis, giving them the opportunity to explain their side of all kinds of stories.

Off the top of my head: Some reasons I’ve called the hotline through the years have included the wholesale removal of unauthorized copies of 1984 from Kindles without the device owners’ consent, the mistreatment of Amazon’s warehouse workers, the fact that less than one-sixth of the company’s senior executives were women, and, again, the lack of charitable giving. (To be fair, they do give a very little bit now to literary causes, including $5,000 to the Stranger Genius Awards to fund the literature award for the last few years. But in comparison with other large local corporations like Microsoft or Boeing, they’re impossibly stingy.) I’ve left countless messages on that so-called PR “hotline,” which I imagine as a dusty answering machine sitting on a broken table inside an abandoned warehouse somewhere in South Seattle. Amazon has never, not once, replied to any of my queries. Sometimes late at night, struck by a sudden insomnia, I have to fight the urge to call the hotline and sing Bryan Adams ballads to the answering machine, just so it knows somebody cares.

But this Hachette affair must be hurting the company’s bottom line, because Amazon finally felt the need to respond. On May 27, in a Kindle customer discussion forum deep on Amazon’s site, the “Amazon Books team” posted a bitchy, six-paragraph statement (with comments locked, of course) about the situation. Hilariously, Amazon—which, I repeat, always refuses to comment to journalists—complained about the “relatively narrow point of view” in the media coverage. Amazon groused that people care about this story because it involves “a book publisher instead of a supplier of a different type of product,” they labeled Hachette a “$10 billion media conglomerate,” and they assured customers that if you order “1,000 items from Amazon, 989 will be unaffected by this interruption.”

This is the kind of tone-deaf response you get from a self-congratulatory and insular corporate culture. Customers complain that Amazon is placing money above customer service. Authors contend Amazon doesn’t understand that a bookseller’s intellectual and cultural duty is different than a typical retailer’s mission of profits above all else. And Amazon replies with a huffy libertarian screed about “product” and “items” and “units” and a short lecture about the free market? The arrogance of it is perhaps the most baffling part of this incompetent response: How do you make nearly $75 billion in annual sales and not once think of hiring a decent public relations department?

When he started Amazon in 1994, Jeff Bezos’s personal traits—cheapness, a libertarian loathing of taxes and government intrusion, a lack of sentimentality, a mistrust of the media—proved to be the perfect foundation for a burgeoning corporate culture. Twenty years later, the company he founded is a caricature of those early, hungry days, and that culture is starting to leak out into the world. Somehow, this is the future we live in: The largest bookseller in the United States is a transparency-hating libertarian corporation that doesn’t think about art except as units to be moved. Their goal is to put their competition—authors, publishers, retailers—out of business, and Bezos designed Amazon to be as relentless as possible in pursuing that mission. (Bezos originally wanted to name Amazon “Relentless.com,” before some sane friends talked him out of it; to this day, if you type “relentless.com” into a web browser, you’ll land on Amazon’s home page.)

Seattleites who would never set foot in a Walmart are passionate about their love of Amazon. Ideals become easy prey when convenience is at stake. And it’s a matter of perception, too: Walmart puts its low-paid employees up front, parades their lack of dignity around for customers to see. Amazon gets to hide its poorly treated employees in warehouses, far from public view. Walmart’s cheaply made goods, all lined up and hanging on a rack, evoke the assembly lines of China. Amazon’s cheaply made goods, delivered individually in an attractive cardboard box to your door, seem like something magical; they don’t bear the fingerprints of people working for pennies a day in slave-labor conditions. All the ugliness of Amazon is behind the scenes, hidden behind a thick wall of corporate silence, and for that concealment, any number of people who consider themselves good citizens are willing to trade their loathing of Walmart for a deep and abiding love of the Great Walmart in the Sky. Turns out, that love might not be unconditional after all. recommended


Comments (91) RSS

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Powell's is still around, and it's online! powells.com.
Posted by Nandor on May 30, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
The f-d up thing about Amazon is that they are *not* doing this stuff in pursuit of profits - Amazon barely squeaks by. Google "amazon profit" sometime.

Amazon represents a failure of the market - a company with its poor performance should be punished with falling stock values but that never seems to happen. Maybe because shareholders are waiting until it has completely destroyed the entire retail sector at which point we can have Amazon's boot on our faces forever.
Posted by Alden on May 30, 2014 at 3:45 PM · Report this
Oh ... fucking ... please... No we're supposed to hate Amazon because they revolutionized book publishing and are super mean to players in the old industry.

"It’s hard to sympathize with a $58 billion dollar corporation that gives little to charity and rarely speaks."

Remember Bezos gave $2.5 million to gay marriage? But wait! We fucking hate successful companies in Seattle. I forgot.
Posted by BoulderDrop on May 30, 2014 at 3:49 PM · Report this
junibug 4
While I agree with some of the sentiments, it is unfortunately true that those of us who wish to be published (independently as it is impossible otherwise) have no other venue than with "CreateSpace" via Amazon. I also agree that most of it is junk. But I am not willing to wait until after I have died to find out if anything I ever wrote were publishable. It is disturbing to find that books are unavailable. That should never be the case, regardless of their content. One should know their friends AND their enemies. That is how we obtain knowledge.
Posted by junibug http://https://www.juniv-astoriastory.blogspot.com on May 30, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
From the beginning of your piece, I was thinking of the Walmart example. Glad you wrapped that other corporate megalith into the discussion. It's an apt comparison.
Posted by RDPence on May 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Bezos gave to marriage equality under pressure. Aside from that gift, Bezos and Amazon are notorious for their lack of philanthropy. Compare that to Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, etc, who all have robust corprate philanthropy, employee giving programs, volunteer compensation, and matching gifts programs.AND their leadership are all major philanthropists for the most part. Amazon is a black hole when it comes to supporting their community.
Posted by snotsomuch on May 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
FTW999 7
Here we go again.
Posted by FTW999 on May 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Posted by alternative --> indiebound.org on May 30, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Removed the inventory from my seller account, and told them why. You could do the same.
Posted by kkllllllllidddd on May 30, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Barnes and Noble is still here. (thanks for mentioning Powell's, I would not have thought of that) It even has a website. If Amazon doesn't have what I need, I just buy it somewhere else. The internet is a big place!
Posted by BANDER on May 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
If Hachette USA was still Time Warner Books, Constant wouldn't have a snake in this fight. Kudos to your marketing people for taking the French company name, behemoth publishing giant who gatekeeps for millionaire authors and keeps the riff-raff out of the literary pool. Yay?
Posted by Kuda Bux on May 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
I thought I read that Amazon pays above minimum wage at its central warehouse, around $12/hour?
Posted by tiktok on May 30, 2014 at 4:21 PM · Report this
evolume 13
what the hell is "books"
Posted by evolume http://twitter.com/evolume on May 30, 2014 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 14
Amazon is fighting to keep books affordable. They can negotiate for their customers because they are bigger. I don't see why I'm supposed to be sympathetic to a company that's trying to make books cost more money.
Posted by Sam Levine http://levinetech.net on May 30, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
@11 If Hachette was still Time Warner Books, part of a corporate family that includes a major ISP, Amazon would have second thoughts messing with a company that could limit customers' ability to access their website.

Yes, being a French company makes Hachette a easier target for Amazon, particularly when you consider that France has instituted price controls on books in order to minimize Amazon's effect on their book stores and not decimate the industry as the company did in the U.S. And the number of "millionaire authors" is far fewer than you would imagine.
Posted by bookl<3ver on May 30, 2014 at 4:35 PM · Report this
LenEdgerly 16
I don't recognize the company I know as Amazon in this post. What I know is a retailer that provides stuff I want, especially books, at great prices with incredible customer service. As in people who solve my problems when I have them in ways that surprise and delight me. In the Kindle, this company revolutionized an activity I have loved all my life, reading books, making it more affordable, convenient, and satisfying. They have improved the platform constantly in ways big and small, and made the free reader apps available on everything but the kitchen toaster. Kindle Direct Publishing has made it possible for thousands of authors to make a decent living selling their writing. This is a company, it turns out, that I am inclined to speak out publicly for when it comes under what I consider to be unreasonable attacks like this one.
Posted by LenEdgerly http://thekindlechronicles.com on May 30, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
For the best take on Amazon (and Walmart) just published, read Simon Head's Mindless, in it Head even mentions one of their manager there, a Ms. Mortimer, but doesn't know that she is a descendant of the fabulously wealthy Harriman-Mortimer family (wonder why that's why Wall Streeter Bezos hired her?).

Don't agree with a lot of Head's book, but his take on Amazon is spot on!
Posted by sgt_doom on May 30, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
I distrust any argument James Patterson is involved with.
Posted by ryry on May 30, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 19
The way that they treat the majority of their employees is absolutely unconscionable, and there's plenty of first-hand accounts online.
Posted by Original Andrew on May 30, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
#6: WRONG! "Gay marriage" had no idea this was coming. There was no pressure. He just called up one day with $2.5m; they were hoping for $250k...

Fucking Amazon and their money grubbing bastard board.

We should string them up for not being a top ranked philanthropic company.

Look at all that fucking money... it's so much that they don't even turn a profit!!
Posted by BoulderDrop on May 30, 2014 at 4:48 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 21

Amazon is fighting to sell books below cost. I understand that you and millions of other Americans think books are worth less than nothing, but some of us disagree.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 30, 2014 at 4:58 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 22

That's exactly what they're waiting for. Although with all the bad press Amazon has been getting and the Alibaba IPO coming down the pike, I suspect investors are going to become more dissatisfied with Amazon's lack of profitability. Bezos better start planning on shelling out some dividends.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 30, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
um y'all you CAN buy Where’d You Go, Bernadette? at amazon
Posted by noemi on May 30, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
@2: Amazon's profits are slim because they dump every cent they make back into the business in order to grow it. That is why things like Kindle and AWS exist. It has been said that Bezos wants Amazon to be the best retailer in the world, and that any fool could run it profitably today if they just stopped building new things.

And of course Amazon thinks as books as "units to be moved". They are a retailer! I don't understand why you think they should behave any other way.

Their goal is to put their competition—authors, publishers, retailers—out of business...

This is just ridiculous. Amazon may want to put its competitors out of business (or, more likely, simply best them in most cases), but publishers? Authors? Next you're going to tell me that they want to put toy manufacturers and movie studios and detergent makers out of business too. The colossal variety of product they sell is the reason they are so successful, and that variety comes from all the extant producers of that content. Are you trying to tell me that Amazon is pining for the day when they are the sole publisher of all books and the sole employer of all authors? Get a grip.
Posted by seilo on May 30, 2014 at 5:57 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 25
Charlie Stross's take on this issue was shorter, and more on point. Excerpt -

"Amazon's strategy (as I noted in 2012) is to squat on the distribution channel, artificially subsidize the price of ebooks ("dumping" or predatory pricing) to get consumers hooked, rely on DRM on the walled garden of the Kindle store to lock consumers onto their platform, and then to use their monopsony buying power to grab the publishers' share of the profits. If you're a consumer, in the short term this is good news: it means you get cheap books. But if you're a reader, you probably like to read new books. By driving down the unit revenue, Amazon makes it really hard for publishers—who are a proxy for authors—to turn a profit. Eventually they go out of business, leaving just Amazon as a monopoly distribution channel retailing the output of an atomized cloud of highly vulnerable self-employed piece-workers like myself. At which point the screws can be tightened indefinitely. And after a while, there will be no more Charlie Stross novels because I will be unable to earn a living and will have to go find a paying job."

Whole article here -

Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 30, 2014 at 6:06 PM · Report this

Amazon is doing a dance to convince people of its relevance when it is completely irrelevant.

Bezos and Company will keep you mesmerized long enough for them to sell their options for as long as fools let them steal their 401k money.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 30, 2014 at 6:15 PM · Report this
@25: Well, the book publishing industry made the same mistake the music industry did in waiting for a third-party to build a digital distribution system.
Posted by tiktok on May 30, 2014 at 7:39 PM · Report this
Forbes — As Hachette Battles Amazon, A Small Publisher Defends Bezos
Posted by buscheaux on May 30, 2014 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Forbes — As Hachette Battles Amazon, A Small Publisher Defends Bezos
Posted by buscheaux on May 30, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
dorimonsonfan 30
I LOVE Amazon. They have stellar customer service. Returns are simple and I don't have to get interrogated after waiting 15 minutes in line to return something. I don't have to drive anywhere using $5 a gallon gas. Don't have to pay or wait for parking. Don't have to endure the stink eye when the shoplifting buzzer goes off every three seconds at the exit doors. Their prices are great. I can have most things shipped to me in TWO DAYS FOR FREE! In many cases I can avoid paying the 10% retail purchase fee to fund Bertha. Oh, and I don't have to wait in line AFTER paying for my purchases to prove to the guy at the exit door that I just waited in line for 10 minutes and really did pay for my stuff. LOVE LOVE LOVE this company. The only way they could improve is to have drones start delivering things my house in a half hour! GOD BLESS AMAZON!!
Posted by dorimonsonfan on May 30, 2014 at 9:27 PM · Report this
I LOVE THAT MAN. I love you man. You're my hero\read on:
Corporate giant Costco fails as a marketing model in terms of transportation. A single Costco induces 10x the fuel combustion compared to neighborhood stores or district shopping centers, while putting these out of business. Amazon and Boeing similarly fall short in these terms of transportation costs and impacts. A progressive carbon tax would bankrupt these (low-cost?) corporate giants, Amazon too, suffers from the transport distance disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Wsdot consistently constructs absurdly substandard highways. Seattle transit agencies fall short of national standards, nevermind world standards. BNSF plans to dedicate its rails to fossil fuel transport through the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle's economy is more dependent upon diesel-spewing global trade
than any US port. Yeah, we could address global warming, but the subject of transport is too far down the list of concerns Seattlers hold dearly, never f'kn mind competent discussion among peers. So says this Oregonian.
Our ODOT was finished with your Wsdot boys in 2008. Your guys also misled our Port authorities about the oval track and Spagetti ramp hazards on Hayden Island. Washingtonian advice in transportation matters is no longer accepted
south of thee Columbia River. Bertha must not proceed, period, end of story.
Drill-Fill Sea Fence? Not a good idea, period.
MercerWest QueenAnne Truck Route? How f'n dare you?
CHECK OUT SDOT's angle for retaining Battery Street Tunnel.
YOU WILL LIKE IT, honest, trust me.
BOX CUT-COVER/SEAWALL too. Do not reject/neglect its study.
Study it or shut up.
Amazon is a fairly big-time energy waster.
Build yerself a stewpid glass garden, whoopdeedoo.
Seattle parks department is clueless.
And don't get me started on Wsdot.
Oregonians apologize for bad advise
from David Evans Associates latest crew.
Bad work on the CRC.
Bertha is such unbelievable crap.
How f'n dare you!?

Are you listening to me!? Seatuhlers ?? Well!?
Posted by Wells on May 30, 2014 at 10:03 PM · Report this
Did anybody else have a tough time wading through the vitriol and nonsense to try to get any information from this article? How many times do you have to mention a lack of charitable giving, especially without any real numbers to reference? And comparing Amazon to Microsoft, Boieng and Starbucks, who are known to be especially philanthropic? No company or person is obgligated to give to charities, and they have given some, even when they are dumping all their profits back into the company. But that's not relevant (to this article either). The problem is poor writing.

"Amazon is gleefully shitting in Hachette’s pool." Seriously? Are you writing an article or posting a comment in a forum? @25 TCLballardwallymont's copy and paste of one paragraph was more informative and convincing than the full article of drivel you put to page.

You sound like a person yelling on a street corner. Not a journalist.
Posted by TheRob on May 30, 2014 at 10:06 PM · Report this
From a purely intellectual perspective, as in bettering one's self through the accumulation of knowledge, Amazon stands behind only Microsoft on the world stage.

But what would any of you know about being a unique and beautiful snow flake, anyways.

Posted by worthless_people_are_worthless on May 30, 2014 at 11:12 PM · Report this
If a company pays the employees well, who cares about the charitable giving? Charitable giving is a way to avoid taxes and pay lower wages while making the company look good.
Posted by pocketdoom on May 30, 2014 at 11:27 PM · Report this
What is missing in this article is how Apple was gleefully shitting on ebook customers when they were colluding with these same large publishers to inflate the prices of ebooks, and telling Amazon that they wouldn't let them sell their products if they wouldn't charge their prices.
Posted by BeelzeBallard on May 31, 2014 at 12:04 AM · Report this

Sorry, Mr. Constant, but your article would hold no water, in fact, no one's going poo poo over this would hold any pee pee if you would refer to this company by it's true name: Time Warner.
Posted by happy time on May 31, 2014 at 3:00 AM · Report this
I rarely buy books on Amazon. Anyways, how you just described Amazon is similar to the realities of Walmart. I sure hope everyone who feels this way decides to stop shopping at Walmart before they decide to stop shopping at Amazon. Amazon does support the American economy much more then Walmart.
Posted by CompassionateVeg on May 31, 2014 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Matthew Wayne Selznick 38
The notion that people should boycott Amazon over the Amazon / Hachette negotiations is some of the most ridiculous first-world whining I've seen. Maybe ever.
Posted by Matthew Wayne Selznick http://www.mattselznick.com on May 31, 2014 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Are the large publishers the underdog good guys now?! Remember when we fucking hated big publishers? I really don't see how Amazon's business practices are different from what 99.9% of all other businesses in the USA operate. Using their strong position in online retail to negotiate for lower costs, that should be expected right? If by not selling Hachette books it means I might have to go to any of Seattle's great bookshops to buy the book, then that doesn't seem like such a horrible thing.
Posted by justsomeguy83 on May 31, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Report this
Isn't the problem really that Amazon *isn't* making a profit and the people investing in it don't ever seem to mind?
Posted by linus9 on May 31, 2014 at 11:41 AM · Report this

Where can we all sign up to become paid commentators for Amazon?

How much does it pay?
Posted by That Only Money Can Buy on May 31, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
Yes. Boycott Amazon until they agree to carry and push the corporate approved art they are supposed to. If we don't, the corporate books we are supposed to be reading might not get out.
Posted by Emanuel Goldstein on May 31, 2014 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Progressive journalists writing about the corporatocracy frequently resemble well-intentioned doctors writing about syphilis before the advent of germ theory. The disease's several stages and bewildering whack-a-mole variety of symptoms were mistaken for any number of different maladies, and their individual awfulness was addressed individually with no understanding of what was actually causing them. Such mistreatment was not only useless but often destructive, with terrible consequences for the patient and no effect at all on public health.

The disease here isn't Amazon, which is merely a symptom, and unlike physicians before the 19th century, there's no excuse for anyone's ignorance of this. If it weren't Amazon screwing publishers (themselves corporations and far from blameless), it'd be some other identical interaction. What happens on the Monopoly board is determined by Parker Brothers, which controls the rules of the game, not the players or the hypothetical inhabitants of their tiny plastic houses and hotels.

The American core sickness is first the concept of "corporation" as an individual with inalienable rights, and more specifically, permitting such abstractions to secretly buy as many candidates for "elected" office as they care to afford. Amazon is no more the problem than a chancre is a spirochete, and even if its destructive monopoly were eliminated in some way, it would only return in some other, likely even more pernicious, form as the social disease of oligarchy progresses.

Switching metaphors, to attempt to solve the problem of the corporation by moderating Amazon's destructive monopoly is to attempt to debug an operating system by unplugging one of the computer's it runs on. The corporation is a construct, a software entity written in legalese and running on a society rather than a programming language interpreted by a computer. The only way to fix it is to debug the program - to change the rules of which it's comprised.

Tragically, having permitted our government to become a de facto administrative subsidiary of any body - real or legal - with sufficient budget to buy candidates for office, there's quite likely nothing the overwhelming majority of citizens who suffer from the result can do about it – certainly not within established, legal channels. Permitting corporations to own the legislative process by which they're controlled makes changing that ownership an obvious Catch-22, an infinitely executing do loop unable to alter the conditions which drive and sustain it.

Scapegoating Amazon and its ilk in public forums actually makes the problem worse, just as smearing toxic creams on the sores of syphilis victims once did. Boycotting Amazon will do nothing other than provide the boycotters a false satisfaction in exchange for inconveniencing themselves. Until the environment which made Grendel's evolution inevitable is corrected, Beowulf can never be more than a temporary stopgap, ultimately becoming just one more aspect of the problem.

What's needed isn't heroes with swords, but ecologists with pruning sheers.
Posted by rbryanh on May 31, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Excellent article. I am not willing to contribute to Amazon's abusive, monopolistic business practices, much happier patronizing our local independent businesses.
Posted by citizen on May 31, 2014 at 8:57 PM · Report this

I've considered deleting my account just because of the way it treats its employees alone. Think about it-- a company cannot provide fast, seamless, 24 hour service if it's not working its employees to the bone. Engineers regularly work 10-12 hours a day when they aren't on call, and when they are on call, they have pagers going off at 2 in the morning so that they can get up and fix something. Now, I know this first hand because I have worked there, and many of my friends and worked there as well -- when you ask any of us about Amazon, the response is uniformly to sigh and then change the subject. "Amazon burnout" is far too common in the software engineering community in Seattle because Amazon treats its employees like sweatshop workers. Please consider whether or not you think it's worth it to put software engineers through this special kind of hell so that customers can their books, 12-packs of toothbrushes, and whatever other crap shipped to them as fast as humanly possible without the *drastic inconvenience* of having to leave their house.
Posted by entropie on May 31, 2014 at 11:31 PM · Report this
And here I thought it was my brilliant idea to boycott Amazon after doing business with them for close to 20 yrs. I am way past being sick and tired of all the careless "urban density" real estate development here in Ballard. Gone are the commercial fisherman and the old-timers who made life interesting and who were good neighbors. Now, as Sig Hansen so eloquently put it, we have these skinny-asked bike riders, bars and streets full of loud, drunk punks who don't contribute a damn thing to society, and plenty of housing for the homeless, registered sex offenders,and dogs, but nothing for seniors trying to live on their social security checks in an over-inflated market.I say let's pull the plug on Amazon and make this bubble burst.
Posted by Uffda_Chick on June 1, 2014 at 11:20 AM · Report this
"Amazon burnout" is far too common in the software engineering community in Seattle because Amazon treats its employees like sweatshop workers.
I hear this about Microsoft as well, especially in their legal department. In fact, any large, well known employer probably gets tons of applicants for open positions - allowing them to treat current employees like crap as they are easily replaceable.
Posted by AinWA on June 1, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Report this
puftwaffe 48
So, Hachette (conspiring with Apple) engaged in unethical and illegal business practices (price-fixing), and now, finding the shoe on the other foot, wants us to shed a tear for them? Thanks, but I'll pass. Both the publisher and Amazon will do just about anything to wring an extra penny out of their partners and customers, so let's not act like one is cleaner or deserves our support more than the other.
Posted by puftwaffe on June 1, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
I had to go to the last comment to find anyone at all mentioning the illegal ebook price fixing cartel that the major publishers, including Hachette and Macmillan, got caught in. Maybe Amazon's an abusive monopsony but if they put the publishers out of business I'll shed no teara. Famous authors (the anti-Amazon revolutionary vanguard party) are too close to the problem to see how fucked up the system they are part of is.
Posted by otterbee on June 1, 2014 at 7:48 PM · Report this
" there's plenty of first-hand accounts online."

Anecdotes are data my friends!

"Please consider whether or not you think it's worth it to put software engineers through this special kind of hell so that customers can their books"

I can't think of better people to put through hell.
Posted by Amazon Primed on June 2, 2014 at 7:05 AM · Report this
I found it easy (and rewarding) to turn my back on Amazon. I just became less lazy. For example, I wanted a book a friend recommended and had the trigger reaction to quickly purchase it on Amazon.

But then I remembered that Amazon are a bunch of avaricious cunts so I went out into the world with a my friend and searched for the book. It took us several bookstores and half a day to find the book but I had a great time!

that's what shit like Amazon takes away: the experience. We get so locked into buying things on the internet cause it's easy and we totally miss out on experiencing life outside our comfort bubble.

ps- fuck amazon!
Posted by crumley on June 2, 2014 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Just FYI: Amazon also owns Goodreads, Abebooks (a used bookseller) and Comixology (digital comics portal). So if you're not into supporting Amazon.com, but still supporting these, you might want to consider other avenues.
Posted by bookworm on June 2, 2014 at 10:27 AM · Report this
Just FYI: The title 'Where’d You Go, Bernadette' actually has no question mark at the end. Believe it or not.
Posted by Indi on June 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Report this
#14 if all you think about is keeping books cheap than people are going to stop writing and publishing them.
Posted by David Tatelman on June 2, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
puftwaffe 55
That has not been the case (to this point, anyway) with music despite dramatic reductions in the retail cost of the product as well as significant declines in the revenues of the music labels. The average person reading fewer and fewer books with each passing day is the problem facing writers and publishers, not the price of the book itself.
Posted by puftwaffe on June 2, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Amazon's push to move to e-books over hard-copy books has done more to lower the barriers to publish than the invention of the printing press. It is companies like Hachet (AKA Time Warner Books) that wish to preserve the old universe where new authors wallow in anonymity in favor of the same trite crap that they have always published (that James Patterson is weighing in is really all you need to know).

I would rather live in a world where a million authors make a reasonable living than one in which a thousand authors become millionaires. Amazon is pushing towards this better future and Hachet is just a roadblock that needs to be overcome.

No one has done more to keep new authors out of print than the established publishing houses.
Posted by highside on June 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Also worthy of note (and I may have missed it in the article above) is that Hachette was among the defendants who were found to have conspired with Apply to price-fix electronic books. They eventually settled with the DOJ and agreed to pay back their customers for ripping them off.

These are not the good guys.
Posted by highside on June 2, 2014 at 4:06 PM · Report this
I definitely have to disagree with the woman quoted saying getting in your car and shopping at a brick-and-mortar store is not an imposition. It certainly is when the store in question does not sell the product you're looking for, you're not sure what sort of store you need that would even sell what you're looking for, or you go to a store only to see empty shelves where your product should be. I wouldn't be able to use henna to color my hair without buying it online because NO STORE where I live sells it. And I keep finding more and more products that I want are simply not available in any store I can get in my car and drive to. Some things you can ONLY buy online and the list of those items keeps getting larger. The last thing I want to do is waste my time and gas money driving all over the place to find products that aren't on the shelves.

Posted by Diagoras on June 2, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
This is all just another reason why I've never been and refuse to ever become an Amazon customer for ANYTHING! I just use the Amazon.com site as a sort of giant database for product info then I make my purchases elsewhere.

I'm old enough to remember back in the early days when Bezos still granted one-on-one interviews, and what a total butthole he always appeared to be (no wonder he doesn't do that anymore).

Anyway, I'm sticking to my vow made a long time ago that Bezos and Amazon will never make a dime from me.
Posted by Purrl on June 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this
I don't have much to say about the rest of the article (bad big business vs. bad big business, ok) but regarding the donation part - the Bezos family foundation did just give $20 million dollars to Fred Hutch for cancer research. So..there's that.
Posted by lackadaisical on June 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
"JUST SQUEAKING BY"??? Are you serious? Amazon is raking in millions, so don't give me THAT phony sob story. Amazon is ALL about increasing profits. Their customer service sucks @ss, as does their choice of shippers, and they are notorious for refusing to do anything about the sexual harassment that goes on, unless you count 'laying off' anyone who tries to file a complaint. I despise Amazon and have for quite some time.
Posted by Sandi on June 3, 2014 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Paul Constant nailed it and a boycott is the best response to Amazon's unbelievable arrogance and extremely unfair control of publishing everything except their own books! Great job!
Posted by Katsonic on June 3, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Report this
It's Goliath vs Goliath and I'm supposed to care?

This article makes me want to do some online shopping!
Posted by drawn on June 3, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Why all the screeching? Order your books online direct from Hachette, assuming they have an online store. If they don't have one they ought to set one up, thereby taking control of their own business.
Posted by Homple on June 3, 2014 at 3:51 PM · Report this
I am confused.

Amazon wants to sell me e-books for $4.99 or less. Hachette wants me to buy e-books for $12.99 or more. I am supposed to be angry with Amazon? Where is the logic in that?

The 800 pound gorilla in the room that no one is talking about is the artificially high prices that the traditional publishing houses want to charge. They economic model is so skewed that mom-and-pop e-book publishing houses are springing up all over. And guess what? Authors supported on the new model are making more money! Why? Because the retail price is lower and their books sell more copies! The royalty payments per copy are comparable with the old model, but the volume sold makes it very worth while.

So, why does Hachette want to sell e-books for so much when there is no typesetting, binding, stitching, etc.? To increase HACHETTE'S PROFIT. Any author who supports the Hachette model is ignorant and should take a few courses in economics.
Posted by FAL Phil on June 4, 2014 at 12:20 AM · Report this
Amazon is more powerful than the Vatican. Bow or be crushed.The Roman Empire lasted one-thousand years. Amazon will last until there is no more earth. That is the beginning, middle and end of the Amazon story.
Chris Roberts
Amazon's Favorite Son
Posted by Chris Roberts on June 4, 2014 at 11:04 AM · Report this
Why would anyone who cares even a smidgen for books, literature, or reading EVER buy anything from Amazon? Their nature has been obvious for a decade. Buying books from people who crush bookstores and writers is self-defeating behavior. Up with independent bookstores and libraries!
Posted by MsBoyer on June 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM · Report this
"Hachette refuses to buckle under Amazon’s demand to sell their e-books for less than Hachette believes those books are worth."

Here's the deal with what ebooks are worth:

Let's say that you, as a customer, found out that, for years now, publishers have been able to do HUGE print runs, like super huge, maybe infinite, of a title, but that they only pay maybe 3% extra on top of what they used to pay in order to get these extra copies. Not only have they not lowered the price, they have tried to raise prices AND complain when people ask them to lower the price, even though they're clearly paying less per unit sold.

This is what has been happening since ebooks came on the scene.

It costs very little to add an ebook onto a print run. If you have a Word file, you can outsource that to companies who will turn out every format you can think of for like $200 per title. By comparison, it costs about $30,000 to print 10,000 titles. That's for a paperback, not a hardback, according to the CEO of IPG.

The physical production, shipping, and storage costs alone for the paperback (not including editing) run $3 per unit sold. If you sell the same number of ebooks, the production costs are maaaybe 10 cents per unit sold, if I generously give them $1000 to convert the edited MS into digital files. If you only sell 5000 copies, 20 cents per unit sold.

Now you have the editorial costs. For that print run, the editorial cost is about $2.30 per book (according to IPG, depends on the publisher, of course). That's because you take the editorial costs and divide by the print run, of course. But then, if you add an ebook, you are able to sell *more* units for the same initial investment. Each ebook unit might cost $2 or $1.75 for editing, plus a quarter for physical production cost.

Do you see the difference here? Physical printing can more than double the cost of a book, while electronic distribution costs a fraction of the editing costs.

Yet big publishing insists--INSISTS--that ebooks need to be sold for more than mass market paperbacks, often more than trade paperbacks. When Amazon fights for lower ebook prices, it's because they know it's stupid to charge as much as you would for a trade paperback that costs 12x more money to physically produce. They made ebooks a thing and they can't even do well on them because publishers refuse to charge a reasonable price.

Hachette is far from the good guy in this scenario for "standing up" for their prices. Ebook prices are ridiculous.
Posted by InsatiableBooksluts on June 4, 2014 at 5:31 PM · Report this
Dirtclustit 69
What it comes down to is why I hate journoterrorists.

You can't treat each of these "wars" between the big guys as single isolated fights.

That is why it really is a shame that the Gawker journalist is attempting to start a large scale boycott. As that author, like you Paul, is either flying a false flag or else he is one of the guys that would be advocating for the exact same tactics Amazon is using if he had something to gain.

You need to make a decision about what type of market you believe in, set rules to be followed based on a framework that you know is fair, like the Constitution.

And then you stick to it, because you believe it is just and right.

You can't believe that stealing is wrong yet resort to stealing because under your personal circumstances you think you are justified.

Having double-standards is always the sure sign of an asshole who is not on the side of equality, justice, freedom and liberty.

You should've investigated a little bit more before spewing your emotional political diatribe that is about as hypocritical as you can get. It's like when journalists write about privacy and consent being sacred but don't give a fuck about another person's privacy nor getting consent before they violate

Hopefully your readers will investigate to find out a little bit more before jumping on gawker's band wagon, hopefully people will have the courage to think for themselves, even though that might mean you won't be cool and part of the trendy Seattle club for cattle
Posted by Dirtclustit on June 4, 2014 at 7:39 PM · Report this
@2 I hate Amazon as much -- nay more -- than anyone, but to criticize their lack of profit is a fool's errand. I took that bent once, and was quickly schooled that Amazon could easily become profitable if they wanted to be. They simply reinvest all their would-be profits into new ventures that make them "bigger and badder" (drones, smartphones, business supplies, same day delivery).

Amazon's goal pure and simple is literally to take over the world. If you ever have a chance to talk in an intimate setting with one of their creepy as fuck employees, they'll tell you all about how what they're doing is going to change the world.

I'm thankful that people are starting to wake up to just how fucked up this company is. I realize the economy of Seattle is pretty much married to this parasite now, but I'd love nothing more than to see Rome burn.
Posted by Tyspace on June 4, 2014 at 11:13 PM · Report this
Dirtclustit 71

If that is the case, and Amazon's goal is to take over the world, I can respect a person attempting to gather widespread support for a boycott.

However blowhard Constant, doesn't give any of the details, just claims they are trying to fuckover publishers. On the front page of the stranger, the article is titled something along the lines of "How Jeff Bezo's Relentless Pursuit of Profits Will Steamroll Everyone -- Yes Even You -- Eventually"

The whole dispute is over the pricing of e-books, and Amazon wanting the price to the consumer to be cut as low as it can possibly be,

If that is a "relentless pursuit of profits", ol Saul Hubbard really does have rocks rolling around where his brain is supposed to be

I sure as hell wouldn't boycott any company just because some idiot decides to follow suit with some other idiot journalist for who knows why, all I know is dipshit isn't stating the real reason, and there is probably a good reason that the truth remains hidden

because nobody would support the boycott if they knew the truth

fuck the Constant bullshit, I'd rather know about the real news

if bezos was seriously all about getting the data, and was that upfront about it, what the fuck was he doing at a book fair?

Why wasn't he in a booth at the national advertising fair pitching his idea to marketers about how much he could target people with customized adds and that type of shit?

as per usual, nothing Constant writes about adds up
Posted by Dirtclustit on June 4, 2014 at 11:37 PM · Report this
Is Dan Savage pulling his books from Amazon?

Is The Stranger pulling "How to Be a Person: The Stranger's Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself" from Amazon?

Is Charles Mudede pulling "Zoo" from Amazon?

Is Tacocat pulling their albums from Amazon?

Or is this more do what I say not what I do activism from The Stranger to drive page hits, is this just #TheStrangerPrivilege?
Posted by j2patter on June 5, 2014 at 8:31 AM · Report this
This is very reminiscent of AT&T and MCI back in the 1970s, when AT&T pulled their long lines (long disance access) from MCI's usage, disallowing MCI their access to long distance.

Had not AT&T done that, MCI would have shortly gone out of business, so it was the typical AT&T idiotic strategy of hubris.

Just as it backfired on AT&T (at least on paper), so hopefully this will backfire on Amazon, although less likely in this day of the Corporate Fascist State this country has become.

To fully understand the underlying agenda, just read Dean Koontz's entertaining novel, Relentless while keeping in mind that Amazon has the contract for the CIA's cloud project.

Back in 2000 at a company I then worked at, I patiently attempted to explain to a typical Californian solipsist (and halfwitted airhead) that making all her purchases through Amazon was detrimental to the existence of local book sellers, eventually allowing for Amazon's creation of a monopoly, after which they would then squeeze their customers. (This person would later return to Cali to work for the Bush family-owned Northrup Grumman.)

Posted by sgt_doom on June 5, 2014 at 11:20 AM · Report this
Dirtclustit 74
yeah, I know few people will be able to finish reading it without having to puke up their breakfast, but it is sorta amusing that punk ass Saul didn't seem to think it was a big deal when he helped Borders shut down all but the hardiest independent book stores, in fact he reveled in it, and although he attempts to be the lone voice of reason, writing about it in hindsight as if it was all Amazon's fault and those greedy corporate fucks who only cared about money, when the ivy league shit was playing hero and still does to this day instead of doing the responsible thing.

It's hard to listen to screeching noise that the frozen heart of snake-oil salesmen makes while pretending to bleed compassion for the important things in life, I wonder why he didn't title this one Books with Borders as opposed to the infallible author's title the last time he wrote

Posted by Dirtclustit on June 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
"Back in 2000 at a company I then worked at, I patiently attempted to explain to a typical Californian solipsist (and halfwitted airhead) that making all her purchases through Amazon was detrimental to the existence of local book sellers, eventually allowing for Amazon's creation of a monopoly, after which they would then squeeze their customers. (This person would later return to Cali to work for the Bush family-owned Northrup Grumman.)"

Did you eat crow when, 15 years later, books are cheaper and more plentiful than they have ever been before?
Posted by highside on June 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Amazon can only do this because Americans - including those on SLOG - don't want to pay what things actually cost.

I'm betting nearly everybody bitching about this also constantly complains how much things - like books - cost.

You can't have both ways. If you want people well paid. If you want to stop things like pollution, global warming, and labor exploitation - then shit is going to have to cost you more. That's all there is to it.
Posted by tkc on June 5, 2014 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Dirtclustit 77
Amazon can only do what? Sell more ebooks than anyone else?

All of these slanderous articles are written about Amazon because Saul thinks it was Amazon that put an end to his putting an end to independent book stores all while living off the teat of Borders, the real walmart of bookstores.

Amazon provides a place for transactions to occur, many of the orders placed are not fulfilled by Amazon.

When I order books, or anything from Amazon which I did today and will continue to do so, I always click the button which states the number or retail suppliers that have the product new and the number of suppliers offering the product used.

I look at each of them and usually I can find one in Calif. or Oregon, or if it's a choice between Warshington and Kentucky then I go with Warshington as the product gets to me in two or three days.

It's worth it to me to pick the seller closest to where I live. It gets to me quicker and the four or five dollars more I pay than what Amazon is offering it at is usually made up for by not having to pay expedited shipping

these articles don't give a rats ass about the truth, if people were seriously dumb enough to listen to the idiots tabloid journalists here and elsewhere from team tabloid media, there would be many pissed off small shops who make their sale because of Amazon.

People in the Pacific Northwest with half a brain understand that the cheapest product is not always best, esp if it has to be shipped from Kentucky or even further from China, and they pay five bucks more and choose the CA or OR supplier and get it in two to three days without expedited shipping.

It also saves the cost of sending the product all that way

fuck paul and whatever publisher's teat he has gotten used to sucking on

praise Amazon (but not just because dipshit says boycott them, although it's the icing on the cake) I buy from Amazon because of the superior service offered for items I don't buy locally
Posted by Dirtclustit on June 5, 2014 at 8:01 PM · Report this
Stop misusing the term "libertarian"
Posted by Burgess on June 6, 2014 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Guess what, Amazon now has AMAZON SMILE. So… Yes: Charitable Giving.
Posted by My Display Name on June 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM · Report this
"Amazon", "bullies", "messing", "escalates", "tighten", "noose", "screws", "authors angered". Oh yeah, there's some measured objective reportage. Lynch mob, yes. Responsible reportage or editorializing, no.

The catchy sensationalistic headlines the author cites are more reflective of today's trad/Internet press's bias, dishonesty and laziness than anything Amazon and Hachette are or aren't actually doing. Given that the negotiations are under nondisclosure, 99.9% of the press/editorialists purporting to be "reporting" or "caring" about the negotiations don't know diddly and are making things up out of thin air or borrowing some "politically correct" attitude.

When the vast majority of trad/Internet press and blogs are this knee jerk, lazy and dishonest with their headlines, it is true, Amazon does have a problem of sorts... but then so does the country and the world. Uninformed, illiterate, owed self declared intellectual and moral compasses who have no qualms, or even hesitation, about driving the world off a cliff. While of course feeling they should be the elite and owed comfortable livings while they rule over the masses.
Posted by SpringfieldMH on June 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Seems like the simple solution is for Hachette Book Group, the third largest publisher in the world, to start their own ebook sales site.
Posted by billwald on June 8, 2014 at 7:17 PM · Report this
chinaski 82
@72 is the only comment that matters.
Posted by chinaski on June 10, 2014 at 7:51 AM · Report this
While I've been following this story for a bit, my hating of Amazon is distilled down to one simple thing: I cannot stand their employees.

I work for one of the many businesses that inhabit SLU (and yes, we existed AND were successful long before Amazon moved in) and deal with the employees on a daily basis. I find them rude, socially inept and really poor tippers. They don't move out of the way when walking in groups on the sidewalk and they interact with my staff and I with an arrogant, demanding sense of entitlement. I cringe every time I see a blue badge.

Regardless of how you might say they are hurting brick and mortar stores; regardless of how they might be monopolizing book distribution; regardless of whether or not they are driving up housing costs in the area, I cannot stand their fucking employees!
Posted by DCHFoundations on June 10, 2014 at 8:19 AM · Report this
W-he-el-ll, Let's say it! PAUL CONSTANT for President! Yes. Say it like it is.
Amacon can't afford to be supportive to local charity, community, good health, and just plain RESPECT for anyone other than his Jeff-God self.(those are humans working for you)

Suspicion of questions sure can indicate a guilty conscience. You'd think a worldwide forthright Amazilla megazon would have nothing to hide.

I continue to boycott the Wal. And the A. There is SOMEONE in Seattle with clarity. THOSE BASTARDS, ya gotta watch out for 'em.

Posted by peopleruineverything on June 10, 2014 at 5:53 PM · Report this
Dear god, the bias in this article is horrendous. No wonder Amazon was complaining about one-sided coverage (hell, earlier in the dispute a news site got flack for releasing a slightly pro-Amazon article, and quickly re-released a more equal one).

The article was also incredibly dismissive of authors who weren't anti-Amazon. News Flash, most big publishing companies aren't very generous to the authors they publish, and (as mentioned once, and only once, in the article), Hachette isn't exactly small.

Yes, Amazon shouldn't be doing things the way they are, but here's something you probably don't know: Hachette, along with about half a dozen other major publishers, made an agreement with Apple to force engage in price-fixing, and were in short order found guilty of violating anti-trust laws, which resulted in them having to agree to the exact terms Amazon is looking to keep in the new contract.

This article presents a single, incredibly biased view of the situation (with facts carefully selected to support their position), and this sort of thing is every bit as bad as what Amazon is doing (if not more so).

-Someone who has shopped at Amazon and Walmart together a total of about 6 times in the last two years.
Posted by Don't let yourself be lead around on June 16, 2014 at 7:22 AM · Report this
The New Yorker piece written by George Packer... Oh, yes, that lazy dishonest, preaching to the choir piece.

I probably have the same unease about Amazon and other megacorps that Packer does… but his errors, unsubstantiated articles of faith, mind reading, stereotyping and cheap shots regarding Amazon defeats his argument. Such talent, wasted. But I guess it made the self appointed New York literati/intelligentsia momentarily happy.

Same George Packer, by the way, that did everything in his power to encourage us to invade Iraq. http://www.sfgate.com/books/article/An-a…

Yeah that changed things alright... Thanks George, but don't think I'll be using you as an intellectual/moral compass.

And Melville House's opinion... so predictable that can be replaced with a rubber stamp.

Yeah... Hachette leaks to NYT and to its investors, despite negotiations with Amazon being under non-disclosure. Bookstores refuse to stock Amazon/CreateSpace paper books. But Amazon is the one with the ethics problem?

Posted by SpringfieldMH on June 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM · Report this
"For the first time since Amazon began, ordinary people are talking about the company not like it’s a magical blowjob-dispensing internet genie, but like it’s a common playground bully."

Hardly. Animal rights activists—some of us—have been boycotting Amazon for many years for their part in promoting dog and rooster fighting (and for selling pâté de foie gras). Funny, in light of their Hachette job, that the excuse they gave for offering such vile material was that the public must be allowed full access to the market of ideas. My exchange with one of their reps—amusing, if it weren't so sad—is on my long-neglected webpage vset.net, under the heading "Standing Up to Walmart." It's been there for about a decade.
Posted by JohnMayer on July 16, 2014 at 12:28 AM · Report this
"For the first time since Amazon began, ordinary people are talking about the company not like it’s a magical blowjob-dispensing internet genie, but like it’s a common playground bully."

Hardly. Animal rights activists—some of us—have been boycotting Amazon for many years for their part in promoting dog and rooster fighting (and for selling pâté de foie gras). Funny, in light of their Hachette job, that the excuse they gave for offering such vile material was that the public must be allowed full access to the market of ideas. My exchange with one of their reps—amusing, if it weren't so sad—is on my long-neglected webpage vset.net, under the heading "Standing Up to Walmart." It's been there for about a decade.
Posted by JohnMayer on July 16, 2014 at 1:59 AM · Report this
Instead of a boycott, why not call to have the company investigated under anti-trust laws, or push for stronger protections for Amazon workers trying to organize? A disorganized boycott is much weaker than a large democratic action like trustbusting or unionization. Seems like folks are taking the cop-out route ("if I just buy used books at the local store, I can be guilt free") rather than doing the hard work of organizing for larger group measures that might actually have an impact.
Posted by EW on December 11, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
I live in Japan and used to shop at amazon japan. But they no longer allow my product reviews because they are written in English!

[Douglas MacArthur would probably be turning with anger in his resting place by now.]

Yesterday, they removed about a dozen or so of my reviews from their website. I’d posted some of the comments as long as two years ago.

When I complained, they replied: “We do not allow reviews in [English] language on Amazon .co.jp.”

[I’ve kept the email for reference.]

Ironically, Amazon staff have posted complimentary comments in English, borrowed from Amazon.com, for numerous products including one of my reviews on the japanese website.


Amazon is truly an unethical corporation, and the world would be a far better place without it.

Posted by Proud English Speaker on December 16, 2014 at 8:34 AM · Report this
I live in Japan and used to shop at amazon.co.jp. But they no longer allow my product reviews because they are written in English!

[Douglas MacArthur would probably be turning with anger in his resting place by now.]

Yesterday, they removed about a dozen or so of my reviews from their website. I’d posted some of the comments as long as two years ago.

When I complained, they replied: “We do not allow reviews in [English] language on Amazon.co.jp.”

[I’ve kept the email for reference.]

Ironically, Amazon staff have posted complimentary comments in English, borrowed from Amazon.com, for numerous products including one of my reviews on the japanese website.


Amazon is truly an unethical corporation, and the world would be a far better place without it.

If you are an English-speaking reader and are offended by amazon.co.jp policy against the English language … please express your disgust!

Posted by Proud English Speaker on December 16, 2014 at 8:40 AM · Report this

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