We’ve pretty much all been at the wrong end of trolls who abuse the review system to leave a negative for a book because they have some grudge against the author or the subject matter or whatever. But trying getting Amazon to remove them…
And we’ve pretty much all had perfectly sound 5-Star reviews removed by Amazon because some automated-system has decided they didn’t meet the guidelines.
Amazon makes clear no-one needs to have bought, used or even seen a product in order to leave a review. Unfair on the seller? Tough.
This week saw the Amazon Fire phone, already struggling with a mediocre 3-star review average, get over 1000 additional 1-Star reviews as Greenpeace supporters took full advantage of Amazon’s review policies.
Greenpeace are protesting at the fact that Amazon is one of the dirtiest company’s in the tech world.
No, nothing to do with erotica. No-one can compete with Smashwords on that front. We mean environmental pollution.
It’s easy to get carried away with the idea that e-commerce and the internet is some sort of pollutant-free green paradise, but the reality is that all these on-line systems handling and storing enormous amounts of data need an equally enormous amount of energy to keep them all going.
Greenpeace have long since been pushing for tech companies to be more environmentally friendly. Some have responded positively. Some just look the other way.
And while Apple, Google and Facebook all now use renewable energy to fuel their systems – Apple’s iCloud is run on 100% renewable energy – Amazon takes the cheapest route – good old fashioned fossil fuel burning.
For two reasons.
First, that Amazon just doesn’t seem to care. Consider: Environmental-friendliness would be a fantastic selling point for ebooks and encouraging readers to desert paper. How many millions of trees would be saved if we all went digital with our books, newspapers and magazines? But the concept seems never to have occurred to Amazon.
Second, costs. Amazon is already deeply in debt and struggling pretty much across the board. The company is just weeks away from issuing the worst financial report in the company’s history. The ONLY area in which Amazon had been making serious money had been AWS – the Amazon cloud.
But with Google and Microsoft both slashing prices and forcing Amazon to follow suit (now there’s one of the great conundrums of our time – if Amazon is always the cheapest, why does it need to price match?) there’s no spare money for important things like investment in our children’s future.
So next time some troll lands a spate of 1-Stars on your ebook, thank your lucky stars you haven’t upset Greenpeace.
Meanwhile, at risk of getting slammed again for being anti-Amazon for reporting news the Amazon-affiliate blogs prefer to overlook, it’s worth noting that yet another top Amazon exec’ is jumping ship. the third in a month.
Back in early September Amazon’s Chief Financial Officer Thomas Szkutak – the poor soul obliged to deliver the bad news about Amazon’s financial mire – stated he would be leaving the company next year. No reason to make that announcement so soon except to get the news out before the Q3 results are formally made public.
As Reuters bluntly put it: “Amazon CFO to step down next year amid investor discontent.” (LINK)
barely had the ink dried on that news that Amazon’s Vice President of Music and Video, Bill Carr, decided he had had enough too.
In what most observers agree is a clear indication of discontent in the Boardroom, Amazon said on Carr’s behalf that he was leaving “to spend more time with his family” and that he “has nothing else to add”. (LINK)
Now it emerges Jon Fine, Amazon’s Director of Author & Publisher Relations is also jumping ship. (LINK)
To lose one top man is a tragic loss to the company.
To lose two in as many weeks just as the going gets tough stretches the definition of coincidence to its limits.
To lose three in the space of a single month… The month before Amazon is set to report, on its own guidance, a loss of over half a billion dollars for a single quarter…
Hopes that the Fire phone sales would mean Q4 would be better were dashed long before Greenpeace added to its woes.
Hopes that the new range of Kindles would help have also been dashed. Sales are so far looking at best unimpressive.
And the latest tablet figures out this week show that Amazon is commanding just 3% of the tablet market three years after the first Kindle was announced.
None of this is good news for investors as the Q3 announcement and Q4 guidance looms.
And now Google has turned up the heat.
Amazon’s cloud service has for several years been the key driving factor in Amazon’s bubble growth. No profits. Just revenue. But it looks good.
Then Google and Microsoft started slashing their prices. Amazon had no choice but to follow suit. And its revenue plummeted, along with its share value, currently almost $100 down on its January high.
Now, in what looks like deliberate timing to maximize Amazon’s discomfort (and why not – Amazon deliberately forked Google’s Android system so the Fire phone cannot use Google apps or access the Google Play store) Google has just this week slashed prices again, ahead of Amazon’s Q3 announcement.
Amazon has no choice but to price-match. It will lose more market share to Google if it doesn’t. It will lose millions more it cannot afford if it does.
Amazon will choose the latter path, because it has already painted itself into a corner.
Just like it has with Prime, offering fast, free delivery on items it can no longer afford to deliver fast and free. So much so that Amazon now offers to PAY Prime members to accept slower and cheaper shipping options.
Which of course is precisely why Amazon is trying to force down trad pub ebook prices. Not because Amazon wants to give consumers a great deal, but because sending out heavy hardbacks for free eats into its margins.
If Amazon can force the price of front-list ebooks down then fewer people will buy front-list hardbacks. It costs Amazon sweet FA to send the ebook. They lose money on every hardback they have to store, package and deliver.
There’s a growing consensus among the money market commentators now that Amazon is structurally unable to ever be a profitable company. That it’s a bubble in the process of deflating.
No-one is suggesting Amazon will fail. But few believe it can carry on like it has been.
Some even speculate whether Bezos will still be in charge next year. An unlikely scenario, true, but bear in mind Steve Jobs was famously fired from Apple way back.
But Amazon is facing increasing competition while losing market share pretty much everywhere
Alibaba’s arrival on the scene makes Amazon’s position all the more problematic. With the IPO last month, Alibaba went from some obscure company in China to a an America player with a market valuation almost $100 billion bigger than Amazon’s. And over $20bn in surplus cash, while Amazon is having to borrow.
We’ve speculated here before that Alibaba could well bid for Nook when it comes up for grabs in the New Year, and now there is increasing speculation that Alibaba could buy eBay, once the Paypal spin-off is done.
Either or both would be great news for authors.
eBay already has a great little book arm in Half, and has been actively toying with an ebook venture. Alibaba’s cash would be the perfect supplement to make it happen.
Both would be major setbacks to Amazon’s aspirations at at time when it is already facing growing difficulties.
As above, Amazon isn’t in danger of going bankrupt. But no-one should be under any illusion all is rosy in the Amazon garden right now.
For indie authors the thumb-screws are already being tightened.
The ACX royalty cuts were just a harbinger of things to come. But Amazon learned its lesson then. Do it discreetly next time.
So now we have stealth royalty cuts through Kindle Unlimited while Amazon hands out All-Star cash payments to compensate the chosen few who stand to lose the most, to keep them on board.
But there may be more to come with Kindle Unlimited.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Bezos and Grandinetti have already shown how desperate they are by begging indie authors to write to Hachette because they couldn’t resolve a simply dispute on their own.
Bezos cannot afford to let Kindle Unlimited fail, but the Big 5 boycott holds.
Harlequin has just signed up exclusively with Scribd in a clear signal to Amazon that they will have nothing to do with KU. (LINK)
Simon & Schuster have just signed with the ebook subscription service Mofibo in Denmark and Sweden, while notably not signing with KU. (LINK)
Amazon is expected to launch Kindle Unlimited in Germany and France this month, but if so it will be a sorrowful affair with no Big 5 brands on board.
The only thing Kindle Unlimited has in its favour is volume of titles. Amazon is fielding 700,000 compared to around 500,000 each for Oyster and Scribd.
As more and more titles flood to other ebook subscription services, and pointedly do not sign up with Kindle Unlimited, that gap will narrow, and with it Amazon’s volume advantage will diminish.
A simple solution lies in the hands of Grandinetti and Bezos.
Expect all our indie KDP titles to be dragged into Kindle Unlimited soon, whether you want to be in or not.
And watch out for the next Amazon executive to jump ship. It appears to be contagious.
Just as we go to post this, reports are coming in that Booklinker.net is having problems with Amazon.
According to an email just being sent out by Booklinker, Amazon is withholding affiliate fees, causing them financial difficulties.
Hard to imagine this is in turn due to Amazon’s financial problems, but a timely reminder that when anyone puts all their eggs in to one basket it is asking for problems.
What follows is the email being sent out by Booklinker. We reserve judgement on what lies behind it.
You may have noticed that BookLinker short-links are currently displaying brief rich-media advertisments before redirecting to your content.
This is because Amazon Associates are withholding affiliate income from us; effectively forcing us to display these ads in order to meet our ongoing costs.
Sales are unlikely to be affected, but if you would like to continue using our service *completely ad-free*, we are offering a new premium plan, costing 10 GBP per month.
Please respond to this email if you would like to upgrade to this plan, and we will respond with instructions.
Richard @ BookLinker