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Monday, August 11, 2014

Amazon Continues to Be a Hot Mess

Posted by on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Late Friday night, Amazon published an e-mail arguing for their position in their ongoing dispute with Hachette. As you probably know, every time Amazon speaks for itself, it puts its corporate foot in its corporate pie-hole. The e-mail is available at a website called Readers United, which is an obvious attempt to astroturf an argument with Authors United, which is the home site for that letter (signed by over 900 authors) published in the New York Times on Sunday.

The two best responses to Amazon's letter come from the New York Times (which argues that Amazon thoroughly misquotes George Orwell in their letter) and sci-fi author John Scalzi, who has written two posts about why Amazon's letter looks desperate and kind of dumb.

And yesterday, another Amazon argument went public. This time, it's a dispute with Disney over DVD sales, and it means that Amazon customers can't pre-order copies of Muppets Most Wanted, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Maleficent. In the past, Amazon has argued that these disputes affect only a tiny portion of customers, but they certainly do seem to affect high-profile products.


Comments (19) RSS

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AFinch 1
Just about the time I was fully embracing giving up paper books and using my e-reader (Kindle) full time, and had given up on the local independent new&used "record" (CD) store in favor of Amazon...this kind of thing comes along. I'm seriously considering tossing the Kindle. Sociopaths.
Posted by AFinch on August 11, 2014 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Do not fuck with Disney.
They'll build their own distribution system just to spite you, sprinkle on some pixie dust to entice over customers, and drink your milkshake.
Posted by usagi on August 11, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
theophrastus 3
but don't monopolistic corporations have rights?? (and aren't pricing models legally reducible to freedom of religion?)

amazon, walmart, comcast, ticketmaster, ... we don't like what they do because they can do anything they like because they're effectively monopolies. oh if only there were any enforced antitrust laws anymore! "comcast! you cannot merge with time-warner! in fact, you must spin off two of your western markets for the betterment of competition" seems unlikely, doesn't it? it all tediously comes down to strong campaign financing laws and eliminating gerrymandering (and now... two thirds of you have fallen asleep -sigh-)
Posted by theophrastus on August 11, 2014 at 12:06 PM · Report this
i fail to understand how this makes amazon the hot mess.

companies like hachette and disney have run roughshod over the consumer for years, forcing stupid price points and strong-arming distribution (and in disney's case, artificially limiting supply). it's this kind of logic that nearly destroyed the music industry, it wasn't long ago that customers were essentially told to pay $18.99 for a cd and fuck you if you don't like it.

as far as i can tell, paul doesn't like amazon's PR or lack of it, so amazon must be in the wrong. i sure as shit can't understand why he'd take the sides of two of the largest media corporations on the planet, essentially arguing for them that they have the right to price gouge because they've always price gouged.
Posted by deepconcentration on August 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Report this
@5 Exactly.

It's ridiculous to see so many people treating multibillion dollar publishers and their millionaire authors like oppressed victims.

I'm sure these companies will settle their little tiff eventually, but in the meantime I'll just keep buying books wherever it is cheapest and most convenient to do so. If others want to pay more to make sure Hachette exes can keep their private jets and huge salaries, they are free to do so.
Posted by giffy on August 11, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this
None of these pieces I keep reading about this mention Amazon is also arguing for an author pay-out agreement far far higher than most authors are treated with major publishers. This isn't a fight against paper books and e-books. It's a fight against big publishing and the concept of reading.
Posted by ryry on August 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Why is Amazon sponsoring this bullshit rag's bullshit "genius" award circle jerk when all it does is publish these weird one-sided hit pieces?
Posted by Sevenwithoneblow on August 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 9

When an impartial observer says "I think the Mets are going to lose this game", they're not saying the Mets are "oppressed victims." They're just saying, relative to the team that's running circles around them, they suck balls. They're blowing it. Because they're suckng so badly. It doesn't even mean you have any particular love for the team that's kicking the Mets' ass. It's just observing a fact about a thing.

I'm not saying Paul Constant isn't barking mad on the subject of Amazon. He is. He's like that guy Khan at the end of that movie when he blew up that thing and killed Spock? Or whatever? He is an Amazon hater, no doubt. But people besides Paul have also noted that Amazon is acting like the Mets here, and Amazon is supposed to know what they're doing. They're supposed to be bringing their A game.

Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on August 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
brandon 10
Coupled with their crappy smartphone which just came out and Amazon has some egg on it's face.

They are spreading themselves too thin and behaving too much like a monopoly. They need to back off and focus on what they are good at. What that looks like I don't know, I'm not a bidness smartypants.
Posted by brandon on August 11, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
biffp 11
@7 ftw. The Justice Department should be the one interested when one company is using its full control of the distribution chain to put another company out of business by cutting access to consumers.
Posted by biffp on August 11, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
I have no interest in any products by Hachette or Disney, but I have a different beef with Amazon: their corporate picnic at CenturyLink Field fucked up the turf something awful for last night's Sounders game. Apparently they played fucking QUIDDITCH on it.
Posted by Fnarf on August 11, 2014 at 1:35 PM · Report this
@9 Or the amount they stand to save is a lot more than whatever they stand to lose by upsetting some bloggers and critics.

The Internet Outrage Machine can make a lot of noise, but more often than not, that's all it is.
Posted by giffy on August 11, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
JF 14
Hatchet refuses to give more money to the Authors. Why is this not the biggest part of the story?
Posted by JF on August 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this

Amazon is cloud space and a credit card reader.

If Hachette doesn't want to do business with them here's how to "Make Your Own Amazon":

1. Rent some cloud space
2. Convert your e-books to Adobe EPUB format
3. Publish them with Digital Editions

Here it is, I've used it for checking out library books from KCLS:…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on August 11, 2014 at 2:07 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
Whether they're astroturfing authors, destroying Sounders turf, or getting involved in turf wars, Amazon is clearly smoking the grass (which is GMO synthetic)
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 11, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Report this
I really wish that someone at the Stranger would publish criticisms of Amazon's policies and methods without frothing at the mouth so much. I follow this issue with interest and concern, and I'm absolutely on the anti-corporate side, but every time I read anything about Amazon on this website the author has so much spittle flying from their mouth with such velocity that I don't learn anything except how much personal hate the author has for Amazon. Please do a better job. I know that Stranger writers don't necessarily try to take an objective tone (to put it mildly). But this is an issue where you could be really influential. Amazon is under pressure at this point and you are the home town paper of Amazon. We can't count on the Times. A well-written piece that aims at SOME form of professionalism has a chance of being heard. Present your arguments with some nuance. Make distinctions. Call for actions. Use less name calling and be smarter. For crying out loud.
Posted by emmaz on August 11, 2014 at 3:09 PM · Report this
IndicaDogwalk 18
Paul, calm down. You can't stop Amazon. It's not David and Goliath. I agree with #17 and others - fucking ratchet it down a notch with the name calling. Your childish hatred of Amazon is comical and impedes on whatever journalistic propriety you have.

You are dipping down to the level of little Ansel Herz.
Posted by IndicaDogwalk on August 11, 2014 at 9:44 PM · Report this
So I'm very new to Seattle -- why does Seattle want Amazon gone/destroyed/deconstructed/whatever so badly?

From what I can tell reading this site the company is considered an evil empire in this city, and I have to admit ignorance to the company being so horrible since I've never lived here, but I'm curious, for example, why Amazon is such a corporate beast but Microsoft isn't etc.

What's the background behind the intense hatred of Amazon in Seattle?
Posted by tomorrowsman on August 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM · Report this
@21: Seattle does not hate Amazon. Paul Constant hates Amazon.
Posted by drawn on August 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM · Report this

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