Amazon vs. Authors & Reviewers

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I said last year that I wanted to get off Kindle/Amazon and I should have taken my own advice. If things don’t change, when those books newly put into the Kindle Select Program come up for renewal, I will drop off Kindle except for a few books. I might make bundles just for Kindle because I know how much those folks love e-books in “boxed sets”.😛

I re-blogged a post the other day about their new “Oh We See You Know the Author” policy and how it’s ruining the review process. Here’s another post on this subject should you care to read it. I have also Signed the Petition and you probably should as well.

On the surface it seems fairly harmless with most folks thinking that authors go out of their way to puff up their reviews…which the vast majority of us do NOT, btw. Let’s look deeper and ask the real question: How do they know who YOU know?

Data mining.

Amazon is tracking you across the web and its authors too.

I understand the value of tracking visitors while they’re ON my site or my blog and I do it regularly. But that’s as far as it goes. I see where you came from (I used to see what keywords you used until Google shut that down unless I’m using their WebMaster Tools), what pages you hit, how long you stay on them, what page(s) you go to from there and where you exit my site/blog, but then, once you leave my site, you’re out of my sight. I have no idea where you go after that and I don’t care.

Amazon, like so many large sites, does care and its keeping track of you and your personal business then its placing it in your Permanent File. This goes beyond a simple tracking cookie, I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again; Amazon comes into my website at least once a week and they hit this blog every single time I post. Therefore, its pretty obvious, that Amazon is tracking ME and those are just the sites I can ‘see’. What about Facebook? Twitter? Google+? GoodReads? Instagram? LibraryThing? Shelfari? LinkedIn? All of those sites where I’m not allowed to see who’s coming into those pages, how many times a month do you suppose Amazon hits all of my (or anyone’s) social media sites and then drops that information into your Permanent File? After which, it cross references that information with everyone else’s Permanent File to see who ‘knows’ who. I want to be very clear here; not ONCE in all of the years I’ve been at this game has Nook, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, or ANY OTHER RETAILER stalked me on the internet. They don’t come into my site. They don’t come into my blog. Ever. And, I appreciate their respect of my personal space.

As an Indie Author, I work my tail off to build a ‘fan base’ and attract readers to my books, my FB/Twitter/Google+/mailing list and so on. That doesn’t mean I ‘know’ them or that they ‘know’ me, does it? Just because you should click ‘like’ on a FB Fan Page doesn’t mean you know that person, it just means you like their work/business. What’s the point in driving myself to distraction to build this fan base if Amazon is simply going to use it against me like a weapon of war? What’s the point in you, the reader, ‘liking’ any author’s page on any social media site, if Amazon is just going to use that information against you so you can’t leave an honest review of a book you BOUGHT from them? We’re not talking about just freebies here where an author gives a complimentary copy to someone in exchange for an honest review, we’re talking about you spending your hard-earned money on something and then being unable to give your opinion of it (good or bad) because Jeffy Bezos thinks you may ‘know’ the author/creator.

Yes, it’s true that, over time some of these ‘fans’ do indeed become friends, people we can actually say we ‘know’, but that’s not all of them by any means. I have 1756 ‘fans’ on FB…if Amazon thinks I actually ‘know’ 2/3 of them, Jeffy should think again. I don’t even hear from 2/3 of them. They just lurk quietly in the shadows and that’s fine with me. Yet, Amazon will hold their lurking against them and me. Why? Well, because it can. Because we let Jeffy get away with this crap because we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking he’s the best/only game in town and we’re all stuck with him. But we’re not. People will treat you the way you ALLOW them to, think on that one for a bit.

My suggestion is simple. The very next time the thought of going to Amazon pops into your head….STOP. Just STOP. Clear your history and open your cookie cleaner, I like CCleaner. Run the program, get rid of all your cookies especially the ‘intelligent’ ones. Then go to Amazon but DO NOT sign in. Pop around, find what you’re looking for, THEN sign in to purchase or leave a review or whatever. After you’ve done that….SIGN OUT. Then run your cleaner again. It’s a PITA but it will muck them up a bit. Also, do NOT post directly on any author/creators FB/Twitter/Google+ blah blah blah pages, instead, if you want to contact them, drop them a private email or send a PM. In fact, as much as I hate to say it, you might NOT want to become a ‘fan’ or ‘follower’ at all on any social media site if you have any inkling that at some point in time you might like to leave a review.

Of course, the best thing Indie Authors can do for themselves is to get the hell OFF Amazon altogether. That will not be easy and sales will suffer for a time and those authors will be very sad BUT there are tons of ebook retailers who would love to have their business and who will sell those ebooks in Kindle format. Best of all, they won’t make you be ‘exclusive’ to get the highest percentage for your work. They won’t make you put it up for ‘lending’ or to enhance some ‘unlimited’ program designed to benefit them. They won’t follow you around like a jealous and brooding ex-lover hiding in the shadows outside your window. They won’t even make you keep your book at the exact same price (or less) than it is on any other site. You can run a sale on Smashwords and Nook and will not punish you for it. Nook and Smashwords both pay 60-85% of net sales, which is more than comparable to Kindle’s 70% but really that number only applies if you’re ‘Exclusive’ and/or allow your books to be ‘lent out’ in the Kindle Lending Library because other than you’re getting 35% of every US sale–which is the bulk of Amazon/Kindle sales. 35%.

I know, turning away from Amazon is a bit like learning how to not shop at WalMart and breaking bad habits is difficult but, in the end, its usually very worth it. Kindle people will have to get used to visiting other sites to obtain their books but at least they won’t be being tracked around the web anymore and if we can get them to understand that, and exactly what Jeffy is doing, perhaps it will make the jagged little pill easier to swallow for them. We’ve let Bezos get away with treating us like dog poop on the bottom of his Bruno Maglis’ quite long enough. He’s made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t really care for nor support Indie Authors at all, in fact, from the looks of it all, he’d rather we just went away. Need more proof? Have you checked the new (lack of) Payment Plan for Kindle Unlimited, and K Owner’s Lending Library? He’s so graciously agreed to pay us, roughly 1/2 a penny per page read through the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner’s Lending Library Programs. Yeah, that’s great, huh? Oh, yeah, and since we’re now going by ‘pages read’, those ‘borrows’ don’t really count toward ‘sales’ or boosting your numbers on Kindle/Amazon.

Yes, now Kindle admits to keeping track of the numbers of pages you’ve read so if we could get Bozo to institute that policy on RETURNS we might be doing something. That would be fair to the authors but since Jeffy doesn’t like to play fair I’m certain we won’t be seeing any changes in their Read and Return Policy.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Amazon isn’t doing this just to indie authors. There are all types of sellers and craftspeople selling their wares on Amazon.

In the end, it’s up to us, the authors and sellers, to stay with Amazon and be good little whores or to go elsewhere where we will be treated more fairly.

If enough of us leave our readers/customers will follow us.

If more than enough of us leave then, like WalMart, it will hit Mr. Bezos right where he lives. WalMart is slowly turning its horrendous business practices around and Amazon might as well but it won’t do it on its own. Why should it? Bezos firmly believes he’s the only real game in town and so long as that remains a fact we’re all screwed; authors, reviewers, independent sellers of other products, and purchasers. If we want change we must effect it ourselves. There’s no way around that.

About lbdarling

Beware...the truth is spoken here. If you can't handle that...buh-bye.

Posted on 09/07/2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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