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Old 08-11-2013, 04:13 PM   #1
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Ethical guide to e-readers

I thought this was interesting. Amazon is decidedly worst of the bunch

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyer.../ereaders.aspx
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:45 PM   #2
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I think it makes sense to discuss the individual issues, as we do on Mobileread. But I wouldn't want to give much attention to these overall scores, which are based on about thirty different sub-items. For each one of those, I may or may not have the same perspective as EthicalConsumer.org.

It's true that the web site lets you can change the emphasis of different subitems. But, even with that, their interpretation may be quite different than mine. For example, I rate how employees are treated as very importatnt -- but I look at it in comparison to how other workers are treated in the same country, even if the country is low-wage. Someone else might think that having lots of US employees is a plus.

Looking through the subitems, I see little concerning how customers are treated, such as whether customer services reps are honest and responsive, and nothing on antitrust concerns. I personally agree with their implicit idea that, from an ethical standpoint, how you treat your workers is more important than how you take care of customers. But I think opinions like that are better brought out in open discussion than hidden in a numeric rating process.

Also, the Ethical Shopping Guide price of £29.95 per year is a bit steep for me.

What about Ethical Shopping Guide itself? Based on this web page, I rate them low when it comes to ethical treatment of people who do their work:

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/about...kingforus.aspx

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Old 08-11-2013, 05:50 PM   #3
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I thought this was interesting. Amazon is decidedly worst of the bunch

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyer.../ereaders.aspx
I don't see that you have any evidence to back up that claim. The data is behind a paywall so it might as well not exist.
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:27 PM   #4
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I don't see that you have any evidence to back up that claim. The data is behind a paywall so it might as well not exist.
What's really interesting is that if you play with the sliders to the right, it's the "ANIMALS" category that's really dropping the Amazon rating down (including the Factory Farming sub-category, which I wasn't aware that Amazon was involved in ). Playing with the sliders wouldn't give me a lot of confidence in the data backing up their rankings. Making animal the most important and all others not important Amazon gets an 8 and all the others get a 14 out of 20. I'm not really an Amazon fan, but in a quick look at the available parts of this site I question their biases.

Last edited by robko; 08-11-2013 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:56 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
I think it makes sense to discuss the individual issues, as we do on Mobileread. But I wouldn't want to give much attention to these overall scores, which are based on about thirty different sub-items. For each one of those, I may or may not have the same perspective as EthicalConsumer.org.

It's true that the web site lets you can change the emphasis of different subitems. But, even with that, their interpretation may be quite different than mine. For example, I rate how employees are treated as very importatnt -- but I look at it in comparison to how other workers are treated in the same country, even if the country is low-wage. Someone else might think that having lots of US employees is a plus.

Looking through the subitems, I see little concerning how customers are treated, such as whether customer services reps are honest and responsive, and nothing on antitrust concerns. I personally agree with their implicit idea that, from an ethical standpoint, how you treat your workers is more important than how you take care of customers. But I think opinions like that are better brought out in open discussion than hidden in a numeric rating process.

Also, the Ethical Shopping Guide price of £29.95 per year is a bit steep for me.

What about Ethical Shopping Guide itself? Based on this web page, I rate them low when it comes to ethical treatment of people who do their work:

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/about...kingforus.aspx
To the first and second bold:
Yes, we can have different perspectives, but this web site provides a point of departure in terms of information. I find it absolutely impossible, as an individual, to research issues such as tax avoidance, supplier chains, and workers' rights on all the products that I consume on a daily/ weekly/ yearly basis. So I find these kind of sites quite valuable as a basis for information, and then you can dig deeper into the information they have and make your own choices. Their ratings are explained in more details here
http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/shopp...alratings.aspx

Personally, I think the ratings provide a good point of departure, and I like the fact that they apply the same indeces to all products for consistency, even though they're not always relevant. I agree it doesn't provide the whole picture, but I find it useful for a point of departure and for general level comparisons. Then you can dig deeper as you want.

To the third bold:
What I see on that page, is not information about how they treat their employees, but how they treat people who would like to volunteer for them. Volunteering is just that - voluntary - and for voluntary work I think those conditions are decent. I've volunteered quite a few places and no one has ever paid my lunch and travel expenses on a regular basis.

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I don't see that you have any evidence to back up that claim. The data is behind a paywall so it might as well not exist.
If you email me on iexpand at gmx.com, I'll send you the report. I haven't read it yet, but downloaded it for 3 dollars.

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Originally Posted by robko View Post
What's really interesting is that if you play with the sliders to the right, it's the "ANIMALS" category that's really dropping the Amazon rating down (including the Factory Farming sub-category, which I wasn't aware that Amazon was involved in ). Playing with the sliders wouldn't give me a lot of confidence in the data backing up their rankings. Making animal the most important and all others not important Amazon gets an 8 and all the others get a 14 out of 20. I'm not really an Amazon fan, but in a quick look at the available parts of this site I question their biases.
If I put 'Animals' at least important and everything else at most important, I still get a score 0 for Kindle.

I'm not an 'Amazon fan' either, but I've purchased lots of books from them and have a Kindle Touch and a Paperwhite. Over the past year, though, I've read so much bad press about them, in a whole range of news outlets, that I'm considering diversifying my purchases a bit more. I'd rather pay a bit more for my books, and buy less of them (as I can access tons of ebooks from my local library for free), if it means supporting businesses that I'm more aligned with in terms of ethical conduct. But I haven't settled on what the best alternatives are. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.
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Old 08-12-2013, 09:35 AM   #6
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(sigh)

When I click on the Amazon link I get a message that I have to subscribe to read the report but why would I want to support a company that supports arms sales and is bad to animals (paraphrasing).

Really? Just about any major international retailer is going to sell stuff from companies that are some how connected to the arms trade. Heck, they are tied to people in the slave trade (they sell items where there is a massive amount of documentation that shows how slave labor is used to make them, such as chocolate). But then I would have to only shop at stores that sell free trade, fair practice chocolate and I don't know too many places that are that specialized...

And yes, Amazon's warehouses are hard to work in, the work is tough and people are not paid a ton. That sucks but those same people can choose to do something so that they can get better jobs. Amazon follows the law. If you don't like the law, work to get it changed. That goes for labor and tax law because last I know, Amazon has paid all of the taxes it is legally required to. Same as Apple, Sony, BN, and every other major company out there.

It is up to each individual to decide what their breaking point is and where to spend their money but I have a hard time buying the argument made on a sight that uses such inflammatory language and then tries to get me to pay money to see what it is they are complaining about.

So go ahead, buy your e-reader from a small vendor. If you can find it of course. After all, those folks are not large enough to have the ties with weapons dealers, bunny killers, and plantation owners. Nevermind the fact that the highest score was a whooping 10 out of 20 so no one is doing a particullarly ethical job of building an e-reader.

And it is flat out laughable that one of the suggestions is to download apps on your Apple tablet or Samsung Galaxy, because I am sure Apple and Samsung are really better then Amozon on enviromental, labor, and other issues.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:36 AM   #7
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(sigh)

When I click on the Amazon link I get a message that I have to subscribe to read the report but why would I want to support a company that supports arms sales and is bad to animals (paraphrasing).

Really? Just about any major international retailer is going to sell stuff from companies that are some how connected to the arms trade. Heck, they are tied to people in the slave trade (they sell items where there is a massive amount of documentation that shows how slave labor is used to make them, such as chocolate). But then I would have to only shop at stores that sell free trade, fair practice chocolate and I don't know too many places that are that specialized...

And yes, Amazon's warehouses are hard to work in, the work is tough and people are not paid a ton. That sucks but those same people can choose to do something so that they can get better jobs. Amazon follows the law. If you don't like the law, work to get it changed. That goes for labor and tax law because last I know, Amazon has paid all of the taxes it is legally required to. Same as Apple, Sony, BN, and every other major company out there.

It is up to each individual to decide what their breaking point is and where to spend their money but I have a hard time buying the argument made on a sight that uses such inflammatory language and then tries to get me to pay money to see what it is they are complaining about.
Well, I think it's all a matter of degree. I try to buy ethically when I can, when it's available, and when I can afford it. Sometimes it's not available, sometimes it's not possible, sometimes I can't afford it. But personally my 'breaking point' is that if it's possible and affordable, I want to do it.

Legality is one aspect of it. Since I'm not American or Chinese, I can't lobby those governments for better labour laws, but I can express my opinion directly to companies (Amazon and Apple) from the position of being a consumer, which I have in the case of Apple. Even if the working conditions of Foxconn were legal according to Chinese law, using my IPad and other Apple products leaves me with a pretty bad feeling every time the suicide net stories surface before the launch of a major product. At the end of the day, the corporate rhetoric used to justify that is very much one of 'customer demand', and I want to make clear that I do not demand products produced on that basis - even if that means costs rising.


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So go ahead, buy your e-reader from a small vendor. If you can find it of course. After all, those folks are not large enough to have the ties with weapons dealers, bunny killers, and plantation owners. Nevermind the fact that the highest score was a whooping 10 out of 20 so no one is doing a particullarly ethical job of building an e-reader.

And it is flat out laughable that one of the suggestions is to download apps on your Apple tablet or Samsung Galaxy, because I am sure Apple and Samsung are really better then Amozon on enviromental, labor, and other issues.
Well, I don't know if I'm going to buy my next e-reader from a small vendor, because I don't know what's out there - but I'm looking around to try to find out what's available and what those alternatives have to offer. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to have them. As you say, they all have bad scores, so there's no perfect choice here. But often we do have choices, and usually some are better than others.

Yes, I thought that suggestion was weird, too. I'm guessing it's based on the idea of less consumption - i.e. if you already have a gadget that can do the work, don't buy another. But that's just speculation on my part.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:25 PM   #8
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Seems to be like another study or survey that skews the data. The difference is this one makes you pay to read the results. As if paying would give it more credibility.
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:23 AM   #9
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Seems to be like another study or survey that skews the data. The difference is this one makes you pay to read the results. As if paying would give it more credibility.
Do you know of any other data on this topic?
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:36 AM   #10
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No, I don't. If I come across any readily available data, I will let you know.
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