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Old 05-04-2009, 09:56 AM   #1
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Interesting view of Amazon through a writer/publisher's eyes

From Teleread: Steve Weber, author/publisher tells his experiences with Amazon

I become more and more disillusioned by Amazon daily.

Quote:
So I was alarmed when Amazon recently censored a book review on its site for my new title, “ePublish.” Amazon’s staff edited the reviewer’s words to obscure the fact he had obtained the book free. This reader from The Netherlands, unbeknownst to me, downloaded a complimentary copy of “ePublish” from Smashwords.com, then reviewed the work on Amazon.com. After Amazon’s censorship the review now reads, “I downloaded the e-bBook version of this book from [...] and couldn’t stop reading until I finished it.” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0977240657/
That's a MAJOR issue with me (I've ranted about it a few times here at MR). Do not edit what I've written without my permission. How dare they!

Quote:
In essence, Amazon is telling publishers, “Pay us to print your books — or else.” When Amazon announced this POD policy last year, the reaction from publishers (never folks to agree on much) was unanimous: stunned incredulity.

Perhaps mindful of the fact that this behavior might be considered anticompetitive in some quarters, Amazon has been careful not to put any of these “offers” into writing, but discussing it only via telephone. And that is why I have been careful not to answer my telephone when Amazon’s BookSurge representative has repeatedly phoned me.
Quote:
This isn’t just about software or PCs, but the freedom of information and the viability of a free press in our nation. Amazon has achieved profitability partly by clobbering local Mom & Pop brick-and-mortar bookstores. Its campaign to grow still larger by putting scores of new publishers out of business isn’t only wrong, but amazingly shortsighted.
I still have no plans or desire to get rid of my Kindles but I believe I've purchased my last one. If the new larger Kindle version comes out this week, I won't be clicking the "buy" button.

I look forward to seeing how B&N/Fictionwise operate.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:15 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
I still have no plans or desire to get rid of my Kindles but I believe I've purchased my last one. If the new larger Kindle version comes out this week, I won't be clicking the "buy" button. I look forward to seeing how B&N/Fictionwise operate.
As you know, Daffy, I am no fan of Amazon so it saddens me to learn that the New York Times may be partnering with Amazon to bring the Times to a large-format e-device. I had hoped the Times would partner with Plastic Logic or some other third-party vendor.

We consumers are much to blame for the rise of Amazon's weight. We kept feeding Amazon until it reached the point where it really had no need to care about us, only about itself. It now sits whereever it wants.

I, too, am looking forward to seeing how B&N will operate. Rumor has it that it is trying to push non-DRM products as a way to combat Amazon's dominant position. Here's hoping that rumors are true.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:30 AM   #3
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Wasn't it Amazon who deleted thousands of bad reviews of the game "Spore" written by players pissed off by the awful DRM schema on it?
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:32 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Format C: View Post
Wasn't it Amazon who deleted thousands of bad reviews of the game "Spore" written by players pissed off by the awful DRM schema on it?
It certainly was. I remember when it happened. Censoring reviews is just one more reason that I stopped giving my custom to Amazon.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:41 AM   #5
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Amazon's right; quit whining

Obviously none of you are business people.

Amazon OWNS their website. Amazon has the right to post whatever will help them sell and delete whatever won't. In fact, Amazon has a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to do exactly that type of editing.

Get over yourself with the censorship wailing. Unless Amazon serves you a Cease & Desist order for the content of a review you've posted on your own personally-owned website, then you have nothing to gripe at Amazon about. But you have no excuse for gouging Amazon for creating a marketing atmosphere that favors Amazon sales on an Amazon website.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pking36330 View Post
Obviously none of you are business people.

Amazon OWNS their website. Amazon has the right to post whatever will help them sell and delete whatever won't. In fact, Amazon has a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to do exactly that type of editing.

Get over yourself with the censorship wailing. Unless Amazon serves you a Cease & Desist order for the content of a review mentioning you've posted on your own personally-owned website, then you have nothing to gripe at Amazon about. But you have no excuse for gouging Amazon for creating a marketing atmosphere that favors Amazon sales on an Amazon website.
And as they have a right to do what they will, I also have a right to take away my business from them when I consider their tactics unfair, biased, and wrong.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pking36330 View Post
Obviously none of you are business people.

Amazon OWNS their website. Amazon has the right to post whatever will help them sell and delete whatever won't. In fact, Amazon has a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to do exactly that type of editing.

Get over yourself with the censorship wailing. Unless Amazon serves you a Cease & Desist order for the content of a review you've posted on your own personally-owned website, then you have nothing to gripe at Amazon about. But you have no excuse for gouging Amazon for creating a marketing atmosphere that favors Amazon sales on an Amazon website.
After further review, Amazon does have rules for posting reviews which cover their editing (though I did have to search for it).

Quote:

General Review Creation Guidelines

Amazon wants your opinions to be heard!

We recommend your reviews be between 75 and 300 words long, but there is a 1,000 word maximum for written reviews. For video reviews, the maximum length is 10 minutes, and we recommend that you write a brief introduction - about 75 words or so.

Who can create customer reviews?

Customers! Anyone who has purchased items from Amazon and is in good standing in the Amazon community can create reviews.

What to include:

* Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it.
* The best reviews include not only whether you liked or disliked a product, but also why. Feel free to talk about other related products and how this item rates in comparison.

What not to include:

Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to air your opinions on the products we feature. While we appreciate your time and comments, we request that you refrain from including any of the following in your review:

* Spoilers! Please don't reveal crucial plot elements.
* Other people's material. Your thoughts and opinions are what matters.
* Time-sensitive material (i.e., promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).
* Commenting on other reviews visible on the page. Other reviews and their position on the page are subject to change without notice.
* Profanity or spiteful remarks.
* Obscene or distasteful content.
* Single-word reviews. We want to know why you liked or disliked the item.
* Phone numbers, mail addresses, URLs.
* Advertisements, watermarks on videos, or promotional material.
* Availability, price, or alternative ordering/shipping information.
* Solicitations for helpful votes.

A review is not an appropriate place to tell us our catalog has typos in it. If you'd like to tell us about a specific problem, please contact-us.

Any review in violation of these guidelines will not be posted.
They posted the review minus the information about where to get the book for free, so it seems they tried to meet in the middle. That said, I would prefer they contact me or not post the review at all rather than change what I've written.

BTW, I have the right to complain (or whine as you call it) as much as I like about Amazon's practices. I'm not willing to give up my Freedom of Speech for a business practice (is that what you really want?).
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
...when I consider their tactics unfair, biased, and wrong.
Of course their tactics are 'biased', that's called marketing. Can you imagine a Chevy website saying: "Best car in class (but you really should consider the Ford too)."

I can't make the huge mental leap on how you find this even remotely 'unfair' or 'wrong'. I think you are bashing Amazon pure and simple for some percieved injustice they've inflicted on you. Of course you have the right to participate in shameless bashing, you should just be honest and admit that's what you're doing.

P.S. I had one BAD experience with Buy.com and have participated in the same type of 'I'll never buy from them again' hyperbole that you're spouting here, so I'm not innocent from having done the same. But I know and admit it was bashing based on that horrible customer experience. Dislike Amazon if you want for whatever they did wrong, but this isn't wrong...its business.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pking36330 View Post
Of course their tactics are 'biased', that's called marketing. Can you imagine a Chevy website saying: "Best car in class (but you really should consider the Ford too)."

I can't make the huge mental leap on how you find this even remotely 'unfair' or 'wrong'. I think you are bashing Amazon pure and simple for some percieved injustice they've inflicted on you. Of course you have the right to participate in shameless bashing, you should just be honest and admit that's what you're doing.

P.S. I had one BAD experience with Buy.com and have participated in the same type of 'I'll never buy from them again' hyperbole that you're spouting here, so I'm not innocent from having done the same. But I know and admit it was bashing based on that horrible customer experience. Dislike Amazon if you want for whatever they did wrong, but this isn't wrong...its business.
Maybe you haven't been following what's happened with Amazon lately, but by 'biased' I don't mean 'marketing' (a word that makes me ill on every level). I mean the 'vanishing' of gay and lesbian related books under the guise of 'adult' filtering. I mean the lock in to their device with DRM. I mean the buying of Stanza to do, who knows what, but whatever it is I don't expect it to be good.

I cancelled my Amazon account over the gay and lesbian censorship, but there's plenty of other reasons they don't get my custom. This just happens to be one more straw on a camel's back that was broken a long while ago.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
BTW, I have the right to complain (or whine as you call it) as much as I like about Amazon's practices. I'm not willing to give up my Freedom of Speech for a business practice (is that what you really want?).
I support your right to free speech. Post whatever you like on YOUR website and if Amazon tries to make you take it down, you have a valid Freedom of Speech complaint.

But you're just being silly if you think Freedom of Speech implies you have the right to post whatever you feel like on a commercial website and think they wouldn't dare edit your comments, even if it was adverse to the very business who owns the website.

If you think that Amazon editing your comments is a free speech issue then I'm certain you wouldn't delete a post on your MySpace or Facebook page advertizing a local massage parlor, because even though you own the page, the writer does not want you edit their content. You'd be violating the free speech rights of that poster just like you feel Amazon is violating your free speech rights.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:25 AM   #11
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I don't like some of Amazon's policies.

I don't own a Kindle and I buy from other sources more often than from Amazon. Amazon makes their choices - I make mine.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pking36330 View Post
I support your right to free speech. Post whatever you like on YOUR website and if Amazon tries to make you take it down, you have a valid Freedom of Speech complaint.

But you're just being silly if you think Freedom of Speech implies you have the right to post whatever you feel like on a commercial website and think they wouldn't dare edit your comments, even if it was adverse to the very business who owns the website.

If you think that Amazon editing your comments is a free speech issue then I'm certain you wouldn't delete a post on your MySpace or Facebook page advertizing a local massage parlor, because even though you own the page, the writer does not want you edit their content. You'd be violating the free speech rights of that poster just like you feel Amazon is violating your free speech rights.
No need for name calling. If I were to post a review on Amazon's website and they edited it and I felt I had not violated their policies, I would complain and delete my review, which is in line with my statement:

Quote:
That said, I would prefer they contact me or not post the review at all rather than change what I've written.
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Lemurion View Post
I don't like some of Amazon's policies.

I don't own a Kindle and I buy from other sources more often than from Amazon. Amazon makes their choices - I make mine.
Well said, and I understand your position. But you haven't claimed Amazon is 'unfair' or 'wrong' for a business decision. You are claiming, from your tagline, that you disagree with their business decision to sell DRM ebooks and you are voting with your wallet. Absolutely your choice!

But claiming a freedom of speech infringement for posting on a business website being edited is NOT the customer's choice. She too can vote with her wallet, but she has no reasonable expectation that Amazon won't take actions to protect their business on their website.

Also, I apologize for the misunderstanding, I wasn't calling daffy4u 'silly', I was saying that thinking Amazon editing her review was a valid FoS complaint was 'silly'. Replace with 'ludicrous', 'totally incorrect' or other term if you find silly offensive. Not my intent and I don't want this to devlove to name calling, we're just discussing a business's perogative to manage what it owns.

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Old 05-04-2009, 01:08 PM   #14
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On both Newegg and Amazon i Know not to Mention Other Retailers, or Price in my reviews, I take that as a given. where have you been?

If I had a site that sold stuff i would do the same thing
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:28 PM   #15
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Amazon's business practices have been ticking me off lately, but in this case I don't have much to quarrel about. As Daffy said, their own rules about what is permissable to say within a review are available on their site, and it looks like they only edited the offending passage in the review. However, I also agree with Daffy that they should still notifying the original poster that they edited his review and why.

As to the article with the author's complaint about Amazon's Print On Demand (POD)requirements, I have to agree with Amazon on that one too. Amazon wants the ability to ship books quickly, therefore they require POD books either be published by them, or through a publisher that will make a few printed books available to Amazon. This way Amazon can ship the book immediately and don't need to wait on a book from a publisher. This sounds reasonable as well.
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