Friday, June 24, 2011

“Amazon is full of crap!”

The following post is likely going to piss off several people. Oh, well. I’ve pissed off people before. I don’t see any reason to stop now. It will also shock others. “Two blog posts in one day? Has Lisa gone mad?” No, but I am annoyed and confused.

The last two weeks have been saturated with news of how much PLR content, aka spam, dreck and hackneyed crap is now available for download through Amazon’s Kindle. Detractors of self-publishing LOVE this one. “See,” they say, “not only do readers have to sift through those poorly written / formatted shits masquerading as books. Now, they can’t even be sure that what they’re downloading is a book, and not some pirated novel, articles cobbled together or a phrase repeated 700 times.” This is prima facie evidence, some say, for why Amazon should charge self-publishing authors to upload their books. Cause, you know, it’s not like spammers who make millions of dollars can afford the $20 or $50 it might take to upload crap.  

Well, in what I’m sure will come as groundbreaking news, Amazon has several ways to address this issue of crap on Kindle. I’ll start with the simple, if not obvious one. It’s called a sample. That’s right, ladies and gents, Amazon will let us try, or rather read, before we buy. Say I’m not sure if that ebook on managing or selling my timeshare will really give me some good information. I could download a sample. A-MAZING! I don’t know about anyone else, but if I download a sample that purports to be one topic, but clearly is another from the first or by the tenth page, I really don’t buy the whole book just to be certain.

But, if I buy an ebook on Amazon, there is a period in which I can request – wait for it, here it comes – a refund! Isn’t that just A-MAZING? If, for some asinine reason, I read the sample of that book on timeshares, found out it was about working as a maid in a timeshare instead and bought it anyway, I can ask for my money back. But there’s another argument often trotted at this point. It sounds a little something like, “Most of these crap books are 99 cents impulse buys! No one reads this stuff within a certain period and by the time they get to it, it’s too late for a refund!” I’m not going to quibble about 99 cents or 99 dollars. Dammit, if it’s my hard-earned money spent on crap, I want a refund! Here’s where I have to ask, though, who made me buy that book? Why did I get it without checking it out via a sample? Why was this festering turd on my Kindle for a year before I got to it? Um, no one is responsible for that except me. It sure as hell wasn’t Amazon’s fault.

Dear Reader, this is the part where I’m really going to fuck with people’s heads. Ready for it? Here I go: TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY WHEN YOU SPEND YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY. Whether you’re plunking down 99 cents or dollars, don’t buy fucked up shit on Kindle and complain, when you could have avoided it by sampling. By reading reviews. By asking other readers, “Do you know if that book on timeshares is really what it says it is?” We solicit the views and read the reviews of major appliances before we buy them, right? Why does a 99 cent price point absolve us of checking something out?

Lastly, I’m sorry, but I just don’t get some of the analogies that refer to this Kindle stuff as spam. Here’s my definition of spam – it comes into my inbox, telling me how I can enlarge my penis (because I must be a freaking hermaphrodite or something) and forces me to give it some attention. Either, I have to manually delete or provide examples to my lovely (!) SpamBayes program on how to recognize junk for the junk folder. If you have a Kindle that actually shows you the crap on Amazon AND makes you delete the view from your device, can you tell me which model you have, so I don’t get that one for my nephew as a graduation present? Seriously, have they invented a Kindle that shows you crap you don’t want to buy? So loved the old method of going online and searching for what I wanted, sampling it and buying. I wish they had just stuck with that.

Here’s where the other argument comes in about wading through crap. Again, ever seen the Search and Filter by Relevance features on Amazon? STUPENDOUS! (Figured you were probably tired of A-MAZING). You can search for the type of book you want and filter the results by their relevance. Don’t know if the books you find will be any good? Re-read that paragraph above about sampling.   

They say don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Since Amazon helps me earn snack money every day, I suppose that should apply to me. But, as I’ve already pissed off some, let me just add that I don’t think everything Amazon does is right either. Great, now I’ve pissed off Amazon too. Where there is outright piracy and fraud, yes, they should move much faster to prevent it. Ever heard of software that detects plagiarism? It exists. However, in this instance, please do not try to convince me that this is Amazon’s fault for not policing their site. I refuse as a reader and book buyer to put all the responsibility on Amazon to make sure that I spend my hard-earned money wisely. I have a brain and use it to make intelligent decisions on what I buy. Amazon certainly isn't shoving crap books on to my Kindle and stealing my hard-earned money.

As for how PLR content is any reason why self-publishing needs to go away, I'm still scratching my damn head about the logic. Sorry folks, but the self-pubbers, like me, are here and we’re here to stay. Get used to us.  


Ann Simon said...

Just in defense of those of us who have used the refund option: I once clicked on "buy" when I meant to click on "sample." I'm not saying I'm a rocket scientist here, I'm just saying I made a mistake. When immediately acknowledging your buy, Amazon offers the option, "Bought this book by mistake?" I clicked there (on purpose this time), and the sale was rescinded, my money refunded, my face smiling. You're right, Lisa; it's an excellent function, obvious and easy to use.

Rory Grant said...

Wow, far from pissing me off - you just bought yourself a follower.

Good stuff.


Consuelo Saah Baehr said...

Makes so much good sense. Thank you for analyzing all the "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" hype.

tess said...

This is good stuff Lisa, I agree with you. I saw it fed to goodreads and read the blog article there, before coming over to your site to comment.
I can't see how you could have pissed anyone off.

Richard Warren Field said...

Straight talk - common sense.

Lisa Yarde said...

Some asked me if I've calmed down since I wrote this post yesterday. Yes, Mount Lisa has stopped blowing her fury.

Thanks for the comments so far. I really need to stop being so sensitive to the "self-publishing is bad" camp and just ignore it.

Each day, I talk to so many writers and listen to their struggles with publication and marketing. I hate that there are people out there who muck up the process for so many of us, but it's the nature of a capitalist society. Amazon must do more to stop it when they find out about it, but I believe ebook buyers have to alert them when there are problems.

Lisa Yarde said...

@Ann, Consuelo, Tess and Richard:

Thank you all again for stopping by. This post, though written when I was a little crazy, was meant to be a good dose of common sense. The current state of things shouldn't ward off Kindle users. We just have to be careful of what we click on, or as Ann says, click that return button fast.

@Rory, thank you so much for following, I appreciate it. I'll try to be a little more calm in future posts. I blame this on that Scorpio temper of mine.

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