On Wednesday, I posted my disgust with the kindle fanboys trashing of Michael Lewis’ new book, The Big Short.

I was surprised to hear from a number of literary agents who wrote to thank me for that. They have apparently been having all manner of issues with Amazon reviewers over the years, and the kindle kooks have ignited a small firestorm. I even heard from someone who works with Lewis who informed me that Amazon called him (Lewis) to apologize over the fanboy rage against the book.

That, however, does not address the underlying conflicts between the three distinct roles Amazon.com plays. They are:

1) Book seller;
2) Publisher of book reviews;
3) Designer/manufacturer of a new book reading technology.

It is in this last capacity that Amazon has the greatest conflict (let’s hold the debate as to whether they as a bookseller have a bias towards better, pro-book reviews for another time).

The delay in selling the kindle version is a situation of Amazon’s own making.

Why? The mandatory kindle book pricing scheme.

If you want to know why the kindle version is not available immediately, it is because the publisher wants to charge full boat for their newest hardcover books. They consider that their “theatrical release,” with the kindle being the equivalent of the HBO version and the paperback the DVD. This is their decision, and while I may not necessarily agree with it, it is the publishers’, and not my choice.

The rampant 1 star fan boy reviews are nothing more than collective bullying. Give me your lunch money (kindle version), or I will beat you up during recess (give you one star reviews).

These release dates are a function of the mandatory Amazon price point. Bezos has foisted upon the publishers a price scheme which they don’t care for. The wounded publishing industry needs to max out their revs, and they believe selling kindle versions during the first few months of the hard cover hurts sales. Again, you and I may not agree with that belief system, but it is not our place — or Amazon’s — to dictate release terms and prices to publishers.

Two other factors worth considering:

1) Amazon’s super useful crowd sourced reviews were a great innovation. From their own selfish perspective, AMZN should be more protective of that. They should carefully consider how Yahoo allowed their comment streams (for just about every property) to become polluted with touts and spam and trolls and haters to the point where it is no longer useful. Then Bezos might want to notice the long slider in YHOO’s stock price over the same period. Coincidence? I doubt it.

If Amazon is going to allow a major asset of theirs to become devalued, it could hurt the actual value of the company.

2) I have no plans for getting the Apple iPad, but Apple’s willingness to let publishers set their own price is a very interesting development. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Apple iPad version of books released BEFORE the kindle version due to this pricing scheme.  (note: this is my own wild speculation, and I haven’t heard anything from my Apple contacts).

Amazon.com, you have been warned!

Bottom line: This is a problem that is more or less of Amazon’s own making. Their allowance of this book review abuse has the appearance of impropriety. It looks especially self-serving. I have been a huge Amazon fan over the years, and I expect better from Bezos & Co. I was hoping they wouldn’t turn out to be just another collection of corporate douche bags intent on profit regardless of how they have to screw over their suppliers and consumers.

There is still time for them to avoid this fate — but its their call. Take a page from Google’s While”Don’t Be Evil” mantra and do the right thing.

>

Previously:
Hey Bezos! Fix Your eejit Pro-kindle Anti-Author Book Reviews!
http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/03/hey-bezos-fix-your-eejit-pro-kindle-anti-author-book-reviewers/

Category: Really, really bad calls, Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

31 Responses to “Amazon Apologizes to Michael Lewis Over Kindle Flap”

  1. Ted77 says:

    Serious problems with the old Word Press Pass and username so here’s a new one – anyway…

    If enough people spam one star ratings based delayed kindle releases then a few things could happen.

    1. People could stop caring about their ratings. I mean if I’m looking at a review and see “no kindle 1 star” I’d like to think I’m savy enough to not take that rating all to serious.

    2. The company that produces the kindle (AMZN) will change their policy regarding delayed release mainly because enough people/publishers/bloggers will make a fuss about it. Maybe thats the point of this post? TO draw attention to it and piss people off and try to make a case to force AMZN’s hand? I like the consumer activism btw.

    3. Another company could solve this problem. Theirs apparently a market for stragiht to ebook device, and oh wait apple has it. If not the ipad SOMEONE will solve this easy (theoretically) to fix problem. Maybe it will be apple but if not then its the next faux kindle/ipad/any generic pdf reader.

    4. The anger towards this issue is missplace but understandable. AMZN makes more money delaying kindle release until it doesn’t. Once it realizes making more money doing it this way is a liability and creating a biz opp for a competitor it will stop. Or it will shrink. Or it will die. This is a great little case study in free markets. One product/serivce taking advantage of customers/suppliers new products are introduced to address this problem – old company either adapts, shrinks or dies.

    Guessing Kindle will adapt but who knows. From knowing almost nothing about their company and soley based on their size I would say they fight this trend based on institutional momentum for longer then is good for them and they suffer because of it. Time will tell.

    Keep up the consumer/supplier activism. Very Social Justice of you.

    ~~~

    BR: My only question is how Amazon makes more money delaying the kindle version

  2. bobabouey says:

    I don’t know, Jobs held firm with fixed pricing on music for a long time, despite a lot of complaints / boyotts from the major labels and artists. And, for a long time, major labels and artists pushed their version of “theatrical releases” – ie the CD – and protested fixed price individual song releases with a very similar logic to Barry’s description above. The “baby step” itunes made of allowing some premium pricing came much later. Amazon seems to be following that model.

    In fact, Apple was disadvantaged vs. where Amazon is when it entered the digital book space, they were just a hardware provider, but are now the largest music retailer.

    I was unfortunate enough to be working for a firm that had a large investment in music distribution at the time, I lived through the above first hand, and am convinced the same general trends will apply to digital books. Amazon will be the 800lb gorilla and will eventually get the concessions they want from all the major publishers – low, relatively flat pricing and concurrent physical / digital release dates. And, as with digital music – the blockbuster artists – the stones, beatles, u2, michael lewis, etc. – will have more sway, but the average artist will simply have to cave to Amazon’s pricing pressure / technology. I also see physical book retailers facing the same death as the Virgins / Towers, and wonder at what point the “big boxes” of Walmart / Costco become the largest book retailers and further squeeze out the specialized book retailers.

    And, from a personal point of view, Barry I’d bet that within a year you will be a convert to digital books of some sort. My wife is not a techy, but is now addicted to reading almost all books and newspapers on a kindle I bought her 6 months ago – she is a 3-4 book a week reader. She thought she would always want the “experience” of a physical book, but now loves the convenience of not lugging books around, immediate purchasing, and the cost savings. She also thinks the digital ink technology is basically equal to print, and far preferred to LCDs. On my side, I’ve been less and less of an avid reader over the last couple of years – too much time spent on work and reading internet / blogs – but I’m actually finding the kindle is reigniting my interest in books. Even one day Amazon prime is delayed gratification vs. immediate purchase on the kindle. And, I haven’t even bothered to buy a kindle. I have the kindle app on all my PCs and blackberry, read the PC in bed – I actually find it easier than a physical book as it comfortably sits at the perfect height on my expanding gut – and the blackberry on the subway. My overall experience reminds me of my early experience with Napster and then legitimate digital music sources in the late 90s, which reignited my interest in more diverse music choices. So, from that perspective, there might be a long-term silver lining for authors… but not much.

    I would bet that the major publishing houses are going to experience the same secular declines as the major labels. Margins will be squeezed across the board, the large artists will start cutting deals for digital releases directly with the Amazon’s of the world and squeeze the publishers even more, publishers will have less cash flow to invest in new talent, so new talent will start going more direct to digital / their readers without major labels, and the vicious cycle will perpetuate.

    I’m not sure this is purely a positive for the reading audience. They will get some cost savings and immediate gratification, but I do think publishers and labels add some value in being able to invest in talent development. At a minimum, there will be a period of consternation about the lack of new talent, and the death of the major blockbuster book, as with music.

    One last interesting parallel. In music, the death of the CD blockbuster release and revenue pushed many artist to return to performances as a more significant revenue source. I’m not sure what the parallel is for authors – doubt its public readings, because those have never really had much traction… Maybe the parallel is actually something like blogs – although there isn’t too much money there from what I understand.

  3. Reviews are a privilege that should not be earned but can be lost. I wrote Yahoo a long time ago that if some guy gets 100+ ‘this was unhelpful’ reccos then maybe they should think about banning the guy or at least give the guy a time out. Even with an appeal process they are serving their audience while minimally curtailing free speech but it is a cheap way to crowd source policing the worst of the board trolls and keeps message/review boards on a higher level. Yahoo didn’t listen

    …….and now we have blogs

    What say Ye Amazon?

  4. marconopolo says:

    Barry, the Kindlophile distortions are not limited to books released initially without a Kindle version. They also contaminate the review streams for the larger number of books whose Kindle versions are priced initially above $9.99, the price that many Kindle users (including me) have come to expect for the electronic version. (In most cases, a Kindle price that starts higher comes down to $9.99 within a few weeks. I use Shopping Notes to alert me when the price has dropped. What I don’t do is give a book I haven’t read a one-star rating solely because I don’t like the initial price.)

    I corresponded with Amazon several months ago about this issue. I proposed that Amazon either (1) stop counting the Kindle-pricing-related one-star reviews in its star rating system or (2) offer two different review options, one limited to the book’s content and the other focused on Amazon pricing or Kindle-related issues. I received a polite response in which Amazon reiterated its commitment to a wholly laissez-faire approach to consumer reviews. It is averse to exercising any editorial role that its customers might view as censorship. I think that’s a misguided fear. This hands-off policy has already devalued, and threatens to destroy, the star-rating system that has long been one of Amazon’s most potent draws.

    Maybe Amazon will rethink its policy if it hears from a large number of customers who are offended by the Kindle-driven ratings distortions. Perhaps you could urge your readers to let Amazon know how they feel about this issue. It’s a bit of a challenge to find the Amazon web page for customer service. If you go to the “Help” page, you’ll see a “Contact us” button in the right column. Clicking on that button will bring up a log-in screen, followed by a Customer Service page with a tab for E-mail.

  5. VennData says:

    “…crowd sourced reviews…” (aka collaborative filtering.)

    Why not auction the kindle versions, real time, one at a time? …thereby capturing this profit (aka obtaining the consumer surplus.)

  6. The Window Washer says:

    “I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Apple iPad version of books released BEFORE the kindle version due to this pricing scheme.”
    Barry,
    If it’s as open as it sounds:
    I’ll one up and bet you a buck that within 1 year of release some Ipad versions will sell at the same time as the hardback release at the same price or above.

  7. Mr.E. says:

    The debate over who sets the price for e-Reader vs. print version is a business model debate – each may choose his own poison.

    Reviews are potentially very useful to potential buyers. I say potentially because the utility is highly dependent upon their quality. Allowing anyone who has signed up to post a review on anything, whether they have any real knowledge or not, ultimately degrades the quality and will eventually render them useless. Historically, Amazon had some of the best user reviews. The recent issue arising from Kindle fanatics is quickly becoming a sore spot and has the utility of this feature at Amazon now is in question.

    Amazon could go a long way to not only restoring the quality of the reviews but to further enhancing them by simply limiting a review of any item to those whom Amazon has a record of actually having purchased the item. The reviews will be fewer but should be of higher quality. Taking that step for Amazon would be relatively straightforward as whenever I make an Amazon purchase (a near weekly event) I soon thereafter receive an email from Amazon requesting that I contribute a review. They have proven they have the record and it should be a simple step to extend that to a “review permit” by item purchased.

    Full disclosure – love my Kindle, but not a “fanatic”.

  8. blueoysterjoe says:

    I largely agree with you, Barry. Amazon needs to address this cyber-bullying.

    Regarding how I personally use Amazon’s review system, I generally don’t even visit a book on Amazon unless it has been suggested by an outside source. When I then run across an Amazon review that seems to run counter to the praise I heard going in, I read the low reviews to see if I can figure out why.

    99% of the time, when there is a disparity between the message I get going in and the Amazon reviews, it’s when the reviews are a proxy for a bigger battle.

    In this case, it’s the Kindle issue, but usually it’s a political issue. It’s this larger Review as Proxy issue that requires Amazon’s attention.

  9. JasRas says:

    In a big picture sort of way, it isn’t hard to see that technology has played a large part in communication. Stories first spread the word of things, then handwritten documents that were closely controlled by protective class… Gutenberg press was the first true mass communication device. Without it, much of modern history would be vastly different. “The press” was so important, we protect the concept in our Constitution. Information is powerful, disseminating is more so. An idea not shared/spread is very limited.

    Kindle, iPad, and the sundry of tablets devices are movement to what’s next and will change the various reading industries just as iPod and the MP3 movement changed music. Sadly, if the reading industry looks to the music and movie industry as examples for how to react to the implosion, they have learned nothing. All they need to do is look to the newspaper guys.

    The CD as a “theatrical release” or a “premium product with extras/exclusives” has failed. Friday’s announcement from Universal that they are going to price their CDs at $10 acknowledges this- but too, too late, and is probably still the wrong direction… Aggressive right-sizing of the manufacturing aspects of the business are/were needed. Not fighting the flow to the internet, but embracing it would have enriched the first to slim down. A move away from the “CD/Album concept” would have behooved all–including the artist. Quality, not quantity. Single and EPs are the direction of the future. Technology was alway the limiting factor of music as art. This is no longer the case. 73minutes is no longer the limitation for classical music. 3minutes is no long the limit of a pop song. Radio is not driving that bus any longer.

    Anyhow, where is this going? It is an artist renaissance. For a moment, and perhaps only a moment, it seems like the art of music, the art of movies, and the art of writing stand a very good chance of being recognized and rewarded. Yes, there will still be schlock, but maybe people who are the Alex Chilton’s of today will be able to find their audiences, nurture them with their talents, make a living off of it, and not be pushed off to obscurity because it wasn’t “right for the times” I am optimistic.

    All of that said, the device that is the conduit of this “stuff” should not be the price setter. The price should be set by the quality of the work. New, with little rep, should be cheaper than established with high repeat readership/listeners/viewers. “Publishers/record labels/studios” retain their value by being purveyors of quality, not throwing a bunch of stuff on the wall and seeing what sticks (which is the model of today…) Shifting to quality will cause people to lean on them for the “good stuff” and pay for that service of identifying it… As a person who used to work in the industry, the waste and inefficiencies in the process of repping music would sicken you all…And it treated humans like trash and waste…

    Good things will come of all of this. The pain is in the experiments of what models will work, etc. It is crazy that people still thing “closed” models are viable…but they do. Technology is all about open. Open will win in the end, the right prices will be found for all these media, and we’ll tell the story of when is was a dark time and laugh…

  10. deepakshenoy says:

    To me the 1 starrers based on kindle seem like they’re playing the game the only way they can – a) by not buying and b) by saying why they won’t buy. That’s honest feedback – directed perhaps at the wrong person (Lewis and his publisher) but the message is out there for everyone to see; users want kindle versions early, publishers have said they won’t cut prices where they have usually made money and amazon won’t release kindle versions above a certain price point.

    This means either a) publishers decide what the heck, let me get that kindle version out before the hardcover, and while I’m doing that, let me get the paperbacks out immediately as well. (The business model of selling the hardcover expensive is worth reinventing as well) or b) Amazon relaxes it’s policy on kindle editions.

    (b) doesn’t do much for those that don’t want to pay higher- and it seems, to me at least, that most 1-starrers would have cribbed about the full price on the kindle edition ANYWAY. So I believe that you’d get a lot of these stupid 1-stars even if the kindle version was there at $15.37.

    Er – there seems to be a kindle edition right now – at $20; http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Short-ebook/dp/B003AYZBGQ/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AH9CGK6QR37LL

    Watch how many of the 1-starrers come over, say thank you and actually buy the environmentally friendly but $5 more expensive kindle version.

    Me thinks – and this is just me – that publishers need to seriously relook their strategy of doing the hardcover-sixmonths-paperback-digital waterfall, especially at Michael Lewis levels. Sure, they’re dying, but that’s the part where they reinvent the business model.

    Question: do rating numbers matter? If someone cared to look beyond quant and went into the reviews, he’d find the 1-starrers instantly irrelevant if he wanted to actually read the book and not dwell on whether he was getting carbon or silicon first.

    Amazon’s rating system is hardly useful on pure numbers anyway, gotta read the content.

  11. bored2tears says:

    Amazon reviews are as useful as the rest of the Internet. It doesn’t take long to separate the seeds and stems from quality leaf.

    How many people “browse reviews” before deciding whether or not to order a product, much less one that has yet to be released? And if they do, they must be intelligent enough to recognize the useless entries (“Arrived on time, and the UPS man was so nice! It was a birthday gift, so I don’t know anything about the book/movie/cookware. *****.)

    Would it be helpful if certain reviewers’ comments could be blocked? Sure. But that would only benefit the truly unsophisticated visitors to Amazon.com. And, really … don’t they deserve their fates?

  12. danielweberdlc says:

    I have to admit I’m really surprised that a person who blogs on the internet would be offended at this point by user feedback.

    Would you be as equally offended by a person who admitted they hadn’t read the book but loved the cute puppy on the cover and gave it 5 stars? Would you call Amazon and demand the review be removed?

    The advantage of the internet is numbers. The disadvantage is the huge amount of uninformed and off-topic feedback.

    I don’t think calling them “Kindle Kooks” is going to win any arguments, either.

    You customers want a Kindle version that is available at the same time as the regular hard cover version. This does not seem to be the type of problem that is either difficult to solve or require much effort to do so. Simply release the Kindle version at the same price as the hardcover – problem solved.

    I don’t think you should expect your readers to have any sympathy for a book publisher looking to increase profits by staggering hardcover/paperback release schedules.

    In my opinion, hard cover books are dinosaurs – just release all the versions at the same time with the same price and let the market decide which format they want.

  13. david_12321 says:

    Amazon created the kindle. Think for a second about how much money they have sunk into it. Next, consider how stupid and unnecessary the thing is. Amazon will bury you and every author in order to protect and feed their pos kindle. A $300 electronic machine that replaces books. New books only. No used books or library books. Dude, I get most my new reading from the library.

    I suffer needlessly through advertisements about the pos every time I visit the site. If it was of any value, I would not see so much crap about it.

    It is not you. It’s the kindle. All the loosers bought in to the idea that you can save money by buying this electronic pos and than buy only new books from mostly only amazon. The loosers are now only figuring out that they have been screwed and they take it out on the authors.

  14. JasRas says:

    Good point by david_12321–If you have a Kindle, you are now commited at the very least to buying over 50 books for the Kindle—just to break even on your up front investment! Otherwise, you were better off buying new release hardcovers at $15 a pop…

    I agree there should be a venue for Kindle users to air their disappointment, but using the star system against specific books that aren’t available is not fair to the Author. M Lewis probably has a multi-book contract with his publisher and can’t simply opted out because the publisher didn’t like the terms Bezos was trying to ram down their throats.

    Voice it with the publisher or Amazon, but not the book/author… Not cool, not cool at all…

  15. philipat says:

    Very well written brief Barry. A background in law can be very useful.

    Amazon clearly have a conflict of interests here and need to make some critical strategic decisions. It’s the classic “Let it roll” short term gain versus longer term credibility and revenues. Most US Corporates will go with the “Let it roll”, Wall Street being the classic example.

    I believe that Amazon has more to lose longer term than to gain short term because it is one of those few large Corporations with a new world “Feel Good” factor, which is priceless and, without which it becomes just another huge mindless Corporate entity.

  16. kaleberg says:

    I want to know where all the TARP money went, and I want to know how book sales are being affected by disagreements over Kindle release dates and pricing. I think transparency and feedback are important here. Will Kindle owners bitch, then buy, or will they actually change their buying patterns. Remember, Kindle owners are hyperlexemic. Every Kindle owner I know goes through books like a kid through candy. Giving them an excuse not to buy is bad for business. We’re might be setting the pattern for the book business for the next several hundred years.

    Amazon is about making money. In contrast, publishers are about control. Why else don’t they sell DVDs at movie theaters? The peak buying moment is in the lobby right after the film. Every street busker knows this. That’s why they sell CDs during their performance. If movie and music publishers cared about money, they wouldn’t have sued Napster or Pirate Bay, they would have pre-empted them. Amazon wants to make money. The publishers want to get price fixing back. (They lost it in the 60s.) The authors and the readers are stuck in the middle.

    I think you are worrying too much about your Amazon star rating. It’s not like the wine business where some airline or hotel chain is going to buy half your vintage based on a Parker number or the securities business where it’s all about the Moody’s rating because no one has a clue about the package. Remember, these are consumer reviews. If your publisher printed your book using that old melts-on-your-hands New York Times ink, I’d expect that to show up in the Amazon ranking. Kindle readers want to read your book, and they’re upset that it isn’t available. That’s actually good advertising right there.

  17. VennData says:

    “…Amazon is about making money. In contrast, publishers are about control…”

    Correction: publishers about about the money too.

  18. arbitrader says:

    when you purchase products from ebay they ask you to rate the seller. You don’t get to rate the seller if you didn’t purchase their product.

    It seems an easy way for Amazon to deal with this is to not let you rate a book unless you have purchased it from Amazon. Sure that will eliminate some people who purchased it elsewhere but that seems like a small price to pay.

    Or at the very least keep reviews of those who have not purchased the book via amazon separate from those who have. If I want to look at the views of those who have not purchased it on Amazon I can but I would start with the reviews of those who have.

    This would also help greatly with books on controversial topics like politics, religion, etc. Many bashers of books on these topics have not read the books but simply want to bash the general ideas of the author, or that idealogic viewpoint without actually giving any commentary on that particular book. If you haven’t purchased the book on Amazon, you don’t get to bash it.

    Seems like a pretty simple solution.

  19. hedgefundguy says:

    Wow Barry, do you give us readers so little credit as to only look at the little star thingy and buy book because of that?

    If people want to give the book 1 star because it’s not on Kindle so be it.

    The same thing happened in music when for many years, record labels shunned even legal digital downloads…the net result was that ALL musicians were hurt because of it.

    It’s called a shot across the bow and I totally support it.

    Greedy Amazon…no, greedy publishers.

  20. Mike says:

    I have to agree with some of the more recent comments. First, if all you do is look at the stars and not the content, then you aren’t utilizing the system like it’s meant to be. Plus you can specify if you found a review helpful – most of the kindle reviews will be marked not helpful while the more insightful ones will.

    While Amazon certainly does have a conflict here, they’re also helping revolutionize book sales/reading much like Apple did to music. Everyone knew the music industry was in denial and were using the pirates as a crutch to sustain their flawed business model. And now we’re seeing the gradual shift so many have longed for (towards the artists and away from the middle men taking their cut) The publishers are acting the same way the music industry did. They want the kindle to be the ‘new paperback’, but they fail to see many Kindle converts are the ones who used to buy the hard covers. I could care less about the inter business pricing (ie Amazon’s cut, the publisher’s cut, etc) Few people are going to pay $5 MORE for an electronic version that cost almost nothing to produce than for a fully bound hardcover printed book. Just like 99 cents became ‘the norm’ for a song, $9.99 is the ‘norm’ for Kindle owners. The publishers HATE that, but I think long term they’ll have little choice. Apple is playing catch up in the area, so they’re making concessions to draw publishers. But if the iPad somehow explodes like the iPod did, giving Apple immense power (I seriously doubt this will happen, but work with me here) – you can BET they’ll pushback hard on the publishers, just like they did the music industry.

    OK yes this is a bit off topic – the key is the one star reviews. I think it’s a stretch to hammer on the kindle customers. They’re using Amazon’s reviews to make their displeasure public over the Kindle versions not being available. It may not be ‘fair’ to the author, but the ‘star rating’ at Amazon is one TINY data point (sales rank, useful reviews, others who bought this and so on being much more). Upon publication, the ‘more useful’ reviews will rise to the top, and if they’re positive – will swamp any negative effect from the one star reviews that will ‘fall off the cliff’ as more people mark them irrelevant.

    In effect – the system works *exactly as intended* The forum provides a useful method for kindle owners to express their displeasure and put the publishers and Amazon on notice that they want access to the books upon publication. Then once people READ the book – the ‘real reviews’ will become the prominent ones. And right now the publishers are a little panicked over the bad press/rankings to an unpublished book – maybe they’ll pay attention.

    Maybe the only thing Amazon could do (and may already be doing since none of us know the method used to calculate the avg – is it a true avg?) is give more ‘weight’ to the star rankings of useful reviews.

    But don’t hate the Kindle owners for being upset and using a public forum to state their displeasure. I’m sure Lewis is much more concerned about your review, reviews from NYT and such, and many other sources than what a bunch of kindle owners say BEFORE they read it.

  21. torrie-amos says:

    fwiw, interesting viacom emails on utube/google stuff

    kind of sad reading the mindset of young entrepenaurs on the web…….it’s okay to be evil and steal copywrights, and that seems the dominate mindset amongst all there workers, shows how leadership can influence others, doesn’t portend well for future leaders…………..imho, the depersonalization of the internet makes something like this much easier, if you had to face the folks you were stealing from in person on a more frequent basis it would not happen, yet, the speed of the internet and virality leadings to clicks overwhelms an individuals rights so quickly as to almost be inconsequential

    hmmmm

  22. Mr.E. says:

    I have a Kindle and love it. I bought it for the convenience, not for the savings it has provided. The Kindle allows me to easily take a collection of books and periodicals where ever I go in one one small to modest footprint device vs a stack of stuff. It allows me to receive and read my favorite newspapers wherever I am, typically before I can get the printed version (in my little berg I get the Kindle version of WSJ by4:00 am local time vs having to wait into the afternoon for the print version). When I buy a book or order a periodical via my Kindle I have it in minutes, not days, and I do it from wherever I am at that moment.

    The Kindle (and other eReaders) is to print media what the iPod (and other MP3 players) is to music and video media and the mobile phone is to telecommunications. They all have their advantages but, as new technologies, they come new paradigms that typically lead to conflicts for those who have been well entrenched the “world” that preceded them. In recent years we have seen it evolve though the telecommunications and entertainment industries (music, television, movies) and journalism (print to internet, blogs, etc.). Those who fight a market-driven and market-embraced technology often get bowled over by their reluctance to evolve (I am thinking of Joe Kernen and his contempt for blogs). eReaders are here and will only grow in their shares of the print media target markets. Those who try to fight them will either evolve or will fade from prominence.

    The issues both of pricing and reviews are those of evolution. Should the growing market preference for electronic distribution vs. traditional print media products enjoy a lower cost? That’s a business model decision. Arguments can be advanced both ways. But, since electronic distribution should be cheaper those who are willing to pass on cost savings to their customers will likely benefit with increasing market share, and all that it brings. The issue of the utility of crowd sourced reviews made readily possible and available by the internet is also one of evolution that was not created by the Kindle but has been amplified by it. Amazon and their competitors now have a decision to make -evolve the reviewing practices to restore and even improve the quality or do nothing. Those who evolve will likely find benefit in doing so, those who do not will likely suffer as a result of their own stagnation.

    Wherever we go in this evolution it should be seen as a journey, not a destination. The change will continue for as long as we humans find benefit in change.

    BR – I am reminded of this ….
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/08/do-not-fear-new-technology-joe-kernen/

  23. My issue is only with

    a) The fanboys trashing a work by an author due to the publishing schedule — a decision the author has no c0ntrol over.

    b) Amazon tolerating this nonsense.

  24. ToNYC says:

    As you said in so many words in the original article: you are flying in the face of their business model which prices down the demand curve. It’s all good for them as long as the custie complies, the Mahatma would have it otherwise…but then he thought Western Civilization would be a good idea.

  25. JasRas says:

    First, I don’t think anyone is trashing or invalidating Kindle’s use or coolness. It is cool, useful, convenient, and a game changer…

    Second, while books are experiencing a similar phenomenon to music (ie being digitized), I don’t think it is imploding at the same rate that music did. And I don’t think the price set by Bezos was absolutely necessary, but Jobs pricing of music definitely was. Why? Jobs was trying to find the price that might pull people back from simply stealing the music online from a variety of sources. To my knowledge, no one (save perhaps Google) was actively scanning books into digitized form and exchanging them for free online. No one. So the economic crisis happening in books was at a much slower pace. The Amazon price is the problem. It is great for Amazon, as they probably make a lot more off selling a Kindle copy than the rock bottom Hard cover price…

    Amazon has worked very hard to get a serious lead on the competition involved with digital books. The question will soon be answered; is it enough of a lead? We will know in the next quarter or two with the iPad coming online…

  26. The Window Washer says:

    Yeah Barry we switched the topic in comments. Looks like a big problem over the next couple of years will be how to fix comments on sites and blogs.

  27. The Window Washer says:

    Just a little ironic you posted on commentors not commenting on content and your commenters did the same thing.
    Seems your site has the same problem with us.
    hehehe

  28. Simon says:

    Has anyone noticed the jacket. I’m quite happy to review the jacket. I’ll give it four stars out of five. I find it good.

  29. guice says:

    I completely agree with what Mike said ( http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/03/amazon-apologizes-to-michael-lewis-over-kindle-flap/#comment-263904 ). He’s 100% right. Don’t blame your customers – that is exactly the opposite thing you should be doing. What you should be doing is listening to why they are upset. Amazon isn’t at fault here. The problem is simply the middle man – your publishers asking too much. Now consumers have an outlet. Now they have a voice. And a REAL businessman would be listening….

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