Guardian goes doofus again.

Sigh. Yet another Guardian columnist, like infamous Damien Walter…has gone off the deep end of asininity. I’m going to intersperse my replies with the cut and paste of the full article. mine will be in…oh what dice shall we roll today? Italics? Why not? 

Amazon’s tantrum over books cost me $212 at a real bookstore

I paid $99 for an Amazon Prime membership, but the company’s standoff with Hachette over ebooks forced me to spend more at bookstores to get the selection I needed

Yes, it’s a called a contract renegotiation.  Happens all the time. Nobody is happy during these times. Least of all the customers. owes me at least $212.82.

Amazon’s strategy to torture Hachette into reducing prices for its books has been to make the publisher suffer by imposing delivery delays on many of its most in-demand titles.

Hmmm. Honestly? I can say I don’t read a SINGLE Hatchette author myself. What most consider popular fiction I consider dross.  Dross I’ll point out that from my point of view, is  not fit to wipe my hind end with.  Although I might condescend to use it in my bbq pit,  if I was desperate for a supply of kindling.  Well so long as I found it on the street somewhere or  in a used book store in the clearance bin.  Now I will admit to purchasing the kindle versions of a couple for my pops because he reads some hatchette stable authors. No problems at all with that end of it.

The long-running spat is starting to take a toll on customer loyalty. No one’s happy. Nine hundred-plus authors have signed an anti-Amazon petition and for customers, Amazon has reversed its promise of instant gratification.

Eh…not really. I haven’t had that experience.  The only problem I had with them recently was they were a day past the estimated delivery date of a recent order. It was 24hrs late. I only worried because the neighborhood I live in, despite the best efforts of some of the long time residents…is going to seed.  Entropy. She is a bitch.  900 authors hmmm? Did they sign it because they were actually upset? Or because their publisher “asked” them to.     What I find amusing is that when amazon turns around and does the exact same thing…they are the bad guys. ROFL. Oh the flaming hypocrisy. 

If you want to read books by Christopher Hitchens, for instance, or James Patterson’s latest thriller, or Night Heron, a debut espionage novel by Adam Brookes, be prepared to pay full price – instead of the usual 25% to 50% Amazon discount – and to wait as long as three weeks for the hardcover version to come by mail.

Which brings me back to the $212.82

I reached my breaking point last month when my book group decided to read Scoop by Evelyn Waugh.

Hardly a new release (it was first published in 1937), it’s still a Hachette book and subject to that shipping delay from Amazon.

Too long for me to wait to get the book and still have time to read it before our meeting – so off I ventured to a Barnes & Noble.

Really?  So you just HAD to go to Barnes and Noble and pay full retail for that and several others? When you could have gone to someplace like ohhhhh, half price books?  A used bookstore chain where you get the same books for half off or better?

Oh geez. Here!  Here’s a link to half price books website with… oh look!  Any number of copies of the book for anywhere from .99 cents  to 8 bucks, before shipping and handling. And that’s just page one of 10 PAGES of listing for that book

For the first time in perhaps six months, I walked out of a bookstore with a bag. A bag containing not just the Waugh novel, but four other books.

Because, as Amazon and every other retailer knows, when you walk into a store for one item, you usually walk out clutching several others you didn’t intend to buy at all. I figured that was simply an anomaly, however.

Well at least she admits her impulse control isn’t Amazon’s fault. 

Not at all, as it turned out. Our next book club selection, Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, turns out to have a similar one-to-three week delivery delay.

Again? Geez lady,  another old book that yet AGAIN you could have had for cheaper if you’d simply bothered to go to a half price? Or since HPB doesn’t have any New York locations, some place like it? You can’t tell me there aren’t used books shops in New York. Sorry…not buying that one. Here let me help you again

Of course, I can order a Kindle copy – but that’s not great for a book club discussion, when you want to flip to the right page in the middle of a debate. Some people also just like physical books. Besides, isn’t the core of Amazon’s promise about giving the customer what it wants?

Oh noes! wouldn’t want to have to work at it, would we?

As to the latter half of her statement. I sympathize a little bit because I’m still a big dead tree heathen, in an age of ebook enlightenment.  I love the feel, the look, the weight, the SMELL of a dead tree printed novel or history book in my hand. It’s just an atavistic thrill that for me you can’t beat with a stick.

So, back to Barnes & Noble I go.

I feel sorry for you. Truly, I do.   See the tears falling down my face?

This time, the financial damage totals $212.82, the bag is stuffed with books – including several I was eager to read but wasn’t even been aware had been published. I also emerged with a Barnes & Noble membership card, for which I had paid a further $25 – and that pretty much guarantees I’ll be spending more time and money there in future, in exchange for more discounts and – given the recent evidence – greater availability of the books I want and need to lay my hands on.

Ahh again…the impulse control problem where books are concerned.  Somehow I don’t think it hurts you all that bad.    Obviously you could afford it. Or you would most assuredly, have exercised some self control and bought less.  You know what? The yearly membership fees are one of the reasons I gave up on retail big box book stores.  I don’t have an Amazon Prime membership. I don’t expect to ever have one. Yep I pay for shipping on some things but,  I get what I want, when I want it, without ever having to leave the comfort of my own home.  I just let my electronic fingertips do the browsing and then go beserk.  On to that greater availability bit. Uhh…you do realize that unless the books were ALL brand new, and the one for your book club is definitively not, quite the opposite actually. Then you (and I really hate to harp on this …NOT) could have gotten the books MUCH cheaper at someplace like Half Price Books? The fact you choose to go and pay full retail for books THAT old, isn’t Amazon’s’s yours.

In about a month, because I couldn’t buy two paperback books from Amazon, I’ve ended up spending $400 with its rival. The first time I had to make a special trip to the bookstore might have been a fluke, but by the second time, I was irked.

Well, in this day and age when I could have had the ebook versions[or used copies for older stuff]  for about half the cost, or even less than half. I’d be irked too. At myself.

I’m not blaming Amazon for my own lack of self-control in a bookstore – that’s a pre-existing condition dating back to childhood.

Well again, at least the lady admits she has a problem. Isn’t that one of the twelve steps? Oh yeah, it’s Step 1. Alas…pot, kettle, black. I have summat the same problem. I have better control of it though. 

But I will be very curious to see, when Barnes & Noble releases its fiscal first quarter earnings early next week, just how many other frustrated book buyers nationwide may have ended up indulging in similar physical book-buying sprees as Amazon, the digital giant, proves uncooperative.

I suspect that it’ll probably be a small blip in the grand scheme of things.  And depending on how the negotiations go…not that long lasting.  Oh and uncooperative? For wanting to get better prices for it’s customers?  Strange definition of uncooperative you’ve got there.

Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as that. If it were, Amazon’s customer service gods would have put the money back in my account in seconds. “I can’t do that” probably doesn’t exist in Thor’s vocabulary.

Wait, I’m confused. Or you are. Let me see if I got this straight. You want Amazon to put the money you spent at B&N back in your account? Because you couldn’t be bothered, to check with a used bookstore first? Oy Vey.  The “Thor” thing was epic cool though.

But when you’re the world’s largest online retailer – the “everything store”, as Brad Stone dubbed it in his book of the same title – it’s about more than providing superlative customer service.

Really? Odd. Customer service is job one in the retail and service industries. If you don’t have that, you don’t stay open for business long.

You need to give customers the best possible array of products, available instantly.

Ahh…that driving need nowadays for INSTANT gratification.  There in lies for me, the rub. Again, separate rant.

Especially when 20 million or so Amazon Prime members are paying $99 apiece each year for guaranteed two-day delivery — that’s how much they value that instant gratification.

Well I value that gratification too, to an extent. Mea Culpa. However..I’m not gonna pay $100 a year for it in this case. Although considering what I used to pay for satellite, and what others still pay for satellite, and cable services…$100 is a drop in the bucket. A bagatelle.  It’s a slightly bigger bagatelle in relation to internet service prices but still a bagatelle. Actually I might be willing to put out that $100 if Amazon would except  Visa/MC/Amex gift cards and their OWN gift cards as payment for the memberships. Minor nit, that one but important to me. In this, they are failing in customer service but that’s my only real gripe.

Between 2010 and 2013, Amazon invested a whopping $13.9bn in building “fulfillment centers” scattered across the country, so it could meet all our needs and wishes as close to instantly as possible.

Yep, they built one in a town not too far from me, actually.

Moreover, this has made me wonder whether convenience might have its limits when it comes to online shopping – especially when the online retailer in question starts to chip away at that convenience in pursuit of some other corporate goal.

Again that goal in this case…is a better price for the product for their customer.   Ayup…they be evil alright. So evil in fact that they offered to put up part of a kitty.  Half to be put up by them, half by hatchette.  A payment account  to ensure the AUTHORS still got some money, to offset any losses incurred  during this dispute. Hatchette by the way, told Amazon to go piss up a rope. [yes I’ve got a link for that one somewhere. I’ll find it and edit it in later]

Certainly, my Barnes & Noble excursion reminded me of some of the things that online retailing can’t do.

For certain, you can’t get that “personal touch” online shopping. But by and large you don’t really get it in the big box retail world either anymore. I mourn the demise of that personal touch.

However happy I am to get hold of a book that I know I want, walking into a “real” bookstore and gazing around at all that is available made me realize the limitations of’s recommendation algorithms. My purchases included four hardcover books by authors whose other works I’d bought and that I coveted as soon as I realized they were available. But Amazon hadn’t even alerted me to their existence.

Madame. I actively keep TRACK of the authors I like. I check Amazon periodically for updates. It doesn’t take all that long, A few seconds per author.  It’s not that difficult. Which reminds me, need to check Amazon again,  because I think I’m coming up on a another new release for one of my parents favorite authors,  if memory serves. One of my publishers gives it’s readers  a calender of forth coming books by a number of their authors…. 5-6 months before they come out.  On their web page. Of course one of my publishers (same one that offers a public publishing schedule on their webpage) offers Electronic Advanced Readers Copies (unedited proofs in other words) of the novels.  Anywhere from 2-4 months before the dead tree editions; and edited and proofed ebook editions go on sale. The company has a loyal following and I buy several of that publishers authors in hardcover/paperback AND electronic editions. I even get the E-ARCs when I’m feeling a tad impatient.

And in some cases — like shopping for clothing — the online experience can never really substitute for the real thing. You don’t know what a garment looks like — its color, style, texture, fit, quality — until you’ve tried it on.

Again, kinda sympathize with that. There’s something about browsing shelves until a name or cover art image grabs you by the hair and says “look at me! You want to buy me and you know it! Put me in your basket! NOW!”

Ultimately, I don’t think either party in the Hachette-Amazon spat has “right” on their side.

Oh No…but Hachette has been spending lots of time an effort  trying to make themselves look blameless, haven’t they? Again though when Amazon does the same thing…it’s EEEEEBIL!  Yes ma’am that was, in point of fact,  a full on statement of disdain delivered with a sneer on my face and a snort of contempt.

Both are acting in their self-interest while claiming higher moral authority. While the giant publishing companies have been slow to understand the changes to their business models, Amazon, for its part, appears reluctant to understand the value that companies like Hachette bring to the publishing world.

The value that companies like Hatchette bring to the publishing world? WHAT value?  Outside of big name authors who earn mega bucks and have instant name recognition? They royally screw over and treat many of their mid list and other authors, like second class citizens.   Now if you’ll excuse me a second I’m going to catch my breathe from laughing so hard at the….
…………………(give me a minute, I’m trying to figure out a KIND way to phrase this)…………….

……………………….( still trying to phrase this delicately)

at the lunacy of that statement ( see, told you I’d come up with a way to phrase it politely)

But the battle itself has been of unexpected value to me, simply by reminding me of how foolish it is to come to view any retailer – even the customer service supremo Amazon – as my personal “everything store”.

Oh well at least it’s been useful that way I suppose. since you got some kind of personal enlightenment out of it.

Maybe that’s a lesson that’s worth the $212.82. On second thought, I’ll hang on to the receipt and stick it to my bulletin board to serve as a reminder.

Going to frame it, put a plaque with the lesson learned on the frame, and then hang the ensemble on the wall?  It’s better than tattooing it on your arm…


One thought on “Guardian goes doofus again.

  1. Pingback: Of Guardians and Dead Sharks | madgeniusclub

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