It happened again, just a few days ago. If you hate Amazon, as the New York Times wants you to, it was perfect.
The New York Times Thinks You Should
Hate Amazon, that is…
June 23rd, 2019, byline David Streitfeld: What Happens After Amazon’s Domination Is Complete? It’s Bookstore Offers Clues…
Should I be relieved? Has the Times moved on from years spent bashing another of my favorite companies, Apple?
Google has been targeted too, but they are not a favorite…
Was that enough? Well, no….
The Times suffers from greenish envy. The greater the struggle to migrate from print edition behemoth to a lighter on their feet online presence, they greater the envy.
See also: New York City Made From Water
What happens… The reporting features all the balance of a walrus taking a turn on a tightrope.
Amazon’s marketplace, the Times grieved, is ridden with counterfeiters selling poor quality fakes of books, as if it was Jeff Bezo’s responsibility to improve commercial culture, worldwide, all by himself.
Amazon’s sin: not catching them before the act. That, the Times implies, is why you should hate Amazon.
Pointing the Times Finger at Amazon
“Amazon takes a hands-off approach to what goes on in its bookstore, never checking the authenticity, much less the quality, of what it sells. It does not oversee the sellers who have flocked to its site in any organized way,” Streitfeld writes, then goes on to contradict himself, a few paragraphs later.
“This report cites a handful of complaints, but even a handful is too many and we will keep working until it’s zero,” he quotes an Amazon spokesperson.
The company told him, he continues, that “it strictly prohibited counterfeit products and last year denied accounts to more than one million suspected ‘bad actors.’”
Where is Streitfeld’s fact checker? Talk about a hands-off approach…
…as journalists, we go with someone more objective than a direct competitor…
Without offering any evidence, the Times says that “Publishers, writers and groups such as the Authors Guild said counterfeiting of books on Amazon had surged.”
Usually, as journalists, we go with someone more objective than a direct competitor, but when the Times puts on its bashing gloves, the rules get very elastic.
Amazon is “reactive rather than proactive,” competitors who hate Amazon for a variety or reasons say, “taking action only when a buyer complains.”
Say, that sounds serious.
Until you take a look at it.
How else would they know? Law enforcement everywhere is reactive.
Someone steals your car, do you wait for the cops must already know about it out or do you give them a call?
When they arrive on the scene, do you bust their chops because they failed to see it coming?
Counterfeiting is everywhere. I used to dodge tables loaded with pirated CDs and DVDs all over Manhattan. Knock off handbags still clog sidewalks, and not just in Manhattan.
But keep in mind…
- The great majority of people passing on busy Midtown sidewalks — or in Florence or Amsterdam — have nothing to do with the crooks.
- They go out of business as soon as you — yes, I mean you — stop buying from them.
- We will never see the end of people who steal and cheat. Competing for resources and material involves a wide range of values and skills, qualified as well as amateurish.
Why scapegoat Amazon? Is it because, like Apple, they’re big?
The Times has greenish envy or do they just hate Amazon?
But the newspaper hardly stopped there. While Streitfeld was working on his assignment in June, his bosses also published Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s complaint about Amazon’s not paying federal taxes.
What Biden and the Times failed to say is that 60 Fortune 500 companies also paid no federal taxes, among them IBM, Netflix, Molson Coors and General Motors, making it look like Amazon was some sort of tax dodging freak.
All were legal, and long time legislator Biden also failed to mention that he helped write the tax laws of which each of these companies take advantage. In fact, they have a responsibility to their stockholders to do exactly that.
(Amazon responded that it has in fact paid $2.6 billion in corporate taxes in the last two years.)
What Good Is Amazon?
A book lover all my life, I remember hearing about Amazon, back in the late 90s. It was the place to go to get a book, any book. You weren’t forced to accept the arbitrary choices offered by the bestseller driven, mainstream-serving brick and mortar stores.
You could get Kerouac and Ginsberg and Berryman and float around for hours online, making discoveries.
It was all there.
And you can get your books shipped fast without enduring a shopping mall to get to where you might or usually might not find what you want with no way of knowing in advance.
And on Amazon, you’re likely to get it cheaper.
More available, convenient, faster and cheaper… That’s what Jeff Bezo’s commercial baby brought to the table for all of us.
And lost money for years establishing itself.
Amazon does the same for a whole host of commercial goods. Everyone saves. Everyone has it easier.
Less obvious but significant
As a writer, I was able to stop warring with publishers because Amazon, through CreateSpace, let me self-publish for free. They don’t force me to compromise anything to fit a marketing department’s ideas of what will maximize profits.
Amazon collects a fee only when they are able to sell my books.
Same for my artist wife.
She sells her artwork on Amazon.
We both take advantage of free guides and tips on how to increase sales offered by Amazon.
So, let’s be clear. Amazon gets nothing until — and if — we make a sale. Ask Penguin Random House for the same deal.
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Many of us, registered as Amazon Sellers are welcome to sell most things directly through Amazon’s website. When I converted to streaming, I off-loaded most of my CD and DVD collections through Amazon.
No hassle. No tedious yard sale or haggling at Bleeker Bob’s.
Finally, Amazon lets me sell almost anything it has in its vast marketplace, no matter who makes it, and pays me a commission as an Amazon Associate. I use this to privilege to place ads, artfully created by Amazon, on my own content.
A last word…
Contrary to the Times article, Amazon polices all of us who sell through their web pages and keeps a strict tab on account health.
Performance goals for customer satisfaction are established, and penalties for not living up to Amazon’s customer friendly standards are unequivocal.
The New York Times either knows all this or could have found it out easily, if balanced reporting had been their goal.
But that headline sure made good clickbait, didn’t it?
Remember when the Times counted on quality reporting to draw readers? Back when…