Why Comixology Removing In-App Purchases Is A Big Deal

It made shopping easier and helps regulars avoid comic book nnnnnerds.

Gerry Conway:

I’m going to say something that I hope you won’t misinterpret (oh, who am I kidding, this is the internet, of course it’ll be misinterpreted): comics have been struggling in a ghetto for thirty years. That ghetto is called the comic book store. Please don’t hate me, comic book store owners — I love you, I love your dedication to the form, I fully support you, and never want to see you replaced. Yet the fact remains that for someone to discover a comic book today for the first time, he or she pretty much has to be a comic book reader already, or know someone who’s a reader, and he or she has to be comfortable immersing themselves immediately in a very specific sub-cultural experience by stepping through the doors of a comic book specialty shop.

I haven’t made my mind up on this. I don’t see think it’s a huge deal to buy from a website vs. an app (sure, I prefer buying through the app*) – but I buy stuff in Comixology only occasionally and never single issues.

Although, when I do buy Kindle books I usually buy directly from the Kindle after finishing a book sample.

Amazon owns Comixology and the prices are still more expensive on Comixology than they are on Kindle. I’ve read the first two volumes of Fatale. Amazon sells volumes for $9.99 on Kindle. On Comixology the same volume is $14.99.

If I were Amazon I would allow Comixology users to sync their Comixology purchases to their Amazon accounts and allow those coming from Comixology to download the copies of their comics from the cloud to their Kindle devices and apps.

But what if they don’t have Amazon accounts? Come on – everyone writing about this tries to work in how Amazon is a big bad evil horrible company, but they still buy from them.

Is Amazon Bad For Books?

This article is so long I had to send it to my Kindle.

I read a lot more ever since I got a Kindle. Best decision I ever made for my self-education.

Articles like this put you in a tough spot. Who do you root for? Readers or publishers and authors? The company that making reading more accessible or these major publishers who are going to get gobbled up through software?

Breaking news: entry-level jobs suck

These photos of on an Amazon fulfillment center claims that it’s a soulless experience.

The main job in town used to be working in a coal mine.

Workers at Rugeley spend their days wandering the massive warehouse, either squirreling away incoming products, pulling orders down from shelves, or packing them up for shipment. In each of these activities, the workers’ motions are not driven by the engine of human judgment or expertise but rather by the massive engine of Amazon’s exquisitely complex fulfillment mechanism: a computer that both tracks and commands every worker’s movements throughout the day.

Oh my god – this sounds WONDERFUL! No tough decision-making and a robot tells you what to do? Sounds like a vacation.1

The jobs in the Rugeley fulfillment center are almost always temporary positions handed out by agencies on zero-hour contracts. Nothing is guaranteed, and a fulfillment associate’s job can completely disappear between one day and the next.

What do you expect? There’s no critical thinking required.

Read the comments. People chime in and offer a reality-check, like what it’s actually like to work in an Amazon center in Nevada and how it compares to working in other factory jobs.

I get the feeling that nobody involved in this article has ever worked an entry-level job. Washing dishes in a hot restaurant kitchen during the summer? Stuffing envelopes in an office? Two things that sound worse than what’s going on here and also offer little in upward mobility.

…Look at these photos – this place is CLEAAAAN.

  1. Or a robot apocalypse. 

Autorip For Books

Dan Frommer wonders what it would take for Autorip for books to happen.

With Autorip I was able to dip into past purchases on Amazon. It was great. Lots of Rod Stewart albums I bought for my mom on CD…

But, OOOH – Amazon Autorip for books would, gahhhhhhh. I’d like it a lot.

I wonder if Amazon is trying to get this off the ground if only to encourage sales of physical media to clear out their distribution centers, then pull the rug out when the inventory is gone and shut down the distribution centers as part of a transition to an electronic goods company.

Because $6 paperbacks aren’t as profitable as $90 shoes.

“Best Buy Can’t Match Amazon’s Prices, and Shouldn’t Try”

File under “No Shit”:

For the Minneapolis giant to survive its disruption, it needs to be a uniquely positioned solution to customer problems.

One of the suggestions is something like “maybe they could charge people a premium for buying stuff in person.” Would you shop at a place like that? Also, doesn’t Best Buy already do that?

Best Buy is already customer-hostile. Receipt checking, extended warranty pushes, $80 HDMI cables—all unique solutions to problems customers don’t even have. The only reason to go to Best Buy is when you need something RIGHT NOW.

Amazon Affiliate Use Is Scummy Because Amazon Wants It That Way

Affiliate Me Not is a Safari extension to remove affiliate codes from Amazon links.

I’ve thought about the ethics of affiliate links. I use them from time-to-time here. I try to use them in an ethical way.

There are two ways I’ve seen affiliate links used.

  1. Used to sincerely recommend a product.
  2. Used much like placing AdSense all over your pages in the hopes that a reader will CLICK SOMETHING, ANYTHING!

I don’t mind #1 so much, because I feel like if you sincerely recommend a product then you deserve a small kickback for pointing other people towards that product. But I can’t stand when sites do #2 because it feels like a money-grab.

Amazon affiliate links, and by extension nearly all affiliate links, are even worse than AdSense because they’re undercover. You often won’t know if you’ve clicked an affiliate link until after you’ve landed on the page. That’s why Affiliate Me Not exists. Amazon’s affiliate program exists to generate links to Amazon, regardless of whether a product deserves attention or not.

Links don’t generate organically when used this way. The point is to generate the affiliate payout, not to write about a product or how it’s improved one’s life. In fact I’ve seen it used the exact opposite way—to link to a product that NOBODY should buy. Boing-Boing contributors have done this and it’s obnoxious because it feels like a trick in the same way AdSense blocks disguised like navigation bars feel like a trick. In this example the writer used the huge Boing-Boing readership to generate clicks on his affiliate link for a product he was making fun of.

I think that’s unethical.

Perhaps that could be resolved if Amazon gave a commission only on the product that affiliates link to. What Amazon currently does is reward any sale after the click to the affiliate. Why does the affiliate deserve a commission on product they didn’t even link to?

I’ve gotten (small. I think I total around $5 or $6 during my affiliate history) kickbacks from product purchases I didn’t even write about. I’ve used Amazon affiliate links on music and books, but somebody bought ink cartridges and a text book after clicking an affiliate link. I’ve never written about ink cartridges. I don’t deserve a commission on them.

I think Amazon knows this, but it doesn’t matter to them because their interest is to make as many purchases as possible happen through Amazon.com, and to do that they need to have a generous affiliate program that incentivizes publishers to use it whenever they can, no matter how scummy it feels.

Amazon should donate more to non-profits, say non-profits

I have mixed feelings about corporate philanthropy. I think it’s important to support causes you believe in, but when organizations go to companies asking for support it seems there’s only one person making the decision on behalf of everybody who works there. I think that’s problematic, especially for a publicly traded company, because it results in one person making a decision for every employee and choosing which organizations are more deserving than others.

That’s why I like the idea of company match programs.1 In these programs corporations don’t donate to causes until employees do, which makes corporate donations a more accurate reflection of what its employees care about and ends up supporting a much wider range of deserving organizations. It also encourages individuals to get involved in these non-profits, not to just rely on a suit from higher up to make some decision to donate to a cause they may or may not agree with.

Confessions of a Publisher

Long-term there’s no future in printed books. They’ll be like vinyl: pricey and for collectors only. 95% of people will read digitally. Everybody in publishing knows this but most are in denial about it because moving to becoming a digital company means laying off like 40% of our staffs. And the barriers to entry fall, too. We simply don’t want to think about it.

Amazon is thinking about it, though, and they’re targeting the publishers directly.

Penguin Kindle eBooks No Longer Available From Libraries

From my local library system:

The Southern Adirondack Library System received no notification of this fact before it was implemented by Overdrive and Penguin USA. OverDrive has confirmed the details, stating on its Digital Library blog that the company was “instructed to suspend availability of new Penguin eBook titles from Library catalogs and disable Get for Kindle functionality for all Penguin eBooks.

Similar to labels pulling their music from streaming services, publishers are wondering what’s in this for them.

This isn’t Adobe ebooks, it’s just Kindle lending. I don’t think this is simply publishers trying to latch onto a dying business model. I think there may be onerous terms. On the other hand, I don’t doubt that Kindle lending is the most popular form of electronic lending for libraries. So just like how it seems that things just disappear from streaming services when they become popular, the same thing is happening now in libraries.