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Morning Coffee – 29 March 2019

Here are a few stories to read this Friday morning.

  • The Guardian explores the many problems in the ebook market. 
  • James Daunt owns 3 homes, but says that he can’t afford to pay booksellers a living wage. 
  • Clare Winger Harris was an early and unheralded SF pioneer
  • Authors have started signing a petition to ask Daunt to raise booksellers' wages.

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Gordon Horne March 29, 2019 um 12:11 am

Daunt: “If you raise the bottom level really significantly, then everybody all the way up the company has to go up,[…]

Um, why? What does it matter if the top people make 9.5x as much as the bottom rather than 10x? Yes, branch managers should be paid more than the most junior employees, but raises to keep hierarchy in line with a living wage could be relatively smaller as you go up the chain. Until the guy at the tippytop doesn’t get a raise at all. He’s not having trouble putting food on the table.

Richard Hershberger March 29, 2019 um 11:11 am

The Guardian piece is a good roundup of how Kindle Unlimited can be abused. It doesn’t get into the bigger picture of how the more traditional system of selling individual books is also abused, using different techniques. This in turn is a subset of how Amazon’s third-party seller system is abused. The ultimate explanation is that this marketplace is huge. Amazon uses algorithms rather than humans to monitor the chaos because algorithms are cheaper than employees. When that fails, the next line is to have low-paid humans with very limited authority or flexibility. Amazon makes it well nigh impossible to bring a human with actual authority into the process, as those guys are expensive. So all the scammers have to do is find exploits in the algorithms and the limits to the authority the humans are given. I don’t reject the possibility that Amazon will eventually work things out, but we aren’t there yet, and I don’t expect that we will get there any time soon.

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