In My Wildest Dreams: Adventures in Children's Fiction

Kick me if I don't give Amazon the boot!

I accept that there are always two or three sides to every story... at least. But last night's BBC Panorama programme (25.11.13) about Amazon: The Truth Behind the Click really shocked me, not least because I feel I have been conned. Not by the BBC, but by the company that ironically has featured like a corner shop in my life for so long. No need to nip into town, I'll just pop upstairs and sort it with a click. Never before have I come across such a gulf between the projected image - friendly & reliable - and the employment practices unveiled by BBC Panorama.

I am also miffed that I am still such an innocent in the ways of the world. I don't like to be taken in. Somewhere in my mind I have had this image that Amazon is benign. Ok it doesn't give writers the best deal on the planet, though it does offer them a path to find an audience. In my life I have been inclined to trust a bookshop, and of course Amazon is far removed from a bookshop, though it still cloaks itself as one.

And ok it doesn't pay its taxes properly (in my opinion), but hey, I pay too much tax anyway so why not share in the spoils by getting some cheap product? Then of course Amazon is a clean hi-tech operation. Slick. Shiny warehouse full of techno elves sorting everything with software and robots, wide aisles, simulated daylight, happy music. That's how I imagined it; the kind of delusion that enabled me to shop there happily, singing while they worked.

And ok it does offer employment, but I really had no idea that the warehouse might so easily be compared to a Victorian sweatshop, even worse than a call centre.: miserable, no daylight, no time to talk, relentless targets, long hours and penalties for human failure. I could not believe that in the European Union there is still major company that can discipline an employee for being ill. (I feel a class action related to stress in the workplace coming on somewhere down the line.)

Is it all true? Who do you trust? Amazon clearly didn't get a proper right to reply in the programme. Panorama was only on for thirty minutes. But it was long enough for me to take a hard look at myself. I feel extremely uncomfortable.

I have decided to give Amazon the elbow, and look elsewhere. It is not going to be easy. Amazon is like a cigarette habit. Shopping local will be a good place to start.
Comments (2)

An ebook is a lost child in a soundproof warehouse run by robots.

20 writer's neuroses in no particular order :) 
  1. Why doesn't anyone under thirty think print books have a future.
  2. Why hasn't my blog views' counter moved in the past four days?
  3. Should I really look at Google Analytics to see how my web page is doing? 
  4. If I lived in London, I would network with other writers & court agents at parties. (Doubt it!)
  5. Should  I read more books by other authors to get a feel of the market? (I am not fourteen, though I once was, so what do I know?)
  6. Should I be writing more than 1000 words a day, and an additional day a week?
  7. Do I bore my Twitter followers?
  8. Do they care enough to be bored?
  9. Should I get into Linkedin, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest, and......?
  10. Do I have time to make a splash on Goodreads?
  11. How do I stop myself looking at Amazon's Daily Deal?
  12. Why are agents always looking for new writers, not old ones?
  13. Should I give my ebooks away for free?
  14. Everyone else seems to be going to writers' conferences.
  15. How many self-help ebooks does one writer need?
  16. Should I stop buying on Amazon and support my local bookshop?
  17. How can I compete with those who turn out 5+ ebooks a year?
  18. Why am I not interested in zombies, vampires and life after the apocalypse?
  19. Publishing an ebook is like abandoning a small child in a soundproof warehouse run by robots.
  20. Why can't I take myself more seriously?


10 fantasies for Independent Booksellers Week

Wouldn’t it be nice if…

  • The EU adopted a Common Bookshop Policy & paid subsidies to independent bookshops, funded by corporation taxes collected from online booksellers.
  • Independent bookshops were eligible for lottery funding to create reading corners & put on events for children.
  • Book tokens were prescribed by the NHS to counter the over prescription of anti-biotics & tranqulisers.
  • Every secondary school adopted a bookshop.
  • There was an “e free Friday” campaign & no one bought books online the day before the weekend.
  • Supermarkets could only sell books between 12.00 & 1.00 a.m. on Tuesdays.
  • Authors who had ever sold a million copies refused to sell their books through online retailers & supermarkets.
  • There was a five year moratorium on business rates for independent bookshops,
  • Every paper book sold came with a code for the ebook download for an additional £0.99.
  • The Net Book Agreement was reinstated.