amazonIt’s been an interesting week watching what’s happening with Amazon. First there was the curious incident of the removed movie. Then Amazon turned around and eliminated the minimums for Kindle Direct Publishing electronic payments (mentioned in today’s Morning Links).

The “always wants to see the good in people” part of me wants to believe that the pulling of Disney content was a mistake. Trust me, I’ve goofed enough times with clicking the wrong button on the screen or accidentally hitting the Ctrl Key instead of Shift to know that mistakes like that can happen. But as Nate Hoffelder pointed out in a comment to our article, “The fact of the matter is their system is set up to yank the previously purchased content. It wasn’t an accident; this is how their system was set up.” I have to agree with him on that point. And because I do buy some Amazon Instant Video content, the incident sent a chill through me. What? Lose my Supernatural or Elementary episodes! (Only semi-joking there, unfortunately.)

And then they turn around and give me, as a writer, a Christmas present with eliminating the minimums on electronic payments from Kindle Direct Publishing. Which is a really good thing.

Oh, I make enough from Amazon US to get a payment every month. However, I don’t make enough from each of the other countries. It took almost two years to accumulate enough from Amazon UK to get a payment. (Curiously, it took far less time for Amazon DE.) Last week I made my first sales in Amazon India, and without the new policy, it might be another two years before I’d ever see a payment from them.

By the way, curiously, the rules haven’t changed for Brazil. Non-Brazilian publishers need to accumulate $100 to get a payment. Mind telling your Brazilian friends to get buying?

So I guess the message is no big company is all good or all bad. I like black and white as much as the next person, but there are just too darned many shades of gray out there.


  1. Oh, I’m almost sure the yanked movie was a mistake. Amazon got bad enough publicity for the 1984 incident to not want to repeat that. Some Amazon employee got a bit too clumsy or zealous. I just hope he’s not now an ex-Amazon employee.

    What is worrisome is that the capability is there. If we’ve really bought that movie or ebook, what need is there for Amazon to have an option to remove it from devices in our homes? If someone sold me a new refrigerator and I had paid in full, I’d quite upset to discover that the guys who installed it had also swiped a key to my home so they could take it back without my permission. “Hey, it’s mine,” I would say.

    I feel much the same about all that NSA snooping and taking of meta-data on virtually everyone. Relative to the scale of their project, it’d have been trivial to add a front end that’d filter out anyone not on a terrorist watch list. The only reason to collect all that data is because they have or think they might have in the future a use for some of it

    And incidentally, I wasn’t surprised about the revelation of NSA snooping on email. I’ve long reason that adding standard public key encryption to the common email programs made sense. That it wasn’t there meant that some shadowy group with a three-letter name didn’t want it there. That’s why I don’t take seriously Obama’s meeting with tech-industry executives. They’re not fretting about government spying. They’ve known about that for years. They’re upset about lost business, especially overseas.

  2. How do you feel about the ability to return an ebook? Even if rarely used, it’s a nice to have feature. But implicit with the ability to return is the ability to remove. I think if you want the flexibility of one you have to accept the possibility of the other. Or have a very ridged system where changes aren’t allowed. Which would you rather have?

    As I programmer and a DBA I know fat finger mistakes can happen to data. For years my purchase of On the Road had been replaced with Scroll Edition then it suddenly reverted. Strange, but crap happens.

    • @Greg M. I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other on returning ebooks. I hear you on the coding issue (married to a programmer), but it’s as much policy as ability. There’s a big difference between me deciding to return a book and Amazon having a policy in place that allows content I’ve purchased to be deleted without warning or asking my permission.

      And I do understand the ephemeral nature of digital content. I know it’s a risk when I buy something cloud-based. Maybe I just want both convenience and security? Silly, eh? Hence, mixed emotions.

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