Zero Hour @ Amazon + Truthiness @ Randstad = Angry Workers

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For those of you that didn’t read the Daily Mail’s article on Amazon warehouse “employees,” you really missed a treat.

We won’t spoil it for you, but here’s a teaser: Employee bathroom breaks are timed. And of course Amazon knows an employee is in the bathroom because all employees are geo-tagged!

And if that’s not enough to convince you to read the story . . .

Amazon bosses tried to save money by instructing the Randstad agency (who provided the workers) to deceive their staff by not offering them holiday pay.

Andrew Kingsley, a former Randstad representative, said  “The [Randstad] agency reps were instructed not to tell them” [the Randstad people working as Amazon employees) that they were entitled to holiday pay.

And Randstad was ok with that. Really, just lovely.

America’s not only exporting  its 19th century business mentalities, it’s exporting the concept of Truthiness too.

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So, what will happen in US cities as Amazon brings “employment” to various sites — including 5000 jobs across the country in warehouses with at least 100+ of those at Amazon’s San Bernardino, California warehouse? Anyone’s guess.

But for a preview of all the possibilities, including zero hour contract workers and much, much more, read up! If you prefer your news in a more contemporary format, the BBC’s Channel 4 video report tells all — and includes interviews with some of the workers.

Enjoy!

(And yes, we do love the reporter’s mutton sleeve jacket — an homage to the 100th anniversary of the UK Sufferagette movement!)

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Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?

Use isn’t really free. And users aren’t really free.facebook-addict

In case you haven’t heard, Amazon purchased San Francisco-based Goodreads last week for  an undisclosed amount. Twitter and Facebook accounts continue to fill up with outraged comments from booklovers, who are joining best-selling writers and the Authors Guild in condemning the takeover.

But we tend to agree with Steve Almond, of Congnoscenti:

. . . .Big corporations find ways to monetize our aesthetic preferences, and our compulsive need to share these preferences on-line. If people don’t like this, they can (and should) opt out of Goodreads.

What we find a bit strange all the blame is going on Amazon. People seem clueless that Goodreads, just like Amazon, was created to make money for its owner.

Goodreads was simply Facebook for booklovers — a social media site designed with the ultimate goal of becoming so large that a huge corporation would want to buy the owner out for a huge sum.

So before people go off on Amazon, they need to at least consider the role Goodreads played in all of this. And too, they need to consider their own role in this because the users of Goodreads are really the ones to blame.

Mergers and acquisitions are all about making a company more competitive. Remember the recent launch of Bookish — the “reader recommendation site” owned by  multiple large publishing houses?  Amazon’s purchase of Goodreads was simply to compete against the major publishers’ site Bookish.

Apparently the thinking among book retailers is that the biggest company with the best social media control wins. And they’re right. If large companies can influence and control buyers through the social media they own (which users feel they must belong to), they’re in a very solid position.

But this business model only works because people are addicted to “free” social media.  Ask yourself this, “If Goodreads had asked readers to pay to use the site, would it still exist as an independent entity?” The answer is probably not, because social media users tend to believe everything should be free — to the point of violating laws.

But things aren’t free and someone has to actually foot the bill to keep servers/sites running. Most of the time this is where big corporations come in. They buy social media and then use that social media to get these users to buy their products, a part of which purchase price goes back into keeping the “free” site free.

Big corporations are happy because they make money . Social media users are happy because their social media site continues to be free. The more savvy tend to get this. They understand how it works. The less savvy tend to be outraged.

At the core of every Social Media Site – Retail Corporation merger are users. And there’s a reason they’re called “users” and not customers, patrons, clients, etc If people really wanted a site to be “free” and really wanted to stop large companies from taking over their free social media site, they need only be willing to pay their favorite site, as a subscriber.

The answer is simple.

Published in: on April 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM  Leave a Comment  
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A Self-Published Author’s Media Rise

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A big worry of authors, and one which keeps them from self-publishing, is the idea that only big publishing companies can get a book standard (non-social) media exposure. That is ridiculously untrue.

As proof, check out MJ Cope’s recent blog posts at Small Minds Enterprises. She wrote a press release, herself, for her recently self-published book Funny Australian Letterboxes. As result, she has been interviewed by newspapers (plural) and TV station GWN (see interview here).

There is nothing holding an author back today except antiquated ideas about publishing and marketing. If you are willing to take small steps, to give it a go, you can make yourself a success. Really!

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Self-Published Authors Make UK Amazon Kindle 2012 Bestseller List

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07.01.13 | Lisa Campbell  (Full article can be found on The Bookseller, copyright The Bookseller).

Amazon has revealed that 15% of its bestselling Kindle books in the UK last year were written by self-published authors, with Hodder & Stoughton’s Nick Spalding landing the bestselling self-published author gong [award].

Spalding’s books Love…From Both Sides and Love…And Sleepless Nights sales combined to make Spalding the bestselling digital book author through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform last year. The author was snapped up by Hodder & Stoughton imprint Coronet for a six-figure sum last October.

Amazon said overall 15 of the top 100 Kindle books sold in the UK were by authors using its self-publishing tool, with 75 by traditional publishers. Amazon added that since KDP launched, 61 KDP authors have sold over 50,000 copies of their books. It also revealed that 12 KDP authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies, with 50 authors earning in excess of £50,000 [$80K US], and 11 of these earning more than £100,000 [$160K US].

The best-selling KDP books of 2012 on Amazon.co.uk:

1. Love… From Both Sides by Nick Spalding

2. Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

3. Love… And Sleepless Nights by Nick Spalding

4. One Cold Night by Katia Lief

5. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

6. Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

7. Touch by Mark Sennen

8. Taunting the Dead by Mel Sherratt

9. The Tea Planter’s Daughter by Janet MacLeod Trotter

10. Here She Lies by Katia Lief

For Action and Adventure Board “The Enterprise”!

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The Australian High Commission, located in the heart of New Delhi, is anything but what it appears.

An ambitious assistant discovers his reputable place of employment is tainted with corruption. What’s more, his boss the Deputy High Commissioner could be involved. Does he pursue the truth, jeopardising his chances of promotion and risk exposing his own secrets, or does he play the game and get ahead?

In a world where appearances are deceiving and people are not who they say they are, one thing can be relied upon to ruin everything: the Truth.

Well, folks it’s happened again! Another great writer has decided to throw the proverbial hat in to the ring of self-publishing! And we say, Huzzah! to that. MJ Cope has long been a favorite around FAB.

You can preview the first 3 chapters of The Enterprise on Amazon. It is available on Kindle for $2.99. (Not yet available on Nook or in print.) And if humor is your thing, try Cope’s Funny Australian Letterboxes. Basically, you can’t get any more odd box, than OZ boxes. (Yes, that is a full-size trash bin under some corragated tin between two telephone-type posts.)

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One of the reasons we are so passionate about authors going out on their own these days is that so many great writers go unheard because the publishing “gate keepers” don’t really understand what the public wants to read.  This has long been the case and over the holidays this was brought home to us once again when we chanced upon a telling author John Kennedy Toole’s story.

Toole was the Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Confederacy of Dunces. He began writing at an early age, in his teens. But his famous book was penned in his 20s. Upon finishing his opus, he sent it off to Simon and Schuster where it reached noted editor Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb considered Toole talented but felt his comic novel was essentially pointless.

Despite several revisions, Gottlieb remained unsatisfied, and after the book was rejected by another literary figure, Hodding Carter Jr., he shelved the novel. Suffering from depression and feelings of self-persecution, Toole left home on a journey around the country. He stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi and ended his life by running a garden hose in from the exhaust of his car to the cabin.

Over a decade later, his mother brought the manuscript of Dunces to the attention of novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is what happens time and again; publishing houses don’t recognize real talent. Had Toole been able to publish his own work on Kindle, he might not have killed himself and the world might have many more great works.

Now, we’re not saying MJ Cope’s The Enterprise (or Funny Australian Letterboxes) is going to take a Pulitzer, but we’re pretty sure the public’s going to love it! Do yourself a favor and bust out that new Amazon tablet, grab that Amazon giftcard, and get reading!

MJ Cope formerly had long-running blog on WP (MJCache.wordpress.com) which we linked to, so many of you know about MJ. Sadly, it was recently deleted and for some reason there was no final post sent out to its subscribers redirecting them to her new blog. We call that “a lost marketing opportunity.” Remember, if you build a following on your blog, you want to keep that following because those folks will be your first buyers, they already like you, and they’ll likely give your book a good review. If you no long wish to use your original blog anymore, NEVER DELETE IT. Instead, make all its posts private except the most recent one. Your one public post should be redirecting your followers (and new folks who stumble onto it) to the new blog you want your readers following.

Amazon Announces Sixth Annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

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All the details are below with links. This is a golden opportunity for new authors and self-published authors! We encourage you to read all the information to first (particularly, self-published authors check out Official Rules section 3(e) to understand their definition of self-published). In a nutshell, finalists will be chosen in five categories—general fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and young adult fiction—and receive publishing contracts with Amazon Publishing, with a $15,000 advance.. One Grand Prize winner will be chosen by Amazon customers and receive a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing, with a $50,000 advance.

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 4, 2012– (NASDAQ:AMZN)—

This year’s ABNA contest is open to unpublished and self-published English-language novels, which can be submitted from January 14, 2013 through January 27, 2013. The five finalists will be announced on May 21, and the Grand Prize winner will be announced during a special ceremony at Amazon headquarters in Seattle in June.

Up to 10,000 eligible entries will be accepted for the ABNA contest this year. The top 400 entries from each category will advance to the second round. Amazon reviewers will then read excerpts of the entries and narrow the pool to 100 titles in each category. In the subsequent round, reviewers from Publishers Weekly will read, review and rate the full manuscripts to find the top five semi-finalists for each category. Amazon Publishing editors will then choose a finalist in each of the five categories. In the final stage of the contest,Amazon.com customers will vote for a Grand Prize winner.

For the complete Official Rules for the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and more information about the contest, please visit www.amazon.com/abna. Visit the Prizes page for the full list of prizes and details.

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The categories to include five popular genres: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult Fiction. And we’re accepting entries from more countries than ever before. For complete eligibility details, view the official contest rules, or read details on how to enter.

Amazon Publishing is the official publishing sponsor for 2013 — which means a faster publishing timeline, higher royalties, ability to launch the books in multiple formats (print, audio, ebook) and worldwide distribution. Visit CreateSpace to learn more.

Preparing Your Entry

1) Prepare a strong pitch. More than a summary, your pitch should highlight your concept, protagonist, setting and writing style—all the elements that make your story unique. View sample pitches from past entrants.

2) Select the Genre that best fits your book: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, or Young Adult.

3) Stay within the word-count limits — pitch, up to 300 words; excerpt, 3,000 to 5,000 words; manuscript, 50,000 to 150,000 words.

4) Remove all identifying information from your pitch, excerpt and manuscript, including: your name and/or pen name, contact information, any awards received for your book and an author bio/resume.

5) Submit all your materials in the English language.

6) For complete entry requirements, view the Official Contest Rules.

7) Create an account with CreateSpace (if you haven’t already).

US Publishers Finally Engage In Black Friday Sales, Finally.

In case you missed out, good deals can still be found on theblackfriday.com

In case you missed out, good deals can still be found on theblackfriday.com

In case you missed this news  . . . you can read the Nov 23rd article by Lisa Campbell from The Bookseller (a UK magazine for the publishing industry) below. What’s so shocking is that it’s taken this long for publishers to stake a claim on what has always been a merchandizing high holiday!

Publishers have joined retailers for the first time in offering customers up to 50% off books as part of Black Friday promotions today (23rd November).

“Black Friday” is a US promotional tradition, with retailers offering discounts on the day after Thanksgiving, marking the beginning of Christmas shopping.

Penguin is offering customers 50% off books through its website for one day, as a way of highlighting the company’s Christmas titles and to reward fans for engaging with its social media. The promotion has been running for three weeks, beginning with 40% off, then moving to 45% off last week, culminating in today¹s offer of 50% off. A spokesperson said the promotion was “proving quite successful so far”. The publisher’s website has experienced some slowness due to the increased level of traffic.

Osprey is advertising a “25% off everything” offer on its website to mark Black Friday and Bloomsbury is offering customers 25% off titles from its website until 3rd January. On its Twitter feed, Bloomsbury said: “*Christmas Shopping Klaxon* 25% off across Bloomsbury website til 3rd January. Go forth & spread the Christmassy joy.”

Amazon has the promotion displayed prominently on its homepage, leading with a £30 price cut on its Kindle Fire tablet, now offering the device for just £99. The move coincides with rival company Barnes & Noble releasing its Nook tablets in the UK yesterday (22nd November) at various retailers including Foyles and Blackwell’s, priced £129 for the 7-inch model and £229 for the 9-inch model with no adverts.

Amazon’s Black Friday book promotions include “lightning deals”, whereby offers exist on book for a certain amount of time which counts down. Customers are shown a preview of what book is going to be on offer and a time the offer will begin. At 1.15pm, Amazon will be discounting Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals (Michael Joseph), for example, but will only tell customers by how much when the deal begins.

The Book People is not running a promotion under the theme “Black Friday” but it is offering a “Weekend of Wonder” with “4 Great Deals” from 22nd-26th November. Thursday and Friday it is giving 10% off all orders; Saturday, “Reely Good Multibuys”; Sunday Polar Postage; and Monday Mammoth Sale. To encourage customers to its website, the company says: “Check back every day to see the offers revealed!”

Play.com is running a Deal of the Week offer, but as part of a more general Christmas promotion on a wide range of products, this week offering Danny Baker’s autobiography for £11.99 with free delivery instead of £18.99.

Waterstones hasn¹t been running Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotions, instead choosing to run a “longer lived and rotating promotion” by promoting four books and an item of related product each week in the run-up to Christmas. It is also offering the Kindle Fire at a discount price of £20 off, for £109.

W H Smith is also not running a specifically themed Black Friday promotion but is running a Deal of the Week and featuring the Kobo Mini e-reader heavily on its website, which it is selling for £10 off.

(article copyright 2012, The Bookseller)