You Can’t Rely on the Public Backlash by Dismissing the Public Backlash: Using Critical Thinking With Amazon

publishing.pngThe shrillness has returned to eBook discussions – and it’s really easy to get sucked into the new echo chambers (same as the old echo chambers).

It’s not about the strength or intensity of someone’s opinion – otherwise I should be indicting myself. It’s not about the extremity of their position either – otherwise I should be indicting myself again. It’s about people insisting you must believe their world-view.

Currently this is most present in the Amazon haters and Amazon lovers.   But this applies to all arguments about corporate motivations. Stick with me here.1

I warn about worst-case scenarios, and point out how they’re possible (or even likely). I hope both that I’m wrong, and if I’m not wrong, I hope that making that forecast changes the situation in the future. For example, take the stink made about Apple’s eBook software – do you really think they would have changed anything about the EULA without the negative press?

Publicly pointing out possible points of corruption helps prevent corruption.

Over the last week and a half I’ve heard a lot of Amazon defenders say that concerns of an Amazon monopoly/monopsony strategy are groundless because Amazon is so concerned about negative backlash2.

But here’s the things, folks: You don’t get to rely on a company’s fear of a consumer backlash without having the backlash first. Discounting and mocking those who would lead the public backlash weakens the public backlash you’re counting on to keep the company in check.

There is only one motivation that any publicly-owned company has: Make more money for the shareholders. All other motivations must serve that primary one.

Fight Club Quotes
From Fight Club

Rather than fix something, it’s often easier to pay people off – or simply use enough PR to make them think the problem is fixed, a la greenwashing.

What do I suggest? Read critically. Read multiple points of view. Actively look for people (and blogs) you disagree with. Ask hard questions. Get as much hard data as you can – and treat conclusions skeptically until you get that hard data. Remember that all corporations exist only to get money for their shareholders – and everything else is in service of that one goal.

Keep both the best – and worst – case scenario in mind when making your plans, and be ready for both.

1 As always, this is not actually about Amazon being “good” or “bad”. This is about their current economic position in the eBook market. Swap any other company in there, and they’d be trying to do essentially the same thing.
2 These are merely two prominent examples, not the sum total.

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