Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

I love Amazon, and my state is hurting: any connection?

August 6, 2011

I love Amazon.com. I buy all my books (electronic, of course) from them to read on my Amazon Kindle. I buy excellent coffee, all presents for grandchildren, electronic gadgets, and just about anything else. And thanks to Amazon Prime, after a yearly charge I get everything shipped for free.

Their customer service is amazing, too. Easy returns, and if you click on a link on their customer service page you’ll get a phone call from a person in seconds. Their prices are great. They don’t charge California sales tax, but California residents are liable anyway, so I estimate my on-line purchases and send the state a check.

But most people don’t. California estimates that it will lose $83 million this year in unpaid taxes on Amazon purchases, and $200 million from all on-line purchases. And the loss will grow as on-line sales continue their dramatic growth, crowding out traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

I also love the University of California. Three of our four kids got low-cost, top-quality educations there. But today’s California kids don’t have it as good—the university is (more…)

Is it ethical to review a friend’s book on Amazon?

September 2, 2010

If you write a review of a friend’s book on Amazon should you disclose that you’re a friend? Even though it would diminish the impact of your review?

My friend and favorite author, Leora Krygier, raised some interesting questions about the ethics of reviewing books:

“Should reviewers disclose their leanings and prejudices, and their world view? And on the other side of the coin, what about all those reviews we authors ask our friends to write on Amazon? Should ‘friend’ connections be disclosed in honest reviewing? What about blurbs that come from authors who have the same publisher? Is that a conflict of interest? And reviews for money? Do we just stack it all up to ‘it’s okay because it’s just promotion?’ or is this an ethical issue that needs addressing?”

An ethics principle that almost always works is the “clear conscience” rule: reviewers should have a clear conscience—they shouldn’t hope that their background remains hidden. If I write a review on Amazon for Leora’s book I must disclose that she’s a friend, because there’s a clear conflict here: I hope her book succeeds and I want to write an honest review. If my publisher asks me to review a colleague’s book I have a slightly different conflict: I want to stay in my publisher’s good graces ­and I want to be honest. If I’m being paid for a review I want to please my patron and I want to be honest.

I’m not saying that I can’t be honest in my reviews; in fact I did love and admire Leora’s novel (more…)


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