My first dabble into the world of Kind Hearts and Corona net profiteers
This bloody pandemic has a lot to answer for, not least for a massive explosion in Amazon’s profits. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in their tax contributions, or even in their staff wages.
Pandemic – Kerching!
or in the words of the song: “♫ Let’s hang on to what we’ve got…♫“
If Amazon World-wide are anything like Amazon UK, they will be cashing-in whatever happens.
They will be “suffering” from increased physical sales.
They will be “suffering” from increased virtual sales.
They will be “suffering” from seeing their Bricks and Mortar competitors go to the wall.
Sadly, I suspect that they won’t be suffering from an increase in altruism or unnecessary virtuous actions.
Amazon’s Seattle winter and the Human Condition
No, I imagine that the global pandemic will not cause a shiver of a difference to Amazon’s contribution to the human condition; let alone any full-blown Seattle winter offers to the rest of us.
No point in waiting for a downpour of increased tax contributions, a sudden shower of improved wages and conditions, or isolated outbreaks of altruism, that the company could so easily afford.
No, as the luckiest of us hunker down at home consuming all sorts of Amazonian products, who gives a Monkey’s about the poor sods who have to put themselves at risk doing the business?
Making the drops, Moving the goods, Packing the products, Making the money for the pockets of their investors?
No, Amazon needs all it can get to provide better pocket-linings for those who already have all they need.
I shall start by concentrating on the virtual things.
Fanning the flames with a Kindle FIRE
Bookshops burning! Fire! Fire!
At the start, this pandamndemic drove me through a TV-series-binge-watching phase, compliments of, you guessed it, an Amazon FIRE Stick, but that proved unsustainable. There are only so many Box sets that one can stomach. So, I had to find something else. I was beguiled by the idea of e-books. This would mean that I could read in bed without having to put a light on. A very attractive concept if you share a bed with someone else. Lots of books were free to read, many more cost less than a pound, and almost all cost less than paper copies. What was not to like?
I tried reading e-books on my phone and found that I could just about get away with it but, after half an hour or so, my eyes felt as though they were about to crawl back into my cranial cavity and give up the ghost. A small, cut-price, Kindle Fire tablet seemed to be the answer.
It worked a treat! I am now deeply entrenched in e-reading: mainly Crime Fiction and Thrillers. The whole experience has proven massively addictive and I now seem to spend far more time than I should reading, mainly pap, on it. It really has lit my Fire, so to speak.
I haven’t yet succumbed to using it for “serious books”; My twisted values demand that these deserve to be read properly; neither have I fallen into the dreaded “Audible” sleep syndrome, where some random narrator reads material to me as I drift off to sleep. I think I can see the writing on the wall although I may just be dreaming!
So, I suspect that one of the social effects of COVID-19 is binge e-Reading and, looking at our bank and credit card payments, Amazon is making hay even when the sun ain’t shining, unlike Hay-on-Wye, where book businesses are going up in smoke or down the drain as the mood takes them.
In spite of being an addict, I am still able to detach myself from the process and view it from the outside.
It is fascinating to watch Amazon acting like a corner boy:
” Go on, try a little bit of this. It can’t hurt you. We won’t even charge you for it.”
“If you don’t like it, no harm done.”
“Did you enjoy that?”
“Here, have a taste of another one”
“Go on, it’s almost free, you know you like it.”
Before you know it, you’ve graduated from popping Jack Reacher pills, through smoking Jon Resnick joints, to snorting Evan Smoak, without even noticing. Tens of books under your belt and you are hooked, looking for the next thing:
” Alexa, do you have Crash Diet by Crystal Meth?”
Now, I wasn’t going to fall into this trap, was I? After all I was only in it for the Craic.
No, I thought I could leaven the mix with some home-grown Detective fiction – it’s just that much of it could be better described as Defective fiction! Weak, stereotypical characters, sloppy, predictable plots, unbelievable names, a complete lack of wit, ending in underwhelming denouements.
One of my problems was that I had already tried so much of the stuff that I knew I liked; American and British.
There weren’t that many characters like Harry Bosch, Easy Rawlins, Bernie Gunther, John Rebus, that I could turn up, but all sorts of decent writers have paddled in these murky pools so there’s still quite a lot of pond-dipping to do.
I do tend to like stuff with a bit of an edge or with some humour, and lots of crime fiction hits these particular spots. It is also nice to stumble across an author who makes unattributed references to say Dylan or Cohen lyrics, or The Waste Land, or bits of Shakespeare. Maybe just some reference to tease you until you track it down. At least these add another dimension to whatever particular genre they appear in.
It is as though the author is slightly ashamed of writing popular fiction and wants to show that they have more to offer, and I enjoy it.
Going back to the hard stuff though, one of my all-time favourites is a sadly deceased writer named Derek Raymond. His stuff was truly hard-hitting, violent, and disturbing. Not the sort of thing to go to sleep to. Eight, or so, scary novels in and you will wonder how he ever got to sleep at night. I wonder if he died with his eyes open.
One of the best mysteries is the Kindle e-book system itself
It is fascinating how the set-up works. It is riddled with complexity, inducements, and even potholes for the unwary.
Amazon Prime customers can have some free reads. Prime membership can be shared with another family member. There is something called Goodreads – got no idea what this is about.
There are Kindle daily and monthly deals where all sorts of selected titles are offered at cut rates.
There is a whole other environment called Kindle Unlimited.
Books can have added Audible functions at a significant mark-up – I have always settled for the “Inaudible” function so far.
Some titles can be shared with others, but some cannot. To be honest, and not using this term in the way that so many seem to, as they prepare to tell a whopper, some titles should be shared but others are not worth the sharing.
Whatever you do make sure you keep quiet about Whispersync – I haven’t got a clue what this is, but it pops up when you least expect it!
Seeing some of the stuff that gets published, especially in the Amazon Prime virtual remainder bin (sorry Free Reads), gives me hope for getting something done myself! One day perhaps.
Sometimes books that you have paid for get stuck in limbo – half in and half out of your library. You can see them, but they “Won’t download at the moment – please try later”. With odd titles this has gone on for weeks. Then suddenly the system or you fiddling with it , causes a hiccup . Et voilà! the book downloads, leaving you absolutely no idea how or why.
I have developed some rules for myself and I generally stick to them now. I decided to use this as a lightweight medium and to act accordingly. If I can’t get into a book within three chapters, I dump it. I’m getting on in years and even with various flavours of lockdown, why waste time? I don’t have that much to spare after all.
I only spend over £2.00 for something I believe I am going to like: either because I have read something by the author before; or because I have read the, sometimes quite generous, sample.
Interestingly, I wouldn’t treat a real book in this way.
I know it’s wrong, but I’m hooked!
You’ve got to give it to Amazon, they know how to make money and they sure as hell know how to hang onto it!
Message from Your Government
Don’t Ask Questions We don’t know We wouldn’t tell you anyway