Amazon Unlimited: Good for Now, No Promises Later

So I self published a book on Amazon. Nothing special, just a short history of the Cimbrian War. More to the point, I was interested in Amazon’s book lending and Amazon Unlimited. With those, people who have various level of Amazon subscriptions can get books without having to pay. Amazon, in turn, fills up the KDP Select Global Fund (by the way, KDP Select means you only publish on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing). The Fund is then split up at the end of the month, divided among the authors according to how much the author charges per book.  So get this, Amazon actually pays slightly more than the list price.

To break it down: my short history book costs $2.99 and I get 70% of that on a normal sale.  Last month, with Amazon Unlimited, they paid me MORE THAN $3 for each copy. Instead of making the normal $2.04 (with a .07 delivery fee, of course, because that Whispernet doesn’t come free), I made $3.08.

But here the thing. Amazon makes NO PROMISE to continue to fill up the KDP Select Fund. None. Here’s what Amazon has to say about that in their FAQ:

“The size of the global fund is calculated to make participation in KDP Select a compelling option for authors and publishers. We will review the size of the fund each month to consider adjustments.”

They’re trying to lure people into using this. Say it works. Say everybody signs on. We will be beholden to whatever amount Amazon decides to put into the fund. Sure, they’re giving me a good deal now, but looking to the future, this is will probably screw over writers. The day they have to be accountable for how much they’re spending is the day they’ll short the fund. Right now is everything is peachy, plenty of cash, but what happens when money is tight?

Amazon’s business strategy so far is, make TONS of cash and then blow it trying to lure more customers in. That’s why they took the loss on Kindles when it first came out. And it worked! But come on, we know how this works. A business conquers with cheap prices and good deals until they have a relative monopoly, then they can change prices on a whim.

There’s no reason for Amazon to continue paying me $3.08 for every copy they give away. Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but this seems pretty underhanded to me. Good for now, but later?


Wife beating education for sports fan and everyone else

I was going to add a normal comment, but of course some asshole showed up and ruined it for everyone. Anyway, my basic analysis is this: Some sports fans (one would expect there to always be a few terrible people, but it’s shockingly common) seem to love the game and everyone who plays it. Anything that gets in the way is treated as an affront to EVERYTHING, so if a player can’t play, they instinctively blame the person who got in the way. Up to and including saying it was all her fault, that essentially because he’s a big dumb football dude he has no liability, she knew the risks. Which is dumb, of course. As for the police part of it, well, I think the history of the police speaks for itself. They’ll fuck up everything in favor of the status quo and/or ruin the lives of innocent people so they can blame somebody other than the VIP culprit.


Do you know what I am doing this morning? I’m glued to ESPN talk radio, which is 98.7FM in the NYC area, although it is a national station and can be streamed online as well.

Here’s a statement you might be surprised to hear from me. In the past decade, sports talk radio has become the best, rawest, and most honest source of information about how our culture condones and ignores violence against women, not to mention issues of race and homophobia. True fact. You are not going to hear this stuff from politicians or academics.

Right now I’m listening to the Mike & Mike program, which has guest Jemele Hill, who is killing it. I’m a huge fan of hers.

The specific trigger for the conversation today is the fact that NFL football player Ray Rice has been indefinitely suspended from playing now that a video…

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The concrete roots of capitalism’s magical thinking

My initial reaction to anti-capitalist screeds is to roll my eyes. But, uh, wow this is pretty right on. I do have a few issues. For one, it starts out by putting this in quotes: “there is no alternative.” Yet…this is no way convinces me that there IS an alternatives. I come across this a lot in anti-capitalist stuff and it’s always the same. Put force the vague idea of a cooperative and just suppose that it’ll be any better. The problem is the assumption that humanity can live in a harmonious cooperative or anything like that. There will always be people in control and they won’t relinquish true power. Even if it was a perfect system, they’d still have to maintain control of it to keep it that way. That’s my biggest beef with this sort of ideology. Yes, fuck capitalism, it’s terrible. But tell me about a mechanism to remove the Controllers from society. Please, enlighten me as to how to change human nature with a clever political/economic system.

Systemic Disorder

Most people don’t actually like capitalism. Dislike of the jobs we head to each day is quite the norm. Resentment of the power of the corporations we deal with in our daily lives crosses all social lines. Loathing of banks is nearly universal, across the political spectrum.

A sullen resignation to the continual unfairness of the world is pervasive. And yet, “there is no alternative.” Mercenary scribblers furiously tell us so. That this barrage of propaganda ceaselessly flows from the corporate media and other institutions speaks for itself as to the necessity of reinforcing this message; but it doesn’t in itself account for the widespread acceptance of “there is no alternative.”

There is the argument that if we simply ceased to cooperate, it would grind to a halt. Tempting though that argument is — and, in theory, it holds much truth — the puzzle of capitalism’s continued acceptance is a good…

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The bad teacher conspiracy

The problem with blaming tenure…


Any time I see an article about the evaluation system for teachers in New York State, I wince. People get it wrong so very often. Yesterday’s New York Times article written by Elizabeth Harris was even worse than usual.

First, her wording. She mentioned a severe drop in student reading and math proficiency rates statewide and attributed it to a change in the test to the Common Core, which she described as “more rigorous.”

The truth is closer to “students were tested on stuff that wasn’t in their curriculum.” And as you can imagine, if you are tested on stuff you didn’t learn, your score will go down (the Common Core has been plagued by a terrible roll-out, and the timing of this test is Exhibit A). Wording like this matters, because Harris is setting up her reader to attribute the falling scores to bad teachers.

Harris ends her piece with a reference…

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