No More Lies. We Need Our Own Numbers.

An interesting item with very disturbing implications appeared today:

Amazon Is Said to Have Fewer Prime Members Than Estimated Inc. (AMZN)’s Prime service, a linchpin of its effort to keep customers loyal and fuel long-term profit, has attracted fewer than half as many members as analysts estimate, three people familiar with the matter said.

As of October, 3 million to 5 million people subscribed to Prime, a program begun in 2005 that provides two-day shipping for $79 a year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the figures are private. Amazon is working to reach 7 million to 10 million in the next 12 to 18 months, the people said. Analysts have pegged the current number at 10 million or more, with expectations for it to climb higher this year.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

The Collective Amnesia of Tech Wankery will forget that it was my blog post that led the pile-on arm-twisting of Jeff Bezos two years ago.

It was this post: Is The Amazon Kindle An Outright Fraud?

Without any attribution whatsoever, that began a chorus of other posts and articles elsewhere asking for Bezos to reveal a number.

And Bezos was finally pressured to reveal some Kindle sales numbers, which was unprecedented.

That number? “Millions.

That was anything approaching a real number that anyone had been able to squeeze out of Amazon up to that point.

In that same post, I dared the Big Six to release the numbers of their top Kindle sellers. Following their usual line of cowardice, they declined.

Now comes this disturbing article about how analysts have overshot actual Prime membership by a very wide margin. Over at Munsey’s Technosnarl, he’s been puzzling over Amazon’s numbers for quite some time.

And yesterday came the revelation of download bots being used to goose App Store rankings.

All of this smells of systematic and systemic fraud.

It seems that every month or so we’re assaulted by another Gee-Whiz article about self-publishing. The latest head-scratcher was this in the UK Guardian: Self-published ebook author becomes Amazon’s top seller.

Every time one of those articles appear, real writers start ripping out more of their hair because their own numbers do not reflect that, so they begin to wonder about their own work or what they have been doing so wrong.

Add to that the incessant braying of an egress-pusher who constantly brags about his own alleged sales — and who is a writer to actually believe?

I think the only people we can believe is each other.

David Gaughan is trying to get real data for everyone to share and see.

He’s put together a rather lengthy and near-comprehensive survey that I hope everyone who has self-published will participate in.

Real statistical talent is behind this survey, so actual data can be extracted from it that will show everyone involved just what the real picture on the ground is.

We can’t rely on Amazon to tell the truth. And the Big Six have their head in the ground (OK, I lie; their heads are up their asses, as usual).

It’s up to all of us to band together, contribute our numbers, and see what they all add up to.

Please participate in the survey.

Here’s the link again: Comprehensive Self-Publishing Survey – Please Participate!

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