The “Shit Volcano” Will End

A lot of words spilled in two posts:

Slushy Glut Slog: Why The Self-Publishing Shit Volcano Is A Problem — which the people who are the problem will never think they’re the problem.

Why the self-publishing shit volcano isn’t going to stop erupting any time soon — which the people who are the problem will never read to the end because they can’t understand it.

The glut is something I’ve raised in past posts that I am now too damn lazy to look up because fuck it.

But I do want to go on record — again, because I’ve done it before but only on Twitter — about how I see the “shit volcano” ending.

Someone at Amazon, maybe even Bezos, will some day notice the jillions of not-selling Kindle books taking up space on their servers and wonder why.

Why are we keeping these things that don’t sell?

Why are we allowing them to fuck up the ability of people to find the Kindle books that do sell?

Why are we dealing with the administrative costs of these non-selling Kindle books?

Why should we ever have to X-ray these Kindle books that aren’t selling?

And those are the two key words: “Aren’t selling.”

Amazon isn’t a damn charity. They want to make money.

And Amazon, especially, above all other companies, likes to make money efficiently. (If you don’t believe Amazon has an efficiency fetish, go look up the system they have for the shelves in their warehouses.)

Having jillions of non-selling Kindle books clogging up the arteries of Amazon search is inefficient.

So, as I’ve said on Twitter and am now repeating here, Amazon will begin to purge those non-selling Kindle books.

“Dear Author” emails will be sent out to inform all those so-called writers (the ones who are the problem and who actually aren’t writers) that their time is up. They’ve had X years to prove they could make a buck — for themselves, but most of all for Amazon — with their shit and the free ride is over. Amazon wants its server space back and its search capability back.

The way I hope Amazon goes about that is to record the IP addresses of those non-selling “writers” and ban further submissions from them.

Extreme, yes?

But getting hit with a banhammer might be the only way to go.

The people who are the problem are thick. This is why they are the problem.

And if Amazon finds that such an extreme measure isn’t enough to keep out the NaNoWriMo and assorted other never-will-bes, I can foresee — as Wendig does — a listing fee of some sort being applied. That would truly be unfortunate. Because it’d scream Vanity Publishing, a smear many fine future self-publishing writers wouldn’t deserve.

But truthfully, I think the banhammer would work.

It’d be a slap in the face to wake them up, to puncture the bubble of their self-delusion. At the very least it would get them the hell off Amazon. Let them go clog the places that specialize in being the World’s Largest Slush Pile.

Amazon should be reserved for writers who are actually writers and are there to make money — for themselves and for Amazon.


Filed under Amazon Kindle, Writers, Writing

11 responses to “The “Shit Volcano” Will End

  1. But really it doesn’t even effing matter. Everything is vanity.

    • mikecane

      Yes, but if you base your life on the Book of Ecclesiastes — possibly the most depression-inducing book in the Bible — why even bother to live?

      • Maybe it won’t stop, or not anytime soon. Nearly all self-publishers are in it to make money, and Amazon is probably making money on it too – and if their goal is to corner the market, they’d have no interest in backing out of it. It’s not like a real gold rush where the gold runs out. This racket is based on illusion and hype, fed by the occasional breakout story that makes every writer feel like a potential lottery winner. What makes the volcano “shit” is the same snobbiness about culture and taste and quality that’s always defined the publishing industry. The whining about typos and grammar and such is like complaints about how amateur porn has ruined that “industry”. Publishing has aways been more about money than artistic standards, which have always been more of a facade than substance, and self-publishing is no different in that regard. “Quality” writing has long been a loss leader, a show pony, the vanity of that game. It’s not where the money is. It’s not what most people really want.

  2. Reblogged this on pigeon weather productions and commented:
    More good rants about the self pub slushy mess. But does it even matter? There are thirty million guitar players in America but who’s complaining about that? Oh no, there are too many books, I can’t find anything to read? Suck it up, people. Everything is vanity.

  3. Suw

    Mike, I think you make some points that the very authors who need to at won’t, because they don’t think they are the problem, and are unlikely to read or comprehend anything that lays out just how they are the problem.

    And I wish you were right about Amazon, but I fear you are not, for several reasons.

    1. Amazon is not a rational actor. At least, not in any way that you or I might consider rational. It’s pretty much the only company I can think of that can consistently not make a profit and not be punished by Wall Street. In the past, we’ve seen that it only takes action when it is cornered, and then it takes the smallest action it can get away with.

    Take the bestiality/rape/incest/pseudoincest furore of last year. Amazon only acted when it felt cornered, and even then it did as little as it could get away with. There’s still plenty of dodgy porn on Amazon and will continue to be, because Amazon has no interest in really properly clearing it up.

    Same with the sockpuppet review affair. And when Amazon did take action, it was to put in place stupid and ill-considered rules about whether Kindle authors could review or not. It has done nothing substantial about improving the quality of reviews, even though that would be something that you’d think would affect their bottom line quite substantially. After all, if you can’t trust the reviews on Amazon, how do you know whether to buy or not?

    So at the moment, there is no force pushing Amazon to act, nothing making it whip out the banhammer. Yes, the shite clogs up Amazon’s arteries, but they have shown no interest in dealing with anything else that does the same in other areas of their business, because clearly having heart disease isn’t producing any painful symptoms for them. Yet.

    2. Storage is cheap and getting cheaper. Amazon has turned cloud storage into a business, and book files are small, so there’s no real reason for them to worry about how much space the long tale of self-published dross is taking up.

    If your average ebook file takes up 500kb, then you can fit 2,147,483 in a single terabyte. Amazon charges $0.010 per GB per month for its “Glacier” storage. So if you’re hiring Amazon’s cloud directly, you can store 2097 averagely-sized files for a month for a cent. You could store 5 million books for just $2384 per month, a figure certainly higher than it actually costs Amazon, because they obviously mark up their commercial cloud storage offerings.

    It is almost certainly cheaper for Amazon to just store all the ebooks uploaded than it is for them to pay someone to figure out how best to get rid of the ones that don’t sell AND are badly written, and then deal with the resultant backlash from offended authors.

    3. That offended backlash. If there’s one thing Amazon isn’t interested in, it’s alienating hundreds of thousands of self-published authors. A few hundred noisy gasbags it can, and does, ignore. But if you consider that most books don’t sell, and there is probably more than half a million self-published ebooks getting uploaded each year and growing, that’s a lot of shit and a lot of angry authors they’d have to deal with.

    Whether there would be enough angry authors to hurt Amazon’s overall sales in any meaningful manner is something I couldn’t say. But it’s certainly enough to hurt Amazon’s brand (even more than they do themselves – they don’t seem to give a crap about brand), and hurt ebook and possibly paper book sales. Not to mention the deluge of angry email that would likely cripple their customer support department.

    So whilst I would love Amazon to take a long, hard look at their self-publishing platform, I have absolutely no confidence that they will, because I cannot see any motivator big enough to push them to action.

    I’ve more to say, but this comment is already ridiculously long, so I think I’ll continue with a new blog post!!

    • mikecane

      Yes, I admit it could be my mistake in expecting Amazon to act rationally. I disagree with their warehouse shelving system, which I think is actually inefficient (But is efficient if you look at it through the lens of Amazon).

  4. Pingback: Why Amazon isn’t going to plug the shit volcano, and the one revolution that will fix the problem forever — Chocolate and Vodka

  5. How about this scenario?

    All those non-selling Kindle books probably aren’t costing Amazon much of anything, either in server or admin costs. OTOH, they are making search inefficient, but that’s easy to fix: just show those books last. Problem solved. It may actually be cheaper than trying to purge all the dross from the store and the associated hassle.

  6. Pingback: Links to Chew On: Art and Eruptions and AI Bookbots | The Undiscovered Author

  7. squiggy

    “And Amazon, especially, above all other companies, likes to make money efficiently.”

    Well, except that Amazon *doesn’t* make money. It posts a loss, a HUGE loss, year after year after year.

    Personally, I wish they’d start charging “authors” to upload their books. Not a lot, mind you, just *enough* that some people might think twice about uploading that written-in-two-days “masterpiece.” Because right now, the big problem is, there’s no downside to uploading book after book after book, hoping someone will accidentally buy a few copies before any reviews are posted. And the *better* self-pubbers will merely see it as a reasonable cost of doing business, like hiring a copy editor and purchasing cover art. The truth is, the better self-pubbers would benefit greatly from anything that might reduce the size of the shit volcano they’re all drowning in.

    In the meantime, I blame the loudmouth self-pub gurus (I think we all know who they are), who’ve realized they could make MUCH more money selling the Dream of Self-Publishing to special snowflakes than they ever used to make selling average traditionally published genre novels. Those are the people at the top of the Ponzi scheme convincing endless naive newcomers to enter the fray (and, oh yeah, buy Mr Guru’s ADP books while they’re at it, because Mr Guru really “cares” about every one of you aspiring authorpreneurs, honest!)

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