Amazon is one of the best tools we have

I’m beginning to feel like Amazon is one of the best tools we have for changing the world. Hear me out.

I’ve been self-publishing for about a year and watching how the community of Amazon creators work together and function. I’ve been impressed by the way so many writers, editors and designers help each other and promote each others work. Hugh Howey and Michael Bunker and Jason Gurley and David Gatewood and all the others with whom I’ve had the pleasure to interact have given me a glimpse of what is possible when social media is combined with a marketplace that empowers you to reach customers without any intermediaries. All my life I’ve seen bad work thrive and good work go undiscovered. Now, by working together in communities of like-minded individuals, we can support and promulgate our values in a truly free-market fashion. Word-of-mouth and personal credibility are the gold standard again, and are slowly cutting through the white noise of hype, marketing, and pixie dust. I don’t give credence to any of the Amazon naysayers. This is the future not just of publishing but of capitalism itself. When we get to the point of 3D printing our own physical products on demand, eliminating warehousing etc, it will be the Amazon model that the world will adopt, if only the end of the old command-and-control models don’t take us all down in their throes.

© Carl Malamud

© Carl Malamud

How many things do you value that are sold online? Are there books you love, music you love, philosophical treatises and paintings and certain brands of spark plugs? You should broadcast your values by reviewing them and rating them. As a habit, as activism.

It’s a form of positive sanction. And yes, if you dont like things go review them negatively. That’s part of it too. If you like my work, like it. If you hate it, say so. And everything else in the marketplace. The whole point is that, we’ve always had an opportunity to vote for the world we want with our wallets. But that’s a private transaction between ourselves and the creators. The Amazon system– and the ecosystem of other review sites– allows us the opportunity to vote in ways that broadcast our values to others. How many of us love Mozart? Have you gone online to Amazon and raved about a particular recording of a Mozart symphony? Why not? There’s never been more or greater opportunity to support the things we love and admire. We’re not limited anymore to following “trend-setters” who “make opinion”. We set trends. We make careers. Just a few hundred people were able to put my colleague Michael Bunker at the top of the scifi market this weekend. He was the #1 scifi author on Kindle thanks to shout outs from generous colleagues and enthusiastic readers. No marketing budget, no sacrifices, no compromises, just teamwork and cooperation. Michael will appreciate the comparison to a barn raising, the generous cooperation of neighbors who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I’m an objectivist, and there’s always this cloud that hangs over the word because the misconception is that following your rational self-interest is somehow solitary, misanthropic, and narrow. But the opposite is true. I think people mistake cooperation and helping others for self-sacrifice. It is no sacrifice to go to the mats for those you want to see succeed, to praise the praiseworthy or condemn the worthless. That’s the living of life. That’s having skin in the game. That’s making a better world.

If anyone out there has work coming to market, I am always glad to help. Whether you help my own work or not. If you are making things with craft and dedication and if your work doesn’t attack or undercut the values and virtues I love, I am glad to lend my voice and efforts to getting your work seen. I have an app being released. It took years to develop, and contains much that I think is ingenious, noble, and good. If you check it out and want to help by reviewing, sharing, spreading the word, I will be most grateful. But don’t do it for me. Not out of friendship or tit-for-tat or any motive like that. Help my work because you think it’s good and should be seen. By your own standards and for your own happiness. That’s why I’ll help you too, and together, little by little, we can build a world we all can live in and create abundance. That’s capitalism. As it can be and ought to be.

To identify the philosophical issue involved: this speech is really about the virtue of integrity. The realization of your values in the material world. Not just thinking something, but acting on it. Not just being a good man, but doing good. Not just a spiritual or conceptual or abstract dedication to the things you love, but physical, material, and concrete action to promote and defend them. This is a much broader concern and activity than reviewing on Amazon or somesuch. That’s a specific application. More broadly, if you love people show them in action. If you believe in things, show up to the polls. Tell your children you love them, yes, but also make time to read them a book, to do crafts, to teach them skills and pass on wisdom. Help them buy their first house or overcome a setback. Do for your friends. Not as a martyr, not resenting it every step of the way and whining about duty and sacrifices. Do it out of love for life and integrity to your own deepest and most cherished vision of the possible.

Onward, everybody! Keep making things and helping each other!

 

 

Richard’s first book Rise Headless and Ride was reviewed elsewhere on this website.

 

 

  1 comment for “Amazon is one of the best tools we have

  1. Ken Ferguson
    Jul 15, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Now, by working together in communities of like-minded individuals, we can support and promulgate our values in a truly free-market fashion. Word-of-mouth and personal credibility are the gold standard again, and are slowly cutting through the white noise of hype, marketing, and pixie dust. I don’t give credence to any of the Amazon naysayers. This is the future not just of publishing but of capitalism itself.

    The internet provides many excellent examples of markets at work and of how individuals working selflessly in communities can add value to an idea or project. Unfortunately I don’t see Amazon (or Ebay or Google) as providing an attractive example.

    From the perspective of a small internet retailer (www.eriderbikes.com) we see all of the above exploiting their (hopefully temporary) monopoly or oligopoly positions to cream off excess profits from traders who have little choice but to use their services.

    In terms of their outrageous charges, Amazon are the worst taking almost as much as the government in “sales tax”. They prohibit all dialogue between trader and customer even after the sale has been processed using algorithms to search and destroy telephone numbers and email addresses. This feels more than vaguely totalitarian.

    Hopefully, in time, suppliers will raise their prices (as we do) to reflect the increased cost of selling on Amazon and customers will realise they can getter better value elsewhere and the market will correct itself. Until then, the “big three” will continue to abuse their positions of power with the same zeal as any government would do.

    So I do hope that Amazon is NOT the future of capitalism- if it is I fear for us all.

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