I am pleased to announce the start of my Author’s Blog. Aside from sharing business updates here, I also look forward to providing readers with high-quality opinion pieces, and hopefully a new podcast in the near future. Aside from my own opinion pieces, I hope to also feature pieces by local politicians and pundits. To sum it all up, I hope to make this blog a place where you can stay informed not just about what’s going on with me, but what is going on in the wider world of politics.
In this first post though, I would like to announce a crucial update to my business/selling structure. From the start, I have had my book listed on Amazon for online sales. Unfortunately, the corporate stances of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos have made it necessary for me to commit to ending any business relationship with them. It is my plan by the end of July to find another online platform to post my listings on, at which time I will be terminating my account with Amazon.
From the start, Amazon’s business relationship with me has been confusing, arbitrary, and exploitative. When I initially signed up for an Amazon seller account they forced me to sign up for professional accounts in 3 markets (The U.S., Canada, and Mexico), instead of allowing me to directly sign up for a free account and make the choice to upgrade later. When I attempted to downgrade these accounts to avoid the 40 dollars monthly fee which I could not really afford, they only downgraded 2 of the accounts. They then attempted to charge me for the third, only refunding the money and downgrading the account after I complained. If I had not noticed this as fast as I did, I may have gone another month bleeding what little profit I was making in person-to-person sales before I was able to stop this.
From here the exploitation only continued. The title of my book notwithstanding, Amazon chose to bury my listing under numerous listings which were barely related because of my decision to opt-out of a professional account. A search for my book using the term “Big Fat Liars” and filtering to only results in their “Books” category only shows my book on the 3rd page of results. It is buried behind Movies of a similar name (that’s a little understandable), Erotica (not so much), and a $900 hardback book called “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Liar” (there is only 1 copy of this book, whereas I still have about 114 or so copies of my book listed on Amazon). In addition to their attempts to bury my listing, they also do not allow me to use even the most basic promotional tools. When I decided to hold a Coronavirus sale in May, with a special discount on my book, I was told (via their forums) that as a free user I cannot even set sales or discounts. Pretty much all a free user can do is set a listing, pray someone can find their product, and then pay most of the money they make to Amazon, giving up nearly all of their profit or sometimes even selling at a loss.
All of these experiences show that Amazon is a hostile environment to small American businesses, even if it is a paradise for the consumer. If you don’t have millions of dollars to waste cranking out a cheap product you can sell online at a loss, or if you don’t have cheap Chinese slave labor, Amazon and Jeff Bezos will exploit your business for all they can and toss you aside like a dried-out husk. Luckily in a free market, I am free to end my relationship with Amazon and give my business to one of their competitors. And my decision to do just that is an easy one for me thanks to Amazon’s exploitation.
At this point, I am considering 3 options as alternatives to Amazon. The first is the e-commerce platform Shopify. I have no experience with this platform, but I hear it is easy to integrate into websites, which would allow me to sell my products through the “Books” page of this website. The next is eBay, an e-commerce site I have plenty of experience with. The upside to eBay is that they process payments through Paypal, a service I already use to process payments in person. I am however unsure if I will go with this as I am unclear whether eBay lets you list a product once and sell by quantity, or whether I will have to list each unit individually. My final option is AliExpress, however, before I commit to using them I want to further examine their relationship with the Chinese Communist Regime to be sure I am not partnering with a company that supports a murderous dictatorship.
I will make another post to announce my final decision when the time comes. In the meanwhile, feel free to share your thoughts or tips in the comments section. And be sure to look forward to more content very soon. With this coronavirus nonsense, I will have a lot of time to work on projects like this blog.