Hi, Gang! We interrupt this incredibly insightful blog on Amazon's Persnickety Punctiliousness, Part II, to talk about Being Scroogled.
Are You Getting Scroogled?
For anyone that hasn't seen the ads, or the kerfuffle on the Net, Microsoft has made a point of letting GMail or Googlemail users know that they are being "Scroogled" by Google. What's Scroogling, besides something that sounds like Big Booty Sex? Being Scroogled is what happens when you use your GMail account and email someone--anyone. If you email someone, say, Auntie Flo, telling her that you're shopping for a car, you might find it a bit startling that suddenly, everywhere you go, you see GoogleAds for cars and car websites. Is Google prescient? No, they're not: they're reading your email.
"We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are, with your permission; we know where you’ve been, with your permission; we can more or less know what you’re thinking about."
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at the The Atlantic Washington Ideas Forum in 2010
"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on Consumer Privacy
What did he say? Seriously?
Yup: Google is reading your email. You can see Microsoft's discussion about it, here: CLICK HERE. Oddly enough, and maybe it's because it's Google, I haven't seen the big outcry that was heard 'round the Net when people had their knickers in a twist about Facebook invading their privacy. Frankly, to me, what you say on Facebook is public, and if that "privacy" gets invaded, it's the same thing as the goodies from a criminal endeavor lying about in plain sight. But reading my email? I don't care if it's bots or a program--I don't want Google or anyone else reading my damn email. I wondered why, recently, I was seeing Google ads for the very same project management system I am already using at Booknook.biz; now I know. I'd answered a GoogleMail question I'd received, asking about project management systems, and I'd said that I use TeamworksPM. Now, everywhere I go--everywhere--I see ads for this self-same system. To say it's annoying doesn't do it justice.
What Happened to My Privacy?
But the bigger issue is: Google, get out of my damn email. In a day and age in which privacy is ever-dearer and harder to find, I don't want someone, mechanical or otherwise, poking around in my email skivvies. I mean, seriously: if I became angry and referred to someone as a "dildo" in an email (not saying it's happened, but, hey, I'm human), I shudder to think at what ads I might be seeing afterwards.
Amazon Strikes Again!
Meanwhile, back at Booknook.biz: you may recall, faithful readers (ha!), that sometime ago, I blogged about "Amazon's Punctuation Punctiliousness," referring to it as "persnickety." Well, we've had another event at Booknook.biz that has simply reinforced my irritation at what seems to be the unequal treatment of better-selling authors with regard to mere typos. Now, I'm as keen for clean books as the next guy (maybe not as much as Jodie, but, hey, I'm a bookmaker, not an Editor), but anyone who believes that any book out there is "perfect" is deluding themselves. So, what happened?
Believe it or not, today we received a "Kindle Quality Notice" ("KQN") for one of our top author clients, a bestseller on several continents with a large list of books. What for, you may ask? The book in question is a backlist title, and was scanned, OCR'ed, etc., so as scanning causes errors it's not that surprising. The KQN was for TWO--count 'em, TWO--"typos." Both were mere spacing errors, where the scan created a slight amount of space between the first letter of a word and the rest. Not quite a full space--but a small gap. TWO errors. Now, mind you, this is out of a book that has 220,015 words. Yes, Two Hundred Twenty-Two Thousand and Fifteen words. In print, 800 lovely lusty pages.
I'm not a math whiz, but I make that an error rate of 0.00001. Yes--one one-millionth. That's the error rate; one one-millionth of 1 percent. I wrote to Amazon again, as I do on almost every KQN that comes in (invariably for the best-selling authors, as I noted back in July of last year), and asked them once more to establish a clearer and better threshold--something like, 1 word out of every 10,000 can have an error, or whatever they think is a reasonable threshold--and to apply it evenly across the board, to all authors and publishers--not just the best ones. It's grossly unfair for people who have already paid good money for scanning, OCR, proofreading, cover design, book creation, etc., to get the short end of the stick, simply because they are the ones that get read, and whose readers report errata.
So: Why Not Fix Print, Then, Too?
I noted that they wouldn't dream of asking someone in print to "fix" their book--why ask those who've submitted professionally-created ebooks? I understand their mindset; the bulk of their self-published authors type up a Word file and submit that, so fixing it isn't that big of a deal. But what about the other thousands of authors who paid someone, just as they would have paid for a print book? What about authors who have both up? Why is it always the ebook that gets the Quality Notice? Why the double-standard, both about curation and ebooks versus print? In this day and age, much of what's sold in "print" on Amazon is made at Createspace or other POD houses--so why not make print authors "fix" their books, too?
And I'd really love, love, love to know if KQN's get sent to Random House and the other legacy publishers. I think that while Amazon certainly has every right to seek the highest-quality content, they need to start curation at a much more fundamental level. If they're not going to do anything about the Broken Bones of the world (see my July post), then really, they need to stop telling first-rate authors, the bread-and-butter of Amazon's world, to fix books that have an error rate of one one-millionth of a percent. That's just ridiculous. Amazon, c'mon, think about this, will you?
This is Hitch, over and out, until next time.