Between the Covers 04/11/2012

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books

Following last week's report about Amazon's amazing disappearing press office, Between the Covers has been the grateful recipient of a communication – of sorts – from the retailing giant. Regular readers will recall that we have been trying to contact Amazon since August to ask them three questions: what do they have to say about fake "likes" for Amazon appearing on Facebook accounts; how do they respond to the story of a Norwegian customer who had her Kindle wiped of all the e-books she had paid for; and are they bothered that malicious "sock puppet" reviewers are abusing Amazon's anonymous online reviews system to trash the reputations of their rivals?

Unfortunately, Amazon's press officers do not answer the phone, or emails, unless we either write about them here, or prod them repeatedly on Twitter – the attention-seeking little scamps – so getting any sort of response is a slow process. More than two months on, we have learned that: we should contact Facebook (we already have!); "If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help" (she already did!); and, not to worry, because according to their latest gnomic response: "We use a variety of mechanisms to prevent abuse of our review system, including algorithmic approaches .…" There's been no reply to our questions regarding these algorithmic approaches, of course.

Some naughty literary types on Twitter have suggested that we could pin almost anything on Amazon by putting a story to its press office and waiting (tumbleweed … ) for its non-response, but Between the Covers has books to read, so is going to give up now. Readers can draw their own conclusions about exactly how much of a damn Amazon gives about its customers; we couldn't possibly comment.

...

Stop press: Between the Covers has just received news that a consumer campaign is about to be launched, targeting Amazon for "abusing" its power. Ethical Consumer magazine will use the pre-Christmas period to inform customers about Amazon's tactics, and their tidings are unlikely to be glad: an article on their website, ethicalconsumer.org, discusses "the fact that [Amazon's] whole business model appears to be built around tax avoidance as a way of competing on price …. "

Until the campaign is elaborated upon, Between the Covers' advice is to support your friendly local bookshop, where the reviews are likely to be honest, there is always a helpful person available to respond to your enquiries and you get to keep every book you buy. Doesn't that sound like a happy Christmas?

...

One person who does respond – and with a sense of humour, too – is the squillion-selling author EL James, who is clearly amused by the enormous and continuing hype surrounding her book. She has replied to a Twitter feed by the author of the entirely unrelated book, Fifty Sheds of Grey, who recently tweeted: "I'm very proud to say that Fifty Sheds of Grey is published today in the USA!" James replied: "I hope you're going to send me a signed copy." "It would be a pleasure. I just hope it's not too racy for you", wrote 50 Sheds. "I think I can handle it," insisted Ms James. "I look forward to reading it." Modesty forbids us from speculating what might happen when BDSM meets a Black & Decker Workmate.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz