Get a job at Amazon!

No really, they’re hiring.

In fact, Amazon is part of President Obama’s new tour, “A Better Bargain for the Middle Class.” Obama will be speaking later today at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tennessee about “boosting  US manufacturing and high wage jobs” (according to Publisher’s Weekly).

A fulfilling (get it?) career in Amazon fulfillment basically involves running around a large warehouse “picking” product off the shelf and putting it in a bin for shipment. A full job description can be found here. Please note the 10-12 hour shifts, heavy lifting, and willingness to work overtime, anytime, or all the time.

This seems like a bit of a downgrade from the jobs in green energy we were promised.

And Obama’s visit to Amazon is sparking some ire from Independent booksellers, especially in light of the recent justice department ruling against Apple (though in fairness they really kind of deserved it for a couple of reasons).

Depending on how you want to look at it, it would seem that the Obama administration is playing favorites, attacking price fixing on the Apple side, but ignoring Amazon’s “loss-leading” pricing on the other. One site this week, Overstock.com, decided to take matters into their own hands. In an ongoing battle with Amazon’s deep discounts, Overstock.com has been cutting the prices of bestsellers to 10% below Amazon’s price, which in turn caused Amazon to price match. For the moment, other booksellers are staying above the fray, though Indie’s have always had a bone to pick with Amazon.

So let’s play a round of “How Should We Feel?”

Well, for starters it may not be in Amazon’s best interest to completely eliminate physical bookstores. And fulfillment jobs are grueling, hot, repetitive jobs, but they do seem to come with decent benefits and pay (even if none of those jobs are in Ohio).

Maybe Amazon will eliminate the competition in the years to come, and will thus feel free to raise prices, or force publishers to take a smaller cut. But it’s a hard to ask customers to pay more now so they won’t have to pay more later.

I try to pump as much money into the used market (Half Price Books mainly) as I do on Amazon, but that secondary market depends on the primary market ultimately to survive. In fact Half Price Books is working on becoming  a primary market of its own, offering bestsellers at a 20% discount (including J. K. Galbraith’s Cuckoo’s Calling).

What’s your relationship with Amazon (Evil Empire, Supplier of my Desire, or both)?

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1 Comment

Filed under Books + Publishing

One response to “Get a job at Amazon!

  1. Chuck

    I hate to say it – but I like Amazon, especially their subscription service. Each month, every month, close to the same day, I receive a package of my favorite coffee. And at a discount too! Now who wouldn’t like that?

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