Friday, May 18, 2012

My writing week: Issue 20, Year 5.

Another Reason Amazon is Cheap.

A while back one of my posts mentioned a reason why Amazon books are cheap. According to an article in The Age, Amazon did not pay sales tax in the US, which many states were trying to do something about. Just today I read another reason they are cheap in another article in The AGE: The dark face of a cheap and easy online shopping habit

The article mentions the lousy wages and conditions some of Amazon’s warehouse employees have to put up with because hey, it’s a recession, so put up with it or fuck off, there are plenty more unemployed around.  

I wonder if wages and conditions are similar in the Book Depository (recently merged with Amazon) warehouses in the UK, with workers freezing rather than collapsing in the heat?

This has got me thinking I will not purchase print books from Amazon again. Ebooks maybe, but not print books.

More on Bryce Courtenay’s Embellished Life.

It seems more and more people want Bryce Courtenay to pay penance for his embellished life. I recently posted about an article I had read detailing a lot of things Courtenay seems to have made up about his life in South Africa and then Australia. And now ABC television has an extended interview with him, called Bryce Courtenay, Fact or Fiction.

As I said in my previous post, I thought many of the events in The Power of One were based on his life, which gave the book more emotional impact. But after reading of Bryce’s embellishments about his life in South Africa, some of the power has drained from that novel.

I also wonder what impact his embellished life had on selling The Power of One to publishers, and then selling it to the media. By media I don’t mean the book critics who evidently savaged it in Australia – at least that is what Bryce says they did in the television interview - I mean media interviewers, columnists, and talk show hosts. And then, what impact did his life story have on selling it to Hollywood?

Would the publishers, media and film producers had treated a book written by a seemingly privileged white man from South Africa differently from a book written by an orphan who had fought against apartheid by teaching servants to read?


Anthony J. Langford said...

Yes, good points there Graham. I'm sure his upbringing was anything but poor. Sounds like a good story, because it probably is, especially when there is no one to back up your claims.
Definetly kick started his career and perhaps Australian reviewers of the time saw through the bullshit. Very American in structure.
I went to South Africa in 1990 and spent several months and learnt alot about the country and its history, so when the movie came out, I went to see it, and thought it was basically fiction. I wasnt reading much about Courtney's claims and havent read anything else of his, but it sounded like fiction to me.

I think in that interview, he's basically saying, he's a writer and writers tell stories... it's clear he lied about his childhood...unless, at 78..he's told those lies for so long he actually beleives it himself.

Amazon sucks.. undercutting small publishers everywhere.. The McDonalds of publishing. Might have to ban them also. (Morally, I also havent eaten Maccas for over 15years).
I'm with you.

Graham Clements said...

Hi Anthony,

I knew you had some South African connection.

From memory, in the original article in the AGE that started the examination of Courtenay's past, I think he suggested he now has problems sorting out the facts from the fictions he has told about his past.

The real problem with trying to boycott Amazon is their dominance of the ebook market. I have a Kindle. I will try, ie purchase from Smashwords etc. But I have not read an ebook for a while, and with a dozen new paperbacks waiting on the bedside table for me to read, I am unlikely to read an ebook for a while. I may end up boycotting Amazon's ebooks by default.