August 3rd, 2010

Carnoy of CNET interviews Freed of Amazon

I have to say, after reading this interview, that I overestimated Carnoy's intelligence. He asks the iPad v. kindle question several different ways, despite getting bounced every single time.

Q: How much of your growth is on the iPad vs. the kindle? A: 80% own a kindle. Oh, and we're seeing big growth on android.

Q: So, your market share compared to iPad? A: We're growing faster than AAP says the whole market is. You do the math.

Q: So, your market share compared to Apple and B&N? A: We've got 80%. Someone's math is wrong.

On the one hand, Carnoy asked the questions and got the answers. On the other hand, really? There wasn't anything he wanted to ask that might tell us all something that we _didn't_ already know? Wouldn't you want to know things like, say: did the kindle bring you new customers buying your books, or is it purely people who used to be customers? Are kindle owners people who have been Prime customers for a while? Has that improved the cost structure of Prime for you, or has it made it worse? Are kindle customers letting Prime lapse, or do they maintain it after buying books on the kindle for a year? When an existing customer switches to kindle, do they buy more books from you than they did prior to owning the kindle?

Wouldn't _you_ like to know the answer to some of those questions? Okay, maybe you don't care. But how about these: do you know anything about the ages of your kindle buyers and users? Has the demographic of people (by age, gender, or anything else you know about them) changed over time, or is it just more of the same type of people?

And the list of questions involving magazine subscriptions could just get crazy long.

How Not to Write a Subhead

Here's the article:

Here's the headline:

"Amazon Kindle Sells Out, Offers New Ship Date"

Here's the subhead:

"'s third-generation Kindle has temporarily sold out, according to the online retailer, with orders apparently expected to ship on or before Sept. 4. Amazon is currently battling Barnes & Noble, Apple and other e-reader manufacturers for e-reader market share."

First off, it is on the long side. More importantly, "battling"? That's the verb you're going to go with?

things that make me go, hmmm

"I recently attended a school talent show being put on by teenagers with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder], and was appalled by the way these student performers were dressed: sloppy jeans and t-shirts, unkempt hair, some looked like they hadn't had a shower in days. How will these teenagers learn to dress appropriately for work, or a job interview if we do not hold them to a higher standard in situations like this talent show?"

If you knew nothing at all about the author of this statement, would you trust that person's judgment of the teenagers' dress for the show? Would it change your inclination to trust (or distrust) their assessment if you knew the person was a woman? That she was in her 60s? That she considers Forbes and WSJ opinion pieces a good way to learn about how to behave properly in the business world? That she thinks the 1950s and 1960s were a better time for a person with autism to grow up, because the world was consistent, structured and presented a clear messsage about correct behavior?

Would it change your willingness to trust her assessment, if you knew the author of that paragraph was Temple Grandin?

The paragraph can be found on page 52 of _Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships_, and I can't promise that I will be able to read the book in its entirety -- altho I am going to try really hard. For one thing, it was _designed_ to pass the page 119 rule with flying colors. The page 119 rule, IIRC from my r.a.b. days, is where you flip to an arbitrary page (in my recollection anyway, page 119) and read it. If it grabs you, you give the book a try. This book puts the list of 10 unwritten rules on page 119. And those rules are quite reasonable.

I've tried reading Grandin before, and found it impossible. This is the first time I've gotten my head completely wrapped around why I reading her work makes me so bonkers: her political views make words like "anathema" seem reasonable for me to use in a sentence describing her.

I'll at least make a solid effort at reading the first section by Sean Barron before deciding whether I can continue or not. And I suspect I'll be coming back here to vent in some detail about how horrifying it is (at least to me) that a woman expressing views like Temple Grandin dominates our society's discussion of autism.