Cons of sharing Kindle subscriber information with publishers

Amazon’s capacity to shoot itself in the foot is prodigious. They’ve recently added information on every newspaper and magazine page about information sharing with publishers i.e.

Your name, billing address and order information will be shared with the publisher.

It’s rather inconvenient to have this information tucked away at the bottom of the product details.

Wouldn’t it be better to have it put right below the price – where customers would actually see it.

Thankfully someone at the kindle forum started a discussion on this.

Kindle Subscriber information sharing – Questions

What happens to existing subscribers?
Is their information shared? That shouldn’t be legally permissible. Since it wasn’t mentioned at the time of signing up.

What exactly does order information include?
Does it include email address. Perhaps the phone number from the billing address. What about credit card information – that’s obviously highly unlikely. However, it’d be nice to know.

Why share billing address and name?
Perhaps we don’t want the NY Times to know we’re their subscribers.

Will Blog Publishers be given the same information down the line?
That would be a mistake of gigantic proportions – it’d lead to information abuse at unprecedented levels.

Fundamentally – we trust Amazon with out information, and we don’t automatically transfer that trust to a newspaper or a magazine, especially not at a time when they are desperate to generate revenue.

Sharing Information is a Huge Mistake

Lets say subscriber X subscribes to NY Times or another periodical. This is what happens a week or two after -

  1. A bunch of companies start spamming X’s email inbox.
  2. Another group of companies start sending him junk mail at home. 
  3. A few enterprising companies even start cold calling him.

Isn’t the whole reason we want to go with the Kindle to avoid advertising and this type of abuse of subscriber information?

Newspapers are desperate for money – they are 100% going to start selling subscriber information to companies.

If they claim they want subscriber information to provide a better service – well, start by putting in more pictures and including all the content from the actual newspaper in kindle editions.

We’re already paying $10 for the subscription – earn that first before trying to make even more money.

What will be the fall-out?

The fall-out ought to be huge. If Amazon have shared information of existing subscribers, a class action lawsuit is all but guaranteed.

There are a few big mistakes here -

  1. Not informing the customers. 
  2. Hiding away the information somewhere where it might be missed by a lot of people (knowingly or unknowingly). 
  3. It’s not the best thing for kindle owners. There can be little doubt about that.
  4. Not taking a stand.

At some point Amazon ought to make a stand for the customer, and against publishers.

Thanks to Andrys from Kindle World for pointing out the Amazon Forum thread.

5 Responses

  1. I woke up at 1pm after thinking about this early in the morning. I agree that this one is huge – unlike ’1984gate’ there was no underlying legal problem like books uploaded against copyright laws; this one was apparently a reaction to Murdoch’s move to remove the WSJ unless he got the subscriber lists and to encourage other publishers to do the same now that the field is wide-open and other e-periodical publishers have said that the publishers will get the subscriber lists. In other words, this is all about money. Understandable, IF they had given us warning before delivering our information to other organizations.

    And the customers’ privacy concerns were last in mind. I’ll do an entry tonight. But the thing is that we have no Agreement with the Publisher and as you point out, they will sell our info without a thought as, in essence, Amazon has done.

    The Publisher doesn’t owe us even a privacy agreement this way. We have no say – it was apparently done already if we were already subscribers.

    As for blogs, I guess the NYT Latest News ‘blog’ would be ‘published’ by them as their Kindle newspaper by agreement between a publishing house and Amazon.

    But the independent blogs are published by Amazon, and in no way should subscriber info go to independents and I have no reason to believe anyone but Amazon will have that info.

    I hadn’t thought about order-information as including credit-card information. That is a super no-no and it’s my optimistic thought that this would not be given to the publishers – it would be suicide on Amazon’s part.

    But they’re going to have to say that outright. And they have to make a statement that they’ve already given out our private addresses to publishers we’d not have given addresses to since we were opting for e-delivery only, for many reasons.

  2. An update to my comment yesterday. Initial forum reaction from even Kindle supporters was very negative. But what I forgot was that in this world of web-registration for news-online, we are, more often than not, asked for home addresses without seeing an Agreement about how the information might be used.

    The post which changed my very negative reaction to only mildly negative was this one:
    =====
    “Gene Venable says:
    I already read the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times every day on the internet for free. I had to register to do that, and I have suffered no adverse consequences as a result — I probably first registered 15 or more years ago. I don’t think any spam I received came from these publications.

    So, I’m not worried about this. ”
    =====

    I’m not worry-free, but I decided not to add an entry about it today and will ask in email what is included in the “order information” given the publishers.

    In my case I did sign up online long ago with each publisher I have a Kindle subscription for. While I use the many free RSS feeds, I do sometimes like the navigation features and inclusion of photos that come with the Amazon Kindle versions.

  3. Thanks for the heads up; I simply don’t trust Amazon on this and have stopped my subscriptions.

    Thanks also to Andrys for the background info.

  4. Woops, hate typos! I stopped MY subscriptions. Frankly this all served as a reminder that so much of the NYT and other content is available elsewhere. I was willing to pay for the convenience, but not anymore.

  5. Received this after cancelling subscriptions and voicing my concerns over this policy:

    “Hello from Amazon.com.

    Amazon.com knows that you care how information about you is used and shared, and we appreciate the trust that you place in us. We provide customer name, billing address, and order information for newspaper and magazine customers to some newspaper and magazine publishers who are under obligation to keep the information confidential. We have done this since the first Kindle launch and have disclosed the fact that we do so on our detail pages since that time. We do not share any e-mail addresses or credit card information with publishers.

    Publishers are permitted to use the information we share only for their own purposes, such as market analysis purposes, and they may share this information only with circulation-auditing organizations who are under obligation to keep the information confidential. Circulation auditing organizations include the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) and the BPA Worldwide (BPA). These organizations monitor magazine and newspaper sales to provide verification of circulation numbers.”

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