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.