Temporarily Disabling Shipment Creation

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From Publishing Perspectives:

While there probably are people in the publishing industry who—even in a life-and-death world pandemic—will not want to say that Amazon is doing the right thing, Amazon is doing the right thing in announcing that, “We are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”

Books, along with many other product classifications, for the moment are being deprioritized.

At Publishers Weekly, Jim Milliot and John Maher reported Tuesday (March 17), “Amazon has told other suppliers, including publishers, that their goods will receive a low priority until at least April 5, according to both a letter PW has obtained that was sent to independent publishers earlier today.”

“We will let you know once we resume regular operations,” Amazon writes to its third-party vendors. “Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers.”

. . . .

Describing Amazon’s new move to channel its forces toward crisis response first, Rachelle Hampton writes at Slate, “As more cities resort to drastic shelter-in-place measures and photos of empty grocery store aisles circulate on the internet, the giant e-tailer has stepped in to fill the gaps, but even it’s straining under the weight of an unprepared country. Many listings for items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper showed that they were out of stock or that delivery would be delayed by several days.”

Milliot and Maher at PW add, “The letter [to vendors] closed by noting that the e-tailer is aware of the effect this will have on businesses, and is ‘working around the clock to increase capacity, and on March 16 announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US.’”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG notes that, in typical Big Corporate Publishing style, no mention is made that Amazon (and other etailers) is/are still selling lots and lots of ebooks to readers who are staying inside.

PG also notes that an Amazon search for coronavirus will yield (at least in the US) a link from Amazon at the top of the results to coronavirus information from the Centers for Disease Control followed by some dodgy-sounding and very recently published books about topics such as how to make your own hand sanitizer (63 pages) and instant home school (33 pages).

12 thoughts on “Temporarily Disabling Shipment Creation”

    • Books are special. Books will still be special a week or two later. Perhaps more valued with the additional anticipation.

      Diapers are essential. Diapers are essential right now. Lack of diapers will not be appreciated tomorrow, much less a week or two from now. (I am very happy that my youngest is not just out of diapers, but is working to stow them at Amazon, among other essential things.)

  1. Tried the coronavirus search on Amazon UK and the top link was to the Gov.uk coronavirus information page. A bit depressing as the 8,400 tests done in the last 24 hours had resulted in 1,003 more positives, though the testing rate is growing rapidly and should hit the 10,000 a day target at the weekend and the 25,000 a day target does not look out of reach by the end of the month. At this point the number of new cases will probably be terrifying: they are probably already out there but at least one does not know about them until someone does a test.

    The other results don’t seem to include many books of any kind (though what’s there are probably dodgy) but there are lots of notices and a few “amusing” tee-shirts. I have considered getting a “Self Isolating” notice for the front door (Amazon is offering several versions) as the government wants individuals at high risk like my wife and me to lock ourselves up for the next three months. However, it may not be necessary: for the one delivery we got today the courier had retreated halfway up our drive before we opened the door (and he wasn’t running away to hurry onto the next delivery but waiting to see if we did open the door).

    As for books, the one I ordered on Prime on Tuesday is only due next Tuesday so a week rather than a day. However, the new e-books are all turning up on time. Much more importantly, Amazon has toilet paper in stock whilst the supermarket shelves were empty the last two times I visited. I’m still trying to understand why people decided the horde loo rolls, but I guess we’re just not a rational species …

    • My friend and I were trying to make sense of the toilet-paper stampede. She speculates that maybe someone started a rumor that the virus causes, *ahem* an urgent need to spend an unusual amount of time in the bathroom. With all the nonsense news going around, she might be right.

      On the books front, BookBub advertised Robin Cook’s “Pandemic” the other day. I imagine royalty checks are suddenly going to be coming in for a lot of people in his genre 🙂

      • Hand sanitizer, bleach, symptom relieving medications – some sense, quite a bit of attempted profiteering (the reason that stores are NOT accepting returns).

        Toilet paper – hysteria, much aided by the media.

        Ground beef, chicken – hysteria again. Followed undoubtedly by immense sales at appliance stores; I stopped by the hardware store a couple days ago for some concrete bolts, and it took the poor cashier ten minutes to ring me up. She was taking the overflow on the phones, repeating over and over again “No sir, we don’t have any deep freezers. We don’t even sell deep freezers normally.” I don’t know why the pork is still in full stock; I can understand the seafood (desert southwest US here – good fresh seafood is very hard to find, most people have no idea what to do with it when they do find it, and outrageously expensive).

        Milk? Eggs? Butter? Household of five here, and about a third of the refrigerator is normally those things. Where are they planning to keep it? How fast will they manage to use it up?

        The flour aisle is cleaned out just about everywhere. Interestingly, there is plenty of yeast, at least where I’ve been this week. (I fortunately have plenty of flour, I did grab a couple of jars of yeast.) A lot of people may find themselves experiencing parts of Exodus in real life…

      • Actually digestive issues *are* among the earliest signs of infection, according to a new study out of China.

        But the panic is probably due to people fearing extensive home stays and not wanting to resort to a garden hose. 😉

        In hurricane zones it is considered good practice to *always* have a store of water, paper disposables, batteries and rechargeable gadgets, and bottled water. Generators and containers for gasoline are desirable options. Preppers are generally as big on hygenic paper products as on food and munitions.

        It comes down to necessities and conveniences that might get backburnered in a crisis when logistics resources might get rationed and products triaged.

        (One of the more amusing scenes in John Ringo’s “zombie” apocalypse series is when the protagonist prepper family, getting advance insider notice of an outbreak, dashes to the nearest costco to get entire pallets of hygenic paper products. There’s also the part where the oversized 13 year old girl, weened on FPS games, ends up teaching adults and even soldiers how to deal with swarms of infected.)

    • “The Pursuit of the Pankera,” perhaps?

      The son works at the local Amazon DC. I told him that I’m much happier that he’s stowing things like diapers than my book. (He’s happy because his normal extra income from Marine Reserve drills is not going to be coming – so the increased pay rate plus overtime will keep him on an even keel financially.)

      • If this was a question about my book choice, then the answer is no. “Pankera” is “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock” at Amazon.co.uk. I’m awaiting a title on WW2 in East Africa, a bit less exciting than a “new” Heinlein, and coming on paper because I tend to go for paper for my non fiction (unless the e-book is very cheap and in this case the e-book was very expensive).

        Your comment about drills threw me for a moment but I assume he is actually teaching drill to Marines in the reserve forces and not selling or using some esoteric piece of hardware?

        • Military exercises and practice activities are referred to as drills in the US. (As in drilling the troops.)
          Not in the UK?
          Civilian emergency process practice simulations are also called drills. (Holding a fire drill in a school.)
          Hole boring devices, manual or powered, too.

          • Yes so in the UK, and I remember the “square bashing” subset of drill quite well from my school days in the army cadet force. The non parade ground activities though are often referred to as exercises.

            However, 50 years later “drill” first brings to my mind the hole boring device (possibly because I own at least five powered versions, and maybe two or three manual ones at the bottom of a tool drawer).

            • Why we love the English language – we can confuse even other native speakers, giving us an excuse to talk even more.

              Yes, drill as in practicing military operations. Not of the parade ground type, but the “practical” ones (I think the only parade ground type drill he’s done since boot camp is the couple of times he’s been tapped for the ceremonial part of the Marine Ball.)

              Reserve drills are more for simply keeping skills semi-sharp – learning those skills is supposed to be completed in the training period that comes right after boot camp. (New equipment / doctrine does not come along all that quickly for any one specialty.) I believe that Reservists took to calling them “drills” because they last around 48 – 72 hours, total; Regulars do go on “exercises” because those are typically longer. I could be wrong, that may just be different words just “because.” English…

              Hmm. I suppose that there are some specialties (combat engineering comes to mind) where the soldiers are drilled on the proper use of drills. Although for the type that puts holes in the ground, they may alternatively be called augers or bores. The latter term, of course, is frequently applied to those who can prattle on endlessly about odd quirks in the language.

  2. Had to log in just to say I seriously laughed out loud at the “some dodgy-sounding and very recently published books…” line. 😉 Thanks for the chuckle, PG!

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