Round up #192: Big Fall Books preview, e-commerce and unemployment

Round up #192: Big Fall Books preview, e-commerce and unemployment

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Amazon employs more people than Barnes & Noble

You sometimes get stories from people who are worried that commerce moving on to the internet will mean increased unemployment. After all, there is one Amazon, and perhaps thousands of brick-and-mortar bookstores, right?

Well, in today’s

press release

Amazon (not unreasonably, in my opinion) touted that it is adding 5,000 jobs in its USA fulfillment centers.

Those jobs pay 30% more (based on median pay) than jobs in traditional retail…not counting the stock grants the e-tailer also gives full-time employees (which raises it considerably).

Amazon’s own

Inside Amazon page

says that they have more than 88,400 employees worldwide. From news reports I’m seeing, this doesn’t include the 5,000 new jobs, so they have over 90,000.


New York Times article by Nick Wingfield

compares that to Apple (Amazon has more), Microsoft (about the same), and IBM (Amazon has fewer jobs).

However, I was curious about Amazon versus Barnes & Noble. Would a centralized internet company have more or fewer employees than a brick-and-mortar with hundreds of stores?

According to

Barnes & Noble’s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page

the brick-and-mortar had about 35,000 employees in April of 2012…so Amazon has close to three times as many.

Of course, that isn’t a pure comparison between an internet store and a Main Street store: Amazon is much more than an online bookstore, and Barnes & Noble also has a digital presence. Still, that seems to me to say that the internet (and perhaps by extension, high tech) isn’t leading to higher unemployment.

It’s important to note that many of these are “blue collar” jobs. You also have that idea out there: sure, Amazon employs people, but just those with higher level degrees and specialized tech knowledge. That simply isn’t the case.

The “geeks only” stereotype doesn’t fit the jobs at the fulfillment centers, or in Customer Service (where Amazon is also hiring 2,000 people).

Customer Service even has “work from home” jobs.

If you know someone who is looking for work, Amazon might be one of the best opportunities out there to get something. You can direct them to for fulfillment center jobs

and/or for Customer Service jobs

although don’t be surprised if it’s hard to get on those websites today.

There has been a lot of controversy about those fulfillment center jobs, especially in Europe. Clearly, it’s a lot of hard work, and the conditions may not always be optimal (to put it lightly, according to allegations).

I wonder if people will be happier when Amazon starts making fuller use of its robot company purchase (as I wrote about in I, Amazon: the e-tailer buys a robot company), and starts needing fewer employees in the centers…

Resetting the Fire’s predictive keyboard

I wrote recently about why I don’t use Amazon’s Silk browser.

One of the reasons has to do with the lack of a private/stealth browsing mode.

I like the idea that my device doesn’t keep track of where I’ve been on the internet, even if the places where I went know I was there (and that Amazon and the government might know as well).

There’s another thing that was bothering me about my Fire.

When I go use my onboard keyboard to type in search terms, the device remembers it and starts suggesting words I’ve used.

That can be a good thing, sure. I’m a vegetarian, and I end up searching for products from Morningstar Farms in MyFitnessPal, an app (which I recommend) that I use to track my food intake and exercise. It’s nice that when I start typing it Morningstar, it guesses after the first few letters…and then suggests “Farms” as the next word.

However, I’ve seen a lot of people ask about turning that off. Suppose, oh, you worked in a place with a very mainstream viewpoint, and you liked My Little Pony. When someone borrowed your Kindle Fire to look up something about Mack trucks, typed the M and saw “My”, then hit a space and saw “Little”…well, you might not want them to get to “Pony”. 😉

You might be allowed to go to websites on your device at work, but still not want your boss to know that one of the ones you visit most frequently is (which includes some definitely NSFW…Not Safe For Work…materials).

I’ve also seen it memorize my e-mail addresses (although not my passwords…it seems to be smart enough for that), and I don’t want those readily available.

I e-mailed Kindle Support to ask them how to reset the keyboard.

I think Amazon Customer Service is typically very, very good, and it is highly rated.

Sometimes, though, I ask them something in an e-mail, and get what seems to me to be a sort of desperate response asking me to contact them by phone to discuss it farther.

I suspect that e-mail only works well for machine parsable questions…ones that software can address without human intervention. Anything beyond that gets pushed over to a person.

I could have had them call me, but I wanted to play around with it myself.

Well, I found the solution!

Swipe down – More – Applications – Installed Applications

Scroll down until you get to the Swype app (I use Swype on the Kindle Fire…it comes with now, and you can slide your finger over the letters of a word to enter it: that can be a lot easier on a touchscreen than touching each one separately).

Then, clear the data.

Now, to be clear, this will clear all of the data…it won’t suggest words that you’ve typed before until it builds up a history again. It forgot which language keyboard was my preference: interestingly, I think it set it to Japanese as the default.

Here’s the next trick. 🙂

Use the English (United States) keyboard usually…if that’s what you would normally use (I have readers from around the world).

When you want to “stealth” something, switch the keyboard to a similar language …English (Canada) might be good.

Swipe down – More – Language & Keyboard – Keyboard – tap the first choice to change the language

Just remember to switch it back to the standard after your secret search…and you can always wipe out the data again if it gets to that point.

Amazon announces Big Fall Book Preview

We’re coming into what is usually the biggest book season of the year. After all, books make great gifts, and that’s definitely part of it. An Amazon press release points people to their

Big Fall Books Preview

which has not only 20 big blockbusters, but under-the-radar editors’ picks, graphic novels, and so on.

I like the Editors’ Picks: they would make a great window display in a brick-and-mortar (I’m a former manager). They’ve picked strikingly different and attractive books. That addresses another misconception about the internet versus Main Street. Some people think of internet retailers and just zeros and ones, without the love of books and personal attention that a brick-and-mortar would have. There’s no inherent reason for that to be the case: e-tailers may be distracted by the technology, but no more than brick-and-mortars are distracted by shoplifting and merchandising, I think.

What do you think? Will robots taking over jobs which are difficult for humans to do be good or bad? Are there books you are especially anticipating for this holiday season? Do you wish I didn’t just mention the holidays when we are only in July? 😉 Have your “digital footprints” ever embarrassed you when someone else used on of your devices? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

4 Responses to “Round up #192: Big Fall Books preview, e-commerce and unemployment”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Love your blog! How can I set up Swype on my 8.9″ fire? Been looking for that forever!


    • Cathy Says:

      Never mind. I just found it. Wow! I had no idea it was available all this time! Duh…

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Cathy!

        Glad I could help. 😉 I deliberately mentioned Swype to alert people it was there. It was added in early December.

        Just for other folks, it should already by there for you.

  2. Round up #193: Borders is back, the new journalism | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] The President spoke yesterday at an Amazon facility…it was a speech, and had to do with jobs (and Amazon has recently added 7,000 jobs). […]

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