Oh the whining and whinging

I do so love how some folks have to hunt to find some sliver of something that might, in some faraway galaxy, be construed as ill-will by Amazon. Once they find it, they run with it, doing their best to make it into a “big” deal, never considering what the actual facts might be. After all, it’s Amazon they are condemning, so why worry about such minor things like facts? The haters are going to hate, no matter what.

The latest example comes from the New York Times. Yes, yes, I know. It is a bastion of journalistic integrity. How could I doubt it when it hosts headlines like this: Amazon Offers All-You-Can-Eat Books. Authors Turn Up Noses.

The article starts out by saying that authors are mad — again — with Amazon. It goes on to note that “[f]or much of the last year, mainstream novelists were furious that Amazon was discouraging the sale of some titles in its confrontation with the publisher Hachette over e-books.”

Now, the teacher in me would take the reporter and the editor who approved the article to task for that sentence. After all, it implies that all mainstream novelists were “furious” with Amazon over the Hachette issue. Funny, I don’t remember it being every mainstream author. In fact, the only ones who seemed to really be furious were the favored few and those who felt it necessary to align their names with those same little darlings of the Hachete world. Most of the other so-called mainsteam authors — and what is a mainstream author? Could the article actually mean traditionally published authors? — were busy doing what writers do. They were writing. Note also how the article doesn’t mention once the suggestions made by Amazon to help these so-called furious authors, suggestions that would have put money into the pockets of the authors and that were summarily tossed aside by Hachette. But I digress.

According to the article, there is too much competition out there for writers now. Without the gatekeepers to limit the number — and “quality” — of books available, there are just too many choices for the poor reader to choose from. This is a variation of the argument that is also going around that Amazon is a purveyor of lettuce and shouldn’t also be selling books because, duh, they sell lettuce.

But the real issue the article has with Amazon is the new Kindle Unlimited program. For those of you not familiar with the KU program, it works like this. From the reader’s standpoint, you pay a monthly fee of $9.99. In return, you get the option of downloading up to 10 books at a time for free. These books have to be enrolled in the KU program, so most will be indie books. There is no time limit on when you have to read the books. You can’t loan them and you don’t own them. Think of it as a for pay library. You are paying for the ability to borrow a book for an unlimited period of time.

From the author’s point of view, you have to enroll your title first in the KDP Select program. That means you cannot sell your title anywhere else. Then, if you want to go into the KU program, you check the little box and your book is now enrolled. But don’t get your knickers in a twist — yet. You will get paid for those loans.


At some future point in time.

The problem with KU from an author’s point of view is two-fold. The first is that you don’t know how many times your book has been downloaded. You only find out about a download when it is read to a certain percentage of the book’s length. When that magical number is reached, you get your share of the common “pot”. And therein lies the second issue.

As with the Kindle Only Lending Library (KOLL), authors get paid out of a monthly fund set up by Amazon. The fund can vary in amount from month to month. Worse, there is no limit on the number of books that can be in the program at any one time. So, the more books downloaded and then read to the magic percentage point, the lower the monies paid out per download.

But the real problem with KU is the fact that there is no payment tier based on title price. Someone who puts up a title that normally sells for 99 cents will get the same amount of money per download as that $9.99 title gets. What that means is that those who are putting up titles that fall under the 30% royalty structure normally will get more money per download than they would for a straight sale. Conversely, depending on how much a title sells for you might make close to what you would for a sale if your title is priced at $2.99 but you will make substantially less for those books priced higher than that.

Now, how you look at that is up to you. Amazon is not, contrary to what the article says, making e-books an all-you-can-eat proposition. Most folks aren’t going to pay basically $10 a month just to maybe be able to download 10 books every 30 days or so. Some will, of course, but the average reader will quit the program after realizing they aren’t getting their money’s worth out of it.

But, as an author, you need to look at your sales stats — and that includes returns as well. My personal experience has seen a dramatic decrease in returns on the romance/paranormal romance novels. As I’ve blogged before, other authors I’ve talked to who write in the romance genres have complained of higher return rates for those books than for other genre novels they write. It has nothing to do with quality — usually — but more to do with a certain set of readers. Don’t get me wrong. Most romance genre readers are wonderful fans who would never think about buying a book, reading it and then returning it. However, there is a subset of readers who have no problem doing just that. It isn’t unusual for romance genre authors to have a return rate of 10% or more. Since KU premiered, my return rate for those particular novels has dropped dramatically. It is now at the same level as my other books, below 1% for most novels.

There is something else I’ve noticed. With the exception of my science fiction novels, sales — and borrows — of the other novels have picked up since KU began. That is a good thing. It means money in my pocket and kitty kibble for Demon Kitten and Her Royal Pussiness. Would I like a better way of accounting for the number of downloads vs reading to the magic number? You bet. Just like I’d appreciate knowing how long the average is between download to reading. But what I am finding out through reviews and emails is that a number of those who try a book on KU will then return the book and buy their own copy. Better yet, they will buy other books in the series. I know I am getting sales from KU that I might not otherwise because people do hesitate to buy from an author they aren’t familiar with.

I do wish Amazon would restructure the payment for KU to make it more difficult for authors to game the system. I don’t think something that normally sells for 99 cents should get the same payout that a $2.99 novel does, much less a novel that sells for $4.99 or more. For the system to really work, there needs to be modifiers based on price and length of the work. Without the latter, you will simply have those who want to game the system changing the price of their 2,500 work story from 99 cents to $2.99 (or whatever) to get the larger royalty payout.

The way I look at KU, however, is much like I look at the Baen Free Library. It is, in a way, a loss leader. People get my work for “free”. I don’t get as much money for their borrows but I do, hopefully, get sales out of it in the long run. Am I leaving everything in the program?  I’m not sure. I think I will tweak my offerings a bit over the next month or so to see what happens. But, for now, I’m not going to completely abandon it. Not when I do see positive results from the program.

Now if Amazon would only adjust it so the payout was based on price and length of the work, I’d be a happy camper.


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58 responses to “Oh the whining and whinging

  1. I have a higher rate of returns on short stories– Thanks for the newest info. You can lead a horse to water and all that rot… and some of those authors do act like prima donnas–

    • Cyn, I think that has to do with readers still not looking at the file size. My returns — and negative reviews — on short stories dropped off dramatically when I started out with “This is a short story” in the description. Shrug.

      • I put in –this is a short story– sigh. I think many of them don’t read the descriptions.

      • I’m looking at a lot of the older stuff, but the pager-count can be really unreliable– two or three whole pages of empty. I guess it’s from auto-convert?

        • It could be that. It could be, depending on the age of the file and what format you uploaded — and where you uploaded it to — that you had too many line returns in a row. I know Smashwords reads either four or five returns as a page break. The other possibility is that you used section break instead of page break and that will add in pages because it is tied to left and right page starts for print.

  2. The major sticking points for me are two: payouts have decline precipitously per borrow, and the requirement for exclusivity. A minor point has to do with the all-titles-are-equal problem. I suspect some writers, by chopping books into shorter segments and offering them piecemeal, are profiting, but in the long run this doesn’t seem a positive approach to me.
    As for returns, I had a few in the beginning of my publishing ventures. But as soon as I reworked the blurb and the cover to more-accurately depict what the book was about, returns dropped to zero and they’ve remained there. I haven’t had a single return in the past four months. And yes, there HAVE been sales!

    • I can live with the lower payouts vs. sales IF Amazon would equalize the payouts on length/price vs. payout. I do not like one bit the fact that short stories get as much per “borrow” as my 100k word novel. However, as I said, I have noticed both an increase in sales on some titles as a result of KU and a marked decrease in returns in the romance/paranormal romance lines. Since that means more money, one way or the other, I will take it.

      It is odd with returns that there seem to be more for certain genres — and it doesn’t matter if they are indie produced or traditionally published — than there are in others. But they still bother me and I do tweak here and there to try to get them down.

  3. Sigh. I really wish replies could be edited! Apologies for typos above. I need more coffee!

  4. BobtheRegisterredFool

    So the program Amazon has set up maybe doesn’t have distinctions it should have.

    One can infer they didn’t set it up that way at the start because they didn’t have enough data to base such decisions on.

    If it isn’t simply a blunder, they will reevaluate matters, and think about continuing the program and in what form.

  5. All three of my short fiction pieces are priced at $.99 and in KU. My novel is priced at $2.99 and also in KU.

    It is odd that I get paid more for my short fiction being borrowed than I do from selling it. I’d actually have no issue with the royalty for a borrow being the same as from a sale for stuff like that, and I think Amazon needs to make some changes on that front.

    Of course, I’m considering releasing my next project as a serial, just to see how it goes.

    • If you do release it as a serial, I’d be interested in hearing how it goes. I have one I’m considering doing that way but it is down the to-do list right now.

      • Will do.

        This is a different project, so I have no idea how it will work either way.

        The downside is I have to be damn careful as I’m writing. After all, I can’t go back and add stuff in if it’s already out in the wild.

        Still, considering how my sales are going lately, I don’t see how it can hurt. 😀

  6. Laura M

    I ran an experiment on my own similar to Unlimited. There is a flashback chapter in my second book which explains the MC’s obsession with her quest. When I was writing it, I meant it as a possible short story to submit to the magazines, but it was too much a downer. Inside a novel, downers can work for motivation and to establish how very serious a situation is. Outside, maybe not so much. Nonetheless, I got it a really good cover and put it out for free everywhere but Amazon for three months. I wanted to see if it would lead to sales of the book itself on sites other than Amazon, since I don’t sell very much on the other sites. I used D2D for the “premium” channels, so didn’t get data of very high granularity from there, and Smashwords, which shows you each and every download. Over the course of three months there were lots of Nook downloads going by the rankings, and 220 Smashwords downloads. I saw no corresponding sales increase on the non-Amazon sites, just the same numbers as my first book.

    What told me what I had done wrong was a kid’s Goodreads rating for the short story. He gave it 2 stars. I was pretty sad until I realized it was a kid, and I realized I had been an idiot. I’d put out a downer short story about a 13 year old, despite all my railing against the downer books the schools gave my kids to read, and had expected that to be alluring. It isn’t. Lesson learned. When I put the short on Amazon I priced it at $1.99, figuring no one will pay that for a short story that tells you its from a chapter in a $3.99 novel–and the novel isn’t a downer. Nonetheless, with it’s cool cover, it’s still good advertising.

    So, when I get my act together on the short stories, I will put the tale of the courageous seasteaders on their converted oil platform in Unlimited, not the poignant tale of the young girl with issues about her mother and growing up.

    • Sounds like a good plan and I like how you took the review and considered what the author of it said and why. Too often I find I don’t get past the initial “WTF?!?” response. Shrug.

      • Laura M

        I did engage in speculation. The reader didn’t write a review, just gave it two stars. When I looked at his other books, I realized he was a kid of some unknown age and had the realization that a depressing story is not alluring.

  7. “Wardrobing” (the practice of treating a retail establishment as a lending library by buying an item with the intention of returning it for a refund after using it) is a problem in every kind of retail transaction. It’s a real frustration for people in the Amazon Marketplace because it damages our metrics, and if we have too many returns, Amazon can kick us out of the program under the assumption that all those returns represent bad customer service on our part. Even on eBay, where you get to set your own return policy rather than being required to follow corporate’s police, there’s the constant tension between sales lost because people don’t like the risk of not being able to return an unsatisfactory purchase and money lost because because people abuse returns.

    However, when dealing with tangible objects, the hassles of shipping them back to the seller do serve to curb the worst abuses. Digital products, which can be “returned” with the click of a button, would be even more susceptible to this kind of abuse — but it’s even harder to fight the abuses without making life hard for the legitimate customer.

    • I know. I have had friends who would buy a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes to wear one time and then plan on returning it. Then, when they were questioned about it or when attention was called to a spot or stain or scuff, they’d get all bent out of shape and go off in a huff for having their credibility questioned. Not once did those “friends” consider what they were doing as anything but ethical. Sigh.

  8. Pingback: Interesting Information | Head Noises

  9. I was swearing over a couple of novels that just weren’t right. Until (thank you, Beta readers!) I realized the reason it was confusing was that I had seven separate stories crammed in there. So I’m ripping them apart, of necessity, and I’ll be publishing the “subplots” separately. It occurred to me that this may be how one deals with this sort of marketing practice, and from the article you linked, it seems like I’m far from the first to cut up a story. But I think taking it apart in plotlettes instead of just cutting it into sections will be more satisfactory.

    But I do agree with the need for staggered compensation. Multiple shorter works is just how to game the lower-than-sales money issue.

    • Amazon had this problem with the KOLL initially. What wound up happening, if I remember correctly, is that there was a saturation of the freebies and a lot of authors threatened to leave. But then the readers started getting smarter about what they were getting and soon those who were gaming the system were being reported and readers quit downloading as many of the shorter works as they did initially. So a lot of those trying to game the system left it and payouts increased again. I’m hoping that is what will happen with KU.

  10. I wish amazon would fix the payouts on the 99 cent books as well. Obviously whoever came up with the program knows little about systems and how people game them. I’m rather shocked that amazon hasn’t fixed it yet either.
    Also, where is the check box for kindle unlimited? As far as I can tell, once you’re in Select, you’re in KU as well. I don’t see any ability to be in one and not the other.

    • John, you’re right about KU being automatic with KDP Select. Sorry. I was writing this on the fly and didn’t take time to go back and check. I should never rely on memory early in the morning and without at least a couple of cup of coffee in me. However, I think we will be seeing that changing — at least I hope so — as well as seeing the payment metrics change over the next few months.

  11. mobiuswolf

    It all seems very complicated. How do you draw the line between gaming the system and using it most efficiently?

    Has anyone signed up with KU as a reader? It definitely would be cost effective for me if it’s “unlimited,” but I find the details somewhat opaque, so I hesitate.

    • If I remember correctly, you can download up to 10 qualifying books at a time.

      As for drawing the line between gaming the system and using it effectively, the best way is to make payment based on not only the original cost of the item but also the length of the item. It is an issue for those of us who write novels to know that short stories are receiving more payment based on price/length than we are.

    • Blume

      I am a ku reader and it seems to be unlimited. Its ten hold out at a time and you can return them when ever. so I will download a whole series and read the first book. If I like it I can immediately read the rest of the series. If I don’t I just return the while series and check out some more books. It is very much a library esq service. Which is really good for me because I have a habit of getting books and sitting on them until I am in the right mood and this is cheaper than library fines. Also I have switched out more than ten books a month a couple of times.

  12. I think that right now anything that gets people to read my stuff, even if I only make a pittance off it, is a win. Maybe someday I’ll be able to pick and choose. But for now, KULL seems to be a benefit.

  13. Draven

    This article you link to was in the NY Times, a traditional newspaper, that is of course going to support traditional publishing, a New York-centered industry. They complained when Fox News appeared and gave us an alternate source of TV news. They complained when people started getting their news off of the internet. They complained when People started reading Brietbart and PJTV instead of the NY Times. They complained when people started being able to buy ebooks instead of going to libraries.

    They will, likely, also complain at some point (if they have not already) about indie game development and indie filmmaking from people outside of their ‘approved’ circles, being able to create content and market it to consumers.

    To them, they are one of the gatekeepers, and they don’t like people having their own choices, and content creators not having to go through those gatekeepers in order for consumers to be able to purchase it.

    • Agreed. But that doesn’t explain the number of folks who buy into what they say without actually sitting down and reading the article or looking at the impact the KU program has on their overall income. Sure, some authors may be losing sales but my guess is that they are also picking up on the number of loans and that, in turn, will lead to an increase in sales down the road.

      • Hmmm, the anec-data I’ve read over at PG’s place suggests that, for those commenting there, the sales are not balancing lost income from the borrows.

        This is all based on the assumption that a borrow = sale, which may not be correct. Kinda like how we junior pilots used to compare low incomes versus the cost of renting the airplanes to get the experience we needed to have enough time for the airlines. If you do that, $15,000/year take home came out on the plus side of the ledger. If you look at borrows as 1/2 sale each, it might work out. BUT without having really good data and someone being willing to volunteer as the guinea pig for a study like H. Howey and Data Guy are doing for Amazon sales in general . . . (Sorry if this is a bit fuzzy. I’m drained this afternoon and my thinking resembles an oooold second-hand alpaca sweater I used to have.)

        • I’ve looked at my sales over the last five months — the approximate time KU has been around — and what I’m seeing is that it has impacted sales slightly (possibly, maybe sort of since you can’t really predict what your sales will be month to month with any certainty) with regard to the science fiction novels. But the “borrows” are up a great deal over what they had been with the KOLL. So, there is more money coming in there than had been. Both sales and borrows are up on the other books in a slow but gentle increase which is, I believe, based on the KU borrows.

          I think where folks are getting upset, rightly or wrongly, is over the fact that there is no difference between how much a 99 cent title gets under KU and how much a $9.99 novel gets. I can’t say I really blame them either. But to say that sales have been taken away is jumping to conclusions too early. Like with any program, you have to give time for the “New” to wear off. They also have to look at the number of borrows, and the moneys brought in, from KU as opposed to KOLL. Would they have had those same borrows with only KOLL.

          Frankly, while I do have some questions about why the program is administered the way it is, I’m not going to bellyache too much about it. After all, Amazon gives us the option of enrolling in KDP Select, and KU as a result. We don’t have to. In fact, much of what we can do automatically under KDP Select, such as the countdown deals, we could do without being in the program simply by going in and manually changing our prices. The only thing we can’t do is legitimately set something for free without being in the program.

          That said, I still wish Amazon would alter the terms of the program to take into account the length of the offering as well as the original price in determining how much we get per borrow.

    • Laura M

      Like. A lot. Also, well said.

  14. Interesting information. It would suggest that having some stories in and some out would be an ideal matrix (going off the ‘loss leader’ thought process.)

    • Another thing I’m considering is having the old half of my main series in, and and taking the newer books out. But I’m trying to make myself stick to one experiement at a time, so I may wait at least six months to see how my smaller, less complex novels do..

      • I think it really depends on how much you are making through the “borrows” right now. I’d considered taking all my stuff out of the program except the first book in each series. Then I looked at the money coming in from the KU program and decided I could continue on for another month or so before making the final decision.

        • The problem is, you can’t just leave, you have to sign up for 3 month increments. I have a series in there right now, and they will come out of select next month. I’m waiting to see what the Amazon payout is for December before I decide what to do.

          Now I do price a lot of my stuff at 2.99 to be competitive. I also no longer write anything over 55-65K words. If it is going to be a big book, then it gets turned into a series (because that’s what 70 percent of the readers want – smaller books / series). So at 2.99 the 1.30 a book isn’t exactly killing me.

          However I must admit that I’m thinking of pumping out a LOT of 6 to 9 K shorts and pushing them out at .99 cents and then putting them in select. I can do that in a day or two after all.

          • John, there are ways you can get out of the program but they are a bit arcane and take some time to do because it requires communication with Amazon. But they ways are there if you want to do it. I don’t recommend it. Simply keep track of your dates and make sure the auto renewal into the Select program.

            As for your comment about shorts, well, I’ll admit that my pre-coffee brain is yelling “No! Gaming the system!”. But, as I said, this is being written pre-coffee so take that into consideration. However, it is the issue of folks putting short stories into the program that would normally earn 33 cents and will now get close to $2.00 for a “loan” that is causing the bad blood where KU is concerned.

            • Especially when MOST of those 99 cent books are people from get rich quick websites who are republishing pamphlets and other such material in order to abuse the system. And every few months they republish under a new set of titles, sometimes even with a new account name.
              As you only have to look at two pages to get far enough in for them to get paid, it has been a HUGE money maker for these people.
              I’m just shocked no one at Amazon realizes this. It’s like they never ever heard of the logic behind FIFO in computers, and the decades of experience to come up with that logic. I’m guessing they must all be business majors from Harvard or Yale, because there is an obvious lack of intelligence demonstrated there.

          • Blume

            Dude I just finished your infinity portal stuff in ku. I really enjoyed it and promise to get and read any new stuff in that universe if its ku. 2.99 to 5.99 books as money allows.

            • Why thank you very much for those kind words. I will be keeping all the books in the series at 2.99. That was the goal when I first planned it. With one exception I keep all the ebooks in the 2.99 to 3.99 price range.
              As for KU, I will probably put the next book in it, even if I pull the others out, because I have a lot of readers in that program and I don’t want to punish them for Amazon’s practices. However I would probably only leave it in there for one three month period.

  15. Pat Patterson

    Just speaking from the perspective of a disabled, fixed income end user: My budget just won’t tolerate buying the books I read; my limits on mobility won’t tolerate frequent trips to the brick and mortar library – and by the way, are your books there?
    But I read, read, read, read, and if you are putting things on KU, I WILL read them. Bizarre health issues followed by holidays, with a mix of family drama in there, kept me away from following up with my planned rotation through the ELOE works, but with “Joy Comes With the Mourning” just finished, ‘m back on track.
    Now, when I am able to devote myself to it, I read and review one book per day, if not more. Been off my feed, but the pool of potential readers is HUGE, so I can’t be the only one who inhales books and exhales reviews.Surely we can develop into a nice revenue stream for you; I hope so, at least.

    • Pat, I don’t think anyone here is advocating doing away with the program. The issue, to me at least, is the need to change the payout system. A novel (and to me that means 70k words or more) should make more than a 5-7k word short story. Beyond that, I do appreciate readers like you, especially since you do leave reviews. So here’s a big thanks from one author to a reader. 😉

      • Pat Patterson

        I will say NOTHING to aggravate, confound, or otherwise contradict those who are the prime source of my remaining entertainment, namely authors.
        But with respect to the value of 70k novels versus 5-7k short stories, how can you ever factor in the SHAZAM variable?
        Nightfall, First Contact, The Cold Equations. All were short stories, everybody on Earth has read them, and they were produced by geniuses kept chained to their typewriters in a dungeon and fed 1/2 cent a word. You could add a million story titles to that list, and I am tempted to, but the brevity of the list illustrates my point.
        By the way: they are all bad science/engineering. Nightfall requires a pre-Copernican world, in which the suns are in orbit around the planet. First Contact is silly: in what disturbed universe could two different biologies share sex humor? And The Cold Equations is just dumb; nobody would ever launch anything with value above a bottle rocket without having backups to the backups.
        You’d NEVER get away with that in a book, because they aren’t telling a story, they are delivering a SHAZAM!
        By the way, since this will likely be my last post for 2014 (11:30 in beautiful downtown Woodstock, GA, USA) let me wish all a Happy New Year! 2014, you didn’t kill me. So I win.

        • Laura M

          And a Happy New Year to you, Pat, and to everyone at MGC!

        • Pat, I wasn’t necessarily talking entertainment value but cost. And, let’s face it, there simply aren’t that many short stories out there with that sort of WOW! factor you describe. More importantly, many of the shorts I’m seeing in the KU program are simply attempts by authors to game the system. Not all, but a lot. What it comes down to, for me, is if you are selling your short for 99 cents or whatever, you should not get more for a borrow under KU than you get for a sale. Shrug.

          Happy New Year, everyone!

          • That just invites people to game the system in the opposite way, by pricing their books incredibly high so that they get a bigger chunk. It would even be enabled by the requirement to be exclusive, since I think Amazon has a requirement about their price being the lowest.

            It would also punish people who put their loss-leaders in the KUL program and keep the price low outside of the program.

            Oh, and it would give the Trads even more reason to price their backlog ridiculously, since I can’t be the only one who’s considered it for the really old e-books they’re selling for four to six bucks– so you’d be, in the long run, shrinking your share of the pot by making it so that people mostly try the really expensive books and don’t even try sanely priced books, thus never getting exposed to your writing and it not leading to them buying your books outside the program.

            • There is no system that cannot be gamed. This does not mean that all gaming, nor all systems, are created equal but something to recognize.

              • True, but figuring out HOW it will be gamed is important.

                I’d think it’s better Amazon– and authors, and readers– if the gaming is not in the direction of artificially raising prices.

                I can even think of one or two ways to game the amount read, and word count figures, which I am of course not going to mention or even allude to with any detail!

              • Pat Patterson

                O, dat’s true, there is no system that can’t be gamed. But I think that people who put someone else’s work (like a pamphlet) in the system deserve to have the system turn on them and bite them really, really hard.
                Now, currently, I’m seeking out works by MGC/Evil League of Evil, and writing them the most bodacious reviews I can. However, the review function may be a knife that cuts both ways. Should I encounter a person who is dumping garbage into the system, I can describe their worthless contribution and rate it. Maybe Amazon really is a river, and if so, these guys are polluting it.

  16. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Yeah, well the problem is that Amazon is a lot like Google and Microsoft. If it makes any changes, someone is going to have problems, and that someone won’t be happy.

    Google made changes to the Page Rank algorithm, which were in my opinion long overdue, and a bunch of link spammers went ballistic. Microsoft added the Ribbon to Office 2007 and a bunch of users went ballistic. And on and on…

    Which is why I keep warning people that you CANNOT rely on any company you deal with. You just can’t. They make changes (for what they consider very good reasons) and those changes can kill you.

    You have to have an exit strategy planned. You really do.