Capitalism is one strange beast.
Lucrative placements within coveted search ranks on Amazon’s Marketplace are incentivizing sellers to do whatever it takes to undercut each other — not by competing on price or quality, but by creatively sabotaging the listing above theirs. Bad actors plant obviously fraudulent five-star reviews on popular listings to trigger penalties, or set rivals’ products on fire to frame them as explosive, or reclassify mundane products into irrelevant categories like “sex toys.” Once sellers find themselves trapped in Amazon’s Byzantine court of appeals after a surprise suspension, guilt is often the only acceptable plea — and sometimes the only person left to contact is the richest man in the world.
The Awl finally gets the profile it has long deserved. How the independent, bootstrapped publication has remained one of the most influential sites for editors and writers since 2009. “By staying aloof from the content cycle, they’ve succeeded in creating a series of publications with coherent identities and distinct sensibilities. Those traits can be hard to maintain today, when stories are encountered alone and out of context on social platforms, and when there are huge incentives for covering viral stories that lie outside of a publication’s wheelhouse.”