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To: TimF who wrote (160933)12/9/2011 4:06:33 PM
From: Road Walker
   of 161632
 
That might help them against the very small Internet retailers, but Amazons real competition is B&M retailers. Its pretty much a wash right now, pay shipping or pay sales tax, about the same. If you have to pay shipping & sales tax on A it is going to hurt them. To what extent I don't know.

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From: TimF12/11/2011 10:14:29 AM
1 Recommendation   of 161632
 
The Amazon App That's Driving Retailers Crazy
Reuters

Ted Mann 9,388 Views Dec 10, 2011

Amazon's Price Check app lets customers use a smartphone to scan the barcodes of items they find in a retail store. The app does the comparison shopping, and tells them if a better deal on the same purchase can be had online. This is driving brick-and-mortar merchants bananas.

The online retail giant already enjoys a major tax advantage: in most jurisdictions, Amazon collects no sales tax on customer purchases. Now they're giving people who have already come out to stores a reason to not spend there, presenting another potential threat to small businesses in the height of their busy season. Amazon is even throwing in a 5 percent discount on items that customers scanned in-store before purchasing online.

Resistance is growing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, (R-Maine) entered the fray, calling the promotion "anti-competitive" and "an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities."

...

Snowe urged Amazon to stop the promotion being offered Saturday. "Small businesses are fighting every day to compete with giant retailers, such as Amazon, and incentivizing consumers to spy on local shops is a bridge too far," she said in a statement.

Retail groups agreed. A spokesman for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness said "no retailer can compete" with Amazon because as an online retailer, the company is not required to collect sales taxes in many states.

The Retail Industry Leaders Assn., which represents many big-box retail chains, said the app unfairly encourages shoppers to use bricks-and-mortar shops as "showrooms" to check out a product before buying online.

But Amazon is not backing down, and consumer advocates told the Times that the app was good for shoppers. They're the ones who will enjoy better deals as a result. If anything, it improves the competition that business advocates say capitalism needs to thrive, one advocate told the Times. "It doesn't make sense to call it anti-competitive behavior," he said.

theatlanticwire.com 

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To: TimF who wrote (160935)12/11/2011 12:02:01 PM
From: Sr K
   of 161632
 
Great publicity.

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From: Road Walker12/12/2011 6:46:21 AM
   of 161632
 
As Kindle Fire Faces Critics, Remedies Are PromisedBy DAVID STREITFELD
The Kindle Fire, Amazon’s heavily promoted tablet, is less than a blazing success with many of its early users. The most disgruntled are packing the device up and firing it back to the retailer.

A few of their many complaints: there is no external volume control. The off switch is easy to hit by accident. Web pages take a long time to load. There is no privacy on the device; a spouse or child who picks it up will instantly know everything you have been doing. The touch screen is frequently hesitant and sometimes downright balky.

All the individual grievances — recorded on Amazon’s own Web site — received a measure of confirmation last week when Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, denounced the Fire, saying it offered “a disappointingly poor” experience. For users whose fingers are not as slender as toothpicks, he warned, the screen could be particularly frustrating to manipulate.

“I feel the Fire is going to be a failure,” Mr. Nielsen, of the Nielsen Norman Group, a Silicon Valley consulting firm, said in an interview. “I can’t recommend buying it.”

All this would be enough to send some products directly to the graveyard where the Apple Newton, the Edsel, New Coke and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe languish. But as a range of retailers and tech firms could tell you, it would be foolish to underestimate Amazon.

Amazon sees the Kindle line of devices as critical for its future as a virtual store, and is willing to lose money on the sale of each one for the sake of market share. Once dominance is achieved, it plans to make money on the movies, books and music that users download directly from Amazon.

First, however, it needs to make the devices ubiquitous. Promoting them every day to its tens of millions of customers at the cheapest possible price will surely help. If Apple brought the notion of the tablet into the mainstream, Amazon is making it affordable.

The retailer says the Kindle Fire is the most successful product it has ever introduced, a measure of enthusiasm that reveals nothing; it has not specified how many Fires it has sold, nor how many Kindles it has ever sold. It also says it is building even more Fires to meet the strong demand. But, at the same time, it acknowledges that it is working on improvements.

“In less than two weeks, we’re rolling out an over-the-air update to Kindle Fire,” said Drew Herdener, a company spokesman.

There will be improvements in performance and multitouch navigation, and customers will have the option of editing the list of items that show what they have recently been doing. No more will wives wonder why their husbands were looking at a dating site when they said they were playing Angry Birds.

Amazon declines to say, but soon — probably in the spring — there will be an improved version of the device itself. One more shot is all the retailer will get, Mr. Nielsen said. “If that’s a failure, then the Fire is doomed to the dust pile of history.”

Despite Amazon’s silence on the matter, analysts have been estimating the company will sell from three to five million Fires this quarter. They are neither raising their estimates nor lowering them.

Amazon’s devotion to this product line is such that it has stripped down the original Kindle e-reader, reduced its price and begun to sell it through other retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart for $79, as well as prominently on its Web site. If Amazon had Apple-like margins, analysts estimate that the basic Kindle might cost $180.

According to calculations by the research firm IHS iSuppli, the $79 Kindle costs Amazon $84 to make. That sum does not include research and development, shipping or, with a third-party retailer, the wholesale discount. Add these up, and Amazon might be losing as much as $20 on every $79 Kindle sold at, for example, Best Buy.

For most hardware makers, that would be a recipe for corporate suicide. But once the device is activated in a buyer’s home, the losses stop and the consumption begins.

“What else are you going to do on this Kindle?” asked Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of teardown services at iSuppli. “Nothing. It’s a useless device unless you’re planning on putting books, a lot of books, on it.”

The Fire is trying to do much more than be an e-book reader, a function some say it does not do as well as the original Kindle. Slightly more than a third of the 4,500 reviewers of the Fire on Amazon have given it mixed to negative reviews, three stars or fewer. Of Amazon reviewers of the iPad 2, 22 percent have given three stars or fewer; for the original Kindle, that number is 11 percent. (There are a few caveats. At least some of the iPad reviewers bought not from Apple but from resellers, the real target of their ire. As for the original Kindle, after four years it has both a huge number of reviews — over 34,000 — and the advantage of being a known quantity.)

Many of the initial customers of the Fire seem to have bought it on a mixture of faith and hype. The striking thing even about some of the one-star reviewers is that they are regretful rather than angry. One review, couched as an open letter to Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, began: “I have spent thousands on your outstanding site. I own and love the original kindle. When asked about why I would buy a Fire when I had an ipad, I said that half of me wanted to just support your effort and that I believed amazon just did things right.” The reviewer is now recommending that friends skip lunch to buy an iPad.

Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, has been tracking the opinions as more reviews are posted on Amazon. Since Nov. 18, five-star reviews have fallen slightly, to 47 percent from 50 percent, he says. One-star reviews have held relatively steady at about 13 percent.

“I would have expected things to be even worse at this point,” Mr. Munster said, adding that initial buyers were usually the most critical. Pricing will save the Fire, he predicted. At $199 versus $500 for an iPad, “Amazon has a lot of air cover to have a B-level product.”

Mr. Nielsen, the consultant, disagreed.

The 7-inch Fire does a good job displaying sites optimized for smaller mobile devices, he said, but stumbles when it tries to show pages designed for 10-inch tablets. “Like squeezing a size-10 person into a size-7 suit,” Mr. Nielsen wrote in his report. “Not going to look good.” As for displaying desktop sites, forget it.

It is true that the device is only $199, but so what? “Look at your hand. Is it thin or fat?” he asked. “If it’s fat, you just know it’s going to be bad.”

The device does do one thing well, he said. Shopping on Amazon is a breeze. “If I were given to conspiracy theories, I’d say that Amazon deliberately designed a poor Web browsing user experience to keep Fire users from shopping on competing sites,” Mr. Nielsen said.

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From: Road Walker12/13/2011 3:35:39 AM
   of 161632
 
Amazon’s Jungle LogicBy RICHARD RUSSO
Camden, Me.

I FIRST heard of Amazon’s new “promotion” from my bookseller daughter, Emily, in an e-mail with the subject line “Can You Hear Me Screaming in Brooklyn?” According to a link Emily supplied, Amazon was encouraging customers to go into brick-and-mortar bookstores on Saturday, and use its price-check app (which allows shoppers in physical stores to see, by scanning a bar code, if they can get a better price online) to earn a 5 percent credit on Amazon purchases (up to $5 per item, and up to three items).

Books, interestingly enough, were excluded, but you could use your Amazon credit online to buy other things that bookstores sell these days, like music and DVDs. And, if you were scanning, say, the new Steve Jobs biography, you’d no doubt be informed that you were about to pay way too much. I wondered what my writer friends made of all this, so I dashed off an e-mail to Scott Turow, the president of the Authors Guild, and cc’ed Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Andre Dubus III, Anita Shreve, Tom Perrotta and Ann Patchett.

These writers all derive considerable income from Amazon’s book sales. But when the responses to my query started coming in it was clear Amazon’s program would find no defenders in our ranks.

“Scorched-earth capitalism” is how Dennis described it. “They don’t win unless they destroy their competition and then rub their noses in it.” Andre was outraged by Amazon’s attempt to turn its customers into “Droid-packing” spies. Like Dennis, he saw the move as an unsubtle attempt to monopolize the market, the effect of which would ultimately be to “further devalue, as a cultural and human necessity, the book” itself.

Stephen wrote “I love my Kindle” and noted that Amazon had done well by him in terms of book sales. But he too saw the new strategy as both “invasive and unfair.” He thought that many would see the new promotion as nothing more than comparison shopping on steroids but that, in fact, it was “a bridge too far.”

Scott supplied lawyerly perspective: “The law has long been clear that stores do not invite the public in for all purposes. A retailer is not expected to serve as a warming station for the homeless or a site for band practice. So it’s worth wondering whether it’s lawful for Amazon to encourage people to enter a store for the purpose of gathering pricing information for Amazon and buying from the Internet giant, rather than the retailer. Lawful or not, it’s an example of Amazon’s bare-knuckles approach.”

Statements like this will no doubt make us all seem, to Amazon devotees, like a bunch of privileged, holier-than-thou ingrates. Privileged I’ll grant them. But as we swapped e-mails it quickly became clear that the real source of our collective dismay was actually gratitude, not ingratitude. On my first book tour I was invited to Barbara’s Bookstore in Chicago. The employees optimistically set up seven folding chairs, then occupied those chairs themselves when nobody showed up for the reading.

Armed with such experiences, my writer pals and I took personally Amazon’s assault on the kinds of stores that hand-sold our books before anybody knew who we were, back before Amazon or the Internet itself existed. As Anita put it, losing independent bookstores would be “akin to editing ... a critical part of our culture out of American life.”

As the owner of a new independent bookstore in Nashville, Ann may have more to lose than the rest of us, so I found her calm, resigned response particularly interesting. “There is no point in fighting them or explaining to them that we should be able to coexist civilly in the marketplace,” she wrote me. “I don’t think they care. I do think it’s worthwhile explaining to customers that the lowest price point does not always represent the best deal. If you like going to a bookstore then it’s up to you to support it. If you like seeing the people in your community employed, if you think your city needs a tax base, if you want to buy books from a person who reads, don’t use Amazon.”

Tom agreed: “People have to understand that their short-term decision to save a couple bucks undermines their long-term interest in their community and vital, real-life literary culture.”

Though it’s under siege, such real-life literary culture exists in unexpected places. A few miles down the road from where I live on the coast of Maine, a talented young bookseller named Lacy Simons recently opened a small bookshop called Hello Hello, and in her blogshe wrote eloquently about her relationship to “everyone who comes in my store. If you let me, I’ll get to know you through your reading life and strive to find books that resonate with you. Amazon asks you to take advantage of my knowledge & my education (which I’m still paying for) and treat the space I rent, the heat & light I pay for, the insurance policies I need to be here, the sales tax I gather for the state, the gathering place I offer, the books and book culture I believe in so much that I’ve wagered everything on it” as if it were “a showroom for goods you can just get more cheaply through them.”

Scott reminds me what happened the last time someone stood up to Amazon. Nearly two years ago, the Macmillan publishing group adopted a new sales model that would cost Macmillan in the short run, but allow other companies to enter or remain in the e-book market without having to take a loss on every sale. Amazon’s response to more competition? They refused to sell not merely Macmillan’s e-books, but nearly every physical book Macmillan published. Amazon eventually backed down, but its initial response helped shape a widespread sense that it envisions a world in which there will be no other booksellers or publishers, a world where, history suggests, Amazon may not use its power benignly or for the benefit of literary culture.

This puts me in mind of stories about the days in Old Hollywood when the studios controlled everything. A director friend told me about a particularly ruthless studio head who, as my friend put it, would sell his mother for a bent farthing, and was, as a result, universally feared and loathed. But here’s the thing: the exec shared a common language and a common passion with those he steamrolled. Why? They inhabited the same world. Those days, my friend concluded wistfully, are gone. Movie studios have been subsumed by media empires. And when you try to have a conversation with the new Hollywood, it quickly becomes clear that you’re talking about movies and they’re talking about refrigerators.

As I see it, the problem with Amazon stems from the fact that though it started out as a bookseller, it isn’t anymore, not really. It sells everything now, and it sells it all aggressively. Maybe Amazon doesn’t care about the larger bookselling universe because it’s simply too big to care. In a way it’s become, like the John Candy character (minus the eager, slobbering benevolence) in Mel Brooks’s movie “Spaceballs” — half man, half dog and thus its own best friend.

Like just about everybody I’ve talked to about it, I first attributed Amazon’s price-comparison app to arrogance and malevolence, but there’s also something bizarrely clumsy and wrong-footed about it. Critics may appear weak today, but they may not be tomorrow, and if the wind shifts, Amazon’s ham-fisted strategy has the potential to morph into a genuine Occupy Amazon movement. And even if the company is lucky and that doesn’t happen, what has it really gained? The fickle gratitude of people who will have about as much loyalty to Amazon tomorrow as they do today to Barnes & Noble, last year’s bully? This is good business? Is it just me, or does it feel as if the Amazon brass decided to spend the holidays in the Caribbean and left in charge of the company a computer that’s fallen head over heels in love with its own algorithms?

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From: Sr K12/13/2011 5:14:46 PM
1 Recommendation   of 161632
 
Hollywood Said to Court Amazon for Online Sales

By Cliff Edwards, Michael White and Danielle Kucera - Dec 13, 2011 4:41 PM ET


Amazon already lets customers store movies purchased on its site. The Seattle-based company is interested in a plan to let consumers pay 99 cents to $1.49 to convert a DVD or Blu-ray disc they already own into a digital copy stored online, said the people. The 99-cent offer is expected to be announced by the Ultraviolet group at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, the people said.


bloomberg.com 

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From: Glenn Petersen12/17/2011 2:54:50 PM
2 Recommendations   of 161632
 
Amazon Says Long Term And Means It

By JAMES B. STEWART
New York Times
December 16, 2011

In 1997, the year Amazon.com went public, its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, issued a manifesto: “It’s all about the long term,” he said. He warned shareholders “we may make decisions and weigh tradeoffs differently than some companies” and urged them to make sure that a long-term approach “is consistent with your investment policy.” Amazon’s management and employees “are working to build something important, something that matters to our customers, something that we can tell our grandchildren about,” he added.

But shareholders seem never to have gotten the message. In October, when Amazon reported strong third-quarter revenue growth and earnings that were pretty much what the company had predicted, but indicated it would be spending more to support continued growth, investors hammered its stock. Amazon shares dropped nearly $30, or 13 percent, to $198 a share in just one day, Oct. 25. This week they were trading even lower, at $181.

Over the years, Amazon shares have been periodically buffeted by short-term results that seem to have disappointed investors. “The stock has been bumpy,” a Morgan Stanley analyst, Scott Devitt, told me this week. “Investor trust seems to go in cycles.”

The notion that public companies should maximize shareholder value by managing for the long term is pretty much gospel among good-governance proponents and management experts. Jack Welch advanced the concept in a seminal 1981 speech at the Pierre Hotel in New York and elaborated on it in subsequent books and articles while running General Electric, when G.E. was widely lauded as the best-managed company in the country. It has been especially championed in Silicon Valley, where technology companies like Google have openly scorned Wall Street analysts and their obsession with quarterly estimates and results by refusing to issue earnings guidance.

Amazon, in particular, has been true to its word to manage for the long term. It remains one of the world’s leading growth companies and its stock has soared 12,200 percent since its public offering. In late October it reported quarterly revenue growth of 44 percent to almost $11 billion, which came on the heels of 80 percent growth a year ago. “We’re seeing the best growth which we’ve seen since 2000, meaning in 2010 and so far over the past 12 months ending September,” the chief financial officer, Thomas Szkutak, told investors in October. But operating earnings fell sharply to $79 million. While that was in line with most estimates, Amazon offered a forecast for the fourth quarter in which it said it might lose as much as $200 million or earn as much as $250 million, and even the high end would represent a 47 percent drop.

The reason Amazon is earning so little while selling so much is that it is spending so much on long-term growth. It’s opening 17 new fulfillment centers — airport hangar-size storage and shipping facilities — this year and aggressively cutting prices. Its profit margin for the quarter was just 2.4 percent, and it said it might be zero for the fourth quarter. (By comparison, Wal-Mart’s margins are 6 percent on revenue of $440 billion. )

Amazon seems to be taking customer focus to new levels, willing to run its ever-bigger global business while earning little or nothing in return. To the dismay of some, Mr. Bezos even takes a long-term view of price cuts. “With rare exceptions, the volume increase in the short term is never enough to pay for the price decrease,” he told shareholders in 2005. But that kind of thinking, he added, is “short term. We can estimate what a price reduction will do this week and this quarter. But we cannot numerically estimate the effect that consistently lowering prices will have on our business over five years or 10 years or more.” Selling at low prices may undercut profits, but they create “a virtuous cycle that leads over the long term to a much larger dollar amount of free cash flow, and thereby to a much more valuable Amazon.com,” Mr. Bezos said.

Amazon has done little to dampen speculation that it is selling its revamped Kindle e-reader devices and its recently introduced Fire tablet at a loss. Amazon simply doesn’t think like most other companies. When “we think about the economics of the Kindle business, we think about the totality,” Mr. Szkutak said. “We think of the lifetime value of those devices. So we’re not just thinking about the economics of the device and the accessories. We’re thinking about the content.” In other words, profits will come down the road when Kindle users buy content through Amazon.

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Mr. Bezos told reporter Steve Levy last month in an interview in Wired. “But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn.”

Whatever they might say about long-term shareholder value, this is simply too much for many of today’s investors, many of whom are hedge funds, pension funds and institutions who measure their results — and earn their pay — based on quarterly benchmarks. “If you look at the average length of ownership of a stock, the period is declining,” Mr. Devitt said. “Amazon is marching to a different drumbeat, which is long term. Are they doing the right thing? Absolutely. Amazon is growing at twice the rate of e-commerce as a whole, which is growing five times faster than retail over all. Amazon is bypassing margins and profits for growth.”

For Amazon, long-term growth confers two major benefits: the kind of economies of scale enjoyed by Wal-Mart and eliminating or weakening competitors. The book retailer Borders has been forced out of business and a rival, Barnes & Noble, is struggling. Best Buy, the electronics retailer, reported this week that earnings plunged 29 percent, despite higher revenue and a surge of Black Friday sales, because the chain had to cut prices and offer free shipping to compete with Amazon. Amazon inflamed many competitors this holiday season by offering extra discounts to shoppers who took mobile devices into stores and then used them to compare prices and order from Amazon.

The revamped Kindle line and especially the new Fire tablet illustrate Amazon’s long-term strategy. “Amazon has much greater ambitions than near-term profits or margins,” Ken Sena, an Evercore analyst, said.

“Some people are griping that the Fire is sub-par,” Mr. Sena continued. “It’s not an iPad. And some investors are confused. Why would they give it away, even lose money on it? But getting it into as many hands as possible is important to them. They’ll use it to drive higher physical and digital good sales on their site. And these devices also bring Amazon deeper into the local retail opportunity, not to mention the app marketplace potential that exists. Media sales on the device are just the beginning. I think Amazon understands all these components.”

The Fire “isn’t meant to be another iPad,” Mr. Devitt noted. “It’s a device to sell Amazon content. All indications are it’s a success. It’s the most gifted item on Amazon. It’s too soon to tell, but it seems more promising than it’s getting credit for.” This week Amazon said it had sold more than a million Kindles a week for the last three weeks.

Nearly 15 years after Amazon’s public offering, it’s safe to say that Mr. Bezos and his colleagues have realized their goal of creating a company to tell their grandchildren about. But one of these days Amazon has to deliver on its promise of higher margins and profits, however long term that may turn out to be. “To many investors, long term is a year,” Mr. Devitt said. “For Bezos, he’s looking at a 10- to 20-year time line. When he says long term, he means 2020 or 2030.”

nytimes.com 

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (160940)12/17/2011 7:08:06 PM
From: Sr K
   of 161632
 
I see from the link that the column is called Common Sense, which he used to write for the WSJ and Smart Money. I didn't know he had jumped to a competitor.

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From: Glenn Petersen12/20/2011 12:29:33 PM
1 Recommendation   of 161632
 
Santa's (seasonal) elves:

Welcome to Amazon Town

Retired 'Workampers' Flock to Remote Towns for Temporary Gigs; RV Parks Are Full

By STU WOO
Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2011

FERNLEY, Nev.—Behind the piles of smiley-faced Amazon.com Inc. boxes arriving on doorsteps this holiday season are workers like Ray and Sarann Williams.

The retired couple are part of the swarm of seasonal employees taking up temporary residence in this small desert city—home to one of Amazon's warehouses—to help the online-retail giant fulfill its influx of holiday orders.

The Williamses migrated from their home in Hurricane, Utah, to take the two-month warehouse gig. "The money always helps" and the physical labor "always makes me feel better," Mr. Williams said as he walked his miniature schnauzer, Maya, around the Desert Rose RV park, where the couple is currently residing. The 75-year-old said this was his second stint as a seasonal Amazon worker, after spending last autumn at Amazon's Campbellsville, Ky., location.

Amazon, the world's biggest e-commerce purveyor, sees a sales spike every fourth quarter, when it makes nearly 40% of its more than $34 billion in annual revenue. To meet that surge, the Seattle-based company hires hundreds of temporary workers at each of its 34 U.S. warehouses.

A spokeswoman for Amazon, which has 51,000 staffers excluding seasonal workers world-wide, said it hires "thousands" of temporary workers for the holidays, but declined to disclose specific numbers. It said it quadrupled its staff at its warehouse in Phoenix to 1,200 to handle the end-of-year rush.

Many of these employees belong to the community of "workampers," a sort of modern-day migrant worker. Many of them are retirees who spend all or part of the year living in RVs and taking odd seasonal jobs around the country. While some workers really need the money, others said they take the gigs to help fund their adventures or just for fun.



Many current and former seasonal workers said Amazon pays decent wages—about $12 an hour plus overtime in Fernley, which is about 50% better than minimum wage here. But that is in exchange for long hours and tedious labor.

"It's like the best place to work and the worst place to work," said Kelly Andrus, a 50-year-old Fernley resident who served as an Amazon holiday employee seven years ago. "It's good pay, and they're safety oriented," but she said the managers were strict and the labor was physically demanding.

Workers can be on their feet for hours fetching items from shelves, packing boxes and preparing incoming items for storage. Many said they lose five pounds or more in a few weeks. Earlier this year, Amazon was on the defensive after an Allentown, Pa., newspaper reported that more than a dozen workers collapsed inside the local warehouse there because of the summer heat. The company said employee safety was its top concern and that it had urgently installed air conditioning.

Holiday hiring surges are common in online retailing. At online electronics retailer Newegg Inc., a spokeswoman said the company boosts warehouse and customer-service headcount by about 130, or roughly 20%, during the holidays.

Amazon finds its workers via recruiting events, such as the one it held at an RV show in Quartzsite, Ariz., earlier this year. Many also come by word of mouth.

Clare Moxley, who came to Fernley from Kimberley, British Columbia, said she heard about the Amazon gig from a workamper website. The 54-year-old went into early retirement five years ago, after working as a bank information-technology manager, and said she recently took up the RV lifestyle to battle complacency.

Though she sometimes gets together with several coworkers at a local Mexican restaurant on Saturdays, Ms. Moxley said most nights she is too tired to do anything but stay in her 16-foot trailer, which has room only for a small desk and a twin-sized bed. Off days are used to catch up on sleep and to do laundry.

Still, she said she was glad to make new friends in Fernley and to prove that she could still handle tough labor.

"I definitely would do it again," Ms. Moxley said.

Amazon said it hires RV residents for the autumn in three locations, Fernley, Campbellsville and Coffeyville, Kan., as part of a program called CamperForce, which started last year.

Current and former seasonal workers said Amazon lets them choose from several RV camps where the retailer will pay the parking fee for the seasonal workers.

Each location is distinct. The Desert Rose RV Park in Fernley sits off a highway in the arid desert. Occupants of the 90 campers hang out in the communal laundry and recreation room, where they threw a small, informal holiday party Wednesday. Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy said they stayed at scenic Elk City State Park when they worked at the Coffeyville location in 2009.

The influx of Amazon's holiday help can perk up places such as Fernley, a city of 19,000 about 45 miles east of the California border, where the online retailer opened its warehouse in 1999. Restaurants and casinos get crowded. There are traffic jams.

"There's probably more people working in Fernley at this time of year than any other," said Eric Stanger, president of the local Chamber of Commerce.

Amazon's Fernley warehouse, which is about the size of 13 football fields, sits between the stores of two competitors, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Lowe's Cos. Employees say they often park in the lots of those big-box retailers when the Amazon lot fills up. The area gets congested around 6 p.m., when the shifts change.

The RV parks are perhaps Amazon's biggest beneficiaries this time of year. Debbie Skinner, the owner of Desert Rose RV Park, said about a fifth of her annual revenue—she wouldn't give underlying numbers—comes from Amazon. The monthly parking rate at Desert Rose is $375, though Ms. Skinner would not disclose Amazon's special rate.

The effects of temporary help also trickle down to local businesses and the city government. Troy Sibson, manager of Pioneer Crossing Casino, said his establishment gets noticeably busier during these months.

Mr. Sibson couldn't provide specific figures on the boost from seasonal workers. But he noted one change: "They befriend the bartenders."

Write toStu Woo at Stu.Woo@wsj.com

online.wsj.com 

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From: Sr K12/22/2011 12:03:38 PM
   of 161632
 
Amazon opening two centers in Va. hiring 1,350 12/22 08:42 AM

--

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) said on Thursday that it is opening two new fulfilment centers in Virginia and that it will hire 1,350 new staff to operate the facilities. "The company will invest $85 million and create more than 1,000 jobs in Chesterfield County, and invest $50 million in Dinwiddie County, creating more than 350 jobs," the state's governor, Bob McDonnell, said in a joint press release with Amazon.

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