"..it is refreshing to see Jason Merkoski, a leader of the team that built Amazon's first Kindle, dispense with the usual techo-utopianism and say, “I think we’ve made a proverbial pact with the devil in digitizing our words.” [more inside]
"It's become a tradition among Amazon users: Find the stupidest products for sale on the site, and write sarcastically glowing reviews of them. The examples are legendary: the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt, of course, and also Bic for Her pens. Now, the latest idiotic product to get a ceremonial roasting is the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer, a little plastic gizmo that lets you "slice an entire banana with one quick motion." Universally panned as something completely unnecessary, the product is thus being faux-celebrated as a milestone of human invention." [more inside]
The social book site Goodreads has been acquired by Amazon. Many members are upset and uncertain what this means for site which has relied on members to do the work of building and maintaining their database. Amazon already owns Shelfari and has a 40% stake in LibraryThing, two competing sites.
"Hi, my name is Paul Rosolie. I'm a naturalist based out of southern Peru and today I'm headed into the jungle to show you a place that very few people have gotten to see. I'm in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, this is the far western Amazon and some of the deepest jungle on earth."
How Napoleon Chagnon Became Our Most Controversial Anthropologist. "Jaguars and anacondas are impressive adversaries — 'Indiana Jones had nothing on me,' Napoleon Chagnon says — but his staunchest foes are other anthropologists."
Twitter is experimenting with online shopping: "American Express card holders who connect their card numbers to their Twitter accounts can post on Twitter to trigger a purchase of select products, including discounted American Express gift cards, Kindle Fire tablets from Amazon.com Inc. and jewelry from designer Donna Karan. The program will roll out over the next few days." [more inside]
Last December Amazon blocked sales of the Ebook Spots the Space Marine by author M.C.A. Hogarth after a notice from gaming industry powerhouse Games Workshop that they had trademarked the phrase "Space Marine" and that Hogarth, and anyone else who uses it, is infringing. GW brought this complaint based on "Class 16" of their European tradmark. [more inside]
Amazon contemplating the used ebook market. But will they still have used book coffee rings on the pages? [more inside]
A ten-day trip to the Mato Grosso do Sul to take pictures of anacondas worked out quite well for nature photographer Franco Banfi. (Videos from a similar expedition in 2010.)
Amazon just announced AutoRip, a service to provide MP3 versions of any song you buy on CD from their store. That's all well and good, but the kicker is that "Amazon is retroactively giving free MP3s to any customer who has purchased an AutoRip compatible CD since its Music Store first opened in 1998". Looks like I'll be knee deep in Blink 182, Cake, and The Spin Doctors again.
The International Consumer Electronics Show has been hosted in some form or fashion since 1967. But with the absence of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, journalists are asking if the show is still relevant.
The customer reviews on Amazon.co.uk's Veet For Men Hair Removal Gel Creme are not for the fainthearted. "Being a loose cannon who does not play by the rules the first thing I did..."
An explanation of how hard it is to boycott Amazon, even when you are an organisation calling for the boycott of corporations like Amazon While the organisation UK Uncut is calling for the boycotting of organisations that don't pay their fair share of tax, even they are using Amazon (though Amazon is not a company currently listed on their website, it is one of the most talked about in the UK for not paying corporation tax) The first linked article goes beyond the technical aspects of Amazon and cloud hosting and talks about a re-analysis of capitalism.
Released today: the top Google searches of 2012. Also, the top Google searches in the UK. Hungry for more "Best of 2012" collections? Curious about "best of" versus "most popular"? There's much [more inside]
"Every time I run [Amazon Random Shopper], I give it a set budget, say $50. It grabs a random word ... then runs an Amazon search based on that word. It then looks for every paperback book, CD, and DVD in the results list, and buys the first thing that’s under budget."
Five years ago today Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com released the Amazon Kindle, a move that would revolutionize the publishing industry. While often controversial, most recently for its international tax avoidance schemes, Amazon has been very successful and has made millions for its founder. What has Bezos done with some of his tax-free millions? Well for one, he launched and landed a rocket vertically, and posted the video to YouTube, just yesterday. [more inside]
The book publishing world is merging into behemoths in order to better negotiate with Amazon. Rupert Murdoch (HarperCollins) has made an offer to buy Penguin for $1.6 billion. This just hours after Penguin said it was in talks to merge with Random House to create a 'Random Penguin' with nearly 25% of all English-language book sales. Either way the reputation of Penguin could soon be in tatters. As one agent said, "Authors have told me they are frightened by a Random House takeover, but terrified by a HarperCollins one."
Outlawed by Amazon DRM: A couple of days ago, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. Leaving her without recourse. [via] [more inside]
Following much speculation Amazon has refreshed the hardware for it's Kindle range, including the Kindle Paperwhite (featuring a "flattened out fibreoptic display") and an updated version of the sold out Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 Inch Kindle Fire HD. Earlier Kobo announced their new range, including a Kindle Fire like tablet. Between this, speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price and rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event) is the window of opportunity for stock Android tablets closing?
Netflix has open sourced tools it uses for load balancing and failure management with Amazon Web Services . They plan to release more tools in the future. They are on Github.
RJ Ellory's secret Amazon reviews anger rivals. [guardian.co.uk] "Crime bestseller caught using sock puppets to trash colleagues and hymn his own 'magnificent' work." Under the pseudonym "Nicodemus Jones":
"All I will say is that there are paragraphs and chapters that just stopped me dead in my tracks," he wrote. "Some of it was chilling, some of it raced along, some of it was poetic and langorous and had to be read twice and three times to really appreciate the depth of the prose … it really is a magnificent book."
A blogger records a blow-by-blow account of how an author tries to use social media to 'correct' bad reviews of her book. [more inside]
I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day's tree felling activities in my job as a lumberjack.
But now, Bic has saved me! With these easy-to-manage lady pens, I too can record my grocery lists and the agenda for my weekly sewing circle! Yes, that's right; due to these pens' soft grips and lightweight build, even my useless, made-from-porcelain hands can manage to wield them. And what's more, their sweet and rosy color palette is soft on my frail lady eyes! It really is a dream come true!
Have you ever wanted to sort a particular Amazon's reviewer's reviews by their number of stars? Amazon has never added this feature to its user profile pages, but here's a workaround. Or perhaps you need a tool that lets you see ratings, dates of reviews, helpful and unhelpful votes, and number of comments, all in a helpful sortable list. Maybe you need to download and install the Amazon Reviewer Analysis Tool.
Your e-book is reading you. How publishers are using e-books to gain valuable information about consumers.
"Amazon’s markup of digital delivery to indie authors is ~129,000%" - author Andrew Hyde reviews the take for the most popular digital publishing platforms
The current issue of The Nation turns its focus to Amazon: The Amazon Effect by Steve Wasserman, How Germany Keeps Amazon at Bay and Literary Culture Alive by Michael Naumann, Search Gets Lost by Anthony Grafton, and finally Ten Reasons to Avoid Doing Business With Amazon.com.
The E-Book Wars: Amazon Versus the Rest. Publishers, distributors, booksellers, and authors weigh in on Amazon's ever-increasing presence and influence in the electronic publishing world. The author also takes a stab at forecasting the future for the major players in the e-book industry.
Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi [scientific paper]. Pestalotiopsis microspora lives in dark, damp and anaerobic conditions in the Amazon, is a candidate for introduction to landfills, can survive on only polyurethane, and may solve the plastic 100-400 year decomposition issue [non-technical summary].
Barnes and Noble is spinning off Nook into a subsidiary business after a $300M deal with Microsoft which gives the Redmond company a 17% stake, bringing an end to a patent dispute between the two companies and sending shares skyrocketing. Commentary from John Scalzi and Tobias Buckell. Meanwhile the Kindle Fire, Amazon's competitor to the Nook tablet, has grabbed over 50% of the Android tablet market.
Why book publishers will give up on Digital Rights Management. Short answer: because they are more afraid of Amazon becoming a monopsony than they are of consumer piracy. I don't know if he's right, but it's an interesting discussion of the immediate future in book publishing, and the way the Kindle has changed everything.
The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
The Seattle Times has just published a largely unfavorable four-part series about Seattle-based Amazon.com. In Part 1, the newspaper questions how much Amazon is doing for the local community. Part 2 suggests that Amazon is damaging the publishing industry. Part 3 asks if Amazon's tax-free status gives it an unfair advantage. And Part 4 wonders whether Amazon is bad for its own workers.
"NASA is one of the few institutions I know that can inspire five-year-olds. It sure inspired me, and with this endeavor, maybe we can inspire a few more youth to invent and explore." An undersea expendition funded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has discovered the spent rocket engines used to power Apollo 11.
One of the most popular stories on the Amazon Kindle marketplace is ...Wesley Crusher Slash Fic?. (i09)
Last week, small press distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG) announced that Amazon has decided to stop selling Kindle editions for the publishers IPG represents. The decision impacts over 500 small publishers and almost 5,000 Kindle titles. Neither party has offered much in the way of specifics, but other publishers have been reporting that Amazon has been pressuring them to offer higher discounts and/or pay a “co-op” fee of an additional 3%-4% on all sales to cover the cost of offering “automation and personalization” services (i.e. Customers who bought x also bought y). Authors and publishers have been reacting to the development.
Funny that I'm linking to Huffington Post (uffington horse?) and not the other way around... But this blog post about the last members of the Maijuna tribe in the Amazon is amazing.
Hugh Howey was a self-published novelist of no real success. Until WOOL, that is - a 15,000 word "little throwaway story" he uploaded to Amazon's Kindle Marketplace one day and promptly forget about. The story he didn't blog, didn't tweet, and didn't even sell on his site hit #2 on the Kindle SciFi Bestseller list and "changed the course of e-books." [more inside]
The London Geographical Journal, the preeminent publication in its field, observed in 1953 that “Fawcett marked the end of an age. One might almost call him the last of the individualist explorers. The day of the aeroplane, the radio, the organized and heavily financed modern expedition had not arrived. With him, it was the heroic story of a man against the forest.” Fawcett was none other than Percival "Percy" Harrison Fawcett, British soldier, trained as a surveyor of unknown lands, doubling as a British spy. But his true love was exploration, and not simply to mark boundaries on a map. His final goal was the same that had been the demise of many explorers: a mighty lost civilization in South America. [more inside]
Santa's warehouse? Not quite.
Farhad Manjoo of Slate argues that buying books from Amazon is better than buying from local bookstores.
Tech pundits and consultants agree; Amazon's Kindle Fire is a huge disaster (New York Times), good for almost nothing (Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper) and a disappointingly poor user experience (Dr. Jakob Nielsen, usability expert). It's the Apple Newton, the Edsel, New Coke and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe in tablet form. By all accounts it should be doomed. So why is it selling so well? And why are user reviews so high? [more inside]
Apple has adopted new tactics in its patent war against the handheld industry. Last summer, Apple has transferred patents to the patent troll Digitude Innovations, using a shell company operated by Digitude's primary investor, Altitude Capital Partners. In December, Digitude filed suit with the International Trade Commission alleging patent infringement by almost every mobile manufacturers except Apple. (pdf filing) [more inside]
Amazon has recently declared that tomorrow is Price Check day. If you go into a brick and mortar retail store with Amazon’s new Price Check App on your smart phone, and scan a barcode with the location settings active, and then report back to Amazon on the price of that product, Amazon will deduct $5 from your online purchase of that product. Amazon claims it’s trying to keep prices low for consumers, but others attribute the move to a less innocuous agenda. [more inside]