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]
Why Might A Publisher Pull Its eBooks From Libraries? PaidContent takes a look at Penguin's recent move to pull all of its titles from Overdrive's public library ebook program, a program that even some librarians are upset about.
The Great Tech War of 2012: Apple v. Google v. Amazon v. Facebook
Amazon.com has taught readers that they do not need bookstores. Now it is encouraging writers to cast aside their publishers. “Everyone’s afraid of Amazon. ... If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out." (Some adventures in self-publishing.) [more inside]
"Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product." "Last night, high-profile Google engineer Steve Yegge mistakenly posted a long rant about working at Amazon and Google’s own issues with creating platforms on Google+...The most interesting part to me, though, is Yegge’s blunt assessment of what he perceives to be Google’s inability to understand platforms and how this could endanger the company in the long run." It's quite long, but there's some interesting insight - all the more because it wasn't initially intended to be made public. (via SiliconFilter/via G+) [more inside]
We've all gotten used to the idea that certains movies will be available only on certain cable channels, that certain albums will be available only via certain webstores, etc. However, it does seem a little bit stranger of an idea when applied to hard copy books. And yet...
Amazon unveils a new full color 7" multi-touch tablet it is calling Kindle Fire. Also announced are a new Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G. [more inside]
Byliner and The Atavist might be heralding a change in how and how much longform article authors are paid.
"I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one," Goris said. "They can do that because there aren't any jobs in the area."The Allentown newspaper The Morning Call investigates life inside of one of Amazon's newest warehouses. [more inside]
Is that review a fake? A new paper from Cornell researchers proposes an algorithm for sussing out fake reviews from websites. Here's a summary of tell-tale signs.
Borders is liquidating as soon as this Friday, closing all 399 stores, ending 40 years of business, and 11,000 jobs. Brought down by e-books and Amazon. Scenes From A Borders Liquidation Sale. Map of (soon to be vacant) Borders stores.
Who owns the term "app store"? Apple wants to, but Amazon and Microsoft, among others, think it is generic. Will Steve Jobs's own words come to haunt him? In any case, the first casualty of the fight between giants seems to be Amahi, a small open-source media server. [more inside]
Do you want some Spam with your Kindle? Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray.
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]