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]
Like the death of Mark Twain, the demise of the printed book is greatly exaggerated, although the latest news from Amazon – which announced that it is selling more ebooks in America than print books for the first time – might suggest the nails are being readied for the coffin. [more inside]
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Amazon.com's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) crashed yesterday, taking with it popular sites like Reddit, Quora, Foursquare, Hootsuite, Act.ly, and about 70 other sites. Amazon.com was affected, as was some functionality of the New York Times. Amazon Web Service's Health Dashboard indicates that there are still major operating disturbances. [more inside]
As Amazon and the RIAA go head to head over the Amazon Cloud Player (esentially Dropbox with streaming) it seems like a good time to recap the turbulent history of the humble MP3, upender of the music industry business model.
Best-selling author Seth Godin has launched a challenge to traditional publishing with The Domino Project, the first publishing imprint to be powered by Amazon. [more inside]
Amanda Hocking is 26 years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. ... And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book/70% per sale for the Kindle store... there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own. (related)
Amazon's Prime Streaming service has gone live. The online retailer is adding this to its free 2-day shipping service gratis.
Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning, announcing it would close about 200 of its 650 or so remaining stores.
Amazon.com's state sales tax fight took a dramatic turn as plans were announced to close the online retailer's Irving, Texas distribution center by April 12. Amazon would not confirm the total number of employees who worked at the fulfillment center, but did announce plans to offer positions in other states to employees willing to relocate. Amazon blames the closure on Texas' "unfavorable regulatory climate." [more inside]
Amazing footage of an uncontacted tribe in Brazil. These tribes are threatened by the encroachment of illegal logging activites. "I know this footage is the only way to convince the rest of the world they are here."
Cryptoforestry: Inner City Reforestation in Utrecht and the G/Local Amazon; Psychogeography is involved
Cryptoforestry is a heady blog that covers cryptoforests of all sorts, from feral forests that thrive next to heavily developed urban environments without human assistance, land in limbo and "states of vegetation for which lay-language has no name", incognito forests that hide in plain view, precognitive forests that are about to become forest or are forest Fata Morgana, and unappreciated forests that are considered wastelands. The scope of the blog covers local Utrecht sites to the "g/local" Amazon basin, and lands in-between. All this is filtered through the lens of psychogeography, emphasizing "the psychological effects of a forest rather than canopy cover or land use as of importance for classification." [more inside]
'Illinois wants Amazon to collect 6.25 percent sales tax and send it back to the state.' Amazon fights back. Under current law, only companies with a physical presence in the state have to do this, but the new bill declares that even having affiliates in Illinois counts as "presence." 'An e-mail sent from the company to all of its Illinois affiliates this morning warns that, should Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sign a just-passed tax bill, Amazon is cutting off every affiliate in Illinois. "We regret to inform you that the Illinois state legislature has passed an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that, if signed by Governor Quinn, would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with Illinois-based Associates," said the e-mail.' [more inside]
Amazon has patented a system that would allow gift recipients to return a gift before they even get it. [more inside]
In a more recent action of book banning, Amazon appears to be banning books about incest that are not top rated titles. Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein is available, for example. Covered here as well.
We've discussed the "once in a century" Amazon Drought of 2005-06. Five years later and we are seeing another once in a century drought in the Amazon. How serious are the effects of these droughts for global climate? The science appears to be mixed. Helping monitor is the newly released Google Earth 6.0, which can track individual trees within a section of the Amazonian forest, and 80 million other trees in 7 cities around the world (video).
Hgiyiyi (hgjhjh, hjhk) by JJJJ and JJJJJ, has been praised by reviewers as "more majestic than Aslan, more intoxicating than Rappaccini's daughter, and more magical than Abcar." But there has been some controversy about the translation, and some critics are angry: "Jjjj can just vdb off." [more inside]
The disappearing act of a pedophilia how-to on Amazon shines a spotlight on Amazon's shaky content guidelines.
Jeff Vandermeer discusses Amazons top 10 SF/Fantasy books of the year, which he selected in consultation with Amazon editors : Part 1, Part 2.
Noted literary agent Andrew Wylie has made a deal with several of his authors - including Saul Bellow, John Updike and Phillip Roth - to release their e-books exclusively on Amazon. Macmillan's John Sargent and Tyler Cowen react.
Today's woot: Woot.
Beloved Toronto independent bookstore This Ain't the Rosedale Library is at risk of closing. A rallying of the community might stay the execution, but what happens next? [more inside]