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Other posts by Chris Meadows

Furor over Amazon review policy probably signifies nothing
July 4, 2015 | 11:58 am

I love the smell of manufactured outrage in the morning. As posted on her blog and recounted in a Gizmodo story, writer and blogger Imy Santiago bought an independent novel, read it, and tried to post a review of it to Amazon. But Amazon rejected her review, and held firm on the rejection through two rounds of appeals. Amazon said that they had looked at Santiago’s account activity and from it determined Santiago actually personally knew the author of the novel she was trying to review. Hence, Amazon rejected the review on the grounds that there could be a...

Amazon revamps its rating calculations, favoring helpful, recent reviews of verified purchases
July 2, 2015 | 7:48 pm

Passing by almost unnoticed in the barrage of recent news are these pieces from the last couple of weeks on changes Amazon is making to its review system. Effectively, Amazon is using machine learning to change the way it calculates the aggregate star ratings on its reviews. (Found via Reddit.) Amazon is adding more weight to reviews from verified purchasers (that is, people who actually bought the product from Amazon), people who were voted helpful, and people who reviewed it recently. This is getting a lot of play on Facebook lately, including complaints from authors concerned about how this...

Barnes & Noble taps new CEO as revamped B&N e-commerce site hinders access to e-books
July 2, 2015 | 7:02 pm

Earlier today, Fortune reported that Barnes & Noble has tapped Sears Canada CEO Ron Boire to take over as B&N's CEO. Boire has been the CEO of the struggling Sears Canada for just 10 months, but before that he was the head of the USA Sears & Kmart chains for three years. Before that, Boire had worked at Sony, Best Buy, and Toys’R’Us—not exactly a list of winners in the recent economy. And now they expect him to turn Barnes & Noble around? [Update: As Nate pointed out in the comments, the Fortune article is really badly constructed. It...

TeleRead podcast commences at 3 p.m. Eastern
July 2, 2015 | 2:17 pm

teleread-podcastIn just under an hour, we’ll be going live with our next TalkShoe episode of the TeleRead podcast! We hope some of you will be right there with us to tune in! Today, Juli and I will be discussing the recent hot news stories to hit the site in the last few days, including but not limited to: The appeal court decision upholding Judge Cote’s verdict in the Apple anti-trust case. Scribd’s decision to cull most romance and erotica titles from its subscription service. The great “Kindle Unlimited...

Are the new Kindle Unlimited rates good or bad? It depends on who you ask
July 2, 2015 | 12:28 pm

Now that it’s July, the new chapter of Kindle Unlimited has begun. No longer paying per book (of which at least 10% was read), it’s now paying per page. According to one estimate, a bit over half a cent per page, though it remains to be seen how close to accurate this guess is. Is this good? If you listen to Hugh Howey, it is. Howey holds that the overall effect of the change is really not as bad as people think. It might have been that KU under the old system was weighted in favor of short story...

Unauthorized Mass Effect RPG temporarily nominated for three ENnie Awards
July 2, 2015 | 11:37 am

mass-effect-fateHere’s an odd little self-e-publishing story that hits unexpectedly close to home for me—in the literal sense. Over the last few days, ENWorld announced the list of ENnie Award nominees for 2015—the yearly role-playing-game-industry fan-based awards that are given out at Gen Con here in Indianapolis. This list of nominees included the Mass Effect role-playing game in three different categories: Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year. Based on BioWare’s landmark sci-fi video game trilogy, Mass Effect was written by long-time RPG-industry veteran Dan Mappin. It used the Open Game Licensed Fate...

TeleRead Podcast #2 scheduled LIVE for Thursday, July 2, 3 p.m. Eastern
June 30, 2015 | 6:56 pm

Hello, everyone. It’s been a bumpy few days, but I’m definitely on the mend after getting out of the hospital. And with that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time to try another TalkShoe podcast—this one recorded live with call-in options available. The scheduled time for this podcast is Thursday, July 2, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Mark your calendars! Scheduled to be around so far are Juli and myself, but any TeleRead writers are welcome to call in and join the round table. We will discuss the recent news from the last few days, including the Apple appeal verdict and other noteworthy...

Appeals court upholds Cote’s Apple anti-trust verdict and settlement
June 30, 2015 | 11:50 am

Only last month, the 2nd Circuit appeals court said that anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich could continue to monitor Apple in a ruling on Apple’s appeal of Judge Cote’s refusal to dismiss him. Today, the same appeals court issued a similar ruling on Cote’s original verdict, which found Apple guilty of price-fixing and imposed the anti-trust monitor via injunction in the first place. The ruling was 2:1, with Judge Debra Ann Livingston writing for the majority, finding Cote’s decision was correct and the injunction was “lawful and consistent with preventing future anticompetitive harms.” Dissenting was Judge Dennis Jacobs, who oddly enough last time...

Independent publishing’s ‘Kickstarter moment’
June 21, 2015 | 11:58 am

Publishing may finally be having its “Kickstarter moment.” That’s the opinion of writer John Biggs in the piece he posted to TechCrunch today. Biggs discusses how hard it has been for independent published works to get attention from the literary establishment. Then he points out that following the example of Kickstarted gadgets, it is now possible for writers to finance complete creation of a work from start to finish, including paying for professional editing and cover design. As a result, indie writers are suddenly about to become respectable. I would argue that we are about...

Sad Puppies supporters, opponents respectively call for boycott, buying of Tor books
June 19, 2015 | 2:34 pm

Depending on your point of view, today is the day you may either want to stop buying books from Tor, or go out and buy some extra to show your support. Sad Puppies supporter Peter Grant and Rabid Puppies founder Theodore “Vox Day” Beale are calling for a boycott of Tor Books because they have not taken sufficient action concerning either the Irene Gallo controversy or other disparaging remarks made by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder, and John Scalzi. Taking Grant at his word, he has more reason than most to be outraged by Gallo’s referral...

TeleRead’s first podcast is now available to stream or download
June 18, 2015 | 8:36 pm

Today Juli Monroe, Joanna Cabot, and I got together to record our first TeleRead podcast, talking for an hour about recent news stories and other events. We touched upon various stories including the Amazon/Penguin Random House contract deal, the recent change in Amazon Kindle Unlimited compensation terms, the Authors Guild fair contract initiative, the new Kindle Paperwhite, and more. It was a fun hour of conversation, and I think it proves we can have an interesting show. Our next episode, scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern a week from Sunday, will be recorded live and in public. Anyone who wants to listen...

Australian e-book site e-book.com.au to close down
June 18, 2015 | 2:22 pm

e-book.com.au.logoAustralian e-book advocacy site e-book.com.au has announced it will close down at the end of June, 2015. Although we have only mentioned the site a couple of times on TeleRead as nearly as I can tell, the site has been in existence since 2001—a year longer than TeleRead—and has covered e-books and e-book advocacy from an Australian perspective during that time, as well as providing links to free e-book resources. [Thanks to Chris for this wonderful piece of e-book history! Just to clarify one detail, TeleRead predates e-book.com.au by years---see my publisher's note below with documenting links. - D.R.] Site founder...

Amazon and Penguin Random House agree to contract
June 18, 2015 | 1:08 pm

Amazon has signed a new contract with Penguin Random House, Publishers Weekly reports. Penguin Random House represents the last of the Big Five (nee Big Six) publishers and the last of the “Agency Five” (well, the Penguin half does, anyway) to agree to new terms. This brings an end to any possibility that there could be a repeat of the months-long Hachette unpleasantness. It’s impossible to know whether Amazon or PRH got the better deal since the terms are not being disclosed, but both sides seem to have learned well the lessons of all the fireworks over the...

The Martian: An accidental self-publishing success story
June 17, 2015 | 2:01 pm

coverA new science fiction movie by a well-known director is on the horizon. Matt Damon plays an astronaut, stranded alone on a planet inimical to human life. It also features Jessica Chastain. While you might be experiencing some Interstellar déjà vu, I’m actually talking about Andy Weir’s breakout novel The Martian, coming later this year by Ridley Scott. An in-universe promotional video and the trailer came out a couple of weeks ago, and proved so popular that 20th Century Fox moved the release date up by two months. But did you know that The Martian was a self-publishing Cinderella...

TeleRead to launch live podcast; here’s how to take part
June 14, 2015 | 11:45 am

TeleRead is planning to launch a weekly live podcast soon, possibly as early as next weekend. The plan is to begin with a panel discussion of the previous week’s most interesting stories, and possibly invite guests once we’re sure things are going smoothly. We will then open the floor to callers with questions or discussion. We will be using the TalkShoe call-in talk radio format (the same one I used for my Space Station Liberty and The Biblio File podcasts), which combines a conference call switch with a text chat window or application. The host or hosts can call...

A fine, fine spine design
June 12, 2015 | 10:38 am

Brilliant Book Design - ImgurApropos of the discussion about e-books and spines a few days ago, this post on imgur.com displays a hardcover book spine design that’s nothing short of brilliant. The book is, of course, Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a controversial treatise in its day and of course now in the public domain everywhere (and hence available as e-books). It’s doubtful that any possible cover design for the e-books could beat this spine design, however. It also engendered an amusing anecdote that I often like to reflect upon in today’s world of rapid...

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on the SF generation gap
June 12, 2015 | 8:30 am

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is compiling an anthology for Baen of classic SF stories by women, and as part of the project has started a website about women in science fiction. Along the way, one of her readers wrote to her about Andre Norton, bringing up an important point—over the last couple decades of the 20th century, the availability of classic SF writers (and, for that matter, classic writers of other genres) to the general public plummeted. In this blog post, Rusch examines the reasons why. The post is long, but makes some great reading. To summarize: In the late...

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