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Other posts by Chris Meadows

Hachette responds to Amazon advocates’ email on pricing its e-books
August 11, 2014 | 1:24 am

Digital Book World is carrying the response Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch is sending to those people who write him at Amazon’s behest. Since I posted the Amazon letter in full, it seems only fair to do the same for this. Pietsch (or whoever wrote the response for him) maintains that “Hachette sets prices for our books entirely on our own, not in collusion with anyone” (technically true, I suppose, since he said books, not e-books). He also maintains that the vast majority of Hachette’s titles are priced at or below $9.99, that the ones that cost more are nonetheless...

Amazon stops taking pre-orders for Disney movies
August 10, 2014 | 3:25 am

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-poster-21Amazon’s been busy lately. Folks might remember that Amazon stopped taking pre-orders for Warner DVD/Blu-ray titles for a while, including The LEGO Movie, during a contract dispute similar to the contract negotiation it is undergoing with Hachette. (Unlike Hachette’s, said dispute was resolved in a matter of weeks.) Well, now it’s Disney’s turn to face the Wrath of ‘Zon. Home Media Magazine reports that forthcoming Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment titles, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficent, and Guardians of the Galaxy, have seen their pre-order buttons removed, replaced with “Sign up to be notified when this item...

Amazon asks Kindle Direct authors and readers to lobby Hachette in contract negotiation
August 9, 2014 | 3:37 am

Amazon’s PR push in the Hachette negotiation seems to have moved beyond simply posting announcements to forums. I just had a rather lengthy email show up in my inbox from “Kindle Direct Publishing,” which begins with the salutation “Dear KDP Author.” I’m not sure if I received it because I created a KDP account at some point while looking into it, or as a member of the press. Either way, I’m reproducing the letter here in full. The letter essentially expands upon Amazon’s recent forum post about the situation, laying out Amazon’s belief that Hachette wants to charge too...

Review: Designers & Dragons Vol. 1: The ‘70s
August 8, 2014 | 5:23 am

designdragon70s I’ve finished reading through the first volume of the RPG history from that Kickstarter I mentioned the other day, and I have to say that I’m very impressed. In fact, I plan on nominating it for the “Best Related Work” Hugo when the 2014 Hugo nominations come around. It’s just that good. As I explained in the last article, this history is split across four volumes, divided by decade. However, the decade only refers to the period in which the company was founded. The approach the book takes is to trace the history of each company from...

Randy Queen backs down from DMCA threats against Escher Girls
August 6, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Here’s a quick update to yesterday’s story about Randy Queen using the DMCA to stifle Escher Girls’ criticism of his art. The Mary Sue reports that Queen has apologized and stood down his threats. He posted a public statement to his Facebook page in which he indicated a period of high stress in his personal life led him to lash out without thinking. Tumblr has restored the posts in question but the images are still absent. Hopefully they can get put back soon, too, given that their use was well within the bounds of criticism and commentary that have...

Evil Hat Kickstarts Designers & Dragons, a four-volume history of role-playing games
August 6, 2014 | 2:18 pm

designdragon70sHere’s an intriguing Kickstarter from Evil Hat Productions, the folks who ran a highly successful KS for pulp tie-in novels to their Spirit of the Century game, and several other Kickstarters besides. This one is for a four-volume history of role-playing games entitled Designers & Dragons. Previously published in a single volume, it has been revised and expanded by its author to four full books. And this Kickstarter looks like a great example how to do things right. For starters, they set the goal to $7,500—a reasonable level for printing and shipping the first volume. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just a...

Smartphone size no obstacle to long reading
August 5, 2014 | 8:45 am

Hey, guess what? People read on their smartphones. That’s the thrust of a piece in Wired that talks about how the smartphone has been a godsend for long-form written journalism. Where people used to read their newspapers on the subway, now they read their smartphones—and despite the predictions of those who said such devices would destroy our attention span, the evidence is pretty good that smartphone users are able to concentrate enough to read articles thousands of words long in one go. The Atlantic recently reported that a gorgeously illustrated 6,200-word story on BuzzFeed—which likewise...

Comic book creator Randy Queen attempts to stifle criticism with DMCA, provokes Streisand Effect
August 5, 2014 | 7:26 am

If you don’t think you’re getting enough attention on the Internet, there’s a way to fix that. Though you probably won’t like the results. Every so often, you run across one of those “Streisand Effect” cases where someone decides to try to stifle criticism of themselves and it backfires in a big way. I thought I’d seen the most amusing possible example of that yesterday with this Ars Technica story about a hotel whose web site promised a $500 fine for negative Yelp reviews (they swore they were “just kidding,” but not before a major backlash brought them...

Best Buy CEO says tablet sales are ‘crashing’
August 4, 2014 | 12:38 pm

Re/code has an interview with Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly in which he talks about a few things like fighting showrooming with pricematching, why people might want to buy gadgets in Best Buy rather than Amazon, and perhaps most interestingly, the sales rates for tablets. We’ve mentioned before how the tablet seems to be replacing the laptop in terms of most ordinary consumers’ needs, but according to Joly sales have been starting to fall off. He believes this might suggest the market has just about reached saturation—all the people who wanted a tablet have gotten one, and they don’t...

Amazon says it would be content with 30% of revenue if Hachette e-books were $9.99
July 29, 2014 | 8:42 pm

Amazon has posted another update to its Kindle user forum, dispensing more information about the nature of the dispute between itself and Hachette. In fact, this is pretty much the clearest statement of what the actual argument covers that we have yet seen from either side, including those Hachette leakers. (And, interestingly enough, it doesn’t actually agree with some of the content of those leaks! Imagine that?) I haven’t looked for any reactions yet, but I predict the same howls of outrage we got with Amazon’s last such announcement in May, from Hachette partisans complaining that Amazon didn’t have...

Google uses transfer pricing to avoid paying European taxes
July 27, 2014 | 9:25 am

One of the most commonly-heard complaints about Amazon, at least in Europe, is that it sells e-books from a division based in Luxembourg so that it can charge a much lower VAT (Value-Added Tax, the European equivalent of sales tax) rate on its e-books than UK law allows. The unspoken implication is that everyone else must surely pay all the taxes they owe like good little corporate boys and girls. But Ars Technica reports that Google uses a practice called “transfer pricing” to assign most of its European revenues to an offshore subsidiary in Bermuda and avoid paying taxes...

Apple bought, shuttered book recommender Booklamp in April
July 26, 2014 | 9:01 pm

MacRumors reports that Apple bought and shut down book-recommendation service Booklamp back in April. Booklamp was intended to be a sort of “Pandora for Books”—it used a similar system of categorizing books based on specific elements—but as I determined when I checked into it last November, it fell pretty far short of actually being useful, for two major reasons: it didn’t have a very big selection due to its opt-in nature, and it couldn’t account for humor. Apple hasn’t been saying much about why it bought the service, but that’s not unexpected. I imagine that, as is usually the...