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Other posts by Chris Meadows

Douglas Preston decries Amazon tactics against Hachette authors (Updated)
July 3, 2014 | 4:25 am

Well, he’s at it again. Long-time TeleRead readers might remember Douglas Preston as the author who complained about readers’ “sense of entitlement” for wanting cheap e-books, only to backpedal rather hastily when the complaint sparked a reader backlash. Yesterday, Jeffrey Trachtenberg reported in the Wall Street Journal that Preston has been circulating an open letter among various authors complaining that Amazon has been unfairly targeting Hachette authors in its recent contract negotiations with their publisher. He has reportedly received support from a number of big names (including, predictably, James Patterson) and will be posting the letter to his...

New York Public Library panel: ‘Amazon: threat or menace?’
July 2, 2014 | 11:33 am

Origin 712014 71734 PMWell, the New York Public Library panel discussion on Amazon was a big disappointment. I suppose I should have expected it, given how the panel was stacked with some of Amazon’s harshest critics and others from the old-guard publishing industry, but I had harbored some hope they might be willing to listen to an opposing viewpoint. Unfortunately, it was even worse than I’d feared. The 90-minute video is available at the livestream page if you want to watch the carnage. First of all, the meeting was clearly put together with an anti-Amazon agenda, as the selection of...

New York Public Library Amazon panel discussion takes place tonight
July 1, 2014 | 11:05 am

Just a friendly little reminder to block out 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern tonight to watch the panel discussion that the New York Public Library is hosting on Amazon’s business tactics, featuring James Patterson, Bob Kohn, and Passive Guy. It will be livestreamed, and promises to be rather entertaining. I’ll try to write up some thoughts about it afterward, or tomorrow....

Jolicloud Drive adds cloud EPUB reading capability
June 30, 2014 | 11:30 am

Origin 6302014 111244 AMJolicloud was originally conceived as a web-based “operating system.” The web version of it showed the same home screen, with all the same web apps, that a user might have configured on the Ubuntu-based JoliOS operating system for computers or tablets. The problem was that apparently the JoliOS Linux operating system never really became popular enough to support, and Joli discontinued it. Since then, it seems to have been casting about for something to keep it from being just another collection of bookmarks to web apps. It has renamed itself “Drive,” and now bills itself as a way...

New York Public Library to host panel discussion on Amazon with James Patterson, Bob Kohn, Passive Guy, and others
June 27, 2014 | 4:07 pm

Nate mentioned this New York Public Library panel discussion, “Amazon: Business As Usual?” a few days ago. It’s going to have a number of the loudest complainants about Amazon taking part, including James Patterson and Bob Kohn. I wondered what the point was, given that it seems the deck was largely stacked with publishing-industry types who have ample reason to dislike Amazon. That was before I learned that David Vandagriff, aka “Passive Guy” from The Passive Voice blog, will also be taking part. One of big publishing’s most outspoken critics, he is assured to have plenty to say at...

Amazon gives away 30 free Android apps June 27, 28
June 27, 2014 | 3:36 pm

If you’ve got an Android tablet and are looking for something fun to put on it, don’t miss this Amazon giveaway. Instead of just one app, today Amazon’s giving away thirty with a combined total value of over $100. And these aren’t some random apps you’ve never heard of, either. Gizmodo has a rundown of some of the better ones.  The list includes the Plex media streamer, AccuWeather Platinum (a great weather app, which I personally used myself already), Notepad+, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and more. Most of them will work with any Android tablet, as long as you’ve...

Aereo loses, cell phone privacy wins at Supreme Court today
June 25, 2014 | 11:22 am

A pair of important Supreme Court decisions came down today—one disappointing and one critically important to anyone who uses mobile devices. The disappointing one is a 6-3 decision killing Aereo. The service that used dedicated individual miniature antennas to stream broadcast TV service to people’s computers over the Internet has been ruled to appear too much like a cable company, even as it scrupulously followed the letter of existing case law (while nonetheless skirting its spirit). Aereo could try to license content from the networks going forward, but would have to pass the costs on to consumers—and as Gizmodo...

Amazon wants co-op payments, and also concessions in the UK
June 24, 2014 | 4:02 am

So, thanks to a leak, we’ve finally found out what the Amazon/Hachette spat is over. The New York Times reported a couple of days ago that an anonymous source within Hachette says that Amazon wants to extract extra fees for a number of services, including the pre-order button, placement in personalized recommendations, and so on. It looks kind of skeevy at first glance, but it’s really the same kind of “co-op” promotional payment Barnes & Noble extracts for prominent placement of books in its stores. You know how you sometimes see displays dedicated to a single book. or...

Dumping DRM is not a panacea
June 20, 2014 | 12:23 pm

As I’ve watched the e-book market develop, I’ve gradually lost a good deal of patience with the argument that DRM is the thing keeping people locked into the Amazon Kindle ecosystem. The latest example to pop up comes via Cory Doctorow’s latest column in The Guardian (found via BoingBoing). Doctorow feels Hachette is hoist by its own petard because of the DRM it insists Amazon (and the other e-book stores) use. It’s an old, old argument. And make no mistake, I don’t like DRM myself and would be just as glad if it all went away tomorrow. But Doctorow...

‘Boom’ goes bust with Byliner
June 20, 2014 | 10:30 am

boomIn the New York Times, Tony Horwitz writes a cautionary tale about his travails with a small e-publisher called Byliner. a Kindle Singles publisher who’s shown up a few times in TeleRead. Horwitz had been asked by a new e-zine called The Global Mail to do a long-form work on the Keystone XL pipeline, to the tune of $15,000, plus $5,000 for expenses. So Horwitz traveled, did his research, and wrote a 40,000-word piece from the experience. As he was writing, the Global Mail informed him they had arranged a deal to co-publish with Byliner, who “thought we might...

Patent absurdity: Trying to protect its rule set lands small role-playing game publisher in hot water
June 20, 2014 | 4:54 am

patent_trollLadies and gentlemen, I give you the tabletop role-playing game community’s current tempestuous teapot. Recently, a small role-playing game publisher held an IRC interview about the new multi-genre tabletop role-playing game it had just published. The game and the company both seem to share the name Universal Horizons. Inspired by the publisher/writers’ disgust at the change from D&D 3rd edition to 4th edition, this game includes multiple campaign worlds, or “genres”—an urban fantasy world, a science-fiction fighting-off-bug-like-aliens world, and so on. These “genres” use the same character statistics but may have different skill bonuses from genre to genre. ...

Why fear Firefly when you can go with the Flow?
June 19, 2014 | 2:37 pm

fireflyNo, not that Firefly. Various sites are referring to the Amazon Fire Phone’s “Firefly” image recognizer as a “built-in showrooming tool.” Which I suppose it is, when you get right down to it. But it’s not as if it’s that much harder for folks to install a “showrooming tool” of their own, such as QR Droid, or even Amazon’s own “Flow” showrooming tool, on the phones they already have. In fact, having just tried “Flow” out for the first time, I can safely say it basically is Firefly (or, at least, the subset of what Firefly does...