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Why Are People Still Surprised by Amazon?
January 23, 2015 | 11:25 am

amazonI saw several articles in my newsfeed this morning about Amazon's new textbook creation software.  Most of them were simply a factual write-up of the situation---people don't seem to care all that much about textbooks, so there was less hand-writing about this than usual---but still, I was surprised by the wounded tone some tech journalists seem to take in Amazon-related stories. Amazon is disrupting the industry. Amazon is taking over the world. This new piece of news, whatever it might be, shows Amazon throwing its might at yet another poor, beleaguered media provider...you know the rhetoric I mean. But here is...

To gain more e-book marketshare, Apple should make iBooks for Android
December 22, 2014 | 2:25 pm

appledroidCan a company give Amazon a run in 2015 when it comes to ebooks? Maybe, but the company with the best footing is Apple. Anecdotally, several authors have mentioned the successes they have had through Apple’s iBooks. This is a good new for authors who are looking for other avenues to sell their books. But keeping iBooks strictly for Apple products may not do it. iBooks has been around since 2010 when it was launched with the iPad. In 2013, iBooks became an integrated app on iOS 8. Since that time, iBooks seems to be taking more of the market share. In October,...

GamerGate Zoe Quinn rape story self-published, pulled from Amazon
December 19, 2014 | 11:46 pm

ethicsgameI can’t say I ever expected to have an excuse to write about GamerGate here on TeleRead. The movement generally hasn’t had anything to do directly with e-books. Until now. TechCrunch carries the story of a 3,000 word e-book posted for sale on Amazon, in which five men rape a “controversial video game designer” named “Zada Quinby”—a very thinly-veiled Zoe Quinn, the game developer who has been the focus of many of GamerGate’s attacks. Lest there be any doubt, the book had “#GamerGape” (sic) in its title. The e-book has since been taken down, but the...

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, John Sargent: Major publishers learning, trying new things with e-books
December 18, 2014 | 6:30 pm

Here are an interesting juxtaposition of posts that just came to light today. In the first, Kristine Kathryn Rusch at last returns to blogging about the publishing industry with an end-of-year post that is both interesting and scary. Last year, I wrote an open letter asking the Big Five publishers if they’d learned anything from the Apple verdict. In her new blog post, Rusch suggests that they have, and it might not be good news for the authors who sign with them. Touching once more on the sales problems inherent in publishers no longer being able to schedule book...

Rick Chapman lays into Amazon advocates, KDP pricing strategy
December 18, 2014 | 10:25 am

AmazonIndie science fiction author and business book writer Rick Chapman has unleashed a long diatribe against Amazon's pricing model for Kindle Direct Publishing, which does make some valid points - although they're buried among a screed against Amazon's defenders (who he charmingly refers to as the Aggregated Amazon Ankle Grabbers, or AAAGs), and also somewhat obscured when he lets the invective get in the way of clear presentation of his argument. Which basically, stripped of all the name-calling and rhetoric, is this: Kindle Direct Publishing's  pricing policy of taking 65 percent of authors' and small publishers' revenues when they price their...

Appeals court judges ask probing questions in Apple e-book anti-trial case
December 16, 2014 | 7:56 pm

Yesterday, the appeals court heard testimony from Apple and the Department of Justice relating to the e-book anti-trust trial appeal. To my surprise, two of the three judges seemed amenable toward Apple’s point of view. They expressed concern over why the publisher collusion was such a bad thing when it was for the sake of stopping monopolist Amazon, and hinted that Judge Cote might have erred when she ruled that Apple’s behavior constituted a pro se anti-trust violation—a violation so obvious that it doesn’t need the “rule of reason” test applied to it. Apple attorney Theodore Boutros asked for...

Apple iPod DRM case heats up, but might still fizzle
December 7, 2014 | 12:37 pm

The wheels of justice grind slowly, and sometimes a bit of grit gets stuck in the gears. This seems to be the case with the ten-year-old lawsuit against Apple over the DRM policies it used to enforce on iTunes Music Store music and iPods. Over the last couple of weeks, it’s started moving again, and the testimony and depositions have been interesting to follow. But now it looks as though, just as it’s getting started again, it may come to a complete halt. Locking Out Competitors At heart, the case has to do with the way Apple continually...

Amazon issues EU VAT guidelines for KDP authors
December 2, 2014 | 10:24 am

KDPFollowing the introduction of the European Union's new VAT-MOSS regime, as reported by Chris Meadows, Amazon has now issued details on the implementation of VAT collection for Kindle Direct Publishing, and KDP authors like me have received a lengthy email from the Kindle Direct Publishing Team covering the new regulations. It begins as follows: Hello, On January 1, 2015, European Union (EU) tax laws regarding the taxation of digital products (including eBooks) will change: previously, Value Added Tax (VAT) was applied based on the seller’s country – as of January 1st, VAT will be applied based on the buyer’s country. As a...

Amazon’s Kiva robots herald warehouse automation
December 1, 2014 | 10:28 pm

kiva_robotsHere’s an interesting feature on Amazon’s Kiva robots, used to automate the process of filling orders in some of its warehouses. I hadn’t been entirely clear on how those robots worked, but the article does a great job explaining. The Kiva robots essentially resemble oversized Roombas—squat hockey-puck-shaped gizmos that trundle along the warehouse floors. They operate by latching onto huge inventory shelves and carrying them along with them to “stow stations” where workers load incoming shipments of merchandise into them, or to “picking stations” where order pickers grab the merchandise and put it into a box. To hear...

Diane Duane holds Cyber Monday sale; may have to close e-book store
November 30, 2014 | 4:58 pm

Diane Duane’s e-book store is running a 50% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. All e-books in the store are half-off, no discount code required. But as Duane explains in a blog post, this could very well be her last Cyber Monday sale, because of the new VAT MOSS regulations coming into effect as of the New Year. As Duane points out via a quote from a Huffington Post article on the matter, the new regulation—and its removal of the minimum threshold at which UK businesses need to worry about VAT—is going to hit many UK small businesses particularly...

New European VAT law could threaten small e-businesses
November 29, 2014 | 10:19 pm

New European Union regulations regarding value-added taxes (a sort of European equivalent of sales tax) will take effect January 1, 2015 that could cause problems for businesses selling electronic goods and services. Referred to as VAT MOSS (for “Mini One-Stop Shop,” the web portal each member state will run to make payments easier), the new regulations put the onus on businesses that provide “telecoms/broadcast/electronic services” to EU customers to keep track of and charge each customer VAT at the rates that apply to the country where that customer lives. Previously, businesses were free to charge at the rate that...

Amazon adds UK post offices to bricks-and-mortar footprint
November 27, 2014 | 4:42 pm

British Booksellers AssociationAmazon has just expanded its distribution and delivery network in the UK by partnering with the Royal Mail to deliver Amazon packages to British post offices - an arrangement that observers say could help to support the ailing UK postal service, already under attack from private sector competitors in the parcels and door-to-door delivery space. The UK post office network, spun off from the delivery network in April 2012 as Post Office Ltd., gives Amazon around 10,500 new points of presence across the country, "taking the total number of Amazon pickup points across the UK to more than 16,000," according...