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Amazon waves magic wand, creates Amazon Dash for instant Amazon Fresh shopping
April 4, 2014 | 8:05 pm

amazondashAs many successful products and services as Amazon has launched over the last few years, sometimes it seems like Jeff Bezos must have a magic wand. It turns out, in fact, that he does, and now he’s making it available to select Amazon Fresh customers, too. Gizmodo has the word about the new “Amazon Dash,” a wand-shaped device that incorporates a bar code scanner and a microphone with speech recognition (undoubtedly the same speech recognition as Amazon just introduced in the Amazon Fire TV), along with WiFi connectivity, to allow people to add things to their Amazon Fresh grocery...

Amazon Eastward Ho push stalls with Czech warehouse cancellation
April 4, 2014 | 4:21 pm

Brno_-_Náměstí_Svobody_I Amazon's push to expand further in Central and Eastern Europe has hit a - probably temporary - stumbling block, as the southern Czech city of Brno said no to a new warehouse and fulfillment center, as reported in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. However, other plans to build a similar warehouse near Prague and three more in Poland apparently remain on track. As reported by Business New Europe, both neighboring Slovakia and other cities in the Czech Republic are now angling for the project. The Brno cancellation apparently followed delays for access and rezoning permits, although BNE quoted Brno local...

Amazon ebook sales quandary drives Trefis to Kindles
April 4, 2014 | 12:25 pm

TrefisAmazon's reluctance to reveal precise figures on its ebook sales has caused all kinds of ripples within the book world, and beyond. For one thing, it's been partly responsible for the huge exposure given to Hugh Howey's AuthorEarnings report. And in the case of stock analysis company Trefis, it's driven their team to extrapolate Amazon's ebook sales from sales of Kindle devices, using this to justify their target price of $373 for Amazon's stock, "implying a premium of 10% to the market price." [caption id="attachment_111303" align="aligncenter" width="504"] Source: Trefis[/caption] According to Trefis estimates, "sales of Kindle devices stood at roughly 20 million...

Dear Amazon: whither Canada for Fire TV?
April 4, 2014 | 10:25 am

Fire TVYesterday's news brought another new product launch from Amazon, Fire TV---a Roku-esque box which plays the expected YouTube, Netflix and so on, plus video from Amazon's own instant video and Freetime Unlimited kids service. The box plays games too! The not entirely unexpected caveat? Only in the US and UK right now. So once again, I am sitting here in Canada looking at the specs of a service I would willingly pay for if only someone would sell it to me. I know Canada is not the den of profit America is. We just don't have the population to be. But...

NewEgg butts another patent troll off the bridge
April 3, 2014 | 5:50 pm

neweggWhen I ordered my clattery new Cherry MX Brown-springed mechanical keyboard at NewEgg, and it arrived yesterday, I wasn’t thinking of NewEgg’s tireless efforts when it comes to fighting patent trolls. But perhaps I should have been. Ars Technica reports on their latest victory, against a company called Macrosolve which claimed to have patented the ability to use questionnaires in a mobile app. Although it had formerly actually produced real products, Macrosolve at this point is merely a patent troll making a hand-to-mouth living shaking down companies for settlements and immediately paying them out to cover legal fees...

Horror writers join anti Amazon bullying push
March 31, 2014 | 10:25 am

Horror writers are made of stern stuff, you'd think. But apparently they find online bullying as creepy as anyone. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) ( has just added its voice to the series of calls on Amazon to end aggressively negative - and anonymous - reviewing online. Under the HWA's own very atmospheric online banner, it looks like "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore ... anonymity'." In the form of a "Public Letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO,," the call, attributed to Rocky Wood, President, states that: "We are writing to bring to your attention the fact that Amazon’s customer review policy does...

Amazon doesn’t know it’s supposed to fail
March 29, 2014 | 9:00 am

I happened upon a Bookseller piece by Agent Orange (who I’ve mentioned before) noting that UK publishers have been making a lot of noise about the putative foolishness of Amazon’s plans. It’s funny how they seem to keep doing that, and Amazon never seems to pay any attention, isn’t it? Agent Orange notes: It is depressing how often we have been here before. Publishers pour scorn and disregard on Amazon. Amazon presses on with its plans regardless (announcing it is massively expanding in the UK this coming year) and a year or two later publishers discover...

Hey Amazon, make my reading workflow easier!
March 27, 2014 | 2:25 pm

amazonI resolved in January to see how long I could go without spending money on ebooks. I have just broken my buy-free chain---sort of. I received an Amazon gift card and decided that was fair game since I wouldn't be spending money per se. And a book I once had in paper has finally made the Kindle store for $2... Amazon has much to recommend it as an ecosystem. I love my Kobo Glo, but I loathe the Kobo iOS app, and I have recently found that much of my reading progress was getting stalled by not having the Kobo with...

Will Atavist Books really ‘revolutionize book publishing’?
March 26, 2014 | 8:19 am

sleepdonationPolicyMic has an article looking at a “digital platform that’s about to revolutionize book publishing.” I have my doubts. The platform is actually none other than The Atavist, which we’ve covered a few times since it was launched a couple of years back. It started out as a multimedia-enabled e-magazine for long-form journalism, which it still largely is. But it’s decided to bring its multimedia and interactivity chops to the world of books, too, by publishing an interactive, web-enabled version of a fiction book first, then bringing out a “hybrid” print book—“a paperback with the production quality of a...

Amazon Publishing survives Wylie rubbishing, plans 500 titles in UK
March 20, 2014 | 4:25 pm

AmazonAndrew Wylie's withering dismissal of Amazon Publishing as 'characterized by its idiocy" seems to have left his target distinctly unwithered. At least if the reports in The Bookseller of its plans for a UK publishing program of 500 titles in 2014 alone are anything to go by. The report, quoting an Amazon internal memo shared with The Bookseller, talks of both titles acquired domestically and sourced from the U.S. This buildout is part of the same program whose German dimension unleashed Wylie's ire, which looks to add 200 German titles to the Amazon Publishing roster too. Furthermore, UK publisher Quercus Publishing,...

eReader trade-in program offer from Amazon
March 20, 2014 | 9:13 am

ereader trade-in programBeen thinking about upgrading your old reader to a new Kindle, like maybe the Kindle Paperwhite? For a limited time, Amazon is offering a tempting trade-in program. You'll not only get the trade-in value for your reader; you'll also get a $20 credit toward a Kindle or Kindle Paperwhite. The trade-in values aren't exciting, mostly hovering around $15, although if you've been considering switching from a 2012 Paperwhite to the 2013 model, with the bonus $20, it'll almost pay for itself. (2012 Paperwhite trade-in values are around $60.) The cynical part of me wonders if the timing of this promotion isn't intended...

How do you solve a problem like Astounding?
March 18, 2014 | 7:18 pm

20140318_190042_HDRA few days ago, I recalled a short story, called Early Bird, by Theodore R. Cogswell and Theodore L. Thomas. I wanted to share that story with a couple of friends and co-writers on a shared Internet fiction setting that uses a number of the same tropes. So I went to see where I might find it. And the answer was…nowhere. Well, not completely nowhere. It was published in one single place: a 1973 anthology honoring the late John W. Campbell. I couldn’t find it online anywhere else—not for sale via Smashwords, not published in a magazine I could...