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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...

James Patterson wants Amazon to do more to promote reading
November 20, 2014 | 7:16 am

Salon Magazine has an interview with bestselling author and literary franchise James Patterson that is refreshingly free of the anti-Amazon rhetoric that has characterized both institutions of late. At least they’re not currently trashing Amazon for what it’s doing. They’re complaining about what Amazon ought to be doing but isn’t. And I can’t say that I necessarily disagree. Patterson is planning to launch a new public awareness campaign to encourage reading, following on the heels of his $1 million in grants to bookstores. The campaign will include a TV ad featuring a public book-burning (a bit of a cliché,...

Blurred lines: Social media and news media feeding into each other
November 19, 2014 | 7:35 pm

On GigaOm, Matthew Ingram expresses fascination with the way that the news media and social media have collided and blurred the lines between each other, in the context of the recent Uber scandal. We’re increasingly seeing major news stories break and grow in social and new media—Twitter, Facebook, blogs—with the traditional media being relatively slow to catch on. Rather than issue press releases, public figures and companies are issuing quick responses via Twitter or Facebook. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? That depends a lot on your perspective. Obviously if you’re...

Why is Black Friday now Black Thursday Night? Blame Amazon
November 18, 2014 | 11:06 pm

black-friday-comic-2Tis the season. As we gear up for the Christmas shopping rush to begin, we face a dilemma that’s become a lot more prominent in recent years: many retailers are going to open for early Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving evening. This has horrified a certain percentage of people who see it as another sign of the commercialized holiday’s insidious creep. If the slippery slope slide continues, before you know it we’re going to witness a sort of reverse Nightmare Before Christmas scenario in which Santa Claus decides he wants to take over Halloween. But what really seems to...

Amazon and Hachette finally agree to a contract!
November 13, 2014 | 3:55 pm

Hachette logoFinally! While I'm sure that Authors United and their compatriots will continue to find something to harp about, it should stop being how big bad Amazon is bullying poor benighted Hachette. According to the letter to Hachette authors and agents (via Joe Konrath): The new agreement delivers considerable benefits. It gives us full responsibility for the consumer prices of our ebooks. This approach, known as the Agency model, protects the value of our authors’ content, while allowing the publisher to change ebook prices dynamically to maximize sales. Importantly, the percent of revenue on which Hachette authors’ ebook royalties are based will not decrease...

Dutch treat, Dutch auction, Dutch date … Amazon dares storm of Dutch epithets going Dutch in Netherlands
November 13, 2014 | 12:25 pm

amazonI hope no Dutch uncle is going to get me in Dutch over all my Dutchisms (or should they be Netherlandisms?) in this article, but how else to convey the news that Amazon has opened a Dutch website, Amazon.nl, offering its wares in the Netherlands? This already includes extensive Kindle ebook offerings in Dutch as well as the localized Kindle client software, and English ebooks, though no products beyond ebooks, at least at this stage. According to reports in the Netherlands Times, the new Dutch version of the Kindle Store will offer some 20,000 Dutch titles by local authors, as well...

Amazon on the Road!
November 11, 2014 | 2:25 pm

amazonThe Beloved and I took a little vacation  last week! And guess what I found, tucked in amongst the sights and sounds of the mighty New York City? One of the Amazon trucks! The truck was one of a handful that Amazon plans to take around the country to promote the new Kindle models. I asked the vendor how that was going and he anecdotally reported to me that business was brisk. They are offering each current Kindle model for $5 off and that has been an incentive for people. As for me, it was fun checking out the new Kindle Voyage,...

The Indie Author Power Pack aims for the NYT Best Seller list
November 7, 2014 | 6:29 pm

indie-power-pack-blogDavid Gaughran blogs that he and some other authors are attempting to reach the New York Times Best Seller list with a super-cheap bundle of writing advice e-books. The Indie Author Power Pack bundles together three writers’ guides at the low low cost of 99 cents: Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant Let’s Get Digital (2nd ed.) by David Gaughran How To Market A book (2nd ed.) by Joanna Penn PLUS exclusive content. Gaughran also suggests that it would...

Documents leak fingers Amazon among Luxembourg tax offenders, says ICIJ
November 7, 2014 | 12:38 pm

AmazonThe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) claims to have just obtained a trove of leaked documents from the tiny and highly tax-efficient Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, naming Amazon among many name-brand international companies that sought extensive tax concessions by incorporating in Luxembourg. Amazon is hardly the only one, though. The "nearly 28,000 pages of confidential documents" cited by the ICIJ, reviewed by "a team of more than 80 journalists from 26 countries," name companies including Accenture, AIG, Blackstone, Burberry, Deutsche Bank, FedEx, Heinz, Ikea, JP Morgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, and many more, most of them negotiated by audit giant...

Amazon Prime Shipping starting to apply to other sites
November 5, 2014 | 12:25 pm

amazon primeI didn't see this coming, although I suppose I should have. Amazon is starting partnerships with other sites to allow Amazon Prime shipping to work there too. It's only one site, so far: AllSaints, a British retailer, but apparently Amazon is pitching the concept to other retailers. “I can see a day when Prime members will have access to sneak previews and first chance to shop our new collections," Rich Ascott, AllSaints' global digital director, said at the event. "What this means for AllSaints is that we can leverage Amazon’s payments expertise and global reach to introduce new customers to AllSaints by...

Amazon adds Prime Photos
November 4, 2014 | 10:59 am

prime photosAmazon wants to make everything easy for Prime customers. Or wants to take over the world, depending on who you talk to. Today they took the next step in whichever logical progression you believe in with Prime Photos. Amazon today introduced Prime Photos, the newest benefit for Prime members, which provides free unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive. Most people have a lifetime of birthdays, vacations, holidays, and everyday moments stored across numerous devices. And, they continue to create billions of photos every year. Now, Prime members have a simple, secure place to store them all for free. Starting today, members...