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European Commission opens anti-trust probe into Amazon ‘most-favored nation’ policy
June 11, 2015 | 1:54 pm

That pesky most-favored nation clause in e-book contracts is rearing its head again, this time in Europe. The European Commission has announced it is opening an anti-trust investigation into Amazon’s practice of requiring notice when e-books sold on Amazon were sold more cheaply somewhere else so that it could price-match them there. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "Amazon has developed a successful business that offers consumers a comprehensive service, including for e-books. Our investigation does not call that into question. However, it is my duty to make sure that Amazon's arrangements with publishers are not harmful...

Back in the YooKay – and some thoughts on English English
January 27, 2015 | 10:25 am

Arc PublicationsI'm going back to the UK for a week from Hungary to touch base with family, friends and some things literary as well. Besides literary London and Gothic London, and Jane Austen's Hampshire, I'll also be trying to see some significant British writers and editors, and communing with something less tangible: The spirit of English English. In an international career that took me so far from my linguistic roots that people started to mistake me for an Australian, I've gone a long way round through Simpsonesque to pay homage to my native tongue, but with good reason. Because it retains an...

One of Budapest’s loveliest bookshops: Rózsavölgyi és Társa
December 11, 2014 | 1:00 pm

IMG_20141202_182020 One of Budapest's most fascinating and attractive specialist bookshops, as well as the storefront for one of Hungary's largest music publishers, is Rózsavölgyi és Társa, just off the tourist thoroughfare of Váci utca and a major feature of the Rózsavölgyi House, itself an architectural monument. As the pictures indicate, this is mostly a music bookshop, with possibly the largest selection of sheet music available anywhere in the city. It also sells musical instruments and accessories of all kinds for performing and student musicians, as well as a huge selection of classical CDs and DVDs. However, for visitors and others, it has a big...

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...

FAA failure to keep up with commercial drone use could prevent innovation
February 25, 2014 | 5:59 pm

drone delivery At the risk of droning on, it seems like there has been a lot of news involving drones lately. We covered Amazon’s announcement of package delivery (someday) via drones, and some responses to it. Clearly, drone services could fill the middle range between snail-mail delivery and electronic downloading: a physical good that reaches you quickly. And that is not even considering the other potential uses, such as aerial photography. But that is in the nebulous future. What about now? Well, the problem with drone use right now is that commercial drone use is technically illegal—the...

India’s famed budget Android tablet to come to US, start at $38 standard retail
December 16, 2013 | 4:55 pm

datawindRemember that $35 tablet from India? Datawind, the company that manufactures it, is going to bring it to the USA. In fact, it’s bringing three versions of the tablet: an el-cheapo version for $38 that’s basically a 7” tablet with WiFi, an $80 version that has the same specs but adds 2G EDGE cellular browsing (and you can add one year of basic browsing for $20 more), and a $150 version with improved specs and 3G HSPA browsing capability (and the same $20 for one year of browsing offer). The specs on the low-end versions, the UbiSlate 7Ci and...

German publishers hit newspapers with criminal complaint for naming e-book piracy site
September 9, 2013 | 12:44 pm

German book publishers have taken another step in fighting e-book piracy by suing two newspapers that interviewed the operator of a piracy website. Der Tagesspiegel and Die Zeit have been hit with a criminal complaint after the papers ran an interview with a representative of TorBoox, according to a post on Melville House. I followed the links back to the original story on the German site Buchreport. After using Google translate, the report states: “According to information from buchreport criminal complaint against the newspaper publishers was made. The accusation: Aid for copyright infringement.” It seems German publishers are trying to squash piracy any...

British Library responds under Freedom of Information Act on questions about digitization and collections
September 5, 2013 | 12:25 pm

Following rumors of reduced access to the British Library's printed books collections in the course of its digitization program (including archiving or even destruction of some physical copies), I sent in questions to the British Library's information service. They replied under the UK Freedom of Information Act as follows: TeleRead: Does the BL currently have any policy of changing the preservation status or accessibility of books once scanned? British Library: The British Library does not have a comprehensive policy of changing the preservation status or accessibility of books once scanned. Collection items are not allocated a "preservation status" as such but will...

Digital age puts Chinese ‘characters’ in a bind
September 3, 2013 | 12:57 pm

Long ago, in ancient China, the feet of some women from wealthy or ruling families were bound, and the resulting "bound feet" were not a pretty picture. Now, the digital age of computers and microblogging is placing a bind on the ability of younger Chinese people to write their Chinese characters. While there are around 25,000 Chinese hanzi to learn, most people in China get by with knowing about 2,000 to 3,000 characters, tops. Still, the digital age has turned millions of Chinese youngsters into calligraphy dummies, and even writing simple Chinese characters in email and microblogs has become something they...

Eyeball-licking trend in Japan debunked by sharp-eyed reporter
August 31, 2013 | 9:38 pm

JapanWhen the Guardian posted a "news article" earlier this year headlined "Eyeball-licking: the fetish that is making Japanese teenagers sick," all hell broke loose. That's because the "story" was a hoax, and the Guardian, along with a number of news-gathering outlets, did not do the proper fact-checking that such stories warrant. But thanks to the Tokyo-based American journalist Mark Schreiber—he's been writing, reporting and translating in Japan since 1965—the fake story has been debunked, and the Guardian has since apologized and taken the article down. Case closed? Not really, because this kind of thing happens a lot in the digital age, where fact-checkers...

Publishing Technology cracks China’s e-journal market with CNPIEC — or not?
August 30, 2013 | 7:00 pm

Publishing TechnologyUK content solutions provider Publishing Technology has partnered with the China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Corporation (CNPIEC) to launch the CNP eReading Platform at the Beijing International Book Fair this week. This new digital hub claims to offer "over 200,000 individual book titles from more than 300 international publishers, extending their reach into the rapidly growing Chinese market and attracting new readers to digest their academic content for the very first time." The new platform, custom-built by Publishing Technology, works with the company's ingentaconnect offering, claimed to be "the world's largest resource for scholarly publications," with over 12,100 journals from over...

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