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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...

Smashwords Opens Distribution to India
August 29, 2013 | 9:14 pm

Smashword’s distribution network is growing. The company announced it reached a deal with, the largest online marketplace and bookseller in India. Titles will be on the site within the next three to four weeks, Smashwords stated on its blog. “Flipkart is commonly referred to as the Amazon of India. To be fair to Flipkart, Amazon would probably kill to become the Flipkart of India someday,” Smashwords CEO Mark Coker wrote. Coker also notes that Flipkart has told him that according to Nielsen BookScan Retail Panel data, Flipkart holds 80 percent market share for online book sales in India. Flipkart offers reading apps for...

Amazon expands Kindle Store and KDP to Mexico
August 29, 2013 | 9:10 pm

Amazon Kindle PaperwhiteAmazon has expanded its Kindle Store into Mexico, the company announced Thursday. More than two million books will be initially offered in the new Kindle Store, including more than 1,500 free e-books and best-selling Spanish-language books. There should be more books popping into the Mexico Kindle Store because Amazon also announced Kindle Direct Publishing for Mexican authors and publishers. This will give indie authors a bigger reach into a Mexican audience. “The vast majority of Mexicans do not have access to a bookstore in their town, so we’re happy to launch the Mexico Kindle Store today and bring a huge bookstore with over...

Trader Joe’s vs. Pirate Joe’s
August 28, 2013 | 3:48 pm

Pirate Joe'sTechdirt is one of many who have been covering the curious tale of Pirate Joe—aka Michael Hallatt, a Vancouver entrepreneur who has set up a store in which he sells, at a markup, products he purchases at the Trader Joe's chain on the American side of the border. Hallatt claims he is doing nothing wrong—he buys his "merchandise" at full retail price and is permitted to sell them if he wishes to under the first-sale doctrine. Trader Joe's begs to differ and has filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement. Mike Masnick makes some useful points in his discussion of the case. Firstly, he...

London Bookstore Sets ‘Cli-Fi’ Table For Climate Books
August 26, 2013 | 11:55 am

Cli-FiDuring the sweltering British summer of 2013, Foyles bookstore in London did something that was a long time coming: It set up a dedicated ''cli-fi'' table with a simple yet eye-catching sign promoting fiction and non-fiction books with climate themes. Among the books seen on the table in the photograph to the right above are Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" and James Lovelock's "The Revenge of Gaia" as well as Stephen Emmott's current bestseller "10 Billion" sitting alongside such dystopic scenarios as J.G. Ballard's "The Drowned World," John Christopher's "The Death of Grass," Joe Dunthorne's "Wild Abandon" and Liz Jensen's "The Rapture." Most...

The State of Scottish Publishing: Feedback from the Edinburgh Festival
August 25, 2013 | 2:00 pm

Scottish PublishingAt the inaugural Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year Awards in this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP, praised "Scotland's fantastic publishing industry." But is it so fantastic? With almost every dinner table or barroom conversation in Edinburgh bringing up the question of independence sooner or later, issues of cultural autonomy have never been more pertinent. And writers and literature have always been critical to Scotland's modern sense of identity and nationhood, from Walter Scott's creation of the cult of Caledonia to Edwin Morgan's transformative donation to the Scottish National Party. Does...