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Chris Meadows

Google uses transfer pricing to avoid paying European taxes
July 27, 2014 | 9:25 am

One of the most commonly-heard complaints about Amazon, at least in Europe, is that it sells e-books from a division based in Luxembourg so that it can charge a much lower VAT (Value-Added Tax, the European equivalent of sales tax) rate on its e-books than UK law allows. The unspoken implication is that everyone else must surely pay all the taxes they owe like good little corporate boys and girls. But Ars Technica reports that Google uses a practice called “transfer pricing” to assign most of its European revenues to an offshore subsidiary in Bermuda and avoid paying taxes...

Apple bought, shuttered book recommender Booklamp in April
July 26, 2014 | 9:01 pm

MacRumors reports that Apple bought and shut down book-recommendation service Booklamp back in April. Booklamp was intended to be a sort of “Pandora for Books”—it used a similar system of categorizing books based on specific elements—but as I determined when I checked into it last November, it fell pretty far short of actually being useful, for two major reasons: it didn’t have a very big selection due to its opt-in nature, and it couldn’t account for humor. Apple hasn’t been saying much about why it bought the service, but that’s not unexpected. I imagine that, as is usually the...

Audience migration to digital pulls The Legend of Korra off Nick TV channel
July 26, 2014 | 7:32 pm

korraThe digital transition: it’s not just for books. With the advent of tablets and smartphones with fast cellular connections (or wifi), there’s been a critical shift in the way media are consumed. I’ve talked about that before: In the early days of the Internet, companies invested in computer-on-TV devices, assuming that when convergence came, everything would converge through the TV set. They invariably flopped. But now that we have small screens we can always carry with us, with processors good enough and Internet fast enough to stream video in real time, more and more people...

Webcomic ‘Help Desk’ takes on e-book DRM
July 23, 2014 | 11:20 am

drm-rollIf you could use a good chuckle, webcomic “Help Desk” has just started a storyline focusing on e-book DRM. It seems to have been inspired by the letter that Cory Doctorow received from Hachette about DRM. Since some authors publish with Tor in the USA but Hachette in the UK, and Tor went DRM-free two years ago, this means the US edition of their book would be DRM-free. Hachette didn’t like that, and wanted authors to insist that Tor put DRM on that edition to protect the sales of their UK edition. The letter was actually posted...

Amazon Prime streaming video app coming soon to Android, Amazon says
July 23, 2014 | 12:36 am

It might be a bit surprising, but one of our most popular articles here at TeleRead deals not with books but rather with video—in particular, how to use a Flash-enabled web browser to watch Amazon Prime streaming videos on Android devices. Since there’s no native Android player application for the service, the way there are for Kindle Fire and iOS devices, this workaround has been the best that Android owners can do. (And even that didn’t work outside of the US.) Until now. PC Advisor reports that Amazon Instant Video marketing director Russell Morris said at an event in...

July Author Earnings report surveys DRM, genre sales
July 18, 2014 | 3:34 am

ae-julyHugh Howey and Data Guy have done it again, producing another interesting report on a sample of data scraped from Amazon. The July report re-runs the numbers for their main chart based on the new data, then branches out into a couple of interesting new measurements—including one that I specifically asked for back in May. The main measurements show basically incremental change from the last few reports, In terms of daily revenue to authors (taking into account royalty percentages from publisher sales and Amazon revenue percentages from self-published works), Big Five authors take 37% of total Amazon daily revenue...

Zombies, Run! and The Walk cross a pedometer with audiobooks
July 13, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Screenshot_2014-07-13-14-28-56Mobile technology is really bringing about some interesting new forms of gaming, isn’t it? Lately I’ve been experimenting with an Android/iOS smartphone game called “Zombies, Run!” while I play Ingress. I had heard from friends that it was a pretty good game, and after finding out that it worked just as well on a bicycle as on foot, I decided to give it a shot. The premise of Zombies, Run! is that you’re “Runner 5,” a rather quiet military operative sent in to help a small settlement called Able Township by running missions to fetch supplies, deliver messages, and...

Hachette rejects Amazon proposal to give Hachette authors 100% of e-book revenue
July 8, 2014 | 6:09 pm

In the Amazon vs. Hachette feud, the PR moves and countermoves are coming out. Laura Hazard Owen has coverage at GigaOm and the Wall Street Journal also has a piece (paywalled; google the headline to view) on a proposal Amazon has floated to Hachette authors to pay them 100% of all revenue from sales of their e-books—cutting out both its own 30% and Hachette’s 70% share—if Hachette agrees. The revenue split on paper books would be unaffected. The letter is particularly interesting in that, for the first time, Amazon is shedding some light on how the negotiations with...

SFWA ‘doubles down’ in support of Douglas Preston’s petition
July 8, 2014 | 6:26 am

sfwaPassive Guy over at The Passive Voice reports receiving an email from SFWA headed “SFWA doubling down,” clarifying its position on signing onto Douglas Preston’s open letter decrying Amazon’s hardball tactics in its negotiation with Hachette. (Odd that they didn’t also send it to me, given that TPV carried the story I posted about it in the first place.) The letter reads as follows: SFWA’s support of Douglas Preston’s open letter reflects our concern about Amazon’s tactics in their dispute with Hachette and the way those tactics are impacting writers and their careers. We are,...

The archivist’s conundrum: History is written by the lucky
July 8, 2014 | 5:31 am

_76046394_black-prince_splAn article a friend posted on Facebook got me thinking. It involves recently-discovered evidence about a historical figure, Prince Edward of Woodstock, suggesting that a putative “massacre” he committed might not actually have happened at all. It occurred to me that, in this modern era, we tend to assume we can know anything about someone just from what we find in a quick Google. It's sometimes hard to wrap our brains around the idea that much of what we know from ancient times could be wrong, as all we have is what managed to get saved through sheer dumb...

Evil Hat’s Atomic Robo copyright notice smooths the way for gamers making copies
July 7, 2014 | 6:53 pm

robonoticeHere’s an amusing case of a publisher getting copyright right. Evil Hat, who’s been mentioned here a few times before for its FUDGE-based Spirit of the Century role-playing game and Kickstarter projects, has a great copyright notice on its Atomic Robo RPG. Right after the bit about not storing the publication in a retrieval system without permission, it continues: That said, if you’re doing it for personal use, knock yourself out. That’s not only allowed, we encourage you to do it. For those working at a copy shop and not at all...

Big Five publishers, it’s time for some tough love
July 6, 2014 | 4:32 pm

ToughLoveSo, Andrew Updegrove has a blog post in which he expresses concern about the future of competition in publishing. (Found via The Passive Voice.) His thesis seems to be that traditional publishers exert a competitive pressure on Amazon—Amazon can’t lower the rates it pays self-publishing writers as long as traditional publishers represent some kind of alternative. He writes: If Hatchette and the other big publishers are successful in holding off Amazon, then it’s pretty safe to assume that not much will change with the way they do business. But if Amazon wins, the traditional publishers will...