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Etsy and Review Extortion
July 3, 2015 | 12:33 pm

etsyI wrote last year about an experience I had on Amazon with a seller trying to game the review system by offering cash prizes to people who left only five-star reviews. Well, now I have had the opposite experience: a seller on Etsy who has not use reward, but punishment. I ordered a crafting stamp from her earlier this year, and it was fine. It turned out that the stamp was a little big and unwieldy for me. I am not the best crafter in the world, and I am not blaming her for this. But when Etsy prompted me to...

Beware of Kindle Fires catching fire. Similar hazards on other devices with lithium-ion batteries
July 3, 2015 | 10:38 am

Exploded or almost-exploded Fire battery - from the Homeless in Vancouver blogWho says firecrackers are the only things that may explode July 4 (that's Independence Day here in the United States)? Fires and explosions of lithium-ion batteries, aka li-ion batteries, are rare. But they do happen. Check out some wisdom from Stanley Q. Woodvine, a homeless man in Vancouver. He wrote of a Fire whose battery either exploded or "was overheated to a point just short of exploding." Here are two ways to help reduce the threat: 1. Go for batteries from known sources. 2. Try to use the right chargers, with precautions against overcharing. The safest bets would be the same as the chargers that came with...

In Stockholm’s Strindberg Museum
July 3, 2015 | 9:56 am

IMG_20150701_190620Polymath playwright, novelist, and painter August Strindberg is the one Swedish author that everyone knows (until Stieg Larsson, perhaps), and so he naturally enough is commemorated by the Strindberg Museum, housed in the so-called Blue Tower at the top of Drottninggatan, Stockholm's Piccadilly, where he spent the last years of his life until his death in 1912. The Museum includes Strindberg's fourth-floor apartment, reconstructed with its original furnishings, as well as his private library on the sixth floor. And the Blue Tower itself, though only blue in its interior plasterwork, is a beautiful period building worth seeing for its own...

Amazon revamps its rating calculations, favoring helpful, recent reviews of verified purchases
July 2, 2015 | 7:48 pm

Passing by almost unnoticed in the barrage of recent news are these pieces from the last couple of weeks on changes Amazon is making to its review system. Effectively, Amazon is using machine learning to change the way it calculates the aggregate star ratings on its reviews. (Found via Reddit.) Amazon is adding more weight to reviews from verified purchasers (that is, people who actually bought the product from Amazon), people who were voted helpful, and people who reviewed it recently. This is getting a lot of play on Facebook lately, including complaints from authors concerned about how this...

Barnes & Noble taps new CEO as revamped B&N e-commerce site hinders access to e-books
July 2, 2015 | 7:02 pm

Earlier today, Fortune reported that Barnes & Noble has tapped Sears Canada CEO Ron Boire to take over as B&N's CEO. Boire has been the CEO of the struggling Sears Canada for just 10 months, but before that he was the head of the USA Sears & Kmart chains for three years. Before that, Boire had worked at Sony, Best Buy, and Toys’R’Us—not exactly a list of winners in the recent economy. And now they expect him to turn Barnes & Noble around? [Update: As Nate pointed out in the comments, the Fortune article is really badly constructed. It...

TeleRead podcast commences at 3 p.m. Eastern
July 2, 2015 | 2:17 pm

teleread-podcastIn just under an hour, we’ll be going live with our next TalkShoe episode of the TeleRead podcast! We hope some of you will be right there with us to tune in! Today, Juli and I will be discussing the recent hot news stories to hit the site in the last few days, including but not limited to: The appeal court decision upholding Judge Cote’s verdict in the Apple anti-trust case. Scribd’s decision to cull most romance and erotica titles from its subscription service. The great “Kindle Unlimited...

Are the new Kindle Unlimited rates good or bad? It depends on who you ask
July 2, 2015 | 12:28 pm

Now that it’s July, the new chapter of Kindle Unlimited has begun. No longer paying per book (of which at least 10% was read), it’s now paying per page. According to one estimate, a bit over half a cent per page, though it remains to be seen how close to accurate this guess is. Is this good? If you listen to Hugh Howey, it is. Howey holds that the overall effect of the change is really not as bad as people think. It might have been that KU under the old system was weighted in favor of short story...

Accessory Review: Omoton Kobo Glo HD Sleeve
July 2, 2015 | 12:25 pm

omoton kobo glo hd sleeveOne of the downsides of owning an ereader with less popularity than an Amazon Kindle is finding accessories for it. I'm more comfortable reading a device when it has a case, so I wanted to find one for my Kobo Glo. I didn't like the look of the official Kobo Glo HD sleepcover case, and my hunting for alternatives uncovered few alternatives. I wanted a sleeve-type case because I find my thumb is more comfortable when it's resting on something covering the bevel instead of on the bevel itself. The only one I could find was the Omoton Kobo Glo HD...

Unauthorized Mass Effect RPG temporarily nominated for three ENnie Awards
July 2, 2015 | 11:37 am

mass-effect-fateHere’s an odd little self-e-publishing story that hits unexpectedly close to home for me—in the literal sense. Over the last few days, ENWorld announced the list of ENnie Award nominees for 2015—the yearly role-playing-game-industry fan-based awards that are given out at Gen Con here in Indianapolis. This list of nominees included the Mass Effect role-playing game in three different categories: Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year. Based on BioWare’s landmark sci-fi video game trilogy, Mass Effect was written by long-time RPG-industry veteran Dan Mappin. It used the Open Game Licensed Fate...

Morning Links: Understanding Hugo Awards Snafu. Famous Typographical Optical Illusion
July 2, 2015 | 8:23 am

hugo nominations 2014Eight Books You Need To Know About To Understand The Hugo Awards Snafu (iO9) This year’s Hugo Awards controversy is confusing. There are two kinds of puppies! Are the puppies against diversity, or literary snobbery? And so on. But really, this is all about books, and particularly what kind of books we’re supposed to celebrate. So here are eight books that can help you understand the Hugo mess. TeleRead Take: On the off chance you weren't completely sick of the whole issue. However, the article lists some excellent books, so feel free to look at the pretty book covers and ignore the...

The English Bookshop in Stockholm moves, goes big
July 2, 2015 | 6:00 am

IMG_20150702_103905The English Bookshop in Stockholm, a much-loved local institution with its sister establishment in Uppsala, has just moved from its old location in the historic Gamla Stan to new and bigger premises at Södermannagatan 22, in the stylish and creative SoFo residential area of eastern Södermalm. The new premises are big enough to allow for readings and events, as well as much-needed extra shelf space. In a Swedish book market that has also seen its share of bookstore closures and chain mergers, according to staff, the English Bookshop's move has attracted attention for being both a relocation and an expansion. Yes,...

Stockholm, sunshine, Swedish literature, Strindberg, … and Nobel Prizes
July 2, 2015 | 2:00 am

IMG_20150701_181035 I'm in sunny (right now) Sweden, home of the Swedish Academy (whose Nobel Museum is pictured above), of Pippi Longstocking, of August Strindberg, of the Millennium trilogy, of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, and a whole lot else of great literary and cultural merit. I'll add more detail in subsequent reports, both from Stockholm and elsewhere in the country. Meantime, here's a few visual teasers. ...

In Warren Buffett’s own backyard: Underfunded Omaha libraries. National digital library endowment, anyone?
July 1, 2015 | 5:18 pm

Warren_Buffett_KU_Visit"Currently, Omaha Public Libraries' spending per capita is substantially below that of surrounding communities." - Library Board of Trustees President Mike Meyer, as quoted by KETV, source of a related video. The TeleRead take: Library branches may cut hours, one may even close, and meanwhile the budget for books and other content is suffering. Hello, Warren Buffet? Aren't you the same Omaha guy who has sent many billions out of town for Bill Gates's foundation to hand out---with most of it leaving the U.S.? Global altruism is praiseworthy, given all the need for economic development and better health in developing countries; but how about Omaha itself? "The library already...

Why DRM Leaves Such a Sour Taste in My Mouth
July 1, 2015 | 12:25 pm

drmI have made no secret in the past about my hatred of DRM. Well, now the sour taste it leaves in my mouth is literal and not just figurative. With the death, early Monday morning, of the Keurig machine which came with the Beloved, we had to go out and get a new one. And all of the new Keurig machines for sale are the '2.0' variety with the coffee DRM. The DRM is both simple in theory: the machine has an infrared camera built in which detects a logo on the lid of the pod. If it can't find one,...

My Perspective on Scribd’s Announcement Of Removing Romance Titles
July 1, 2015 | 10:30 am

scribd logo subscription servicesFile this under "We had to know this was coming." Susan's already covered the main points of this story, but as the resident Scribd fan, I felt like I had to say something. As much as I love the service, I have been concerned all along about the sustainability of their business model. The recent announcement confirms the concern is justified. Last year, I was reading reviews of Scribd on various romance sites and all of them said basically the same thing: "All you can read romance? Sign me up!" I've always been curious about the percentage of Scribd subscribers who signed up...

Scribd to cut romance and erotica titles from its catalog
July 1, 2015 | 10:11 am

scribd logo subscription servicesThe ebook subscription model seems to have hit a bump. According to Smashwords’ Mark Coker, Scribd is cutting its romance and erotica catalog. Effective immediately, I estimate 80-90 percent of Smashwords romance and erotica titles will be dropped by Scribd, including nearly all of our most popular romance titles. Books priced at free are safe and will remain in their catalog. The reason? Romance and erotica readers are devouring these titles, and Scribd pays retailer-level margins for books. It seems Scribd cannot currently sustain this model since it has to pay authors when books are read. Scribd stated in a letter than the...

Morning Links: Apple Music First Look. Kickstarter Setting Records
July 1, 2015 | 8:05 am

apple musicApple Music First Look: Rich, Robust — But Confusing (re/code) I’ve been testing Apple Music on an iPhone 6 Plus, loaned to me by Apple for about a day. Because of the short testing time, this isn’t a full-on review but a first look. I set out to gather some initial impressions of how it feels to use the product. And to answer the question: Would I pay $10 a month — $120 a year — to use it? TeleRead Take: It seemed like half my feed today was "Apple Music this" and "Apple Music that." This was a good article asking...

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