Monthly Archives: July 2013

OverStock.com Launches New Campaign in Price War Against Amazon

31 July 2013

From The Digital Reader:

When Overstock.com announced last week that they were going to beat Amazon’s book prices by 10% on all 360,000 titles carried by Overstock, it looked to be a classic first volley in a price war. Amazon returned fire a day later with their own sale on best sellers, and now Overstock  is back with their next maneuver.

Overstock announced today that they were extending their sale. The deep discounted prices are going to stay in effect at least through 7 August, and possibly even later. The CEO told PW that he plans to review the situation in a week and consider the matter then.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

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Amazon Announces “The Kindle Singles Interview” with President Barack Obama

31 July 2013

From Amazon’s Media Room:

Amazon.com today announced “The Kindle Singles Interview” with President Barack Obama—an exclusive in-depth interview with the President about the economy and the increasing need for government programs that he believes can make a difference. Yesterday President Obama visited Amazon’s fulfillment center inChattanooga, Tenn., where he discussed proposals to jumpstart private sector job growth and make America more competitive. He also sat down with Kindle Singles editor David Blum to answer questions regarding his economic policies. The interview, which is free for all customers, is available now at www.amazon.com/kindlesingles.

“The interview with President Obama, pegged to his latest speech on jobs and the economy in Chattanooga, focuses on the President’s personal connection to the economic pressures that now face millions of Americans,” said David Blum, editor of Kindle Singles.

In this Kindle Singles Interview, President Barack Obama decries the “change in culture” that has altered our view of the American Dream. “There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous,” the President said. “Kids weren’t monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success.” He addresses the jobs issue from a personal perspective, reflecting on how his own life might have been different had he not experienced success in politics. “I could picture myself being a good teacher,” the President mused.

Link to the rest at Amazon’s Media Room

This will send New York over the edge. PG wonders if anybody receives royalties.

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A real book

31 July 2013

A real book is not one that’s read, but one that reads us.

W.H. Auden

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JK Rowling law firm pays damages over pseudonym leak

31 July 2013

From the BBC:

Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has accepted a substantial charity donation from the law firm that revealed she was writing under a pseudonym.

The writer brought a legal action against Chris Gossage, a partner at Russells Solicitors, and his friend, Judith Callegari.

. . . .

Rowling’s solicitor told Mr Justice Tugendhat that Russells had contacted the writer’s agent after the story was published, revealing it was Mr Gossage who had divulged the confidential information to Ms Callegari.

. . . .

Mr Gossage, Ms Callegari and Russells all apologised and the firm agreed to pay the author’s legal costs.

It also agreed to make a payment, by way of damages, to The Soldiers’ Charity, formerly known as the Army Benevolent Fund.

Rowling explained that she was donating the money “partly as a thank you to the army people” who helped her with research.

“But also because writing a hero who is a veteran has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed,” she said.

. . . .

Rowling said she would be donating all the royalties for the book to The Soldiers’ Charity.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Brendan for the tip.

PG says Rowling has turned a difficult experience into a public relations triumph. Instead of acting like a victimized celebrity and orchesrating a lengthy public vendetta against those who have wronged her, she demonstrates benevolence and generosity.

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Amazon Sticks It To Apple’s App Store Rules With Updated Kindle App

31 July 2013

From Macgasm:

Amazon has rolled out a new update today for its Kindle app for iOS that cleverly gets around one of Apple’s App Store rules that says it gets a 30% cut from all in-app purchases. For the first time ever, you can search Amazon’s catalog of books right in the app. The App lets you browse Amazon’s online library for books with free samples available, which you can then download to read. Once you’ve finished with the book sample, a screen will pop up offering to email you a link to the book on Amazon, where you get to then purchase it, thus giving all your money to Amazon, and none to Apple.

. . . .

Previously, Amazon launched an iPad and iPhone only HTML 5 app to avoid giving Apple its 30% cut from those wishing to make purchases from their iOS device.

Link to the rest at Macgasm and thanks to Randall for the tip.

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Amazon is worse than Walmart

31 July 2013

From Salon:

President Barack Obama will visit an Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga, Tenn., today to talk  job growth — but the speech comes at a particularly awkward time for the government to embrace the company. Or perhaps there’s no more apt time: a time when we need to ask whether Amazon’s growth will lead to the kind of economy or culture we actually want to have.

. . . .

But this visit comes at a time when Amazon’s clout in the book world, in Washington and on Wall Street seems increasingly unstoppable. Obama’s speech is the exclamation point on a whirlwind several weeks in which Amazon has consolidated its position. Barnes & Noble looks increasingly shaky. Amazon lost $7 million in the second quarter, but Wall Street yawned again, sending Amazon shares higher.

And Amazon felt confident enough last week — with Wall Street satisfied, bookstores reeling and the Justice Department going after publishers — to radically slash prices on many best-selling hardcovers to nearly unseen levels: $9.09 for Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” $11.65 for Dan Brown’s “Inferno.” That’s less than most paperbacks, and led one bookseller to call it a brazen “declaration of war.”

. . . .

Amazon is evidently seen, by Obama and his administration, as the sort of American job-creating corporation that underpins the economy. However, unlike, for example, Walmart, a company with many deplorable practices but a massive ability to generate profit, Amazon uses everything (cheap, cheap books; distribution centers; the Kindle) as a loss-leader for everything else. Profits dropped again last week, though the company’s stock didn’t appreciably drop.

“Our discount cannot compare to what Amazon was setting their prices at, even before they started selling their books at 60 percent off,” said Carson Moss, the buyer for Strand Bookstore in New York. “There’s frustration that a company that hasn’t turned a profit continues to be rewarded with higher stock prices and they can make seismic shifts in this industry.”

Link to the rest at Salon

It’s amazing how many people in the book business have all of a sudden become experts on Amazon’s share prices and financial statements and how the two just don’t make sense.

The problem with the jobs Amazon creates is that they’re not the right kind of jobs.

First, they’re in places like Tennessee.

Second, they involve people who may not be English majors and certainly did not attend an Ivy League university.

Third, what sort of culture do they have in Tennessee? Country-western, trucks and beer, of course.

Fourth, we know how people who aren’t English majors and who live in Tennessee and who listen to country-western music feel about social issues. We just can’t encourage that sort of thing.

And books priced so ordinary people can afford to buy them! Where will that lead? Certainly nowhere fashionable.

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President Obama’s speech at Amazon in Chattanooga

31 July 2013

From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, the text of President Obama’s speech at a large Amazon warehouse yesterday:

Hello, Chattanooga! It is good to be back in Tennessee. It’s great to be here at Amazon.

. . . .

So this is something here. I just finished getting a tour of just one little corner of this massive facility — size of 28 football fields. Last year, during the busiest day of the Christmas rush, customers around the world ordered more than 300 items from Amazon every second, and a lot of those traveled through this building. So this is kind of like the North Pole of the south right here. Got a bunch of good-looking elves here.

. . . .

Jobs are about more than just paying the bills. Jobs are about more than just statistics. We’ve never just defined having a job as having a paycheck here in America. A job is a source of pride, is a source of dignity. It’s the way you look after your family. It’s proof that you’re doing the right things and meeting your responsibilities and contributing to the fabric of your community and helping to build the country. That’s what a job is all about. It’s not just about a paycheck. It’s not just about paying the bills. It’s also about knowing that what you’re doing is important, that it counts.

. . . .

Amazon is a great example of what’s possible. What you’re doing here at Amazon with your Career Choice Program pays 95 percent of the tuition for employees who want to earn skills in fields with high demand — not just, by the way, jobs here at Amazon, but jobs anywhere — computer-aided design or nursing. I talked to Jeff Bezos yesterday, and he was so proud of the fact that he wants to see every employee at Amazon continually upgrade their skills and improve. And if they’ve got a dream they want to pursue, Amazon wants to help them pursue it.

Link to the rest at Times-Free Press

Croissants have been violently smashed against walls all over Manhattan this morning.

If overseas visitors have never witnessed an American political speech, the text will provide an example of the genre.

In its report on the Obama speech, the New York Times said:

The choice of Amazon was meant to illustrate Mr. Obama’s theme of a job revival in America. The company recently announced plans to hire 5,000 more workers at 17 fulfillment centers, where it packs and ships customer orders. But the White House came under fire because many Amazon jobs pay only $11 an hour, and the pace of the work in these warehouses has been described as exhausting.

On his tour of the plant, Mr. Obama stopped at stations where workers were sorting and packing bottles of Metamucil and bags of pistachio nuts. “I’ve got a bunch of orders in there,” the president said, gesturing to a bin filled with boxes.

Mr. Obama’s appearance here also raised the hackles of independent booksellers, who blame Amazon, with its deep discounting and massive selection, for putting bookstores out of business.

Link to the rest at New York Times

For clarification, $11 per hour is the starting salary at Amazon. Raises happen as the employee gains more experience.

PG would bet a bag of croissants that the starting salary at Barnes & Noble or a typical independent bookstore in Chattanooga is very close to minimum wage – $7.25 – and that it takes quite a while before it rises to $11 per hour.

PG will allow former Barnes & Noble employees to comment about whether they were reimbursed for 95% of tuition fees or received any shares of stock in addition to their salaries.

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17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s

31 July 2013

From Mental Floss:

While shoe-horning these into conversation today might prove difficult, these 17 synonyms for sex were used often enough in 19th-century England to earn a place in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a book for upper-crust Britons who had no idea what the proles were talking about.

1. AMOROUS CONGRESS

To say two people were engaged in the amorous congress was by far the most polite option on the list, oftentimes serving as the definition for other, less discreet synonyms.

2. BASKET-MAKING

“Those two recently opened a basket-making shop.” From a method of making children’s stockings, in which knitting the heel is called basket-making.

. . . .

14. PULLY HAWLY

A game at pully hawly is a series of affairs.

Link to the rest at Mental Floss and thanks to Tina for the tip.

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Ranking e-book sales

30 July 2013

From The Bookseller:

Last week The Bookseller announced that it would begin running monthly e-book rankings, with data supplied direct to the magazine by all the main trade publishers. The initiative builds on what we’ve done with The Bookseller’s annual, and quarterly market analyses, where we’ve integrated publisher supplied e-book data with stats from the physical book market supplied by Nielsen BookScan.

We first begin having a conversation with publishers in December last year, as I felt that attempting to analyse the publishing market only through the prism of Nielsen BookScan data was becoming untenable (at least for the commercial end of the market).

. . . .

The e-book market has grown to near 30% some trade publishers’ business but there is no third party monitor of it, or its “behaviour”. In the US, where the e-book market is bigger, the data sources are no better. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both run e-book charts (the latter supplied by Nielsen BookScan, and based on sales from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Google, Sony and more with Kobo joining the panel shortly), but without numbers.

. . . .

Yet nearly everything we know about the e-book world is based on publishers’ financial statements, analyses of relative movements of titles on various e-book bestseller charts, or consumer surveys.

. . . .

So The Bookseller will begin running a monthly ranking with publisher supplied volume data.

. . . .

As with the BookScan charts we’ll focus on volume, but will eliminate titles that are so heavily discounted that their sales figures become meaningless. The Bookseller’s BookScan charts exclude titles that have an actual selling price that represents a 75% discount or more on the rrp. There is no clear way of making this calculation for e-book sales, so in the e-book ranking we’ll exclude titles that sell below £2.

. . . .

The publishers in the launch panel are Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan Bloomsbury, and Simon & Schuster.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to David for the tip.

We can’t have any riff-raff on the bestseller lists.

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Wounded

30 July 2013

A wounded deer leaps the highest.

Emily Dickinson

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