Prime, Kindle Drive Amazon Sales

23 April 2014

From Twice:

Amazon Prime subscribers and Kindle owners buy more from Amazon than other Amazon customers, says a survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP.)

The two programs “have become significant drivers of Amazon sales, even in light of the recent Amazon Prime price increase and significant competition in the tablet computing market,” the company said.

“Both serve as superb affinity programs for Amazon, as Kindle owners spend 30 percent more, and Prime members spend twice as much, as the rest of Amazon’s customers,” said CIRP co-founder Mike Levin.

Link to the rest at Twice

Amazon Sales Take a Hit in States With Online Tax

23 April 2014

From Bloomberg:

In one of the first efforts to quantify the impact of states accruing more tax revenue from Web purchases, researchers at Ohio State University published a paper this month that found sales dropped for Amazon when the online charge was introduced. In states that have the tax, households reduced their spending on Amazon by about 10 percent compared to those in states that don’t have the levy. For online purchases of more than $300, sales fell by 24 percent, according to the report titled “The Amazon Tax.”

The findings add to concerns about how much the world’s largest online retailer can expand. The Seattle-based company, which reports quarterly earnings on April 24, has been grappling with decelerating revenue growth amid heavy spending by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos on new initiatives. Amazon has enjoyed an edge against brick-and-mortar retailers because consumers didn’t have to pay a sales tax for purchases from the e-commerce site, yet that has eroded as states including California and Texas have unveiled the levies.

. . . .

The push by states to collect taxes on Internet purchases has gathered momentum in the past few years. Amazon collects sales tax in 20 states, according to its website. More are set to follow as the company has become a popular target to help state governments generate more revenue to cover budget shortfalls; Florida is set to begin charging a tax on May 1. States lose an estimated $23 billion a year in uncollected sales taxes from Web retailers.

“As analysts have noted, Amazon offers the best prices with or without sales tax,” Ty Rogers, a spokesman for Amazon, said in an e-mail.

. . . .

In total, brick-and-mortar retailers enjoyed a 2 percent bump in purchases in states that introduced an online sales tax, while competing online retailers got a 20 percent increase, the study found.

The biggest sales uptick — 61 percent for big-ticket items — went to merchants that use Amazon Marketplace. These outfits pay Amazon a fee to offer products through the Amazon website, yet don’t collect taxes. The products are typically available alongside Amazon’s own listings.

That means Amazon still indirectly benefits, since it collects a fee from merchants on its marketplace.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg

PG would note that, in fact, Amazon doesn’t pay these sales taxes. Amazon customers pay these taxes. That’s why customer behavior (as usual) changes to avoid paying taxes when there’s a tax-free alternative that is less expensive.

The online sales taxes (which have to be based on some sort of physical presence Amazon has within the state) are an effective tax increase on the citizens of the states that impose them.

Yes, there are already use taxes on the books that Amazon customers are supposed to pay in lieu of sales taxes, but use taxes are effectively ignored by state taxing authorities for non-wealthy individuals. Making Amazon collect sales taxes is easier than requiring the state to collect use taxes itself.

The Amazon marketplace sellers are an interesting sales tax angle. Many of them will be more difficult to tag with a physical presence in the state than Amazon is.

Amazon takes half of UK’s online retail spend

22 April 2014

From The Bookseller:

More than half of Britain’s online retail spend goes to Amazon, working out at £70 for every man, woman and child in the country, according to a new BBC television programme.

. . . .

Amazon is now so ingrained in everyday life that the word itself has become a verb, an Amazon shopper told the show. “If I want to know something, I’ll Google it. If I want to buy something, I’ll Amazon it,” he told the BBC.

Part of the documentary was filmed at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Conference last November. Michael Bhaskar, digital publishing director at Profile Books, told the programme that to publishers Bezos was like “God”.

He said: “Amazon are undoubtedly the most important player in the book world today. Whether print books or e-books. They really are the central platform around which the whole publishing industry is operating these days. Publishers think about Jeff Bezos kind of like how they might think about God – as a very distant, inaccessible figure who is all powerful and all knowing.”

. . . .

Another of Bezos’ ideas is that when hiring, Amazon staff should always pick someone smarter than themselves to make sure the intelligence levels at the company will keep rising.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Self-published photo books to be sold through Amazon

22 April 2014

From The Telegraph:

Eileen Gittins, CEO and founder of Blurb – an online platform that allows individuals to design and publish their own photo books – has announced that Blurb users will now be able to sell and distribute their books globally through, even if they only sell one copy.

Although Amazon has sold self-published books before, this is the first time that the retailer has invested so heavily in photo books

. . . .

The decision marks a huge leap forward for the ever-growing group of photographers who are designing and printing their own photo books rather than working with traditional publishing houses.

In recent years, self-published photo books have become more popular and more readily accessible – with titles being sold in small bookshops, by independent dealers, or on lesser-known websites. But “self-publishing photographers want to be on Amazon; it’s today’s equivalent of being in a high street shop,” says Gittins.”

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

Amazon and Samsung partner up for custom Kindle store on Galaxy smartphones and tablets

19 April 2014

From Digital Trends:

Samsung has signed a deal with Amazon, and will jointly launch a custom version of the Kindle book store made specifically for Galaxy phone and tablets.

. . . .

Owners will be entitled to download 12 free books per year, taken from a choice of four offered up each month. The books on offer will be “prominent,” so expect an Amazon-curated list of well-known novels from which to choose.

. . . .

Additionally, the app will also provide access to newspapers and magazines, along with 500,000 book titles which are exclusive to the Kindle store. It also features Whispersync, so your place in a book is saved across all your Kindle devices and apps, plus the option to backup your books in the cloud using Amazon’s Worry-Free Archive feature.

. . . .

Samsung says the app is available right now in 90 countries around the world, but don’t go looking for it inside the Google Play store. Instead, you’ll need to visit Samsung’s own app store on your phone.

Link to the rest at Digital Trends

Amazon’s first smartphone to feature 4 front-facing cameras for 3D effects

17 April 2014

From ThinkDigit:

Amazon, which has already stepped into the tablet-market is now looking to compete in the smartphone category as well. And, looking at its high-quality Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon might come out with an even more impressive smartphone. Leaked photos of the upcoming smartphone from Amazon are now doing rounds on the internet.

The photos, which show an early prototype, have been leaked by the tech-site BGR.

. . . .

 The smartphone is said to incorporate retina-tracking technology “embedded in four front-facing cameras” to display a 3D hologram-like effect.

. . . .

 The most interesting feature revealed by the leaked photos is the total of five front-facing cameras. Four of them are located in each corner which point to the 3D feature of the smartphone. While BGR has claims that these cameras will follow the position of a user’s face and eyes to display things in a 3D perspective, TechCrunch says the 3D feature will be “very limited out of the box” and instead of tracking eyes of a user, the cameras will actually track a user’s head position. The tech site also adds that the screen which is technically NOT 3D, will actually “stimulate” a 3D effect.

Link to the rest at ThinkDigit

Easily Add Books You Purchased from Amazon to Your Goodreads Shelves

16 April 2014

From the Goodreads blog:

Our members have been asking for a long time for a quick way to add their Amazon book purchases to their Goodreads shelves. So, we’ve come up with a new way to help: Today, we’re starting to roll out an Add Your Amazon Books feature! You can now add books you’ve purchased on Amazon – both print and Kindle books – to your Goodreads shelves. This will be available in the next few weeks to members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

. . . .

How do you know if you have the feature? You’ll see the Add Amazon Book Purchases link in the Tools list on the left hand side of the My Books page (and a small announcement at the top of the page). Click on either link and you’ll be asked to sign in to your Amazon account. You’ll then see your Amazon book purchases. You can go through and rate each book and select the appropriate shelf for it. We give you full control over which books to add so you can avoid adding any books bought as gifts. Any book not rated or added to a shelf will not be added to Goodreads.

Link to the rest at Goodreads blog

New Sales Dashboard for Kindle Direct Publishing

14 April 2014

Amazon has added a new Sales Dashboard to its KDP reports. Here’s what they say about it:

We’ve added a Sales Dashboard to the KDP Reports page to give you up-to-date reporting of paid, borrowed and free orders as they are placed in Kindle stores worldwide. The new dashboard also helps you track royalties earned as payments are processed for these orders

With the new Sales Dashboard you can:

- Track orders as they are placed: The dashboard graph provides you with daily trends for your titles as orders are placed in Kindle stores worldwide.
- Track royalties as payments are processed: The dashboard displays a summary of royalties earned as payments are processed for your orders.
- Generate customized royalty reports: The downloadable report gives you a detailed picture of orders, refunds and royalties earned.

You can filter the Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report by title, marketplace, and timeframe. The information you currently receive in the Prior Six Weeks’ Royalties reports is now available in the new Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report. We will remove this report in the near future.

Visit the Sales Dashboard to view the new reports here: then click on the Sales Dashboard link

Learn more about the new reporting features at our Help pages.

Sales Dashboard:

Sales & Royalties Report:

Thanks to Dan for the tip

Bookstores in Seattle Soar, and Embrace an Old Nemesis:

14 April 2014

From The New York Times:

A love of books and bookstores runs deep in the sinews of this city, where gray skies and drizzle can drive a person to drink, or read, or both. A long-running annual survey ranks Seattle the country’s second-most literate big city, behind Washington, D.C., as measured by things like the number of bookstores, library resources, newspaper circulation and education. Inc. also calls Seattle home. And in recent years, as many small independent bookstores here and around the nation struggled or closed their doors, owners often placed blame for their plight on the giant online retailer’s success in delivering best sellers at discount prices, e-readers and other commodities of the digital marketplace.

“They seem to be after everyone and everything,” one Seattle-area bookstore owner, Roger Page, fulminated on his store’s blog last year. He added, “I believe there is a real chance that they will ruin the publishing world.”

But now there are signs of a thaw in those tensions, at least here in the city that most embodied them. As Amazon has exploded with growth, hiring thousands of tech workers at its downtown headquarters and helping bolster the Seattle economy, local bookstore owners have seen a surprising new side of the company they loved to hate: Many Amazon employees, it turns out, are readers who are not shopping at the company store.

. . . .

Whether it is Amazon or something else, the broader pattern is unmistakable, said Oren J. Teicher, the chief executive of the American Booksellers Association, a national bookstore trade group. “Seattle has become one of the most successful independent bookstore cities in the country,” he said.

Tom Nissley, 46, a writer and former Amazon employee with 10 years at the company who lives with his family in northern Seattle, embodies this odd new détente. In his old life, he was a senior editor, helping Amazon promote and choose featured book titles for its website. Then, in 2010, he won enough money on the television quiz show “Jeopardy!” — about $235,000 as an eight-game champion — to quit his day job and write full time, publishing last fall a compendium of literary history and trivia, called “A Reader’s Book of Days.”

Last month, Mr. Nissley’s bookish-in-Seattle tale came full circle when he signed a contract to buy and run his own small independent bookstore.

. . . .

Part of Mr. Nissley’s optimism is that he believes local shops have increasingly found their feet in how to avoid competition with Amazon, or other giant retailers, by offering services or products that only a local can provide. He plans to offer, in addition to books, a line of paper goods, toys and vinyl handbags made by the business that his wife, Laura Silverstein, started.

He is also convinced, he said, that the e-book revolution, which seemed ready a few years ago to sweep away the old world of pages and print, has reached a plateau. Publishers, wanting to keep independent bookstores alive, have also helped — easing traditional repayment rules for books, or helping with promotions or advertising.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Mike and many others for the tip.

Jeff Bezos to Amazon Payments Team: Move Faster

13 April 2014

From Re/code:

The payments industry has been waiting for years for Amazon, with its 215 million credit cards on file, to flex its muscles. Apparently, CEO Jeff Bezos has been, too.

Industry sources have recently told Re/code that Bezos has identified payments as one of the top areas of focus and investment for Amazon, and Amazon payments boss Tom Taylor acknowledged as much in a interview last week at the company’s Seattle headquarters.

“Jeff’s told us it’s something we need to be successful in, and should be successful in,” Taylor said.

“The pressure I feel from Jeff is, ‘Go faster,’” he added.

. . . .

As for another hot category, peer-to-peer money transfers, many people would be surprised to learn that Amazon already offers a peer-to-peer payment feature similar to PayPal’s. I know I was.

“It’s not a significant part of the business,” Taylor said, “and we haven’t really promoted it.”

Why is that? I asked.

“We’re not sure we’re doing anything better than anyone else,” he said plainly. If and when we think that has changed, he said, “we’ll emphasize it.”

Link to the rest at Re/code and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

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