Yearly Archives: 2017

When an American family

29 December 2017

When an American family becomes separated from its toothbrushes and combs and pajamas for a few hours it considers that it has had quite an adventure.

E.B. White

Amazon Digital Day

29 December 2017

Today is Amazon’s last big, broad blast of sale items for the 2017 Holiday Season, Amazon Digital Day.

PG says there are a million deals, some more “dealy” than others, raising the question, “If there is a deal for something you would never purchase, is it really a deal?”

Kindle Bestsellers will likely include some books you might well purchase, so it may be a true deal.

On the other hand, Toca Boca bestsellers may not be a true deal.

Unless it is.

For you.

Or for another carbon-based life form you know.

As the old saying goes, “One carbon-based life form’s meat is another CBLF’s Toca Boca.”


I Sell the Shadow

29 December 2017

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Born Isabella Baumfree to a family of slaves in Ulster County, New York, Sojourner Truth sits for one of the war’s most iconic portraits in an anonymous photographer’s studio, likely in Detroit. The sixty-seven-year-old abolitionist, who never learned to read or write, pauses from her knitting and looks pensively at the camera. She was not only an antislavery activist and colleague of Frederick Douglass but also a memoirist and committed feminist, who shows herself engaged in the dignity of women’s work. More than most sitters, Sojourner Truth is both the actor in the picture’s drama and its author, and she used the card mount to promote and raise money for her many causes: I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance.

Link to the rest at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Record Holiday

29 December 2017

From The Motley Fool:

Amazon continued its momentum from Black Friday and Cyber Mondaythroughout the holiday, clocking in with its biggest holiday season ever. Including record shopping, record Prime membership trials, record sales of Amazon Devices, and more, the holiday season undoubtedly helped set the e-commerce giant up for an enormous fourth quarter.

. . . .

5. Parents love Fire Kids Edition Tablets. Sales of the Amazon tablet were up 2.4 times compared to the same time last year.

6. Amazon’s fulfillment and shipping network grew significantly. Between last year and this year’s holiday season, total square footage in Amazon’s fulfillment and shipping network increased by 30%.

7. Mobile shopping skyrocketed. The number of customers who shopped on the Amazon App increased nearly 70% this holiday season compared to the same period last year.

Expect this momentum to continue

Despite how extraordinary this growth is, Amazon is still preparing for one more big shopping day before the year closes. On Dec. 29, customers will be able to save “up to 80% on over 5,000 apps, games, movies, eBooks, and more,” Amazon said. Building on the momentum it saw last year with its new Digital Day holiday, Amazon said it will offer 40% more deals this year compared to last year.

. . . .

Amazon is guiding for huge growth in its fourth quarter of 2017, expecting net sales between $56 billion and $60.5 billion, up 28% to 38% compared to the year-ago quarter.

Link to the rest at The Motley Fool

Bookstore Chains, Long in Decline, Are Undergoing a Final Shakeout

29 December 2017

From The New York Times:

This fall, at a moment when retailers traditionally look forward to reaping holiday profits, the owner of the fourth-largest bookstore chain in the country surrendered to the forces of e-commerce.

Book World, founded in 1976, sold hardcovers, paperbacks and sometimes tobacco in malls, downtowns and vacation areas across the Upper Midwest. It had endured recessions, the expansion of superstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble, and then the rise of Amazon. But the 45-store chain could not survive the shifting nature of shopping itself, and so announced its liquidation.

“Sales in our mall stores are down this year from 30 to 60 percent,” said Bill Streur, Book World’s owner. “The internet is killing retail. Bookstores are just the first to go.”

As e-commerce becomes more deeply embedded in the fabric of daily life, including for the first time in rural areas, bookstores are undergoing a final shakeout. Family Christian Stores, which had 240 stores that sold books and other religious merchandise, closed this year, not long after Hastings Entertainment, a retailer of books, music and video games with 123 stores, declared bankruptcy and then shut down.

“Books aren’t going away, but bookstores are,” said Matthew Duket, a Book World sales associate waiting for customers in the West Bend, Wis., store.

. . . .

 Replacing Book World as the fourth-largest chain, Publishers Weekly says, will be a company that had no physical presence a few years ago. That would be Amazon, which having conquered the virtual world has opened or announced 15 bookshops, including at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

. . . .

The [Book World] chain swung from a profit in 2014 to break-even in 2015 to a loss in 2016, although Mr. Streur declined to provide numbers.

“There was nobody interested in buying us,” he said.

. . . .

The store in Mequon is in a strip mall with at least eight empty storefronts. In Oshkosh, the store is on the main street, but at 10 a.m. there was no foot traffic. The stores in Fond du Lac and Manitowoc were almost as bleak.

These streets look as if an overpowering recession had hit, but the unemployment rate in Wisconsin fell this year to a 17-year low. Mequon is especially affluent: Its household income is double the national average. This is Amazon Prime territory, its shoppers drawn to the fast-shipping membership program that some analysts say half the households in the country have joined.

. . . .

 “To draw people into a store now is a monumental challenge. This is a huge sea change for retail. I don’t see any end to it.”

. . . .

 “The age of the physical chain of bookstores is behind us — unless you don’t need to be profitable,” said Daniel Goldin, the owner of Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, the sole surviving descendant of a local chain that began in 1927.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

blues and twos

29 December 2017
Comments Off on blues and twos

From The Oxford English Dictionary:

blues and twos, n.

. . . .

The flashing lights and siren used on a police car or other emergency vehicle when responding to an incident.

. . . .

Etymology: < the plural of blue n. + the plural of two n., with reference to the blue flashing lights and (typically) two-tone siren used on an emergency vehicle.

. . . .

Popularized by a British television series of the same name (first broadcast 1993), which followed various emergency services responding to 999 calls.

. . . .

2010   N. Cross Captured 242   The paramedics raced him under blues and twos to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Link to the rest at The Oxford English Dictionary

The danger in media concentration

28 December 2017

The danger in media concentration comes not from the concentration, but instead from the feudalism that this concentration, tied to the change in copyright, produces.

Lawrence Lessig

The Internet Archive’s OpenLibrary project violates copyright, the Authors Guild warns

28 December 2017

From TeleRead:

Four years ago, on the old site, I wrote about how’s OpenLibrary project was systematically violating the copyrights of a number of authors, including Diane Duane and Mercedes Lackey. seemed to feel that making digital copies of paper books and loaning them out as if they were the paper books as long as it restricted the paper books from circulating while the digital media were out was a fair use of those books. Even though the Authors Guild had been absolutely gung-ho about chasing Google all the way to the Supreme Court just for serving up snippets, the Internet Archive checking out entire books was somehow beneath its notice.

After that, the strangest thing happened: nothing.

For four years, has chugged right along digitizing books and setting them up for checkout, without the Authors Guild or anyone else saying one word about it. And while I will admit that, in at least one case, this let me find a long out-of-print book I’d been wanting to get my hands on, it’s still not exactly legal. (Or, at least, it hasn’t been shown to be. More on that later.) Even the X-COM novel that originally prompted me to make that discovery is still up and available.

. . . .

Authors Guild Executive Director Mary E. Rasenberger replied:

This is something we are actively following. We have had letter/email exchanges and conversations with the Internet Archive, and indeed offered to work with them on this project to assist in getting rights from authors of out of print books, but only if they would do it within the bounds of the copyright law. But it appears they are not. Some of what they are doing is arguably fair use under the Haiti Trust and Google Books decisions, but the notion of relying on the first sale doctrine and fair use to allow IA to provide a digital copy to any library that owns a hard copy of a book in their collections and then e-lend that digital copy is ludicrous.  I believe they are relying on an argument made in an amicus brief the IA signed onto in the ReDigi case, which is not going to fly. Yes, fair use even today does have some limits.

Finally, a few days ago, mention of OpenLibrary’s putative copyright violations showed up, posted by authors I follow on Facebook—and as I learned from a reader email today, this is because the Authors Guild finally deigned to alert its members that OpenLibrary was scanning and checking out their books without permission.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

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