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In a move that industry watchers are already calling a direct competition to Amazon’s purchase of book discovery platform Goodreads, TechCrunch has reported through an anonymous tip that Apple has bought Boise, Idaho-based BookLamp, creators of the Book Genome Project discovery site. The site, which pairs readers with books based on the “DNA” of books, meaning an in-depth analysis of the language in titles readers have read, offers suggestions for new reads based on what users have already enjoyed.
According to TechCrunch, things became a little cryptic in April of this year, at least on BookLamp’s end. Once the anonymous tipster let it be known that Apple had completed the purchase for between $10million and $15million, which includes all of the technology and the manpower within the company. Facebook (of all places) provided some more of the clues, as key team members from BookLamp still listed Boise as their places of residence but had multiple FB posts that were tagged from the Cupertino, California, location.
As to how this is going to help Apple take down Amazon, as some reports are already claiming, that remains to be seen. Amazon purchased Goodreads over a year ago, with some estimates on the cost ranging from between $150 million and over one billion dollars. While the move has been good for Amazon, for Goodreads, and even for readers, it doesn’t appear to have been a game changer within the bookselling industry, at least not in the way that these kinds of dollars reflect.
One thing that has come out, though, is a renewed focus on Apple’s part in terms of selling titles through its iBooks platform. With agreements already in place with publishers and even Smashwords, and with the iOS8 update coming this fall that is supposed to make book purchasing even more streamlined, incorporating a search feature for right-fit books makes a lot of sense.
Of course, as Apple explained to TechCrunch, the company has a long history of buying smaller tech companies and then not discussing the details. Apple could just as easily have plans for the BookLamp technology–say in the area of app discovery–that doesn’t have much to do with bookselling.
Verdict: 5 Stars
This book was fun for the very reason that books are meant to be read: it provided an escape into a world of “wouldn’t it be great if I could, but I never will.”
In Freudberg’s title, main character Martin Muntor made it a goal early in life to excel, not in the psychotic driven way of a man who cannot fathom failure, but more in the way of a man who had early examples of how not to live, and rose to overcome them. He takes good care of himself, works hard at a good job, and basically enjoys life.
Until he is diagnosed with lung cancer thanks to secondhand smoke from a childhood surrounded by smokers, only to follow that up with a doomed marriage to a smoker.
Everyone wants to point fingers at lung cancer patients as though to ask, “What did you expect to happen?” But in Muntor’s case, he was neither a smoker nor able to escape from an environment filled with the toxic stuff. Given that the book is set in 1995 when smoking was more prevalent and the effects of secondhand smoke were downplayed, the man is a casual victim who refuses to go down without a fight.
Instead of a medical fight, though, Muntor becomes a man on a mission, hellbent on taking down the tobacco industry, serial killer-style.
Much in the same way that we can enjoy TV shows like Dexter for both the sick pleasure of watching the bad guys suffer and the “it’s never gonna happen but what if” plot, Freudberg’s story line is both a sick pleasure and a fun pseudo-warning to the corporate entities who hurt the population in the name of twisted greed. I’d love to see what the author comes up with in addressing Monsanto, but that’s for another book.
There were places where the writing dragged for me, but I am admittedly not a massive fan of the genre. I can appreciate good writing and a highly unique plot, though, both of which the author provided in abundance.
Find Virgil is available now.
Scholastic, the award-winning powerhouse in children’s publishing, made a announcement today that their ebook reading app Storia would be closing, making way for a bigger focus on its Storia School Edition subscription reading program. In a cryptically worded graphic on their website, a lot of unanswered questions were alluded to, particularly that the ebooks parents have already purchased for their young readers as part of the platform “may soon no longer be available,” and that consumers “may be able to continue using your eBooks by making sure to open them on a bookshelf at least once by October 15.”
While that may leave consumers with even more head-scratching than understanding, a more confusing offer of a refund on all titles purchased is both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, parents who act by
August 1st can have a refund on their ebooks, but if they don’t ask for a refund, their content might still work.
The industry has been very forgiving of Scholastic’s recent drops in revenue by acknowledging that the company simply can’t produce a Hunger Games trilogy every year. Just how significant was the series for Scholastic? Given that at one point all three books were in the top spots on various bestsellers lists and that the movie franchise is still in production, it’s easy to see what a monumental percentage of revenue it was. At the same time, Scholastic can’t continue to rest on its publishing laurels and excuse a drop in revenue due to not producing another blockbuster. A recent shareholder presentation outlined the areas where improvement has been steady, as well as sources of decrease.
All in all, it means that Scholastic is smart to fund its drive in a market where it’s possibly most well known with consumers, and that’s in education. As ebook subscription models continue to gain ground with consumers, keeping a student-centric model in motion through classrooms instead of only through private consumer subscriptions seems to be the smarter approach. With the recent announcement of Lee Peters as the new SVP of Strategic Marketing in the education division, there are already new directions underway for increasing the brand and putting Scholastic content where people expect it: in the classrooms.
UPDATE: The deadline for refunds is NOT this Friday, but rather August 1st of next year, and the family streaming service that was announced last April is still available. We apologize for any panic this may have caused.
With a fairly significant US election looming on the horizon, candidates are already working the public for both electoral and financial support. And with the support of the Federal Election Commission, a whole new form of political contributions is heading their way.
The state of New Hampshire, long considered one of the key states in the national election process, happens to also have more Bitcoin transactions than any other state per capita; given that fact, New Hampshire politicians will be accepting campaign contributions in this so-called “cryptocurrency,” the form of digital currency who most noteworthy example may be Bitcoin. Ensuring the seamless nature of making this type of contribution with e-currency is PayStand, who spoke with Good e-Reader about the viability of this measure.
“It’s important for government leaders to listen to their constituency,” states Andrew Hemingway, a New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate, in a press release. “New Hampshire is known as the Live Free or Die State and we have always been very strong in our independent ideals. The state has spoken – they want the opportunity to use innovative and convenient payment alternatives. I am happy to accept Bitcoin as political donations and want to make it as simple a process as possible for my supporters to do that. Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin is the wave of the future and I want to do everything I can to allow people to use it – including for political donations of all sorts.”
Bitcoin may very well be a misunderstood object of fear, the stuff of science fiction, to those who were already leery of it. The US government’s seizure of more than 150,000 Bitcoins, nearly 30,000 of which have already been auctioned off for around $17 million, didn’t do anything to endear the currency to its critics. The fact that it was seized during the arrest and shutdown of the internet’s biggest black market site all but sealed its fate for some consumers.
Which could very well be why Bitcoin campaign contributions could change that. Where many people think of political contributions as the realm of corporate fat cats’ efforts to buy politicians, Bitcoin and PayStand could actually level the playing field to some extent, by offering a seamless and simple process for everyday citizens to support the candidates they care about more feasible.
“Bitcoin is absolutely moving quickly into all facets of our lives. This election cycle is really the first where Bitcoin is talked about and used for donations, now that the FEC has approved it. And with more and more businesses – and even now the State of California – accepting Bitcoin as a form of currency, it is becoming essential to include cryptocurrencies as a payment option,” said Jeremy Almond, CEO, PayStand. “From day one PayStand has included Bitcoin among all other forms of payment and we are thrilled to be on the leading edge in the political donation process in New Hampshire and throughout the country.”
Other major players in the online transaction sphere, including eBay and PayPal, are working on process to accept Bitcoin payments in a wide variety of denominations.
eBook subscriptions services are making headlines right now, especially following the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. In some ways, correlations can be made that two other pioneering subscription services–Scribd and Oyster–could have paved the way for KU, despite the various differences in their platforms. While other ebook subscription startups have been around for years, Oyster and Scribd have made the most headway with not only enticing readers into the benefits of their programs, but also in working with some publishers to put their titles in the catalogs with the most viable compensation models so far.
Oyster announced today that it is now including web-based reading in its platform, meaning users no longer have to rely on the mobile app for content. While the Android and iOS apps are still fully operative, Oyster added a new layer of accessibility to the platform in a throwback move to browser-based reading.
“Knowing that about a third of ebook readers regularly read on the web, we’ve had our sights set on this launch for some time,” said Eric Stromberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Oyster. “This marks an important next step on our mission to provide the best product on as many devices as possible.”
Billed as the Netflix of reading, ebook subscriptions have kept a similar pricepoint–Oyster’s is $9.95 a month for both the app-based and web-based option to read unlimited numbers of ebooks–while trying to offer compelling content. Oyster has had a measure of success in signing two of the largest publishers in the world to provide some of their content to the growing catalog, and has agreements with more than 1,600 publishers overall.
Oyster’s CEO had some welcoming remarks for the introduction of Amazon’s service into the ebook subscription sphere, seeing the launch of KU as yet another sign that reading consumers are responding to this model.
“We’re not surprised. [Amazon has] pivoted from transactional to subscription-based in other media, and had limited success. They really paved the way in ebooks, and it’s exciting to see them embrace the market we created as the future of books.”
New members can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Oyster by clicking HERE.
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