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Microsoft has announced their first quarterly earnings report for 2015 and
the Surface 3 tablet is seeing massive success. Surface revenues measured $908 million, which is transforming their hardware division into almost a billion dollar business every three months. The company is also building revenue from phone hardware, taking in $2.6 billion from quarterly handset sales through what was once Nokia’s hardware business. Microsoft reported $478 million in gross margin from phone hardware as it continues its effort to build market share for Windows Phones.

Microsoft is betting big on the new Windows 10 OS, which is now in technical preview. This  might be a game changer because the Redmond company is adopting the “One Windows” strategy, which will unite phones, tablets, and PCs under a single operating system. Today, the Windows market is fragmented between Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8 — three separate systems which aren’t fully compatible with each other. With Windows 10, the number-skipping upgrade which will arrive sometime next year, Microsoft will eliminate those incompatibilities with a single cross-platform OS.

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In 2002 PayPal became a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay and has been used to facilitate payments on the e-commence site. Due to the increasing pressures of the modern economic reality with Apple Pay, Alipay and Square, eBay and Paypal have agreed to part ways and Paypal will now be its own publicly traded company in 2015.

Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces, to become CEO of new eBay company following separation and American Express executive Dan Schulman joins PayPal immediately as President and CEO designee for PayPal post-separation.

PayPal has been on pace to overtake eBay’s core marketplace by sales. In the June quarter, the payments unit boosted sales 20% to $1.95 billion and added 4.1 million new active customers from the first quarter, to 152.5 million. PayPal facilitates one in every six dollars spent online, eBay said. At its namesake marketplace, revenue rose 9% to $2.17 billion as the number of active accounts increased by 3.8 million to 148.9 million.

“The payments landscape is hyper-competitive, the pace of change is accelerating and everyone is gunning for PayPal,” said Forrester analyst Denee Carrington. “The split will give PayPal greater agility to help it achieve its full potential.”

PayPal has been expanding beyond online and mobile payments and offering other financial services. It began lending money to small business customers late last year. And eBay bought Braintree, a payment processor used by startups such as vacation rentals site Airbnb and cab-hailing app Uber, a year ago for about $800 million and will be part of the PayPal unit.

Hopefully that now Paypal will be an autonomous entity they could really redeem themselves in the eyes of internet users. We have all heard of the horror stories of Paypal being used to facilitate Kickstarter payments, only to have the money put on hold and the developers have to jump through months of hoops to get any of it back, if they do get any of it back.

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BookShout is getting a solid reputation in the publishing industry by delivering eBooks in bulk. The eBooks are redeemed by by using their official app for Android or iOS and many television stations are using the allure of eBooks as an incentive to people during telethons.  Today, the company has announced  that they have distributed 9.4M ebook codes in the past 12 months, and expects to double that number by early 2015.

With more than 3,000 bulk ebook orders placed by major corporations and universities, BookShout! has experienced accelerated growth as more and more organizations request mass quantities of ebook for events, corporate rewards, and client retention. BookShout! has served Microsoft, Intel, CareerBuilder, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, and Teach for America to name a few.

BookShout! works with more than 2,000 publishing partners worldwide, including HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Perseus Books Group, Simon & Schuster and Workman Publishing—as well as corporations throughout the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Authors are also getting in on the action by taking eBook cards and text-to-buy campaigns to their speaking events and live online chats. Campaigns may even be set up to allow all attendees of an event to buy the book individually at a pre-set price determined by the publisher.

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Indie Authors have their hands full with crafting a novel with the intention of selling it on Amazon. Not only do they have to research and write the book, but also have to play the role of editor. Poorly edited books can be the kiss of death and this has prompted a new start-up Advance Editions, to “make good books better” by drawing on the wisdom, knowledge and proofreading skills of readers around the world.

Here’s how it works: Advance Editions posts half of the edited book online a few months ahead of publication and then opens up a feedback forum for that book in which the author participates.  Users can check facts or simply contribute some bright ideas and in exchange they are rewarded with being credited in the book. For crowd-editors who get beyond the first half of the book and want to take on more, they are offered a 60% discount of the complete book at a number of online retailers.

Many authors are not only having their books edited, but people are weighing in on fact checking as well.  is looking to hear from”spies, experts on drug reform, from residents of Brasilia, from anyone who knows the interior layout of Brazil’s Palácio do Planalto or SIS’s Vauxhall Cross headquarters. My characters come from all over the world – have I got their speech patterns right? If you’re into rock climbing, or handy with a motorcycle or a weapon, you’ll have a lot to contribute. You may have served with the French Foreign Legion, treated gunshot wounds, lived in Cyprus or worked as a physiotherapist – all relevant experiences. Or perhaps you just know what works in a story and what doesn’t, and you have an instinct for what could make this one better.”

Another book available on the site is Heidi Kingstone’s non-fictional account of her time in Afghanistan entitled, Dispatches from the Kabul Café. Kingstone is looking for contributions from those with particular expertise in Afghanistan and Kabul, the NATO invasion of Afghanistan, Afghan culture and language, soldiers and mercenaries and aid workers and advisers. Macdonald, meanwhile, is looking for insights into intelligence services, drug reform, Brasilia, motorbikes, weapons, climbing and Canadian speech.”

I think this new crowdsourced editing and contribution platform is totally valid and they really may be onto something. The trick, is how do you convince the type of people that these authots are looking for to join the platform? It might be an easy sell to students looking for a career in the publishing industry and having accredited works under their belts to help them land that first job.

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Barnes and Noble bet big when they decided to forgo hardware design on their latest tablet and instead sourced it to Samsung. This allowed the bookseller to focus on the reading experience and actually devote money to hyping the hell out of it. Apparently their blitz media has earned them the Internet Marketing Association’s (IMA) ‘Innovative Brand Award’ for 2014.

From subway ads to radio station and store integration, NOOK tapped into multiple avenues to get the message out about the new NOOK by Samsung. Created with a hyper-targeted focus in mind, the NOOK ads were designed to be engaging, enticing and inspiring, and to make people want to read even more. Leveraging most every contact channel including email, mobile, online, out of home (OOH) and an online and retail presence in an integrated manner, NOOK created an immersive experience with the goal of capturing the imaginations of potential customers. In addition, NOOK capitalized on the impact of word of mouth and social media by taking the campaign a step further for this launch with one of its most entertaining social media efforts to date, the #NOOKfaces campaign.

“We’re thrilled that NOOK has won the IMA’s ‘Innovative Brand Award.’ The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is the most advanced NOOK ever and we wanted to give this device the exposure it deserved with a creative and imaginative marketing plan that generated lots of excitement and buzz,” said Doug Carlson, Executive VP of Digital Content and Marketing at NOOK Media LLC. “Not only has NOOK demonstrated its commitment to innovation by partnering with Samsung, but we’ve launched the new device in a bold and exciting way that has really resonated with both existing and potential NOOK customers.”

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1297610373644_ORIGINALThe head of Amazon Video and Music will be leaving the company after a 15 year stint. Bill Carr, a 47-year-old vice president, announced his decision internally Tuesday.It is unclear whether or not a competitor has given him a better offer.

According to the Wall Street Journal Carr has been instrumental in Amazon’s push to compete with Netflix and Hulu in streaming online video, including reaching deals with Viacom  and others for exclusive content. He helped oversee the creation of original programming like “Alpha House” and “Betas”.  Carr also pioneered the concept of developing a series of television pilots and having Amazon members vote on their favorites to be made into a full series.

The last major project that Carr had a hand in was the unveiling of Prime Music, which is exclusively available to members who pay the annual $99 Prime subscription fee. The service is competing against a number of established players in the market, such as Spotify and Beats Music. Prime Music has a catalog of over one million tracks, contributed from Warner Music Group and Sony Music – as well as from large independent labels.The largest label in the world, Universal has not contributed any material.

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Over the course of 2014, Amazon has been relentless in the number of new hardware offerings they have released to the public. They have a new television box, smartphone, Amazon Dash, and 8 new e-readers and tablets. According to a new report, this is just the beginning, as Amazon is hiring more hardware engineers and intends on entering the connected home segment and a new smartwatch.

Amazons research and product development occur at the Silicon Valley based Lab126. They currently have 3,000 full-time employees and is looking to expand to at least 3,757 full-time staff at the office by 2019. Amazon will invest $55 million in Lab126’s operations in Sunnyvale and Cupertino, the agreement posted on the California governor’s website shows.

According to Reuters, Amazon is testing a simple wi-fi device that could be placed in the kitchen or a closet, allowing customers to order products like detergent by pressing a button. Lab126 is also interested in wearable devices, but we will have to adopt a wait and see approach, as some prototypes never hit the market.

The connected home segment is starting to catch on like wildfire. In January, Google bought Nest Labs, a smart thermostat maker for $3.2 billion. In June, Apple announced plans for HomeKit, its own framework for connecting household gadgets. It is currently unknown what Amazons plans are, but we can see an inkling of whats to come with Dash, which allows you to scan bar codes and UPC labels and automatically order them online.

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AT&T will be offering customers one free year of Amazon Prime with the purchase of their new internet program. The new offer also comes with a subscription to HBO and AT&T’s version of basic cable for a one-year intro rate of $39 per month. This arrangement makes sense for Amazon as it tries to build a viable streaming video competitor to Netflix, pushing both new content and a huge archive of old HBO shows, which its rival doesn’t have.

Amazon has been offering 3G versions of their e-readers since 2007, with the advent of the first Kindle. The internet access is provided by AT&T, and allows customers to purchase books in hundreds of different countries with no extra fees. The new Fire Phone, which came out a few months ago is an AT&T exclusive, with no options to save money and bundle it on another carrier.

Here is how the new internet package by AT&T works. In order to get the $39-per-month rate, you’ll need to sign on for an entire year of service. There is a $49 activation fee and a $99 installation fee, in addition to renting the digital box for $9.99 a month. If you decide to leave before those twelve months are up, and you’ll have to pay a hefty $180 termination fee.

If you decide to take the plunge and indulge in television over the internet you will get a one year subscription to Amazon Prime. This not only includes their much hyped video service, but also free two day shipping, a free eBook every month and access to Amazon Prime Music.

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Amazon is one of those companies that never divulges specific dollar amounts or how many eBooks they have sold. During the holiday season last year they strayed from the normal PR blackouts and proclaimed that tens of millions of members were members of Prime. This got annalists salivating, and we now have potential figures that give us an accurate portrayal of Amazon Primes worldwide numbers.

RBC Capital conducted a research note yesterday and Mark Mahaney said RBC is now estimating that 30 million and 40 million in the U.S. and 40 million to 50 million globally are members of Amazon Prime. Most of this data comes from a new survey that RBC conducted from 4,000 Amazon customers  and found that 37% were current Prime members.

According to a recent survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners  The Amazon Prime has become a significant drivers of Amazon sales, even in light of the recent Amazon Prime price increase from $79 to $99.  That means by 2016, the $20 price bump could generate incremental revenue of as much as $1.7 billion. “Prime members spend twice as much, as the rest of Amazon’s customers,” said CIRP co-founder Mike Levin.

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Nook Press is the self-publishing system that Barnes and Noble developed to allow authors to submit eBooks and sell them online. It has been a US exclusive since its original launch, and only recently expanded to the UK. In order to better promote Nook Press as a viable alternative to Kindle Direct Publishing and Kobo Writing Life, Barnes and Noble has partnered with The Bookseller on a New Preview Section for Self-Published Authors in the UK.

NOOK Press will sponsor the new section and will be the exclusive source of self-published titles for preview consideration through April 2015. Each month, beginning in October, The Bookseller will select approximately 10 NOOK Press titles to feature on the new section. Authors simply have to be published on NOOK Press, or sign up and publish their works, to have the opportunity to be featured in The Bookseller’s Independent Author Previews.

“Our goal with this new section is to discover the best new books published independently and made available to customers in the UK and we’re thrilled to have partnered with NOOK Press, one of the leading self-publishing platforms, to exclusively deliver this content through next April,” said Philip Jones, Editor at The Bookseller. “This is a new spin on what we have been doing for more than 100 years, and recognizes that some of the best new writing now comes through non-traditional channels. The Bookseller’s job remains the same, however, to shout about these books and bring them to the attention of our audiences. I know we’re all excited to read some of the great new publishing being made available through NOOK Press in the UK.”

“We are constantly looking at new ways to help NOOK Press authors get the exposure they deserve, which is why we’re thrilled about this new partnership with The Bookseller. It will give our self-published authors a new outlet to showcase their work, while giving NOOK customers another resource to discover their next great read,” said Colin Eustace, General Manager, Barnes & Noble S.à.r.l. “We also encourage self-published authors who are not yet on our platform to sign up today to be considered for this great opportunity and discover all of the great promotions available to NOOK Press authors.”

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Indie bookstores normally are swamped during the holiday season, as people ravenously buy everything in sight. Giving the gift of a good book can actually be a life changing event and HarperCollins has announced a new Holiday Express Shipping beginning November 3, 2014 and running through January 16, 2015. All qualifying orders from participating stores received by 1:00pm (EST) will ship out the next business day or two.

“We are pleased to provide this service to the Indie channel in the busiest time of year in order to help them have HarperCollins titles in stock and meet the demands of their customers,” said Brian Grogan, senior vice president of sales for HarperCollins Publishers.

“We are equally thrilled to be able to offer this additional level of service to independent Christian retail,” said Tom Knight, senior vice president of sales for HarperCollins Christian Publishing. “It is our hope that this program will encourage independent retailers during the critical holiday selling season.”

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Barnes and Noble wants to change how they are currently selling books online by a massive effort to rebuild their website. They have been working at a feverish pace to insure the new design will make discovering and buying content easier than ever.

In the latest quarterly filings, B&N cut its overall net loss to $28.4 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, down from $87 million in the same quarter last year, with $50 million in cuts coming from downsizing the company’s Nook segment. Cuts alone won’t return profitability to the ailing e-reader and tablet brand, but selling digital content will.

Barnes and Noble is betting that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will lead to more digital consumption. They have really been hyping the additional $200 worth of free eBooks, magazines television shows and movies you receive from buying the tablet. You can think of it, as showcasing all of the different type of materials that can be purchased in the Nook ecosystem.

If you don’t have a dedicated Nook device, your options to purchase digital content from the largest bookstore chain the USA is questionable. You can have to rely on a slew of apps, with no single app acting as your all-in-one solution. Take Android for example, if you want videos, you have to download Nook Video, the main B&N app just works with eBooks, graphic novels and magazines. If you want kids books, there is a dedicated one for that too, but keep in mind, its US and UK only, whereas Amazon and Kobo are basically global.

Will a new website that focuses on search, discovery and a responsive design be received well in the online world? This type of undertaking consumes lots of money and resources, with no clear indication that it will lead to an influx of sales. There is no denying that the US is completely saturated with Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Netflix, Zinio and a host of others all offering specialized content. It remains to be seen that a new website will magically solve all of the forces that work against Nook.


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Barnes and Noble has just released their latest quarterly figures and things are looking fairly bleak. The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories) had revenues of $70 million for the quarter, decreasing 54.3% from a year ago. Device and accessories sales were $18 million for the quarter, a decrease of 78.6% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume. Digital content sales were $52 million for the quarter, a decline of 24.2% compared to a year ago, due primarily to lower device unit sales.

One of the big reasons why Nook has declined so much over the last few months was primarily due to the summer months and people not making big investments in technology. Things may pickup for the seminal holiday season with he release of the brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet.

Barnes and Noble is continuing its quest to officially separate the Nook division from their core bookstore business. This would make it easier for for an eventual sale. In a statement they said “In an effort to optimize the structure of the separation, the Company has been exploring various options and is in discussions with its NOOK Media partners to potentially restructure existing agreements; and with potential third-party partners. Such discussions could affect the structure and timing of the separation.”

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