Archive for Amazon
Simon and Schuster has just reached a new agreement with online bookseller Amazon, and empowers the publisher to once again establish their own prices on eBooks. The deal has been in the works since July of 2014, and has remained under the radar, as the Hachette saga has taken center stage.
One of the benefits of the new contract is that the royalties that authors earn will remain the same. It also allows S&S to determine the pricing of eBooks and print titles, but allows Amazon to give discounts as they see fit.
Simon & Schuster titles also will be well promoted on Amazon’s website, a source close to the situation has said. The contract that had been in place previously was set to expire in two months.
Amazon on Monday evening confirmed the deal, adding, “The agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers.”
Over the course of 2015, Amazon has new contracts to negotiate with Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and HarperCollins. The Hachette dispute has been ongoing since May of 2014, and has still not been resolved.
Amazon has confirmed to Good e-Reader that they are opening up two pop-up stores in California to take advantage of the holiday season. The first location will be in Westfield San Francisco Centre and Sacramento, in the Westfield Galleria at Roseville.
Amazon has been testing the waters of retail for a number of years with pop-up stores, lockers and vending machines. Industry experts are wondering if this is a larger push for permanent physical retail presence, similar to the likes of Apple’s retail stores.
There will be a number of devices that will be on display with product specialists on hand to answer any questions or concerns. The Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic, Kids Tablet, HD6, HD7 and Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9 will be available. Amazon will also be showcasing their Fire TV and Fire Phone and they will also insure you can buy a data plan with AT&T for all of the new hardware.
It is interesting to note that the Westfeld Galleria has hosted their fare share of pop-up stores in the past. Google opened up a Play Store there recently that allowed people to play with Nexus phones and tablets.
In case you needed additional evidence to suggest that the traditional retail format is evolving, Amazon UK has added same-day deliveries. Working with newspaper distributor Connect Group, Amazon UK’s new service (labelled ‘Pass My Parcel’) promises to deliver packages to local shops and high street stores throughout Britain within 12 hours.
Some restrictions apply of course: if your order is made by 7:45PM, it will leave your designated pick-up point by 6:30AM the following day. If you place your order before the 11:45AM cut-off point, your items will be ready a few hours later, by 4:00PM. So far there are about 500 pick-up points that you can take advantage of, but Amazon intends to increase this number over the next year.
If you happen to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, this speedy delivery option will come to you free of charge until the end of the year; others can take advantage of Pass My Parcel for €4.99 per shipment.
This news comes just a few days after Amazon announced that they plan to hire over 1,000 additional, permanent staff members for their already over-extended UK distribution centres. It is the company’s expectation that every one of the 6,000 people employed by their UK warehouses will be required to meet the growing demand for goods purchased online.
Kindle First has just launched in the United Kingdom and this Amazon program gives bookworms the ability to read eBooks before they are formally released.
Every month the Amazon Publishing editors will select four books, letting you pick the one you want to read before its official release date. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account you will still be able to select one of the featured books each month, and you’ll be able to buy it for just £0.99.
The eBooks in this program can be read on your Kindle e-Reader or any device that has the Kindle app installed, such as a tablet or smartphone. The books available this month cover a wide array of genres, such as Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction. The eBooks available for October are; The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning, The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter by Craig Lancaster and My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni.
Amazon acquiring Goodreads back in March 2013 wasn’t without controversy; weathering accusations of censorship and hindering creativity when user reviews and ratings were deleted without any warning. Since then, Goodreads has held steady as the go-to book recommendation service. This week, Amazon has released a welcome update to their iOS app (with an Android update heading our way soon as well).
The updates to the app are rather simple, but they make a huge difference. Now when the app opens, you are greeted with a home-screen that acts as a customized news feed featuring all of your friends –allowing you to like or comment on the books they are currently reading. Other updates streamline navigation, make it easier for you to show your own progress, and create more meaningful shelves (with custom names) for the books you still need to get to.
For those who are unfamiliar, Goodreads is an app that is one part social network and one part literary to-do list. Use it to keep track of the books you would like to read (even scanning barcodes while you are in the library or bookstore), connect with other readers, get future recommendations based on the books you like, read reviews, find literary events nearby, and participate in reading challenges!
If you haven’t yet tried Goodreads, download it now and see what books your friends are currently wrapped up in.
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.
One of the joys of reading has always been the ability to share books with your loved ones –how many times have you found a new favourite book that you can’t wait to discuss with the people around you? While there have been band-aid solutions and workarounds for a while now, being able to share digital book purchases from Amazon hasn’t been possible… until now! Amazon’s new Family Library feature includes support for household sharing that extends to books, apps, Prime Instant videos, audiobooks, and games.
Taking their existing Kindle loan program a step further (that only allows books to be loaned once and for a limited time period), the Family Library will give up to six users the ability to share content (allowing two adults to manage up to four children). Cleverly, this feature will work on Kindle devices (including the Kindle Fire phones, tablets, and e-ink readers), but will also extend to any third-party device running Amazon’s apps.
While I do appreciate their need to limit the number of people the app can share with, the 2 adults/4 children number seems a bit arbitrary. I’ve always liked the approach that says ‘anybody using the same home network’, but I may be alone on this one.
Along with the Family Library announcement, Amazon also added the ability to create user profiles for Kindle devices (building on the FreeTime feature they already released that creates kid-safe sections of their tablets). This is a very nice feature for any families that share devices, allowing each user to save their preferences for things like screen brightness and progress through each book or video they have on the go.
Movies, music, and television shows are not included in the Family Library, but for the moment we will take what we can get! They may have to re-think that choice though, when competing services like those offered by Apple do include this content as well.
Do family sharing features like this make you more likely to choose an Amazon device (or even just use their app)?
Amazon has realized that making tablets geared towards kids is big business. Samsung, V.Tech, Fisher Price and a number of other entrants consistently release new hardware with bright, bubbly interfaces and are aimed primarily at the little ones. In order combat these companies, Amazon has just unveiled the Fire HD Kids Edition.
The Fire HD Kids edition comes in two different sizes and price points. You will lay down $149 for a 6” tablet and $189 for a 7” and both come with an unlimited two year warranty, because kids break stuff right? Parents will also be able to choose between three different colors, blue, green and pink.
The Fire HD Kids tablet comes with the same hardware internals as the HD6 and HD7 tablets announced today. It has a different interface and comes with a kid-Proof Case is designed to be the perfect solution for parents who need worry-free protection against drops, bumps, and the typical mayhem caused by kids at play. Designed to be durable and lightweight, the Kid-Proof Case fits perfectly in little hands without adding unnecessary weight to your Fire HD tablet.
Fire HD Kids Edition comes with Amazon FreeTime, which offers innovative parental controls that encourage learning before play and that help manage screen time. With FreeTime, you select all of the content your kids can see, and you can limit your kids’ screen time by content type—for example, you may choose to limit videos and games, but make reading time unlimited. FreeTime blocks stores and in-app payments, so you don’t have to worry about additional expenses. There is currently 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games—at no additional cost available.
Spotify fans in the US, with a premium subscription, now have an additional incentive to enjoy the popular music streaming service: full support for Amazon Fire TV. For those who may not be familiar already, Spotify offers on-demand access to more than 20 million songs instantly (with no Internet connection required and no interruption for advertisements).
In their launch statement, Spotify announced:
Using Spotify Connect on your Amazon Fire TV allows you to control your music using the Spotify app on your mobile or tablet. You can seamlessly switch your favorite music from your mobile to the TV and continue to make calls, use other smartphone apps and go out of wifi range, all without interrupting the music.
Amazon Fire TV was released in April, intending to rival devices like Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. Initial reviews for the Fire TV have been positive, particularly given the increasing popularity of Amazon’s Prime streaming service.
If you haven’t tried Spotify for Android, download it now and start your 30-day free trial; when you become addicted, the service will cost you an affordable $9.99 per month.
There is a vast segment of Kindle owners that download pirated eBooks from the internet. It is estimated that up to 20% of eBook downloads stem from bit-torrent or pirate sites. There is a new online threat that is targeting Kindle owners, that may hijack your entire Amazon account.
Digital Books have a great deal of metadata that assists online retailers and publishers in understand reading habits and key metrics. Most of this data is harmless and can be equated to cookies, when you visit internet websites. A new vulnerability has been discovered, that targets pirated eBooks and key metadata in the header or authors name can run external scripts and compromise your Amazon account.
Here is how the vulnerability works. Hackers have been injecting links to external websites in the book’s title or in the field reserved for the name of the author, or in both. The script is triggered when you visit the Amazon Kindle Management page and have used the Send to Kindle Plugin. The Kindle Library takes whatever is inside the book’s title or author fields and inserts it into the Kindle Library web page. As a result, if the title or author fields contain HTML code, this code becomes part of the Kindle Library web page and is treated as if it had originated from Amazon’s server.Send to Kindle remains a very popular function, Amazon has an official version and many 3rd parties have developed alternatives for Android, Chrome, Firefox or iOS. It basically allows you to send documents and eBooks directly to your Amazon account to be read by a Kindle e-Reader, tablet or official reading app.
Piracy has been running rampant ever since the Kindle was first released. The Publishers Association issued 115,000 legal threats to websites to stop free pirated books in 2011, a rise of 130% on 2010. Many websites and file sharing services allow anyone to download them, and the person who cracked it normally just wants to give it away. This new vulnerability should give you pause, that a free eBook may come with a catch.
In an update that has been a very long time coming, Amazon has made their Prime Instant Video service available to Android users on-the-go! All you need to get started is the core Amazon shopping app, giving you instant access to the entirety of Amazon’s online retail catalog.
As an added incentive, users are also being offered 5GB of free photo storage using Amazon’s Cloud Drive.
Moves like this are extremely important (and timely) for Amazon, with Google Play making recent expansions to their Movies and TV offering, including a recent update to their iOS app that now allows for offline media streaming.
Consumers have been enjoying Amazon Fire TV in the US since the launch in April of this year, but now the device is also available to those waiting eagerly in the UK. Plugging the small Fire TV box into your HDTV allows for you to instantly enjoy access to services like: Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Demand 5, Spotify, Sky News, Curzon Home Cinema, YouTube, as well as low-cost video rentals (not to mention giving you the ability to share your photographs, music and games to anybody in view of the set).
Initial reviews of the Fire TV are positive, with most users ranking the device higher than Apple TV and Chromecast (particularly as it applies to speed and playback fluidity –helping you enjoy 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound). Even if you ignore that the price is right, there are plenty of reasons to choose the device, including: voice search functionality that actually works (just speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director or genre to get started watching your next favourite), hundreds of low-cost games (with titles like Minecraft and the Walking Dead) that can be played using the Amazon Fire Game Controller that is available separately, X-Ray for movies and television shows (telling you everything you wanted to know and more about the on-screen cast and crew), and seamless integration with Amazon’s Cloud Drive.
If you happen to be reading this from the UK and want to give Amazon Fire TV a try, now is the time –the hardware is available for the next four days at a bargain €49 directly from Amazon (with the price hiking up to €79 after this initial offer).