Archive for Amazon
Amazon has just released its new Coins program, which acts as a virtual currency to buy apps or to buy in-app content. Every account registered to a Kindle gets 500 free coins that you can spend on whatever you want. Amazon also sells packs of coins, which you can use to buy things in bulk. Not everyone has updated their apps yet to support coins, but there is a ton of stuff you can buy. This video navigates you through the coins program as we tell you all about it and even buy some apps.
After countless hours of legal battle, Macmillan has finally agreed upon a settlement that appeased Judge Denise Cote and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that alleged five of the Big Six publishers conspired with Apple to fix the prices on ebooks sold through online retailers. While the other defendants have settled as well, Macmillan’s originally proposed settlement is actually now about $6million higher.
Some of the additional costs to the publisher will include legal fees for the plaintiffs in the amount of over $2million, investigation fees of over $3million, and more. A large portion of the settlement will go to refund the consumers for artificially over-inflated ebook costs, payouts which should begin some time this summer.
Macmillan still denies any wrongdoing in the case, which has left critics speculating as to why a company of that size would be willing to settle for this sum. The settlement will also finalize any penalty to the company, and could be a far better deal than what the penalty could cost if the publisher opted to continue the investigation and court proceedings.
Throughout this lengthy process, individuals have weighed in on what this will mean for publishing as a whole. Many have proposed that the settlements the publishers in the case have had to pay out–much of which will again be in the form of compensation to the actual ebook buyers–will be so detrimental that the publishers will have to reduce their operations and not take risks on debut authors until their losses are recovered. On the other hand, others have taken the view that this will finally be the push that brings smaller publishing houses and independent publishers into the forefront; as authors are turned away by some of the Big Six publishers, they may see other publishing opportunities as their keys to book success.
The Amazon Kindle Lending Library has just surpassed 300,000 titles, according to the company’s Q1 Financial Report. The service is an integral part of Amazon Prime, which allows users to borrow one ebook a month for free.
The Amazon Lending Library burst onto the scene in early 2011 and launched with a paltry 5,000 titles. Since then, it has grown as many self-published authors and mainstream publishers have contributed their works. You can find the entire Hunger Games and Harry Potter books available on this platform.
One of the benefits that the Lending Library provides is the extra revenue authors receive when their books are borrowed out for free. Unlike traditional libraries, Amazon has a pool of money that it distributes to authors every month. Whenever a book is borrowed, authors receive royalties. We have heard in many cases that authors make more money giving their book away for free, than they do selling it for .99. It also hooks readers on a series of books, and customers are more likely to purchase the next books in a trilogy than wait a whole month to borrow the next book for free.
Amazon has recently begun sharing information on book sales by US region, and for the third year in a row has created its “best dressed” list of cities who purchase the most books, magazines, and newspapers in print and digital editions. While the February list focused specifically on the romance category to coincide with Valentine’s Day, the news this week is compiled over every category of book sales.
For the second year in a row, Alexandria, Virginia topped the list as the most well-read city in the US based on book buying habits of its residents. The number two spot was held by Knoxville, Tennessee, who also was the city with the biggest jump up the list from the previous year–number twelve to number two–and was the most “romantic” city in the country based on the February romance category list.
What should come as no surprise is that Cambridge, Massachusetts is the city whose readers bought the most books in the business and investing category, which can safely be assumed is the result of also being the home of Harvard University.
The top twenty list includes:
1. Alexandria, Va.
2. Knoxville, Tenn.
3. Miami, Fla.
4. Cambridge, Mass.
5. Orlando, Fla.
6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
7. Berkeley, Calif.
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
9. Columbia, S.C.
10. Pittsburgh, Penn.
11. St. Louis, Mo.
12. Salt Lake City, Utah
13. Seattle, Wash.
14. Vancouver, Wash.
15. Gainesville, Fla.
16. Atlanta, Ga.
17. Dayton, Ohio
18. Richmond, Va.
19. Clearwater, Fla.
20. Tallahassee, Fla.
“The results of our annual Most Well-Read Cities list is proof that people across the country are reading, and also that we’re still seeing the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey,” said Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books and Kindle, in a press release. “It’s fun for us to see facts like the citizens of Cambridge are buying the most books in the business category or that one of our favorite novels of 2012, Gone Girl, is the best-selling book in the Most Well-Read City, Alexandria.”
British booksellers have taken to the internet for help in spreading a petition to ask the Prime Minister to take swift action against Amazon for not paying the same taxes that the independent bookshops do. A Change.org petition started by Frances and Keith Smith has received over 150,000 signatures so far, with the backing of some authors and a member of the British Parliament.
Currently, Amazon and several other large corporations can avoid paying certain taxes by basing their operations in Luxembourg, despite doing business online through dedicated sales pages. This complaint is in addition to the sentiment that Amazon hires employees in the UK and pays such a low wage to those people that they receive tax credits from the government, allowing Amazon to benefit again at the hands of the tax payers.
The Smiths, bookshop owners since 2004 who now own two locations, started a petition in order to ask David Cameron to enact change to correct what they feel is a situation that allows a much bigger entity to benefit over the smaller businesses unfairly. The petition that they hoped would receive a few thousand signatures has been more than they could have hoped for and has been now delivered to 10 Downing Street.
According to the Smith’s petition, “Times are tough and getting tougher. We face unrelenting pressure from huge online retailers undercutting prices, in particular Amazon, and it’s pushing businesses like ours to the brink. But what’s even worse is that Amazon, despite making sales of £3.3 BILLION in the UK last year, does not pay any UK corporation tax on the profits from those sales. In my book, that is not a level playing field and leaves independent retailers like us struggling to compete just because we do the right thing.”
For their part, whether or not this petition has any effect on tax laws, the Smiths can at least be comforted by the fact that this is obviously an issue that consumers have taken notice of. For their part, it is now up to the consumers to speak with their wallets when deciding to support a local bookseller or an online discount retailer.
Amazon may be setting up shop in Russia in the near future. The company intends on opening up a new office and has filed for new Kindle patents. Former ABC-Atticus publishing head Arkady Vitrouk has been hired and will leading the Russian Kindle content division.
Not only has Amazon hired Vitrouk to spearhead the entire program, but the company is actively hiring for three new positions for the Russian office. The listings are for a senior product manager for Kindle content pricing, and a principal for content acquisition for Kindle Russia, and another content acquisition manager position.
Amazon has filed for a number of technology patents in Russia, which is a huge indication that it will begin selling e-readers and tablets. Amazon has recently filed the ability to storae and deliver goods; the storage of electronic texts and media files; and book publishing. This means that not only will Amazon be selling devices and ebooks in Russia, but also launch its self-publishing program, Kindle Direct Publishing.
Russia is a very large untapped market with over 61 million online users. There are a bunch of e-reader companies, such as Wexler, Pocketbook, and Ectaco, which do well in that market, but are considered minor players.
Online digital book club Goodreads was to be purchased by Amazon a few weeks ago for $200 million dollars if performance goals are met. When the whole deal was going down, Apple was actually in negotiations to buy the company. Amazon insisted that Goodreads break off talks with all of their potential suitors, while a deal was being done.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that “Over the past year, Apple and Goodreads had begun discussing integrating Goodreads’ service, which allows users to share and rate what they are reading, into Apple’s iBookstore, which sells digital books, according to people familiar with the matter. Goodreads had proposed its reviews and ratings appear within iTunes when users searched for a title, one of the people said. ITunes has already integrated Rotten Tomatoes movie ratings in such a way. Apple was entertaining the idea, but talks didn’t progress much, two of the people said.”
Amazon promises to run Goodreads as an autonomous entity and still allow other companies to use its API to fetch book reviews and ratings. Kobo and Sony both currently use this system, instead of developing their own solution. This whole situation is a shot in the arm for many online booksellers that depend on the Goodreads API to fetch all of the book review data. Sony announced yesterday a new agreement with idreambooks to replace Goodreads on its site for ratings and book reviews.
It is unclear on what Apple’s next gambit will be, as the company is competing with Amazon now more than ever.
Amazon launched its new Kindle Comic Creator (KC2) last week with a minimum of fanfare, but it could be a game-changer.
The software allows users to upload comics, graphic novels, and manga in a variety of formats—PDF, jpg, tiff, png and ppm—and quickly convert them to Kindle e-books. They can also import EPUB and KF8 files that are created in accordance with the Kindle Publishing Guidelines. The software supports facing pages, double-page spreads, and right-to-left page turns (most common in manga), as well as Kindle Panel View, which allows readers to view the comic one panel at a time (in a flow specified by the creator), which makes for an easier read on small devices such as the Kindle Paperwhite and the iPhone and Android apps. The finished product is readable on the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Keyboard, as well as the Kindle iPad, iPhone, and Android apps.
Once the comic is uploaded and formatted, the author can upload it to the Kindle Store and retire to a small island in the Caribbean with the proceeds…
Or not. As with other Kindle books, the author sets the list price and then can choose from two royalty schemes: 35% of the list price on every book sold or 70% of the actual sale price of the book in certain territories (including the U.S.) The catch with the 70% royalty is that Amazon can reduce the selling price to match a competitor’s price for an e-book or print book, or to match their own price for a print book. It’s interesting that Amazon recognizes the general reluctance to pay more for digital than for print. Also note that Amazon takes out the cost of “delivery” before calculating the royalty; that seems to be about six cents per e-book. There are some other caveats as well, and naturally, it’s a good idea to read the terms and conditions carefully before proceeding.
Amazon’s program is not unlike comiXology Submit, which allows comics creators to upload their work to the comiXology platform. ComiXology Submit users get a 50% royalty, but that’s net, after Apple’s share (for in-app sales), or other distributor costs, and credit card fees. Brian Cronin took a close look at the terms of comiXology Submit recently at Comic Book Resources, and while the Submit and KC2 programs are quite different, this column does offer some points for prospective KC2 users to think about.
The next gen Nexus 7 will be ready for launch towards July, reports Reuters. The news agency further revealed Google and Asus will be banking on Qualcomm to power the new Nexus 7 device. Sources said chips from both NVIDIA and Qualcomm were put to test, and the latter made the cut reportedly due to its power saving credentials.
Other details of the upcoming device include a thinner bezel design and an even better display, both of which play a significant role in enhancing a tablet’s appeal. Sources also claim Google and Asus are aiming to ship no less than 8 million of the new Nexus 7 by the year end, which seems quite achievable if they can keep the basics right. The first gen Nexus 7 proved to be the perfect combination of good design, excellent display, and slick performance, which together with an affordable price tag ensured it was among the highest selling Android tablets.
While the new Nexus 7 is expected to improve on this, prices will continue to be an important factor in ensuring its appeal remains high. Google is likely to continue with the same $199 and $149 prices for the new Nexus 7 devices. What remains to be seen is whether the first gen Nexus 7 will be scrapped altogether or will featured at a discount of $199, something that Amazon has done with the original Kindle Fire. That would be a great deal for a tablet that still has a lot of appeal.
As for its competitor, Apple is expected to release the next iPad Mini 2 around the same time, while a new Kindle Fire is also on the horizon. Samsung is readying a new Galaxy Tab variant with a high resolution display for release during fall, and a smaller 7 inch tablet running Windows 8 cannot be ruled out. In short, it’s exciting times ahead in the tablet segment.
A smartphone from Amazon has long been a hot topic for rumor mongers. Now that has got a fillip on the back of news about Amazon having poached a smartphone expert who has rendered 2 decades of service at Microsoft. Charlie Kindel’s most recent attachment at Microsoft was the Windows Phone Division. His LinkedIn profile mentioned he had been associated with the Richmond based company since 1990 though he left in 2011 to work on two start up organizations before making it to Amazon. The online retailer, on its part had secured the services of two other senior Windows phone managers in 2012.
Amazon currently offers the Kindle range of ereaders and tablet PCs, the USP for both series being its low initial cost. That the same pricing strategy will also be followed in the smartphone venture is almost a surety. Amazon is up against the likes of Apple and Samsung both of which has a thriving smartphone and tablet business (though it should be mentioned Apple at this moment is far ahead of Samsung in the tablet segment). This makes it almost mandatory for Amazon too to have a strong contender in the smartphone segment as well.
However, a possible timeline for the smartphone’s release continues to be elusive while Kindel described his latest role at Amazon saying he is “hiring cloud and mobile developers and testers, program managers, and product managers.” His newest update on his Linkedin profile has described his role at Amazon as ‘something secret’.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has just submitted a new patent that will change the way our Kindle e-Readers and Tablets function. Right now these devices have reached a level where the hardware internals and battery life can’t really get much better without drastically increasing the cost. The new patent will have your unit actually powered and major processes handled by a remote server or primary station. Tablets and e-readers will transform into all-in-one ultra portable display screens with all processes handled by base stations.
The essence of this patent will be to offer very low cost display screens, where the battery, processor, RAM, and other major hardware will be handled by a base station. The patent outlines many innovative approaches. For example, a school can set up multiple base stations and when the screen is in a certain proximity, the screens will wake-up and be able to access the internet and have ebooks and other course material wirelessly delivered.
The major claim from the patent is “A computer implemented method, comprising: under control of one or more computer systems configured with executable instructions, detecting a portable display within range of a first primary station, the portable display including a power receiving element and a data receiving element, the first primary station including a data transmitting element and a power transmitting element; wirelessly receiving power from the power transmitting element of the first primary station to the power receiving element of the portable display; wirelessly receiving data from the data transmitting element of the first primary station to the data receiving element of the portable display; detecting the portable display within range of a second primary station, the second primary station including a power transmitting element and a data transmitting element; wirelessly receiving power from the power transmitting element of the second primary station to the power receiving element of the portable display in response to detecting the portable display within the range of the second primary station; and wirelessly receiving data from the data transmitting element of the second primary station to the data receiving element of the portable display.”
Could you imagine a future where the real cost of the tablet is the hardware base station? Much like a PC, it would be easily upgradable for more CPU, RAM, and internals. The small cost would be the actual display screen, which would be negligible. You can see from looking at the patent information that the CEO of Amazon is thinking about the future, and how costs can be lowered.