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Amazon Offering One-Hour Delivery in Manhattan

Amazon started out as a web site from which you could order things — primarily books. Then it became a brick-and-mortar store. Now it’s a brick-and-mortar store from which you can order things and get them (in New York City) in less than an hour.

According to Entertainment WeeklyAmazon has opened a location on 34th Street in Manhattan. Using a new service called Prime Now, people who live in Manhattan can order from the site and have the items delivered to them from the 34th Street location in an hour or less for $7.99, or in two hours or less for free.

Prime Now is a mobile app from which orders can be made everyday between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m. Amazon’s SVP of worldwide operations Dave Clark said this is good alternative for many people:

“There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go.”

Now you can get what you want without leaving your home…in less than an hour.

For now the service is only available in New York City, but there are plans for it to spread to other cities in the future. My guess? LA would be next.

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New Web Site for Books At Least a Year Old

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 9.32.23 PMIf you’re anything like me, it take you a while to get around to reading the books you’ve added to your “To Read” list. Usually I’m a few years behind on the big bestsellers. It’s not that I don’t want to read them; it’s just that I’m backed up with reading other things, and before I know it, I’m reading books two years after they made the bestseller list.

Well if you’re like me, there’s a new web site that’s perfect for us! According to The New York Times, publisher Simon & Schuster has created a web site called offtheshelf.com. Those who run the site review book that are at least a year old — books that you may not have gotten around to reading, books that you may have simply overlooked, or classics that you read years ago and forgot about. This is the explanation on from the web site:

Off the Shelf is a site and newsletter created by passionate editors, authors, and others inside the book business to help you discover—or rediscover—great books. Whether they’re bestsellers you never got a chance to read or classics you remember falling for when you first read them, the books we write about have made an indelible impression on us as readers and have become friends we revisit often. We hope that shining a new light on these wonderful books will help you discover a passion for them too. 

Sounds awesome! What do you guys think? Stupid or brilliant?

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History of Quidditch Posted on Pottermore

pottmoreSo you think you know everything there is to know about Harry Potter, huh? Well, probably not — unless you’ve already read through the new additions to author J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site.

Just last week, Pottermore was updated with information about the history of Quidditch, the beloved wizard and witch game, played on broomsticks. According to Entertainment WeeklyHarry Potter author J.K. Rowling wrote a 2,400-word essay on Harry Potter-centric web site entitled History of the Quidditch World Cup.

The story was posted in two parts, one detailing the history of the tournament, how the tournament is played, and information about controversial tournaments. The second part deals with recaps of some of the recent tournaments played within the last 20 years.

So, who’s read the story? What do you think of it? Always cool to have additional background, right?

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Amazon Announces Kindle Matchbook Service

Expanding the digital library on your Kindle just got a whole lot cheaper. Amazon announced a new service this week called Kindle Matchbook.

According to Entertainment Weekly, people looking to buy e-books for their Kindle that they’ve already bought in print can now do it through Amazon for a discounted price. Amazon Matchbook applies to any print book a customer has bought from Amazon since 1995, when Amazon first started. Matchbook will allow customers to check their purchase history to see what they’ve bought and buy the books in e-book form for $2.99 (some are even free), rather than paying full-price for the books they already own.

The program is set to launch next month. Amazon spokespeople say it will have 10,000 e-books available for discounted prices.

On a personal note, I think this is a great idea. I’ve always thought it was bad business to have to buy two copies of the same book if you want it on your e-reader. I wondering how long it will take for Barnes & Noble to come up with a similar plan for its Nook?

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Amazon Buys Social Media Book Site Goodreads

If people read books and then post reviews online — and don’t have their own blog, like this one! — there’s generally two places they’ll post them: Amazon and Goodreads. But now, the two are becoming one.

According to Salon, Amazon has bought the social media book site Goodreads. For more than a year, the site has used Amazon Product Advertising API for book data. Ever since then, Amazon has had somewhat of a grip on Goodreads, forbidding Goodreads to use that data in its mobile app. But now Amazon has tightened the reigns.

The terms of the deal were not made public. But people in the book industry are comparing this to Hitler and the Nazi invasion of Poland, which doesn’t bode well for Goodreads, authors, or its users.

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Great Web Sites for Bookworms

If you’re a bookworm like me — and you probably are, since you’re reading my blog — there are a few fantastic web sites to help you keep track of what books you’re reading, see what people think of them, share books, and know when books are being adapted into feature films. So here you go…take a look at some of the awesome web sites that will enhance your nerdiness and give you a new way to connect with other readers.

Goodreads.com:  Goodreads is one of the more well-known book sites. More and more, I’m finding that people are already familiar with Goodreads, which acts as a social networking site for readers. Once you make a Goodreads profile — for free — you can become friends with other Goodreads users, and search books that you’ve read or are interested in. You can then separate those books into lists: Read, Currently Reading, and To-Read. The lists help you keep track of what you’ve read. Once you finish reading a book, you can also rate it on a scale of 5 stars, as well as add your own review.  This allows your friends to look at what you’ve read, see how much you liked a particular book, and decide whether or not they want to read it. And vice versa. You’re able to view all the books your friends are reading, have read, or want to read, and then decide if you’re interested, based on how they rate it. The web site also offers book recommendations catered to you, based on what you’ve already read.

Bookcrossing.com: Bookcrossing is another social networking site, but it works in a very different way from Goodreads. Bookcrossing acts as an online library, where you can share and trade books with other readers. Instead of letting your old books collect dust on your bookshelf, you can register it on the site, label it, and send it to someone who’d like to read it. Not only can you share books, but you can then track them. Only 29% of the site’s users are from the United States, which means your book could travel anywhere in the world, and you’ll always know where it is. How amazing is it to be able to send your book to someone in Finland, Germany, or even just Wisconsin and follow your book on its journey around the world? Bookcrossing also allows you to borrow books from people around the world, which means you can probably get a hold of books you never thought you’d have access to. Bookcrossing is also free to join.

Readit1st.com: When I know a book is being adapted into a movie, I vow to read the book first, then see the movie. I feel like I owe it to the book, as the original, to read that first. And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. That’s what Readit1st is for; you can sign up for the site and receive newsletters about when the newest book-movie adaptation is coming to the big screen. On the site’s homepage, you can either pledge to read the book first or sign up, saying you’ll read the book whenever you want. But either way, you can get the newsletters. After all, according to the site, 50% of the highest grossing movies of 2010 were based on books. Readit1st is also free to sign up.

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Encyclopaedia Britannicas Selling Fast

In its final days, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is seeing a resurgence. The oldest continuously published encyclopedia in the English language has been flying off the shelves since the company announced last month it would discontinue its print editions.

According to this article by The New York Times, sales of the Encyclopaedia Britannica — a 32-volume set that weighs 129 pounds — had greatly decreased in recent years. Thanks to the Internet and sites like Wikipedia, the need for print editions of encyclopedias has become scarce. Before the March 13th announcement, only 60 sets — at a cost of $1,395 — were sold per week.

Since then, the 4,000 copies stored in the Britannica warehouse have gone so quickly, there are now only a few hundred left. On average, 1,050 are now being sold per week. They’re all expected to be sold by the end of April.

According to Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “When they thought it would be around forever, there was no rush to buy one,” Mr. Cauz said in an e-mail. “But now, suddenly, it’s a scarce item.”

It’s not surprising that the company would opt to discontinue publishing the print editions. After all, print encyclopedias are a dying breed. Nonetheless, it’s still sad to see the end of an era. Just another item that has become irrelevant in our society — like the Walkman and answering machine.

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