Tag Archives: web site

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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Pottermore: A Partisan Review

Contributed by Harrison Cole

As a self-proclaimed Potterphiliac, I was delighted to be granted access to the Beta version of Pottermore before its opening to the general public. For those who haven’t heard, Pottermore is an interactive website that provides fans with a new way to experience the world of Harry Potter. Users navigate the story of The Boy Who Lived by clicking through picturesque snapshots from each chapter of the series while interacting with fellow fans. The site is scattered with snippets of information, including exclusive content relating to the many characters and places within the wizarding world crafted by J.K. Rowling.

To my surprise, after first logging on I was frustrated with the interface of the site.  Users must begin with Chapter One of The Philosopher’s Stone and move through each of the seven books in chronological order. Within each chapter, content-unlocking discoveries must be made in order to advance. This might be a result of my computer and gaming ineptitude, but I would prefer to read the site at my leisure without spending ten minutes clicking around each page to locate hidden items. Although interesting to the Potter fanatic, the pages within Pottermore provide an excessive amount of detail. This site is not for the casual fan; I doubt there are many itching to peruse the 4,596 words devoted to the types of wood used in wandmaking.

The material unique to Pottermore includes Rowling’s inspiration for certain aspects of the story, and “Ghost Plots” or scenes and events that did not make the final cut of the published novels. The site also adds a personal touch for the fan, providing the opportunity to purchase a wand of their own and don the Sorting Hat to join one of the four houses of Hogwarts.  Pottermore is somewhat reminiscent of a role-playing video game; once sorted, users can earn points for their house by brewing potions, or test their wandwork by challenging others to duel. This competitive aspect should lure users with waning attention spans. Those that are expecting more of a Potter encyclopedia with freely accessible information should keep their expectations low.

Like I mentioned above, I love Harry Potter and as a result will probably end up reading Pottermore cover-to-cover, or whatever the internet equivalent of that may be…even the aforementioned section on wandmaking. But completing the Pottermore journey is a laborious task, and I surmise most people would prefer to enjoy the series without the excruciating additional detail. If I had any sense, I would broaden my horizons by moving on to a new book, but alas, I do not.

Harrison is a human male and a Certified Public Accountant in the state of New York. He lives in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with his collection of Harry Potter novels and memorabilia. You can follow him on Twitter @HarrisonsHuff, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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J.K. Rowling Sure Knows How to Make Headlines

The beloved Harry Potter series may very well be over, but author J.K. Rowling certainly knows how to keep her name in the news. The author recently announced that she would be writing another novel — but this one, for adults. Then there was the announcement that her Pottermore web site won’t be ready to open to the public until early April — 6 months after its scheduled opening. And now, according to Entertainment Weekly, she’s no longer a billionaire — sadly just a millionaire.

EW reports that Rowling has given away so much money to charity and taxes — an estimated $160 million — she was removed from the Forbes Rich List.

But with Pottermore set to open to the public in April and a new book on the way, her profits will surely boost again.

The reason for the delayed Pottermore opening is simply because it wasn’t ready yet. A beta version of the site opened in October, but had a number of major glitches that needed to be ironed out.

And as far as the new, adult book is concerned — not much has been released about it. It does not yet have a title or publication date. All we know is that Little, Brown is publishing it and that it will be “very different” from the Potter series, according to Rowling’s statement, below:

“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world,” she said. “The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life.”

So what do you think? Will J.K. Rowling soon be back on top?

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Authors’ Words in 140 Characters

More and more nowadays, authors are using their literary prowess to not only write novels, but write tweets as well. And while their 140-character thoughts might not take as long to type, it’s equally as fun as writing a novel — and equally as fun for us to read.

This fun essay by The New York Times explores modern-day authors’ intrigue with Twitter. Some who use it see it as a marketing tool; others use the popular micro-blogging site as way to interact with their readers. And some authors hate the idea altogether. For them, the reader should remain distant from the author, as Anne Trubek explains.

In “A Note From Jeffrey Eugenides to Readers,” he described his joy at meeting them, but concluded by saying he doesn’t know when or if he’ll post on the page again: “It’s better, I think, for readers not to communicate too directly with an author because the author is, strangely enough, beside the point.”

Eugenides makes a good point. But the ability to directly communicate with your favorite author is exactly the kind of thing that inspired me to join Twitter. When I learned celebrities were on the site, I said, “Wait. I HAVE to join now.” And to me, these authors are  celebrities. Of course, I’m interested in what they’re doing, what they’re writing, and what they have to say. My theory is, if I like their books, I’d probably like them too. And based on their tweets, I do.

I think Jennifer Weiner (@JenniferWeiner) is one of the most hilarious authors out there, and her tweets confirm it. I also follow Jodi Picoult (@JodiPicoult) and Judy Blume  (@JudyBlume) . Authors who tweet form a strange, but lovely online bond with their readers, which I think is a win-win situation for everyone involved. If an author can’t be bothered to use 140 characters to communicate with me, so be it. But I rather like the ones that do.

And if you’re interested, follow me on twitter @LaraBryn.

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