Tag Archives: web

New Kindle Checkout System In the Works

amazonWhen Amazon first created the Kindle, it was meant to be used for reading e-books. Then it became a tablet. Now it might become a cash register.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon — the creator of the Kindle — is working with brick-and-mortar stores and retailers to create a checkout system that uses Kindle tablets. If it’s a go, stores would use the new system as early as this summer. More and more retailers are using handheld devices for checkouts, such as food trucks, Apple, and even Nordstrom.

Amazon officials say retailers would receive Kindle tablets and credit card readers, or receive services from Amazon, such as data analysis.

The plan is still in the works. Nothing is officially set in stone. For now, Amazon is looking to start at small stores, since larger chains generally already use  complex, expensive checkout systems.

The real benefit of checking out with a Kindle would be how fast and easy it is to do. But it’s clear than an underlying benefit for Amazon is all the exposure the company itself would get; plus it’s a pretty sneaky way of bringing the Kindle — available online only —  into stores.

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Fans Praise ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Web Series

Almost 200 years after it was published, Pride and Prejudice is having a moment…online, that is.

According to The Daily Dot, a modernized version of the classic tale is now a web series, called the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or LBD. It takes the form of a vlog hosted by the main character, Lizzie Bennet. The beauty of the series is that producers and writers can go in depth with the story, better describing the characters and using each episode to act out each chapter of the novel. Co-producer Hank Green got the idea for the series from his wife, who’s a big Jane Austen fan, and the now the series is taking off as Aja Romano explains.

Green promoted the show to his legions of fans, known as Nerdfighters. Thousands of them faithfully flocked to the LBD despite not having read the novel or knowing anything about the plot. This phenomenon led to an ongoing wonder in the comments of each YouTube video, as fans who know the story by heart interacted with fans who begged other fans not to spoil them for what happened next.

The big news this week is that after 59 web episodes — 59! — Darcy was finally introduced. Fans of the series took to Tumblr and Twitter to freak out about the episode. Here’s a clip of the 60th episode of the show:

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CliffsNotes Comes to the Web…In Video Form

In case you ever wanted to see a classic book or Shakespeare played out in cartoon form, you can now. That’s right. CliffsNotes is coming to the web.

According to this article from Entertainment Weekly, Producer Mark Burnett has teamed up with CliffsNotes, AOL, and Coalition Films to create web videos of all the classic novels and plays, mostly read by high school and college students.

Producers say they don’t want to replace the books by any means. But for the students who won’t read the books anyway and already plan to read the CliffsNotes, now they can just watch them instead. Not to mention, they’ll also be funny, which could pull people in more than the original book might. Stephan Lee explains.

Burnett got involved in the project after seeing a need for this sort of content. “There’s no question that there’s no replacement for reading the actual books,” he told EW. “But kids do use CliffsNotes worldwide, no question about it. It amazed me that there was no digital version of these CliffsNotes.” In addition to being quick and informative, the series aims to engage its audience with humor.

Only six Shakespearean plays are currently available, including Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But Burnett hopes to eventually have hundreds of shorts on his site.

I can’t decide if I think this is good for the industry — because more people will likely learn the stories — or bad — because they won’t be reading the originals. What do you guys think?

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Amazon’s Book Monopoly Is Growing

Amazon already sells books. It may soon start a Netflix-like rental service. And now it’s entering another field in the book industry: publishing.

According to this article by The New York Times, Amazon will publish 122 books and e-books this fall. This is good news for authors and the book industry in general. Now authors who may have had a difficult time getting published will have a fresh set of eyes to look at their material, which could result in a second chance at publishing. And in terms of the book industry, that means more books will be physically and digitally available to people all over the world.

But it’s bad news for the intermediate players in the game: the publishers and agents, as David Streitfeld explains in his article.

“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.

Either way, Amazon is creating a book industry monopoly. It may be cruel, but it’s also smart. And as one of Amazon’s top executives, Russell Grandinetti,  says in the article, “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”

 

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Amazon May Get Netflix-like Service for Books

Kindle e-books might now be available at libraries across the country, but the changes don’t stop there. A report by the Wall Street Journal says Amazon might be working on a new Netflix-like service for books.

The service would be part of the Amazon Prime package — a special program that gives members free two-day shipping and reduced price one-day shipping on all Amazon orders for a year, for a $79 annual fee.

The additional book service would allow Prime customers to read a limited number of books for free every month from a library of “older titles.”

According to this article by PC World, it seems Amazon hopes the service — which is still in its early stages — will help gain Prime members.

Perhaps spurred by the reaction to its Prime Instant unlimited video streaming, Amazon hopes to convince more people to join Prime with enticing add-ons. The company’s Prime library might also tie-in to the retailer’s strategy for its highly rumored, Android-based tablet to compete with the iPad.

Similar to Apple, Amazon’s slate could offer an integrated shopping experience with one-click access to online movie and TV viewing, e-book sales, MP3s, and apps. But Amazon would also want to encourage people to use their Amazon tablets to shop for physical items such as TVs, consoles and games, physical books, DVDs, computers, and toys.

Many of the details of this project are still unknown, however. For instance, how old are these “older titles”? And how many books will be available on a monthly basis? Not to mention, is this service even worth it now that libraries are offering Kindle e-books anyway? It sounds good on paper, but the kinks definitely still need to be ironed out. What do you guys think?

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Harry Potter E-Books Delayed

There’s been so much attention on J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site that we’ve almost forgotten what its true purpose is: selling e-book versions of the Harry Potter series. That’s because the books still aren’t available yet.

And now the Associated Press is reporting they won’t be until 2012. The e-books have been delayed.

The AP says the e-books were supposed to be available come October, but it’s taking management longer than they had anticipated to perfect it.

In a blog posting on the site, “Pottermore” management said registration would be open to everyone from the end of October, and the online store would open in “the first half of 2012.”

The posting said use of the site so far had been “phenomenal,” and the delay would “allow us to focus on our first priority: opening ‘Pottermore’ to as many people as possible and making the experience as good as it can be.”

I’m sure with the issues they’ve had so far on the site, they thought it was simply in their best interest to take their time with the new addition. What do you guys think?

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The Line Between Print Books and E-Books Just Got Cloudy

As e-books continue to become more accessible and convenient, the Amazon Kindle reveals its latest development: the Kindle Cloud Reader.

Much like Apple’s iCloud — which weaves together your Apple products in a way that you can access your apps from whichever platform you choose — the Kindle Cloud Reader will allow readers to access their downloaded books on multiple platforms.

According to the L.A. Times, it will work with Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari. So whatever book you’ve downloaded onto your Kindle may be accessed via desktop or iPad.

That being said, the Kindle Cloud Reader solidifies a friendship between Amazon’s Kindle and Apple. With the app, those who own Kindles and  use Apple products will be able to directly access the Kindle store, instead of the current in-app purchase option, which is subject to additional Apple fees.

To be honest, it sounds a little confusing to me. But the idea of accessing already downloaded Kindle books online or through other platforms is intriguing. What do you guys think?

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Pottermore Challenge is Up and Running

After a month of anticipation, J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site is finally underway. Yes, it’s been accessible since June, but now the fun begins.

As I explained last month, Rowling’s Pottermore web site is designed to offer not only e-book versions of the entire Harry Potter series, but also inside information and exclusive details about the world of Harry Potter from the creator herself.

The site does not launch publicly until October, but a number of people will be able to log on sooner. Today through Saturday, people may register on the site for a chance to gain early access. But you must decode Rowling’s clues. New clues will be posted each day, as Rowling explains.

Those of you who would like the chance to gain early access to Pottermore must find The Magical Quill and then submit their registration details. Each day, from 31 July to 6 August, a clue will be revealed here. Solve the clue and you will be taken to The Magical Quill. Be quick, The Magical Quill won’t be there for long and registration will only be open while spaces are still available each day.

Leave it to Rowling to make her web site as suspenseful as the Deathly Hallows.

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Borders is a Bust

All sales are final. As of tomorrow, Borders Bookstore is officially a bust. The once-popular chain will begin closing its remaining 400 stores nationwide, not only emptying shelves, but eliminating 11,000 jobs as well.

This comes after months of bankruptcy and failed attempts to sell and resurrect itself. So where did Borders go wrong?

1. The obvious reason; we are entering the digital world of paperless-ness. In fact, we are already in it. As online [book] shopping, e-readers, and tablets become more popular, the desire to buy a physical book is null and void.

2. As this WSJ article explains, other products in the store were beginning to hide the books altogether. As we all know, bookstores aren’t really just bookstores anymore. They’re fully equipped entertainment outlets, selling CDs, DVDs, and magazines. But once you start shielding the core of the store behind other products, the focus becomes unclear, as Matthew Dolan explains in his article:

Customers began to notice what made Borders distinctive was also disappearing. In Store No. 1, there are still books galore. But to reach them, customers must navigate through aisles of toys, stuffed animals, greeting cards, gift bags, compact discs and DVDs.

3. Barnes and Noble is better. I’ve always been a B&N girl myself. It may be the Starbucks cafe in each store. It might be the layout and look of the store. There’s also a good chance it’s the growth the company has seen after taking on the Nook, which is far more popular than Borders’ Kobo. Either way, it’s the number one bookstore nationwide, and Borders just couldn’t top it.

Whatever the reason, it’s sad to see such a staple leave the industry and say goodbye to thousands of employees, as well. What I’m wondering is, is there something Borders could have done to improve and save itself? What do you think?

***Here is another WSJ article that explains more about the financial struggle of Borders.

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Why the NY Public Library is Flourishing

“The New York Public Library is getting webbier by the day,” wrote The Atlantic reporter Alexis Madrigal in his compelling piece about the NYPL, one of the most famous libraries in the world.

In an age where libraries are dying due to e-books, budget cuts, and the ever-expanding “go green” and “paperless” movements, the New York Public Library not only remains open, but it makes significant profits. Granted, the NYPL receives massive donations unlike most other small libraries around the country. But the reason it’s succeeding is because of its  web-savvy ways. By connecting with library users through social media, the library is allowing people to expand on the information it’s already collected. Madrigal explains.

“Every magazine, television network, or radio station with an archive is sitting on gold. Get that stuff out of the basement and put it online for free, where people can link to, remix, and use it. But don’t just dump it there. Take advantage of what the web can do. Structure the work, as NYPL’s strategy head says, so that people can improve on your collection…When you put information in the hands of people, they come up with all kinds of stuff that people within an institution might not think about.”

For instance, the library has created its own iPad app, Biblion. And most recently, it launched a new log-in system through Bibliocommons, which both simplifies and strengthens the library’s catalog.

You can read much more about all of this in Madrigal’s article, “What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library.”

It’s lengthy, but interesting and might give other media a clue about how to better connect with users, increase profit, and improve resources simultaneously.

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