Let’s get straight to the bad news: although Amazon did answer my questions, their answers included “we’re working on that,” “I don’t know,” and “I don’t know (but it’s the publishers’ fault).” To be fair to the “Kindle Specialist” I spoke with this morning, he has promised to talk to the Kindle marketing department—why marketing? these are DRM issues!—and get back to me with better answers. Until then, this is what the average consumer can expect from a Kindle ebook license.
Students who prefer to shop for textbooks online are encountering a hitch in their efforts. University and College courses are increasingly using bundled versions of textbooks that come with their own ISBN number. School book stores sell the packets as a single item, because their contents don’t come itemized.
This story is a little old, but was just brought to our attention this weekend. Elsevier, which is sort of the Death Star of academic publishing, was caught offering $25 Amazon gift cards to professors who gave the book five-star reviews on Amazon.
Harlequin, the been-around-forever romance novel company, reported a 32% increase its 4th quarter from a year ago, says ABC News. In this video clip, they look at the company’s single minded focus on churning out 1200 new titles per year at $5 each, in pretty much every sub-genre you can invent. The best parts of the segment, however, are watching various celebrities—especially Martin Bashir, George Will, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd—read samples. Their interpretations will make you feel “the purely caveman urge to pick her up and carry her to bed.”
It’s been a little over a year since Amazon released the Kindle, and now publishers are finally getting the chance to set their own pricing on ebook editions. The result has been a slow creep in pricing on some titles—in some cases to levels above the price of a paper edition of the same book—for a digital edition that you can’t resell, give away to someone else, or read on any other device. Kindle owners have started to notice, and now some of them are complaining that Amazon overpromised the $9.99 bookstore concept to move Kindles.
Condé Nast marketing department, are you on crack? Have you put some trinket from “The Hills” in charge of your mail server? Justin has emailed you repeatedly to tell you to stop spamming him. His marketing preferences on your site show a vast field of “No” for every single title on your list. And yet he’s received 16 emails since his last request—almost three a month. You should know better—or, as Justin puts it, “This isn’t some Nigerian guy trying to make my penis larger or send me money, this is a company here, in the United States, that I know should be held accountable.”
Amazon reviews, especially the effusive ones, have always been suspect—you never know when a five-star review came from an employee, publicist, or marketing type. Slate describes the dishonest world of Amazon’s “Top 10 Reviewers,” where a small group of writers churn out purple-prosed blurbs and jacket-ready compliments at an astounding rate, sometimes for a fee. In turn, these reviewers are inundated with a sort of fame as well as free merchandise—mostly books in the past, but now electronics and other goods. Because good reviews sell more books, Amazon has no incentive to weed out the reviewers who have turned the system into a cottage industry. We suggest you disregard any review with a “Top 10 Reviewer” label on it.
“The Astrologer” magazine shuttered in December 2007 due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Hmm. [Neatorama]
The Harvard Crimson ran a story last week about a student who was asked to leave the premises for writing down the prices of six textbooks at the Coop, Harvard’s bookstore of record. The bookstore’s president says that there’s no official policy against students writing down information, but “we discourage people who are taking down a lot of notes.” But what’s more surprising, he tells the Crimson that the textbooks’ ISBNs—which can be used to look up the same books online—are “the Coop’s intellectual property.”
All this talk about OJ Simpson being arrested and charged with a felony reminded us that his memoir went on sale Sep. 13. After the book and tv special were canceled following unprecedented consumer backlash, the rights to the manuscript were transferred to the Goldman family by a Florida bankruptcy court.