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The Amazon whisperer, invisible interfaces, FDA vs 23andMe, and robots usher in a new polical order

By Jenn Webb
November 27, 2013

The Radar team does a lot of sharing in the backchannel. Here’s a look at a selection of stories and innovative people and companies from around the web that have caught our recent attention. Have an interesting tidbit to contribute …

Four short links: 7 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 7, 2013

Learn to Search — cheeky but spot-on help for people running conferences. Offline First — no, the mobile connectivity/bandwidth issue isn’t just going to solve itself on a global level anywhere in the near future. THIS! 10 Things You Should …

Four short links: 5 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 5, 2013

Influx DB — open-source, distributed, time series, events, and metrics database with no external dependencies. Omega (PDF) — flexible, scalable schedulers for large compute clusters. From Google Research. GraspJS — Search and replace your JavaScript code based on its structure …

Four short links: 3 October 2013

By Nat Torkington
October 3, 2013

Hyundia Replacing Cigarette Lighters with USB Ports (Quartz) — sign of the times. (via Julie Starr) Freeseer — free, open source, cross-platform application that captures or streams your desktop—designed for capturing presentations. Would you like freedom with your screencast? Amazon …

Four short links: 1 October 2013

By Nat Torkington
September 29, 2013

Farmbot Wiki — open-source, scalable, automated precision farming machines. Amazon’s Chaotic Storage — photos from inside an Amazon warehouse. At the heart of the operation is a sophisticated database that tracks and monitors every single product that enters/leaves the warehouse …

Four short links: 5 September 2013

By Nat Torkington
September 5, 2013

Bezos at the Post (Washington Post) — “All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworth’s,” added Bezos.[...] “The number one rule has to be: Don’t be boring.” (via Julie Starr) How Carnegie-Mellon …

Podcast: ratings, rankings, and the advantage of being born lucky

By Jon Bruner
August 8, 2013

Is popularity just a matter of simple luck–of some early advantage compounded by human preference for things that are already popular? A paper published today in Science offers some insight into the way that popularity emerges in online ratings. Lev Muchnik, Sinan …

Four short links: 14 June 2014

By Nat Torkington
June 14, 2013

How Geeks Opened up the UK Government (Guardian) — excellent video introduction to how the UK is transforming its civil service to digital delivery. Most powerful moment for me was scrolling through various depts’ web sites and seeing consistent visual …

What Is the Risk That Amazon Will Go Down (Again)?

By Johan Bergström
May 29, 2013

Why should we at all bother about notions such as risk and safety in web operations? Do web operations face risk? Do web operations manage risk? Do web operations produce risk? Last Christmas Eve, Amazon had an AWS outage affecting …

Four short links: 23 May 2013

By Nat Torkington
May 23, 2013

Kindle Worlds Fine Print — Amazon’s fanfic publishing system has a few flaws: no pr0n, no slash (crossovers), and Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright. I can’t …

Cultural capital goes commercial

By Julia Errens
May 2, 2013

It wasn’t one of my proudest moments when, a week before Christmas last year, I was hunched over my smartphone towards the back of the famous Hamley’s Toy Store on London’s Regent Street, composure tethered to an elusive bar of …

Commerce Weekly: Amazon patent indicates its interest in the payments space

By Jenn Webb
April 18, 2013

Editor’s note: This will be the final installment of our Commerce Weekly series. Mobile payments security, privacy concerns rise; Amazon may have a solution The race is on to democratize mobile payments, to create a solution that improves the payment …

We need incognito book purchasing

By François Joseph de Kermadec
April 18, 2013

In the physical realm, purchasing a book without revealing one’s identity involves little effort beyond proceeding to a store one does not usually patronise and paying in cash. Unless one is seeking illegal volumes, which are unlikely to be obtained …

Will we ever see a “Spotify for ebooks”?

By Joe Wikert
April 10, 2013

My music buying habits have definitely changed over the years. I’m doing a lot more streaming now and rarely buying individual tracks or albums. I use Spotify but I also started using Rdio. I’m still in the free trial period for the latter …

Taking ebooks mainstream…in Germany

By Ruediger Wischenbart
April 10, 2013

Are German ebooks really any different than those in the U.S. or the U.K.? Many strong indicators say yes, they are different. That’s why many ebook debates in the past have not ended with practical guidelines for German publishers and …

Digital publishing and the loss of intimacy

By François Joseph de Kermadec
April 9, 2013

Reading used to be an intimate experience. Even Amazon, the pioneer in digital publishing, branded its Kindle with a child reading alone under a tree. Books were specially designed to disappear into the background as much as possible, helped by …

Content ownership and resale

By Joe Wikert
April 8, 2013

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen some landmark decisions on whether you really own that content you bought and if you can resell it. First, in the Kirtsaeng vs. Wiley case we learned that it’s OK to buy low-priced print books …

Commerce Weekly: Wal-Mart looks outside the (big) box to battle Amazon

By Jenn Webb
April 4, 2013

Wal-Mart wants to crowdsource delivery, while Google chases same-day On the heels of launching its in-store delivery locker program to compete with Amazon Locker, Wal-Mart has announced it’s toying with the idea of having in-store customers deliver online orders to …

What if the Game of Thrones Characters were book publishers?

By Miral Sattar
April 4, 2013

There’s no question that the publishing industry is going through a lot of changes. It’s the last industry to go digital, and as a result going through the fastest disruption. Watching the Game of Thrones is like watching a war …

Current state of formats and platforms

By Joe Wikert
April 3, 2013

Remember the old days when PDF was pretty much the only way to distribute content and those PDFs were read on computer screens? PDF still lives, of course, but now we’re also faced with offering content in mobi and EPUB …

Goodreads + Amazon: Winners and losers

By Joe Wikert
April 1, 2013

I decided to wait a few days before writing about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads. I wanted to let the dust settle before weighing in with my own opinion. Now that I’ve had some time to mull it over, here’s what I …

Publishing News: Goodreads readers are now valuable Amazon products

By Jenn Webb
March 29, 2013

Amazon marches on toward global retail domination The whiplash-inducing headline this week was Amazon’s announcement late Thursday that it has acquired book discovery and sharing site rival Goodreads. Industry response to the announcement was “swift and laced with skepticism,” Leslie …

Reverse showrooming

By Joe Wikert
March 18, 2013

This past weekend a friend asked me to pick up a couple of books for them. Print books, btw, and they needed them later that day. That meant it was time to head to a local bookstore, something I’m doing …

Used ebooks: Why your assumptions are wrong and the opportunity is huge

By Joe Wikert
March 11, 2013

Amazon has a patent and now Apple does too. I’m talking about the techniques both companies might use to let you resell your digital content. They join ReDigi, who already offers a platform to resell your digital music. Ebooks are next, of course, …

Publishing News: Apple’s used iBookstore?

By Jenn Webb
March 8, 2013

Apple patent points to used digital resale Quick on Amazon’s heels, Apple has filed its own patent for selling or loaning used digital content, including ebooks, music, movies, and software applications. Mikey Campbell reported at Apple Insider that the patent, …

Why B&N should abandon hardware

By Joe Wikert
February 27, 2013

The ebook retailing business consists of three elements: hardware, content, and selling model. Dedicated e-readers (think eInk devices) are losing momentum to tablets. Content is mostly quick-and-dirty print-to-e conversions, or “paper under glass”, if you will. The typical selling model …

Commerce Weekly: Best Buy wants to end showrooming, Google wants to start

By Jenn Webb
February 21, 2013

Google takes on brick-and-mortar; Best Buy takes on ecommerce The Google retail store rumor ignited again this week. Seth Weintraub reported at 9to5Google that “[a]n extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in the process of building …

Lion or hare? Amazon might soon face a lot of hungry competitors around the world

By Ruediger Wischenbart
February 21, 2013

When Amazon released data on its financial performance for 2012 at the end of January 2013, Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and CEO concluded: “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting. After 5 years, e-books is a multi-billion dollar …

Commerce Weekly: Best Buy wants to end showrooming, Google wants to start

By Jenn Webb
February 21, 2013

Google takes on brick-and-mortar; Best Buy takes on ecommerce The Google retail store rumor ignited again this week. Seth Weintraub reported at 9to5Google that “[a]n extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in the process of building …

Author platforms and the Black Box Effect

By Anne Hill
February 20, 2013

If you’ve spent as much time reading author blogs as I have, you may have noticed a disturbing pattern. In nearly every “here’s how I did it” post in which the author explains her route to greater visibility and sales, …

Publishing News: Amazon’s used ebook store?

By Jenn Webb
February 8, 2013

Amazon prepares to enter the used digital goods resale fray The headline news this week was Amazon being awarded a US patent for a “secondary market for digital objects,” which according to the patent abstract, include “e-books, audio, video, computer …

Commerce Weekly: Google targets Amazon’s shopping platform

By Jenn Webb
February 7, 2013

Google acquires Channel Intelligence, pursues Amazon shoppers In a recent post at Wired, Marcus Wohlsen took a look at the success of Google’s switch last fall to all-paid product listings — such as the top result for a search for …

Commerce Weekly: Google targets Amazon’s shopping platform

By Jenn Webb
February 7, 2013

Google acquires Channel Intelligence, pursues Amazon shoppers In a recent post at Wired, Marcus Wohlsen took a look at the success of Google’s switch last fall to all-paid product listings — such as the top result for a search for …

Ebooks and the future of research

By François Joseph de Kermadec
February 6, 2013

Knowledge cannot progress unless it is aware of its past: a knowledge-seeker must reference the works of previous generations. Literary scholars return to manuscripts, musicians to partitions, artists to museums… The continued availability of reference works underpins our entire research …

Publishing News: Pushing ebooks beyond skeuomorph boundaries

By Jenn Webb
February 1, 2013

Screens should be portals, not skeuomorphic containers Jeff Gomez, VP of online consumer sales and marketing at Penguin Group, took a look this week at the issue of ebooks in the publishing ecosystem and argued that “we’re focusing in all …

Commerce Weekly: Isis Wallet/NFC payments struggle for a foothold

By Jenn Webb
January 10, 2013

Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space this week. NFC-enabled Cashwrap case equips iPhone with Isis At the 2013 International CES this week, Incipio and AT&T announced the launch of Cashwrap, an NFC-enabled iPhone …

The slippery slope of bogus reviews

By Joe Wikert
January 3, 2013

By now you undoubtedly read about Amazon’s decision to remove a large number of questionable book reviews. This is a problem that’s existed since the first day Amazon reviews. Most are probably from legitimate customers but quite a few are …

Publishing News: Penguin settles, Macmillan holds its ground

By Jenn Webb
December 21, 2012

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week. And then there were two In headline news this week, the Penguin Group announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. …

Publishing News: Tech industry history could inform bookstores’ road to recovery

By Jenn Webb
December 7, 2012

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week. Bookstore lessons and opportunities from the tech industry Brick-and-mortar bookstores arguably have taken the biggest hit thus far as the publishing industry struggles through its …

Commerce Weekly: Same-day delivery war heats up

By Jenn Webb
December 6, 2012

Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space this week. The high price of instant gratification The Wall Street Journal’s Greg Bensinger took a look this week at the e-commerce same-day delivery trend, a service …

A Kindle developer’s 2013 wishlist

By Sanders Kleinfeld
December 2, 2012

2012 was a good year for Kindle developers. With the unveiling of the first-generation Fire tablet in late 2011 and the release of the KF8 Mobi format in early 2012, designing beautiful ebooks for the Kindle platform became a reality. …

Publishing News: Traditional publisher tests self-publishing waters

By Jenn Webb
November 30, 2012

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week. Simon & Schuster ventures into self-publishing The headline news this week was Simon & Schuster’s deal with self-publishing company Author Solutions to launch Archway Publishing, …

Global ebook distribution complexities

By Ruediger Wischenbart
November 28, 2012

A publisher at the Sharjah International Book Fair asked me about Google providing access to ebooks in Arabic. How could they do so without asking Arab publishers for permission, he was wondering. This was a simple question requiring a complicated answer. …

Creating reader community with open APIs

By Leonhard Dobusch
November 15, 2012

I spoke at the “Frankfurt Digital Night” at this year’s Frankfurt Book fair, making essentially three points (see slides embedded below): first, publishing requires – and has always required – a commitment to creating and courting communities of readers. Second, there …

Amazon and Wall Street

By Joe Wikert
November 12, 2012

I’m a big fan of The Week news magazine. It’s one of the last print products I still subscribe to (and I prefer the print version over the digital one). They deliver short summaries of what’s happening around the world …

TOC Trifecta: This week’s must-reads (11/8/12)

By Joe Wikert
November 8, 2012

All of these articles were featured in this week’s TOC newsletter. They’re the best of the best. We spend (way too) many hours reading every publishing article, blog post, and tweet so that you don’t have to. If you find …

TOC’s Global Ebook Market report

By Joe Wikert
November 8, 2012

One year ago that we published the first edition of our Global Ebook Market report. We focused on the major English language territories but also featured coverage of several other popular languages as well. A lot has changed in the …

How the DOJ ruling could affect ebook prices

By Joe Wikert
November 7, 2012

The proposed final judgment in the ebook case says that settling defendants may enter into contracts with ebook retailers that prevent the retailer from selling a settling defendant’s ebooks at a cumulative loss over the course of one year. What does …

B&N sorely needs to make a mark

By Jenn Webb
November 6, 2012

Ahead of its 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch HD+ release this week, B&N has reduced the price of its Nook Color and Nook tablets. The Nook Color dropped $10 to $139, and the tablets dropped $20 to $179 for the …

Penguin Random House: How big is big enough?

By Joe Wikert
October 29, 2012

Call me skeptical but I feel the merger between Penguin and Random House is less about creating “greater scale” and more about simple consolidation in a shrinking industry. Which organization is more likely to create the truly innovative, disruptive products …


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