Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jeff Bezos Wife and Amazon Blast new eBook about the Company


It is very apparent that the entire Amazon empire is displeased by a new eBook written by Bloomberg Businessweek writer Brad Stone. Jeff Bezos’ wife left a devastating review of the book in a rambling diatribe and the company even sent out an official statement berating the authors secretive nature of writing the book and factual inaccuracies.

Writer and wife to Jeff, MacKenzie Bezos wrote a very long one-starred review and one of the more notable statements she made was “While numerous factual inaccuracies are certainly troubling in a book being promoted to readers as a meticulously researched definitive history, they are not the biggest problem here. The book is also full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction, and the result is a lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon. An author writing about any large organization will encounter people who recall moments of tension out of tens of thousands of hours of meetings and characterize them in their own way, and including those is legitimate. But I would caution readers to take note of the weak rhetorical devices used to make it sound like these quotes reflect daily life at Amazon or the majority viewpoint about working there.”

The Amazon PR department was on overdrive today trying to defend the integrity of the company. They said “Over the course of the author's reporting, Amazon facilitated meetings for him with more than half a dozen senior Amazon executives, during which he had every opportunity to inquire about or fact-check claims made by former employees. He chose not to. I met in person with him on at least three occasions and exchanged dozens of emails where he only checked a few specific quotes. He had every opportunity to thoroughly fact check and bring a more balanced viewpoint to his narrative, but he was very secretive about the book and simply chose not to.”

Brad Stone did a lot of research and the result is a glimpse into the history of one of the world’s most exciting companies. More than 300 interviews with current and past employees netted an intriguing collection of stories. More significantly, his book communicates an important set of business principles and a taste of the difficult decisions Jeff Bezos made along the way. It gives people a taste about how its difficult to rise up in the company and get promotions. If you ever want to make something out of yourself a cadre of eight executives meet a few times a year and take a vote.

The author himself responded to the media circus today and lamented “I exhaustively fact checked the work with my sources. Amazon declined to make Jeff Bezos available for fact checking.”

Indie authors normally get a ton of flack about relatives leaving reviews of books they have written. I find it very interesting about how a wife of a CEO is this huge newsworthy event. It certainly is a bit of a double standard.

Jeff Bezos Wife and Amazon Blast new eBook about the Company is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Throwing Everything Against the Wall in a Bid to Lure Readers


Amazon isn’t holding anything back right now in a bid to lure readers away from other ecosystems and sign new ones up. The company in the last few months has unveiled a copious amount of new programs to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Kindle First, Kindle Matchbook, Day One, Amazon Smile, Kindle Countdown Deals and a free Kindle Freetime subscription are but a few of the initiatives the Seattle-based company has launched lately. All of these programs work in conjunction with all of the devices that just hit the market and the various reading apps for major operating systems.

It seems every week Amazon launches a new reading program to keep themselves in the media spotlight, and seldom does anyone actually consider the sheer number of new programs Amazon launches or the ramifications of these initiatives.

Amazon has been said to control close to 75% of the eBook market in the US and Canada. The company does this by making commercials, generating headlines, and putting their devices in every single store that will do business with them. They have also been expanding into foreign markets to solidify their dominance.

The majority of the headlines generated by Amazon may seem ground breaking, but are really nothing new. Take the new Kindle First program that sends out a curated list of eBooks a month in advance of their commercial release. Baen Books has been doing this for awhile with eARCs. They do charge more for the early access, with the average price costing $15 vs $9.99. One of the pioneers in the field of early eBook releases is Net Galley, who came on the scene in 2008 right before BookExpo America. Joining is free and offers eBooks from major publishers months in advance to review or to read.

There are only a few major players in the digital book industry and most of them just refine their reading apps or focus on eBook discovery engines. We see lots of Facebook and social media platforms rising up, only to suffer from a lack of user interest. Companies like Kobo focus on their hardware and dedicated reading apps, but keep a low profile in some of the markets when it comes to new programs. Barnes and Noble is in the precarious position of only selling eBooks in the US and UK, which are ultra-competitive markets. With recent management shake ups, the only news to come out of that camp was Google Play hitting the tablets, and that was almost a year ago.

Publishers and online bookstores can learn a lot from Amazon in terms of looking at what the competition is doing and integrating it into their own ecosystems. Most have found, though, that it’s easier to just maintain the status quo than it is to unleash features that their readers would like and help distinguish themselves from a crowded market. It takes time, energy, and research to make this all happen and it is no small wonder that Amazon is cornerstoning the market.

Amazon Throwing Everything Against the Wall in a Bid to Lure Readers is a post from: E-Reader News

Remembering Lou Reed


The world lost a groundbreaking musician last week when Lou Reed – guitarist, vocalist, principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and rock music pioneer – passed away at age 71. Known for his poetic lyrics, avant-garde style, and deadpan voice, Reed's massive influence can be seen through nearly 50 years of rock music. You and your patrons can celebrate his legacy by reading the titles that chronicle his fascinating life and career below:


Pass Thru Fire: The Collected Lyrics by Lou Reed

Containing a body of work that spans more than three decades, Pass Thru Fire is a stunning collection of the lyrics of an American original. Through his many incarnations – from proto punk to glam rocker to elder statesman of the avant-garde – Lou Reed's work has maintained an undeniable vividness and raw beauty, fueled by precise character studies and rendered with an admirable shot of moral ambiguity. Pass Thru Fire is crucial to an appreciation of Lou Reed, not only as a consummate underground musician, but as one of the truly significant poets of our time.


Lou Reed: Talking by Nick Johnstone

As the creator of the Velvet Underground and a consistently provocative solo performer, Lou Reed has rarely been lost for words. A true legend in the world of experimental and searching rock music, Lou Reed’s career has been unpredictable and driven, pushing his musical expressions into new areas of exploration. Here are the thoughts of the man himself. Unofficial and Unauthorized. Parental advisory – explicit content.


All Yesterday's Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971 by Clinton Heylin

All Yesterdays’ Parties gathers for the first time almost all of the published writings contemporary with the band’s existence – from sources as mainstream as the New York Times to vanished voices of the counterculture like Oz, Crawdaddy! and Fusion. With photographs, posters, and other visual evocations of the period throughout, All Yesterdays’ Parties is an invaluable resource, a trove of lore for anyone interested in the VU, their roots, and their legacy.


Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground by Rob Jovanovic

With exclusive new interviews from the band, this is a captivating account of one of the most influential groups in rock history. Seeing the Light presents the untold story of the band.


From the Velvets to the Voidoids: The Birth of American Punk Rock by Clinton Heylin

Exhaustively researched and packed with unique insights, this history journeys from the punk scene’s roots in the mid-1960s to the arrival of “new wave” in the early 1980s. Filled with insights from interviews with artists such as Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, David Byrne, Patti Smith, and Richard Hell, this book has long been considered one of the essential reads on rock rebellion.


*Some titles are metered access and may have limited regional or platform availability. Check OverDrive Marketplace to find what is available for you.


Rachel Somerville is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive.


Remember, Remember the Fifth of November: Guy Fawkes to Get His Own Comic

Guy Fawkes

Back in 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of fellow English Catholics plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament—the Gunpowder Plot. They were caught on the fifth of November, and ever since then, the British have celebrated the day by setting off fireworks and burning Fawkes in effigy (although they have also been known to toast him, satirically, as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions”). His image became synonymous with protest against the government and the oppressions of society after Alan Moore and David Lloyd had the lead character in V for Vendetta wear a Guy Fawkes mask; the mask was later picked up by the protest group Anonymous and has become a major cultural icon.

Now the man behind the mask is getting his own comic: The UK publisher Eco Comics has announced that Fawkes will be a major character in their new series The Englishman and will then get his own title.

Writer Chris Bunting sheds a bit of light on how he will handle the character: "The predictable approach for a writer in today's climate would be to portray Guy Fawkes as a terrorist. He is as complicated as he is extreme. He's not a dastardly villain twirling his moustache, but nor is he a hero in the traditional sense – even though he may consider himself to be. What Guy has in mind is a plot of epic proportions. Which for an expert in explosives can only spell big trouble."

You can see some preview art at the Guy Fawkes Facebook page.

Eco Comics is the comics and graphic novels arm of Mohawk Media, which first made a splash in 2008 with a graphic novel about Mr. T; the “eco” in their name comes from the fact that they are solely digital, so no trees are killed to make their comics. The comics don’t seem to be on any of the major platforms but they are available for direct download from several sources, including the publisher itself.

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November: Guy Fawkes to Get His Own Comic is a post from: E-Reader News

Movember 2013: look! Eben can grow hair on at least one part of his head!

This year, Eben’s participating in Movember, and growing a moustache to raise funds for men’s mental health, in memory of our very dear friend Chris “Oggie” Lightfoot, who died in 2007. He’s been growing the hairs on the lower part of his face out since November 1, and now has enough stubble to shape into a moustache. We’re taking suggestions for precisely what shape to shave it into in the comments here: the rules state that handlebar moustaches are fine but may not link to either his chin or his sideburns, ‘cos those aren’t moustaches: they’re beards.

Facial hair after five days’ concentrated growth. Click to donate.

I should point out that giving November over to the production of a moustache is more onerous for me than it is for Eben. I have to put up with kissing a husband with bristles; my Dad shouting in restaurants “That’ll tickle your fancy, Liz! Bwa haha!” (Dad, I expect a large donation from you to make up for the embarrassment from that, and I am not eating in public with you again this month); and trimming the thing for him in the mornings. So please give generously. I’d like to feel that this month is worth it.

Eben is very, very bad indeed at growing hair on some parts of his head, but we are hoping for luxuriant results given that this only involves the area under his nose. Please let us know below just what shape you think his face-topiary should take. I’ve got a veto on this one, so moustaches resembling those of dictators from history will not be attempted, but you never know: you might come up with something we like.

Happy Birthday, Wattpad: Celebrating with the Launch of Wattpad Stories

The world’s largest online community for connecting authors and readers in genuine and engaging ways turned seven years old today, and is celebrating with the launch of something new. Wattpad Stories, which goes live at 10am ET, takes an in-depth look at people whose lives have been transformed by the power of writing and storytelling, and by the ability to instantly share that creative work with an audience of over 20 million users.

"Ivan and I started Wattpad as a way to read on our mobile phone and give writers a platform to share their original stories. It's remarkable to see our idea resonate with so many people around the world," said CEO and co-founder Allen Lau in a press release. "Seven years ago we had a few hundred stories on Wattpad; today we have more than 25 million uploads and we're on track to surpass the total number of books that have been published since the advent of printing."

"Before the iPhone, before Kindle and before the rise of ebooks and self-publishing, there was Wattpad," continued CTO and co-founder Ivan Yuen. "It's incredible to have created a platform that empowers people to read, write and socialize in a way fits their mobile lifestyle."

Over 28 million works have been uploaded to Wattpad in the past seven years, and the availability of mobile devices has opened up the ability to read this content anywhere, as nearly 90% of the traffic through Wattpad is now coming from readers who access the site via mobile devices; at last count, nearly 5 billion minutes per month are being spent by users who are engaged with the content, all of it free to read. With the launch of Wattpad Stories, readers have a whole new opportunity to connect with the authors of the content, as it brings a more personal understanding of the writing process for some of these creators and the way that writing and reading have transformed them.

Happy Birthday, Wattpad: Celebrating with the Launch of Wattpad Stories is a post from: E-Reader News