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Amazon is dead. Wait. No it’s not.

Amazon’s stronghold on e-book pricing crumbles, will renegotiate with Macmillan and HarperCollins « Boy Genius Report.

There has been so much talk about how the iPad and iBooks store has been destroying Amazon.  Specifically, its ability to negotiate rock-bottom (and below-cost) prices for ebooks because they had such a dominant position in the field with the Kindle.  The link above, from BoyGeniusReport, was one of the first really substantive ones I read.  Another one has come out about the third major publisher, Hanchette – also associated with the iBooks store to come out with the iPad – putting the strong-arm on Amazon.

The main link on this post is rather significant, in that it includes a quote from Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp and in a rather level-headed statement, states that

We don’t like the Amazon model of selling everything at $9.99. They don’t pay us that. They pay us the full wholesale price of $14 or whatever we charge. We think it really devalues books and it hurts all the retailers of the hard cover books

This statement is quite telling.  First, Amazon has been selling Kindle books at below cost.  Presumably, this is some kind of strange reverse complement, “razor-blade” scenario.  The Kindle at a relatively high price, and then the books somehow below cost to help drive the justification of buying a Kingle (you need titles, after all, just like one needs to launch a video game console with lots of games right off the bat).  I’m not sure how Amazon is able to handle that much of a loss per book but let’s look a bit deeper.  It might also be Amazon trying to be a middle-person in a two-sided market, where it heavily subsidizes the cost to the buyer in order to produce enough content to make the whole thing worthwhile.  The “charge” to the publisher is the reduced value.  It’s not quite a perfect fit for what I’m studying right now in class but it’s close enough.

First, all Murdoch wants is to charge end-users the actual cost that Amazon is paying.  Okay, that’s actually not so bad.  Other than deviating from the established norm, Amazon is at least now operating at cost.  And considering how many Kindles are out there, they still have a high user base with books that will likely be no more expensive than those available on the iPad.

Second, the comment about value is intriguing.  Even if the prices are exactly the same on the iPad as the Kindle, then “value” to the end user is about the same.  The only difference will be psychological effect of sunk cost – having already bought the Kindle – or other factors.

One rather significant one is that I can go a month without charging my Kindle.  When’s the last time you’ve done that with anything that involves a backlight, LED or LCD screen?  Even if you turn WiFi, bluetooth, etc off you’re looking at a significant decrease in battery life.  And, let’s not forget that while you’re going to get a HUGE surge in iPad purchases at first and possibly an even bigger dent in Kindle sales, I really wonder whether it will, even over just a few months, level off on both sides.

One thing that will also be interesting is whether users will be “imprisoned” by the iPad once they get it.  Not that I am not committed now to Kindle books since I got one, but once you get an iPad, you are unlikely to go out and buy a Kindle if you think it is a better fit for your reading needs.  Unless you are a voracious reader, and the battery life for the iPad just doesn’t fit your needs.

Giant iceberg heading towards Australia –

Giant iceberg heading towards Australia –

This is pretty bonkers.  Not only is the satellite photo that shows the iceberg…kind of boggling, but check out these quotes:

“We pulled out the binoculars that we use for work on the seals and, sure enough, it was a huge floating island of ice

So…they could see it with plain binoculars.  I’m trying to imagine something big enough that I could see that way, that was an iceberg, and not an oil tanker or some other giant ship.  This thing is bigger than Manhattan.

Three years earlier, another family of icebergs led to a small tourist boom when they drifted along the east coast of New Zealands South Island.

Of all the reasons to go to New Zealand…

The myth of “faux friends” « Feral Librarian

The myth of “faux friends” « Feral Librarian.

Another excellent post from Chris on the topic of the “destruction” of real friends and friendships because of Facebook and other sites.

What steams me about this is that…this is an article that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  There are a lot of dumb people in academia…hopefully I’m not one of them.  But who knows.

Chris isn’t, though.  Feral Librarian is a good read.

BBC NEWS | Americas | US objects to Google book deal

BBC NEWS | Americas | US objects to Google book deal .

I’m not sure why I’m linking to a BBC article on this considering it’s a super-heated topic here in the states but…I just go with the flow, I guess.

I’ll add links soon, but there is so much discussion about whether this is good or bad, different groups taking different sides, official statements from universities (ie – not just publishers on one side, but institutions on the other facing off).

Some interesting stuff:

From Feral Librarian:

More to come, hopefully, for more context

A Chevrolet Camaro for the MBA set – BusinessWeek

A Chevrolet Camaro for the MBA set – BusinessWeek.

My little secret, just for announcement on my open blog…I would love to get one of these new Camaros (Camaroes?).  29mpg on the freeway with a powerful V6, and talk about passing power.  And it looks sporty, powerful, and just…yeah, manly.

Hybrid this, hyrbid that (actually, I relish in the fact that hybrids are not the most “green” cars out there, with the large carbon footprint of their batteries).  304 horsepower at 29mpg on the freeway?

Oh yeah.

For Airlines, Fees Become Lifelines – BusinessWeek

For Airlines, Fees Become Lifelines – BusinessWeek.

What strikes me about this article is the percentages that revenue from fees for ancillary items – luggage surcharges, paying for blankets, etc – account for some airline’s total income.  It’s quite amazing.  Rynnair is 20%, and it outpaced overall revenue growth by a huge margin (35% revenue growth in ancillary items revenue, compared to 21% for overall).

I see paying for these things as just part of doing business now.  If I looked at them any other way I’d probably go insane from frustration.

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Bomber publishes appeal documents

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | South of Scotland | Bomber publishes appeal documents.

So…as if it weren’t controversial enough that Scotland released the terrorist behind Pan Am 103, now he has released documents that “prove” his innocence.

Newsweek had a mini-article – the stuff they have in the front now, that are analysis but not a full blown article – about how Scotland asserted itself with the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi as a legit international state.  It wasn’t clear whether it was a good move or not, just that at least Scotland pushed forward their existing compassion for convicted felons with terminal illnesses.

For all the times that I have been tired of rhetoric, especially lately, where it feels half of what the administration says is because it needs to say it, not because it’s what should be said…I am behind all those that have condemned this move.  I have two reasons.

The first is personal.  I do remember Pan Am 103, even though I was only 10 when it happened.  No, I did not quite get the fact that this was a terrorist act, or what it meant that someone had done this in the name of something.  What did hit me was that someone had meant to do this.  And why would anyone want to do something so terrible?  Selfish reason, I guess, to let my own pre-teen shock be a factor.  But it’s my blog so..

The second has to do with a book I read a few years back called “Explaining Hitler.” *  The book put forth the following notion – is Hitler on the spectrum of morality within which we all exist, but on the very, very extreme edge?  Or is he actually off the chart (meaning that we exist in a “normal” range, though with some pretty crazy extremes nonetheless)?

I think that the same question can be asked here.  Megrahi is at least at the far extreme, IMO.  I don’t think he’s off the chart, if indeed Hitler was, and I don’t think he’s as far over as Hitler, either.  But the point is that there is a spectrum, and if Megrahi is towards one end, then maybe Scotland’s political history of compassion shouldn’t apply in this case…

*NB – I don’t think anyone will ever be able to explain or help us really understand Hitler.  But Rosenbaum tried to examine each of the arguments for what forces created such a…I’m loath to say “monster” in general but maybe it’s right this time and their validity in terms of history, etc.

NB^2 – I am not saying that this book is “the” book on the topic.  Just one that I read.

CogDogBlog » Hashtag Per Post Works!

CogDogBlog » Hashtag Per Post Works!.

I caught this post by Mr. Cog Dog via my RSS feeds the other day.  It’s the ability to add a hash tag automatically to WP posts, which are then posted to one’s twitter account.  Hash tags – such as #educause or #hiking – are ways of saying “this post belongs in this general group of tweets” and makes for easy searching.

Rather neat.  Downside is that if you don’t put a hash there you got a problem.  DB errors like crazy.  It tries to put an empty value in the database.  Since my blog isn’t specific to any one topic, I might have a problem.

Still a nice feature, though.

Stanford study: Media multitaskers pay mental price

Stanford study: Media multitaskers pay mental price.

Just an interesting article about multi-tasking.  I think that what needs to happen is for those that are studying this breed of “new” students (the NetGen, the Millenials, whatever) to consider that there are perhaps more than one generation already.  There are those that grew up with computers, then there are those that grew up with the rise of Facebook and social networking by the time they were in, say, their middle school years or earlier.  I think there is a major difference in how those two groups approach multi-tasking.

I know that the way I look at multi-tasking, and the way I looked at it during college, seems very different from how those I know from the ages of around 20-25 do at the university in general and the law school in particular where I work.  And these are upperclass undergrads and graduate students.  Think about high school students and those just entering college.

If the NetGen is allowed to extend back to 1977 (end of Gen X and a liberal interpretation of this next generation, which is also often identified as starting in 1982), then the debate about Napster would have come out around age 22-23 or so.  Facebook reached my alma mater when I was 26, and the masses at 28.

For those born in 1982, they would have been ages 19, 23, and 25, respectively.

For those born in 1999 (so back to my argument of the 20-25 year olds), we’re now talking about Napster hitting the big scene when they were just 12 years old.  Facebook would have reached them at age 17, when their current age restrictions kicked in.  I argue that there is a pretty big divide between gaining access to P2P music-sharing all the way to iPods and iTunes when one isn’t even in his or her teens, and then using Facebook before even leaving high school, and those that are at the early reaches of the NetGen.

The mindset of the Class of 2013 « Feral Librarian

The mindset of the Class of 2013 « Feral Librarian.

I worked with Chris, the “owner” of Feral Librarian, for a number of years.  Closely for perhaps the last 2 years at Stanford.  She is a very intelligent person with great insights on a number of topics.  Yes, she’s a librarian, but she sees the bigger picture quite well.  That’s a rare combination – specialization and competency in one focused discipline and the ability to look at a much broader scope.

This post is notable for a lot of reasons.  First, check out the full list from Beloit College.  Second, note that even I was surprised with #34 – [Today’s students] have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.

Always?  That’s a long ways from “usually” or “often.”  Wow.