All posts by Mrs. Amazopia

Auto-Rip for Vinyl, eBook Cover Designer, Discounting MacMillan books, and more…

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Have you used Amazon Auto-Rip? That’s the service where you purchase a CD and get the MP3 version free. This service started in January 2013, and I mentioned it in this post. Now, Amazon has introduced an extension of the popular service to purchases of vinyl records. Any vinyl purchases made dating back to 1998 will now be automatically added to purchasers’ Cloud Player library! Interesting concept, and it’s more fully explained in Amazon’s Media Room.

Back in the olden days (ten years or so ago) there was a saying “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, with ebooks, since you can’t pick them up, thumb through them (though Amazon does a great job of emulating that with a “look inside”), smell, them, or otherwise judge whether this is a book you want, you pretty much have to go by the cover! This can be a problem for many otherwise talented writers because getting their internal vision translated to the cover depiction can be difficult. Now Amazon has come up with a Cover Creating Tool that will help KDP authors design their own ebook covers. Having spent a LOT of money for a lot of ebook covers that didn’t satisfy, I eagerly look forward to kicking the tires on this tool. Read about it at Digital Book World. According to the article, it should be released “soon,” but that can’t be “soon enough” for me. I wonder, however, whether these ebook covers are only usable on the Amazon platform. I wonder whether Amazon will use this tool to keep more ebook publishers from publishing on other platforms. Interesting to ponder….

In more ebook news, two months after publisher MacMillan’s settlement with the Department of Justice was concluded, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBookstore are finally competing to match each others’ prices. According to the settlement, no longer can MacMillan dictate to any of the online sellers the terms of their pricing. Discounts on books from other publishers, like Penguin, haven’t started yet, though discounts on Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins began some time ago. Read the rest of the story at Paid Content.

Finally, an interesting article in Good eReader analyzes the demise of independent online bookstores. The question arises: can any independent sales outlet match the mighty Amazon? I don’t think there’s much question that Amazon can run off any independent, but the next question is: what about the other biggies, like Barnes & Noble? How long do you think B&N can hold up to the pressure? From my observations: not long, but clearly longer than the independents.  Note: the author of this article doesn’t think the fault is all Amazon’s.  Neither do I.

The thought comes to mind: it’s a jungle out there. Hmmmm; the Amazon Jungle. Sounds about right to me!

Thanks to Yurayura for the image.

No more ads, AZ’s return policy, .pin up for grabs? and more…

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I feel so bad! I didn’t even come up with some stupid, scary story yesterday to get everyone all upset, and then at the last minute save myself with a “Happy April Fool’s.” Face it: I have no personality. So I guess you all are stuck with the real news of the day, and on we go!

But before I do that, an apology: I have, for the past few months, been using a plugin to insert one, small, targeted ad from Google, as unobtrusively as possible. The ads weren’t bad looking, if I do say so myself, and they helped defray just a little bit the cost of running Amazopia. In addition, recently I have been very busy getting my other business off the ground, so I have not been paying as much attention to my favorite blog as I should have been. It was just at that perfect time, that the plugin decided to take over my entire blog and put up big, obnoxious, colorful ads that made it almost impossible to see the rest of the content! You all must have thought I’d lost my mind!

Well, I didn’t lose my mind, but I did lose my temper. And now you will see no more Google ads on this site. Though really, it wasn’t Google’s fault; it was the plugin that changed my ads without my permission. That is one big no-no. Can we say D-E-L-E-T-E?  So, with that explanation and apology, on to real life!

Over at GalleyCat, the question of the day is: Should Amazon change its Kindle Book Return policy? The current policy gives readers a whole week to change their mind and ask for a refund. Well, heck! That’s long enough to read the book and get your money back. And unlike a physical book, you can’t check for bent corners or a torn dustcover to see whether they really did read it. I’ll have to say in Amazon’s defense that, while I have had some returns of my ebooks, there haven’t been many compared to the paid copies, and thank you all, everyone who has ever bought a book from me – more are coming! So, read about the proposal for a changed policy over at GalleyCat, and let me know what you think in the comments!

As time goes on, Amazon falls to each and every state that demands the online retailer collect sales tax. I am not sure I understand why they fight so hard. Yes, it’s expensive to administer, but it’s also expensive to fight! Amazon’s latest fight is in New York, and predictably, Amazon lost. As Robert W. Wood, contributor to Forbes online, states:

“Sales tax applies in 45 states and D.C., so why does it surprise us when we order online and get stuck with tax? Online sellers are already required to collect sales tax from customers in their own states.” This is the wave of the future, folks! Get ready to pay your sales tax.

And in social media news, the New York Observer explains Amazon’s and Pinterest’s fight for the domain “.pin.” Well, that’s strange – I would think that Pinterest would have automatic dibs on that – at least over Amazon, but maybe I am missing something. Apparently, Anna Silman the author of this NYO piece, thinks I am definitely missing something. Read her thoughts about it at the link.

So, I hope you enjoyed the ad-less copy. As I mentioned, no more Google for now, but if I find a plugin that actually does what it says it will do, and nothing more, I might bring a small one back. Hope you had a wonderful Easter, and I’ll be back in touch!

Thanks to San Jose Library for the photo!

Send to Kindle, raising Apollo 11 engines, nudity in advertising, and more…

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Hey, did you see the new button on the site? Yes, THAT one, right above this paragraph!  Now, I don’t know whether Amazon is reacting to Google’s impending shut-down of Google Reader, or if they have other reasons, but they have developed a plugin that will send any blogpost to Kindle, if the blog writer installs it. Well, I wasted no time adding that plugin, because I want you to be able to read Amazopia wherever you go. Digital Book World has the details.

By now you’ve probably heard that Jeff Bezos has been fishing this week…and what a catch! He and his expedition recovered two rocket engines from the bottom of the Atlantic that were a huge part of Apollo 11’s trip to the moon in 1969. For those of you who were not born yet, believe me when I tell you: it was an exciting trip. See details and photos at Mashable.

In the U.K., Amazon has apparently committed a serious faux pas, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, for showing a nude depiction in their advertising of a Christmas card. Amazon says the listings for the cards aren’t ads, but the authority wasn’t impressed with Amazon’s statement.  The ruling stands. Read the details (sans the nudity) at GigaOM.com. This isn’t great news for Amazon, especially after the uproar that ensued after it issued the “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot” Tee shirts they somehow managed to blunder their way into.  While the intent behind the Tees was entirely benign, the message was a result of “automation growing pains.” Details of that debacle at SingularityHub.com.

And finally, a good word for Amazon, and thanks from the ebook authors who wait entirely too long for their royalty payments. Until now, many authors had to wait for payments, which were only issued quarterly, but now the payments will go out on a monthly schedule within 60 days of the end of each month. Not great, if you are a starving writer, but better than quarterly. EReader news explains the details.

Happy Birthday to your friends, Lawsuit by small merchants, Google/Amazon rivalry again, and more…

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Can’t figure out what to buy someone for their birthday, and couldn’t afford it anyway? You might be just the candidate for Aggregift, a service that allows users to crowd-fund gift campaigns on Amazon! Using Aggregift, you can all work together, using social media such as Facebook as well as Amazon, to get that birthday gift your friend has been wanting. Read all about it at Techcrunch.com.

This is going to be interesting: some online sellers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon! Apparently their payments have been withheld for more than 90 days, which is against the terms Amazon set to start with and also against Washington State law. Details at The Columbian. It will be really interesting to see how this plays out, because the number of third party sellers is growing exponentially, but of course the problem is that Amazon has very deep pockets and online sellers usually don’t.  Amazon is a company I love, but let’s face it: they can be a formidable opponent.

The word is out that Google has bettered Amazon at its own game. Well, I am not so sure of that. SearchengineJournal.com has a fairly complex analysis of the competition between Google and Amazon during the second half of 2012, and their conclusion is that Google won. This is all about the product ad campaigns – meaning “clicks,” not necessarily physical items bought and sold through the two platforms. And, just a guess here, but I am thinking that Google may have “bought” these results by reducing advertising rates – which could easily reduce the amount of pay-through received by their advertising hosts, although that’s not what was suggested in this previous post…but still, I think it’s worth thinking about.

And for those who are contemplating buying Amazon stock, or even those who are absolutely certain that Amazon stock is “overvalued,” Seeking Alpha confidently proclaims that Amazon stock is cheaper than you think. Click the link to read why…

See ya on the other side of Amazon news!

(Thanks to ginacn.blogspot.com for the photo!)

 

Amazon wants “.book” – others object, SimCity temporarily suspended, and Prime membership

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ICANN is apparently going to release a bunch of new domain name extensions, not the least of which are “.book” “.author” and .read.” Betcha can’t guess which online entity is ready to pounce on “.book,” right? Yep it’s Amazon, but not without objections by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers. Read the full story at The Drum.

SimCity sales were suspended temporarily on Amazon, due to problem with the servers that run the game. The game was previously run in standalone status, but now runs online, ostensibly to reduce the risk of piracy.  It seems the load of all the new users was just too high for the servers, and players were unable to access the game. I suppose that’s one fad I’m glad I never got entangled with. Anyway, the server issues have been cleared up but not before it garnered more than 1,500 one-star reviews by purchasers. The Digital Journal spells out the details at the link.

Are you a Prime member at Amazon? I’ll have to admit I put it off for a long, long time, mainly because I don’t buy that much. However, as a seller, I figured it’d be a great idea to support the platform that’s feeding me! Looks like I am in good company, though, as there are more than 10,000,000 Prime members. Last year, although Prime members included only about 4% of the entire customer base, they produced nearly 10% of the purchases. Read more analysis of this interesting membership program, including how much all that “free shipping” costs Amazon, at BusinessInsider.com.