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All stories relating to Amazon

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Amazon launches digital platform for fan fiction

Amazon announced the launch of Kindle Worlds, a new digital publishing platform for fan fiction, touted as the first legal commercial platform of its kind.

Despite the prevalence of online fan fiction, copyright laws make it illegal to profit from it. Kindle Worlds, however, has acquired licences for three book series from Warner Bros.’ Alloy Entertainment: Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar, Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard, and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith. More licences will be announced soon. Royalties will be paid by Amazon to rights holders of the original work, and authors will receive a royalty rate of 35 per cent of net revenue for works of at least 10,000 words.

Concurrently, Amazon launched a pilot program for shorter works (between 5,000 and 10,000 words), which are typically priced under $1. Authors will be paid a 20 per cent royalty rate.

Fan-fiction submissions are being accepted as of today, with the digital storefront to launch in June.

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Anakana Schofield wins Amazon.ca First Novel Award

Vancouver-based Anakana Schofield was announced as the winner of the 2012 Amazon.ca First Novel Award yesterday evening. The Irish-Canadian author of Malarky (Biblioasis) was presented with a $7,500 cheque at a ceremony hosted by Jian Ghomeshi at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel.

The other finalists for the award were Marjorie Celona for Y (Hamish Hamilton Canada), Scott Fotheringham for The Rest Is Silence (Goose Lane Editions), Pasha Malla for People Park (House of Anansi Press), and Kim Thúy for Ru (Random House Canada).

The jury comprised The Writers’ Union of Canada executive director John Degan, author Alexei Zentner, and Meaghan Strimas, academic coordinator for creative writing at the University of Guelph. The jury selected the winner from a shortlist chosen by Quill & Quire editor Stuart Woods.

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Amazon acquires Goodreads

Amazon has announced it is acquiring the book-recommendation social network Goodreads.

Boasting more than 16 million members and 30,000 book clubs, Goodreads users can purchase books directly from the website, via a number of online retailers, including Amazon, Indigo, and Kobo. In a blog post, Goodreads CEO and co-founder Otis Chandler promises that an integration between the website and Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is “one of our top priorities.”

Chandler also writes: “Amazon supports us continuing to grow our vision as an independent entity, under the Goodreads brand and with our unique culture…. It’s important to be clear that Goodreads and the awesome team behind it are not going away.”

Financial details of the deal, expected to close in the second quarter of 2013, were not disclosed. Technology website TechCrunch reports that Goodreads has raised $2.75 million in funding since it launched in 2007.

 

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Is Amazon preparing to sell used ebooks?

Amazon Technologies has been awarded a U.S. patent for a “used digital content marketplace” that would include the ability for consumers to buy and sell ebooks and audio downloads.

According to the Washington Post, the patent was filed in 2009 and awarded on Jan. 29.

In 2012, a U.S. company called ReDigi, billing itself as “the world’s first pre-owned digital marketplace,” became embroiled in a copyright infringement lawsuit with Capital Records over its sale of used digital music. ReDigi has made clear its plans to expand into the ebook market once the lawsuit has been settled, responding to the Amazon news with its own statement: “the Amazon patent is further proof that the secondary market is the future of the digital space and that there is no turning back.”

 

 

 

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Amazon declares ebooks “multi-billion-dollar category”

While Amazon yesterday reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and a decrease in sales for physical books, the company also announced that sales for ebooks have been steadily climbing.

In a press release, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says, “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting. After five years, ebooks is a multi-billion-dollar category for us and growing fast – up approximately 70 per cent last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a bookseller, up just 5 per cent.”

 

 

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Kindle devices now available in Canadian stores

 

Canadians wanting to get their hands on a Kindle can now look closer to home. Amazon announced today that the latest generation of the popular e-reader is now available for sale on the company’s Canadian website, as well as in more than 1,000 retail stores countrywide, including Staples, the Source, and Shoppers Drug Mart.

“Customers can [now] buy from Amazon.ca, of course in Canadian dollars, with faster shipping,” says Peter Larsen, a vice-president at Amazon.

Until now, Canadian customers have had to rely on Amazon’s U.S. website to purchase e-readers. Larsen describes adding the devices to the Canadian website as completing the e-reading experience for customers north of the border.

“We’ve been surprised at how many customers have bought Kindles off [Amazon.com] in Canada,” Larsen says. “We actually have a good customer base here, but we expect it to grow significantly now that we’ve launched our devices.”

The latest generation Kindle will retail at $89, with the Kindle Paperwhite being sold for $139 for the WiFi-enabled version and $199 for the 3G option.

Kindle joins Kobo and Sony in selling its e-readers directly to Canadian consumers, with the latter devices already available in Canadian stores including Best Buy, Future Shop, Toys R Us, and Walmart. Kobo e-readers are also sold by Indigo.

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HathiTrust ruling bodes well for Google Books, the beef against women readers, and more

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Mo Yan speaks out for jailed laureate, Amazon ranks author popularity, and more

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Oliver Twist, yoga murder mystery among first ebooks in Amazon’s new serial-novel series

While most of the hoopla around yesterday’s Amazon press conference focused on its new e-readers and upgraded Kindle Fire tablet, the tech company also announced its new Kindle Serials subscription series.

Charles Dickens is credited for popularizing the serialized novel, so to kick off the series, instalments of Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers (which are in the public domain) can be downloaded for free. Subsequent works will cost $1.99, giving subscribers automatic access to new chapters at no additional cost.

Amazon has also commissioned eight new serialized stories, including a “yoga murder mystery,” and is soliciting more through its Kindle Direct Publishing program.

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How Kobo and Amazon’s new e-readers stack up

Today was a big day for device junkies and e-book addicts in Canada and the U.S.

At competing press conferences in Toronto and Santa Monica, California, Kobo and Amazon each unveiled a pair of new e-readers and an upgraded tablet device. The timing, not to mention the similarities between the new product offerings, shows how the two companies are competing very much in lockstep.

While the bulk of media coverage so far has focused on the escalating tablet wars (Kobo unveiled the newly branded Kobo Arc, which will replace the existing Kobo Vox, and Amazon revamped its Kindle Fire), both companies also showed their continued investment in dedicated e-readers, offering several new E Ink products and an array of pricing options.

On the low end of the price spectrum, Kobo arguably has the edge, at least in terms of novelty. The pocket-sized Kobo Mini, which retails for $79.99 and comes equipped with a 5” E Ink touchscreen, is being billed as the smallest e-reader on the market. By contrast, Amazon’s low-price entry is really an updated version of its existing starter model, with the price knocked down to $69.99 (U.S.). Both models go on sale Oct. 1.

Both companies are also releasing new touchscreen e-readers with “front-lit” displays, a technology that improves contrast and allows for reading in direct sunlight and low-light conditions. The Kobo Glo makes use of what the company calls ComfortLight technology, while Amazon is branding its new e-reader as the Kindle Paperwhite.

How do the competing e-readers stack up? It could be weeks before anyone gets their hands on both devices for a side-by-side comparison, but the specs provided by the two companies are remarkably similar. Here’s how it shakes out:

KOBO GLO:

Price: $129.99
Release date:
Oct. 1
Storage:
2 GB, with option to expand to 32 GB with micro SD card
Battery:
More than one month with Wi Fi and light turned off; more than 55 hours with light turned on
Display:
6” E Ink touchscreen
Connectivity:
Wi Fi enabled

KINDLE PAPERWHITE:

Price: $119 (U.S.); 3G model available for $179 (U.S.)
Release date:
Oct. 1
Storage:
2 GB
Battery:
Eight weeks, even with the light turned on
Display:
E Ink touchscreen
Connectivity:
Wi Fi enabled; 3G option available

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

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