Amazon proposes a delivery drone flight plan (Engadget)

Amazon Delivery DronesIt’s basically a mirror of the current (and exceedingly safe) system employed by the FAA for commercial airliners. What’s more, Amazon wants to create a neutral central computer system to handle all of these flight plans and location data that any participating company could freely access. This access would extend from hobbyists flying homebrew quadcopters to tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook along a tiered flightpath scheme. “It’s completely doable,” Gur Kimchi, Amazon’s VP of drone delivery, told Bloomberg News. “We think it’s something feasible that everyone can rally around.” 

The TeleRead Take: Amazon marches slowly, inexorably toward delivering our goods with drones. And to think when you read that scene with the FedEx drone in Rainbows End you thought it was pure science-fiction…


Netflix to Feature the Original Reading Rainbow Series (GalleyCat)

“Butterfly in the sky!” Beginning on August 1, the original Reading Rainbow series will be made available on Netflix.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the internet streaming service will feature one volume’s worth of episodes. This TV show, hosted by LeVar Burton, debuted in 1983 and ran until 2006 for a total of 21 seasons.

The TeleRead Take: Of course, it’s only one out of the 21 seasons so far, but it’s a start. Maybe they’ll add more later. Also worth noting that one of the departing movies is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the (somewhat lackluster, IMO) film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s children’s novel made with involvement by a number of the people who had worked or would later work on the James Bond series. If you want to see it, watch it before the weekend!

Authors Guild Urges Limited Length Book Contracts (GalleyCat)

The Authors Guild wants to see authors get the best deals possible and is calling for writers and agents to ask for time limits in the book contracts they sign.

As part of the fourth installment of the guild’s Fair Contract Initiative, “A Publishing Contract Should Not Be Forever,” the Guild argues that book contracts should be time-limited and should include ways for authors to reclaim unexploited rights.

The TeleRead Take: I’m with Nate here. The Authors Guild is doing a great job of putting on a twinkly halo and virtuously mouthing all the right words. Too bad their other actions (such as the unnecessary “notice and stay down” proposal) show that they’re still the same old “Publishers Guild” at heart. As Mackay Bell points out in The Digital Reader’s comments, it’s only thanks to Amazon’s behavior in letting self-publishing authors keep rights that the Authors Guild has to pretend they believe writers should retain rights in the first place.

Windows 10 is on Windows Update now, the free upgrades start today (Ars Technica)

The free upgrade from Windows 7 and 8 to Windows 10 is available now on Windows update. Those of you who’ve reserved your copy may find that your Windows Update is already offering to install the new operating system, though the release is staggered so you may not get it just yet.

The TeleRead Take: The Windows 10 upgrade process is a little arcane—definitely more confusing than it ought to be. (Diane Duane has posted some complaints about feeling forced into upgrading.) But I’ve been happy with it for the couple months so far I’ve been using it myself. As Ars Technica notes in its review, it will be even better once the point-zero-version bugs get fixed. It’s really interesting to see what a successful OS that’s built to work exactly the same on desktop and mobile looks like. Meanwhile, everyone wants to know what happened to Windows 9

Google’s balloons to provide Sri Lanka with high-speed internet (Engadget)

Google’s Project Loon is ready to provide the entire country of Sri Lanka with high-speed internet access after two years of testing and improving its technology. As you know, the X Labs creation uses stratospheric balloons that transmit signals to the ground to provide internet coverage even in rural locations. That’s why Sri Lanka’s government news portal is proudly proclaiming that the nation is “on its way to becoming the first country in the world to have universal internet coverage.”

The TeleRead Take: I’ve covered Project Loon for Answers before, and mentioned it in passing here, but this is the first time it’s actually going to be launched (so to speak) for actual service across a whole country. It’s great to see balloon Internet seriously beginning. Who knows? Maybe in a few years we’ll all have Google balloons over our heads filling in the gaps on cell tower coverage maps.


  1. As someone way outside publishing looking in, you all really don’t have a clue about contracts and forever contract clauses.

    Until the digital markets opened up, most publishing contracts included a reversion of rights clause that stated that a book was out of print when a certain small number of books were sold per year or the book was no longer available (not printed anymore). At this point, the author could reclaim all publishing rights. This usually involved a letter.

    Once digital publishing took off, some publishers used this clause to deny return of rights, even if those rights had no value to the publisher because of very limited sales, simply because they could, and because some authors might actually regain popularity for some reason.

    A good contract, these days, should state that a certain small number of books sold digitally over a stated period of time must allow an author to pull that book and regain all rights.

    That’s fair, and the Authors Guild’s point is a valid one.

    Just because you don’t agree with something AG has done doesn’t mean that everything they do is wrong.

  2. @Marilynn: I’ve been published by St. Martin’s, Ballantine, etc., and formerly blogged for Publisher’s Weekly. And especially as someone who’s seen the industry from the inside, at least as much as a midlist writer can, I’d generally side with Nate and Chris even if I disagree on some details.

    I fully support their main premise—that the AG has not been nearly as good at representing typical writers as it could be. The miserable status quo would have gone on forever except for the disruption from e-books, self-publishing, Amazon and mixes thereof.

    Just the same—better late than ever. I myself agree with you that “a good contract” should require publishers to sell a certain number of digital titles in a certain length of time. It’s good to see the AG caring more about this.

    Now if only the AG and friends will stop pushing for Draconian copyright law and care more about literacy drives and libraries and other major drivers of the demand for books.

    I’ll even mention the E Word, kinda (you know what I mean). Perhaps it’ll happen in time. Didn’t Nixon make it to China? Hope still lingers.

  3. AG is about the writers on copyright and library issues. That’s the side they are supposed to be on. Good for them. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be doing their job.

    On the staff comments on these link articles, I’d be just as happy if you didn’t feel the need to state an opinion on every last one. Because as Chris shows here, (I’m assuming it’s Chris since he’s listed in the tag lines), everyone can’t be an expert at everything.

  4. Imagine an Amazon drone buzzing over hundreds of people’s homes, irritating them and making parents wonder just what that drone is doing (i.e. looking for unattended children in a backyard). And for what? To deliver an electric toothbrush on Tuesday rather than Wednesday. That is a picture-perfect illustration of Amazon’s all-for-me mindset. No one else matters. Just Amazon’s marketshare and profit margin.

    Revealing too that neither Amazon nor anyone else is interested in a genuinely valuable, life-saving use for drones. That’s taking medical samples from clinics to labs and delivering life-saving supplies like blood products to hospitals. It’s be fast and efficient.

    Much the same can be said of a press that’s too shallow and clueless to blast Amazon’s intrusive scheme and promote those far more valuable uses.

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