BREAKING NEWS: Amazon ‘declares war’ on the book industry (Melville House)Weekend Roundup
Has the vicious end-game scenario we discussed just yesterday — whereby a government-sanctioned makes its move to cement its position as the most colossal monopoly in publishing history, and to savor the rewards — begun unfolding, and rapidly at that? That’s what a special weekend edition of Shelf Awareness surmises.
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The Bizarre Art of Binding Books in Human Skin (Mental Floss)
Helpful as its developments are, the field of modern medicine can be macabre, sickening, and even downright strange. We’ve left the leeches and holy water in the Middle Ages (for the most part), but some of the ideas that doctors have cooked up in the past two centuries in the name of science have exceeded anything ever done over a twitching plague victim. One such head-scratcher is a hobby of 19th century physician Joseph Leidy, who remembered his deceased patients by tanning their skin and using it to bind his favorite medical textbooks.
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Do Android Dream of Being iPads? (or, Why Many Android Tablets Are Sold But Not Used
(The Digital Reader)
If you’ve been following Android news this past week then you’ve  probably read about Google’s boast that over 70 million Android devices have been activated and that half of tablets sold this year ran Android. This boast caused quite a few raised eyebrows this week as tech pundits tried to square the claim with the general kn0wledge that Android devices aren’t showing up in server logs or ad networks and the general belief that no one uses Android tablets. I took an interest in that topic yesterday and I found an answer which surprised me.
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Four steps to create a great cover for your self-published book (Publishing Talk)
Many good self-published books are let down by a poor cover design. How can you avoid this and make yours stand out from the crowd? Anna Lewis offers a four-step solution.
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19 Book Cover Clichés (Buzz Feed)
These crop up all the time.


  1. I’d strongly recommend following that link to the article discussing Amazon’s move to crush other book retailers by selling bestselling books well-below cost. Here it is again:

    I just checked. The article is right. Dale Brown’s Inferno is selling for less as a hardback ($11.65, an amazing 61% below retail) than as a Kindle edition ($12.99). That means Amazon is soaking up a huge loss, particularly for orders involving free shipping. And this isn’t someone dumping copies of a bestseller now in decline. The book is the #1 bestseller in the suspense category on Amazon.

    In contrast B&N’s price for the hardcover is $16.82, over four dollars more. Even there, with the higher price it’s still the #8 bestseller. Expect that to slide as word of Amazon’s enormous price cutting leaks out.

    This matters because, as a bookstore owner once told me, the lifeblood of bookstores are the bestsellers. They’re what bring in customers and make the money. Deprive them of that income and they’ll go under. And that isn’t just your friendly neighborhood store. That giants like B&N. That’s precisely why extensive price-cutting is regarded as criminal. Prices get cut to destroy competitors and, once they’re gone, prices go back up. It’s how the railroad robber barons of the late nineteenth century destroy small rail lines.

    I do disagree with the Melville House article on one important point, which I quote:

    “Could this be Amazon’s first major mistake? Is this the opportunity the industry has been waiting for to galvanize opposition — and finally get the government to focus on the real monopoly in this industry? After all, this is the company’s most blatant, in-your-face flaunting ever of the prohibitions against loss-leader pricing inherent in our antitrust legislation, particularly the Robinson-Patman Act.”

    No, that won’t happen. It won’t happen because there is absolute and utterly nothing that will lead the mainstream press in this country to go after the Obama administration for criminal activity. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Forget it. It won’t happen.

    Keep in mind what the MSM is not exploring:

    1. Fast and Furious. A Obama-DOJ scheme that bypassed federal regs and sent some 2,000 dangerous weapons into Mexico, resulting in at least 200 deaths there. Of critical importance, at no point was the Mexican government was never informed of this scheme, unlike a radically different plan the Bush administration was using to catch those smuggling guns into Mexico. The only rationale for Fast and Furious was increasing the death toll in Mexico as a rationale for tightening gun control here.

    2. IRS targeting of smaller government, end-the-huge-deficits ‘Tea Party’ and pro-Israel groups. That is a extremely high-level abuse of governmental power. Nixon was thrown out of office, in part, for simply talking about doing that. The Obama administration does it on a huge scale, and the MSN yawns.

    Keep in mind that the essence of Chicago machine politics is the city bureaucracy using its powers to favor businesses who make political contributions, either openly or covertly, while using those same powers to crush their opponents. Pay and your hell-hole of a factory or rat-ridden slum housing passes inspection. Complain about corruption, and your clean factory or decent housing gets shut down by building inspectors. That’s Chicago.

    Think of the Apple/DOJ dispute that just wrapped up. At the time of Apple’s alleged crimes, Apple had 0% of the ebook market, hardly a platform from which to force prices upward. On the other hand, at that time Amazon had 90% of the ebook market and was making the classic monopolist move of selling ebooks well below cost to destroy competitors. And yet Apple gets sued and Amazon gets a free pass.

    Keep in mind, too, that the DOJ suit against Apple was initiated after its lawyers flew to Seattle and consulted with a law firm located only a few minutes walk from Amazon’s global corporate headquarters. That looks suspiciously like collusion or, as some put it, crony capitalism.

    From what I’ve seen, even the left-wing press in the UK is doing a better job of covering Obama administration’s scandals (particularly Benghazi) than the American news media. The MSM heavily invested itself in promoting Obama in 2008 and would look terribly foolish if he turns out to be precisely what his political bio says he is–a Chicago machine politician.

    And in Europe may lie our only hope for a healthy free and competitive market in books. Amazon’s monopolist misbehavior here may not result in any DOJ action or U.S. media outrage, but it could provide a reason for European countries, already disinclined to see a U.S. corporation control their cultural distribution system, to level some rather nasty restrictions on Amazon.

    Those who’re authors shouldn’t adopt the attitude that they ‘don’t have a dog in this fight.’ The distinction is like one the military makes between Air Superiority and Air Supremacy. With Air Superiority the enemy still comes out and fights but typically loses. With Air Supremacy, the enemy makes only token opposition. It knows it can’t win and doesn’t really try.

    Right now, Amazon is in a position of superiority but not supremacy. Companies such as Apple, B&N, and major publishers are still fighting. But the fact that the Big Six publishers caved rather than fight the DOJ is an indication that superiority isn’t that far off. Once Amazon is in a position of superiority, all efforts to contest the policies they establish will be futile apart from a few niche markets. If Amazon decides a 70/30 split for ebooks is too much, you’ll have to settle for a 60/40 one. If Amazon decides to cut the retail price of your ebook by $2 and make you pay $1.80 of that cut, you won’t have any choice in the matter. Where else are you going to sell your books? B&N is moving out of the field. Apple is laboring under all sorts of DOJ mandated requirements that don’t apply to DOJ-favored Amazon. There’ll be no competition to turn to.

    Yes, the 2016 elections may bring changes, but those changes won’t start until 2017 and, given how sluggishly our courts move, won’t bring meaningful results until 2018-19. That’s six years out, far too long for Amazon’s competitors to survive running in the red. B&N is already moving out of ebooks and B&N is better positioned than most other ebook retailers. Apple’s executives have never been that enthusiastic about ebooks. They may just say, “screw you” and make only token efforts to compete with Amazon.

    Yes, but for the cultural nationalism of Europeans, the future is a dark one and, unlike Melville House, I don’t see this as the darkness that precedes the dawn. Amazon hasn’t suddenly overstepped the legal bounds. They did that years ago and, apart from private actions (a friend sued and won) and an occasional spat of bad publicity, they’ve yet to pay any price for their misbehavior.

  2. BREAKING NEWS: Amazon ‘declares war’ on the book industry
    The world is falling down.
    Amazon has deeply discounted the newest thriller by Dan Brown. It must be a conspiracy for Amazon world domination. Or … perhaps … nobody wants to buy the bestseller in question.

    By the way … can that book still be called ‘the bestseller’?

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