Archives: January 2010

Facebook Starts Spreading the News

FacebookNewsFeed.jpgFacebook corporate-communications associate Malorie Lucich wrote a post on the Facebook Blog discussing how the social-networking site’s News Feed enabled her to follow two earthquakes — a minor one near Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and the devastating one that hit Haiti.

Lucich discussed Facebook efforts by news organizations including ABCNews.com, France 24, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

Highlights from Lucich’s post:

When the earthquake hit Haiti, victims in the area, news affiliates, and people around the world used Facebook to learn what was happening, connect with loved ones and quickly disseminate information. ABCNews.com and France 24 added Facebook live-stream boxes to their sites to enable people to share their feelings on the disaster and relief efforts, and publish it back to their Facebook status. Meanwhile, The New York Times created a special Facebook Page dedicated to Haiti coverage, resources, and updates from their reporters on the ground.

Just as your friends can post news throughout the day, so do many news outlets. By connecting with their Facebook Pages, you can stay updated and interact with outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and CNN, and directly with reporters and anchors such as Katie Couric of the CBS Evening News and CNBC’s Nicole Lapin.

You can even create a “News” list to filter news-oriented Pages into one view on your News Feed. Simply add relevant Pages to the list, just as you would with a friends list. The next time you sign on to Facebook, you can click the “News” filter to see stories from all of the news outlets of which you’ve become a fan.

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This Week In Social Games – Jan 31, 2010

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-Weekly Recap Icon-The world of social games was abuzz this week of January 25, 2010. EA is looking for more social games companies, Sony Online Entertainment partners with Live Gamer, Taito uses OpenFeint for its iPhone titles, Break Media enters Social Gaming, and more. Read on for this week’s social gaming news.
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Amazon on Macmillan eBook Prices: “Ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate”

11gEvSNO43L._SL150_.jpgIn a post in the Kindle forums Amazon (AMZN) has written a statement with three dramatic points. The company admits they have stopped directly selling Macmillan books, will “capitulate” to Macmillan’s prices, and finally, believes customers will decide it the prices are “reasonable.”

The full text is included below, but here is the key statement that lays out the publishing industry’s debate: “Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book.”

Here is Amazon’s note: “Macmillan, one of the ‘big six’ publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

“We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don’t believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

“Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy! Thank you for being a customer.”

In addition, Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following links to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value.

Macmillan CEO Addresses eBook Pricing Dispute with Amazon

macmillan.jpgAfter a day of speculation and anonymously attributed claims, Macmillan CEO John Sargent confirmed that Amazon (AMZN) had stopped directly selling books by the publisher. “It is impossible to reach you all in the very limited timeframe we are working under, so I have sent this message in unorthodox form,” he wrote in a paid advertisement in Publishers Marketplace, addressed to “Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community.”

The story broke on Friday evening, as Amazon and Macmillan had a dispute over raising the standard eBook price from $9.99 to around $15. After negotiations ended in “impasse,” the online bookseller stopped directly selling Macmillan titles, only offering Macmillan books through outside vendors. The $9.99 price point has been a touchy subject all year. As we reported yesterday, a vocal contingent of Amazon customers are still encouraging others to boycott Kindle books that cost more than $9.99.

Here’s an excerpt from the Publishers Lunch ad: “Under the agency model, we will sell the digital editions of our books to consumers through our retailers. Our retailers will act as our agents and will take a 30% commission (the standard split today for many digital media businesses). The price will be set the price for each book individually. Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99. At first release, concurrent with a hardcover, most titles will be priced between $14.99 and $12.99. E books will almost always appear day on date with the physical edition. Pricing will be dynamic over time.”

Macmillan and Amazon Face Off: Reports From Around the Web

a.com_logo_RGB1.jpgLast night the NY Times startled the publishing world with some news about Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN). Here is the paragraph that launched a thousand blog posts: “Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

No matter how this situation is sorted out, publishers will soon have to convince another constituency: Amazon customers. We reported today that scores of Amazon customers are urging others to boycott books priced over $9.99.

Many other outlets have covered this strange affair, including: the AP and Publishers Weekly and BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s the LA Times and MediaMemo and Mashable.

Requests for comment have not been returned, but Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following links to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value. Tune in tomorrow for any new developments.

Publishers Debate eBook Prices with Amazon; Amazon Customers Debate Publishers with Boycotts

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As Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN) appear to face off over Amazon’s common $9.99 price for Kindle books, we took a look at publishing’s next opponent in the price wars: eBook readers.

As publishers and the monolithic bookseller debate this eBook price point, GalleyCat went to the Amazon discussion forums to find out what customers expect. We discovered that customers are still boycotting books priced more than $9.99–so far, 2,183 customers have tagged 3,302 books with the “9.99 boycott” label.

Last month, one Amazon customer wrote a brief manifesto entitled: “Support the $9.99 Boycott“–drawing 122 customer responses. Here’s an excerpt: “Boycott the kindle edition books offered for over $9.99. A couple of the authors that I have read in the past are offering their books for more than $9.99. I will obtain these books for free from the library. If we consumers don’t hold the line, the prices will escalate while the economy continues to bomb. GREEDY TURDS!”

While we are not endorsing these customer views, it is important to note that the Amazon customer base is exerting a pressure on the company to keep prices low. Other popular tags from Kindle readers include: “outrageous kindle price” and “books to kindle when price goes down.” We have been reporting on this trend since April 2009, but these vocal customers haven’t quit.

Amazon has not replied to our request for comment, but, as of this writing, Macmillan books like John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War and William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value are not available for direct sale from Amazon. We will keep you posted as the story develops. In the meantime, here’s more from BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s and the LA Times and and MediaMemo.

Connecting Through Augmented Campaigns

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Image courtesy of Tim Dwight PhotographyEsquire’s director of design last week showed off his foray into the world of “augmented reality” at a Sobel Media event in Manhattan. David Curcurito created a December cover featuring Robert Downey, Jr., seated atop a box with a marker on it. After a download, a consumer can scan that marker in front of a webcam and, much like a barcode at the supermarket, the computer recognizes that data and provides additional content.
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Macmillan Books Not Available for Direct Sale on Amazon

a.com_logo_RGB1.jpgThe eBook pricing wars seemed to have taken a dramatic turn. Last night the NY Times published a report where an unnamed source claimed that Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN) are currently in dispute about eBook prices.

Here is an excerpt: “Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

It appears that Macmillan books are still not available directly from Amazon, as you can see by following this link to John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or this link to William Poundstone‘s Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value.

We’ve contacted Amazon with a request for comment, and we will keep you updated as the story evolves. In the meantime, here’s more from BoingBoing and VentureBeat and John Scalzi and Munsey’s.

How Much Does Apple Care About iBooks: A Reader Responds

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Yesterday, eBookNewser asked readers whether they felt, from how it was introduced at the iPad event, that iBooks was an afterthought in its iPad concept. One reader, posting as “remaines,” offered a very thoughtful response that we want to share:

“I don’t think iBooks is an afterthought, nor is it central to Apple’s thinking–it’s part of a larger vision of how we consume media of all forms. Just one part of the larger whole. There are plenty of people who don’t want to throw down a chunk of change for a device that does one or a few things–like a dedicated ereader. Apple is betting that, just as many of us were delighted to consolidate our phone, iPod, and Palm or Blackberry into one object that met all our communication needs, people will want to watch movies, read books, and play games all with one object that can go wherever we want to do those things.”

As to why iBooks got such a small share of the spotlight during Steve Jobs presentation, our reader said, “Steve Jobs knows who his audience is. He knows that, although we in publishing are watching the ereader aspect eagerly, most of the people in that room were more interested in other things. He played to his audience.”

Anybody else care to weigh in?

NYTimes.com Announces Several Promotions

NewYorkTimesLogo.jpgIn preparation for its implementation of an online pay wall in early 2011, announced last week, The New York Times announced a handful of staff changes at NYTimes.com.

Paul Smurl was promoted to the newly created position of vice president, NYTimes.com paid products, where he will be responsible for the implementation and financial performance of the metered model, as well as growing paid products, crossword subscriptions and mobile game products. Smurl, who had been VP of advertising, reports to The New York Times Media Group senior VP and chief advertising officer and NYTimes.com general manager Denise Warren.

VP of operations and strategy Eliot Pierce was promoted to VP, advertising and digital strategy, business development and ad operations, continuing to oversee digital strategy and business development for NYTimes.com while adding oversight of advertising planning and digital ad operations. He will continue reporting to Warren.

Nick Ascheim was promoted to the newly created post of VP, new ventures, from VP, product management. Ascheim will be tasked with extending the newspaper’s reach into different products, services and platforms, including new video opportunities, and he will now report to Warren.

Former VP, classified products Ira Silberstein was elevated to VP, product management and classifieds, continuing to report to chief technology officer, digital operations Marc Frons and adding oversight of the product-management group.

And Rob Larson was promoted to VP, search products, from VP, digital production. He will continue to manage The New York Times Index, Times Online Services and The Times’ Digital Archive Distribution relationships, adding a focus on its Open Topic platform and semantic Web initiative. Larson continues to report to Frons.

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