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Amazon Acquires Stanza, an E-Book Application for the iPhone

Seeking to strengthen its presence on the iPhone and iPod Touch, Amazon has acquired Lexcycle, the company behind Stanza, a popular free e-book application for the iPhone, according to Lexcycle’s blog.

Stanza allows users to browse a library of around 100,000 books and periodicals for the iPhone, many of them in the ePub format — a widely accepted standard for e-books that Amazon has yet to support with its proprietary Kindle platform.

More here.

Kindle Orwellian Nightmare

This post at Technovelgy ask the question, Could Amazon, via the Kindle, end up being the Big Brother of 1984 fame? Or at least his proxy?

"The apparent success of Amazon's wonderful Kindle has everyone's head full of blissful visions of instantly updated newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs - every last error corrected and every last and most recent version included.

Well, maybe not everyone's head.

At UrbZen, the following scenario is presented:

Consider what might happen if a scholar releases a book on radical Islam exclusively in a digital format. The US government, after reviewing the work, determines that certain passages amount to national security threat, and sends Amazon and the publisher national security letters demanding the offending passages be removed."

Read the rest here.

Dead Media Beat: No Amazon? No Kindle Library

Kindle users have been grumbling lately about Amazon locking them out of their accounts, reportedly due to an overly high volume of returns on their Kindle books. ChannelWeb draws attention to the plight of one user who admitted to three "high-priced returns," though he denied abusing Amazon's return policy. Despite this, Amazon banned him from making more purchases from the online store, which also locked him out of accessing his already-purchased Kindle items.

Full blog post at Wired

How they handle the world’s cultural heritage

Here is an article in the New York Times about the Amazon sales rank problem and Amazon's response.

One of the activist against Amazon has this quote in the article:

Mr. Kramer said on Monday that he was willing to shelve the boycott for now. But in an e-mail message he wrote: “I don’t think for one second that this was a glitch,” adding, “We have to now keep a more diligent eye on Amazon and how they handle the world’s cultural heritage.”

Wow! Now Amazon is responsible for the world’s cultural heritage. Oh well, one less thing librarians need to worry about.

Statement by Amazon

In response to a media inquiry initiated by the LISNews Netcast Network, the following statement was provided by Director of Corporate Communications Patty Smith in response to the questions over the recent Amazon situation:

This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.

Bookstore Display: Books Amazon Doesn't Want You to Read

"We have put up our display of 'Books Amazon Doesn't Want You to Read.'"--@Vromans tweet in reaction to Amazon's de-ranking of LGBTQ books (Shelf Awareness, April 13, 2009).

In a subsequent bookstore blog post titled, "Amazonfail & The Cost of Freedom" Vroman's observed that "independent publisher sales rep John Mesjak put it best when he tweeted this statement: 'I haven't read all of #amazonfail, so I am likely repeating, but my takeaway: this S#!T happens with monoculture gatekeepers. "

Amazon Says It Will Correct Its Search Function

Amazon.com has generated a dustup over the way it filters adult books. Books with any gay content at all — racy or not — no longer have a sales ranking. That makes those titles more difficult to find using Amazon's search function. Amazon says it is fixing the problem.

Story on NPR

Amazon stripping sales ranking from gay & lesbian books

Writers of gay romance noticed, over the past few days, that books in the "Gay Romance" category have disappeared from the best-seller list in that category. Publisher and author Mark Probst, whose book, "The Filly" is a gay young-adult book without explicit content, queried Amazon. This is what they said to him:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.
Best regards,
Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

The Livejournal community http://community.livejournal.com/meta_writer/11369.html
is tracking this and accumulating data, some of which follows. -- Read More

Talking Kindle on Buzz Out Loud

The team presenting Buzz Out Loud at CNET talked about not only the Kindle but also Library Journal in their Good Friday 2009 episode. Such can be found here. The discussion starts approximately 22 minutes in.

As for giving them feedback from library professionals, their contact details state: "Send us buzz at buzz@cnet.com or call us at 1-800-616-CNET (2638)".

Authors have lost the plot in Kindle battle

Cory Doctorow says Amazon's Kindle 2 text-to-speech feature is not so much violating authors' copyright but rather basic consumer rights.

Dropping $359 (£251) on a device whose features are subject to the outcomes of ongoing negotiations to which you are not a party is, frankly, nuts. Would you buy a car if it was known that your air-conditioner and stereo system could be remotely disabled?

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