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Friday News: Google takes over Mountain View, the real size of...

Welcome to Googletown – This is a pretty eye-opening piece about the relationship between Google and the city-like compound (in Mountain View, California) Google has created and continues to grow, spilling over into and even consuming a substantial portion of the surrounding communities. The company has even leased Moffett Field, 1,000 acres of federal property that it wants to connect via a bridge to North Bayshore, which Google currently dominates in property leasing/ownership and corporate operations.

In 1999 Google moved into its first Mountain View office at 2400 Bayshore Parkway, with fewer than 50 employees to its name. Fifteen years later, it’s the city’s biggest employer. Though Microsoft, Symantec, Intuit, and LinkedIn each have a major presence in Mountain View, all are dwarfed by Google: in 2013, Google employed 9.7 percent of the city’s entire workforce and owned 10.7 percent of all taxable property. In other words, Google represented one-tenth of Mountain View as of last year.

And it’s only getting bigger. –The Verge

Online Shopping is Big. It’s Also Tiny. – With Amazon turning 20 (yes, TWENTY), it sometimes seems like they sell everything and that everyone buys from them (at least in the United States). Still, as this article points out, online sales, even of books, are dwarfed by patronage of brick and mortar establishments. For example, only 19% of books, videos, and music are purchased online, and this is an area where we see a lot of online presence (Netflix, iTunes, etc). A breakdown of purchased online and off, is included.

Even on the friendliest turf for online shopping — computers and electronics — Internet stores are claiming just 25% of the market. –Wall Street Journal

An Important Note About ACX Payments – Beginning on March 12th, ACX royalty and bounty payments for audiobooks distributed exclusively through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes will receive a flat 40%, and for royalty share agreements, that will be divided equally between the producer and the rights holder. Non-exclusive titles will receive a 25% royalty. The bounty program has also been revised, and details are included in the announcement.

We are committed to continuing our record of innovation and creating and expanding opportunities for more rights holders and producers in 2014—both current users and those new to the service. Furthermore, we want to encourage authors, and Rights Holders to promote their audiobooks with the increased bonus payment from $25 to $50 (or from $12.50 to $25.00 on Royalty Share deals). –ACX

The RPG Date That Led to IRL Marriage – I had no idea this type of virtual dating program existed, and there are clearly a lot of pro and con aspects to this type of immersive experience, but there’s a pretty sweet story here about Devin and Nicole, who met through Utherverse and within six months had met in person and begun a real life romance. They met in a virtual neighborhood, Devin doing a little rabble rousing, Nicole a volunteer security guard sent to stop the trouble. An unusual meet cute.

Utherverse was conceived in 2006 as an X-rated, next-gen dating platform — a Second Life for sex, essentially. It began salaciously enough as Red Light Center, a virtual playground modeled after Amsterdam’s red light district. Two years after its launch, it counted 1.5 million members. Utherverse has since toned down the R-rated aspect with “Virtual Vancouver,” a second world scrubbed of some of the racier content.

The benefit of dating in a virtual world over, according to Utherverse CEO Brian Shuster, is its potential for immersive, real-time interactions. “With web dating, people are sending emails back and forth, interacting in an asynchronous way. You don’t get a feel for who the person is, you get a feel for who the person wants you to believe they are.”

In contrast, a woman might meet a man in Utherverse while he’s busting a move on the dance floor or laughing it up at at a bar with his friends. If she likes what she sees, she can initiate a private chat. “That’s a much more natural and spontaneous indication of what a person is like,” Shuster says. “Plus, you always look your best because you’re avatars.” –Mashable

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

5 Comments

  1. Nate
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 06:09:51

    Amazon’s a $75 billion a year company, while Walmart is a $500 billion a year company. I think that accurately sums up the scale of online vs offline, don’t you?

  2. Darlynne
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 10:59:07

    Utherverse makes me think of READY PLAYER ONE, probably my favorite book last year. I love the idea in theory and in fiction, not sure about reality. Maybe the next self-help book craze will focus on becoming your RPG avatar IRL; if Oscar Wilde was right, that’s what we really want anyway.

  3. Jeannine
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 11:52:22

    I’ve tried meeting an SO via online roleplaying, and I’ve got to say, it makes for a fun courtship–you can move much faster in fictional life than in ‘real’ life, create a yacht to sail the world in while romancing if you feel like it, kill trolls together, always look fantastic, come up with just the right thing to say in the moment, etc.–but it masks all of the real life complications that you’ll need to deal with as a couple. Going out to virtual New York nightspots won’t show you how your SO deals with money in RL, how they relate to drugs and alcohol, whether they eat tidily or actually dress well. In RL, you get to see a broader set of warning signs more quickly. It’s already hard enough, in person, to know whether you’re attracted to a person or to your idea of a person. Online, you have to sift through even more layers.

    I still wish any couple who meets this way luck! Just don’t go into it thinking it’s the solution to all your dating woes. And be extra-careful in a long-distance relationship that starts this way. Take things slow, and don’t fall into the “our love is harder, so it must be true” trap. If one of you has to move and/or give up their social support network to be with the other, think hard and take some time off from roleplaying to make sure all of your brain cells and emotions are focused clearly on your real-world situation.

  4. Lindsay
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 20:25:16

    Hah, my husband and I met on an online game, and I definitely agree it let us interact a lot more organically than if it had been a personals ad. We were part of the same end-content rather hardcore group for years (and became close friends with a lot of people — we meet up once a year and have been to a number of weddings, baby showers, etc!), were good friends with quiet crushes on each other, and thanks to the intervention of a wise third party realized we had the opportunity to pursue it into something more. 3 years of long-distance and a year living together and we were married.

    I kind of miss the game sometimes, but I think mostly because it let me meet people who nearly 10 years later are still close friends I talk to every day.

  5. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Lacuna linkity
    Mar 11, 2014 @ 07:52:39

    […] Book and publishing news from Dear Author. […]

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