Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday News: Amazon trying to court indie booksellers; Why Google...

google reader crossed out

Google Now‘s approach is to leverage artificial intelligence techniques to learn your tastes and habits so it can deliver headline news you’ll want to read, when you want to read it. Since it’s on mobile, it can take advantage of device sensors to consider data like your location, the time of day, and whether you’re stationary or on the road. Over time, it will learn, for example, that you like to get the top headlines during your 8 AM commute, and that you prefer stories about politics and food. If this worked perfectly, it’d be an extraordinarily efficient way to get the news. But to start, it still has to learn your preferences, and — far worse — it’s not available on many Android devices yet (oh Android fragmentation, you rear your ugly head again). Gadget Lab |

This weekend, readers and authors are gathering in Ohio at the Lori Foster Reader retreat.  I’ve heard these are lovely times to meet up with other readers.   In fact, I’ve heard that readers tend to spend so much time together the authors feel a little left out.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Angie
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 05:44:25

    Who the heck told Google that the reader was primarily about reading news, much less “headline” news? :( I’m sure a lot of folks use it for news sites, but I use it to read blogs and web comics. I don’t read any news-primary sites at all on a regular basis; people whose blogs I read mention news items, and if I find something interesting, I click on a link, or Google it.

    So Google is taking away something I’ve used for years, and in its place is offering me something that I have no interest in whatsoever. Wow, brilliant. [mutter]


  2. AH@badassbookreviews
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 08:26:55

    I agree with Angie’s sentiments. I’ve tried other readers and I’m not too keen on them. It really shows a disconnect from their users. How many of us look at G+? Oh, well. I guess I’ll have a lot more free time starting July 1.

  3. SAo
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 08:43:11

    There are so many apps that want to get to know my habits. Usually, the motivation is not to offer me a perfect user experience, but to sell me lots of junk I don’t want. My willingness to invest in training them is low.

    I would invest in training Google to recognize the names in my contacts list. On what universe do they think their limited database covers everyone, or even most people. If Condoleeza, Zbig, or Barack are on your frequent dial list, forget ever using voice dial.

  4. Kati
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 09:04:24

    I’ve been to Lori Foster’s RAGT twice. Both times I found it to be an amazing time to connect with other readers, but also to have LONG conversations with authors. I had the chance to go the year Nalini Singh was there, and her tireless patience answering any and every question I could think of was amazing. It’s also a wonderful chance to get to know new-to-you authors on a much more in depth basis than Twitter or FB provides. It’s a weekend that is well worth the money and time.

  5. DB Cooper
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:03:43

    @AH@badassbookreviews: Not being snarky here, but I look at g+ almost daily. And several times a day when I do.

    My spouse uses it more than I do, and about half my collection of “in touch” friends post to it regularly.

    Just saying, there are some people it suits fine. You don’t have to like it, but its not the “failure” that’s often portrayed in offhand remarks. :D

  6. Darlynne
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:14:13

    I honestly do not understand why print book retailers aren’t selling digital content to existing or–brace yourself–new customers. B&N does in their stores, but of course you’re limited to their format. I would love to see an indie willing to sell me books I’ve found in their store in my preferred format. And if they’re offering coupons (yeah, in my dreams), so much the better. As a former indie employee, I would be all over such an opportunity.

  7. AH@badassbookreviews
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:16:29

    @DB – I’ve tried G+ and it just didn’t fit my needs. Most of my friends have tried it and are not using it so investing the time in it just doesn’t work for me. I’m glad that you are using it and liking it – different strokes for different folks.

  8. Jane
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:28:56

    @DB Cooper – a lot of organizations use Google Hangouts, which is one of the best parts of Google Plus. I did it with the Al Jazeera interview/discussion. I know Felicia Day uses it for her book chat. I think it will become even more popular in use as it becomes more mainstream.

  9. Ros
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:32:46

    @Darlynne: I don’t know exactly, Darlynne, but I think the costs for indie booksellers of setting up online are prohibitive for some.

    In the UK, a fabulous service called Hive operates as a hub for indie booksellers. You order through their website and either have the (print) book delivered to you or (without paying postage) to your local indie shop. Or you can buy ebooks directly from them. There isn’t a bookshop near me that is part of Hive, so I haven’t seen how it works in stores, but it would be easy to have a terminal set up for shoppers to use to purchase ebooks in store.

  10. DB Cooper
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:38:00


    It’s ironic. Hangouts is one of the features I use least…though I think its one of the Best.

    Also, not disagreeing with AH completely, as Google has made several moves that I thought “weren’t listening” …or at the very least I personally disagreed with. In that light, I’m happy to see that Hangouts is being broken off and developed more robustly. I hope to see that effort payoff handsomely.

  11. MaryK
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 15:29:04

    @Angie: Exactly! I don’t want news related to my location or searching and browsing preferences. I want to track feeds I’ve particularly selected. This was part of the problem I had when selecting a Reader substitute – everything was about following news and popular sites. Sheesh.

  12. Angie
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 16:33:52

    @Darlynne: Kobo is offering indie bookstores something similar. If the bookseller will sell Kobo devices in their store, people who buy a device there can register it to the store, and they (the store) will get a percentage of every e-book the user buys through that device. Loyal customers who buy their Kobo device online or through an electronics store or wherever can also bring their device in to their favorite indie bookstore and register it to the store (if the store participates in selling the devices), so they get that percentage; it doesn’t cost the customer anything.

    We think of Kobo as a third-tier device, but they’re actually the biggest e-book retailer outside the US. When Borders collapsed, Rakuten bought Kobo and they retreated to… well, the entire rest of the world. :) They’ve gotten big out there and they’re in the process of coming back into the US. It’ll be interesting to see how much traction they can get here. But despite howls that bookstores are being destroyed, indie bookstores have actually been growing in numbers over the last few years, and that’s where Kobo’s looking to get a foothold, by partnering with those brick-and-mortar stores. It’d be cool if the partnership could work out for both of them, although of course it depends on some significant fraction of Americans who use e-readers choosing to use the Kobo device.

    I agree that it’d be great if the store near me (which is a B&N, but whatever) would sell me an e-book in my preferred format — and to you in yours, and to everyone else in theirs. Until the format wars settle out, though, I have a feeling everyone is going to continue being stubborn. :/


  13. txvoodoo
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 17:17:14

    I agree with Angie, as well. I used Reader for discovery, for things that *wouldn’t* show up in location- or interest-related news. If I want that, I have Google News, which I do use for that purpose.

  14. STK
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 07:13:19

    I hate online services and shops trying to guess or tell me what I’m supposed to be interested in. For example I’ve basically stopped using Kobo because they don’t allow me to browse the English version of their shop just because I happen to have an IP from another country. Hello?! I can decide on my own if I want to view a site or a shop in language A or B. And I want to be the one to choose what content I look at whenever.

    Also, while I do understand the difficult situation of Indie bookstores in the US, it just raises my hackles if anyone starts off with “leave your Kindle at home”. If my reading habits aren’t good enough for some shops, well, I guess I’ll just keep ordering my nice hardcovers from Amazon, too.

  15. Amazon's indie-friendly approach seemingly vindicated | YUDU Blog
    Dec 05, 2013 @ 05:30:33

    […] courting of self-published authors through services like Kindle Direct seems to be paying off, at least in part. The retail and […]

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