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Monday News: The Romance Reader is shutting down; Google+ goes into the minus zone; ComiXology changes purchasing terms; and bestsellers are made, not born

Monday News: The Romance Reader is shutting down; Google+ goes into...

The Romance Reader to Close – Although AAR is mentioned much more often, The Romance Reader actually came first, and has been reviewing Romance for almost 18 years. Their one-heart reviews are among my favorites on the site, and even though they never went the way of offering a comments or message board function (which is why, from what I understand, Laurie Gold left to form AAR), they were always in conversation with trends and issues in the genre. It’s really too bad they’ve chosen to shut down, and I have no idea whether they’ll leave their archive of reviews online, so you might want to re-read your favorites asap. –The Romance Reader

Report: Google to end forced G+ integration, drastically cut division resources – You may have heard that the head of Google+, Vic Gundotra, was leaving the company, and now it’s clear why: Google+, the product that Google wanted to sneak into any and every product, seems is no longer a company priority. Which means that upwards of 1200 employees will be transferred to other areas in Google (hopefully not fired) and resources will be seriously downgraded, to. When you think of how much Google had invested in the much-hated Google+, this is no small abandonment. It’s going to affect a number of services, including Google Hangouts and YouTube, so it’s going to be interesting to see where Google is headed with all this.

It’s unclear what the future of Google+ would be, and the report says that Google itself isn’t even sure what to do with the rest of the Google+ team members. TechCrunch says that G+ is not officially dead, but with Gundotra gone and the resources being stripped away, the project seems more like the “walking dead.” We imagine that internally, it’s more like a drastic scaling-down of the social network, which at one point was deemed so important to the company that every employee’s yearly bonus was tied to Google’s success in social. –Ars Technica

COMIXOLOGY DISCUSSES APP CHANGES, STOREFRONT REMOVAL – Now that Amazon has acquired ComiXology, changes are afoot. Hopeful comics fans hoped that these changes would flow in the direction of expanding and enhancing the unique viewing experience and creativity ComiXology has been known for. Thus far, however, the changes have leaned in a different direction. For example, you can no longer purchase directly from ComiXology, despite the creation of a new app, and the Google Play option has been removed, as well. Hmmm.

ComiXology customers will now have to buy their comics through comiXology.com and sync those purchases with the app to read them on an Apple device — or buy them through the individual publisher apps comiXology supports, which are so far not affected by the change. In addition, comiXology made changes to their Android app, as they removed the ability to pay through Google and added the ability to pay with a credit card or through PayPal. –Comic Book Resources

TIL that the New York Times Bestseller list is considered editorial content and the editors can (and sometimes do) choose which books are “Bestsellers.” – For years this was an open secret in traditional publishing, and just in the past few weeks, I’ve seen several public discussions of the fact that publishers often engineered so-called “bestselling” books on the NYT list. Reddit threads are often a hot mess, but they do have some interesting discussions, too, and if you want to blow and hour or four, this thread might be for you. –Reddit

Thursday News: Shakespeare’s alleged dictionary digitized, cellphones increase literacy, Amazon Prime now includes some HBO shows, and the arrival of e-book art

Thursday News: Shakespeare’s alleged dictionary digitized, cellphones increase literacy, Amazon Prime...

Shakespeare’s Dictionary? Skepticism Abounds. – Count me in on the side of the skeptics. Two booksellers buy a 1580 four-language dictionary on eBay (eBay!!) in 2008, and now claim that it’s Shakespeare’s personal dictionary. If you want to know about the authentication process that will now be undertaken, check out this article in the Chronicle. If you want to see the digitized dictionary, check it out here.

In addition to analyzing the handwriting and marginal marks used by the annotator, the Folger experts wrote, researchers will ask questions like “How many of the words underlined or added in the margins of this copy of the Alvearie are used by Shakespeare and Shakespeare alone, as opposed to other early-modern writers? Further, how many of the words that are not marked or underlined in this copy of Baret are nevertheless present in Shakespeare’s works?” –Chronicle of Higher Education

Cellphones ignite a ‘reading revolution’ in poor countries – UNESCO has released their report based on an enormous, and enormously comprehensive, international study on the effect of cellphone use on digital reading. The study included “nearly 5,000 mobile-phone users in seven countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe — where the average illiteracy rate among children is 20 percent, and 34 percent among adults.” These rates are anywhere from 7 to 10 times higher than the illiteracy rate in the US, to give you a point of comparison. Among other things, the study found that cellphone use can build literacy skills and enjoyment of reading (and clearly these two things are related). Women are particularly drawn to digital reading, which, given their disproportionately high illiteracy rates, holds incredible potential.

“Simply put, once women are exposed to mobile reading, they tend to do it a lot,” the report reads, underscoring the potential benefits that digital books could yield for female literacy. Among the estimated 770 million illiterate adults in the world today, nearly two-thirds are women, and female education still carries a cultural stigma in many poor countries. –The Verge

Amazon Makes a Big Move, Snags Older HBO Shows for Web Streaming – This is pretty interesting, when you consider how much HBO has benefited from the innovation and popularity of its original programming. With Amazon including many original HBO shows in its Amazon Prime instant video lineup, will HBO be able to sustain its market share? Considering the fact that they did not give up shows like “Game of Thrones” suggests that subscribers (like me) will continue to pay for both services. But should a choice need to be made, it could be a toss up, considering all of the other videos Amazon users have access to. HBO has never allowed any other streaming media service access to its catalogue, and one estimate pegs the value of the shows as anywhere from $200 million to $500 million, depending on other shows HBO might allow Amazon to stream.

Some of the shows that Amazon customers won’t see, including “Sex and the City,” “Entourage” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” have their streaming rights tied up in syndication deals with TV outlets. And HBO has kept at least one of its shows – “Game of Thrones” — out of the deal, simply because the property is so valuable to the network, according to a person familiar with the transaction. –re/code

Ebook-Inspired Art: Center for Book Arts Nods at How Digital Is Changing Everything – An interesting exhibition at the Center for Book Arts that includes at least one contemplation of the way digital books can be re-conceptualized as art objects, 40 years after the Center initially opened. And really, why shouldn’t digital reading be part of the book arts? After all, digital books require a physical shell, even if it’s not paper. And there are probably now a boatload of Sony Readers available for repurposing. . .

Titled Once Upon a Time, There Was the End and curated by Rachel Gugelberger, an independent curator, the art explored repeating patterns, organic forms and the cycle of life. It also touched on digital publishing with this work:

It’s a piece by artist Ellen Harvey. It’s three plexiglass mirrors with images of e-readers and e-reading apps etched onto them, mounted onto “lumisheets” (an LED light panel) and framed in plexiglass. The piece is titled Looking-Glass iPad, Kindle & Nook and the images are reversed (like in a mirror). –Digital Book World