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Thursday News: Pixar & Lucasfilm started wage-fixing cartel, Apple tells on Google, profits down at Samsung, and bookstore shelving

Thursday News: Pixar & Lucasfilm started wage-fixing cartel, Apple tells on...

REVEALED: Court docs show role of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation in Silicon Valley wage-fixing cartel – Remember the revelations of artificial wage suppression by Google and Apple? Well, that, it turns out, was just the beginning of the conspiracy, and now, with a $324 million settlement at risk, revelations about Pixar and Lucasfilm as the apparent instigators of the so-called “wage fixing cartel.” Not surprisingly, both studios are now owned by Disney, which, again, not surprisingly, is attempting to bring more international workers into the US, claiming that will help salaries for all employees. Huh??

Seriously, folks, go read the story. There are some email exchanges that almost make Apple look tame. Almost.

For one thing, most of the previous attention in the case was focused on the behavior of executives at Apple and Google. What hasn’t been fully explored is the involvement of major and minor Hollywood studios that are alleged to have been party to the same illegal cartel. The wage-fixing cartel originated with Pixar and Lucasfilm, two northern California computer animation film studios now under Disney’s roof.

Disney, in particular, has received very little public scrutiny over its own role in the Techtopus, an oversight which is made all the more troubling by the fact that the company’s CEO, Robert Iger, is now heading a campaign to increase the number of foreign tech workers coming to America, using a dubious study to promote its cause. –Pando

Apple Tattled on Google to Draw FTC Attention to Similar Kids In-App Purchasing Issue – Speaking of Apple, apparently they were pretty cranky about having the FTC fine them for not providing stronger controls against children making autonomous in-app purchases. So with a nana nana boo boo, the tech giant stooped to conquer, pointing an accusatory stylus at Google.

As it turns out, while Apple was being targeted by the FTC for letting children make in-app purchases without parental consent, the company was attempting to get Google in trouble for doing the same thing. According to a report from Politico, head Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell sent the FTC a report highlighting the same in-app purchase issues in Google’s own Play store.

“I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google’s app store over the same issue of unauthorized purchases. The previously undisclosed email was obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request. –Mac Rumors

Samsung forecasts 25% drop in profit – On the strength of the Korean Won, as well as competition in the Chinese and European markets, profits at Samsung are falling for the third quarter in a row. Because Samsung exports so many of its products, a strong home currency can work against them, and combined with a slower smartphone market in general, their drop is particularly acute.

“Now it is all about high-volume and low-margin handsets. And on that front the competition is getting fiercer with each passing day.”

Various other smartphone makers including China’s Xiaomi, Huawei and ZTE have been increasing their market share steadily.

Mr Sunder said that given the slowing growth and increased competition in the smartphone market, Samsung needed to look at boosting its presence in other sectors if it wanted to sustain high growth rates.

“Its over-dependence on the mobile phone division needs to go,” he said. –BBC News

Shelving to Save a Book’s Life – An interesting article by novelist Susan Coll, who also serves as director of events and programs at an independent bookstore in Washington, D.C. Coll talks about how a book can get lost on a bookstore shelf or can be featured. We all know that positioning is important, and I know there are some authors who practice self (or street team) help in this regard, either turning books so their covers face front or moving books to other areas of a bookstore. Just one more factor in a book’s performance at an individual venue. Do publishers still pay for special positioning and lay-down dates?

Save one life save the world, instructs the Talmud, a book we may or may not carry. You can’t save every life. You can’t save every book. But you can at least throw lifelines now and then. Turning a book face out is the micro version of Stephen Colbert bestowing likely bestsellerdom on a debut novel caught in the Hachette/Amazon crossfire. Collectively, bookstores can do quite a lot by getting behind certain titles, whether it be via the IndieNext list or the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers program, but even those titles are among a chosen few. When a book lands on the shelf, it can be rescued from being smothered by the behemoths, but what about books that never make it onto our shelves in the first place? What about the books that end their journeys in our staff break room, where the less desirable bound galleys that precede the final version of a book wind up? –The Atlantic

Friday News: RIP Nook(?), Syracuse schools equip students with summer reading, the losers in Hachette v. Amazon, and a random reading project

Friday News: RIP Nook(?), Syracuse schools equip students with summer reading,...

So This Is How The Nook Ends – In his inimitable style, Mike Cane sounds the death knell for Nook, noting that the announcement by Barnes and Noble and Samsung to build “co-branded tablets” says more about how B&N has abandoned Nook than it does about the prospect of one more freaking tablet on the market.

What I notice missing in the above is any link to the Nook App Store. Using “regular” Android, they won’t need that store now. I guess they’re monitoring legacy users and will know when it’s best to finally pull the plug on that money drain. –Mike Cane’s blog

Syracuse district to give 10 books to every elementary student for summer reading – With a donation of books and backpacks from Scholastic totaling over $100,000 the Syracuse School District added more than $275,000 to give every student from K-5 10 books for summer reading. This will amount to a distribution of almost 93,000 books, all intended to encourage students to read during the summer without having to put any effort into acquiring books, which can be a deterrent, especially during months when kids can become easily distracted by other activities, leisure or otherwise. I hope they chronicle the results of their experiment, because it seems like a very reasonable approach to cultivating young readers.

Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras told the students the books were intended to stop “summer learning slide.” The district cited research showing that as much as 85 percent of the achievement gap between students from low-income and high-income families can be attributed to the loss of reading skills during the summer. –Syracuse.com

“You Root for the Authors!” Hachette Author Stephen Colbert vs. Amazon – Although I’m sure many authors are cheering on Stephen Colbert in his war on Amazon, I was disappointed that in the end, he refused to see how much shared blame and responsibility there is between the massive publisher and the massive bookseller. Does nobody remember (non) agency pricing and the collusion settlement????

Still, it’s very true that authors and readers lose when neither publishers or booksellers have robust competition. So, if a bookstore like Powell’s benefits from this situation, and if other independent bookstores can take good advantage of the current vacuum, I think that will be good for everyone, including, in the end, Hachette and Amazon.

So on last night’s The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert did a mitzvah for a young debut author, Edan Lepucki, whose apocalyptic novel,California, is “currently unavailable” on Amazon, ramping up to a July 8 release. As fellow Hachette author Sherman Alexie explained, bookstores order copies of books based on presales, pre-publicity, and pre-orders coming, most often, from Amazon. Lepucki’s book falls in that category. But Colbert is coming to the rescue, determined to try to “sell more books than Amazon.” When you go to his site, there’s a link to pre-order California through Colbert and the excellent Portland bookstore Powell’s. –Flavorwire

GHOSTS IN THE STACKS: Finding the forgotten books. – This is such an interesting article about an idiosyncratic reading project by retired English professor Phyllis Rose. Rose decided to read a random assortment of books, specifically a shelf in the library. Has anyone read these particular books in this particular order? Will the specific assortment of books shape how they’re read and what the reader gets out of them? Are there specific ways in which they should be read? A fascinating meditation on not only what we read, but how our own reading patterns may have an element of randomness to them we haven’t really contemplated.

Her shelf, she decides, must have a combination of new and older works by several authors, both men and women, and one book has to be a classic that she has always wanted to read. The shelf cannot contain any work by a person she knows. She surveys some two hundred shelves, and eventually settles on LEQ-LES. It holds twenty-three books by eleven authors, including “A Hero of Our Time,” by Mikhail Lermontov; Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera”; novels by Rhoda Lerman, Margaret Leroy, and Lisa Lerner; and Alain-René Lesage’s “Gil Blas.” (There are only three female authors in her sample, a fact that she analyzes at length, though she does not comment on its racial monotony.) She has never before read any of these titles, and she will read them in whatever order fancy suggests. “The Shelf” reviews facts about each author’s life and summarizes the plots of the novels, but, always, the real focus is on Rose herself: what she likes and dislikes, how she feels while reading, whether it is easy or difficult to escape into the story. She’s on the lookout for “spontaneity, inclusiveness, and uniqueness”—three things that she prizes in fiction, and three of the elements driving her project, too. –The New Yorker