Thursday News: Oyster e-book store, Amazon goes after fake reviews, WWI Gallipoli photos, and Maya Angelou mix-up
All The Books, All in One Place: Introducing Oyster 2.0 and our New Ebook Store – Oyster, which has one of the most successful digital book subscription services, announced yesterday that it is adding an ebook store to its business, which is now being referred to as the “Netflix for books.” As Wired pointed out, Oyster, unlike most subscription services, provides aggregated reader data to publishers, which allows them to “target new releases and pre-orders to an audience they already knows to be interested in a particular book or genre from their catalogs.” Does this mean Oyster can compete with Amazon? Do they need to? According to Oyster, they are already working with the the big five publishers, and readers can purchase through their website or Android app:
The store includes all of the biggest five publishers in the US (that’s Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster) and many more from Scholastic to Harlequin and Norton to Chronicle. It’s the center of your books universe.
And the best part is that whether you buy, subscribe, or both, you can always enjoy the full Oyster experience—the best content across subscription and for-purchase books, beautiful design built for mobile reading, and a great discovery experience with spot-on editorial, algorithmic, and social recommendations. –Oyster & Wired
Amazon files first-ever suit over fake product reviews, alleges Calif. man sold fraudulent praise – Speaking of Amazon, they made news yesterday, as well, with a lawsuit filed against a company that sells false verified Amazon reviews. Apparently one reviewer actually complained about the empty box received to trick Amazon into thinking there was a purchase, and the service was so bold that they called the reviewer out by referring to the company’s deceptive practice. Which tells you something about how unselfconscious these fake review outfits are. Apparently you can buy fake reviews on Fiverr. I wonder if that little cottage industry will be affected, and what change, if any, that will bring to the quality and quantity of Amazon book reviews.
The suit, the first of its kind from the Seattle company, was filed in King County Superior Court against a California man, Jay Gentile, identified in Amazon’s filings as the operator of sites including buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com. The site also targets unidentified “John Does” also believed to be involved in the scheme. . . .
According to the suit, the sites operated by Gentile offer to provide fake “verified reviews” for a premium, telling the sellers that they can ship empty boxes to reviewers involved in the scheme, to trick Amazon into thinking that the product had actually been purchased. –GeekWire
Gallipoli: Through the Soldier’s Lens – With the 100 year anniversary of World War I’s Gallipoli campaign approaching, Public Domain Review has a piece up about how the release of Kodak first portable camera allowed soldiers to document their time in the field with this new technology, along with a number of the historic photos. We can get so cynical about new technologies, but they can offer future generations a glimpse into our daily lives (although I’m not sure we really want to be known for all the damn selfies our cellphones have facilitated).
2015 marks the centenary of one of the most commemorated events in Australia’s military history. One hundred years ago, at dawn of 25th April, boatloads of Australians and New Zealanders quietly landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at a beach that became known as Anzac Cove.
Had Australia’s military commanders and elected leaders known how significant this event was to become in Australia’s history and the development of its national identity, they might have thought to send official photographers or war artists. But they didn’t. Instead, the photographic record of the nine month Gallipoli campaign relies primarily on the images taken by soldiers.
Fortunately, Kodak had released its ‘Vest Pocket’ camera in 1912, which made taking a camera to the front more feasible. Kodak encouraged enlistees to do this, marketing their new model as ‘the soldier’s Kodak’. –Public Domain Review
USPS Picks Perfect Line For Maya Angelou Stamp — If Only It Were Hers – Speaking of historical archives, it’s unfortunate that of all the many individuals who were likely involved in the selection of a quote for the new, limited-edition Maya Angelou stamp, that no one apparently did enough research to determine that the chosen quote cannot be credited to Angelou, but instead to Joan Walsh Anglund, from her 1967 collection of poetry, A Cup of Sun. And now the scrambling begins, with a decent attempt at spin, and sardonic response from Anglund.
On Tuesday, David Partenheimer, another spokesman for the Postal Service, added: “The sentence was chosen to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word.”
Anglund, for her part, took the news amiably.
“It’s an interesting connection, and interesting it would happen and already be printed and on her stamp,” she told The Post. “I love her and all she’s done, and I also love my own private thinking that also comes to the public because it comes from what I’ve been thinking and how I’ve been feeling.” –NPR
I’m trying to understand how Oyster’s ebookstore is good for readers. You read the book, having paid the subscription fee to do so, and then if you want to buy it you can buy it directly from Oyster. Paying again.
If you’re buying a different book by the same author, one that isn’t available to read via subscription, then I can see it. But otherwise you’re doing what people who borrow library books often do. The difference is that the library read doesn’t require a monthly paid subscription.
I like subscription services for books and want them to succeed. But I balk at paying twice for the same book in the same format.
The latest USPS flub reminds me of their Statue of Liberty stamp, which featured a photo of the Las Vegas replica rather than the original.
@Sunita: I think it may hinge on whether Oyster can (or is even trying to) get readers who don’t want to do the subscription service, but who also don’t want to buy digital books from Amazon (because anyone can purchase books from the store). Although becoming a viable alternative to Amazon without a dedicated reading device may be a detriment. Or not, depending on what they can offer and how they price their books. Although, as you say, for readers who are already subscribers, it’s likely not a great deal.
@Janet: Good point. I wonder if they’re hoping to capitalize on the fact that more people are reading on tablets and phones, where multiple ebook platforms can coexist. Amazon’s comparative advantage is the one-click feature, but if you have a tablet a competitive one-click retailer has the chance to emerge (unlike the case with an ereader).
@Sunita: Oh, great point about the prominence of tablets and phones as reading devices. Right now there seems to be a good deal of excitement (at least in the articles I’ve seen) about the idea of another purveyor of digital books that also has the subscription element and the buy-in of all the traditional publishers. And I think that excitement is premature, but indicative of the concern about Amazon’s market dominance. Although I do think Oyster is making a serious effort, especially since they’ve recently hired a CFO who is focused on growth: http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/24/oyster-hires-first-cfo/.
Is the subscription like a paid library membership? Where you pay so much per month and read anything you want, and then, if you like one of the books you’ve read that month, you can buy it? I think that would make some kind of sense.