The Future of the Ebook

Gadget? What Gadget? Amazon Doubles Down on Content, Looks to the Really Long Term

"But I really like the wall scrolls feel in my hands." -- Cicero. Not you. (Photo:  flickr.com/irishwelcometours)

Were you watching closely during Amazon’s Kindle press conference? Because if you were, you just saw Jeff Bezos make one of those centuries-long bets his friends are always talking about. Behold, the literary equivalent of the Clock of the Long Now–a bet on a future where ereaders are about as out-of-the-ordinary as a tea kettle or a wristwatch.

There were several interesting details in the publishing portion of the announcements. The good, old-fashioned Kindle ereader got several updates, including a paperwhite background, more fonts, and a backlight that’ll go eight weeks without a charge. All that’ll now set you back a mere $69. The company’s publishing arm also debuted a brand new form, between the single and the full-length book: Kindle Serials, at $1.99 a pop and seamlessly, automatically updated with each new installment.

Charles Dickens would be so proud. (He’d also probably write a great serialized novel about people who work in Amazon fulfillment centers.) Read More

Archival Quality

This Amazon Storage Facility Will Probably Outlive Us All

MWAHAHA! (Photo: flickr.com/oreilly)

Digital data sure might feel ephemeral, but two big are companies doing their part to make sure everything gets backed up, forever. Last week, Facebook let slip some details about “Sub-Zero,” the company’s planned facility for long-term data storage. And today, Amazon debuted its “Glacier” service, which Ars Technica describes as “a data archival service that will store data for one penny per gigabyte per month.”

That sounds like a pretty good deal, but before you open an account and start backing up your iTunes library, you should probably know that this isn’t exactly normal cloud computing. It’ll take hours to retrive any data stored with the service. This is only for truly long-term archiving. Think data meant to last for centuries.  Read More

BEEEZOS!

Amazon Creeps Ever Closer to Same-Day Delivery

MWAHAHA! (Photo: flickr.com/oreilly)

Living in New York has convinced us it’s perfectly acceptable to order almost anything for delivery. The other day, we seriously considered a Seamless order from Coldstone Creamery, until the spectre of gout forced us to reconsider. But there’s still plenty of time-sensitive things that require us to leave our apartments, like a beach umbrella for tomorrow’s trip to the Rockaways or an emergency bag of cat litter.

Well, good news, shut-ins! The Financial Times reports that Amazon is working on a plan to get you that carton of Fancy Feast just as fast as possible. Think same-day delivery. Fluffy will be ecstatic.  Read More

BEEEZOS!

Next Step in Amazon’s Path to World Domination Said to be a Smartphone

MWAHAHA! (Photo: flickr.com/oreilly)

Do we detect a little extra joy in Jeff Bezos’s supervillain laugh lately? Well, a spot of plotting does warm the heart, and it sounds like he’s cooking up something big. Judging from a Bloomberg report this morning, it’s looking like that Amazon smartphone may very well be more than mere rumor.

Anyone from Microsoft might just want to go ahead and leave the room; coming on the heels of that Vanity Fair article, this’ll just upset you.

Bloomberg cites two people “with knowledge of the matter,” who claim an Amazon smartphone designed to compete with iPhone and Android is on its way. According to one of those sources, the company is already working with Foxconn on the device. Read More

LARPERS ANONYMOUS

SciFi Scribe Neal Stephenson Launches a Videogame Kickstarter: Swordplay, Ur Doing It Wrong

Mr. Stephenson, Neal Stephenson. (Photo: Kickstarter)

Over the weekend, best-selling scifi writer Neal Stephenson launched his own Kickstarter called CLANG. They say every great business idea solves a problem. In this case, it’s unrealistic swordplay in video games–an issue, we imagine, that’s close to the heart of a whole legion of LARPers.

The project, which is being run by Mr. Stephenson’s media franchise company Subutai, quickly raised $160,000 towards its goal of $500,000. The early hype comes courtesy Mr. Stephenson’s popularity (some of his early editions sell for “precious-metal asking prices“) and the project’s amusing video, featuring the writer in formal robes yelling at gamers for their unworthy consoles. There’s also a cameo from the meme-tastic Gabe Newell, the outspoken founder of the video game corporation Valve. Read More

Nerds!

7 Famous Techies We Suspect are Living Out Their Childhood Dreams

6 Photos

Jeff Bezos

Obviously, the best thing about joining the ranks of the fabulously wealthy and successful is the freedom to do whatever you want. For some people, this might mean racing sports cars and popping bottles with models. (Fair enough, Eduardo.) Maybe you’d like to move into venture capital. (That sounds lovely, Marc.)

But a select few think a little bigger and get a little crazier. In fact, we’re starting to wonder whether they’re executing on plans they’ve had since they were 13, because their current lives are exactly what a 13-year-old boy would dream up if he were asked to imagine being a billionaire.

There are seven guys (yes, they’re all dudes) that we’ve got in mind.

Visiting Dignitaries

Vente-Privee, the French Flash Sales Site Imitated By Gilt Groupe, Plans U.S. Launch in November

venteprive

Here’s a little flash sales e-commerce history for you. Before there was Rue La La or One Kings Lane or even Gilt Groupe, there was Vente-Privee. And it’s headed for our shores.

The French startup just announced plans to launch a website in the U.S. by mid-November in partnership with American Express, reports Reuters. Of course the company, which was founded in 2001, will be entering a very different market than the one it started in, with both Amazon muscling its way into daily deals and the proliferation of discount fashion plays.

But that doesn’t seem to have dampened Vente-Privee’s ambitions. With American Express’s help, it aims to reach $500 million in sales in the next five years. Both Vente and Amex agreed to invest $15-20 million a piece in the joint venture. Read More

Tablet Wars

Amazon Unleashes The Kindle Fire Tablet in Manhattan

The Kindle, The Kindle, The Kindle is Fire

A huge new player stepped into the tablet space this morning to challenge the completely dominant reign of Apple’s iPad. Bloomberg had the scoop before the 200-some live bloggers in Hell’s Kitchen could even get started. The device is smaller, seven inches versus ten, and costs just $199 versus the iPad’s $499 price tag.

The Kindle Fire, as Amazon’s tablet device is called, is missing a lot of things. It doesn’t have a camera or microphone, so no Facetime communication is possible. It is WiFi only, which, having used the iPad with AT&T 3G for several months now, we believe is a huge drawback. 3G service makes the tablet a truly mobile device. Read More