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June 10, 2013

Google Doodles Maurice Sendak

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:58 am

Google celebrates Maurice Sendak's 85th birthday.

Google celebrates Maurice Sendak’s 85th birthday.

By Forrest Wickman

For what would have been his 85th birthday on Monday, Google has drawn up a wonderfully imagined Google Doodle as a tribute to the beloved illustrator and children’s book author Maurice Sendak. As io9 points out, the Doodle has already appeared in New Zealand.

It begins, of course, with Max sailing to the land of Where the Wild Things Are, but soon also ventures to the surreal cityscape of In the Night Kitchen and ends, appropriately, with the birthday party from Sendak’s 2011 book Bumble-Ardy.

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January 28, 2013

Amazon Woos Advertisers With What It Knows About Consumers

By Jessica Leber

Google built its $38 billion business selling ads based on how people search and browse the web. Facebook, too, uses what it knows about its one billion users to sell targeted ads. But when it comes to what many advertisers value most — what people actually buy, or what they may want to buy soon — there may be no better data than the information in Amazon’s 152 million customer accounts.

Since last year, the world’s largest online retailer has been packaging information on what it knows about consumers so that some marketers can use it to make split-second decisions about where to buy ads online and how much to pay for them. This automated process occurs on real-time ad exchanges that sell ad impressions as a person loads a web page.

When this process began, Amazon used third-party technology, and its experiments were limited. Now it has developed an in-house platform for targeting ads to people who have visited and then left Amazon’s sites, making it likely that the company will open up these advertising services more widely over the next year.

“Today, if you’re browsing the web, you might see an Amazon advertisement based on Amazon’s data. Tomorrow, you may see an ad from Coca-Cola based on Amazon data, and it’ll run through the Amazon platform,” says Jeff Green, CEO of the Trade Desk, which helps guide spending decisions by ad agencies.

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November 21, 2012

Charge Amazon, Starbucks and Google unpaid tax to fund libraries, says Winterson

Novelist Jeanette Winterson’s incendiary speech calls on companies to honour ‘moral duties’ and ‘do an Andrew Carnegie’.

By Alison Flood

A fiery Jeanette Winterson has called for the hundreds of millions of pounds of profit which Amazon, Starbucks and Google were last week accused of diverting from the UK to be used to save Britain’s beleaguered public libraries.

In an impassioned speech at the British Library this evening, the award-winning author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit said: “Libraries cost about a billion a year to run right now. Make it two billion and charge Google, Amazon and Starbucks all that back tax on their profits here. Or if they want to go on paying fancy lawyers to legally avoid their moral duties, then perhaps those companies could do an Andrew Carnegie and build us new kinds of libraries for a new kind of future in a fairer and better world?”

Winterson was referring to the meeting at parliament’s public accounts committee last Monday which saw executives from the three companies vigorously quizzed by MPs over their tax affairs, and accused of diverting UK profits to tax havens. Her lecture was to mark the 10th anniversary of the independent charity The Reading Agency, and was attended by fellow authors including David Nicholls, Julian Barnes, Joanna Trollope and Sarah Waters.

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October 7, 2012

AAP reaches agreement with Google

 | By Philip Jones

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Google have reached a settlement agreement over the long-running row over Google’s book digitisation programme, bringing an end to the litigation but leaving other parties out in the cold to pursue their own settlements separately.

It is the second such settlement, and resolves a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google in October 2005 by five AAP member publishers. Unlike the original Google Book Settlement this deal does not need a court to ratify it. And unlike the first settlement agreement there is no indication that Google has agreed to pay out compensation. “Further terms of the agreement are confidential”, the two parties said.

According to a press statement, the settlement “acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright-holders”. US publishers can choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitised by Google for its Library Project. Those deciding not to remove their works will have the option to receive a digital copy for their use.

Under the agreement, books scanned by Google in the Library Project can now be included by publishers within Google Books, which allows users to browse up to 20% of books and then purchase digital versions through Google Play. Apart from the settlement, US publishers can continue to make individual agreements with Google for use of their other digitally-scanned works.

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September 1, 2012

Readers’ privacy is under threat in the digital age

Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos launches the Kindle e-reader in 2007. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

Why should companies – let alone governments – know what we are reading, asks Jo Glanville.

Every time you read a newspaper on your computer or buy an ebook, you can leave an electronic trail behind you. That trail is potentially lucrative for business, and is a new source of surveillance for government and law enforcement.

Retailers and search engines, most notably Amazon and Google, can now gather an astonishingly detailed portrait of our book-reading habits: what we buy, what we browse, the amount of time we spend on a page and even the annotations we make in an ebook. As campaigners have quipped, it’s the equivalent of a bookshop hiring someone to follow you round the shop noting every book you pick up, then sitting at home with you while you read what you bought.

Defending the freedom to read is no longer only about battling against direct censorship in obscenity, blasphemy or libel cases. Since the digital revolution, it’s now increasingly about protecting the freedom of the reader as much as the reading matter.

Last year, the state of California passed a law safeguarding the privacy of readers: for the first time, the vulnerability of readers in the digital age would be recognised in statute. The Reader Privacy Act means that government agencies will have to obtain a court order before they are able to access data on customers from bookstores or online booksellers. Civil liberties and digital rights groups are hopeful that other states will adopt the legislation. The EU has also passed a law that will make it less easy for websites to track our online activities without our consent.

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April 6, 2012

Google Ends eBook Agreement with Indies

By Judith Rosen

On Tuesday representatives of Google contacted the American Booksellers Association and Powell’s Books to announce that it will end its Google eBooks reseller program worldwide. In February, it had seemed as if independent booksellers were getting a reprieve when Google reinstated some affiliate stores that had low sales. But in yet another sign of industry consolidation, Google will start selling e-books solely through its recently launched Google Play beginning January 31, 2013.

CEO of the ABA Oren Teicher sent out a letter to ABA members this morning notifying them of the turn of events. “To say the least, we are very disappointed in Google’s decision,” wrote Teicher, “but we have every confidence that long before Google’s reseller program is discontinued, ABA will be able to offer IndieCommerce users a new alternative e-book product, or choice of products.”

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March 8, 2012

Research suggests we should all gang up on Amazon or we’re all going to die

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 12:26 pm

By Dennis Johnson

It seems Amazon hasn’t run out of other businesses to threaten yet — according to a Business Insider report by Henry Blodget, no less than Google should be running scared of the growing behemoth from Seattle. Says Blodget, “One big threat to Google’s core search business is the potential for Amazon to usurp Google’s position as the ‘start point’ for many product searches and skim off the revenue that goes along with it.” Amazon is already making over $1 billion a year in ad revenue, he observes.

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January 19, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front: Media Reacts to SOPA Debate with Resounding Silence

By Jon Gingerich

The U.S. House of Representatives is debating legislation that could fundamentally change what types of content we’re allowed to access over the Internet, and the resulting outrage has sparked a heated ideological debate.  But for some reason the media isn’t talking about it.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA, as it’s widely called) was introduced in October by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). It’s a boldly ambitious plan to give copyright holders — and the courts, by proxy — better tools to fight the profligacy of online piracy originating from foreign websites.

In a nutshell: SOPA would give copyright holders the power to file lawsuits against sites that they believe are aiding in the pilfering of their goods, be it music, movies, TV shows, video games, or the distribution of tangible, counterfeit consumables. Judges could file injunctions against Internet Service Providers or individual websites, forcing them to block access to foreign sites deemed in violation of U.S. copyright law.

Included in the bill is an immunity provision for Internet providers that proactively remove “rogue” sites from their registries. In other words, SOPA attacks Internet piracy not by going after sites that create and supply nefarious content, but by censoring ISPs and search engines that enable their availability, knowingly or not. Specific targets include payment providers (like PayPal) that facilitate transactions with spurious sites, and ad services (like Google’s AdSense) that promote copyright infringing content in search results. The bill’s authors are aware that many of the Internet’s biggest bootleggers operate overseas. Because attorneys general can’t round up foreign DVD pirates, they’ll instead punish U.S. sites that facilitate a portion of their profits.

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November 23, 2011

Stanislaw Lem gets animated Google doodle treatment

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:22 pm

Stanislaw Lem's anniversary Google tribute. Photograph: Google

Search engine marks 60th anniversary of Polish SF author’s first book with interactive cartoon.

By Alison Flood

A spiky-haired, bespectacled animation of the Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem marches across Google’s doodle this morning, as the search engine marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of his first book, The Astronauts.

Lem remains best known for his cult novel Solaris, the story of an incomprehensible intelligence encountered on an alien planet. It has been adapted for cinema twice, by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972 and by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney, 30 years later, and was first published in 1961, during the author’s most fertile period, when he also produced his most famous works including Hospital of the Transfiguration, The Invincible and Tales of Pirx the Pilot.

But the doodle, which sees the Lem figure encounter a giant robot, is commemorating publication of his lesser-known first book Astronauci (The Astronauts), which was released in 1951, 60 years ago. The story of the Earth under attack from Venus, the author held it in low esteem in later life.

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October 2, 2011

Google e-books UK launch “imminent”

 | By Graeme Neill

Google is preparing an “imminent” UK launch of its e-books platform for selling digital titles, with members of Gardners Hive network able to sell the e-books from their websites.

The digital company held a closed meeting with more than 100 independents at the Booksellers Association’s Independent Booksellers Forum at the University of Warwick in Coventry on Sunday (25th September), which outlined how the system could work. Sources told The Bookseller the service would be launched within the next four weeks, with an announcement date at the Frankfurt book fair mooted. more

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