Last week, I finally got around to ordering Nick Catalano’s biography of the great jazz trumpeter, Clifford Brown, which I had been meaning to read for several years. I checked with Amazon to find out its availability. Oxford published the book in hardcover in 2000, but the hardcover was out-of-print. I checked the nearby Strand Bookstore, and they had no copies; I checked at McNally Jackson in Prince Street on a stroll home from work, and they did not have the book either; so I decided to order the trade paperback version, published in 2001, from Amazon. It was still in print, for $16.95. I considered for a moment buying one of the many used copies offered on Amazon—both in hardcover and paper—with some priced as low as $2. But then decided, why not have a new book and support a university press that had seen fit to keep an important book available.
It’s time for the latest round of Hilarious Amazon Customer Reviews. We’re sure you know the drill, but in case you need catching up, here’s what we do: we comb Amazon’s vast inventory of books for the funniest and most creative customer reviews around; the more sarcastic, the better. So enjoy, and be sure to check out our previous posts in the series here and here.
Unnecessary for those who have a face like a dropped meat pie
Despite being written entirely in BLOCK CAPITALS, this self-published work conveys its message elegantly. In fact, you don’t even need to read it to understand the main argument being put forward.
True, by avoiding this book you will miss out on the precise location of the heretical surfboard worshipped by the British royal family and the sinister significance of Abe Lincoln’s unholy quadrille. You will also miss out on the explanation of why the Hairy-Eared Dwarf Lemur is really God’s own tree-dwelling angel-on-earth and on the coded instructions showing how to grow a prize-winning mushroom, which the author cunningly gleaned from a close textural analysis of St. Paul’s third birthday card to the Corinthians.
That aside, my big problem with this book is that the ‘birth control is sinful’ message is difficult for most regular-looking people to put into practice. I wonder if this lack of guidance is down to the author’s own sexual inexperience brought about by her scary fanaticism and a face that would scare a dog out of a butcher’s shop. Continue reading
Amazon is at it again–this time looking to open a lending library for digital books (also covered here). The details: Amazon is supposedly discussing with publishers a way to get books on the e-tailer’s digital platform so users could read an unlimited number for a subscription fee. The digital library reportedly would be part of Amazon’s growing Prime services, which put unlimited streaming video under its umbrella earlier this year, in addition to giving subscribers free two-day shipping for $79/year. Amazon’s digital books library, which would basically operate like a “Netflix for Books” (as a side note, it seems relevant to point out that Netflix has had problems since Amazon’s Prime Streaming Video feature was added), would, like every announcement Amazon makes, momentously affect others. This time, those “others” are libraries.
Earlier this week, the Amazon Kindle Singles store released the first short story by bestselling novelist Tom Rachman (The Imperfectionists). The story is titled “The Bathtub Spy”, sells for $1.99 and, like most things involving books and Amazon these days, begs the question of whether authors will bypass traditional publishing avenues–in this case, literary journals/magazines like The New Yorker–in favor of the e-tailer’s more innovative channels.
The question is: what’s stopping Amazon from gathering a store of “more literary” short stories from respected writers and releasing them every week, putting them directly in competition with The New Yorker? They’ve already challenged every publisher, Apple, Barnes & Noble (not to mention killed Borders), Wal-Mart, and basically every other retailer in America. So why not start the siege on the old guard of literary journals and magazines? If Amazon decided, could they succeed?
This October is likely going to be a defining moment for tablets. That’s if, as expected, Amazon drops its tablet into the increasingly crowded fray, which at the moment is only slightly more organized than the Wild West. Many are expecting Amazon to set things straight, eliminating the pretenders and giving us a better idea of what exactly buyers want out of a tablet. But before we get to what might happen, let’s get caught up on what already has happened.
The iPad is the undisputed king of the tablets right now–anyone can tell you that. Most recently, the iPad 2 sold 9.25 million units in the June quarter, a 183% increase from its 2010 June quarter. Those are some impressive numbers, but what’s more significant is the stranglehold Apple currently has on the tablet market: the company is projected to end 2011 with a 61% market share, which translates to 40 million units sold this year.
But, earlier this week, some interesting news surfaced: Android tablets are eating into Apple’s majority share, now taking up 20% of the market. Complicating matters, projections for Apple’s future market share are all over the place. Some experts are saying the iPad will lose some of the market yet remain strong with a 47% share in 2015 (and Android growing to a 39% share). Others are way more optimistic about Apple’s future, going as high as a 60% share in 2020.
What all this means is that no one knows what’s going to happen with the tablet market. But here are two ideas:
1. The “magic number” for tablets seems to be $300. Over the coming months, the closer tablets get to $300, the more clear-cut the field will become as weaker ones will be weeded out, much like what happened with e-readers at the $150 price point (covered here and here). According to a Zogby International poll, customers are decided on what they want out of a tablet: a 10-inch screen (like the iPad’s), a catalogue of readily-available apps, and a cost less than $300 after carrier contracts.
2. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is the closest thing to a consensus “Best Android Tablet.” It’s currently listed on Amazon as the #1 bestselling tablet, and much has already been made of how well it’s doing. It has 16 hours of battery life, a much-touted keyboard dock option, the all-important 10-inch display (which also happens to be gorgeous), and can connect to Playstation and Xbox controllers. But most importantly: it costs less than $400. The only knock on the tablet so far has been its lack of 3G, but that’s not going to be a problem for much longer.
However, back to where we started: Amazon’s highly anticipated tablet, which is projected for an October launch.
The “Coyote” tablet is expected to use a Honeycomb OS, a 9″ screen, and run on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor (Amazon’s other, beefier tablet, “Hollywood,” is expected to run on the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich OS and release later). But the big news is that people are expecting Amazon to get all razor bladey and sell Coyote for $249, with the expectation being that they can sell the tablet for a loss because they’ll easily recoup it (and way, way more) through sales of music, movies, books and cloud storage.
Amazon was positioning its tablet for a monumental clash with the iPad 3 this October–but that all changed this week when news broke that the iPad 3′s fall launch is being derailed until 2012 because of retina display issues. Much has been made about Apple’s efforts to push its display to the cutting edge, and the news of the iPad 3′s delay indicates that when we finally get the iPad 3, it’s probably going to be downright beautiful.
But 2012 is a long way away, and it certainly doesn’t help clear up the muddy picture that is the current tablet marketplace. That’s why it all begins and ends with Amazon. The troops are being readied, and once October rolls around, the market for tablets will probably be a very different place.