Friday, 11 July 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

EU Expresses Interest in German Antitrust Probe into Amazon

Posted: 11 Jul 2014 02:29 PM PDT

amazon frownIt looks like the antitrust complaint that a German book industry trade group filed against Amazon last month could be bearing unexpected fruit.

Bloomberg is reporting that the European Commission wants details:

Amazon’s e-books clash with a publisher is on the European Union's radar after EU officials said they're seeking to understand the dispute, which also spurred a German antitrust complaint by booksellers.

Germany's association of booksellers said they were told of the EU's interest by Germany's Federal Cartel Office, according to an e-mailed statement today.

Book retailers already sought a German probe of Amazon's negotiation practices for buying rights to e-books in a dispute with Amazon over delays for deliveries of Bonnier AB physical books to force it to accept lower prices, according to a complaint filed last month.

The European Commission is "trying to understand the issues involved," said Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the commission, in an e-mailed statement. He said regulators are aware of the complaint filed with Germany's Bundeskartellamt, Germany's antitrust authority.

The European Commission is asking for information concerning the antitrust that was filed in Germany several weeks ago. The Börsenverein (the German book industry trade group) had filed the complaint with the Bundeskartellamt Beschwerde, the German Federal Cartel Office, alleging that Amazon was using its monopoly power to illegally pressure the German subsidiaries of Bonnier into accepting a contract with unfavorable terms.

It’s not clear at this time what the EU wants to know or why, but  it is worth noting that the EU expressed similar interest in the ongoing Amazon-Hachette contract dispute back in early June. There has been no visible outcome of that query, and there’s no reason to think that the EU will take any action in the case of the antitrust complaint.

It’s also not clear that the antitrust complaint will amount to anything more than a complaint. I’ve been told by a couple people in Germany that the complaint is predicated on a weak argument which won’t stand up to scrutiny, but of course we won’t know that for sure until after the lawyers get involved.

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Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is Now Available as a (Legal) eBook

Posted: 11 Jul 2014 01:53 PM PDT

50-anniversary-cover[1]The most anticipated ebook release of 2014 is now available to buy.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s first and only novel, is now available from leading ebookstores, including Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. (Pirated copies were of course available years if not a decade ago.)

Harper Lee, who turned 88 earlier this year, was one of the last authors to be digital holdouts. “I'm still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries,” she said when the ebook release was announced in April. “I am amazed and humbled that 'Mockingbird' has survived this long. This is 'Mockingbird' for a new generation.”

The post Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is Now Available as a (Legal) eBook appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Digg Revives as “Digg Deeper”

Posted: 11 Jul 2014 10:29 AM PDT

digg_logo-617x416[1]The acquisition of Digg by Betaworks bore expected fruit today.

Digg has just announced that they are relaunching as a personalized news aggregator called Digg Deeper. While Digg offers an aggregation of links shared across the web, Digg Deeper is going to focus on links shared only by people you know:

Behold: Digg Deeper. A way to see, in real time, what your friends think are the most interesting things to read and watch.  Each day, Digg's editors distill the Internet down to its finest, funniest, and fail-iest (if that's not a word, it should be) essence. With Digg Deeper, we're taking that one step further by alerting you to the best stories coming straight from the people and sources you trust most, starting with those you follow on Twitter.

Sign up for Digg Deeper and give it access to your Twitter account, and a short while later it will start sending you a stream of the most shared links in one of several ways:

  • A scrolling list on the Digg homepage,
  • Real-time email alerts, or
  • Mobile notifications from our iOS app.


DD only works with Twitter at the moment, but  in the announcement Digg says that they'll be adding other social sources soon.

Digg Deeper is based on, a personalized news aggregator which Betaworks developed in 2011. Then, as now, told you what links your social connections were sharing, but it was limited to only iOS (support was later expanded to include email). The team was folded into Digg when Betaworks acquired Digg in 2012, and ever since then I have been waiting to see if any interesting synergy would result from all that talent.

Since Digg Deeper is still invite only, with existing users are first in line, I can’t answer that question just yet. But pretty soon the service will be open to all.

If you have access, let me know what you think.

I’ve never used, and that was probably an oversight on my part. When it launched I didn’t think of Twitter as a source of links to content, so it didn’t occur to me that using to aggregate and quantize the shared links could prove useful as a way to find new stories to read and report on. I plan to correct that oversight as soon as I can.


The post Digg Revives as “Digg Deeper” appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Update for the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx Fixes Touchscreen Issues

Posted: 11 Jul 2014 09:17 AM PDT

T68 onyx booxPocketbook isn’t the only one sending out updates for their newly released ebook readers this week; the Chinese ereader maker Onyx has rolled out not one but two different updates for the T68, their new 6.8″ ereader.

In addition to releasing an update for the T68 model sold via Onyx’s German retail partner (here), earlier this week Onyx also released a update for the T68 Lynx sold by Arta Tech (that’s where I bought my review unit).

The latter update can be downloaded directly from the device by finding the update option in the about menu under settings. It includes a fix for the touchscreen issue that some users have been reporting. I haven’t encountered this problem so I can’t say if it has been fixed, but I do have mixed reports that suggest that not everyone is seeing an improvement.

The update for the T68 Lynx also adds a new forced refresh option. Users can make the ereader refresh a fuzzy screen by holding down the menu button. This could prove useful while using Android apps, but I for one haven’t had an issue with the screen refresh so i don’t see what has been gained.

Please note: the two different T68 models use different and incompatible firmwares which will almost certainly not work on the other model.

The Onyx Boox T68 is an ereader which runs Android 4.0 on a 1GHz CPU and has a 6.8″ screen. It’s available in a variety of markets, including Europe, Russia, and the US. Depending on where you buy it, the hardware specs and software features will be different. In the Russian market, for example, there are a couple related models sold under the T76 model number including one without a touchscreen.

As I mentioned in my review, in Europe there are two competing retailers with different models. I bought the one named the Lynx, and  I have found it possible to turn it into a nifty little E-ink Android tablet.

The post Update for the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx Fixes Touchscreen Issues appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Side-Steps French Ban on Free Book Deliveries – Now Charges a Centime for Shipping

Posted: 11 Jul 2014 06:50 AM PDT

9493965_d82154f1e2_b[1]It’s been two short weeks since France passed a law banning online-only retailers from offering free shipping in combination with the legally limited 5% price discount, and Amazon is ready to respond.

The retailer has just announced a new policy for shipping books in France. Since they can’t offer free shipping, Amazon is now charging a centime (0.01 euro) for any order of books.

According to the FAQ, Amazons says that “we are unfortunately no longer allowed to offer free deliveries for book orders.” The entry goes on to add:  “We have therefore fixed delivery costs at one centime per order containing books and dispatched by Amazon to systematically guarantee the lowest price for your book orders”.

Initially proposed last year, the new French law was passed late last month and went into affect on 8 July. This law expands upon France’s existing book price control law, aka the Lang Law, and is intended to protect France’s small bookstores by putting online-only retailers at a disadvantage. Known as the anti-Amazon law, it prevents online retailers like Amazon from offering free shipping on book orders while still letting retailers like Fnac (which has brick and mortar stores in many countries) offer free shipping from their stores.

It is often wrong to label laws with the name of single companies, but in this case it is accurate. Last year the French Culture Minister, Aurelie Filippetti, singled out Amazon. Repeating the usual anti-Amazon boogieman, she said: “Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up”.

The anti-Amazon focus of the new law has raised some debate on the topic of whether Amazon may be able to appeal before EU courts and get it overturned, but it is too early to say.

Thanks, Michael!

image by Alvy

The post Amazon Side-Steps French Ban on Free Book Deliveries – Now Charges a Centime for Shipping appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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