Friction as Book Reviews’ Roles Widen

indie self-published authors book reviews Amazon marketing discoveryBook reviews’ importance to discovery is arguably growing, and Amazon has taken note, cracking down on fake reviews and launching a platform to surface more relevant reviews to customers over time.

Yet the e-tailer’s approach to book reviews is causing friction with some indie authors who say their reviews of other writers’ books are being unfairly removed, on the grounds that they know those authors personally.

As one author explains, becoming an actively engaged and successful indie author all but demands “rubbing elbows with peers” in online reader communities, including on Amazon.

In addition to being an author, she writes, “I am also a blogger and reviewer who also buys books. When I’m not writing, I am reading and reviewing”—all indispensable activities in the current discovery landscape that Amazon’s policies seem hard-pressed to parse.

Much more.

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How Librarians Drive Kids’ Book Discovery (Pub Perspectives)
It’s been observed that libraries can play powerful roles in book discovery, but one librarian argues that influence is even greater in schools. Not only do school libraries introduce children to titles that might interest them, they help instill “a love of reading, a curiosity, an open mind and a boundless imagination” that turns digital natives into lifelong readers, despite a mounting barrage of other media.
Related: Less Glitz, More Magic in Children’s Book Apps

Two International Book Prizes Join Forces (PW)
The Man Booker International Prize merges with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize to recognize the English edition of a foreign-language title each year. Organizers frame the change as an effort to bring more readers to translated literature, which remains a modest slice of the English-language market.

Nonprofit Press Tests Alternative Model (PW)
Traditional publishers have come under fire lately for offering what some authors see as unfair terms. When the bottom line isn’t a driving concern, though, those partnerships can turn out much differently and, it would appear, leave authors happier. Publishers Weekly profiles one nonprofit publisher to explore how such a model works.

Amazon Steps up Competition with Dropbox (TechCrunch)
Amazon launches an iOS mobile for its cloud storage platform, Cloud Drive, which competes with Dropbox in the consumer mobile cloud computing market. One observer says the Cloud Drive mobile platform is rather lacking in features but hints at “larger ambitions around this service for the long-term.”
Related: Amazon Pitches Cloud Program to Students

What the Amazon Echo Can (and Can’t) Do (Yet) (Re/code)
Most casual Amazon watchers already have a good sense of the functions the e-tailer’s new voice assistant can perform, plus the designs Amazon has for Alexa, the software that runs it. Still, it’s interesting to note that the device isn’t very good at helping users shop on Amazon. According to one commentator, “Amazon says this is because (a) it wasn’t really designed as a shopping device, and (b) it’s really hard to browse, search and shop using only your voice. But, naturally, Amazon also says it is working on this.”

Mobile Companies Widen Ebook Access in South Africa (IT News Africa)
Huawei, the China-based telecom company, and Vodacom, a leading African mobile carrier, partner with a South African nonprofit and education authorities to introduce a free ebook program. The program offers to lend tablets preloaded with select titles to patrons in a bid to expand e-reading and boost literacy rates.
Related: UNESCO Sees Mobile’s Potential to Improve Literacy

Pushing Programming and Publishing Together (DBW)
Can programmers teach publishers a thing or two? One expert who lays claim to both titles says they can. From conceptual to practical lessons, here’s a look at key areas where two converging fields might benefit from getting to know each other better.

ICYMI: Disney Retools for More Tech-Driven Times (DBW)
Disney recently merged two divisions, including the one that houses its book publishing business, in what the company frames as “changing consumer preferences in a marketplace increasingly influenced by technology.”


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