Four years in startups

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Life in Silicon Valley during the dawn of the unicorns.

The first time I looked at a block of code and understood what was happening, I felt like a genius.

Depending on whom you ask, 2012 represented the apex, the inflection point, or the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley’s startup scene—what cynics called a bubble, optimists called the future, and my future co-workers, high on the fumes of world-historical potential, breathlessly called the ecosystem. Everything was going digital. Everything was up in the cloud. A technology conglomerate that first made its reputation as a Web-page search engine, but quickly became the world’s largest and most valuable private repository of consumer data, developed a prototype for a pair of eyeglasses on which the wearer could check his or her e-mail; its primary rival, a multinational consumer-electronics company credited with introducing the personal computer to the masses, thirty years earlier, released a smartphone so lightweight that gadget reviewers compared it to fine jewelry.

Technologists were plucked from the Valley’s most prestigious technology corporations and universities and put to work on a campaign that reëlected the United States’ first black President. The word “disruption” proliferated, and everything was ripe for or vulnerable to it: sheet music, tuxedo rentals, home cooking, home buying, wedding planning, banking, shaving, credit lines, dry-cleaning, the rhythm method. It was the dawn of the unicorns: startups valued, by their investors, at more than a billion dollars. The previous summer, a prominent venture capitalist, in the op-ed pages of an international business newspaper, had proudly declared that software was “eating the world.”

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Legitimate e-book lending site taken down by angry authors

A pack of digital authors ganged up on a useful site that connected e-book consumers and shut them down.

The process of lending an e-book is complicated and much of it is a result of conflicting DRM locks and platforms as well as a reluctance on the part of publishers to allow their books to be loaned. But authors can also be a roadblock when it comes to lending, and we’ve just had a classic example of how that can happen with the brouhaha over LendInk, a service that allowed readers to connect with others in order to share e-books. The site has effectively been put out of business by a virtual lynch mob of authors claiming it breached their rights, even though what it was doing was perfectly legal.

 

 

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What your e-reader knows about you

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Is your e-book reading you?

On the Kobo e-reader the average reader will take just seven hours to read the last book in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy, that’s about 57 pages an hour.  Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” And on Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first “Hunger Games” book is to download the next one.

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Students can now rent e-textbooks on Kindle

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Students can now rent e-textbooks for periods from 30 to 360 days.

E-book textbook rentals have just been introduced by Amazon just in time for the fall semester.  This will allow students to save up to 80 percent on some titles. E-textbook rentals can be viewed not just on Amazon’s e-reader (and rumored Amazon tablet) but also on any device that can download the Kindle app including PCs, iOS devices, and Android phones and tablets. The rental option isn’t available for general interest e-books, just e-book versions of textbooks.

 

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The Fall of Book Publishing: The Rise of New E-Book Business Models

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Experimenting Our Way to Success – Reinventing Publishing Models

Futurist Thomas Frey:  Amazon revolutionized book reading in 2007 when it introduced its Kindle book reader. Within the past three years, the explosive sale of book readers has caused a massive surge in the sale of e-books, already outpacing the sale of hardcover books, with a prediction by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that they will outsell paperbacks within the next year.

 

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Amazon Launches Kindle Library Lending

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Kindle Library Lending

Amazon announced Kindle Library Lending, a program that will let Kindle users borrow books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States. The program follows Amazon’s person-to-person Kindle Book Lending feature that debuted at the end of 2010 and addresses long-running concerns that e-readers like the Kindle would bypass libraries entirely.

 

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Are e-Readers Allowing Libraries to Thrive?

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Printed books are slowing becoming a thing of the past.

In an ironic twist, as books are slowly become a legacy artifact of the past, and  brick and mortar libraries were predicted to soon follow suit, there is a test program in a few New England towns that is stocking their library shelves with e-Readers. If you can’t afford your own device – this might be a viable alternative.

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E-Books Blowing Up At Barnes & Noble

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e-books are on the rise!

So Barnes & Noble just let loose its financial results for the last year (ending May 1), and things are looking pretty rosy, at least if you take their view of them. The main point is that the e-book store is gaining popularity and online sales are solid, while brick-and-mortar sales are, predictably, in decline. B&N’s CEO, William Lynch, chose to highlight this little statistic:

In fact, in just a brief 12 months since we launched the Barnes and Noble ebookstore, our share of the digital market already exceeds our share of the retail book market.

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Sharp Unveils World’s First 3D HD Camera Module For Mobile Devices

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The Next Evolution of 3D?

Sharp really believes in 3D, it seems. In the past weeks the company presented a new 3D touchscreen for mobile devices, then the world’s first four-primary 3D display, followed by a 3D e-book reader. And today Sharp in Japan unveiled [press release in English] the world’s first 3D camera module that can be used in mobile devices such as cell phones, digital cameras or portable gaming systems…

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Microsoft’s Courier – A Dual Screen e-Book Device

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Microsoft’s Courier

You didn’t think Microsoft was just going to sit there and let Apple take all the tabletmania glory today, did you? New pics have surfaced of Microsoft’s dual-screen Courier, and the book-like device seems to be dolled up a bit to compete directly against the iPad. (Pics)

 

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Kindle Most Gifted Item in Amazon’s History; e-Books Outsell Physical Tomes On Xmas Day

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We’re still not about say the e-book reader industry has branched out beyond the infancy stage, but one of its flagship products certainly has reason to celebrate. Amazon has announced it’s hit some pretty big milestones with the Kindle. The two bullet points it’s currently touting loudest is that the reader has become “the most gifted item” in the company’s history — quite an achievement given the size of the online retailer, but what’s missing here is any quantitative sales data to give us even a ballpark of the number of units sold….

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