It is the season of silly but fun awards. After two weeks of words of the year (single-use and toxic respectively), this week saw the most eagerly anticipated of all, the Diagram Prize. This goes to the most absurdly titled book of the year, and in previous years has gone to such masterpieces as How to Avoid Huge Ships. This year's winner is the delightfully-monikered The Joy of Waterboiling. It's a refreshing reminder for indies of our freedom to create fun, frivolity or fabulousness.
Amazon’s Email Blunder
It’s safe to say Amazon has had an interesting week. Over at Digital Reader Nate has continued to point out the hacking of Createspace accounts and Amazon’s lack of response. What Amazon has admitted to is a technical blunder. This has led to Amazon account holders having their emails made public. It is clearly a worrying mistake, but not one that creates an immediate threat to users. Just a lack of confidence. And that confidence is not helped by Amazon's refusal to give any more information about the breach, or which of its sites were affected.
Possible Hack Warning
Huge thanks to PublishDrive for letting us know that there have been several attempts to use hacked emails and passwords to access PublishDrive accounts. Importantly, this is not a hack of PublishDrive. It is a hack from elsewhere that has led to attempts to use the stolen information to access PublishDrive. The chances are that hackers will be using the same information to attempt to access other platforms. Check out PublishDrive's Facebook post for full details and advice.
The Future of the Book
This Friday sees the latest instalment of the Futurebook conference. Regular readers will know how sceptical I am of the event (which in many years is as forward-looking as an archaeology 101 lesson). Also, after the relaunch of DigitalBookWorld, there is a lot to do for the event to make a case for its importance. But still, this is the first year for quite some time that the landscape has changed so quickly. Even from one month to the next, there is the need for a high-quality gathering to make sense of it. And the good news is that Futurebook will cover AI, voice-first, and the booms in podcasting and subscription. Not only that but the keynotes are headed up by Seth Godin. True, Godin is somewhat of “yesterday's futurist”, but if anyone can make sense of the changing landscape, it's him.
On the subject of the Future, blockchain publishing pioneers Publica are one year old! Read all about their momentous first year here.
Amazon and Australia
There is better news when it comes to Amazon customers in Australia. As we reported previously, Amazon had stopped shipping from the US to Australia, and stopped Australian customers using the Amazon US store. The reason was a change in the Australian tax regime that would lead to a 10% duty being charged on goods shipped from the US. This led to a significant restriction on products available to Australian shoppers. After considerable “feedback”, Amazon has reversed its decision, though this does not yet extend to US-based third-party sellers.
Barnes & Noble and Storytel on the Front Foot
A lot of ink is spilled talking about Barnes & Noble’s woes. So it’s interesting that the chain is planning to open up to 15 new stores next year, and looks likely to continue the expansion of its concept stores. Interestingly, this analysis of Barnes & Noble's stock acknowledges the positives but still doesn't seem to like the long-term prospects.
If it feels like barely a week goes by without dodgy news for Barnes & Noble, Storytel feels like the inverse. And this week it seems that a launch of the audio subscription service is imminent in Bulgaria.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Futurebook, 30 Nov [London, UK]
London Book Fair, 12-14 Mar [London]
Book Expo, 29-31 May [New York]