Category Archives: Friction

Best Buy: Their Worst Last Hope

Tech Companies Press for a Better Retail Experience

If you’re Microsoft and Samsung, you think, I used to have thousands of retail locations and now I’m down to Best Buy.


Jonathan Sandler, a spokesman for Best Buy, declined to make an executive available for an interview, but said the company’s “goal is always to try and stay one step ahead and anticipate the ever-evolving technology wants and needs of our customers.”

I see fifty billion Samsung tablets at Best Buy. No LG GPad 8.3 or HP’s new Android tablets.

Get your customer-anticipating asses in gear.

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Filed under Friction, Marketing, Stupid

Facebook Acknowledges The Real World Others Haven’t

Introducing the Facebook Card, a New Type of Gift Card

Beginning today, people can give their friends gifts to Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target all on one reusable gift card from Facebook.

Gift Cards are a special pet of mine. I’ve written about them before:

The Gift Card Advantage
Google Play Wakes Up To In-Store Gift Cards
Google Play Gift Cards: No Credit Card Required

The real world is that we are bankrupt. Gift Cards acknowledge that fact. They let people who have had their plastic revoked — or who have cut up their plastic to kill their debt slavery — still have access to buying on the Net.

This new Facebook Card goes one further, reaching out the non-Net real world.

This is a huge paradigm shift.

How long before they add partners like supermarkets and drug stores? So Facebook friends can help out other Facebook friends who might need help getting groceries or paying for a prescription? (Note: Target already deals in pharmacy scrips!)

If you don’t see how huge this is, you’re just not paying attention.

This is epic huge.

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Filed under Collapse, Friction, Marketing

Microsoft No Reed Gud

It’s Official – Microsoft Doesn’t Understand Visual Novels

I give up. I see nothing to indicate that MS is serious about addressing the issue of giving developers a way to communicate directly with the folks doing the testing. I doubt that submitting it another twenty times with more and more instructions is going to solve this, and I doubt anyone is going to put that kind of time in just to be in their App Store. If you can have a $2.99 program in the Windows Store that is nothing but a wrapper for Picasa, but I can’t get my game in, then I think you know what you can expect to find (and not find) there going forward.

Ah, but the Microsofties smile a lot.

But then morons usually do.

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Filed under Digital Book, Digital Overthrow, Friction, Stupid

Dear DoJ: You Need To Sue Apple Again

A lovely thing about living in the modern age is that when the government files its documents with the courts, it now includes email addresses.

This is the email I have sent to all of the Department of Justice attorneys listed in the antitrust suit papers filed against Apple and some of the Big Six book publishers.

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Filed under Apple: The Company, eBooks: General, Friction

Why Can’t Google Books Sort By Date?

This has been an ongoing problem since the beginning of Google Books. But I’ve never seen anyone else complain about it. This image says it all:

Click = big

That’s the final page of results. Sort By Date should go from latest to earliest date (there’s no sort order option, either!). And it clearly doesn’t. How hard can such a basic function be?


Filed under Friction, Google, Stupid

Harry Potter eBooks Not DRM-Free

June 23, 2011: SHOCK: Harry Potter eBooks DRM-FREE!

That was the hype. This is the reality, today:

Confirmed: Harry Potter eBooks Are NOT DRM-Free in Kindle Format (Or Any Other eBookstore)

I’m not buying them. I have no interest in them.

What I want to know is, if someone gives up their Kindle and switches to ePub, can they still download the ePub from Pottermore — where it is DRM-free?

As for the watermarking done on the Pottermore editions, I’d like someone to unzip the ePub and let me know how they’re doing it. I suspect something in the CSS or another exterior file.

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Filed under Digital Overthrow, Friction

Free Google Books Ends Downloads

Seventh Update, Tuesday March 13, 2012: Free Google Books Downloads Work Again

Sixth Update, Tuesday March 13, 2012: According to a Commenter below, who spoke to Google via phone:

I received two follow-up emails as well, the last saying “Our engineering team has identified the problem and are working to resolve it quickly. While I cannot offer you an exact timeframe as to when it will be fixed, I will email you as soon as I have an update.”

It must be some catastrophic screw-up for it to take this long to fix. As of ~8:30AM EDST, I am getting Whale Fail when I am past the CAPTCHA for a PDF download. Since so many people are coming to this blog for this post, I am going to make a separate Sticky.

Fifth Update, Monday March 12, 2012: According to a Comment below:

Just got off the phone with Google. They are aware of the issue and are working to fix it. And they confirmed that it is just an error — there are no plans to disable pdf downloads of public domain works. Good to know!

I hope that is true and it is fixed soon. This post has been gaining in popularity as others come across the problem. It seems I am the only one to post about it.

Fourth Update, Monday March 12, 2012: Google’s transition to Play has been a disaster for PDF downloads both at Play and at Google Books. Play seems to still offer PDF downloads — even the Help Center acknowledges PDF-formatted books cannot be read offline in a browser and must be downloaded! — but they are broken, just as in Google Books, with ~34K weird non-PDF files that download.

Third Update, Saturday March 10, 2012: Google Books is currently totally FUBARed. What I thought were PDF downloads turned out not to be. I didn’t check until a Commenter mentioned what he was getting. Let’s hope Google fixes this by next week. Or explains just what the hell is going on.

Second Update, Saturday March 10, 2012: This glitch hasn’t been totally resolved. Out of twenty books I’ve had on a shelf for downloading, only three worked. The rest got the Whale Fail message.

Update, Saturday March 10, 2012: Less than 24 hours later, PDF downloads work again. This might have been a temporary glitch due to the Google Play effort. However, I’m not embarrassed to be seen as absolutely wrong about this — because I want Google to understand that I am watching Google Books.

I’m waiting for someone at the near-dead Google Books Twitter account to reply (this might be a futile effort!) but right now what I’m experiencing at the public domain Google Books is not good. And I think I know Google well enough to make this post’s headline a flat statement and not a question.

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Filed under eBooks: General, Friction, Google, Stupid

How To Fail In The Media Business

The media business is different from other businesses.

Other businesses operate on the maxim of, “Find a need a fill it.”

Media businesses operate on the maxim of, “Create a need.”

Oh, yes, they create needs.

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Filed under Friction

The Darwinian Future Of Publishing

I don’t have the patience to do those posts people love: lots of words that boringly repeat the point over and over again. I just like to get to the damn point.

1) As the Big Six continue to die …

2) More writers will flock to self-publish via Kindle, Nook, etc

3) NaNoWriMo never-wannabes will continue to clog the sales pipes

4) Customers will become increasingly frustrated in finding real books

5) Amazon, B&N, et al, will get fed up hosting crap that doesn’t sell (electrons may be “free” but customer friction that loses sales is not)

6) All eBookstores will do away with self-publishing

7) The future will be filled with things like Authonomy and Book Country where people must fight for recognition

8) Think American Idol for books — but without real judges

9) Survivors/winners will then be allowed to sell to Kindle, Nook, etc, customers

That’s how it will be.

If you thought getting published was hard when it was just print, it will become even worse with eBooks.

Who wants to submit to a public slush pile and be judged by a bunch of people who resent that they can’t get picked?


Rewriting the rules for publishing


Filed under Digital Overthrow, eBooks: General, Friction, Marketing

Adobe’s ePub DRM Has A Problem

After reporting that the new Sony Reader WiFi has been reported to download from the Kobo Books store too, Jane Litte of Dear Author picked one up and did some tests along with Hadrien Gardeur of Feedbooks.

Jane is able to download DRMed ePub from Kobo fine. Hadrien cannot.

Jane cannot download DRMed ePubs from the Feedbooks Store or Google eBookstore. (Note those are the DRMed for-pay eBooks at Feedbooks. not the DRM-free free ones! The free ones download fine. So do the free ones from Google Books.)

Jane cannot even sign into Books on Board because the website seems to use a popup for logging in.

Jane also cannot download anything at all from Barnes & Noble because their cloggy website crashes the browser (no surprise, really). Sideloaded Nookbooks will not open — meaning Sony again didn’t choose to license the mutation of Adobe DRM only Barnes & Noble uses.

But what’s going on here?

If Kobo’s Adobe DRMed ePubs work, why won’t those from Feedbooks and Google eBookstore?

This is supposed to be a “standard” DRM!

Meanwhile, over at Mobileread, Sony Reader WiFi owners are also reporting problems with Adobe Digital Editions (this is also no surprise, really).


Filed under eBooks: General, Friction, Sony Reader