Amazon’s Objective: Lower E book Prices

By Antony Bennison

In the ongoing battle of perception between Amazon and Hachette, we've had to speculate on the substance of the conflict. An intriguing post in the Kindle Forums by the Amazon Book Team makes a bold statement to publishing and Indie authors; lower e book prices are on the table.   With this update, we're providing specific information about Amazon's objectives. A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market -- e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive. It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books … [Read more...]

Barbarians at the Gate! Indies vs Big Publishing

by Yan Renucci

The Fall of Rome is still debated. How could such an empire fall? Various theories are floated; taxes were too high, barbarians joined the army, borders became too porous, corruption and incompetence were rampant. But I would argue that these were mitigating factors. Empires always fall for the same reason. They stop adapting. Adaptive Capacity is the technical term for an ecological or social system's response to changing conditions in the environment. A system that cannot adapt, self destructs. Traditional publishing is just such an empire, built over half a millennium (if we go by the invention of the Gutenberg press) the industry has had a long run. Now, e book publishing and print-on-demand technology have changed the landscape. Within a short amount of time, the book market has transformed. Some of the new players are Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Press and distributors like Smashwords and BookBaby. Barbarians … [Read more...]

Author Michael Bunker on Dystopian Sci-Fi, Off-Grid Living and the Lessons of History

Michael Bunker

I first encountered Michael Bunker when I happened upon his novel Pennsylvania, the story of an exo-planet migration off world by the Amish. Amish? I thought, re-reading the tagline. Aren’t they the folks who’ve sworn off modern conveyances? Don’t they drive horse carts and milk cows and wear simple unadorned clothing?   Yes indeed, Amish Science Fiction. I love having my mind blown so I investigated further. Michael stared out from the pages of Amazon with a taciturn expression, sporting a beard from olden times, yet active in social media. He was on Facebook. He had a blog.  In fact, Michael was one of those Indie writers who takes your breath away. It was apparent from his output that he was a serious writer with enormous energy and discipline. In the last few years his popular works of dystopian sci-fi, including the Wick Omnibus, The Last Pilgrims, The Silo Archipelago and the Pennsylvania series have regularly appeared on Amazon’s best-seller lists. He also wrote … [Read more...]

Automatons: Imitation of Life

672px-NAMA_Machine_d'Anticythère_1

The creation of robots and androids has always fascinated mankind. There are accounts of automatons in ancient mythology such as the artisan/god Hephaestus who created divine machines like the bronze man Talos to defend Crete. There are accounts of Greek temples housing "god" machines that belched smoke, replicated thunder and even bled. and philosophers like Aristotle mused about robots replacing slaves. But throughout history, there have been actual attempts to construct such mechanisms. This is where mythology and reality blur. The Physical proof of such pursuits came in the form of the Antikythera mechanism (150 to 100 BC), recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Greece in 1900/1901. The device  served to calculate the positions of stars and planets.   Other notorious accounts of automatons appear in the 8th and 9th centuries. Wind powered automatons appeared in the Abbasid Palaces of Baghdad and the Arabic alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (writing under … [Read more...]

From the Indie Side: A New Anthology

From The Indie Side

From the Indie Side is an fascinating milestone for the independent publishing movement. Why do I say that? Because if you want proof that Indie authors can write concise, beautifully turned out prose, then look no further than this collection of stories. With some of the most talented new voices on the Indie scene, this anthology has the raw, electric energy of an underground movement. The stories span a multitude of genres; science fiction, fantasy, dystopian and paranormal. Many of the stories have a dark slant, many take place in dying or post apocalyptic worlds. There's excitement here. Meet the new paradigm; hard working craftspeople honing their writing and taking on the jobs traditionally left to publishers. Some of the stories in this collection are more polished than others, but all are well written, inventive and at times, even captivating. These writers are passionate about story as evidenced by the short commentary each author provides. It's clear that obstacles, the … [Read more...]

Steampunk Carousels & Infernal Machines

Galerie des machines:  le calmar géant à rétropropulsion

Science Fiction books of the of the Victorian age and the Belle Epoch echo certain themes. After all, this was the age of Edison and Tesla, of mechanized war. It was an emerging era of shocking scientific theories such as evolution and flight. 19th century science fiction novels chart the course of these shocks with themes of science run amok and strange encounters with monstrosities. Steampunk imagery is generated from works of the fantastic such as Frankenstein, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, War of the Worlds and  The Time Machine. So, when I first saw The Project of Machines de l'île in Nantes, I felt for a moment that sense of wonder at that strange convergence of science and fantasy, machine and dream. All the beautiful and terrible possibilities of the future exist in these odd mechanisms. The machines are built in the warehouses of the former shipyards of Nantes, France by François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice who were also inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's infernal … [Read more...]

Scientist Grace Hopper explains Nanoseconds

Grace Hopper

Google just honored Grace Hopper with a doodle and once you see her in action, you'll know why. Grace Hopper was an accomplished naval officer/computer scientist with a wry sense of humor and a down to earth style of communicating. One of the first programmers on the Mark I Computer (IBM's Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator or ASCC), Grace Hopper once described the Mark I as having " 72 words of storage and could perform three additions a second." In comparison, the cell phone in your pocket has more computing power than NASA's first moon launch, so if you are using your phone to send lol cats.... think about it. It's not the power, it's what you do with it. The early behemoths Hopper worked on were as large as 51 feet long and 8ft high. She also worked on Harvard’s Mark II and III computers as well as the UNIVAC I computer. Affectionately known as "Grandma Cobol," because she lead the team that invented COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language). She was one of … [Read more...]

Future Shock: Writing Sci Fi, Drones & Paranoia

Orwellian Cops

Dystopia. The word hisses off the tongue with sibilant ease, a slow slide into the dark cellar of the collective psyche. The black regimes of our fears, the fascism, the rage, the oppression which mirrors our inner shades, often realized in nightmarish reality. Conversely, Utopia sounds so hopeful, so inclusive, like a suspended note of a celestial choir. A future where technology is used compassionately to further creative pursuits, knowledge and collective awareness. What's it going to be? One of the great tasks of Science Fiction is to explore humanity in the context of earth shattering change. In the case of Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 with its mechanical hound or George Orwell's 1984, the startling portrait of the darker probabilities of the future, shaped the minds of a generation. The word "Big Brother" is now part of our lexicon of ideas. On the Utopian side, Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek inspired cell phones, interactive computers and has scientists noodling over … [Read more...]

Amazon Prime Air: Will Drones Deliver?

Amazon Air

Remember The Jetsons? The cartoon about the future where the Jetson family had a plethora of wacky, futuristic gadgets to make life easier? Well it looks like CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos took that show seriously. Just when you're getting used to an irobot vacuum scooting around the floor, Amazon just revealed the next level of droid services. First Amazon created automated warehouses and now flying drones will deliver packages in under 30 minutes. The drone delivery service is called Amazon Prime Air: … [Read more...]