Talking About Books . . .

As always there are lots of things going on at Amazon.

  • Amazon has just raised the amount you must purchase for free shipping from $25 per order to $35 per order.  Barnes & Noble, and Deep Discount still offer free shipping on orders of $25, but one wonders if their shipping policies will also change soon.
  • Once again Amazon lost money during the last quarter.  Jeff Bezos’ strategy is to grow, grow, grow, but somewhere along the way, the company has to start making money in order to keep investors happy.  I wonder if moves like increase the amount for free shipping is an attempt to move toward profitability.
  • Another idea that could decrease expenditures at Amazon is their move to ship more and more items from the manufacture directly to you instead of having it first sent to an Amazon warehouse.  This would cut out the middleman, release storage space at Amazon’s warehouses, and save the extra shipping cost involved in shipping a product twice.  In an NPR article Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for NPD Group says that this move “fits right into world domination for Amazon.”
  • Another interesting NPR story is about the free perks that Amazon reviewers get in return for their “free” reviews of products.  The reviewers are sent the products that they agree to review, and they get to keep the products after the reviews are complete.  Since Amazon technically maintains ownership of the products – and can demand their returned at any time – the reviewers don’t have to report the items on their tax returns.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), which include “cloud” storage of data at a cost cheaper than buying and maintaining your own system, is a profitable arm of Amazon.  This year AWS may account for half of Amazon’s profits.
  • Amazon is moving into online streaming of original series.  Two dramas and three children’s programs are under development at this time.  Netflix currently does this, and two of its series, House of Cards and Arrested Development, were nominated for Emmy Awards.  House of Cards won in three categories.  Netflix is the first non-TV network to win an Emmy.
  • Author Brad Stone has recently published Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.  It is billed as a “fly-on-the-wall account of life at Amazon.”  And, yes, you can buy it at a discount at, though MacKenzie Bezos, wife of the founder, Jeff Bezos, doesn’t think much of Stone’s book.

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Raymond Chandler’s creation, private detective Philip Marlowe, may finally get a series if ABC has its way.  The network has attempted to bring Marlowe to TV before, but it has never worked out.

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Speaking of detectives, here are the Huffington Post’s nominees for the 15 greatest kid detectives.  Click on “play” at the bottom left of the first image to get a slideshow to begin.

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What are they reading at the public libraries in New York City?  Well, the New York Public Library, which has 91 locations, is now listing the top 10 fiction and nonfiction books checked out in any format from its Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island locations.  You can keep track of their lists here.

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I missed this one for Halloween, but you will still find it interesting.  “It” is a Salon article in which 12 novelists deliver two sentence horror stories.  Be sure to follow the Reddit thread mentioned at the beginning of the article for more two sentence horror stories.

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Attica Locke

Attica Locke has won the 2013 Ernest J. Gaines Award for literary excellence.  The award includes a $10,000 prize.  Gaines, a native of Louisiana, is the author of numerous books including A Lesson Before Dying, A Gathering of Old Men, and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.  You can read more about Locke and the award here.

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For a quick read, here is an infographic titled “A Brief History of Publishing.”

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The National Book Award finalists were recently announced.  The winners will be announced on November 20th.  You can see both the longlists and the finalists at the National Book Award website.

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Making Masterpiece

Masterpiece Theatre (now simply called Masterpiece) is one of the crown jewels of public television.  Since it began in 1971 it has given us access to some of the best-made dramas that you could possibly ask for.  I won’t list the various stunning productions, but will instead direct you to Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS a new book (released on October 29, 2013) by Rebecca Eaton, the programs executive producer.  Though I have not read the book yet, the folks at Flavorwire have, and they’ve made a list of 12 things you didn’t know about Downton Abbey and Masterpiece.  Eaton was recently interviewed by USA Today.


I own (and treasure) two other books about Masterpiece Theatre that I can highly recommend that you read – if you can find them.  They are Masterpieces: A Decade of Masterpiece Theatre by its original and incomparable host Alistair Cooke; and Masterpiece Theatre: A Celebration of 25 Years of Outstanding Television by Terrence O’Flaherty.

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