Drone World – Amazon and the drone delivery network

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced this past Sunday (12/1/13) that his 21st century version of Wal Mart has been considering using drones to deliver small packages within 30 minutes to certain households. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Bezos guessed that this system might be in place in the not too distant future.

“I know it can’t be before 2015, because that’s the earliest we could get the rules from the FAA. My guess is that’s, that’s probably a little optimistic. But could it be, you know, four, five years? I think so. It will work, and it will happen, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

Rightly so, this caused a degree of ridicule from all sectors of the web, here’s Charles Stross pointing out why this might be a bit far fetched-

That being said, I recently enjoyed a TED Talk with Andrea Raptopoulos about using a very similar delivery network to bring food and medicine to inaccessible parts of Africa. Companies are developing this technology… so why not one of the largest companies on earth?

James Ball at The Guardian helped to deflate the enthusiasm for it and bring a little bit of reality to the situation. Calling it little more than click bait, he sees it as a distraction from the very real stories about  the Panorama investigation which concluded that working conditions in Amazon’s factories could cause mental and physical illness, or the story that in spite of £7 billion in UK sales, they have paid no UK corporation tax.

Ball goes on to state that this was little more than a cynical ploy to boost Cyber Monday sales by getting their name into a major media outlet. This is, I think, Amazon’s reason for having Bezos do the Charlie Rose interview. The technology is incredible, and I do believe that after 2015, when the rules on these devices are relaxed by the FAA, we’ll see a lot more businesses start to use drones. For good and ill.

Here’s the clip that aired on 60 Minutes

Morning Cuppa – 06/06/13 – Con season! New gigs! Amazon v Indie!

 

  • Sigh… networking. I’m not a completely socially awkward geek, however I do have my moments. And networking– I just have no idea how to make this happen in any natural sort of way. I’ve gone to business conventions, writer’s conventions, gaming conventions and still networking is one of my weakest elements. Since Gen Con is right around the corner, and they (almost covertly) have one of the largest SF writing workshops in the country, it’s a great opportunity to meet successful authors.
    It’s almost a crime that I get a two-for-one convention with Gen Con, combining my love of gaming and writing. So if, like me, you’re clueless on how to break the ice, and what proper etiquette is after the ice is broken, Tim Waggoner has some good advice for you.
  • In the last day, I’ve been invited to start writing for two different publications. I’m really excited for the opportunity, though they’re not paying gigs, it is still kind of cool. I’ve got nothing on either one yet, but they are Medium and Amazing Stories. I’ll link them up as I get some stuff up there. And just a reminder, this past month I also began blogging for Apex!
  • Following a de facto bailout by France for its independent bookshops, British shops want their government to start looking at Amazon and the damage it’s causing (British booksellers are closing up shop at a rate of about one a week). Considering that in the US there’s actually a reverse trend happening, with indie shops opening up, is there something else at work here? Amazon raises my hackles too but what if they’re not the reason (or the major reason) this is happening? Just a hypothetical.
  • Speaking of Amazon and indie bookstores, there’s a push going on right now by the retail giant to start getting their Kindles into indie bookstores.

Morning Cuppa – 05/30/13 – RIP Jack Vance! Book industry growing! Expanded Amazon categories!

 

  •  Sad to report that this past weekend SFWA Grand Master Jack Vance passed away at 96. He was the author of over 50 novels and 100 short stories including most notably his Dying Earth series. He was a Nebula and  multiple Hugo award winner among many other honors and awards. 
  • Are bookstores dying? This year they’ve seen a 27% growth in foot traffic in the first quarter compared with last year. And new indie bookstores are springing up all the time. Are ebook sales plateauing? They’ve seen a 43% growth year-over-year, not really the sign of a leveling off. Kristine Katheryn Rusch argues that the industry is far from dying, plateauing or even slowing down. Rather, it’s growing. The landscape is definitely shifting but as we move out of recession, signs are positive.
  • Have you noticed lately that Amazon has gotten a lot more detailed about how they help you find books? For example under scifi, you can now find sub-categories of alien invasiondystopiantime travel, and many more. You can even select by your favorite type of characters! I have a lot of mixed feelings about Amazon, mostly because they’re a monopoly, but this sort of thing is exciting to see.
    Best part: as an author, you have the ability to classify where your book falls in this system.

Morning Cuppa – 05/28/13 – 90% of everything is crap! Amazon Fanfic! Indies in stores!

I feel a little more like an adult this weekend. The missus and I bought a new to us car under my name. While I’m excited about it, it does mean staring down the barrel of some very real 5 year debt. Ah well, it does add some much desired freedom!

  • Tobias Buckell has a really great article about why 90% of the advice you hear right now about writing and selling ebooks is pretty much bullshit. Be careful, it may shatter some illusions, but there are valuable lessons here.
  • So last week to everyone’s surprise and to some people’s horror, Amazon opened up their KDP program to fanfic. Sounds like 65% of the profits for fanfic will be split between the copyright holder and Amazon, and the rights to the work are handed over by the fanfic writer. It should then come as no surprise that writers, writer’s associations and even writers of fanfic are kind of upset by the deal.
  • Hey indie writer! It may be possible for you (yes you!) to get your books into bookstores! There are some quotes from Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith in there, two powerhouses who know what they’re doing… read it and decide for yourself, I’m kind of skeptical right now.

Amazon’s Kindle Worlds – Monetizing fanfic

This morning Amazon announced that they’ll now be capitalizing on the grey-zone world of fan fiction with a new market that they’re calling Kindle Worlds.

Publishers would have to agree to allow for fanfic to be produced and they would take a cut of the money for it, but still… I wonder what happens in the event that a publisher likes fanfic better than your original work? Could you potentially lose the rights to your own intellectual property?

Reactions from authors have been varied.