Random House and Penguin Merge to Take on Digital Publishing Market

Random-house-and-penguin-merge-to-take-on-digital-publishing-market-a7fb05518c

Random House and Penguin will combine their book publishing operations in a merger that is intended to better position the two companies for the era of digital publishing.

Bertelsmann and Pearson, the parent companies of Random House and Penguin, respectively, announced Monday that the two book publishers would form a new company in late 2013 called Penguin Random House. Bertelsmann will own 53% of the new venture and Pearson will own 47%.

The goal of the merger appears to be bolstering their presence in emerging markets and doubling down on the digital publishing industry. “The combined organisation will have a stronger platform and greater resources to invest in rich content, new digital publishing models and high-growth emerging markets,” the companies said in a joint press release.

Random House is the largest book publisher in the U.S. and releases around 10,000 titles each year. Penguin is somewhat smaller, publishing around 4,000 books annually, but it has a world-recognized brand and a strong presence in developing countries. Even so, analysts say the two companies haven’t had as much success with the e-book market as they might have liked.

“They checked into e-book fantasy camp years ago when Amazon released the Kindle in 2007 and it just has not been this lucrative paradise that they expected,” said Michael Norris, a senior analyst with Simba Information who covers the book publishing industry.

By joining forces, the two companies should be able to combine resources and cut costs, which in turn could free up more funds to invest in other areas like digital publishing. Norris says the two publishers will also be able to boost the collective amount of content they offer and have a vast amount of data they can mine from customers to find out what does and doesn’t work on digital. “That’s where Amazon has brought a lot of its strength,” he says.

Beyond all this, some have speculated that the two publishers may have more bargaining power together when it comes time to negotiate with the likes of Amazon over e-book pricing and terms. However, Norris argues this is relatively unlikely.

“They are already powerful and influential players separately,” Norris said. “By the time they are done combining and all the business cards are handed out, how much bigger will Amazon be by then?”

Image courtesy of Flickr, kodomut

Get Your Tickets to Mashable Media Summit

The Mashable Media Summit 2012 will explore the impact that technology is having on media, and how digital media is affecting our lives and changing the world. This one-day conference will bring together the brightest minds in media, including content creators, technology leaders, entrepreneurs, social media executives and journalists.

Date: Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: The TimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036

Tickets: Purchase tickets on Eventbrite.

A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Media Summit

New Xbox to be Announced May 21 and Other News You Need to Know

Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world.

Today, we’re looking at three particularly interesting stories. Is Amazon planning a set-top box? Bloomberg cites people familiar with Amazon’s plans, which reportedly involve a box for streaming video to subscribers. Microsoft issued invitations to the press Wednesday for a May 21 event, where it’s widely expected to unveil its next-generation Xbox. And real estate company Zillow will take questions during its quarterly earnings report via social media.

Check out the video above for more on these stories.

Thumbnail image via iStockphoto, pengpeng

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/04/25/xbox-morning-brief/

Amazon Cloud Player Launches PC App

Amazon-cloud-player-pc-rotated

As part of its mission to bring its music service “everywhere,” Amazon announced the release of a dedicated Cloud Player app for desktop PCs Monday. The release comes less than a week after Amazon announced iOS compatibility with Ford Sync-enabled vehicles.

PC users could already access Cloud Player through their web browsers, but the primary benefit of the PC application is the ability to store music offline. Users can also scan their hard drives for music files that haven’t yet been uploaded to their storage locker.

Cloud Player allows users to stream music files they’ve purchased from Amazon or uploaded to to a cloud-based storage locker. An unlimited number of Amazon songs, plus 250 songs purchased outside of Amazon, can be uploaded to the cloud and streamed wirelessly using one of Amazon’s players for free. First launched on Android two years ago, the service is also available on iOS, Mac, Sonos, Roku and (as mentioned) Ford Sync vehicles.

Update: An earlier version of this article said the app was released Thursday. It was released Monday. The story was also corrected to reflect that 250 songs purchased outside of Amazon, rather than 5 megabytes worth of songs purchased outside of Amazon, can be stored in Amazon’s cloud locker.

Images courtesy of Amazon

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/05/13/amazon-cloud-player-for-pc/

Jeff Bezos Hijacks Amazon.com to Announce Education Initiative

Jeff-bezos-hijacks-amazon-com-to-announce-education-initiative-e0bd265a89

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took over the homepage of Amazon.com Monday to announce the company’s tuition-credit program for those employed at its fulfillment centers — those colossal warehouses where Amazon merchandise is stored and shipped.

Amazon is now offering to pre-pay 95% of the cost of courses that will aid careers in high-demand and well-paying fields — think aircraft mechanics, nursing, dental hygiene, medical lab technologies, machine tool technologies, computer-aided design — regardless of whether they’ll be useful to a career at Amazon. The program is open to those who have been employed full-time at an Amazon fulliment center for three or more consecutive years.

Amazon will contribute a maximum of $2,000 per year for four years as participants work to obtain technical and vocational certifications or associate’s degrees. Online coursework is acceptable so long as it’s from an accredited school and in an approved field of study.

As Bezos points out, most tuition reimbursement programs are designed to develop skills that will benefit the sponsoring company; they’re also not typically confined to fields designated as well-paying and high in demand according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The program is positioned entirely as an act of corporate goodwill: “We want to make it easier for employees to… pursue their aspirations,” he writes. “It can be difficult in this economy to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills.”

Amazon employs 65,600 people as of Q1 2012.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/23/amazon-career-choice-program/

Amazon to Reissue Dickens Novels in Original Serial Format

Amazon-to-reissue-dickens-novels-in-original-serial-format-e3ce8f6c62

At a press event in Santa Monica, Calif., Thursday, Amazon announced it would be re-issusing the novels of Charles Dickens in the same serial format they were originally released in. There’s one big difference, of course: Amazon will be publishing them as digital files to be sold through its Kindle store.

Dickens issued many of his most famous works, including Nicholas Nickleby and Oliver Twist, as part of weekly and monthly installments over the course of one to two years. Some were published as independent singles, others appeared in the pages of magazines. Many were illustrated. Today, Dickens’s works are typically bundled and distributed as thick, single-volume novels.

The Dickens serials are part of a new product from Amazon, appropriately named “Kindle Serials.” Readers will be able to purchase complete Serials for $1.99 upfront (Dickens’s, however, will be free), and will receive new installments as they become available. The new format will enable authors to gather reader reactions as they write, and adapt future installments accordingly, just as Dickens did, Jeff Bezos said.

We hope Amazon is planning to re-introduce serial works from authors besides Dickens — I’d particularly like to see George Eliot’s serialized fiction re-released in that form. However, it should be noted that consumers will pay a premium for accessing Dickens’ works in their original form — much of the author’s works are available on Kindle for free.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Matt Neale

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/06/kindle-serials-dickens/

End Of An Era: RadioShack Files For Bankruptcy

The company has been teetering on the edge for years.

AFP / Getty Images SAUL LOEB

RadioShack, after years of struggling, officially filed for bankruptcy today.

The company, which operates more than 4,000 stores, said in a statement that it will sell between 1,500 and 2,400 of its U.S. stores to an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General called General Wireless. Up to 1,750 of those locations will host a Sprint “store within a store,” as per the statement.

RadioShack said the rest of its stores will be closed following liquidation sales. The company said it will update a restructuring portion of its website with a list of stores that will be closing once it knows more. It has a long list of stores that may close on the website.

The retailer said in filings today that it employs more than 21,000 people.

RadioShack has been in dire financial straits for years, struggling as competitors such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Amazon have grown in size and clout. Attempts to rebrand — including a brief stint as The Shack — didn’t work, as customers ran out of reasons to visit the retailer based on changes in technology. In 2013, it brought in just $3.4 billion in sales, making it only slightly bigger in revenue than Urban Outfitters and smaller than Abercrombie & Fitch.

The bankruptcy documents highlighted RadioShack’s foundational role in the consumer electronics market. The company said that it sold the world’s first mass-marketed fully assembled personal computer, with a Bill Gates-created operating system, in 1977. It also sold the computer industry’s first laptop in 1983 and its first mobile phone in 1984.

RadioShack knew it had too many stores, but its lenders would only let it shutter 200 per fiscal year, denying requests for additional closures last year and into 2015, the company’s interim chief financial officer, Carlin Adrianopoli, said in a filing today. The bankruptcy filing will enable RadioShack to close up to 2,100 underperforming stores, the company said.

RadioShack said it was also pressured by spooked vendors denying trade credit to the company and extending less-than-favorable payment terms, leading to inventory issues in stores.

The final challenge for the company, as per the same filing from Adrianopoli, was the state of the postpaid cell phone market. The space has become intensely competitive, stalling growth from new subscribers and causing price wars among wireless carriers that slashed margins industrywide. At the same time, as major wireless carriers open their own stores, it’s hampered RadioShack’s ability to offer the best and most current plans, Adrianopoli said.

RadioShack said in the document that its headquarters and stores are leased, with monthly rent of $21 million.

RadioShack’s restructuring website currently reads: “Thank you for your interest in our recently announced restructuring. We intend to transition a portion of our stores to new ownership and begin a sale process for other company owned assets. Our domestic and international franchise stores are independently owned and are not part of our restructuring.”

The electronics retailer traces its roots to both the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company in 1919 and RadioShack in 1921. The two later become one entity under Tandy Corp.; the name officially changed to RadioShack Corp. in 2000, according to the company’s website.

The restructuring portion of RadioShack’s website doesn’t contain a list of closing stores yet

RadioShack / Via radioshackcorporation.com

RadioShack’s firsts, as listed in bankruptcy-related documents

RadioShack bankruptcy filings / Via cases.primeclerk.com

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Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/sapna/radioshack-bankruptcy

This 1980 Movie Is So Controversial That The Director Was Arrested…For Murder

What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? Well, the 1980 Italian-made, cult horror hit “Cannibal Holocaust” is almost certainly scarier than your pick. The movie is considered one of the great cult horror movies of the last 40 years, but it’s not without its fair share of controversy. It’s still banned in a number of countries, and for reasons you’ll soon learn, the director was arrested for murder after its release.

The plot of “Cannibal Holocaust” follows a documentary film crew that goes missing in the Amazon rainforest while trying to find and film real-life cannibals living there.

The movie opens with a rescue team recovering the missing crew’s cans of film.

The found footage is then flown to New York, where a television station wishes to broadcast it. After that, we learn of the terrors the crew inflicted on the natives as well as the horrors the natives inflicted onto them.

Needless to say, upon its release, the film provoked quite a bit of controversy. Because the violence is so realistic and shocking, after the premiere, Italian police confiscated the footage and arrested director Ruggero Deodato.

After his arrest, the courts charged Deodato with murder.

They believed he may have actually killed some of the actors during filming. Making matters worse, Deodato had forced his stars to sign agreements not to appear in any media for one year after the movie. The intent was to make the premise of “Cannibal Holocaust” seem more realistic.

In court, Deodato (pictured below in 2008) was forced to explain how he and his crew achieved some of the more brutal death scenes.

The actors were forced to come out of hiding and present themselves to the court. Eventually, police dropped the charges, though authorities in Deodato’s native Italy still decided to ban the film.

(via IMDb)

I know I’m supposed to be disgusted at this point, but I actually really want to check this movie out. If you’re looking for a good movie this weekend, you can rent the whole thing on YouTube.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/cannibal-holocaust/

Exclusive Survey Shows A Majority Of Americans Believe LGBT-Inclusive Ads Accurately Reflect Today’s Society

A survey conducted earlier this month by JWT, a global advertising firm, and provided exclusively to BuzzFeed reveals how American consumers feel about seeing gay and lesbian people in advertisements.

1. A new market research study conducted exclusively for BuzzFeed by JWT, a global advertising firm, reveals key insights on how American consumers react to LGBT-inclusive advertisements.

A new market research study conducted exclusively for BuzzFeed by JWT, a global advertising firm, reveals key insights on how American consumers react to LGBT-inclusive advertisements.

View this image ›

Honey Maid / Via youtube.com

The results come as major American brands like Honey Maid, Coca-Cola, and Chevrolet have concluded that featuring same-sex couples and their families in mass marketing campaigns helps them sell products to the average American consumer.

2. The survey of 500 Americans of various ages, regions, and other demographics, found that overall, 8 in 10 consumers agree “showing gay or lesbian people in ads simply reflects the reality of our society today.”

The survey of 500 Americans of various ages, regions, and other demographics, found that overall, 8 in 10 consumers agree "showing gay or lesbian people in ads simply reflects the reality of our society today."

View this image ›

Banana Republic / Via youtube.com

“The survey results are very useful in revealing that the vast majority of Americans (80%) feel that showing LGBT characters in ads simply reflects the reality of society today,” said Mark Truss, director of brand intelligence at JWT. “We also know that ads can often serve as a beacon for societal norms. These findings suggest that when diversity and acceptance are authentic and on-strategy for the brand, LGBT-inclusive ads will be met with a high degree of acceptance and benefit the advertiser.”

4. Six in 10 consumers agree “brands that show same-sex couples in ads are being appropriately inclusive,” according to the survey.

Six in 10 consumers agree "brands that show same-sex couples in ads are being appropriately inclusive," according to the survey.

View this image ›

Chevrolet / Via youtube.com

5. Slightly fewer respondents — or 57% — agreed with the statement that “it’s cool when I see same-sex couples in ads.”

“Brands are always looking for ways to better connect with their customers, and one way they do this is to look at what’s happening in the culture that surrounds their target audience,” Truss said of the results. “From a brand perspective, identifying cultural shifts and leaning into them — again, when it’s consistent with the brand and its strategy — can be very powerful.”

6. Most American consumers believe brands that feature same-sex couples in advertising are brave and modern.

Most American consumers believe brands that feature same-sex couples in advertising are brave and modern.

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Coca-Cola / Via youtube.com

7. Overall, 72% of respondents said they view brands with such ads as “brave,” which in the advertising and marketing world “translates to leadership,” Truss said.

8. And 71% of respondents agreed with the statement “Gay, lesbian, black, white, tall, short: who cares who brands show in ads?”

And 71% of respondents agreed with the statement "Gay, lesbian, black, white, tall, short: who cares who brands show in ads?"

View this image ›

Chevrolet / Via youtube.com

However, a segment of the population — or 40% of survey respondents — indicated TV ads are “no place for same-sex couples.” Most of those respondents identified themselves as men, conservative, religious, and from older generations.

10. How overtly or prominently gay and lesbian people are featured in the ads makes a difference in how the ads are received, according to reactions from respondents when they were shown examples.

How overtly or prominently gay and lesbian people are featured in the ads makes a difference in how the ads are received, according to reactions from respondents when they were shown examples.

View this image ›

An ad for Target’s wedding gift registry featuring a same-sex couple holding hands and lightly embracing was viewed as more controversial than an Amazon Kindle television ad in which a man refers to another as his husband. Specifically, 61% viewed the Target ad as “controversial” while only 28% found the Kindle ad controversial.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=lS3t9reE364. youtube.com

13. Further, 84% of respondents said they liked the Kindle ad, while only 48% said they liked the Target ad. The Kindle ad was also more relevant to respondents.

14. Most Americans, though, have not been exposed to mass marketing campaigns featuring gay and lesbian couples, the survey found.

Most Americans, though, have not been exposed to mass marketing campaigns featuring gay and lesbian couples, the survey found.

View this image ›

Honey Maid / Via youtube.com

“The data showed us that only a minority of Americans (36%) see ads featuring members of the LGBT community,” Truss said. This could be due to where such ads have been placed, but mostly because featuring gay and lesbian characters is a relatively new practice in advertising and will likely change as more leading brands produce inclusive ads. Others, Truss said, will continue to take a “wait-and-see approach.”

16. Another key finding pointed to what types of brands Americans find permissible to be inclusive of gay and lesbian people in their ads.

Another key finding pointed to what types of brands Americans find permissible to be inclusive of gay and lesbian people in their ads.

View this image ›

Chevrolet / Via youtube.com

17. Most people say “any brand,” including traditional consumer packaged goods, spirits, cars, technology, retail, and fashion.

LINK

More: Big Brands’ New Face Is LGBT Families

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/tonymerevick/exclusive-survey-shows-a-majority-of-americans-believe-lgbt

Amazon Readying a Local Services Marketplace: Report

Amazon-delivery

Amazon is reportedly going to launch a local services marketplace. The company has already expanded into a variety of businesses outside of ecommerce, including grocery delivery. An Amazon Fresh delivery van is pictured above.
Image: Flickr, Jeff Sandquist

Had a long day? Amazon wants to get you a massage.

The ecommerce retailer is preparing to launch a digital marketplace for local services, pushing into turf currently occupied by companies like Yelp. The new platform could launch this year, according to a report from Reuters.

The marketplace would primarily connect customers with services such as home repair. It was not immediately clear if the company would also use it to feature local craftmakers, a move that would also bring it into competition with Etsy.

Amazon continues to dominate online retail sales, with 2013 revenue of $67.9 billion accounting for more than the next nine companies combined. Margins remain tight, meaning Amazon generates little profit from each sale, resulting in profit that has delivery service as well as a grocery delivery offering.

The report comes as Amazon is expected to announce a smartphone later this month.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/10/amazon-readying-a-local-services-marketplace-report/