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According to the Consumerist, Amazon & Macmillan have resolved their dispute. Amazon is giving in and letting Macmillan set their ebooks at up to $15 per book.

Though I think Macmillan’s request of $15 for an ebook is retarded it should be well within their rights to say that is what they want to charge. Its also within Amazon’s right to say “I told you so” when the sales of Macmillan’s books drop. I still think Amazon’s tactics are in the wrong here. Being in as strong of a position in the market as they are lets them throw their weight around in a very uncompetitive way. It also goes to show more than ever why I wouldn’t want a Kindle or any DRMed ebook reader so Amazon is not coming out of this looking good in my opinion.

Looks like its confirmed. The New York Times confirms that Amazon has removed Macmillan’s books from their store.

From: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/amazon-pulls-macmillan-books-over-e-book-price-disagreement/

Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books

That seems like a really shitty business tactic and decision for Amazon and it will hurt THEM and sales of the Kindle I think more than it will Macmillan. Aside from the fact that Amazon is probably right on the price point for an ebook ($9.99 since you can’t sell or give it away, and has no physical printing costs, is a fair price) but it just proves that if this continues people will have to own multiple ereader devices if they want to have the books they want in an electronic format.

Thank god this has not happened with Audiobooks. The Audio Books I get from Audible.com play on whatever device I have (either my old creative mp3 player or my current iPod).

So in the wake of Apples new jumbo iPod touch iPad, a bunch of publishers signed on with Apple to put ebooks out for it. One of these was Macmillan, who owns Tor Books content wise my favorite publisher). My initial thoughts were that it was uninspired and a poor choice as compared to e-ink type readers like the kindle.

Then word has been floating around on the net that Tor books and all other Macmillan books have vanished from Amazon’s Kindle store (they’re still available on BN and other ebook stores though). Author John Scalzi has some early info and thoughts on this at his blog.

Its still early and its unknown whether the books are down at Macmillan’s request, or because Amazon is retaliating, or some other technical issue. Unless its the latter (which is extremely unlikely and even if they claim it was the reason later on I will be doubtful) this is a dangerous but not unexpected development.

Is Apple so strong that they are able to bully, coerce, or bribe their suppliers to have them leave the biggest ebook platform (as of now)? If so having one company with so much power in the market is always a bad thing.

Is Amazon the one who feels that they are so strong (or have so much to fear from Apple’s upcoming device) that they have to start bullying people into not signing with Apple?

Will it get to the point where you’ll need two or three ‘ereader’ type devices to get the books you want. This will be a failure for consumers if this becomes the case. Though with all the DRM on these devices, and the inability to give away or lend a book after you’re done with it, the future of ebooks wasn’t looking very consumer friendly anyway. This isn’t going to help.

Edit: Its not just Kindle versions of the books removed from Amazon. Its ALL books from Macmillan which have been removed from Amazon’s own sales. Sales by third parties that sell through Amazon are unaffected which is why I though it was just the kindle versions at first. That just makes it worse. Oh well – if Amazon is doing this by choice and its not some glitch …. that’s really stupendously dumb.

Diana and I went to see The Cranberries in concert at the Nokia Theater in Times Square, New York City on Wednesday.  As sad as it is today, it was my first real concert (as opposed to seeing bands play at a festival or something).  The theater was nicer than I expected.  The front half of the theater was standing only, the back half was seats.  Since neither of us are 20 anymore and wanted to stand for the entire show, we were glad to take aisle seats.

Before The Cranberries played, a singer & guitarist who I had not previously heard of, named Griffin House.  Though I hadn’t heard of of him before, my wife and I both enjoyed his music a lot.  He had one song about his grandfather & WW II which I especially liked.  I’ll have to check out and see if any of his music is available to download from Amazon.

After Griffin House played for half an hour or so, there was an almost half hour break were we just waited.  Diana thought it was so they could sell more drinks & food at the theater – she’s probably right.

And then – the Cranberries came out.  I’ve been a fan of theirs since 1996 back when my Freshman year roommate had their 2nd and 3rd albums.  I have to say it was everything I expected it to be.  Dolores was signing just like back in the old days (though admittedly I hadn’t seen them live before) and she and they all were so energetic (especially Noel Hogan on guitar during solos & Fergal Lawlor on drums).  I ended up with a sore throat since I was signing along with most of the songs.  Thankfully the music was so loud that no one heard me since I’m not very good.  I was surprised that I still knew the words to all the Cranberries songs that they were singing.

My only ‘low point’ if you could call it that is that outside of “Ordinary Day”, I don’t feel the songs from Dolores O’Riordan’s solo albums (Are You Listening & No Baggage) are nearly as good as The Cranberries’ own songs.  I think there were only three of those though.  They weren’t bad – just not as good as The Cranberries’ own stuff.

They did do all my favorites.  “Zombie”, “Promises”, “Linger”, “Dreams”, “Free to Decide”, and many more.  I’m ecstatic that I was able to see it all.  I was disappointed when they went on hiatus which I thought meant they might not get back together again – since I thought I missed my chances to see them.  Thankfully – that wasn’t the case.  All I want now is for them to put out another album.  Maybe after they are done touring next year?

Blood donation

So I just got back from the Blood Drive at the VFW in New Paltz.  I did the ‘Double Red-Cell’ donation for the first time in a couple years.  Its… weird… if you’ve never done it before (though even if you have it is a little).  They hook you up to the machine where for five minutes or so they draw blood.  The machine separates your blood and takes just the red blood cells and gives everything else back to you.  Then the process repeats until they get enough (the machine read 360 when I was done – don’t know if that’s mili-liters or something else).

Good thing about it is I don’t have to hear from the New York Blood Center for about four months (since I cannot donate again until mid-September after this).  I think its important to give blood – but the phone calls if you don’t go back immediately after you’re eligible again are annoying.  Every couple years I blow up at them on the phone and tell them to stop calling me or I won’t give anymore.  Unfortunately that only stops them for a year or so.   E-mail is fine – the phone calls are annoying.  I wonder if it makes anyone else annoyed with them enough to stop (another couple participants at the drive commented on the same thing earlier today).

I’m an awful blogger.  Those of you who may come here once in a blue moon I’m sure know that.  Due to a situation at work, I started to use Twitter today.   Maybe (since the twitter updates are set to post here) I’ll actually have some mini-content here occasionally.

Fencing – Quarterfinals

If the seeding numbers are correct on NBC’s website, the quarter finals are:

  • Sada Jacobson (USA) vs Olena Khomrova (Ukraine)
  • Becca Ward (USA) vs Azza Besbes (the Tunisian fencer who already upset a couple of higher ranked fencers)
  • Mariel Zagunis (USA) vs Yingying Bao (China)
  • Xue Tan (China – Siver Medalist who beat Jacobson in 2004 in Athens to advance to the gold round but lost to Zagunis) vs Sofiya Velikaya (Russia)

I can only watch one bout so as much as I’m tempted to watch Becca Ward, I’ll stick with Mariel again.

Mariel has an early 5-2 lead – her footwork is much faster than the last bout and I think she is going to walk away with this one!

Just noticed… they’re both lefties as Mariel expands her lead to 9-3 before the first break.

Bah – bad call.  You can’t call that a parry riposte.  There was a parry but the action completely stopped before the attack from Bao.  Oh well – its still 10-4.

Bao just walked into Zagunis’ outstretched blade without parrying.  13-4 now.  Just after that though a very nice riposte from Bao to make it 13-6.

Ended closer than I thought it was going to – 15-9 – but Zagunis still advances to the semi-finals.  Very nice match from Zagunis – if she keeps fencing like that she’s going to get the gold for sure!

Just switched to the Jacobson match in time to see her win 15-11, and Tan (silver medalist from 2004) get upset by Velikaya.

Last match – Becca Ward wins 15-14 over Besbes (which must have been a great match – for Besbes to get so far against Ward shows she must have really been on her game).

Now the Americans are guaranteed at least two medals in Women’s sabre – possibly all three!

Ward vs Zagunis

Jacobson vs Velikaya

Both EARLY (for us here at least) Saturday morning.  Time for me to get some sleep.

Watching Zagunis (USA) vs Jozwiak (Poland) in the round of 16 now…

Been pretty back and forth so far.  Mariel just took a 5-4 lead but its been very close.  Its been hard for me to follow to be honest – there has not been the patient back and forth and testing of the opponent before the attack that occured in the previous matches (especially Sada Jacobson’s) tonight.  That could just be because its too fast for me to catch.

Becca Ward (Ranked #2 worldwide) also of the US is fencing now (all three US fencers in the event advanced to the round of 16) but I can only watch the one event at a time unfortunately.

The little French I know is allowing me to understand the director when they sound is good.  I think the piste they are at in this match (Blue) has better sound or the director is speaking clearer.

Mariel wins another one and advances with her teammate Sada Jacobson to the quarterfinals!  Final Score: 15-13 (though that last point needed a video review).

Looks like Becca Ward also won with a big 15-10 win over the Hungarian Orsolya Nagy.

Wish I could have watched all three matches.  Quarter finals coming up (with three americans left – I think the chances of one being matched against another in this round is a distinct possibility).

Fencing (post 2)

Watching Sada Jacobson in the round of 16 now against the Ukranian (Olga Khorlan).  Great match – Sada came from a big deficit and had an amazing parry riposte to tie it at 9-9 a moment ago.  She’s leading 11-9 now…

The crowd is in the background – clearly chearing for the Americans (You hear “SADA”… “SADA”… in the background almost continually – as you heard the chants for Mariel when she was fencing).  Its great to hear people cheering for fencing 🙂

14-13 now – Sada wins every point she is moving around for but when she stays in the center and tries to go toe to toe with Khorlan, she loses.

She’s won it – 15-13.  Sada advances to the quarterfinals.

I’m going to try to stay awake for the quarterfinals… but then I’m not sure I’ll be able to get up in the morning for the semis and the medal round.  But its been amazing fencing – I just might have to watch it all.

Soooo… its been a long time since I’ve put anything on here.  I have no idea whether or not anyone reads it – but even so I’m going to keep going with it for a while.

I just watched some REALLY AMAZING Fencing online (Kudos to NBC for the live streams – great quality too and not even a TINY bit of slowdown).  Early round Women’s Sabre fencing.

First Match (that I watched): Sada Jacobsen (USA, ranked #1, bronze medal winner in 2004 in Athens) against Mailyn Gonzalez Pozo (Cuba).  Sada won 15-11 (and it seemed like it was going to be a wider margin for a bit).  Great match.

Second Match: Mariel Zagunis (USA, ranked #5, gold medal winner in 2004 in Athens, and my personal favorite to win again), against Sandra Sassine of Canada.  Sassine came out very strong getting the first three points (coming off a 23-3 demolition of her previous opponent from South Africa).  It was going to be tough but Mariel made it back at 6-6, then eventually taking a commanding lead winning 15-10.  Mariel got a Yellow Card (a warning penalty) but I’m not sure what for as there was no commentary and the director was speaking french (not the greatest sound for me to make out much more than a few words here and there anyway).

P.S.  If you know me you already know I love Fencing.  I started the New Paltz Fencing Club and ran it while I was an undergrad from 1996-2001.  I’ve always been a fan of fencing and lamented the fact that I haven’t really gotten to see much top level fencing (since it is almost NEVER on TV even when the Olympics are on).  I’m incredibly happy that NBC is showing ALL of it online and getting to see how amazing these athletes are.

Medal matches are in the morning around 7AM.  I actually plan on waking up for it if I can 😉

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