Round up #151: 5 reviews a week, don’t pay as you exit
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
Check this out…or rather, don’t and just walk out
I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, and I managed a couple of other types of stores, too.
This is truly revolutionary! Sure, Amazon does revolutionary things, but this is not online…it’s in a physical store.
What is it?
It’s called “Amazon Go”. It’s a new store concept…and the first one is opening in Seattle in 2017, so it’s not just a concept.
You have an app on your SmartPhone. As you walk into the store, you scan your phone while passing through a turnstile (sort of like some mass transit systems). Then, you just take what you want off the shelves, and you walk out.
That’s right…you don’t check out, you don’t pay, you don’t even scan your phone again on the way out.
Your Amazon account is charged.
That’s all a quantum leap change…we haven’t been gradually moving towards this, it’s a revolution, not an evolution
Watch this video:
Note that is uses computer vision, among other things…it’s not just RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or UPC (Universal Product Code) tags.
We do see an Amazon employee restocking the shelf, although that could largely be done by robots. You want some employees, though, at this point…for one thing, to answer questions (the app could probably help with that, perhaps in the future as an Alexa-enabled app, or by having Alexa-enabled devices in the store). The other major thing would be to discourage shoplifting…no doubt, people will try to run into the store (hopping the turnstile, perhaps) and grab and go.
This is brilliant for Amazon for several reasons.
Everybody who goes in there pays through Amazon.
I think customers will like it…a lot.
Customers will also have a lowered awareness of how much they are spending. I’ve seen people in front of me in line at a grocery store look at the total and put something back…not going to happen here.
This first store will have grocery type items, including prepared meals…not, I would presume, fresh produce, although I suppose that could be done.
Amazon could eventually expand this, especially at the holiday season. I see clothing being particularly appropriate here, so people could try on the clothes.
Amazon…always innovating, and increasingly, offline.
Specialty Best Books lists
Here are some links to specialty Best Books lists from The Guardian:
- Kate Kellaway’s Best Poetry Books of 2016 from The Guardian
- Peter Conrad’s Best Art Books of 2016 from The Guardian
- Stephen Moss’ Best Nature Books of 2016 from The Guardian
Note that this is a British news source, but that has affected availability less in recent years, I believe.
こんにちは, Dash buttons!
Do you know why Microsoft Word won out over WordPerfect?
I was active at the time in computing, and I remember it pretty well.
WordPerfect was, I think most serious word processors agreed, better.
However, we did everything with keyboard shortcuts…we didn’t have mice and menus, for the most part (it worked with them quite a bit later). Some of you will remember plastic trays you put around your keyboard that listed the shortcuts…you might have had several of them.
Microsoft brought in this “menu” thing. People laughed: the only people who used a word processing program were superior typists, and they weren’t going to want to take their fingers off the home row to pick up a mouse and go to a menu.
Well, of course, what happened was that lots of people who weren’t good typists started using word-processing…and if you were a bad typist, that was better.
Microsoft won because they provided multiple ways to do the same thing. They didn’t eliminate keyboard shortcuts…they added another modality.
I bring that up because some people may wonder why Amazon does
when they have the beauty of voice shopping with the Alexa-enabled devices, including the original
With a Dash button, it does one thing. It orders a specific product, whenever you push a button.
Those are two very different approaches…and Amazon is making them both work, and apparently they are both selling well.
The USA Kindle store now has 226 Dash buttons…and when you buy one for $4.99, you get a $4.99 credit on your first purchase (so it is effectively free).
Well, Amazon just introduced the Dash button to Amazon.jp (the Japanese store):
They are starting with 16, but I think it will be a success there, too. 🙂
“Winner Wonderland”: win an Echo Dot and a whole lot more from C/NET
You could win an
and a whole lot of other home automation hardware in the
You do have to agree to get the e-mail newsletter (you can drop out), but this is a good giveaway. There’s a giveaway each day through December 15th, 2016.
“BANNED BOOKS AND BLOCKBUSTERS”
is one of the best articles on publishing I’ve read in quite some time…although, I will warn you that there is an “obscenity” early on in it (what some people call the “c word”…it can be used as an insulting term for women, and refers to part of the female anatomy, which is how it is used in the quotation appearing in the article). As regular readers know, I don’t use obscenities in my “real life”, and when I write in this blog, I typically censor them (even something like “H*ll”). However, I do not object to their use by others, and have used them when quoting something.
It’s important for this story, which gives real insight into the history of obscenity laws and the first amendment, and how they have affected publishing.
I found it insightful and edifying, and it’s relatively long.
If you can get past that word in this context, and some other discussions of what obscenity means (and potentially objectionable language), I recommend the article.
For a previous post of mine about judging books from older times by current standards, see
That may not be exactly the issue here…both of these books use the “n word”, but in the latter especially, it’s used for a purpose, and the purpose is certainly arguably intended to be instructive.
Microsoft may challenge the Echo…through computers
The Echo really realized the home assistant market, but there are now multiple competitors…which is a good thing. Competition drives innovation, after all.
discusses rumors that Microsoft may turn Windows PCs into Cortana-powered home automation centers. Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant, like Alexa or Siri.
It’s an interesting idea and makes a lot of sense to me.
We don’t know if this is real, or what it would eventually be able to do…but I don’t see any great barrier to this. It might particularly apply in businesses…I use our
at work, but that’s not very subtle. 😉 I’m not doing anything wrong listening to music on it and such, but I think it can distract people that it is there in a different way than a feature of Windows 10 would do. When I say that, I’m picturing the office having smart home technology which would tie to it, by the way.
Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird pulled from school district due to parent complaint
This kind of thing happens…a parent complains about a book, and it gets pulled from a school or school district, sometimes to be restored later:
The complaint was over the use of the “n word”. I’ve seen the parent (I think it was the complaining parent) comment, and the thought was that the word being in a book give it an imprimatur and children will feel okay using it.
As I’ve seen this story in multiple places, there is a tendency to tie it into current political events…I wouldn’t say I’m seeing something here that rules that in or out. After all, there is a Banned Books Week every year…
Amazon continues to go after “fake reviews”
A reader sent me a heads up to this
that asserts that there is a new Amazon review policy. I’ve written about Amazon’s customer reviews quite a bit…a powerful tool, but one that has been…vulnerable to at least attempts at manipulation.
According to this, the new policy is that an individual can only write up to five non-verified purchase reviews per week.
That will stop people who are “review factories”. They get paid (in cash and products) for writing those reviews…and they may use software or a team of people to do it.
They can still try to make a number of accounts, I suppose, but this does put a hurdle on the track.
Does it affect people who are legitimately reviewing?
Potentially, although I think not a huge number.
If I was retired, I could see deciding to sit down and write a review for every one of the Doc Savage paperbacks, for example, and that might be writing more than ten a week. They wouldn’t show as “verified purchases” at Amazon, since I bought them before Amazon existed. 🙂
However, older books don’t tend to have very many reviews, so I don’t think that sort of Before Amazon bulk reviewing happens much.
Thanks for the heads up, reader!
What do you think? How should schools handle parent challenges to books…and how should they handle “objectionable words”? What do you think of the Amazon Go store? How about a computer that did home automation? Do you like Cortana? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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This post was improved through a comment from Edward Boyhan.
* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.