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Google's New Book Search Deals in Ideas, Not Keywords

Google's New Book Search Deals in Ideas, Not Keywords

A new Google project called called “Talk to Books” provides answers to questions by drawing on a library of more than 100,000 books. From a report: Tech pioneer Ray Kurzweil debuted the project at the TED conference in Vancouver, and explained that it differs from traditional search by relying on semantics rather than keywords. Keyword search is great when you’re hunting down a specific piece of information, but Google — and digital technology in general — still has a long way to go when it comes to connecting ideas and answering questions with complete thoughts.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
Amazon is Burying Sexy Books, Sending Erotic Novel Authors to the 'No-Rank Dungeon'

Amazon is Burying Sexy Books, Sending Erotic Novel Authors to the 'No-Rank Dungeon'

Samantha Cole, reporting for Motherboard: In the last few days, word has spread among independent erotica authors on social media that Amazon was quietly changing its policies for erotic novels. Five authors I spoke to, and several more on social media, have reported that their books were stripped of their best seller rankings — essentially hiding them from casual browsing on the site, and separating them from more mainstream, safe-for-work titles. […] Most people browsing Amazon books might not notice or care about the best seller rank — a number that’s based on how well the title is selling on Amazon.com — but it’s part of an algorithm that influences how the book appears in search, and whether it shows up in advertisements, including suggestions from one product to the next (“If you like this book, you might like this book”). For independent authors and booksellers, this ranking is hugely important for visibility.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
Ask Slashdot: I Want To Get Into Comic Books, But Where Do I Start?

Ask Slashdot: I Want To Get Into Comic Books, But Where Do I Start?

An anonymous reader writes: Hi fellow readers. I don’t recall reading many comic books as a kid (mostly because I could not afford them), but of late, I have been considering giving that a shot. I wanted to ask if you had any tips to share. Do I start with paperback editions, or do I jump directly into digital? Also, could you recommend a few good sci-fic comic book series? Thanks in advance!

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
Project Gutenberg Blocks German Users After Outrageous Court Ruling

Project Gutenberg Blocks German Users After Outrageous Court Ruling

Slashdot reader David Rothman writes: The oldest public domain publisher in the world, Project Gutenberg, has blocked German users after an outrageous legal ruling saying this American nonprofit must obey German copyright law… Imagine the technical issues for fragile, cash-strapped public domain organizations — worrying not only about updated databases covering all the world’s countries, but also applying the results to distribution.
TeleRead carries two views on the German case involving a Holtzbrinck subsidiary…

Significantly, older books provide just a tiny fraction of the revenue of megaconglomerates like Holtzbrinck but are essential to students of literature and indeed to students in general.
What’s more, as illustrated by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in the U.S., copyright law in most countries tends to reflect the wishes and power of lobbyists more than it does the commonweal.

Ideally the travails of Project Gutenberg will encourage tech companies, students, teachers, librarians and others to step up their efforts against oppressive copyright laws. While writers and publishers deserve fair compensation, let’s focus more on the needs of living creators and less on the estates of authors dead for many decades. The three authors involved in the German case are Heinrich Mann (died in 1950), Thomas Mann (1955) and Alfred Döblin (1957).

One solution in the U.S. and elsewhere for modern creators would be national library endowments… Meanwhile, it would be very fitting for Google and other deep-pocketed corporations with an interest in a global Internet and more balanced copyright to help Gutenberg finance its battle. Law schools, other academics, educators and librarians should also offer assistance.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
HBO's Fahrenheit 451 Trailer Teases Dystopian World Filled With Burning 'Chaos'

HBO's Fahrenheit 451 Trailer Teases Dystopian World Filled With Burning 'Chaos'

HBO has released the first trailer of its film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s best-selling 1953 dystopian tale, Fahrenheit 451, which depicts a time period where history is outlawed and “firemen” burn books. The Hollywood Reporter reports: In the Ramin Bahrani-directed film, Michael B. Jordan stars as Guy Montag, a fireman who comes to question his role in enforcing the state’s censorship laws, and in so doing finds himself at odds with his “mentor,” Beatty (Michael Shannon). “By the time you guys grow up, there won’t be one book left,” Jordan is shown telling a group of students. Throughout the trailer, a reel of destruction is shown as Beatty’s voiceover warns that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” “We are not born equal, so we must be made equal by the fire,” Beatty explains. Jordan will also serve as the film’s executive producer. Sofia Boutella, Martin Donovan, Laura Harrier, Keir Dullea, Jane Moffat and Grace Lynn Kung also star.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
The Slow Demise of Barnes & Noble

The Slow Demise of Barnes & Noble

John Biggs via TechCrunch reports of the slow demise of Barnes & Noble, which he has been chronicling for several years now. There have been many signs of trouble for the bookseller chain over the years, but none have been more apparent than the recent layoffs made earlier this week. From the report: On Monday the company laid off 1,800 people. This offered a cost savings of $40 million. […] In fact, what B&N did was fire all full time employees at 781 stores. Further, the company laid off many shipping receivers around the holidays, resulting in bare shelves and a customer escape to Amazon. In December 2017, usually B&N’s key month, sales dropped 6 percent to $953 million. Online sales fell 4.5 percent. It is important to note that when other big box retailers, namely Circuit City, went the route of firing all highly paid employees and bringing in minimum wage cashiers, stockers, and salespeople it signaled the beginning of the end.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Favorite Books On Entrepreneurship?

Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Favorite Books On Entrepreneurship?

An anonymous reader writes: There are excellent well-known books like Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, but I find some of the lesser-known books about tech entrepreneurship very interesting, like A Triumph of Genius about Edwin Land of Polaroid or Riding the Runaway Horse about An Wang of Wang Laboratories. Also, there’s Fast Forward by Lardner about VHS/Betamax. What books regarding entrepreneurship would Slashdotters recommend?

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books
Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating and Doing R&D?

Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating and Doing R&D?

dryriver writes: I’ve signed up to a project that involves inventing new ways to do things and also performing the technology R&D required to make these new ways a reality. So, dear Slashdotters, are there any good books on inventing, innovating or doing R&D? Books that describe different ways to approach inventing/R&D? Books on managing a team effort to invent, innovate and research? Or even good books about the history of past inventions — how they were created, why they were created, how and why they succeeded or failed in the real world? Thanks!

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Posted by amiller in Blog, books