4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

eCommerce / Mail Order / Consumer Analytics Timeline


1800 – 1850

Foundation of the First Parcel Express Agency in the U.S. 1839

"The first parcel express agency in the United States is generally considered to have been started by William Harriden, who in 1839 began regular trips between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts as a courier transporting small parcels, currency and other valuables" (Wikipedia article on Railway Express Agency, accessed 11-07-2013). 

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1850 – 1875

Montgomery Ward Issues the First General Merchandise Mail Order Catalogue August 1872

In August 1872, with two employees and a total capital of $1,600, American businessman Aaron Montgomery Ward founded Montgomery Ward & Company. From a small shipping room in Chicago Ward published the world's first general merchandise mail-order catalog, a single 8 x 12 inch price list showing 163 products for sale with ordering instructions. 

"Ward had conceived of the idea of a dry goods mail-order business in Chicago, Illinois, after several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. He observed that rural customers often wanted 'city' goods but their only access to them was through rural retailers who had little competition and offered no guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station.

"After several false starts, including the destruction of his first inventory by the Great Chicago Fire, Ward started his business at his first office, either in a single room at 825 North Clark Street, or in a loft above a livery stable on Kinzie Street between Rush and State Streets. He had two partners and used $1,600 they had raised in capital. The first catalog in August 1872 consisted of an 8 by 12 in. single-sheet price list, showing 163 articles for sale with ordering instructions. Ward wrote the first catalog copy. His two partners left the following year, but he continued the struggling business and was joined by his future brother-in-law Richard Thorne.

"In the first few years, the business was not well received by rural retailers. Considering Ward a threat, they sometimes publicly burned his catalog. Despite the opposition, however, the business grew at a fast pace over the next several decades, fueled by demand primarily from rural customers who were attracted by the wide selection of items unavailable to them locally. Customers were also attracted by the innovative and unprecedented company policy of 'satisfaction guaranteed or your money back', which Ward began using in 1875" (Wikipedia article on Montgomery Ward, accessed 11-07-2013). 

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1875 – 1900

Foundation of International Parcel Post Service 1878 – 1896

"The term "parcel post" refers to the sending of packages through the mail service. In 1878, the Congress of the Universal Postal Union established an international parcel post system. Four years later, the British parliament approved a bill implementing domestic, colonial and foreign parcel post services. Other countries quickly followed suit. The US Post Office Department agreed to deliver parcels sent into the country but refused to institute a domestic service.

"In the late 1800's, the National Grange and similar organizations concerned with farmers' welfare lobbied Congress for the free delivery of mail to rural households. Many rural residents had to travel for days to retrieve their mail from distant post offices or pay private express companies for delivery. Finally, in October 1896, Congress approved the establishment of rural free delivery. It was a heady taste of life for rural Americans and soon increased the demand for delivery of packages containing foodstuffs, dry goods, drugs, tobacco and other commodities not easily available to farmers.

"Private express companies and rural retail merchants fought tenaciously against parcel post but rural residents comprised 54 percent of the country's population and they were equally vociferous. While the question was still being debated in Congress, one of the major express companies declared a large stockholder dividend. Public indignation at the exorbitant profits spurred Congress to resolve the issue quickly" (http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/parcelpost/intro.htm, accessed 11-07-2013).

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1910 – 1920

The U. S. Post Office Begins Parcel Post Service January 1, 1913

"The service began on January 1, 1913. And begin it did. At the stroke of midnight Postmaster Edward M. Morgan in New York City and Postmaster General Hitchcock dropped packages addressed to each other into the mail, racing to be the first to use the service. They were not alone in looking to create a “first” out of the new service. These cups were the first objects officially mailed under the new service. But the first package to be delivered was 11 pounds of apples sent to New Jersey governor (and President-Elect) Woodrow Wilson. The Woodrow Wilson Club of Princeton deposited the apples at a local post office at precisely 12:01 a.m. By prearrangement, the carrier assigned to normally deliver the governor’s mail, David Gransom, received the parcel “before the cancelling ink was dry” and set off “driving furiously down the muddy street for the president elect’s home.” He delivered the apples to the waiting Wilson at 12:04 a.m. Wilson met Gransom at the door, signed for the package, and presented the carrier with the pencil" (http://www.npm.si.edu/parcelpost100/p3.html, accessed 11-07-2013).

"Parcel post service began on January 1, 1913 and was an instant success. During the first five days of service, 1,594 post offices reported handling over 4 million parcel post packages. The effect on the national economy was electric. Marketing through parcel post gave rise to great mail-order businesses. In addition, parcel post created an immediate demand for special packaging suitable for mailing the wide array of commodities considered deliverable under the system" (http://www.sil.si.edu/ondisplay/parcelpost/intro.htm, accessed 11-07-2013).

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1960 – 1970

Stewart Brand Issues "The Whole Earth Catalog": Google and Blogging before the Internet 1968

In Fall 1968 American writer and founder of organizations Stewart Brand of the Portola Institute, Menlo Park, California, published the first edition of the Whole Earth Catalog. Access to tools, with the goal of providing education and "access to tools" so a reader could "find his own inspiration, shape is own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested."

In his June 2005 Stanford University commencement address Steve Jobs compared The Whole Earth Catalog to Google. "When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation.... It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic and overflowing with neat tools and great notions." During the commencement speech, Jobs also quoted the farewell message placed on the back cover of the 1974 edition of the catalog: 'Stay hungry. Stay foolish.' "

A similar comparison was made by Kevin Kelly in 2008:

"For this new countercultural movement, information was a precious commodity. In the ’60s, there was no Internet; no 500 cable channels. [The Whole Earth Catalog] was a great example of user-generated content, without advertising, before the Internet. Basically, Brand invented the blogosphere long before there was any such thing as a blog. ... No topic was too esoteric, no degree of enthusiasm too ardent, no amateur expertise too uncertified to be included.... This I am sure about: it is no coincidence that the Whole Earth Catalogs disappeared as soon as the web and blogs arrived. Everything the Whole Earth Catalogs did, the web does better" (Wikipedia article on Whole Earth Catalog, accessed 12-06-2013).

In December 2013 

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Compuserve, the First Commercial Online Service, is Founded 1969

In 1969 Compuserve was founded in Columbus, Ohio, as a way to generate income from Golden United Life Insurance mainframe computers during non-business hours. Compuserve became the first commercial online service in the United States.

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1970 – 1980

The Minitel 1978 – June 30, 2012

Rolled out experimentally in 1978 in Brittany, and throughout France in 1982 by PTT (Poste, Téléphone et Télécommunications), the Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines.  In 1991 PTT was divided into France Télécom and La Poste, with the Minitel operated by France Télécom. Users of the Minitel could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat in a way similar to the Internet.

"Millions of terminals were lent for free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free 'white page' printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible for free on Minitel, and they could be searched by a reasonably intelligent search engine; much faster than flipping through a paper directory.

"France Télécom estimates that almost 9 million terminals—including web-enabled personal computers (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux)—had access to the network at the end of 1999, and that it was used by 25 million people (of a total population of 60 million). Developed by 10,000 companies, in 1996, almost 26,000 different services were available" (Wikipedia article in Minitel, accessed 07-11-2012).

Though usage was concentrated in France, the Minitel had a significant level of usage primarily in other European countries. The service was introduced in the United States very late, in 1993, by which time it faced serious competition from early Internet providers such as AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe.  The Minitel service was finally shut down by France Télécom on June 30, 2012.

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The Invention of Online Shopping 1979

In 1979 English inventor and entrepreneur Michael Aldrich invented online shopping, or teleshopping, to enable online transaction processing between consumers and businesses, or from business to business. Aldrich's technique later became known as e-commerce; it did not become economically viable until the Internet. 

"His [Aldrich's] system connected a modified domestic TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a domestic telephone line. He believed that videotex, the modified domestic TV technology with a simple menu-driven human–computer interface, was a 'new, universally applicable, participative communication medium — the first since the invention of the telephone. This enabled 'closed' corporate information systems to be opened to 'outside' correspondents not just for transaction processing but also for e-messaging and information retrieval and dissemination, later known as e-business. His definition of the new mass communications medium as 'participative' [interactive, many-to-many] was fundamentally different from the traditional definitions of mass communication and mass media and a precursor to the social networking on the Internet 25 years later" (Wikipedia article on online shopping, accessed 03-19-2014).

In March 2014 reminiscences from Aldrich, and an account of his difficulties in reconstructing the early history of online shopping, entitled "Finding Mrs. Snowball," were available from The Michael Aldrich Archive at this link. Also available at the same link was a video interview from the time with the first online shopper, Mrs. Jane Snowball. 

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1980 – 1990

The First Operational Online Antiquarian Bookselling Site 1988

In 1988 Larry Costello founded Antiquarian Databases International (ADI). A Bulletin Board System (BBS), ADI was the first operational online antiquarian bookselling site, and an extremely early venture in ecommerce, but it closed after only a few months.

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1990 – 2000

"Clearing the Way for Electronic Commerce" 1991

In 1990 the National Science Foundation (NSF), Arlington, Virginia, lifted restrictions on the commercial use of the NSFNET Backbone Network, clearing the way for electronic commerce.

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Precursor to Amazon.com's Online Bookstore 1992

In 1992 Charles M. Stack founded Book Stacks Unlimited, an online bookstore selling new physical books. Stack's store began as a dial-up bulletin board located in Cleveland, Ohio. It moved to the Internet as Books.com, eventually attracting a half million visitors each month. This was two years before Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com.

"Stack devised the concept in 1991 based on his personal fascination with reading and books, as he recalled in 1998:

"I've always read a lot, so that was the germ of the idea. I'll pick a subject and read every book ever published on it. That's hard to do if you shop at a walk-in bookstore. Even the superstores don't have more than a couple of titles per topic. My dream was to have a bookstore that had every book ever published to feed my own habit.

"Offering 500,000 titles, Book Stacks had 35 staffers who gave their book recommendations to visitors. Other features included a daily literary journal, summaries of new books, RealAudio interviews with authors and forums in which customers could ask questions and discuss books. Books could be searched by title, author, subject, keyword or ISBN number.

"In 1996, Book Stacks became a wholly owned subsidiary of Cendant Corporation, a consumer services company based in Stamford, Connecticut and previously known as CUC International. In 1997, Book Stacks became part of Cendant's virtual mall, netMarket, a one-stop Internet shopping site which included an online music store and an online video store, both operating from the Book Stacks offices in downtown Cleveland.

"Subsequently, it was purchased by Barnes & Noble; www.books.com now redirects to www.barnesandnoble.com" (Wikipedia article on Book Stacks Unlimited, accessed 11-08-2013).

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"The First Successful Online Bookseller Service" 1993 – 1997

In 1993 Richard Weatherford established Interloc, "the first successful online bookseller service." Arguing that "our mission is to help booksellers find books for their own customers," Weatherford opened the database to booksellers only. Interloc evolved into Alibris in 1997.

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Development of Neural Networks 1993

In 1993 Psychologist, neuroscientist and cognitive scientist James A. Anderson of Brown University, Providence, RI, published "The BSB Model: A simple non-linear autoassociative network," M. Hassoun (Ed), Associative Neural Memories: Theory and Implementation (1993).  Anderson's neural networks were applied to models of human concept formation, decision making, speech perception, and models of vision.

Anderson, J. A., Spoehr, K. T. and Bennett, D.J.  "A study in numerical perversity: Teaching arithmetic to a neural network,"  D.S. Levine and M. Aparicio (Eds.) Neural Networks for Knowledge Representation and Inference, (1994).

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The First Commercial Website with the First Online Advertising May 1993

In May 1993 Tim O’Reilly, Sebastapol, California, launched the Global Network Navigator. This was the first web portal and the first true commercial website. According to a statement by Tim O'Reilly, it also contained the first online advertising. The Global Network Navigator was sold to America Online in 1995.

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Google Begins with a Search Engine Called "BackRub" 1994 – 1996

At Stanford University in 1994 Héctor Garcia-Molina and Terry Winograd directed one of the first six National Science Foundation digital library projects. Two of the graduate students supported by this project through a NSF graduate fellowship—Larry Page and Sergey Brin—began to explore using the linkages between web pages as a ranking method. In 1996 they began collaboration at on a search engine called BackRub, named for its unique ability to analyze the "back links" pointing to a given website.

"Larry, who had always enjoyed tinkering with machinery and had gained some notoriety for building a working printer out of Lego™, took on the task of creating a new kind of server environment that used low-end PCs instead of big expensive machines. Afflicted by the perennial shortage of cash common to graduate students everywhere, the pair took to haunting the department's loading docks in hopes of tracking down newly arrived computers that they could borrow for their network."

"Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed BackRub, the predecessor to the Google search engine, while working on an early library digitization project at Stanford that was funded in part by the National Science Foundation’s Digital Libraries Initiative. And PageRank, Google’s core search algorithm, which orders sites in search results based on the number of other sites that link to them, is simply a computer scientist’s version of citation analysis, long used to rate the influence of articles in scholarly print journals" Roush, "The Infinite Library Does Google's plan to digitize millions of print books spell the death of libraries; or their rebirth?" (Technology Review.com, May 2005, http://www.technologyreview.com/web/14408/, accessed 03-19-2009).

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Match.com is Founded 1994

In 1994 Gary Kremen and Peng T. Ong started the online dating site Match.com.

"The initial business scope developed by this team included a possible subscription model, now common among personals services, and inclusion of diverse communities with high first trial and market leaders status, including women, technology professionals and the GLBT community. Fran Maier joined in late 1994 to lead the Match.com business unit where she significantly bolstered the strategy to make Match.com friendly and accessible to women (the men would then follow)" (Wikipedia article on Match.com).

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"Selling Wine without Bottles" March 1994

John Perry Barlow, lyricist for The Grateful Dead, published in March 1994 issue of Wired magazine an article entitled The Economy of Ideas. A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Ages. (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.)

This, or a very similar text, was also issued under the title of: Selling Wine Without Bottles: The Economy of Mind on the Global Net.

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Yahoo! is Founded April 1994 – January 18, 1995

In April 1994 Jerry Yang and David Filo, Electrical Engineering graduate students at Stanford,  changed the name of "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" to "Yahoo!", for which the official expansion was "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle".

Filo and Yang selected the name because they liked the word's general definition, which comes from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth." Its URL was akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo. They created the Yahoo! domain on January 18, 1995.

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Commercial Spaming Starts with the "Green Card Spam" April 12, 1994

Commercial spamming started when a pair of immigation lawyers from Phoenix, Arizona—Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel—used bulk Usenet postings to advertise immigration law services on April 12, 1994. This was called the "Green Card spam", after the subject line of the postings: "Green Card Lottery-Final One?"

"Canter and Siegel sent their advertisement, with the subject 'Green Card Lottery - Final One?', to at least 5,500 Usenet discussion groups, a huge number at the time. Rather than cross-posting a single copy of the message to multiple groups, so a reader would only see it once (considered a common courtesy when posting the same message to more than one group), they posted it as separate postings in each newsgroup, so a reader would see it in each group they read. Their internet service provider, Internet Direct, received so many complaints that its mail servers crashed repeatedly for the next two days; it promptly terminated their service. Despite the ire directed at the two lawyers, they posted another advertisement to 1,000 newsgroups in June 1994. This time, Arnt Gulbrandsen put together the first software "cancelbot" to trawl Usenet and kill their messages within minutes. The couple claimed in a December 1994 interview to have gained 1,000 new clients and 'made $100,000 off an ad that cost them only pennies' " (Wikipedia article on Lawrence Cantor and Martha Siegel, accessed 03-17-2012).

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The HTTP Cookie is Invented June 1994 – February 1996

In June 1994 Louis J. "Lou" Montulli II at Netscape Communications Corporation invented the HTTP cookie.

"Together with John Giannandrea, Montulli wrote the initial Netscape cookie specification the same year. Version 0.9beta of Mosaic Netscape, released on October 13, 1994, supported cookies. The first actual use of cookies (out of the labs) was made for checking whether visitors to the Netscape Web site had already visited the site. Montulli applied for a patent for the cookie technology in 1995, and US patent 5774670 was granted in 1998. Support for cookies was integrated in Internet Explorer in version 2, released in October 1995.

"The introduction of cookies was not widely known to the public, at the time. In particular, cookies were accepted by default, and users were not notified of the presence of cookies. Some people were aware of the existence of cookies as early as the first quarter of 1995, but the general public learned about them after the Financial Times published an article about them on February 12, 1996. In the same year, cookies received lot of media attention, especially because of potential privacy implications. Cookies were discussed in two U.S. Federal Trade Commission hearings in 1996 and 1997" (Wikipedia article on HTTP cookie, accessed 05-09-2009).

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The First Web Analytics Vendor June 1994

In June 1994 San Francisco entrepreneur Ariel Poler founded Internet Profiles Corporation (I/PRO), the first commercial web analytics vendor, producer of the first log analyzer.

"The company emerged as the early market leader in the developing field of web usage measurement, partly because of its partnership with the venerable Neilsen Media Research . . . and Neilsen Media Services in . . . 1995." (Peters, Computerized Monitoring and Online Privacy [1999] 343).

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Amazon.com is Founded July 1994 – July 1995

In July 1994 Jeff Bezos of Seattle, Washington, incorporated Amazon.com. The company originally promoted itself as "Earth's biggest book store." 

Amazon.com was very nearly called "Cadabra," as in "abracadabra." Bezos rapidly re-conceptualized the name when his lawyer misheard the word as "cadaver." Bezos instead named the business after the river for two reasons: to suggest scale, as the earth's biggest book store, and because website listings were often alphabetical at that time.

In July 1995 Amazon sold its first bookDouglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

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The First "Marketing on the Internet" Seminar Series September 27, 1994

On September 27, 1994 Jim Sterne launched the first "Marketing on the Internet" seminar series. This eight-city tour introduced the United States to the possibilities of using the Internet for advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service.

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Probably the First For-Profit Social Networking Site 1995

In 1995 Randy Conrads founded Classmates.com. This was probably the first for-profit social networking website.

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The First Web Page Tagging System 1995

In 1995 WebtraffIQ.com developed the first commercial web page tagging system.

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Craigslist Initiates Free Online Classified Advertisements March 1995

Feeling isolated after having recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, and having observed people helping one another online at The Well and Usenet, in March 1995 Craig Naymark founded craigslist, as a bulletin board for social eventsIt evolved into a "central network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with jobs, internships, housing, personals, erotic services, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories – and forums on various topics." Craigslist eventually made a profit by charging under-market fees for job ads in ten cities and for brokered apartment listings in New York City. By providing most classified advertising for free it undermined the traditional income stream of printed newspapers.

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The Beginning of the "Dot-Com Bubble" August 9, 1995

On August 9, 1995 Netscape Communications, Mountain View, California, had a very successful IPO. The stock, initially intended to be offered at $14 per share, was offered at double that for the IPO, and reached $75 on the first day of trading.

This was later considered the beginning of the "dot-com bubble."

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eBay is Founded September 3, 1995

On September 3, 1995 French-born Iranian-American computer programmer Pierre M. Omidyar founded eBay in San Jose, California, as a sole proprietorship. Initially he conducted auctions under the name AuctionWeb, and advertised items for auction on USENET.

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Abebooks.com is Launched 1996

In 1996 the used and antiquarian bookselling website Abebooks.com was launched in Victoria, BC, Canada. On August 1, 2008, AbeBooks announced that it had been acquired by Amazon.com.

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First Recorded Use of the Term, Phishing January 2, 1996

The first recorded use of the term "phishing" (baits used to "catch financial information and passwords) occurred on January 2, 1996 on the "alt.online-service. America-online" Usenet newsgroup after AOL introduced measures to prevent using fake, algorithmically generated credit card numbers to open accounts. To obtain legitimate credit card information AOL crackers resorted to phishing.

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The First Web Analyzer with Drill-Down and Ad-Hoc Analysis 1997

In 1997 Nettracker.com produced the first web log analyzer with "drill-down and ad-hoc analysis."

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The Cluetrain Manifesto 1998

In 1998 Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searles and David Weinberger published the Cluetrain Manifesto containing 95 theses, presumably, and possibly grandiosely, in the tradition of Martin Luther.

The manifesto was first published online, followed in December 1999 by a printed book issued by Perseus Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“A powerful global conversation has begun.” “Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter--and getting smarter faster than most companies.” “Markets are conversations.”

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Using Neural Networks for Word Sense Disambiguation 1998

In 1998 cognitive scientist / entrepreneur Jeffrey Stibel, physicist, psychologist, neural scientist James A. Anderson, and others from the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences at Brown University created a word sense disambiguator using George A. Miller's WordNet lexical database.

Stibel and others applied this technology in Simpli, "an early search engine that offered disambiguation to search terms. A user could enter in a search term that was ambiguous (e.g., Java) and the search engine would return a list of alternatives (coffee, programming language, island in the South Seas)."

"The technology was rooted in brain science and built by academics to model the way in which the mind stored and utilized language."

"Simpli was sold in 2000 to NetZero. Another company that leveraged the Simpli WordNet technology was purchased by Google and they continue to use the technology for search and advertising under the brand Google AdSense.

"In 2001, there was a buyout of the company and it was merged with another company called Search123. Most of the original members joined the new company. The company was later sold in 2004 to ValueClick, which continues to use the technology and search engine to this day" (Wikipedia article on Simpli, accessed 05-10-2009).

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Google is Founded September 7, 1998

On September 7, 1998 Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in Mountain View, California. The first Google index included 26,000,000 web pages.

Page and Brin described the technology in a paper entitled  "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine", Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, 30 (1998) 107-117. This paper contains much of great interest historically, including the following statistics:

"Search engine technology has had to scale dramatically to keep up with the growth of the web. In 1994, one of the first web search engines, the World Wide Web Worm (WWWW) [McBryan 94] had an index of 110,000 web pages and web accessible documents. As of November, 1997, the top search engines claim to index from 2 million (WebCrawler) to 100 million web documents (from Search Engine Watch). It is foreseeable that by the year 2000, a comprehensive index of the Web will contain over a billion documents. At the same time, the number of queries search engines handle has grown incredibly too. In March and April 1994, the World Wide Web Worm received an average of about 1500 queries per day. In November 1997, Altavista claimed it handled roughly 20 million queries per day. With the increasing number of users on the web, and automated systems which query search engines, it is likely that top search engines will handle hundreds of millions of queries per day by the year 2000. The goal of our system is to address many of the problems, both in quality and scalability, introduced by scaling search engine technology to such extraordinary numbers."


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MyFamily.com December 1998

The MyFamily.com website was launched in Provo, Utah, with additional free sites beginning in March, 1999. The site generated 1 million registered users within its first 140 days. The company raised more than $90 million in venture capital from investors, and changed its name on November 17, 1999 from Ancestry.com, Inc., to MyFamily.com, Inc. Its three Internet genealogy sites were then called Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com, and FamilyHistory.com.

Reference: http://www.paulallen.net/my-companies, accessed 12-18-2008.

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Domain Names are Property 1999

In 1999 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that Internet domain names are property.

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comScore is Founded August 1999

In August 1999 Magid M. Abraham and Gian M. Fulgoni founded comScore with the objective of creating the first service to measure trends in e-commerce.

"At the time, no market research company measured online buying behavior. The two leading online measurement companies, Media Metrix and Nielsen NetRatings, were focused solely on tracking Internet users’ site visitation behavior, providing their clients with basic metrics on the size and demographic characteristics of site audiences.

"The panels these two companies used numbered in the tens of thousands. This was far too small a sample size to accurately measure e-commerce since, on average, only 5 percent of a site’s visitors converted into buyers in any month. A panel of at least a million people would be needed. That was a daunting challenge because no research company had ever built a panel of 100,000 people, let alone a million. However, since their experience at IRI had shown that marketers spend four times as many research dollars measuring consumers’ buying behavior as they spend measuring media ratings, Magid and Gian were confident that an attractive market existed for online browsing and buying information. They decided to take on the challenge by raising and willingly investing tens of millions of dollars to discover ways in which to successfully recruit millions of opt-in panelists and develop the technology needed to capture, warehouse and analyze massive quantities of online data" (http://www.comscore.com/About_comScore/comScore_History, accessed 05-12-2009).

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The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act is Enacted November 29, 1999

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (also known as Truth in Domain Names Act), was enacted into U.S. law on November 29, 1999 as is part of A bill to amend the provisions of title 17, United States Code, and the Communications Act of 1934, relating to copyright licensing and carriage of broadcast signals by satellite (S. 1948). The act mades people who registered domain names that are either trademarks or individual's names with the sole intent of selling the rights of the domain name to the trademark holder or individual for a profit liable to civil action.

"In order for a trademark owner to bring a claim under the ACPA, the owner must establish

  • the trademark owner’s mark is distinctive or famous;
  • the domain name owner acted in bad faith to profit from the mark; and
  • the domain name and the trademark are either identical or confusingly similar (or dilutive for famous trademarks)" 

(Wikipedia article on Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, accessed 11-24-2008).

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was enacted in part because the domain whitehouse.com went online in 1997 as an "adult entertainment" site, leading to this letter from a Whitehouse consel:

"The following is a December letter from a White House counsel to the operator of the "whitehouse.com" adult site regarding the use of the domain and the names and images of the White House, President Clinton, and Hillary Clinton on the site:

"The White House


"December 8, 1997


"Mr. Dan Parisi

"Secaucus, New Jersey

"Dear Mr. Parisi:

"It will come as no surprise to you that the White House Counsel's Office is aware of your Internet Web site, "www.whitehouse.com," and that we object to your use of the names and images of the White House, the President, and the First Lady on that Web site to sell memberships in an adult video club. We also recognize that you undoubtedly will use this letter as an object of humor and as an invitation to advance the claim that you are merely exercising your rights under the First Amendment.

"We too believe in the First Amendment--and in humor, although we see nothing humorous in your use of the White House domain name to draw children and other unwitting Internet users to your Web site. However distasteful your business may be, we do not challenge your right to pursue it or to exercise your First Amendment rights, but we do challenge your right to use the White House, the President, and the First Lady as a marketing device. For adult internet users, that device is, at the least, part of a deceptive scheme. For younger Internet users, it has more disturbing consequences. As your own online disclaimer implicitly acknowledges, the foreseeable result of your use of the White House domain name is that children will access your Web site inadvertently. Your customers will understand that such a result is unconscionable, and so, we submit, should you.


Charles F.C. Ruff

Counsel to the President" (http://news.cnet.com/2009-1023-207800.html, accessed 06-15-2009).

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2000 – 2005

The "Journal of Interactive Advertising" Begins 2000

Hairong Li

In 2000 John D. Leckenby of The University of Texas at Austin and Hairong Li of Michigan State University founded the Journal of Interactive Advertising (JIAD).

The inaugural issue of the journal

"defined Interactive Advertising as the 'paid and unpaid presentation and promotion of products, services and ideas by an identified sponsor through mediated means involving mutual action between consumers and producers.' This is most commonly performed through the Internet as a medium" (Wikipedia article on Interactive advertising, accessed 04-22-2009).

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The First Documented Denial-of-Service Attacks February 7, 2000

A diagram of a Denial-of-Service Attack.

During the week of February 7, 2000 massive denial-of-service attacks (DoS attacks, or distributed denial of service DDoS attacks) were launched against major websites, including Yahoo!, Amazon and eBay. These attacks used computers at multiple locations to overwhelm the vendors’ computers and shut down their websites. They are the first documented massive DDoS attacks.

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Climax of the Dot-Com Bubble March 10, 2000

The Netscape logo

The dot-com bubble, thought to have begun with the IPO of Netscape on August 9, 1995, reached its climax on March 10, 2000 with the NASDAQ peaking at 5132.52.

After this date the dot-com bubble began to burst.

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eBook Distributor is Acquired by Barnes & Noble June 5, 2000 – March 2009

On June 5, 2000 Steven Pendergast, and Mindwise Media LLC owned by Scott Pendergast founded Fictionwise.com. The company became one of the largest distributors of ebooks in North America, and was acquired by Barnes & Noble in March 2009.

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Google Launches AdWords October 23, 2000

Google AdWords logo

A diagram layout of pay-per-click advertising provided by Google AdWords

"Google Launches Self-Service Advertising Program

"Google's AdWords Program Offers Every Business a Fully Automated, Comprehensive and Quick Way to Start an Online Advertising Campaign /

"MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - October 23, 2000 - Google Inc., developer of the award-winning Google search engine, today announced the immediate availability of AdWords(TM), a new program that enables any advertiser to purchase individualized and affordable keyword advertising that appears instantly on the google.com search results page. The AdWords program is an extension of Google's premium sponsorship program announced in August. The expanded service is available on Google's homepage or at the AdWords link at http://adwords.google.com, where users will find all the necessary design and reporting tools to get an online advertising campaign started" (http://www.google.com/press/pressrel/pressrelease39.html, accessed 06-09-2009).

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An Injunction Against Napter to Prevent Trading of Copyrighted Music March 5, 2001

The Napster logo

On March 5, 2001 the Ninth Circuit Court, San Francisco, issued an injunction ordering Napster to prevent the trading of copyrighted music on its network.

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Apple Launches the iPod October 23, 2001

The original Apple iPod

On October 23, 2001 Apple launched the iPod line of portable media players.

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Rhapsody is Launched December 2001

The Rhapsody logo

The online music store subscription service, Rhapsody, was launched in Seattle, Washington in December 2001.

"Downloaded files come with restrictions on their use, enforced by Helix, Rhapsody's version of digital rights management enforced on AAC+ or WMA files. The service also sells individual MP3s without digital rights management restrictions" (Wikipedia article on Rhapsody, accessed 03-18-2012).

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Apple Opens the iTunes Store April 28, 2003

The iTunes interface

The iTunes logo

On April 28, 2003 Apple opened the software based, online iTunes Store.

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MySpace is Founded August 2003

Brad Greenspan

Tom Anderson, aka "Tom of Myspace"

In August 2003 Brad Greenspan and eUniverse founded MySpace in Santa Monica, California.

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Amazon Introduces "Search Inside" 120,000 Books October 23, 2003

Gary Wolf

The Amazon.com logo

On October 23, 2003 Amazon.com made it possible to “search inside” the full text of 120,000 books from more than 190 publishers.  This allowed Amazon users to search not only the full texts of individual titles but all 120,000 collectively. 

On October 23, 2003 joujrnalist Gary Wolf published an article about the cultural history of digital libraries, and more specifically Amazon's "Search Inside," in Wired magazine, entitled "The Great Library of Amazonia," from which I quote a portion:

"The more specific the search, the more rewarding the experience. For instance, I've recently become interested in Boss Tweed, New York's most famous pillager of public money. Manber types "Boss Tweed" into his search engine. Out pop a few books with Boss Tweed in the title. But the more intriguing results come from deep within books I never would have thought to check: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole; American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis; Forever: A Novel, by Pete Hamill. I immediately recognize the power of the archive to make connections hitherto unseen. As the number of searchable books increases, it will become possible to trace the appearance of people and events in published literature and to follow the most digressive pathways of our collective intellectual life.

"From the Hamill reference, I link to a page in the afterward on which he cites books that influenced his portrait of Tweed. There, on the screen, is the cream of the research performed by a great metropolitan writer and editor. Some of the books Hamill recommends are out of print, but all are available either new or used on Amazon.

"With persistence, serendipity and plenty of time in a library, I may have found these titles myself. The Amazon archive is dizzying not because it unearths books that would necessarily have languished in obscurity, but because it renders their contents instantly visible in response to a search. It allows quick query revisions, backtracking, and exploration. It provides a new form of map.

"Getting to this point represents a significant technological feat. Most of the material in the archive comes from scanned pages of actual books. This may be surprising, given that most books today are written on PCs, e-mailed to publishers, typeset on computers, and printed on digital presses. But many publishers still do not have push-button access to the digital files of the books they put out. Insofar as the files exist, they are often scattered around the desktops of editors, designers, and contract printers. For books more than a few years old, complete digital files may be lost. John Wiley & Sons contributed 5,000 titles to the Amazon project -- all of them in physical form.

"Fortunately, mass scanning has grown increasingly feasible, with the cost dropping to as low as $1 each. Amazon sent some of the books to scanning centers in low-wage countries like India and the Philippines; others were run in the United States using specialty machines to ensure accurate color and to handle oversize volumes. Some books can be chopped out of their bindings and fed into scanners, others have to be babied by a human, who turns pages one by one. Remarkably, Amazon was already doing so much data processing in its regular business that the huge task of reading the images of the books and converting them into a plain-text database was handled by idle computers at one of the company's backup centers."

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The First U.S. Standards for Sending Commercial E-Mail December 16, 2003

President George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States

The Federal Trade Commission logo

On December 16, 2003 The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was signed into law by President George W. Bush, establishing the United States' first national standards for the sending of commercial e-mail and requiring the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions.

"The acronym CAN-SPAM derives from the bill's full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. This is also a play on the usual term for unsolicited email of this type, spam. The bill was sponsored in Congress by Senators Conrad Burns and Ron Wyden.

"The CAN-SPAM Act is commonly referred to as the "You-Can-Spam" Act because the bill explicitly legalizes most e-mail spam. In particular, it does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages. It also prevents states from enacting stronger anti-spam protections, and prohibits individuals who receive spam from suing spammers. The Act has been largely unenforced, despite a letter to the FTC from Senator Burns, who noted that "Enforcement is key regarding the CAN-SPAM legislation." In 2004 less than 1% of spam complied with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

"The law required the FTC to report back to Congress within 24 months of the effectiveness of the act.[4] No changes were recommended. It also requires the FTC to promulgate rules to shield consumers from unwanted mobile phone spam. On December 20, 2005 the FTC reported that the volume of spam has begun to level off, and due to enhanced anti-spam technologies, less was reaching consumer inboxes. A significant decrease in sexually-explicit e-mail was also reported.

"Later modifications changed the original CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 by (1) Adding a definition of the term "person"; (2) Modifying the term "sender"; (3) Clarifying that a sender may comply with the act by including a post office box or private mailbox and (4) Clarifying that to submit a valid opt-out request, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any other steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single page on an Internet website" (Wikipedia article on CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, accessed 01-19-2010).

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Facebook February 4, 2004

Mark Zuckerberg

The original homepage for Thefacebook

The current facebook logo

On February 4, 2004, while a student at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg founded Thefacebook.com.

The name of the site was later simplified to Facebook. Membership was initially limited to Harvard students. but then expanded to other colleges in the Ivy League. Facebook expanded further to include any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. 

♦ In August 2013, after Facebook had over one billion users, a timeline entitled The Evolution of Facebook was available from The New York Times.

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BitTorrent is Commercialized September 22, 2004

Bram Cohen

On September 22, 2004 programmer Bram Cohen, author of the peer-to-peer (P2P) BitTorrent protocol, and entrepreneur Ashwin Navin founded BitTorrent, Inc. in San Francisco.

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"The Long Tail" October 2004

Chris Anderson

A cover of Wired Magazine

A graph depicting "The Long Tail"

Chris Anderson published "The Long Tail" in the October 2004 issue of Wired magazine. In this article he described "the niche strategy of businesses, such as Amazon.com or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. Anderson elaborated the Long Tail concept in his book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.

"A frequency distribution with a long tail—the concept at the root of Anderson's coinage—has been studied by statisticians since at least 1946. The distribution and inventory costs of these businesses allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The group that purchases a large number of "non-hit" items is the demographic called the Long Tail.

"Given a large enough availability of choice, a large population of customers, and negligible stocking and distribution costs, the selection and buying pattern of the population results in a power law distribution curve, or Pareto distribution. This suggests that a market with a high freedom of choice will create a certain degree of inequality by favoring the upper 20% of the items ("hits" or "head") against the other 80% ("non-hits" or "long tail"). This is known as the Pareto principle or 80–20 rule.

"The Long Tail concept has found a broad ground for application, research and experimentation. It is a common term in online business and the mass media, but also of importance in micro-finance (Grameen Bank, for example), user-driven innovation (Eric von Hippel), social network mechanisms (e.g., crowdsourcing, crowdcasting, Peer-to-peer), economic models, and marketing (viral marketing)" (Wikipedia article on The Long Tail, accessed 04-19-2009).

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2005 – 2010

Kosmix.com 2005

The original Kosmix.com search engine homepage

Venky Harinarayan

Anand Rajaraman

"With the vision of connecting people to information that makes a difference in their lives,"in 2005 Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman founded Kosmix.com in Mountain View, California.

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The Million Dollar Homepage August 25, 2005 – January 11, 2006

A screenshot of the Million Dollar Homepage

On August 25, 2005 Alex Tew, a student from Wiltshire, England, launched The Million Dollar Homepage to pay for his university education.

"The home page consists of a million pixels arranged in a 1000 × 1000 pixel grid; the image-based links on it were sold for $1 per pixel in 10 × 10 blocks. The purchasers of these pixel blocks provided tiny images to be displayed on them, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to which the images were linked, and a slogan to be displayed when hovering a cursor over the link. The aim of the site was to sell all of the pixels in the image, thus generating a million dollars of income for the creator. The Wall Street Journal has commented that the site inspired other websites that sell pixels.

"Launched on 26 August 2005, the website became an Internet phenomenon. The Alexa ranking of web traffic peaked at around 127; as of 18 February 2009 (2009 -02-18)[update], it is 42,735. On 1 January 2006, the final 1,000 pixels were put up for auction on eBay. The auction closed on 11 January with a winning bid of $38,100 that brought the final tally to $1,037,100 in gross income" (Wikipedia article on The Million Dollar Homepage, accessed 05-08-2009).

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The Amazon Mechanical Turk November 2, 2005

Wolfgang von Kempelen

The Amazon Mechanical Turk logo

A diagram explanation of Amazon's Mechanical Turk 

Alluding to Wolfgang von Kempelen's eighteenth-century automaton, The Turk, which purported to automate chessplaying when this was impossible, on November 2, 2005 Amazon.com launched the Amazon Mechanical Turk:

"a crowdsourcing marketplace that enables computer programs to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do."

This was  the first business application using Collaborative Human Interpreter, a programming language "designed for collecting and making use of human intelligence in a computer program. One typical usage is implementing impossible-to-automate functions."

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The Highest Price Paid for a Domain Name January 16, 2006

Gary Kremen

Having initially registered the domain name for free, after which he temporarily lost it to a con man, Gary Kremen won a lawsuit and sold Sex.com for Boston-based Escom LLC $14,000,000 or  "$15 million in cash and stock." This was the highest price obtained for a domain name at the time. Maybe ever?

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File-Sharing Exceeds Sales of Digital Music Downloads January 22, 2006

In 2006 free file-sharing of digital music on the web exceeded the sale of digital music downloads by many fold:

"Total music sales - including online - are off some 20 percent from five years ago. Songs traded freely over unlicensed Internet sites swamp the number of legal sales by thousands to one."

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College-Level Lectures Via Podcasts January 28, 2006

The iTunes U logo

The iTunes U section of the iTunes application

Apple launched iTunes U, a service that offered college-level lectures via podcasts.

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Zillow.com is Launched February 8, 2006

The Zillow.com logo

Rich Barton

Lloyd Frink

On February 8, 2006 Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, former Microsoft executives and founders of Expedia, launched the online real estate service company, Zillow.com in Seattle, Washington.

"Zillow allows users to see the value of millions of homes across the United States, not just those up for sale. In addition to giving value estimates of homes, it offers several unique features including value changes of each home in a given time frame (such as 1, 5, or 10 years), aerial views of homes, and prices of homes in the area. Where it can access appropriate data, it also provides basic information on a given home, such as square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Users can also get current estimates of homes if there was a significant change made, such as a recently remodeled kitchen. Zillow provides an application programming interface (API) and developer support network.

"As a part of its API, Zillow assigns a numerical integer to each of the 70 million homes in its database, which is plainly visible as CGI parameters to the URLs to individual entries on its website. The identifier is not obfuscated and is assigned in sequence for each house or condo on the side of a street. Zillow reports on individual units, such as providing street address, latitude and longitude. When integrated with the features of a typical online reverse telephone directory and wiki-mapping services such as WikiMapia, it allows for nationwide "seating assignments" of U.S. neighborhoods for each house that has a listed phone number with a real human name" (Wikipedia article on Zillow.com.)

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Over One Billion iTunes Downloads February 22, 2006

Steve Jobs speaking about the one billionth iTunes download

The countdown on the iTunes homepage as the one billionth download drew near

On February 22, 2006 the Apple iTunes Store surpassed one billion iTunes downloads.

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The Biggest Music Retailer in the World: Apple's iTune Store April 23, 2006

On April 23, 2006 Apple's iTunes Store was acknowledged as the biggest music retailer in the world, able to dictate its 99 cent per track retail price to music wholesalers.

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100,000,000 Users Within Three Years August 9, 2006

The Myspace login page layout from 2006

In 2006 MySpace, founded in August 2003, had 100,000,000 users.

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Will it Blend?: Viral Marketing October 2006

The "Will It Blend?" campaign logo

In October 2006 Tom Dickson, the founder of Blendtec, a blender manufacturer in Orem, Utah, began the Will it Blend? viral marketing campaign on the Internet. Between downloads on YouTube and on the Will it Blend? website, the advertising program became one of the most successful Internet marketing campaigns, surpassing 100,000,000 hits by May 2009. Ads featured blending of many absurd items, such as blending an iPhone. Many of the bizarre ads were listed and linked-to in the Wikipedia article on Will it Blend?.




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Google's AdWords to Place Ads in Print Newspapers November 6, 2006

Tom Phillips, head of print operations at Google

The New York Times logo

On November 6, 2006 Google and various print newspapers, including The New York Times, announced that they would test a modified version of Google's AdWords program to place advertisements in print newspapers.

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Google Buys YouTube November 6, 2006

Youtube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen

On November 6, 2006 Google completed the purchase of YouTube for $1.65 billion in Google stock. Youtube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen posted a video to YouTube about the purchase.


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Newspaper Advertising in Partnership with Yahoo November 20, 2006

Terry T. Semel, left, the Chief of Yahoo at the time. Dean Singleton, right, the chief of MediaNews.

The homepage for Yahoo's HotJobs before it was acquired by Monster

On November 20, 2006 "A consortium of seven newspaper chains representing 176 daily papers across the country is announcing a broad partnership with Yahoo to share content, advertising and technology . . . . In the first phase of the deal, the newspaper companies will begin posting their employment classified ads on Yahoo’s classified jobs site, HotJobs, and start using HotJobs technology to run their own online career ads.

"But the long-term goal of the alliance with Yahoo, according to one senior executive at a participating newspaper company, is to be able to have the content of these newspapers tagged and optimized for searching and indexing by Yahoo."

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Goodreads is Founded January 2007

In January 2007 Otis and Elizabeth Chandler launched the "social cataloguing" website Goodreads in San Francisco.

"The website allows individuals to freely search Goodreads' extensive user-populated database of books, annotations, and reviews. Users can sign up and register books to generate library catalogs and reading lists. They can also create their own groups of book suggestions and discussions" (Wikipedia article on Goodreads, accessed 10-29-2013).

In March 2013 Goodreads was acquired by Amazon.com.

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The First Virtual Currency Has a Real Value of 7 Billion Dollars 2008 – November 18, 2013

On November 13, 2013 The New York Times reported that Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer digital currency, and the first virtual currency or cryptocurrency, had a real value of more than seven billion dollars. This was the financial markets' response to acknowledgement by U.S. federal officials in a Senate hearing that virtual financial networks offered real benefits for the financial system, even as they acknowledged that new forms of digital currency had been used for money laundering and other illegal activity.

Bitcoin originated in November 2008 when a paper was posted on the Internet under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. This paper detailed methods of using a peer-to-peer network to generate what was described as "a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust". In January 2009, the Bitcoin network became operational with the release of the first open source Bitcoin client and the issuance of the first bitcoins, with Satoshi Nakamoto mining the first block of bitcoins ever —known as the "genesis block".  

"Investigations into the real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto have been attempted by The New Yorker and Fast Company. Fast Company's investigation brought up circumstantial evidence linking an encryption patent application filed by Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry on 15 August 2008, and the bitcoin.org domain name which was registered 72 hours later. The patent application (#20100042841) contained networking and encryption technologies similar to Bitcoin's, and textual analysis revealed that the phrase "...computationally impractical to reverse" appeared in both the patent application and bitcoin's whitepaper. All three inventors explicitly denied being Satoshi Nakamoto...." (Wikipedia article on History of Bitcoin, accessed 11-18-2013).

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About 200 Million People in the U.S. Have Broadband Connections May 2008

By 2008 broadband technologies had spread to more than 90% of all residential Internet connections in the United States.

"When one considers a Nielsen’s study conducted in June 2008, which estimated the number of U.S. Internet users as 220,141,969, one can calculate that there are presently about 199 million people in the United States utilizing broadband technologies to surf the Web" (Wikipedia article on Internet marketing, accessed 05-10-2009).

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Opening of the iTunes App Store: the First App Distribution Service July 10, 2008

On July 10, 2008 Apple opened its online iTunes App Store. It was the first app distribution service. At launch it contained 522 Apps for the iPhone, including 135 free programs.

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Craiglist Becomes the Leading Classified Advertising Service Worldwide September 2008

By September 2008 Craigslist was the leading classified advertising service worldwide. It provided free local classifieds and forums for more than 550 cities in over 50 countries, generating more than 12 billion page views per month, used by more than 50 million people each month. Craigslist users self-published more than 30 million new classified ads each month and more than 2 million new job listings each month. Each month Craigslist also posted more than 100 million user postings in more than 100 topical forms. All of this it did with only 25 employees.

Because Craigslist did not charge for classified advertising it replaced a large portion of the classified advertising that historically was placed in print newspapers. By doing so it substantially reduced the significant revenue that print newspapers historically generated from classified advertising. This contributed to an overall reduction of profits for many print newspapers. Similarly, Craigslist's policy of charging below-market rates for job listings impacted that traditional source of newspaper revenue, and impacted profits at physical employment agencies, and the more expensive online employment agencies.

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Downloads Trump CDs November 25, 2008

On November 25, 2008 Atlantic Records, a unit of Warner Music Group, New York, reported that more than half its revenue came from downloads and ringtones sold over the Internet, rather than CDs. This was the first major record label to document this change.

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Apple Eliminates Anticopying Restrictions from iTunes January 6, 2009

Having sold over a billion songs through the iTunes store in 2008, Apple announced that it reached agreements with record companies to remove anticopying restrictions on all tunes in the iTunes store. It also allowed record companies to set a range of prices for the songs.

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Kickstarter.com is Launched April 28, 2009

On April 28, 2009 Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler launched Kickstarter.com, originally under the url of KickStartr.com. The company was based in New York City.

"One of a number of fundraising platforms dubbed 'crowd funding,' Kickstarter facilitates gathering monetary resources from the general public, a model which circumvents many traditional avenues of investment. Project creators choose a deadline and a goal minimum of funds to raise. If the chosen goal is not gathered by the deadline, no funds are collected (this is known as a provision point mechanism). Money pledged by donors is collected using Amazon Payments. The platform is open to backers from anywhere in the world and to creators from the US or the UK.

"Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised. Amazon charges an additional 3–5%. Unlike many forums for fundraising or investment, Kickstarter claims no ownership over the projects and the work they produce. However, projects launched on the site are permanently archived and accessible to the public. After funding is completed, projects and uploaded media cannot be edited or removed from the site" (Wikipedia article on Kickstarter, accessed 02-21-2013).

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Larger Version of the Amazon Kindle Introduced May 6, 2009

On May 6, 2009 Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com unveiled a larger version of the Amazon Kindle called the Kindle DX (for Deluxe). The larger model had a 

"9.7-inch display with auto-rotation, high-speed wireless access to 275,000 books, 3.3 gigabytes of storage, or room for up to 3,500 books. Native support for PDF documents, with no panning, zooming or scrolling necessary" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/live-blogging-the-kindle-fest/).

The initial list price of the DX was $489, or $130 more than the previous model, the Kindle 2. The DX was available for sale in the summer of 2009.

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Changing the Advertising Model for General News Reporting May 21, 2009

In an interview in the Financial Times on May 21, 2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed

"that Google seriously considered either buying a newspaper as a for-profit enterprise or hiring a pack of smart lawyers to reconfigure the paper as a nonprofit venture. He doesn't name which paper, of course, but the Financial Times reporters pointedly remind their readers that the hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners offered Google its twenty percent stake in the New York Times. Ultimately, however, the company decided that going so far as owning an outlet that actually produced copy, rather than simply aggregating and organizing it, would be 'crossing the line' between a content company and a technology company. Wall Street Journal writer Jessica Vascellaro argues that this position is growing increasingly flimsy. After all, she writes, both YouTube and Google's Book Search project are awfully close to resembling content production.

"The real reason may be twofold. First, as Schmidt readily concedes, the targeted papers are either far too expensive or burdened with too much debt and liabilities. Second, the advertising model for general news reporting is obsolete, and Google's execs have decided instead to work with papers such as the Washington Post . . .to come up with a new model that can subsidize serious general news gathering. The days when general display ads would float on the page, contextually disconnected from the substance of the stories, are over. But who wants their ads tied to stories of Gitmo torture? Unless the business model radically changes, there will be no revenue stream that props up the most serious and important news stories.

"So what does Schmidt have in mind for the Washington Post? 'It seems to me that the newspaper that I read online should remember what I read. It should allow me to go deeper into the stories. It's that kind of a discussion that we're having.' In other words, the paper will store and archive a catalogue of the stories you read, steer more stories along those lines to your eyeballs, and keep you coming back for more by knowing what you're most interested in. Google already remembers what you search for, in order to more accurately match ads to your search screen. Now, it seems, Schmidt would like to apply this technique to news gathering." 

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"Revenue at Craigslist is Said to Top $100,000,000" as Classified Advertising in Newspapers Declines June 9, 2009

"SAN FRANCISCO — As the newspaper industry and its classified advertising business wither, one company appears to be doing extraordinarily well: Craigslist.

"The Internet classified ads company, which promotes its “relatively noncommercial nature” and “service mission” on its site, is projected to bring in more than $100 million in revenue this year, according to a new study from Classified Intelligence Report, a publication of AIM Group, a media and Web consultant firm in Orlando, Fla.

"That is a 23 percent jump over the revenue the firm estimated for 2008 and a huge increase since 2004, when the site was projected to bring in just $9 million. 'This is a down-market for just about everyone else but Craigslist,' said Jim Townsend, editorial director of AIM Group. The firm counted the number of paid ads on the site for a month and extrapolated an annual figure. It said its projections were conservative.

"By contrast, classified advertising in newspapers in the United States declined by 29 percent last year, its worst drop in history, according to the Newspaper Association of America" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/10/technology/internet/10craig.html?hpw, accessed 06-10-2009).

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The Largest Study of Global Internet Traffic Since the Beginning of the Commercial Internet October 19, 2009

On October 19, 2009 Arbor Networks, the University of Michigan, and Merit Network presented the findings of the Internet Observatory Report at the North American Network Operators Group NANOG47 in Dearborn, Michigan:

"• The report is believed to be the largest study of global Internet traffic since the start of the commercial Internet in the mid-1990s. The report offers analysis of two years worth of detailed traffic statistics from 110 large and geographically diverse cable operators, international transit backbones, regional networks and content providers.

"• At its peak, the study monitored more than 12 terabits-per-second and a total of more than 256 exabytes of Internet traffic over the two-year life of the study.

"• The Internet Observatory Report includes a discussion around significant changes in Internet topology and commercial inter-relationships between providers; analysis of changes in Internet protocols and applications; and a concluding analysis of Internet growth trends and predictions of future trends.

Key Findings:

"• Evolution of the Internet Core: Over the last five years, Internet traffic has migrated away from the traditional Internet core of 10 to 12 Tier-1 international transit providers. Today, the majority of Internet traffic by volume flows directly between large content providers, datacenter / CDNs and consumer networks. Consequently, most Tier-1 networks have evolved their business models away from IP wholesale transit to focus on broader cloud / enterprise services, content hosting and VPNs.

"• Rise of the ‘Hyper Giants’: Five years ago, Internet traffic was proportionally distributed across tens of thousands of enterprise managed web sites and servers around the world. Today, most content has increasingly migrated to a small number of very large hosting, cloud and content providers. Out of the 40,000 routed end sites in the Internet, 30 large companies – “hyper giants” like Limelight, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and YouTube – now generate and consume a disproportionate 30% of all Internet traffic.

"• Applications Migrate to the Web: Historically, Internet applications communicated across a panoply of application specific protocols and communication stacks. Today, the majority of Internet application traffic has migrated to an increasingly small number of web and video protocols, including video over web and Adobe Flash. Other mechanisms for video and application distribution like P2P (peer-to-peer) have declined dramatically in the last two years.

"• A New Internet Ecosystem: Over the last five years, macroeconomic forces have radically transformed the global Internet commercial ecosystem. Economic changes, including the collapse of wholesale IP transit and the dramatic growth in advertisement-supported service, reversed decade-old business dynamics between transit providers, consumer networks and content providers. A wave of innovation is ongoing, with service providers now offering everything from triple play services to managed security services, VPNs and increasingly, CDNs. This change in the Internet business ecosystem has significant ongoing implications for backbone engineering, design of Internet scale applications and research."

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Google Represents 6% of All Internet Traffic October 19, 2009

According to Arbor Networks' 2009 Atlas Observatory Report Google accounted for 6 percent of all Internet traffic of every type. 

"And how many would have heard of a company called Carpathia Hosting? Its MegaUpload, MeaErotik, MegaClick and MegaVideo services have turned it into a company that now accounts for 1 percent of all Internet traffic, says Arbor, and this will doubtless grow. The important takeaway is that few of these companies had even been heard of two years ago, and very few of them are big telcos. To put all this into perspective, in 2007 Arbor found that the overwhelming majority of Internet traffic was accounted for by 30,000 entities, with fifty percent of traffic accounted for by around 10,000 companies.

"Only two years later that same fifty percent now runs through only 150 top 'content delivery networks' (CDNs), an astonishing consolidation made more remarkable by the fact that Internet traffic has grown significantly during that time.

" 'Up to 2007, The Internet meant connecting to lots of servers and data centres around the world,' notes Arbor's chief scientist, Craig Labovitz. Now there are barely 100 companies that matter. Traffic patterns tend to be hidden, mainly because the companies losing out - the traditional telcos and ISPs - don't exactly have an interest in advertising their waning status. The reason for their decline in importance is that Internet traffic is being driven by huge providers with access to content such as video.

" 'For 150 years, they [BT and other telcos] have had the same business model. Now everyone is trying to get away from being a dumb pipe.' Arbor's Atlas Internet Observatory report crunched traffic from 100 of the Internet's largest entities, accounting for 12 Terabytes of peak throughput, equivalent to about a quarter of the Internet's total at any one moment, said Labovitz.The importance of this is not simply that a small number of companies will account for a lot of traffic, but that these companies are increasingly what the Internet actually is. The Internet up to around 2007 was dominated by a hierarchy of companies, co-operating with one another to allow traffic to be passed from one to the other, regardless of size. The new Internet superpowers, in stark contrast, bypass a lot of this and use direct connections from one to the other. If a company is not part of this new core, it could find itself increasingly passed to the 'long tail', a polite way of saying they will be shoved to the fringe.  

"Video, including video that runs over web/http, now accounts for an estimated 10 percent of all Internet traffic, and is one reason all these direct connections between large data centres are now necessary. IPv6 traffic remains tiny at only 0.03 percent of traffic, but is showing sudden and possibly rapid growth in recent months thanks to deployments by named hosters.  

"Interestingly, P2P is in rapid decline, falling from around 3 percent of all traffic in 2007 to only half a percent now. Again, downloaders appear to prefer direct connectivity for downloads, mostly through port 80 and the web" (http://www.thestandard.com/news/2009/10/14/internet-now-dominated-traffic-superpowers)

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2010 – 2012

After the Earthquake in Haiti, Donating by SMS Text January 13, 2010

After the disastrous earthquake in Haiti you could send aid money by text message on your cell phone, and $10 was put on your cell phone bill. In the case of the Red Cross you could "send a $10 Donation by Texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999", or you could donate by phone or by credit card on the Red Cross website, or through social networking sites.

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The First Superman Comic Book sells for $1,000,000. February 22, 2010

On February 22, 2010 the web auction site ComicConnect.com in New York sold the first edition of the first Superman comic book, Action Comics #1, for $1,000,000.

"ComicConnect.com, one of the industry’s leading online auction/consignment sites, just sold an extremely rare, top-condition copy of the world’s most coveted comic book for exactly $1,000,000. That figure is more than three times higher than the prior record-holder, also set by ComicConnect.com.

"That comic book, of course, is Action Comics #1, which marked the debut of Superman in 1938 and promptly changed the course of pop culture forever.

" 'This particular copy has been in a private collection for more than 15 years, and it’s likely to disappear again once it’s been turned over to its new owner. However, ComicConnect.com will allow the media to view it briefly in its New York City showroom (873 Broadway, Suite 201, 212-895-3999). The showroom is also home to ComicConnect.com’s affiliate, Metropolis Collectibles (metropoliscomics.com), the largest vintage comic book dealer in the world.

" 'It’s the Holy Grail of comic books,' says founder Stephen Fishler, one of the leading experts on collectible comics.

“ 'Before Action Comics #1, there was no such thing as a superhero or a man who could fly,' notes Fishler, who created the 10-point grading scale which today is used universally to evaluate the condition of comic books.

“ 'It’s the single most important event in comic book history,' adds ComicConnect.com co-owner and COO, Vincent Zurzolo.

"Only about 100 copies Action Comics #1 remain in existence, and of those 100, only two have received a grading of 8.0 (Very Fine) or higher. This particular book is one of them, making it among the rarest of the rare.

"Up until now, the record-holder was another Action Comics #1, this one with a grading of 6.0. It sold on ComicConnect.com for $317,200 in 2009.

"According to the Overstreet Price Guide to Comic Books—the industry bible—Action Comics #1 is indisputably the highest-valued comic book of all time. In second place is Detective Comics #27, which marked the first appearance of Batman in 1939. An Action Comics #1 graded 8.0 or higher is priced about 25% higher than a comparable Detective Comics #27" (http://www.comicconnect.com/, accessed 02-25-2010).

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For the First Time E-books Outsell Digital Books on Amazon.com July 19, 2010

During the months of April, May, and June 2010 sales of ebooks (e-books) exceeded sales of hardcover physical books at Amazon.com. "In that time Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition."

The New York Times online, which reported this information, did not compare Amazon's sales of e-books versus their sales of paperback books during the same period, but indicated that  "paperback sales are thought to still outnumber e-books."

"Book lovers mourning the demise of hardcover books with their heft and their musty smell need a reality check, said Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, which advises book publishers on digital change. 'This was a day that was going to come, a day that had to come,' he said. He predicts that within a decade, fewer than 25 percent of all books sold will be print versions.  

"Still, the hardcover book is far from extinct. Industrywide sales are up 22 percent this year, according to the American Publishers Association."

The shift at Amazon is "astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months," Amazon's chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, said in a news release, published in Amazon.com's Media Room.

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Instagram is Founded October 2010 – December 17, 2012

In October 2010 Kevin Systrom and Cheyenne Foster launched Instagram, an online photo-sharing and social networking service that enabled users to take a picture, apply a digital filter to it, and share on a variety of networking services, including its own. Instagram was purchased in April 2012 by Facebook for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.  After regulatory approval the deal closed in September 2012 by which time Instagram had over 100 million users. 

"On December 17, 2012, Instagram updated its Terms of Service to allow Instagram the right to sell users' photos to third parties without notification or compensation after January 16, 2013. The criticism from privacy advocates, consumers and even National Geographic which suspended its Instagram account, prompted Instagram to issue a statement retracting the controversial terms. Instagram is currently working on developing new language to replace the disputed terms of use" (Wikipedia article on Instagram, accessed 12-22-2012).

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The Website of MasterCard is Hacked by Wikileaks Supporters December 8, 2010

"The website of MasterCard has been hacked and partially paralysed in apparent revenge for the international credit card's decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks. A group of online activists calling themselves Anonymous appear to have orchestrated a DDOS ('distributed denial of service') attack on the site, bringing its service at www.mastercard.com to a halt for many users. " 'Operation: Payback' is the latest salvo in the increasingly febrile technological war over WikiLeaks. MasterCard announced on Monday that it would no longer process donations to the whistleblowing site, claiming it was engaged in illegal activity.  

"The group, which has been linked to the influential internet messageboard 4Chan, has been targeting commercial sites which have cut their ties with WikiLeaks. The Swiss bank PostFinance has already been targeted by Anonymous after it froze payments to WikiLeaks, and the group has vowed to target Paypal, which has also ceased processing payments to the site. Other possible targets are EveryDNS.net, which suspended dealings on 3 December, Amazon, which removed WikiLeaks content from its EC2 cloud on 1 December, and Visa, which suspended its own dealings yesterday.  

"The action was confirmed on Twitter at 9.39am by user @Anon_Operation, who later tweeted: 'WE ARE GLAD TO TELL YOU THAT http://www.mastercard.com/ is DOWN AND IT'S CONFIRMED! #ddos #wikileaks Operation:Payback(is a bitch!) #PAYBACK'

"No one from MasterCard could be reached for immediate comment, but a spokesman, Chris Monteiro, has said the site suspended dealings with WikiLeaks because 'MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal'.  

"DDOS attacks, which often involve flooding the target with requests so that it cannot cope with legitimate communication, are illegal" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/08/mastercard-hackers-wikileaks-revenge, accessed 12-08-2010).

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Borders Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & Closes the Last of its Bookstores February 16 – September 18, 2011

In February 2011 Borders, the second largest brick and mortar bookstore chain in the United States, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. Borders' stock closed at 25 cents on February 12, 2011, reflecting expectations that the chain could be liquidated. The company was unable to compete adequately against Internet booksellers led by Amazon.com, or against the leading brick and mortar chain, Barnes and Noble. By September 18, 2011 Borders closed the last of its more than 1200 bookstores across the United States. This was reflective of a larger trend of brick and mortar bookstore closures, in which more than a thousand American bookstores closed between 2000 and 2007.

"Sales at Borders declined by double-digit percentage rates in 2008, 2009 and in each quarter in 2010 it has reported.

"Borders, which has 6,100 full time staff, operates 508 namesake superstores as well as a chain of smaller Waldenbooks stores.

"The company said it would close about 30 percent of its stores in the next several weeks and plans to continue to pay its employees.

"Borders' largest unsecured creditors include major publishers that provide the books it sells. Borders owes Pearson PLC's Penguin $41.2 million, Hachette Book Group USA $36.9 million, and CBS's Simon & Schuster $33.8 million, according to court documents.

"The case is In re: Borders Group Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No: 11-10614" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/borders-files-for-bankruptcy_n_823889.html?. accessed 11-16-2011).

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In its First Year Apple's iBookstore Sold 100,000,000 Books March 2, 2011

In March 2010 Steve Jobs announced that 100 million ibooks (ebooks) were downloaded since the company introduced its iBookstore in one year earlier.

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Walmart Buys Kosmix.com, Forming @WalmartLabs April 18, 2011

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, agreed to buy Kosmix.com, a social media start-up focused on ecommerce, creating @WalmartLabs.

"Eric Schmidt famously observed that every two days now, we create as much data as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2003. A lot of the new data is not locked away in enterprise databases, but is freely available to the world in the form of social media: status updates, tweets, blogs, and videos.

"At Kosmix, we’ve been building a platform, called the Social Genome, to organize this data deluge by adding a layer of semantic understanding. Conversations in social media revolve around 'social elements' such as people, places, topics, products, and events. For example, when I tweet 'Loved Angelina Jolie in Salt,' the tweet connects me (a user) to Angelia Jolie (an actress) and SALT (a movie). By analyzing the huge volume of data produced every day on social media, the Social Genome builds rich profiles of users, topics, products, places, and events. The Social Genome platform powers the sites Kosmix operates today: TweetBeat, a real-time social media filter for live events; Kosmix.com, a site to discover content by topic; and RightHealth, one of the top three health and medical information sites by global reach. In March, these properties together served over 17.5 million unique visitors worldwide, who spent over 5.5 billion seconds on our services.

"Quite a few of us at Kosmix have backgrounds in ecommerce, having worked at companies such as Amazon.com and eBay. As we worked on the Social Genome platform, it became apparent to us that this platform could transform ecommerce by providing an unprecedented level of understanding about customers and products, going well beyond purchase data. The Social Genome enables us to take search, personalization and recommendations to the next level.

"That’s why we were so excited when Walmart invited us to share with them our vision for the future of retailing. Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, with 10.5 billion customer visits every year to their stores and 1.5 billion online – 1 in 10 customers around the world shop Walmart online, and that proportion is growing. More and more visitors to the retail stores are armed with powerful mobile phones, which they use both to discover products and to connect with their friends and with the world. It was very soon apparent that the Walmart leadership shared our vision and our enthusiasm. And so @WalmartLabs was born. . . .

"We are at an inflection point in the development of ecommerce. The first generation of ecommerce was about bringing the store to the web. The next generation will be about building integrated experiences that leverage the store, the web, and mobile, with social identity being the glue that binds the experience. Walmart’s enormous global reach and incredible scale of operations -- from the United States and Europe to growing markets like China and India -- is unprecedented. @WalmartLabs, which combines Walmart’s scale with Kosmix’s social genome platform, is in a unique position to invent and build this future" (http://walmartlabs.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2011-11-30T21:01:00-08:00&max-results=7, accessed 01-20-2012).

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Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion May 2011

In its acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion Microsoft acquired a company founded in 2003, which never made money, changed hands many times, and came with substantial debt. 

The purchase price was roughly ten times the $860 million revenue of the company in 2010. Skype's debt was $686 million — not a problem for Microsoft.

Microsoft paid such a premium for the company because at the time of purchase Skype was growing at the rate of 500,000 new registered users per day, had 170 million connected users, with 30 million users communicating on the Skype platform concurrently. Volume of communications over the platform totaled 209 billion voice and video minutes in 2010.

"Services like Skype can cut into the carriers’ revenues because they offer easy ways to make phone calls, videoconference and send messages free over the Internet, encroaching on the ways that phone companies have traditionally made money" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/16/technology/16phone.html?hpw, accessed 05-16-2011).

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McKinsey Report on the Impact of the Internet on Growth, Jobs, and Prosperity May 2011

 McKinsey research into the Internet economies of the G-8 nations as well as Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and Sweden found that the web accounted for a significant and growing portion of global GDP. If measured as a sector, Internet-related consumption and expenditure were bigger than agriculture or energy. On average, the Internet contributed 3.4 percent to GDP in the 13 countries covered by the research—an amount the size of Spain or Canada in terms of GDP, and growing at a faster rate than that of Brazil.

"Research prepared by the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey's Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practices as part of a knowledge partnership with the e-G8 Forum, offers the first quantitative assessment of the impact of the Internet on GDP and growth, while also considering the most relevant tools governments and businesses can use to get the most benefit from the digital transformation. To assess the Internet's contribution to the global economy, the report analyzes two primary sources of value: consumption and supply. The report draws on a macroeconomic approach used in national accounts to calculate the contribution of GDP; a statistical econometric approach; and a microeconomic approach, analyzing the results of a survey of 4,800 small and medium-size enterprises in a number of different countries.  

"The Internet's impact on global growth is rising rapidly. The Internet accounted for 21 percent of GDP growth over the last five years among the developed countries MGI studied, a sharp acceleration from the 10 percent contribution over 15 years. Most of the economic value created by the Internet falls outside of the technology sector, with 75 percent of the benefits captured by companies in more traditional industries. The Internet is also a catalyst for job creation. Among 4,800 small and medium-size enterprises surveyed, the Internet created 2.6 jobs for each lost to technology-related efficiencies.

"The United States is the largest player in the global Internet supply ecosystem, capturing more than 30 percent of global Internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income. It is also the country with the most balanced structure within the global ecosystem among the 13 countries studied, garnering relatively equal contributions from hardware, software and services, and telecommunications. The United Kingdom and Sweden are changing the game, in part driven by the importance and the performance of their telecom operators. India and China are strengthening their position in the global Internet ecosystem rapidly with growth rates of more than 20 percent. France, Canada, and Germany have an opportunity to leverage their strong Internet usage to increase their presence in the supply ecosystem. Other Asian countries are rapidly accelerating their influence on the Internet economy at faster rates than Japan. Brazil, Russia and Italy are in the early stages of Internet supply. They have strong potential for growth" (http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/MGI/Research/Technology_and_Innovation/Internet_matters, accessed 01-19-2012).

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Ebooks Outsell Physical Books on Amazon.com May 19, 2011

Since April 1, 2011 Amazon reported that it sold 105 books for its Kindle ebook (e-book) reader for every 100 hardcover and paperback physical books.

At this time ebook sales represented 14% of of all general consumer fiction and nonfiction books sold, according to Forrester Research.

Amazon introduced the Kindle on November 19, 2007.

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News Corporation Sells MySpace for $545 Million Loss June 29, 2011

News Corporation sold social media website MySpace to advertising network Specific Media for "roughly $35 million." New Corporation purchased MySpace in 2006 for $580 million.

"The News Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, had been trying since last winter to rid itself of the unprofitable unit, which was a casualty of changing tastes and may be a cautionary tale for social companies like Zynga and LinkedIn that are currently enjoying sky-high valuations. . . .

"Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the News Corporation said that it would retain a minority stake. Specific Media said it had brought on board the artist Justin Timberlake as a part owner and an active player in MySpace’s future, but said little else about how the site would change.  

"The sale closes a complex chapter in the history of the Internet and of the News Corporation, which was widely envied by other media companies when it acquired MySpace in 2005. At that time, MySpace was the world’s fastest-growing social network, with 20 million unique visitors each month in the United States. That figure soon soared to 70 million, but the network could not keep pace with Facebook, which overtook MySpace two years ago" (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/29/news-corp-sells-myspace-to-specific-media-for-35-million/?hp, accessed 06-30-2011).

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Google Acquires Smart-Phone Maker Motorola Mobility; Sells its Hardware Division in January 2014 August 15, 2011 – January 2014

On August 15, 2011 Google announced that it agreed to acquire the smart-phone manufacturer Motorola Mobility, headquarted in Libertyville, Illinois, for $12,5 billion. This was Google's largest acquisition to date.

"In a statement, Google said the deal was largely driven by the need to acquire Motorola's patent portfolio, which it said would help it defend Android against legal threats from competitors armed with their own patents. This issue has come to the fore since a consortium of technology companies led by Apple and Microsoft purchased more than 6,000 mobile-device-related patents from Nortel Networks for about $4.5 billion, in early July. Battle lines are being drawn around patents, as companies seek to protect their interests in the competitive mobile industry through litigation as well as innovation.  

"However, as people increasingly access the Web via mobile devices, the acquisition could also help Google remain central to their Web experience in the years to come. As Apple has demonstrated with its wildly popular iPhone, this is far easier to achieve if a company can control the hardware, as well as the software, people carry in their pockets. Comments made by Google executives hint that Motorola could also play a role in shaping the future of the Web in other areas—for instance, in set-top boxes. Motorola is by far Google's largest acquisition, and it takes the company into uncertain new territory. The deal is also likely to draw antitrust scrutiny because of the reach Google already has with Android, which runs on around half of all smart phones in the United States.  

"Motorola, which makes the Droid smart phone, went all-in with Google's Android platform in 2008, declaring that all of its devices would use the open-source mobile operating system.  

"Before his departure as Google CEO, Eric Schmidt had begun pressing Google employees to shift their attention to mobile. Cofounder and new CEO Larry Page seems determined to maintain this change of focus. In a conference call this morning, he told investors, 'It's no secret that Web usage is increasingly shifting to mobile devices, a trend I expect to continue. With mobility continuing to take center stage in the computing revolution, the combination with Motorola is an extremely important event in Google's continuing evolution that will drive a lot of improvements in our ability to deliver great user experiences.' " (http://www.technologyreview.com/web/38320/?nlid=nldly&nld=2011-08-16, accessed 08-17-2011).

On January 29, 2014 Larry Page, CEO of Google published in the Google Official Blog that they were selling Motorola's handset division for a multi-billion dollar loss:

"We’ve just signed an agreement to sell Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. As this is an important move for Android users everywhere, I wanted to explain why in detail. 

"We acquired Motorola in 2012 to help supercharge the Android ecosystem by creating a stronger patent portfolio for Google and great smartphones for users. Over the past 19 months, Dennis Woodside and the Motorola team have done a tremendous job reinventing the company. They’ve focused on building a smaller number of great (and great value) smartphones that consumers love. Both the Moto G and the Moto X are doing really well, and I’m very excited about the smartphone lineup for 2014. And on the intellectual property side, Motorola’s patents have helped create a level playing field, which is good news for all Android’s users and partners.

"But the smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices. It’s why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo—which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world. This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere. As a side note, this does not signal a larger shift for our other hardware efforts. The dynamics and maturity of the wearable and home markets, for example, are very different from that of the mobile industry. We’re excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems.

"Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android ecosystem. They have a lot of experience in hardware, and they have global reach. In addition, Lenovo intends to keep Motorola’s distinct brand identity—just as they did when they acquired ThinkPad from IBM in 2005. Google will retain the vast majority of Motorola’s patents, which we will continue to use to defend the entire Android ecosystem."

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2012 – 2016

Creative Destruction of the Book Trade by Amazon? February 8, 2012

" 'If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever,' George Orwell wrote in 'Nineteen Eighty-Four.' In 'Animal Farm,' he concluded that revolutions are inevitably betrayed by their leaders. His novel 'Burmese Days' ends with the hero killing himself because he is unfit to live in this sour world. He shoots his dog too.  

"As a rule, modern civilization disappointed Orwell when it did not actually sicken him. But in at least one respect he was way too optimistic. Bookselling, he wrote in Fortnightly in November 1936, 'is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman.'

"Jump forward three-quarters of a century, and a certain Seattle-based combine is being accused of exactly that. All sorts of merchants, but particularly booksellers, were infuriated by Amazon’s effort before the holidays to use shops on Main Street and in malls as showrooms for people to check out items before ordering them more cheaply online. The retailer’s refusal to collect sales tax is a persistent grievance. Independent booksellers have even been forced into the novel position of hoping that their one-time foe, Barnes & Noble, survives so that it can serve as a bulwark against Amazon. Publishers, if anything, are more fearful than booksellers.  

"Now take a look at the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek two weeks ago. It shows a book in flames with the headline, 'Amazon wants to burn the book business.' What was remarkable was not just the overt Nazi iconography but the fact that it did not cause any particular uproar. In the struggle over the future of intellectual commerce in the United States, apparently even evocations of Joseph Goebbels and the Brown Shirts are considered fair game.  

"From Amazon’s point of view, the cover is incorrect even if you disregard any Nazi connotations. What would be the use to Amazon of a charred hulk? It does not want to destroy the book business, but simply to reinvent it — or, as its opponents would have it, seize control of it. (Amazon declined to comment)" (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/amazon-up-in-flames/?hp, accessed 02-08-2012).

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Microsoft Invests in Barnes & Noble's Nook eBook Reader Division April 30, 2012

On April 30, 2012 Microsoft announced  that it would invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s Nook division for a 17.6 percent stake. The deal valued Barnes & Noble's eBook reader business at $1.7 billion.  Notably that is nearly double what Barnes & Noble’s entire market capitalization was on Friday, April 27, and more than what Barnes & Noble was valued at any time since mid-2008.

Barnes & Noble, the largest bookselling chain in the United States, wagered heavily on the Nook, competing against Amazon’s Kindle and Apple's iPad.

"The Nook division’s growth has come at enormous financial cost, weighing down on Barnes & Noble’s bottom line and prompting the strategic review. The retailer added on Monday that it was still weighing other options for the business.

"Through the deal, the two companies will settle their patent disputes, and Barnes & Noble will produce a Nook e-reading application for the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system, which will run on traditional computers and tablets.  

"The new division, which has yet to be renamed, will also include Barnes & Noble’s college business. It is meant to help the business compete in what many expect to be a growth area for e-books: the education market, something that Apple has already set its sights on.  

" The new company and 'our relationship with Microsoft are important parts of our strategy to capitalize on the rapid growth of the Nook business, and to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments,' William J. Lynch Jr., Barnes & Noble’s chief executive, said in a statement (http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/microsoft-to-take-stake-in-barnes-nobles-nook-unit/?hp, accessed 04-30-2012).

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Growing Adoption of the eBook Format in the U. S. May 29, 2012

"One thing, however, is certain, and about it publishers agree: e-book sales as a percentage of overall revenue are skyrocketing. Initially such sales were a tiny proportion of overall revenue; in 2008, for instance, they were under 1 percent. No more. The head of one major publisher told me that in 2010 e-book sales accounted for 11 percent of his house’s revenue. By the end of 2011 it had more than tripled to 36 percent for the year. As John Thompson reports in the revised 2012 edition of his authoritative Merchants of Culture, in 2011 e-book sales for most publishers were “between 18 and 22 percent (possibly even higher for some houses).” Hardcover sales, the foundation of the business, continue to decline, plunging 13 percent in 2008 and suffering similar declines in the years since. According to the Pew Research Center’s most recent e-reading survey, 21 percent of American adults report reading an e-book in the past year. Soon one out of every three sales of adult trade titles will be in the form of an e-book. Readers of e-books are especially drawn to escapist and overtly commercial genres (romance, mysteries and thrillers, science fiction), and in these categories e-book sales have bulked up to as large as 60 percent. E-book sales are making inroads even with so-called literary fiction. Thompson cites Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of America’s most distinguished houses and one of several American imprints now owned by the German conglomerate Holtzbrinck. Franzen’s novel sold three-quarters of a million hardcover copies and a quarter-million e-books in the first twelve months of publication. (Franzen, by the way, detests electronic books, and is also the guy who dissed Oprah when she had the gumption to pick his earlier novel, The Corrections, for her popular book club.) Did Franzen’s e-book sales depress his hardcover sales, or did the e-book iteration introduce new readers to his work? It’s hard to know, but it’s likely a bit of both" (http://www.thenation.com/article/168125/amazon-effect, accessed 06-03-2012).

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Online Advertising is Expected to Surpass Print Advertising, But TV Advertising Dwarfs Both October 2012

According to the October 2012 IAB Internet advertising revenue report by the Internet Advertising Bureau, a New York based international organization founded in 1996:

"In the first half of the year, U.S. Internet sites collected $17 billion in ad revenue, a 14 percent increase over the same period of 2011. . . . In the second half of last year, websites had $16.8 billion in ad revenue. So even if growth were to slow in the second half, digital media this year could exceed the $35.8 billion that U.S. print magazines and newspapers garnered in ad revenue in 2011.

"In fact, the digital marketing research firm eMarketer projects 2012 Internet ad spending in excess of $37 billion, while print advertising spending is projected to fall to $34.3 billion.

"Meanwhile, television ad spending—which Nielsen reports was nearly $75 billion in 2011—continues to dwarf both" (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429638/online-advertising-poised-to-finally-surpass/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_source=newsletter-daily-all&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20121017, accessed 10-22-2012).

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Penguin to Merge with Random House October 29, 2012

On October 29, 2012 Bertelsmann, based in Gütersloh, Germany and Pearson, based in London, announced that they planned to combine their book publishing divisions, Random House and Penguin.  This merger, which could put as much as 25% of the American new book production in the hands of one company, was seen as the result of the growing power in the eBook market of dominant technology companies including Amazon, Apple and Google which pressured publishers to adjust their eBook strategy during a period in which traditional brick and mortar bookstores were disappearing.

"Under the agreement, Bertelsmann, which owns Random House, would control 53 percent of the merged publishers. Bertelsmann and Pearson would share executive oversight, with Markus Dohle of Random House serving as chief executive and John Makinson of Penguin becoming the chairman.  

"The deal would consolidate Random House’s position as the largest consumer book publisher in the English-language world, giving the combined companies greater scale to deal with the challenges arising from the growth of e-books and the rise of Internet retailers like Amazon.  

“ 'Together, the two publishers will be able to share a large part of their costs, to invest more for their author and reader constituencies and to be more adventurous in trying new models in this exciting, fast-moving world of digital books and digital readers,' said Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, which is based in London.  

"By taking control of the company, Bertelsmann . . . hopes to avoid the problems that plagued a 50-50 partnership with Sony of Japan, in which the two companies combined their music recording divisions. The venture, Sony BMG, was riven by management turmoil and differences over strategy, prompting Bertelsmann to sell its share to Sony eventually" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/business/global/random-house-and-penguin-to-be-combined.html, accessed 10-29-2012).

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$2.6 Billion Spent on Ads on Phones and Tablets in 2012 October 29, 2012

In a New York Times article published on October 29, 2012 Claire Cain Miller estimated that advertisers would spend $2.6 billion on ads on phones and tablets in 2012— less than 2 percent of the amount they would spend over all, but more than triple what they spent in 2010.

"Google earns 56 percent of all mobile ad dollars and 96 percent of mobile search ad dollars, according to eMarketer. The company said it is on track to earn $8 billion in the coming year from mobile sales, which includes ads as well as apps, music and movies it sells in its Google Play store. But the vast majority of that money comes from ads, it said."

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Google Has 67% of the U.S. Search Market and Collects 75% of U.S. Search Ad Dollars November 4, 2012

"Regulators in the United States and Europe are conducting sweeping inquiries of Google, the dominant Internet search and advertising company. Google rose by technological innovation and business acumen; in the United States, it has 67 percent of the search market and collects 75 percent of search ad dollars. Being big is no crime, but if a powerful company uses market muscle to stifle competition, that is an antitrust violation.  

"So the government is focusing on life in Google’s world for the sprawling economic ecosystem of Web sites that depend on their ranking in search results. What is it like to live this way, in a giant’s shadow? The experience of its inhabitants is nuanced and complex, a blend of admiration and fear.  

"The relationship between Google and Web sites, publishers and advertisers often seems lopsided, if not unfair. Yet Google has also provided and nurtured a landscape of opportunity. Its ecosystem generates $80 billion a year in revenue for 1.8 million businesses, Web sites and nonprofit organizations in the United States alone, it estimates.  

"The government’s scrutiny of Google is the most exhaustive investigation of a major corporation since the pursuit of Microsoft in the late 1990s" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/technology/google-casts-a-big-shadow-on-smaller-web-sites.html?hpw, accessed 11-04-2012).

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"How the antiquarian book market has evolved for life on the web" December 19, 2012

From Wired.co.uk December 19, 2012:

By Chris Owen.

"Digital marketplaces such as Amazon have disrupted -- some might say ruined -- the traditional publishing industry. And following a flurry of launches in the last year, e-readers look set to appear in Christmas stockings everywhere. But what does all of this mean for the trade in antiquarian books?  

"Decades ago, the antiquarian book market was dominated by specialist sellers sitting in dusty shops stacked to the ceiling with first editions, signed copies, manuscripts, and rare folios. Then came the internet. With the advent of global access to information, (and stock), came the opportunity to reach out to a broader audience, and stores were battling with the new boys in the form of Abebooks (one of the very first sites on the web), and of course Amazon, which, lest we forget, started as an online book store.  

"Looking back, in 1997, there were around a million books available on the web -- at the time a seemingly huge number, but a fraction of the 140 million estimated books available online today. Books still form a massive volume of online retail trade; research has suggested that 41 percent of people who shop online have bought a book through the web.  

"Sam Missingham, co-founder of Future Book, agrees, "Amazon's second hand market has revolutionised the way people buy second hand books. There's almost no book I can't buy now if I want a copy -- 10 years ago I people could have taken a year scouting through second hand shops and still not have found what I want. Now one five-second search on Amazon and you can have it delivered to your door."

"However, this marketplace brought with it opportunity and also threats -- according to Julian Wilson, Books Specialist at Christie's in London, 'There's never been a better time for people to buy such a wide range of rare books at low prices. A culture of price under cutting is causing prices to fall dramatically in the low to mid end market. For instance, 17th-century county maps of England are selling at about 30-40 percent of their value 20 years ago.'

"Missingham agrees to an extent, but suggests the mid-market is perhaps just 'shrinking slightly'. She adds, 'the mid-market for ebooks on Kindle store is being overloaded with self-published books of varying quality -- indeed oft described as a tsunami of shit.'

"At the top end however, the market is booming. Antiquarian literature has seen consistent growth, and the likes EEBO (Early English Books Online) is allowing collectors to compare rare items and verify their credentials, while Abebooks and the records kept by resellers and auction houses has allows them to price items effectively. Indeed, the likes of EEBO and other collectables sites are proving invaluable in the battle against forgeries, and in clearing up subjective opinion on veracity of rare books.  

"Wilson cites a recent example where he was unconvinced that a Harry Potter first edition hardback, potentially worth £10,000, was bona fide. On examining the title page closely, he discovered it was taken from a paperback and had been almost perfectly inserted into a second edition hardback, itself worth only £200.  

"Similarly he remembers a faked frontispiece in a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, an almost legendarily rare item in the antiquarian book market. Convinced there was something amiss, he and his colleagues spent hours at the British Library comparing it to verified copies of the First Folio, as well as other online resources, and ultimately were able to put their finger on the problem: the chain lines in the paper (a distinct book "fingerprint" as it were), were different to confirmed editions.  

"Ironically, the market was also affected by the dotcom boom itself and the boom of the modern digital age -- not through the surge of online retail, but by the entrepreneurs behind the multi-million dollar sites which emerged, who drove a spike in the antiquarian book market, one previously driven by 45-65-year-old collectors which have (and still do) dominate the scene.  

"These new collectors wanted the flagship books; the likes of Darwin's The Origin of the Species. What this meant for the market was that individual books shot up in price (and have remained high) -- a first edition of Darwin's 'Origin' was worth perhaps £20,000 in 1994, but by 1999 had shot up to around £80,000 and remains around there today, nudging toward £100,000 for very fine copies.  

"However, first editions of the rest of Darwin's leading work, such as The Descent of Man remain static at around £5,000, while his other lesser known works can be found still for prices in the hundreds of pounds. This skew is true for 'Origin…' as it is for many other seminal works -- Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations being a prime example, which Christie's sold for a record-breaking £157,250 in 2010.

"Interestingly, it is around this time that the collectables market started to witness a change in marketing strategy. Previously auction house brochures detailed the items' condition and quality; from the mid-nineties, explanations of the importance started to emerge and dominate in order that potential buyers (who had no collectables history, nor academic insight into the literary world), could understand what they were buying.  

"It's natural to think that such a drive in the top end might push the collectable books market the same way as philately, where rare stamps are now holding their value better than anything aside from gold, and indeed are proving to be a highly lucrative investment strategy. However, a statute binding all members of the Antiquarian Book Sellers Association strictly forbids this: sellers cannot position rare books as investment opportunities. It's an intriguing polarity, and one that could be affected by an additional factor, the proliferation of the e-reader.

"The democracy that cheap, easily-downloadable books brings could be seen as a threat to the sector, and indeed there has been concern that it too will drive a race to the bottom and devalue the printed page. However, Wilson thinks this could in fact bring with it a great opportunity to put value back into the publishing sector, through initial discovery of books, and the subsequent creation of ultra-limited, beautifully-made original products.  

"While this may drive a collectables market, it may not drive the sales figures (and revenue) that investors will demand. However, it does open up the debate about whether publishers should also take a longer term market responsibility as well as the shorter term financial one. 

"Missingham suggests that there are other issues to heed, namely the community aspect of any web-based marketplace, 'the main issue is how to find and discover the quality books online. Talk in the industry is of reliable gatekeepers reducing in number, the surge of dubious, untrustworthy online reviews being the main issue'.

"There's much talk of similarities between the second hand book industry and that of the humble independent record shop. While the likes of Rough Trade, itself a British icon, are prospering, the number of small private stores across the country has plummeted in the last decade -- predominantly as a result of the digital music boom, and the devaluing of music amid the clamour for "free" content. Let's hope the books trade can learn from music's mistakes."

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Online Reviews Used as Attack Weapons to Kill Sales of a Book January 20, 2013

"Reviews on Amazon are becoming attack weapons, intended to sink new books as soon as they are published.

"In the biggest, most overt and most successful of these campaigns, a group of Michael Jackson fans used Facebook and Twitter to solicit negative reviews of a new biography of the singer. They bombarded Amazon with dozens of one-star takedowns, succeeded in getting several favorable notices erased and even took credit for Amazon’s briefly removing the book from sale.  

" 'Books used to die by being ignored, but now they can be killed — and perhaps unjustly killed,' said Trevor Pinch, a Cornell sociologist who has studied Amazon reviews. 'In theory, a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons.'

"In 'Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson,' Randall Sullivan writes that Jackson’s overuse of plastic surgery reduced his nose to little more than a pair of nostrils and that he died a virgin despite being married twice. These points in particular seem to infuriate the fans.  

"Outside Amazon, the book had a mixed reception; in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani called it 'thoroughly dispensable.' So it is difficult to pinpoint how effective the campaign was. Still, the book has been a resounding failure in the marketplace.  

"The fans, who call themselves Michael Jackson’s Rapid Response Team to Media Attacks, say they are exercising their free speech rights to protest a book they feel is exploitative and inaccurate. 'Sullivan does everything he can to dehumanize, dismantle and destroy, against all objective fact,' a spokesman for the group said.  

"But the book’s publisher, Grove Press, said the Amazon review system was being abused in an organized campaign. 'We’re very reluctant to interfere with the free flow of discourse, but there should be transparency about people’s motivations,' said Morgan Entrekin, president of Grove/Atlantic, Grove’s parent company" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/business/a-casualty-on-the-battlefield-of-amazons-partisan-book-reviews.html?hpw&_r=0, accessed 01-21-2013).

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Amazon Sells More than 25% of New Books in the U.S. July 5, 2013

According to an article by David Streitfeld in the July 5, 2013 issue of The New York Times, Amazon.com now sells

"about one in four new books, and the vast number of independent sellers on its site increases its market share even more. It owns as a separate entity the largest secondhand book network, Abebooks. And of course it has a majority of the e-book market."

The main issue raised in Steitfeld's article, entitled "The Price of Amazon," was Amazon's ability to control the prices of new books and ebooks.

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Sixty Percent of Book Sales, Print & Digital, Now Occur Online July 19, 2013

An article entitled, "Here's How Amazon Self-Destructs," published in Salon.com on July 19, 2013 pointed out that by forcing the closure of most physical bookstores in the United States Amazon had eliminated the main way that readers learn about new books--that is by visiting physical bookshops:

"According to survey research by the Codex Group, roughly 60 percent of book sales — print and digital — now occur online. But buyers first discover their books online only about 17 percent of the time. Internet booksellers specifically, including Amazon, account for just 6 percent of discoveries." 

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Bezos Purchases the Washington Post August 5, 2013

On August 5, 2013 Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos agreed to purchase the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million.

"The Post, like the newspaper industry as a whole, has been beset by a rapid decline in print advertising, a loss of subscribers and challenges in building up online revenue.  

"In a letter to Post employees, Bezos indicated that he wouldn't make radical changes in editorial operations and would continue to emphasize accountability journalism. But he said the paper will need to "invent" and to "experiment," focusing on the Internet and tailored content, to address the changing habits of readers.  

"Bezos, 49, was on nobody's list of likely entrants into print media.

" 'This is the first time a true digital native is buying a newspaper publishing company,' said Alan D. Mutter, a media consultant and former newspaper editor. 'Jeff Bezos has the means, motive and opportunity to re-envision what it means to be a newspaper in the digital era.' 

"Bezos will own the Post outright, buying it with his own money, not Amazon's. By taking it private, he won't be subject to shareholders seeking quick returns.  

"Bezos, a Princeton University graduate, founded Amazon in 1994 as an online book seller. He quickly added other services and built it into the world's biggest online retailer, with $61 billion in sales last year and 97,000 employees worldwide" (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-washington-post-bezos-20130806,0,4515179.story, accessed 08-07-2013).

♦ Shortly after Bezos's purchase, the most meaningful commentary on it that I read was Arianna Huffington's "Bezos, Heraclitus and the Hybrid Future of Journalism," published on August 14, 2013 in The Blog at The Huffington Post. Huffington, of Greek descent, who was influential in transforming journalism by forming and developing The Huffington Post, began her comments with the following paragraphs:

"One of the first people who came to mind when I heard the news last week that Jeff Bezos was buying the Washington Post was a fellow countryman, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who around 2,500 years ago said, 'No man ever steps in the same river twice.' Or, as James Fallows put it, the sale was 'one of those episode-that-encapsulates-an-era occurrences.' But as it encapsulates one era that has passed, it also has the potential to expand the era we are in. This combining of the best of traditional media with the boundless potential of digital media represents an amazing opportunity.  

"First, it's an opportunity to further move the conversation away from the future of newspapers to the future of journalism -- in whatever form it's delivered. After all, despite all the dire news about the state of the newspaper industry, we are in something of a golden age of journalism for news consumers. There's no shortage of great journalism being done, and there's no shortage of people hungering for it. And there are many different business models being tried to connect the former with the latter -- and Jeff Bezos will no doubt come up with another.  

"The future will definitely be a hybrid one, combining the best practices of traditional journalism -- fairness, accuracy, storytelling, deep investigations -- with the best tools available to the digital world -- speed, transparency, and, above all, engagement.  

"Though the distinction between new media and old has become largely meaningless, for too long the reaction of much of the old media to the fast-growing digital world was something like the proverbial old man yelling at the new media kids to get off his lawn. Many years were wasted erecting barriers that were never going to stand."

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Use of the Internet by Part-Time Business Owners in 2013 October 10, 2013

Research released on October 10, 2013 by The Internet Association showed that nine out of ten part-time business owners relied on the Internet to conduct their business.  According to their report Internet enabled part-time businesses employed 6.6 million people and contributed $141 billion to the US Gross National Product (GNP). 

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Amazon Launches the Kindle MatchBook Service October 29, 2013

On October 29, 2013 Amazon officially launched its Kindle MatchBook service, allowing customers to buy a heavily discounted Kindle copy of physical books they had purchased from Amazon. Prices ranged between free and $2.99. The e-books could be read on Kindle, Android or iOS applications using the free Kindle app.

Amazon said that 70,000 books were enrolled in MatchBook at launch, that more books would be added to the program every day, and that book detail pages would list when specific titles will support MatchBook.

"Amazon combs through your entire order history going all the way back to 1995, so the initial list of ebooks offered to you may be longer than you'd expect. And since they're full-fledged Kindle copies, all of Amazon's signature features including Whispersync and X-Ray are included. To see which of your past purchases are eligible, head to Amazon now" (http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/29/5042058/amazon-launches-matchbook-offering-cheap-digital-copies-of-print-books, accessed 10-29-2013).

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The First Auction of Internet Domains by a Major Auction House November 1 – November 21, 2013

On October 24, 2013 Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas, announced their first auction of Domain Names and Intellectual Properties conducted by Aron Meystedt of Dallas, owner of the virtual real estate investment firm xf.com, who had been buying, selling, and developing Internet domains since 2009. As far as I was able to determine this was the first auction of Internet domains by a major auction house. The bidding period for the online auction was November 1 to 21, 2013.

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Retail e-commerce sales expanded 15 percent in the U.S in 2012—seven times as fast as traditional retail. November 7, 2013

"Why do some stores succeed while others fail? Retailers constantly struggle with this question, battling one another in ways that change with each generation. In the late 1800s, architects ruled. Successful merchants like Marshall Field created palaces of commerce that were so gorgeous shoppers rushed to come inside. In the early 1900s, mail order became the “killer app,” with Sears Roebuck leading the way. Toward the end of the 20th century, ultra-efficient suburban discounters like Target and Walmart conquered all.

"Now the tussles are fiercest in online retailing, where it’s hard to tell if anyone is winning. Retailers as big as Walmart and as small as Tweezerman.com all maintain their own websites, catering to an explosion of customer demand. Retail e-commerce sales expanded 15 percent in the U.S in 2012—seven times as fast as traditional retail. But price competition is relentless, and profit margins are thin to nonexistent. It’s easy to regard this $186 billion market as a poisoned prize: too big to ignore, too treacherous to pursue.

"Even the most successful online retailer, Amazon.com, has a business model that leaves many people scratching their heads. Amazon is on track to ring up $75 billion in worldwide sales this year. Yet it often operates in the red; last quarter, Amazon posted a $41 million loss. Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, is indifferent to short-term earnings, having once quipped that when the company achieved profitability for a brief stretch in 1995, “'t was probably a mistake' " (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/520801/no-stores-no-salesmen-no-profit-no-problem-for-amazon/ accessed 11-07-2013).

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The U.S. Postal Service Will Deliver Amazon Packages on Sundays November 11, 2013

In a testimony to the growing impact of e-commerce, on November 11, 2013 the U.S. Postal Service and Amazon.com announced that the Postal Service will deliver packages in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas on Sundays—a first for the postal service, and a service not provided by private delivery companies. According to Amazon's press release, Sunday deliveries will be for Amazon Prime members, "who receive unlimited, free two-day shipping on millions of items."  Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service plan to roll out this service to a large portion of the U.S. population in 2014, including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix.

"Getting packages on Sundays normally is expensive for customers. United Parcel Service Inc. doesn't deliver on Sundays, according to a spokeswoman. And FedEx Corp. said Sunday 'is not a regular delivery day,' though limited options are available.

"The deal could be a boon for the postal service, which has been struggling with mounting financial losses and has been pushing to limit general letter mail delivery to five days a week.

"Spokeswoman Sue Brennan said that letter mail volume is declining 'so extremely,' yet package volume is 'increasing in double-digit percentages.'

"The postal service's Sunday package delivery business has been very small, but the arrangement with Amazon for two of the retailer's larger markets, Los Angeles and New York, should boost work considerably.

"To pull off Sunday delivery for Amazon, the postal service plans to use its flexible scheduling of employees, Brennan said. It doesn't plan to add employees, she said" (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-amazon-usps-20131109,0,7390545.story?track=lat-email-topofthetimes#axzz2kLimvcy6, accessed 11-12-2013) 

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Amazon.com and UPS Envision Eventually Delivering Packages Via Drones December 1, 2013

In an interview on December 1, 2013 Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon.com, outlined how he envisioned using drones to deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes. Declaring himself an optimist, he predicted that delivery drones could be a reality in as little as five years. 

Bezos intends to be among the first to use such technology once the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes rules for commercial drones later this decade. Current regulations forbid companies from flying unmanned vehicles. 

On December 3, 2013, The Washington Post, owned by Bezos, displayed an excellent information graphic on Bezos's proposed delivery drone at this link.

On December 8, 2013 The New York Times published an article entitled "Disruptions: At Your Door in Minutes, Delivered by Robot." The article also stated that UPS (United Parcel Service) was researching the use of drones for future delivery services:

"But given the explosive growth of e-commerce, some experts say the shipping business is in for big changes. United Parcel Service, which traces its history to 1907, delivers more than four billion packages and documents a year. It operates a fleet of more than 95,000 vehicles and 500 aircraft. The ubiquitous Brown is a $55 billion-plus-a-year business. And, like Amazon, U.P.S. is reportedly looking into drones. So is Google. More and more e-commerce companies are making a point of delivering things quickly the old-fashioned way — with humans.

"Some of the dreamers in the technology industry are dreaming even bigger. It won’t be just drones, they insist. Robots and autonomous vehicles — think Google’s driverless car — could also disrupt the delivery business.

“As cities become more automated, you’re going to start to see on-demand delivery systems that look like small delivery vehicles and can bring you whatever you want to wherever you are,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and a member of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford. “Rather than go to the store to buy some milk, a robot or drone will go to a warehouse and get it for you, then deliver it.”

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The NSA Uses "Cookies" to Pinpoint Targets for Hacking December 10, 2013

On December 10, 2013 The Washington Post reported that slides from an April 2013 National Security Agency (NSA) presentation disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that the NSA was secretly

"piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using 'cookies' and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.

"The agency's internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations.

"For years, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of commercial tracking tools to identify and target consumers with advertisements. The online ad industry has said its practices are innocuous and benefit consumers by serving them ads that are more likely to be of interest to them.

"The revelation that the NSA is piggybacking on these commercial technologies could shift that debate, handing privacy advocates a new argument for reining in commercial surveillance."

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eCommerce Accounts for Only About 6% of Commerce in the U.S. December 20, 2013

"And yet online commerce currently accounts for only about 6 percent of all commerce in the United States. We still buy more than 90 percent of everything we purchase offline, often by handing over money or swiping a credit card in exchange for the goods we want. But the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has increasingly led to the use of digital technology to help us make those purchases, and it’s in that convergence that eBay sees its opportunity. As Donahoe puts it: ‘‘We view it actually as and. Not online, not offline: Both.’’ 

"Most people think of eBay as an online auction house, the world’s biggest garage sale, which it has been for most of its life. But since Donahoe took over in 2008, he has slowly moved the company beyond auctions, developing technology partnerships with big retailers like Home Depot, Macy’s, Toys ‘‘R’’ Us and Target and expanding eBay’s online marketplace to include reliable, returnable goods at fixed prices. (Auctions currently represent just 30 percent of the purchases made at eBay.com; the site sells 13,000 cars a week through its mobile app alone, many at fixed prices.)

"Under Donahoe, eBay has made 34 acquisitions over the last five years, most of them to provide the company and its retail partners with enhanced technology. EBay can help with the back end of websites, create interactive storefronts in real-world locations, streamline the electronic-payment process or help monitor inventory in real time. (Outsourcing some of the digital strategy and technological operations to eBay frees up companies to focus on what they presumably do best: Make and market their own products.) In select cities, eBay has also recently introduced eBay Now, an app that allows you to order goods from participating local vendors and have them delivered to your door in about an hour for a $5 fee. The company is betting its future on the idea that its interactive technology can turn shopping into a kind of entertainment, or at least make commerce something more than simply working through price-plus-shipping calculations. If eBay can get enough people into Dick’s Sporting Goods to try out a new set of golf clubs and then get them to buy those clubs in the store, instead of from Amazon, there’s a business model there. 

"A key element of eBay’s vision of the future is the digital wallet. On a basic level, having a ‘‘digital wallet’’ means paying with your phone, but it’s about a lot more than that; it’s as much a concept as a product. EBay bought PayPal in 2002, after PayPal established itself as a safe way to transfer money between people who didn’t know each other (thus facilitating eBay purchases). For the last several years, eBay has regarded digital payments through mobile devices as having the potential to change everything — to become, as David Marcus, PayPal’s president, puts it, ‘'Money 3.0'’' (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/magazine/ebays-strategy-for-taking-on-amazon.html?hp&_r=0, accessed 12-20-2013). 

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"As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books are Reading You" December 24, 2013

On December 24, 2013 The New York Times published an article by David Streitfeld entitled, "As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You," from which I quote portions:

"Before the Internet, books were written — and published — blindly, hopefully. Sometimes they sold, usually they did not, but no one had a clue what readers did when they opened them up. Did they skip or skim? Slow down or speed up when the end was in sight? Linger over the sex scenes?

"A wave of start-ups is using technology to answer these questions — and help writers give readers more of what they want. The companies get reading data from subscribers who, for a flat monthly fee, buy access to an array of titles, which they can read on a variety of devices. The idea is to do for books what Netflix did for movies and Spotify for music." 

"Last week, Smashwords made a deal to put 225,000 books on Scribd, a digital library here that unveiled a reading subscription service in October. Many of Smashwords’ books are already on Oyster, a New York-based subscription start-up that also began in the fall.

"The move to exploit reading data is one aspect of how consumer analytics is making its way into every corner of the culture. Amazon and Barnes & Noble already collect vast amounts of information from their e-readers but keep it proprietary. Now the start-ups — which also include Entitle, a North Carolina-based company — are hoping to profit by telling all.

“ 'We’re going to be pretty open about sharing this data so people can use it to publish better books,' said Trip Adler, Scribd’s chief executive.

"Quinn Loftis, a writer of young adult paranormal romances who lives in western Arkansas, interacts extensively with her fans on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Flickr and her own website. These efforts at community, most of which did not exist a decade ago, have already given the 33-year-old a six-figure annual income. But having actual data about how her books are being read would take her market research to the ultimate level.

“ 'What writer would pass up the opportunity to peer into the reader’s mind?' she asked.

"Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all.

"At Oyster, a top book is 'What Women Want,' promoted as a work that 'brings you inside a woman’s head so you can learn how to blow her mind.' Everyone who starts it finishes it. On the other hand, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s 'The Cycles of American History' blows no minds: fewer than 1 percent of the readers who start it get to the end.

"Oyster data shows that readers are 25 percent more likely to finish books that are broken up into shorter chapters. That is an inevitable consequence of people reading in short sessions during the day on an iPhone."


"Here is how Scribd and Oyster work: Readers pay about $10 a month for a library of about 100,000 books from traditional presses. They can read as many books as they want.

“ 'We love big readers,' said Eric Stromberg, Oyster’s chief executive. But Oyster, whose management includes two ex-Google engineers, cannot afford too many of them.... Only 2 percent of Scribd’s subscribers read more than 10 books a month, he said.


"These start-ups are being forced to define something that only academic theoreticians and high school English teachers used to wonder about: How much reading does it take to read a book? Because that is when the publisher, and the writer, get paid.

"The companies declined to outline their business model, but publishers said Scribd and Oyster offered slightly different deals. On Oyster, once a person reads more than 10 percent of the book, it is officially considered 'read.' Oyster then has to pay the publisher a standard wholesale fee. With Scribd, it is more complicated. If the reader reads more than 10 percent but less than 50 percent, it counts for a tenth of a sale. Above 50 percent, it is a full sale."

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My First Purchase of a Hardcover Book for One Cent on the Internet January 21, 2014

In January 2014 I finally succumbed to temptation, and curiosity, and purchased a hardcover book for one cent plus $3.99 postage from a bookseller in Toledo, Ohio through Amazon.com. Prior to this I had assumed that anything sold for such a low price had to be junk. However, the bookseller said the copy was in good condition and I decided to go for it.

The book arrived by media mail on January 21. So what did I get for this extremely low price? My order was for Cyberspace: First Steps, edited by Michael Benedikt and published by MIT Press in 1991. What I received was a hardcover book in an intact dust jacket. It shows signs of wear, but is clean internally and I would call it a good copy. 

When I placed my order for the one cent copy I thought there was a certain irony in a bargain purchase of a book on the theoretical and conceptual issues involved in the design, use, and effect of virtual environments, since before the Internet no bookseller would have sold a book of this kind for one cent. My theory is after one online bookseller listed the book for one cent others joined in to meet the competition. There were several copies of this book listed for a penny; others were as expensive as $20 or more. My guess is that there is not that much difference between my one cent copy and some of the more expensive ones. It is a question of guessing what the right price is. Just as I previously hesitated to order such a bargain, not all buyers will trust the quality of a one cent purchase.

The business model for selling books for a penny on the Internet presumably means making a profit on the postage. The assumption is that these dealers get their books for nothing and may earn a dollar or two on the shipping. Amazon, of course, takes a small commission. The winners here are the consumer and Amazon, and maybe the postal service. Selling books for a penny does not seem like the best business plan to me.

Will I buy more books for a penny after this experience? Most certainly.

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"Cheap Words. Amazon is good for consumers but is it good for books?" February 17, 2014

On February 10, 2014 I read an article in NewYorker.com by George Packer entitled "Cheap Words. Amazon is good for consumers but is it good for books?" The article was dated February 17, 2014. In my opinion the whole article was very much worth reading, but since I could not quote all of it, selections are quoted below:

"The combination of ceaseless innovation and low-wage drudgery makes Amazon the epitome of a successful New Economy company. It’s hiring as fast as it can—nearly thirty thousand employees last year. But its brand of creative destruction might be killing more jobs than it makes. According to a recent study of U.S. Census data by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in Washington, brick-and-mortar retailers employ forty-seven people for every ten million dollars in revenue earned; Amazon employs fourteen.

"In the book industry, many of those formerly employed people staffed independent stores. Two decades ago, there were some four thousand in America, and many of them functioned as cultural centers where people browsed and exchanged ideas. Today, there are fewer than two thousand—although, with Borders dead and Barnes & Noble ailing, the indies are making a small comeback. Vivien Jennings, of Rainy Day Books, has been in business for thirty-eight years. “We know our customers, and the other independents are the same,” she said. “We know what they read better than any recommendation engine.”

After Amazon’s legal triumph, some publishing people were driven to the wild surmise that the company had colluded with the Justice Department, if not micromanaged the entire case. They grasped at the fact that Jamie Gorelick, a deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration, and a friend of Attorney General Eric Holder, serves on Amazon’s board, and that three weeks after Judge Cote’s decision President Barack Obama appeared at an Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga—where workers earn, on average, eleven dollars an hour—to praise the company’s creation of good jobs. The coup de grâce came last November, when the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced a special partnership to deliver Amazon—and only Amazon—packages on Sundays, with the terms kept under official seal. To some people in the book world, Obama’s embrace of their nemesis felt like a betrayal. One literary agent said, “It’s strange that a President who’s an author, and whose primary income has come from being an author, was siding with a monopoly that wants to undercut publishers.”

Since the arrival of the Kindle, the tension between Amazon and the publishers has become an open battle. The conflict reflects not only business antagonism amid technological change but a division between the two coasts, with different cultural styles and a philosophical disagreement about what techies call “disruption.”

“Book publishing always has a rhetoric of the fallen age,” a senior editor at a major house told me. “It was always better before you got here. The tech guys—it’s always better if you just get out of my way and give me what I want. It’s always future-perfect.” He went on, “Their whole thing is ‘Let’s take somebody’s face and innovate on it. There’s an old lady—we don’t know we’re innovating unless she’s screaming.’ A lot of it is thoughtless innovation.” . . . .

"Book publishers’ dependence on Amazon, however unwilling, keeps growing. Amazon constitutes a third of one major house’s retail sales on a given week, with the growth chart pointing toward fifty per cent. By contrast, independents represent under ten per cent, and one New York editor said that only a third of the three thousand brick-and-mortar bookstores still in existence would remain financially healthy if publishers didn’t waive certain terms of payment. Jane Friedman, the former Random House and HarperCollins executive, who now runs a digital publisher called Open Road Integrated Media, told me, “If there wasn’t an Amazon today, there probably wouldn’t be a book business.” The senior editor who met Grandinetti said, “They’re our biggest customer, we want them to succeed. As I recover from being punched in the face by Amazon, I also worry: What if they are a bubble? What if the stock market suddenly says, ‘We want a profit’? You don’t want your father who abuses you physically to lose his job.”

"In 2009, after a career at publishers large and small, Robinson was laid off by Scribner, amid downsizing. Faced with his own professional extinction, and perhaps the industry’s, he co-founded a new company, OR Books, with a different business model. Robinson did research and found that fifty to sixty per cent of the list price of a book goes to Amazon or to another retailer. When he was starting out, in the eighties, that figure was more like thirty or forty per cent. A small-to-midsize publisher has to spend between ten and fifteen per cent on sales, warehousing, and shipping. This leaves little more than twenty-five per cent of the book’s price for editorial counsel, production costs, publicity, paying the author, and whatever profit might be left over. A shared sensibility for a certain kind of fiction or nonfiction writing unites everyone along the way: authors, agents, editors, designers, marketers, reviewers, readers. “The only point at which Bezos enters that chain is to take all the money and the e-mail address of the buyer,” Robinson said. “There’s an entire community of people, and Bezos stands in the middle of it and collects the money.”

"Instead of going through Amazon, OR Books sells directly to customers, using printers in Minnesota and the U.K. It pays about fifteen per cent to the printer and keeps the rest. “After four years, we’re just profitable,” Robinson told me. “It works.”

"To the Big Five, locked in a death struggle with Amazon and the distracted American reader, this kind of experimentation might seem unrealistic. To survive, they are trying to broaden their distribution channels, not narrow them. But Andrew Wylie thinks that it’s exactly what a giant like Penguin Random House should do. “If they did, in my opinion they would save the industry. They’d lose thirty per cent of their sales, but they would have an additional thirty per cent for every copy they sold, because they’d be selling directly to consumers. The industry thinks of itself as Proctor & Gamble. What gave publishers the idea that this was some big goddam business? It’s not—it’s a tiny little business, selling to a bunch of odd people who read."

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Amazon May Control "More than a Third" of the U.S. Book Trade May 8, 2014

On May 8, 2014, in an article regarding a dispute between the publisher Hachette and Amazon.com published in The New York Times, David Streitfeld wrote that Amazon "controls more than a third of the book trade in the United States."

Less than a year earlier, on July 5, 2014, Streitfeld wrote that Amazon sold:

"about one in four new books, and the vast number of independent sellers on its site increases its market share even more. It owns as a separate entity the largest secondhand book network, Abebooks. And of course it has a majority of the e-book market." 

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Sotheby's Officially Teams with eBay for Online Auctions July 14, 2014

On July 14, 2014 The New York Times published an article entitled, "A Warhol With Your Moosehead? Sotheby's Teams with eBay" by Carol Vogel and Mike Isaac, from which I quote:

"Convinced that consumers are finally ready to shop online for Picassos and choice Persian rugs in addition to car parts and Pez dispensers, Sotheby’s, the blue-chip auction house, and eBay, the Internet shopping giant, plan to announce Monday that they have formed a partnership to stream Sotheby’s sales worldwide.

"Starting this fall, most of Sotheby’s New York auctions will be broadcast live on a new section of eBay’s website. Eventually the auction house expects to extend the partnership, adding online-only sales and streamed auctions taking place anywhere from Hong Kong to Paris to London. The pairing would upend the rarefied world of art and antiques, giving eBay’s 145 million customers instant bidding access to a vast array of what Sotheby’s sells, from fine wines to watercolors by Cézanne.

"This isn’t the first time the two companies have teamed up; a 2002 collaboration fizzled after only a year. But officials say the market has matured in recent years, making the moment right for a new collaboration.

"The announcement comes just months after the activist shareholder Daniel S. Loeb criticized Sotheby’s for its antiquated business practices, likening the company to “an old painting in desperate need of restoration” and calling for directors there to beef up its online sales strategy. It also signals a new phase in Sotheby’s age-old rivalry with Christie’s. After years of running neck and neck, Sotheby’s has recently been losing business to its main competitor — and Christie’s is planning its own bold move to capture more online business, a $50 million investment that will include more Internet-only auctions and a redesigning of its website scheduled for October.

"Online auctions are not new to either auction house. Registered bidders can compete in certain sales in real time with the click of a mouse. What is new is the way Sotheby’s is trying to reach beyond its traditional customers to an enormous affluent global audience for whom online buying has become second nature. Luxury shopping websites like Gilt and 1st Dibs, with their broad mix of décor, designer fashion and antiques, have shown that shoppers are willing to spend many thousands of dollars on everything from handbags to sconces without inspecting them in person. And while the auction houses are seeing their online bidding grow — Sotheby’s, for example, says its sales on its website increased 36 percent in 2013 over the previous year — they believe the full potential of online sales has yet to be tapped."

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Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers to Create Stand-Alone "Print Companies" August 10, 2014

On August 10, 2014, which was, incidentally, my mother Rachel's 96th birthday, media columnist David Carr of The New York Times published published a column entitled "Print is Down, and Now Out. Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers to Uncertain Futures."  The primary issue that Carr raised was that newspapers—virtually all of which were still published both in print and online editions — could not generate enough advertising revenue fast enough, to satisfy the growth demands required by Wall Street investors. For this reason media companies, which derived most of their income from television, spun off their newspaper divisions. From his column I quote selections:

"A year ago last week, it seemed as if print newspapers might be on the verge of a comeback, or at least on the brink of, well, survival.

"Jeff Bezos, an avatar of digital innovation as the founder of Amazon, came out of nowhere and plunked down $250 million for The Washington Post. His vote of confidence in the future of print and serious news was seen by some — including me — as a sign that an era of “optimism or potential” for the industry was getting underway.

"Turns out, not so much — quite the opposite, really. The Washington Post seems fine, but recently, in just over a week, three of the biggest players in American newspapers — GannettTribune Company and E. W. Scripps, companies built on print franchises that expanded into television — dumped those properties like yesterday’s news in a series of spinoffs. . . .

"The persistent financial demands of Wall Street have trumped the informational needs of Main Street. For decades, investors wanted newspaper companies to become bigger and diversify, so they bought more newspapers and developed television divisions. Now print is too much of a drag on earnings, so media companies are dividing back up and print is being kicked to the curb.

"Setting aside the brave rhetoric — as one should — about the opportunity for a “renewed focus on print,” those stand-alone print companies are sailing into very tall waves. Even strong national newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are struggling to meet Wall Street’s demands for growth; the regional newspapers that make up most of the now-independent publishing divisions have a much grimmer outlook.

"As it turns out, the journalism moment we are living in is more about running for your life than it is about optimism. Newspaperscontinue to generate cash and solid earnings, but those results are not enough to satisfy investors.

"Even the most robust evangelism is belied by the current data. Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corporationespoused the “power of print” on Thursday even as he announced that advertising revenue at the company plunged 9 percent in the most recent quarter.

"And remember that it was Mr. Thomson’s boss, Rupert Murdoch, who started the wave of print divestitures when his company divorced its newspapers last year, although it did pay out $2 billion in alimony, which gave the publications, including The Journal, a bit of a cash cushion. (News Corporation’s tepid earnings report came two days after Mr. Murdoch, who has swashed more buckles and cut more deals than almost anyone, was forced by the market to let go of his latest prey, Time Warner.)

"The people at the magazine business Time Inc. were not so lucky, burdened with $1.3 billion in debt when Time Warner threw them from the boat. Swim for your life, executives at the company seemed to be saying, and by the by, here’s an anchor to help you on your way.

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