Are ebooks in your future?

Amazon kindleAmazon kindle

On the off chance you were under a rock last week or didn't catch the Newsweek cover story, you may have missed some potentially big news for the book business: Amazon launched what some claim to be the iPod of ebooks, the Kindle. This 10.3 ounce piece of tech candy allows you to buy ebooks directly from, read blogs, and other such fun reading-related stuff. And it does all this wirelessly, using the same network as cell phones.

Businessfolk and librarians alike have been abuzz about the possibilities. Specifically, could the Kindle perhaps do what competitors never managed: create a viable market for books in electronic format?

We Want Wiis!

If you braved the streets for Black Friday, or even if you didn't, you might have been seeking a Nintendo Wii, the hottest gaming console of its generation. Wiis may be in short supply this season, according to the BBC, so those holiday Wii-seekers might be especially rabid.

The likely holiday rush on Wiis is yet more proof that Nintendo is clearly winning this latest round of console wars, a particularly astounding feat considering that Microsoft's Xbox 360 had momentum on its side, having been launched nearly a year earlier. Key to Nintendo's success, many say, are their efforts to reach out to "nontraditional" gamers. Equally astounding as the Wii's dominance is the pitiful performance of Sony's Playstation 3, considering Sony's trouncing of competitors in the last generation of console wars.

Of course, if you're not one of the fortunate few who manage to get a Wii this holiday season, fear not! You might just be able to play a round of Wii Sports at AADL's fabulous gaming tournaments.

Well-behaved women seldom make history by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

What a great title. A tribute to women ranging over centuries and cultures. The book was discussed last week on the Diane Rehm show.
Ms Ulrich is a Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University , past Pulitzer and Bancroft prize winner, MacArthur Foundation Fellowship , etc.

Interestingly the book title is popular on bumper stickers across the country. My mother was a Rosie the Riveter in WW2. I bet she'd like this book and the bumper sticker.

Is Consumerism Sustainable?

Kai RyssdalKai Ryssdal

Our consumer culture often produces several unfortunate side effects. Given all those negative effects, can we sustain our consumerism for much longer? That compelling question will be addressed by none other than Kai Ryssdal, host of the NPR business & finance program Marketplace, in a panel discussion next week. Kai will be joined several other notable folks at the event, which is co-sponsored by Michigan Radio and the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

Interested? The panel will be held on Friday, November 16th, from 11.00a to noon at the Ross School of Business. Find out more on Michigan Radio's events page.


You may be having a sense of deja vu when next you watch your favorite television television show. The Writers Guild of America, the folks responsible for much of the content on TV and in movies, is on strike. The sticking point? Authors want a bigger share of the lucrative DVD market and a stake in the burgeoning web market. Studios and networks say no way, not wanting to cut into their cash cow or hamper their efforts to draw in web viewers.

The effects will be felt most immediately in late night TV and other programming that relies heavily on current events, including, sadly, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Soap opera fans beware, for daytime television will follow shortly. Prime time TV and movies won't be affected immediately. Of course, if the strike lasts 5 months like the last one, even all you Lost addicts out there may be getting a bit of strike fatigue.

So much for cheap oil

Those of us hoping for lower gas prices (read: pretty much everybody) had our hopes dashed this week as oil hit $90/barrel. And alas, with oil prices also come the gasoline prices.

So does there appear to be any relief in sight? Well, unfortunately oil has an, shall we say, unpredictable economic history. There is much talk about just how random these fluctuations are, though, and more specifically, just how much influence the petroleum industry has over them. OPEC often finds itself chief whipping boy when oil prices are on the rise.

On the up side, the seemingly inexorable rise in prices has created a perfect storm, causing many to call for laying off the black gold. Some consider our reliance on those shady folks in OPEC a huge national security issue. Environmentalists, like award winner extraordinaire Al Gore, increasingly push for reducing our demand for oil, too. And perhaps, just perhaps, as prices continue skyrocketing, more will join those diverse voices calling for change.

Fox television stations, now with added business!

Not content with merely acquiring the businessperson's bible, Rupert Murdoch has been reaching business folks through the cable lines as well. The newly-launched Fox Business Network is positioned to compete with the previously (almost) unrivaled CNBC.

Certainly, Fox Biz Network must be hoping to snipe a few CNBC viewers. But at least based on the first week, it's not wholly clear that they'll attract the same people. CNBC is known for its sometimes, well, overly passionate commentary about the stock market. Fox Biz seems like it's going beyond the minutiae of the market to target a broader audience.

Television news, of course, has a sordid history, to which Mr. Murdoch has contributed his own fair share. The question on people's minds now is whether Fox Biz will do to CNBC what Fox News did to CNN, especially with the power of the Wall Street Journal behind it. Perhaps Murdoch is writing the next chapter in that sordid history.

Why do people give to public radio?

NPR logoNPR logo

Ah, October! With the tenth month of the year comes not only the onset of fall, but also Guilt Week, aka the fall membership drive for National Public Radio.

Public radio is an interesting beast because its finances are unlike not only for-profit businesses, but also other 501(c)(3)s. Through some magical combination of guilt and altruism, public radio stations manage to get lots of people to willingly donate money to something they could get for free. Not only that, but listeners pay based on how much they value the station. Businesses would kill to be able to charge customers like that.

So I propose a discussion topic in honor of Guilt Week: why are so many public radio listeners willing to donate often considerable amounts without coercion? Is it out of the goodness of their hearts? Because they fear their fabulous local station will disappear if they don't? Other reasons? What say those of you who donate to public radio? Why do you give?

The impending death of the used bookseller

A provocative article on recently profiled several industries on the verge of extinction. Among the condemned: record stores, newspapers, and used bookstores.

As the article notes, newspapers aren't really going to die; they're just going to change. But what about those book and record stores? It would perhaps be more accurate to say that independent bookstores and record stores are under threat. Sure, a few widely successful independents will remain. But even iconic independents are finding it harder to stay open.

What do you think? Are independent book and record stores disappearing? Should we even care, in the age of the long tail thrift and accessibility of Amazon and Barnes & Noble? Or will such stores simply adapt like their allegedly-doomed newspaper brethren?

Reference U.S.A.- looking for someone or info on companies?

Reference USAReference USA

So your old friend moved to Nevada but you don’t know where. Try using the library’s research product Reference USA to find them. Reference USA is found on the library’s website under the Research tab.

Another very important & useful feature of this software is looking up businesses by region/etc and limiting the search to specific types of companies. It’s a great resource for sales & marketing leads. My search for info on ICE CREAM & FROZEN DESSERTS (MFRS) in Michigan yielded 40 businesses.

Use Reference USA at any Ann Arbor District Library location or from your home / business computer. Off site usage requires your Ann Arbor District Library card #.

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