Monthly Archives: December 2010

Free Books from Google

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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In a long-anticipated move into the e-book market, Google has officially launched its massive e-bookstore, bringing more than 3 million books, many of which are available free of charge, to any device that has app capabilities or has a web browser.

But what makes Google E-books better than those already dominating the space such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple? We’ve compiled the top 5 reasons why Google E-Books is changing up the game.

Free Material
Everybody loves getting something for nothing. Google E-books provides you with roughly three million books free of charge. Google E-books has the largest selection of public domain titles, allowing users to download tons of noteworthy titles without spending a penny.

Cross Platform Support
Google E-books supports any type of device that has access to a web browser. Instead of requiring users to purchase the titles through a single online store to read only on compatible readers, Google E-books allows customers to not only buy books from their own store, but also from any other online vendor that sells books in either PDF or EPUB formats. These downloads are then read by any device that has web browsing capabilities. Google E-Books works cross-platform with computer web browsers, smartphones with the Google eBook reader app, and eReader devices such as the iPad, Nook, Kobo eReader, and Aluratek eBook.

Automatic Syncing
Cross-platform usage would be pointless if nothing synced up. As you read your books on your computer, Android, iPhone, or iPad devices, Google E-Books will automatically sync across all platforms. If you begin reading in the morning on your iPad, you will be able to pick up right where you left off on your Android or iPhone device on your way to work.

Impressive List of Publishers
Google E-Books may have just launched, but nearly 4,000 publishers are already providing the store with content. Of these 4,000 publishers, almost all of the major players have jumped on board including Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette just to name a few.

A New Approach
Google’s approach to the e-book phenomenon is different from those already dominating the space. Because of the way Google decided to take on the challenge, they’ve created a brand new ecosystem which makes both retailers and affiliates, as well as publishers, all part of the e-book selling process for the very first time.

Holiday Shopping Update

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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In November, Fanscape’s  Industry newsletter highlighted the upcoming holiday shopping season.  With just a few days left until Christmas, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, we decided to take another look at how social media and the internet has helped retailers across the country boost their sales and break some records.

Online Shopping on the Rise
First, sales are up.  Internet sales surged this year, and online retailers saw a 15.9% increase in sales from Black Friday 2009 to Black Friday 2010. The average price of online orders jumped 12% from 2009, and the first 26 days of November saw an increase of up to 13%. (Read more)

Foursquare Check-In’s and Black Friday Sales
While Foursqure users only represent a small portion of those who visited stores on Black Friday, many retailers used the service to offer deals for users who checked-in on their mobile phones. In a recent AdAge article, they revealed the most-checked-in retail stores on Foursqaure, citing that despite large promotional campaigns by companies like Sports Authority, the retailers that really shined when it came to check-ins were companies such as Walmart, Best Buy, and Target with the latter having almost one quarter of all Black Friday check-ins.

Cyber Monday Breaks a Record
Online sales for Cyber Monday reached a record high and surpassed $1 billion for the first time in history, according to ComScore. It is estimated that online shoppers spent roughly 16% more than last year on the same day. With more money invested into online promotions, and more advertising spent on social platforms, Cyber Monday saw 4% (9 million) more online shoppers spending roughly 10% more then last year based on (data compiled by Mashable).

New Facebook Profiles

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Just days after the official rollout of the overhauled Facebook Messaging platform, another new and dramatic change has been released on the Facebook website; an updated social profile.

Unlike the updated Facebook Messaging service which is only available to those who receive an invite, the updated Facebook profile is available right now to anyone who wants it. To do so, simply follow this link and click the green button at the top to activate it.

In a recent Facebook blog update, the changes to the Facebook Profile page were described in great detail. To save you some time, here is the gist of what they said:

What’s new?
In a nutshell, the updated Facebook profiles are getting a completely new look along with a few new features that will not only make them more functional and easier to read, but also easier to update. This major overhaul can be broken down into three main parts.

1. Profile Summary
A brief synopsis of each person will now appear at the top of their new profile page and will include things such as where you work, who you’re in a relationship with, where you go to school, what you’re studying, and if you can speak any other languages. The brief summary explains who you are, and below that is a collection of photos you are recently tagged in that shows what you’ve been up to lately. These are all things that Facebook considers “conversation starters” and aims to provide you with a little background about the person you’re looking at.

2. Featured Friends
This is one of the more interesting updates to the Facebook profile. It allows you to feature friends on the newly created sidebar that displays your friends list. To date, the only time you could really single a relationship out was when you accepted a relationship request with a significant other. Now, Facebook gives you the opportunity to split up your friends list into different categories, such as colleagues at work, peers at school, family members, or just the friends you are closer with.

3. Interface Changes
Several of the interface changes will probably seem strange and hard to navigate at first, due largely to the fact that a lot of info has either moved positions or been removed all together. The tabs that were once at the top have changed to links on the left, and your friends are now separated by groups on in the left hand side of your profile. As more and more people opt in for the new profile change, you should get used to this positioning and it shouldn’t be a problem.

One of the more useful updates to the overhauled interface, however, would be the addition of infinite scroll. Instead of having to click a link at the bottom of the profile to “see more”, as users keep scrolling down the page keeps loading more content.

In the end, the overall point of the profile overhaul was to enable users to update more often and to do so easier. It looks like they’ve done just that.

For more information about the changes made to the Facebook profiles and a brief blurb about how it can help assist advertisers, check out Charlene Li’s write up here. If you are interested in a photo walkthrough of the new changes as well as a short promotional video, check out this Mashable post.

Facebook Messages Made Easy

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Recently Facebook announced its new Facebook Messages platform.  The long-anticipated product, which was originally thought to be a Facebook email service, turns out to not be an email service at all but rather a complete reimaging of conversational messaging.  Modeled after Facebook Chat, Facebook Messages is comprised of three core components: seamless messaging, cross-platform conversation history, and the social inbox.

Seamless Messaging
The seamless messaging system provides users with a simple way to keep in constant contact with each other and carry on a conversation – in real time. This is different from email because the Facebook Message system is modeled after Facebook Chat. Facebook removed the subject line and encourages users to communicate with each other as if it were a verbal conversation. Users can send messages back and forth seamlessly and pick up conversations right where they left off.

Cross-Platform Conversation History
Once you’ve signed up to use the free Facebook Messages platform, you’ll be given an @Facebook.com email address. When you access your account, all conversations that take place going forward, whether they be via email, text messages, instant messaging, Twitter updates, and Facebook posts (just for starters), will record in one seamless stream. You will have a complete conversation history no matter where the conversation took place.

The Social Inbox
The new social inbox is intended to stay clean, spam-free, and well organized. When you log on to your Facebook Messages account, the only messages you’ll see are messages from your friends and their friends.  That’s it. You’ll have the ability to adjust your privacy settings to determine exactly what you see and will have the ability to filter everything you don’t want to bounce back or save into a folder called, “Other.”

Facebook Messages is rolling out slowly and is currently available to users on an invitation-only basis. It’s too early to tell just how successful it will be, but the screen shots and promotional video seems promising.  Will this be a game changer?  We’ll soon see.

(For more information on Facebook messages, including a promotional video about the new features, as well as a slide show with a Facebook Messages walkthrough check out this article on Mashable.Com.)