After I got the new copy, I ninja’d up a text copy of both the old and new version, then massaged them a bit to make diffing easier…

(Thanks to Perl, diff, and WinMerge)

Amazon mucked up Kindle copies of Neil Stephenson’s Reamde, irking readers who then had to figure out what bits they’d missed before getting the “corrected” version. Coder John Jetmore broke out the power tools to compare the texts. 

Verizon goes the Amazon Kindle route with iPhone

Amazon is notorious for not releasing Kindle sales figures. Their press releases love to tout phrases like “Record number of Kindles sold in 3rd quarter” and “Kindle is our best selling product” and other similar sentences they would really love to be accompanied with lots of brass instrument fanfare and/or a John Williams score.

However, Amazon has never released any hard numbers for Kindle sales. And now Verizon is doing the same thing! Check out some of the phrases from their press release, issued after they ran out of iPhone preorders:

"the most successful first day sales in the history of the company."
"In just our first two hours, we had already sold more phones than any first day launch in our history"
"unprecedented customer orders through our website"

Know what the press release doesn’t mention? Any numbers. At all. Which means now we all get to watch as every analyst, pundit, and blogger weighs in with their thoughts on the magic number.  -Matt


Barnes and Noble: Wait, we can be really annoying and vague about e-readers, too!

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"No soup for you!" Seinfeld Soup Nazi store, by Mister V

Amazon has annoyed analysts and journalists (well, at least me) alike with its vague press releases about Kindle sales. “This new Kindle version is the best-selling Amazon product ever! But no numbers for you!”

I finally wrote an article about it after the verbal gymnastics reached a head in July: Amazon said in a press release that the Kindle’s “sales growth rate” had tripled since a price cut. That confusing phrase led some news outlets to report incorrectly that total Kindle sales had tripled. 

ANNOYING. But what’s worse is that Barnes and Noble is jumping on the vagueness bandwagon with yesterday’s press release about its own Nook e-reader. It popped into my inbox yesterday with the subject line: “NOOK Line Becomes B&N’s Biggest Bestseller in Its History.”

That line sounded painfully familiar, but I hoped I’d see some more detail in the email text. Unfortunately, the first three sentences read as if B&N simply did a find-replace with Amazon’s press releases:

“Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, today announced that with millions of NOOK eReading devices sold, the line has become the company’s biggest bestseller ever…. the company’s number one selling gift of the holiday season. Barnes & Noble also announced that it now sells more digital books than its large and growing physical book business on BN.com." 

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmSorry, fell asleep on my keyboard. For this press release, B&N, no article for you! -Julianne

Kindle 3 is Amazon’s bestselling product in history

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to the Slowest News Week of the Year, when companies fire off self-congratulatory press releases about their accomplishments and hope journalists desperate for news scraps will bite.

Today’s contestant: Amazon, which blasted out a release letting the world know that the newest Kindle has vanquished the final Harry Potter book to claim the title of Bestselling Product in Amazon History. 

This would be more dazzling if Amazon would tell us how many actual Kindle units it has sold, something it has consistently refused to do. I rang the press hotline and asked; will update if Amazon coughs up the numbers. (Edited to add: And here’s their reply. “Thanks for your interest in Kindle.  For competitive reasons we don’t disclose unit sales figures.”)

Meanwhile, I hit the archives to see if Amazon ever gave out any numbers about sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was released in July 2007. Result: Nope. But it did, in December 2007, say that it had sold “more than 12 million copies of the seven Harry Potter titles.” So, Kindle 3 sales: Probably more than 1 million and way less than 12 million. 

Some other fun tidbits from Amazon’s press release: On its peak shipping day this year it sent out 9 million items, and on its peak sales day — Cyber Monday — customers ordered 158 items per second.

And the company’s most remote holiday shipment went to Grise Fiord, north of the Arctic Circle in Canada: Population 141, average yearly temperature 2 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s its airport, pictured above. Amazon shipped to that airport Halo Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul and, my personal favorite, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. -Stacy

iPad or Kindle? Why not both?

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There is a lot of hullabaloo about how Apple’s iPad is going to crush all the e-reader devices out there. Funny how the market seems to disagree so far — at least when it comes to the Kindle. Shares of both Amazon.com and Apple finished Monday near all-time highs. Perhaps the market is big enough for both devices after all? - Paul