Why e-Books Must Cost More

Big increases in e-book prices seem like a bad deal for consumers. They may be necessary, however, to keep authors and publishers in business as e-books replace paper ones.

The occasion for this discussion is Amazon's capitulation to Macmillan and others over the publishers' demand for greater flexibility in e-book pricing. Amazon has been selling many e-books for $9.99, while Macmillan wanted to add perhaps $5 to the price.

Amazon gave in and other publishers have been following suit.

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Facebook Dumps Microsoft Ads, Keeps Sleazy Advertisers

Facebook says it has dumped Microsoft banner ads, but what the social network really needs are fewer sleazy advertisers, not less Microsoft.

For example, ads like to one that invites Facebook members to "test" an iPad, Kindle, or Mac that they then get to keep, "participation required."

Maybe you have seen career ads that mention an age, but suggest a job that makes no sense for someone in that age group. Become a cop between 50 and 65? Not likely.

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Apple's Bans Go Way Too Far

Is Apple's banning iPhone applications that would use location data for displaying advertising not as onerous as anything Microsoft tried--and mostly didn't get away with?

What about banning the word "Android" from the App Store? Like Apple thinks it can control the flow of information its customers receive? Give me a break.

Maybe those who once were so vehemently anti-Microsoft will now look at what Apple is doing and see the parallels. Business customers should take the lead as we are more activist-oriented than average consumers.

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Time to Rethink Google Books?

Google Books is a wonderful idea that is having a hard time meeting legal requirements. That's the upshot of the latest round in the battle between the world's search leader and the people who actually create the content Google exploits for huge profits.

It should surprise no one that Google ran into legal challenges after it decided to suck all the world's books and magazines into its search engine. What's surprising, to me, is the project has been allowed to continue for so long. This is because it is easy to see value in the project, but hard to see how one company can be allowed to control it.

This is one of those cases of trying to make unbridled capitalism work for the public good when it simply may not be possible. But, we must give Google credit for trying.

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iPad Study: The More You Know, The Less You Want One

The more people know about the iPad, the less they want to buy one, according to a study released Friday. But, are we expecting too much?

The study seems to confirm the iPad as Apple's least exciting announcement in years. And the company is feeling the backlash that comes from not delivering on the hype.

Retrevo, an online marketplace for consumer electronics, surveyed 1,000 of its customers and found that the iPad's Jan. 27 announcement did more to snuff out customer interest than to spark it.

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Is Chinese PC Hardware Safe and Secure?

Is it safe to buy Chinese-made computer equipment?

With Google and the National Security Agency now teaming up to investigate supposed Chinese hacking and most of our PC hardware coming from China, it's a fair question. And a hard one to answer with certainty.

It is made more urgent by a report in the Sunday Times newspaper that Chinese spies in the U.K. have been handing out bugged memory sticks and cameras to targeted businesses in an attempt to steal the companies' intellectual property.

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Google and the NSA: Necessary Allies

We are at war and business data centers are the battlefield. It seems only natural that Google and the NSA should be working together. Who better to protect us? And we need to be able to play both defense and offense, something I wonder if we can do today.

Now, I'm as paranoid as the next guy, but the handwringing over the two working together on cybersecurity really needs to stop. This is war and we are at a disadvantage from the start. Free societies always are.

Cyberwarfare is shaping up to be the new Cold War, pitting us and our allies against both states and non-state actors. Our businesses and critical infrastructure will be the key fronts in this battle, meaning that businesses and government must work together.

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