Why You Should Worry About Amazon Buying the Right to Publish Kurt Vonnegut Fan-Fiction

One of the weirder bits of news sailing through the Internet this week is Amazon’s acquisition, from the Vonnegut Trust, of the right to publish fan-fiction based on the, uh, Kurt Vonnegut universe. The Kindle Worlds program, which struck the deal, has in the past limited its acquisition of rights to series like The Vampire Diaries. Vonnegut is a bit of a square peg in that company. Never mind that it seems to vastly overestimate the American public’s engagement with literary fiction. Are any Vonnegut characters household names? Am I missing something? … Read More

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Flavorwire Exclusive: Netflix, Studios Have Very Different Explanations for Widescreen Cropping

This time last week, Flavorwire ran a piece about the cropping of films from their original aspect ratio on the movie streaming service Netflix — in short, they frequently run films shot in the ultra-widescreen “Scope” ratio with the sides chopped off, reducing them to a more standard, widescreen TV-friendly frame. That post, titled “Why is Netflix Secretly Cropping Movies?,” made the possibly premature assumption of nefarious activity at Netflix HQ, and in the flurry of Internet activity that followed, Netflix issued this denial: “We do not crop. We want to offer the best picture and provide the original aspect ratio of any title on Netflix. However, unfortunately our quality controls sometimes fail and we end up offering the wrong version of a title. When we discover this error, we replace that title as soon as possible.” But that explanation may not be the whole story, as we’ve discovered in talking to some of the content providers in question. … Read More

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Is Netflix Having an Identity Crisis?

Wednesday morning,’s front page featured a letter from founder and CEO Jeff Bezos — not an unusual occurrence, and one frequently adopted to announce an exciting new product or perk. The big news: a notable addition to their Instant Video service. “Prime members now have unlimited instant streaming access to the largest subscription library for Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. content online,” went Bezos’s missive. “We have increased by 55% the number of episodes available to top Prime shows for kids like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, iCarly and more of your Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. favorites.” Casual observers might have thought nothing of this news, but for parents, it’s a bombshell — because up until last month, those shows could be found on Amazon Instant Video’s high-profile competitor, Netflix. … Read More

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Netflix’s “Streamageddon”: Why Do Streaming Video Services Still Suck?

They called it “Streamageddon,” and it was brutal: on May 1, nearly 1800 titles expired from Netflix Instant streaming, prompting wailing and gnashing of teeth among movie buffs, to say nothing of a last-minute flurry of marathon viewing. (We tried to warn you.) The cause was simple enough: the company’s licensing deals with several key providers — including MGM, Universal, and Warner Brothers — came to a close, and they were not renewed. This kind of thing has happened before (the site lost eight percent of its streaming content when their partnership with Starz Play ended last year); it’s the cycle of shifting deals and fluctuating content. But the way the company has responded to the backlash, and the increasingly erratic and frustrating landscape of streaming in general, raises some troublesome questions about where online viewing is going. … Read More

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Which of Amazon’s Comedy Pilots Are Worth Watching?

In a fascinating push to introduce democracy to digital streaming, Amazon has released six children’s show pilots and eight comedy pilots for audiences to watch and nominate for development into a full original series. The response so far has been strong: according to Amazon, the pilots made up 8 out of the 10 most watched instant streaming shows this past weekend. Although the pilots are free and easily accessible, eight 25-minute episodes is quite a lot of viewing for all but the most die-hard television fanatics. Luckily, the Flavorwire staff has watched each pilot and is here to help you decide what to watch and rally around. From cartoons to musical comedy, here’s the rundown on Amazon’s experiment with original programming.

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Hilarious, Scathing Netflix and Amazon Reviews of Terrence Malick Movies

Terrence Malick’s latest movie, To the Wonder, hits theaters this week, and there are few filmmakers today whose work inspires as much fierce advocacy among movie lovers. But for all the hyperbolic praise of his films, there are bound to be those who see them as muddled, indecipherable, or inexplicable. We’re not saying his movies are without flaws — but they tend to inspire some rather hilarious vitriol in anonymous public forums, so it’s time to return to one of our favorite sources for unsolicited film criticism, Netflix reviews, to see what people have to say about his films. This time, we checked in with the folks on Amazon as well. The best of what we found is after the jump. … Read More

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Flavorwire Video Premiere: Hitler Reacts to the State of Publishing

Well, we always knew Amazon reminded us of someone. In this bookish spin on one of our favorite video memes of recent memory, a certain publishing superpower is angry at his lack of complete control of the industry. He’s right about one thing, though: “Cheating is the whole point of the Internet!” If you’ve been following the industry’s recent power struggles with any attention, be prepared to watch the following video, sent in by an enterprising reader, with glee. … Read More

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5 Things You Need to Know About Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just unveiled a slew of tweaked versions of its Kindle Fire tablets and a cheaper Kindle Touch at a press conference in Santa Monica, but it’s the company’s new electronic ink display e-reader, the Kindle Paperwhite, that we’re seeing the most chatter about online. (Well, that and the fact that Amazon didn’t unveil that much-discussed smartphone that they’ve been busy at work on.) After the jump, we’ve compiled a very brief list of everything that you need to know about the Paperwhite. Let us know if you’re planning on grabbing one of your own in the comments! … Read More

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Amazon Reveals the Most Well-Read Cities in America

This morning, Amazon unveiled its second annual list of the Most Well-Read Cities in America — at least if we’re taking “well-read” to mean “buys a lot of stuff from Amazon,” that is. According to the press release, “the ranking was determined by compiling sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and Kindle format since June 1, 2011, on a per capita basis in cities with more than 100,000 residents.” So, that’s a rather loose definition of “well-read,” but we’re not going to judge. Some fun facts from the release: Berkeley residents ordered the most travel books, those healthy exercisers in Boulder bought the most books in the Health, Fitness & Dieting category, Cambridge kids cleaned out the Business & Investing category, and Alexandria, which topped the entire list, did so by ordering tons of romance novels. No word on which city ordered the most literary fiction, memoirs or nonfiction, though. Any guesses? Click through to see where your city stands on Amazon’s Most Well-Read Cities in America list, and let us know what you think in the comments. … Read More

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Amazon to Develop Original TV Programming

Everyone’s getting in the TV production game these days, huh? With Netflix debuting Lilyhammer, splashily reviving Arrested Development, and rumored to be picking up CBS’s Jericho, and companies like Hulu, YouTube, and Yahoo following suit, it’s no shock that Amazon is jumping on the bandwagon. The online retail giant has announced plans to… Read More

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