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Comment Bookstores - are you trying to change hard enough? (Score 3, Interesting) 83

I'm a voracious reader and used to buy from bookstores on a weekly basis. Over the last few years I switched almost entirely to getting books online, and of late, more and more, that means buying them on amazon. The reason for the shift has primarily been availability of the books I want to read in stores. Now I understand that there are millions of books out there with thousands more getting added everyday, so decentralized bookstores are inherently at a huge disadvantage to centralized means like amazon. The amount of unproductive working capital tied up in store inventory will ensure this, leave alone rent, staff and utilities of a brick and mortar establishment.

But, assuming many other people have a similar story, what continues to surprise me is how little or how poorly bookstores seem to have adapted to this. If I were a bookstore owner I would try one of these things, none of which I have seen evidence of any bookstores here trying in a meaningful or impactful way:
1. Aggressively analyze traffic and tweak the assortment continuously
2. Track what I read, suggest books, inform me when they get related stuff in-store
3. If they don't have a book I want, promise to send it home the next day or later the same day
4. Reward my loyalty and value to them meaningfully. By that I mean that if I'm the kind of guy who buys regularly and from a predictable set then invest a significant portion of their margins on my purchases back into growing their relationship with me
5. Start 'membership programs' that help me get control over my spend on books
6. Make bookstores a really pleasant place for me and my family to spend time in
8. Support the physical book ecosystem.. start a program to take back books and free up precious shelf space in my home
9. Specialize.. trying to keep all the books relevant to everyone is a recipe for disaster imho, will end up keeping a bare minimum in any area and leave everyone dissatisfied

To folks in the bookstore business and slashdotters in other countries (I'm in India) - Do you feel nearly enough is being done?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Was this the first near-realtime online multiplayer mobile game? (

adityamalik writes: In 2007, I and a friend wrote a mobile phone game based on Qualcomm BREW as freelancers for a company called Activepackets. It was a simple block-dropper with random or targeted matchup with other users online and a miniscreen displaying the opponent's screen in near realtime. You cancel blocks — they drop on your opponent, pretty much. It was called Blingster Battle at the time and now is Super Gem Blaster MP .
I wanted to ask the community — could this have been the first realtime online multiplayer mobile game? My google searching doesn't give me an answer, and it would be nice to know if we were first or close. Thanks!

Submission + - Indian govt. claims to have '$35 laptop' (

adityamalik writes: From the article — "NEW DELHI: India on Thursday launched a low cost access-cum-computing device for learners and teachers which would be made available through educational institutions by 2011.
"The price of the device is expected to be around $35 (Rs. 1,500), gradually dropping down to $20 and ultimately $10 per piece,â Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said, while unveiling the device here."


Indian Census To Collect Fingerprints, Photos 141

adityamalik writes "The Indian census kicks off on Thursday, with approximately 2.5 million people charged with conducting it across the billion-plus strong country. 'Officials will collect fingerprints and photograph every resident for the first time for the register — a process described by Home Minister P. Chidambaram as 'the biggest exercise... since humankind came into existence.' Sensitivity towards collection of biometrics and personal details is quite low in India currently. I wonder how effective — and how powerful — the exercise will turn out to be for the country. I'm also struggling to imagine how the photo and fingerprint collection is going to happen, technology-wise."

Submission + - Indian census to collect fingerprints, photos (

adityamalik writes: The Indian census kicks off on thursday, with approximately 2.5 million charged with conducting it across the billion plus strong country.
"Officials will collect fingerprints and photograph every resident for the first time for the register — a process described by Home Minister P. Chidambaram as 'the biggest exercise... since humankind came into existence.'"
Sensitivity towards collection of biometrics and personal details is quite low in India currently. Wonder how effective — and how powerful — the exercise will turn out to be for the country. Was also struggling to imagine how the photo & fingerprint collection is going to happen, technology-wise.


Gigantic Spiral of Light Observed Over Norway; Rocket To Blame? 418

Ch_Omega writes "A mysterious light display appearing over Norway last night (more pictures) has left thousands of residents in the north of the country baffled. Witnesses from Trøndelag to Finnmark compared the amazing display to anything from a Russian rocket to a meteor to a shock wave — although no one appears to have mentioned UFOs yet. The phenomenon began when what appeared to be a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain. It stopped mid-air, then began to circulate. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its center — lasting for ten to twelve minutes before disappearing completely. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm — which astronomers have said did not appear to have been connected to the aurora, or Northern Lights, so common in that area of the world." The Bad Astronomer makes the case that a malfunctioning rocket spewing fuel is a parsimonious explanation, backed up by witnesses to similar events and a cool simulation (on video). An anonymous reader suggests that this Proton-M Carrier Rocket might be responsible for the display.

Submission + - The US is losing its lead in patents (

adityamalik writes: "A workplace newsletter refers to this businessweek article and reports:

In 2008, for the first time, the US Patent & Trademark Office issued more patents to overseas inventors than to Americans.
US inventors received 92,000 patents in 2008, down 1.8 percent from 2007 and a rise of just 1.4 percent since 1998.
In contrast, patents issued to foreigners rose 4.5 percent (to 93,244) in 2008, a 28.6 percent increase since 1998.
The rest of the world is expected to continue to widen its lead over the United States as investment in manufacturing and R&D continues to grow faster in emerging markets in the coming years.

Not unexpected, not surprising, just another little signpost on the way things are headed in the future."


Submission + - FBI hit by virus

Norsefire writes: "The FBI and US Marshals were forced to shutdown part of their computer network after being hit by a "mystery virus". FBI spokesman, Mike Kortan, said "We are evaluating a network issue on our external, unclassified network that's affecting several government agencies". Nikki Credic, spokeswoman for the US Marshals, said that no data has been compromised but the type of virus and its origin is unknown."

Submission + - SmartWeb 1.2.9 (stable) with IDE Templates release (

SF:rlogiacco writes: The SmartWeb Team is pleased to announce the smartweb-1.2.9.jar release and related IDE templates! SmartWeb is a web application development meta framework based on Jakarta Struts, Hibernate and other open source frameworks and libraries. For a manual installation, you can download the smartweb-1.2.9.jar here: Have fun! - The SmartWeb Team

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