Book Depository + more things

10 minutes estimated reading time

Book Depository

Online bookseller Book Depository is closing down with some three weeks notice. It wasn’t a topic at work and barely made a ripple amongst British friends. The Hong Kong part of my social media bubble shared the news and were sad about it. The company had been owned by Amazon since 2011. I used it for a few reasons:

  • Free postage anywhere. I have friends around the world and Book Depository was a good way of sending a gift book. It made the process of international gifting so much easier. I bought a set of books there as recently as last week. Many of the upset people on social media were from Australasia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia
  • Getting hold of English books when I lived in Hong Kong. At the time I lived in Hong Kong there were a couple of nice chains that did English language books, but if I wanted something for my professional life or esoteric interests, then online made more sense. Dymocks, Eslite and the various independent stores would only get you so far. For everything else Book Depository helped out. This was partly down to book shops being a ‘lifestyle’ in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. They carefully curate fiction but aren’t necessarily like the university book shops I spent my teens and twenties in
  • Arbitrage. Despite being owned by Amazon, there were a number of items that I bought where there was a price difference between Book Depository and their parent company
  • You could find a particular edition or format, with Amazon it could be a bit of a lottery
  • It isn’t full of tat like Amazon. Amazon Marketplace has been both a blessing and a curse. Amazon hasn’t done a good enough job curating Marketplace. I found Marketplace useful at the beginning, rather like a fixed-price eBay. Now its a dystopian retail experience littered with a substantial minority of counterfeit products and sub-standard garbage
  • Their ask the author section provided some interesting reading.

The brand

I always had it in my mind as ‘The Book Depository’ rather than Book Depository. It’s always the way I discussed it with other people. I had to go back and edit stray ‘The’s that slipped into this post.

book depository
Book Depository home page

Diminished ambitions

Book Depository is being closed by Amazon as part of cost cutting across its book and device categories. There is a certain irony in Alexa being in full retreat just at the time when LLMs were about to turn up. Alexa skills are likely to get loss in the subsequent withdrawal and LLM expansion. Book Depository helped plug gaps on the map where Amazon didn’t have native businesses. The decline of Book Depository implies an upper limit to Amazon’s global retail expansion.


Chinese perfume brands taking over: Documents, To summer, and Scent Library leading the way

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British Airways To Test Whether Having More Cabin Crew Can Improve The Inflight Experience On Poor Performing Routes | Paddle Your Own Kanoo and United Airlines Wants Flight Attendants To Create “Wow Factor” Onboard – Live and Let’s Fly – there seems to be an incremental move to differentiate and sell on in-cabin experience which is a new development


510K CPUs, HDDs & more seized as smugglers keep trying to sneak tech into China | Ars Technica – it seems to be a bit like the VAT carousel mobile phone scams of old in the UK

Gao Quanxi and Huang Jisu on Left and Right in China – Reading the China Dream 

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AUSI interviewed by Vice Media on how influencers are being used for foreign policy aims by China


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Asianometry on a whirlwind tour of microchip packaging


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Unpaywalled: Two posts about de-dollarization | Noahpinion


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EU backs use of Novo Nordisk’s weight loss drug in adolescents | Reuters 

Microsoft Research head Peter Lee on the applications of GPT-4 in medicine and life sciences – GeekWire 

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Hong Kong

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Defence Intelligence – communicating probability – GOV.UK – really useful nomenclature that I could see being used in business


Three more books about the technology wars – by Noah Smith 

Lululemon Tried to Become a Tech Company. It Didn’t Work Out | The Walrus


Northern Ireland: the paramilitaries that ‘never go away’ | Financial Times


How a major toy company kept 4chan online | Ars Technica 

Studio Ghibli President Hoshino Koji Resigns – Variety 

The disguised blessings of Japan’s demographic decline | Financial Times 


Audemars Piguet Announces It Will Replace Stolen Watches as Part of Anti-theft Scheme – if you want to know why they’re doing this, find out more here.

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Don’t listen to the industry sages, they’re not your ad’s target – Mark Ritson on the perils of HPPO


Deep-sea mining is key to making transition to clean energy, says Loke | Financial Times 


Limiting social media improves body image for teens and young adults : Shots – Health News : NPR

Lawyer Questions Scope of EU AI Act – EE Times 

The Homogenization of Social Media Is Going To Have Some Real Consequences | Big Technology 

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The Social Costs of Not Sharing Fake News | INSEAD Knowledge


Pro-Islam Hacktivists Likely a Front for Russia’s Killnet | Dark Reading 

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Army Materiel Command boss says logistics are key to future warfare | Defense News 

US Army deploys new hypersonic weapon | Defence Blog 

Lockheed Martin ramps up HIMARS production | Defence Blog 

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China spy facility speculation swirls over Cambodia, Myanmar – Asia Times 

Guam, where America’s next war may begin | The Economist 

Chinese spy balloon was able to gather intelligence from sensitive U.S. military sites – War Is Boring

Pentagon Prepares for Space Warfare as Potential Threats From China, Russia Grow – WSJ


Google and Apple vets raise $17M for Fixie, a large language model startup based in Seattle – GeekWire 


War in Taiwan will dwarf Ukraine unless the US shows China its teeth | Simon Tisdall | The Guardian – this marks somewhat of an editorial shift for the Guardian closer to other broadsheets in the UK media


Samsung said to directly develop 8-inch process for GaN, SiC devices 


India orders Army communications satellite | Defense News