OPERATIONS

Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited offers new flat fee service

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Amazon.com is offering a new service, called Kindle Unlimited, aimed at consumers who do heavy book reading and/or listening. The service will work similar to Netflix in that users will pay a base monthly fee for unlimited access to a catalogue of content. Instead of movies and TV shows, however, Kindle Unlimited gives Kindle users access to more than 600,000 Kindle books (and thousands of Audible audiobooks) for a flat monthly rate of $9.99 a month.

Amazon customers will know which books are eligible for the program by locating the Kindle Unlimited logo on select titles and then clicking on the link, “read for free.”

Not all titles available on Amazon will be included in the Kindle Unlimited catalog, but some best sellers will be available such as The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Lord of the Rings.

In addition, thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible will also be available. The service launched on July 18 and to get customers hooked during the summer reading season the company is offering a free 30 day trial period.

“With Kindle Unlimited, you won’t have to think twice before you try a new author or genre — you can just start reading and listening,” said Kindle SVP Russ Grandinetti. “In addition to offering over 600,000 eBooks, Kindle Unlimited is also by far the most cost-effective way to enjoy audiobooks and eBooks together. With thousands of Whispersync for Voice-enabled audiobooks to choose from, you can easily switch between reading and listening to a book, allowing the story to continue even when your eyes are busy.”

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INVENTORY

Report: Market Basket fires employees after inventory problems

BY Dan Berthiaume

Tewksbury, Mass. – Demoulas Super Markets Inc., parent company of the Market Basket grocery chain, has reportedly fired some employees in the wake of inventory problems during the weekend of July 19-20. According to the Boston Globe, several managers were fired the evening of Sunday, July 20 after the company noticed thinning inventories of perishable items.

Employees of Demoulas’ Market Basket chain had threatened to stage a walkout on July 18 in protest of the removal of former CEO Arthur T. Demoulas in June, but instead held a rally at corporate headquarters. Most of the company’s warehouse workers and drivers attended the rally and said they would refuse to return to work until Demoulas was reinstated. Demoulas has been using replacement drivers, but it is unclear whether any lower-level warehouse employees or drivers have been fired.

In an open letter to employees, new co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch said they will bring employee concerns to the Demoulas board of directors but cannot make any decision to rehire Demoulas. The letter also said that any employee who leaves their job or refuses to work a scheduled shift will be fired, meaning some participants could potentially lose their jobs.

Seventeen Massachusetts lawmakers, including state Attorney General and Democrative gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley, have publicly expressed support for the workers. Arthur T. Demoulas had been waging a public battle with his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas, a stakeholder and director of the company, about finances when he was fired in June. He remains a company shareholder.

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REAL ESTATE

New mixed use complex planned for Long Beach, Calif.

BY Dan Berthiaume

Long Beach, Calif. – A former state office building near City Hall in Long Beach, California, is reportedly being torn down to make way for a seven-story, $53 million mixed use retail and residential complex. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the vacant property was bought in foreclosure for $10 million in 2010.

The Long Beach Planning Commission approved plans for the project, slated for completion in early 2017, in October 2013. The first floor will feature retail stores including a gallery, bike repair shop, pet grooming service and fitness facility. The complex will also feature 222 residential units.

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