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Amazon responded to the ongoing controversy over its decision to limit availability of Hachette titles as the companies try to negotiate a new contract. Now Hachette has responded to that response: In a lengthy statement provided to Publishers Lunch (free) on Wednesday, Hachette said, “It is good to see Amazon acknowledge that its business decisions significantly affect authors’ lives.” It said over 5,000 titles have been affected by Amazon’s tactics (including delayed shipping and lack of pre-orders) and added, “By preventing its customers from connecting with these authors’ books, Amazon indicates that it considers books to be like any other consumer good. They are not.”

Amazon spoke out on its contract dispute with book publisher Hachette, saying it’s unlikely the parties will reach an agreement any time soon. The retailer also said it’s offered to fund half of an “author pool” to mitigate the impact on Hachette authors’ lost royalties. Read more »

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In Brief

Turns out Chromecast didn’t just launch in Japan and Australia this week: Google is also bringing its streaming stick to Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal. Combined with the European launch earlier this year and the expansion to South Korea two weeks ago, this means that Chromecast is now available in a total of 18 countries. Google VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz told me late last year that the company intended to launch in “a number of international markets,” in 2014, adding that people were going to be “pleasantly surprised” by the scope of this international expansion.

In Brief

There goes your next family movie night: Netflix just added Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 to its streaming catalog. The new addition was first spotted by a Wall Street analyst, according to the Hollywood Reporter, who correctly concluded that Netflix must have struck a licensing agreement with Sony. Netflix and Sony have since confirmed the deal, which specifically covers animated movies released by Sony Pictures Animation. This also means that Netflix will stream the Smurfs 2 later this year, and that the company has pretty much locked down most of the animated movie market in the U.S., thanks to similar deals with Disney and Dreamworks.

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Facebook’s director of product Mike Hudack posted a rant about the inadequacies of the media — including some new-media sites like Vox — and their focus on click-bait content, but many argued that Facebook itself helps promote that type of content. So who is right? Read more »

In Brief

One of the hottest rumors in the technology sphere — apart from the ongoing talk about Apple buying Beats — has centered around Twitter making a bid for SoundCloud, as a way of re-entering the music market after its ill-fated experiment with Twitter Music. But according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the micro-blogging company has backed away from acquisition talks with SoundCloud, in part because of the price the company was hoping to get. The Journal quotes sources as saying the two were in advanced negotiations, but Twitter brass decided that “the numbers didn’t add up.” SoundCloud recently did a financing round that valued the company at about $700 million, which would have made it a large deal for Twitter — and the latter’s stock has been under pressure lately, which has also likely made large acquisitions unappetizing.

In Brief

Google may be getting ready to launch its Chromecast streaming stick in Australia, if pre-order pages on the website of local electronics retailer Dick Smith are any indication. Ausdroid.net reported Sunday that customers had spotted a listing of the streaming stick on Dick Smith’s website, with a price tag of AUS $49 (about $46), and a delivery date of May 27. The listing has since been removed, but there have been rumors for some time that Chromecast will come to Australia this spring. Last week, Google debuted Chromecast in South Korea.

In Brief

Music discovery startup Exfm announced this week that it will shut down for good on May 19. Exfm first announced that it was going to shut down late last year, at the time blaming “the litigious nature of the music industry” as one of the reason it called quits. However, in January, it just kept going, alluding at the possibility of a partnership. Now, it looks like that partnership won’t include the current service. In a blog post, Exfm’s executive team put it this way: “We are very excited for what’s next and believe we will ultimately provide you with the best music service in the seven kingdoms.”

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