Welcome to Reading List, a collection of some of the best digital reads in technology and science. We have stories that take a deep dive into Amazon's ebook empire, a perplexing survey into NASA's $349 million abandoned test tower, an investigation into how online media works through the eyes of one ambitious startup, and philosophical look at the growing popularity of the "shitpic." Curl yourself around some boozy egg nog, and enjoy the some the best sentences on the internet this week.
- The epic battle for ebook supremacy is over, and Amazon is the winner. A look inside the shipping giant's Kindle facility, Lab126, shows how Amazon became a dominate force in the digital publishing industry and how it plans to retain control. [The Verge]
- Seven years ago, NASA broke ground on a new testing tower at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss. Now, it sits in disuse, soaking up $700,000 a year just for upkeep—and it was never used once. This is the story behind that failed project and how an idea so ambitious quickly became one of NASA's biggest money pits. [The Washington Post]
- Media in the digital age is a strange beast. Wired's Mat Honan breaks down online media's "war for eyeballs," the true costs behind advertising, and how we are all now part of media's new distribution system. [Wired]
- One obvious advantage of digital photography over its analog ancestor is there is no decay, no yellowing over time. A perfect copy forever stored in megabytes. Then why do so many people like crappy-looking digital photos? The Awl considers the rise of the "shitpic," and how digital decay can be a measure of online popularity. [The Awl]
Photo via NASA