PRESS DIGEST- New York Times business news - Dec 16

Reuters

Dec 16 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the New York Times business pages. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* All across the country, booksellers have a Christmas wish: that the e-book thrill is gone. There is reason to believe it will come true. E-book sales have flattened in 2013, giving publishers and bookstores hope that consumers' appetite for print books will be renewed during the most crucial sales period of the year. ()

* BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google's growing robot menagerie. Google confirmed that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even - cheetahlike - run faster than the fastest humans. ()

* A proposed $745 million tie-up between the Chinese supermarket operator Wumart Stores and C.P. Lotus, a retailer in China controlled by the Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, has fallen apart after the two sides failed to agree on final terms of the deal, both companies said Monday. ()

* Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, is finally winding down Patch, a network of local news sites that he helped invent and that AOL bought after he took over. ()

* Budget Travel, the 15-year-old magazine that printed its last issue in October 2012, has spent 2013 fighting to survive in bankruptcy court. But it appears that Budget Travel may be turning a corner as it has found ways to generate revenue through digital subscriptions on iPad, Kindle, Nook and Android devices. ()

* Airbnb, which lets travelers rent accommodations in private residences worldwide, is introducing its first integrated, national advertising campaign on Monday, using birds and bird houses as a metaphor for its customers and their accommodations. ()

* The bond between banker and diamond dealer has long been a cozy one in an industry shaped by an insular culture of carats and cash, secrets and intrigues, weddings and bar mitzvahs. But lately those old bonds are dissolving in the packed square mile of gem traders here that forms the hub of the global diamond industry. A flurry of legal cases, investigations and leaked bank documents have drawn attention to the opaque movement of diamond-backed money. ()

* Established electronics retailers have gone to great lengths in recent months to overhaul their stores. And the heavyweights behind many of the devices - the Microsofts, Googles and Intels - have moved to open retail stores of their own. Behind all the investments in retailing is one of the technology industry's favorite buzzwords: "user experience." ()

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