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Wednesday
Apr092008

Amazon takes over as publisher AND provider by requiring POD titles to be published through subsidiary BookSurge

coffeebooks.GIFAmazon has many authors and publishers up in arms. Many authors use vanity publishing to bring books to market by using print on demand technology, and some small traditional presses publish their books this way too. Now both will have to publish through BookSurge, Amazon’s subsidiary. That is, you have to do it that way to get a buy button on your book page. The only other option is to join the Amazon Advantage program, pre-stock 5 copies of your book, pay $29.95 for one year membership and then pay freight or mailing costs to get the books to Amazon. Then you still cough up 55% of the sales price on each title. I tell authors like this all the time in workshops it’s going to be very hard for you to make money off your book. Now it will be worse.

Trouble is, you publish through Amazon, that’s going to cost you too—setup costs, printing costs and a percentage Angela Adair Hoy cites as 48% of the sales price. Founder of Writers Weekly, Hoy broke this story.

This isn’t going to hurt the big houses. But this practice will be detrimental to those who pay to have their own books published. It may also hurt authors like me who sign with a small literary press, with the press absorbing all expenses and hoping to make a profit. It will also hurt university presses.

Word on the street is that LuLu and iUniverse have already agreed to the arrangement.

If there’s no buy button on an Amazon page, then the customer only has an option to pick up the title through a reseller.

Hoy is still tracking this story. She has a great deal of information on her website at Writers Weekly, with special clearinghouse pages to stay on top of developments.

Will this offer an opportunity to online booksellers like Books-a-Million, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and to independents?

Some have mentioned the conflict of interest in Amazon’s latest venture. It’s my opinion some publishers will cave in and others will simply not list their books at the mega-conglomerate. Unfortunately, this move creates even more of a challenge for all those authors who dream of doing their own book and covering their expenses. I just don’t see how they can do it. Maybe someone will come up with a new site and a new bookselling model?

The Authors Guild is reviewing the anti-trust implications and The American Society of Journalists and Authors website has a notice on the organization’s media page that includes the following statement: “ASJA joins PMA, the independent book publishers association, which also has spoken out against Amazon's move to forcibly get business for its own BookSurge subsidiary.” Both ASJA and AG vet members with strict requirements for publishing credits, and both are influential in media.

Meanwhile, will Amazon's brand suffer in this effort to make a move towards increasing incremental profits? Authors and writers buy a lot of books after all.

 

Tuesday
Apr082008

Shelter adoptee pups need special attention but return lots of love

BanditwithJen.jpgWhen our daughter decided she’d adopt a dog from a shelter, the trick was to find a dog that was right for her lifestyle. For one thing, her condo is big enough for our daughter and her roomie, but not big enough for a large breed like a retriever. She visited different shelters—she had volunteered for one in our area—and as soon as she met Bandit, she knew he was the dog for her. She went into the arrangement with eyes wide open. Her work with foster kids prepared her well.

Bandit is an active, loving pup who has to be handled with care at times. We think he experienced cruelty, maybe at the hands of a male, because he takes to females quicker than to men. At first, he needed some special medical care, but a few trips to the vet got him in good shape fairly quickly. He has to be handled gently, without sudden motion. He is better around adults than kids, not because he is dangerous, but because when he gets happy and excited he likes to jump up and down using your body as a springboard. He loves other dogs—our hound has a great time playing with Bandit.

When she first brought him home, she focused on setting a routine. This helped a lot with housebreaking and teaching him he could trust people. He was a few months old when our daughter had to go out of town, so we kept him for her to avoid having to kennel him. He was already used to being here when she comes to visit us, and he loves being able to run around our backyard since he has to get his exercise on a leash at his own home. Our daughter realized an immediate benefit—walking her active dog keeps her in shape. She’s also met lots of new friends who have dogs at her complex.

There are so many animals in need of a loving home. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, consider visiting your shelter. Bear in mind these dogs may often need extra care and attention. Often shelter dogs have been abandoned; sometimes they’ve been abused. Patience is required with any animal, but shelter animals may need a little more. If you do get lucky enough to find yourself a “Bandit,” at an animal shelter, you’ll be rewarded with love, loyalty and devotion. Bandit has become part of our extended family. We can’t imagine life without him. He’s our special shelter adoptee and our life is richer for having him. The Humane Society and Pet Finder are great sites for more information about how to deal with adopting an animal from a shelter. (Filed by Kay B. Day)

(Photo: Jen with Bandit. For a closer look at Bandit, click the American Critters link at right.)


 

Tuesday
Apr082008

Blog Catalog community brings Americans and the rest of the world together, and Chelle B. makes them laugh

ChelleB.jpgI joined Blog Catalog last year and pretty soon I was communicating with people from all over the world. Through this active community, I met a humor writer named Chelle B. Her blogs The Offended American and The Offended Blogger focus on what you might call self-directed humor. Chelle B. makes fun of herself, of us and of whatever else flies across her amused brain. I laughed when I saw her post about the evil witch in the film ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Beneath a photo of the witch riding her bicycle (before we viewers knew she was a witch), there’s a single line of text—“Scariest bitch EVER.” That remark took me back to my childhood, reminding me how freaked I was the first time I saw the film.

Chelle focuses on the hyper-sensitivity that seems to, in my opinion, plague the world today. And she does it without concentrating on the race card or any other selected card. For her, it’s no-holds-barred and you and she both serve as targets. At TOA, she’s even got posts categorized by state. For her commentary, she selects stories from newspapers across the nation, and they all revolve around a situation where someone has been offended. Florida’s official state song with antiquated racial references, the ‘Drop Your Pants Down Under Offensive’ by a New York acting troupe and the Texas controversy over the use of the word ‘beaner’  all serve as fodder for a writer who will poke and prod any topic.

Via an email interview, the Idaho resident says she started blogging as a way to keep herself amused. “And it has also evolved into a way for me to vocalize, through humor, my political views as well. I found that it helps me work out pent-up frustrations even. Sometimes I feel so much better after I post and even more so when I get comments on my work.” She doesn’t confine herself to blogging, either. She’s always been a writer, putting pen to paper to write fiction and poetry as well.

Like many others in the community, Chelle B. says Blog Catalog is her favorite. “I’ve met some really great people there, especially the owners, and I get a lot of readers from the thousands of members who are signed up there. Second to that, Stumble is my favorite for traffic. I don’t socialize as much there as I should because I am rather addicted to Blog Catalog at the moment.”  In her spare time, she also breeds AKC boxers like her dog Brutus, shown in the photo here.

In a political global climate that can sometimes be as sensitive as the itch after a mosquito bite, Chelle B. manages to hone stories that might be painful into columns that make us smile at others and ourselves. She’s well-known to the Blog Catalog community and to her fans. With characteristic humor, she says, “When I refer to my #1 fan, it’s actually me. Please don’t tell my readers—they think it’s them.” (Filed by Kay B. Day)

Tuesday
Apr082008

Refugees like what they find in America

ToddlerfromKenya.jpgI covered a story about refugees for The Florida Times-Union. I met this toddler from Kenya and it was pretty much love at first sight. He liked me too—I helped him with his lemonade. He did fine with the hot dog on his own. When I drove home, I put my hand to my hair and it smelled like lemons because he gave me a hug as I was leaving. I was very glad to have the assignment.

You have to hear stories from people who have suffered and endured hardships we can only imagine. Each person I talked to that day, from Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan and other countries, was overjoyed at coming to our country. It took some of them years to complete the paperwork and requirements. I thought of my own ancestors who crossed an ocean in a rickety boat, landing in Charleston, South Carolina. It was hard for them to come to America too. They had to seek permission and that could take some time.

Refugees like the people I interviewed don’t come here for financial reasons. They come here because their lives are in danger, because they have no freedom as a result of their religion, skin color or for other reasons. The best thing about my country—I’ve written this many times—is that all these different cultures and faiths come together and we make something greater than ourselves out of all those disparate parts.

Welcome to my United States. I hope you’ll visit The US Report and I hope when you do, you’ll express your own thoughts in the comments section. And I hope you’ll come to understand that what you see in the media is often not the way things really are here. I suspect the same is true of many other countries as well. (Filed by Kay B. Day)

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