Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Amazon starts cutting out book distributors, at least overseas in Asia; the issue can matter to some authors
Amazon is ceasing to do business with some book distributors, at least in Japan or overseas, and wants to get books directly from publishers. Goodreader has an article on the issue today. The Japan Times also has a more detailed story.
In the US, big book distributors (like Ingram, or previously Bookmen in Minneapolis which got bought) have been a main vehicle for both chain and independent bookstores. POD publishers, such as Author Solutions, have been somewhat aggressive with authors to try to get them to work with bookstores and not get “lazy” with Amazon, and more passive marketing. I suppose that jobs (in bookstores) and literacy initiatives (in underprivileged communities) can be at issue when authors become less interested in their own retailing. It’s also possible for an author to buy copies POD at a deep discount and sell cheaper (probably) than Amazon or BN sometimes (that’s good for the POD publisher) but requires a lot of retail hustle from the author. Not all books (especially in the policy or personal non-fiction areas) can sell that well.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Book publishing site reports that Amazon is aggressive in deleting less-than-valid book reviews of self-published books
A site called “Just Publishing” offers what looks like good advice to new authors especially with self-published books, especially POD.
“Why did Amazon delete my book reviews? Because there was a problem with how you got the reviews”, link.
I can certainly understand that paying for reviews is unethical (although you would wonder if people pay for Yelp and Angie's List, which both companies adamantly say you cannot).
I can understand that family is off limits. But the article also implies social media friends is a no-no. That’s getting difficult, and I hadn’t heard that before. People who network enough to sell their books the old fashioned way probably would attract quality Facebook friends and Instagram and twitter followers. Such a policy would sound a bit self-defeating.
It is true that there are industry statistics on the expected reasonable ratio of books sold to reviews – it’s high.
I’ve noticed something else about the POD business. POD companies often mark the list prices high, which will be only slightly discounted on the Amazon and BN sites, and perhaps some others. Then they encourage authors to try copies themselves by buying hundreds of copies at maybe 50% off or so. An author who really wants to operate her own wholesale (with bookstores) and retail (with consumers) could mark them up to about 60% or so and make a profit. But that would be so time consuming that the author wouldn’t have time for new material.
It’s frankly very difficult to sell books, or sell advertising on a blog, unless you have built a reputation first in some niche that relates to something people will pay for. Fiction sometimes provides an exception, but even then it is often niche-like. Hopefully it’s legitimate (not porn). Given the “gofundme” culture online today (which has become much more prominent than it was two decades ago when I got into this) there is probably opportunity to “sell” in the special needs area – but I have my own psychological and perhaps moral qualms about this.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Today, I had a reason to remember the 1981 novel "The Tribe" by Bari Wood (that is Bari Ev Wood Posterman),
I read the Signet paperback when living in Dallas, It concerns a modern day NYC cabal of Jewish concentration camp survivors, who get chased by ghosts from the past called golems.
As I recall, the golem is something of a invention of idol worship, where the celebrant wants to invent a god on Earth.
Immigration attorney Jason Dzubow used a cartoon image of a golem for a blog post on "The Asylumist" today, here. Dzubow, however, called the illustration a picture of Godzilla. (v. Bambi).
Friday, May 05, 2017
The National Geographic issue for May 2007 has a feature cover story on p. 30, “Genius: Why some people are so much smarter than the rest of us.”, link (paywall) here .
An important measure of genius is whether the person’s output lives throughout the ages. Beehoven’s output takes on a life of its own.
The article gives some attention to the life story of Leonardo DaVinci.
The years of highest probability of major output are the late twenties into the mid thirties.
An important and controversial variable would be how versatile the person is with "real life" skills. The best of today's young adults simply are or were much more mature than I was at ages like, say 16-21. But it helps to be born later.
However, there are real prodigies, in coding (Mark Zuckerberg) and in music. In music, prodigy becomes harder to show after Mozart. But Eugen d’Albert’s gigantic first piano concerto (as published, in B Minor) was composed before age 20 and shows real intellectual brilliance as to harmony, counterpoint, and form. Brahms, on the other hand, waited until his forties to compose symphonies. Genius enters new territory in the latest years, as we know from the last nearly-complete symphony of Bruckner.
There is a new series on National Geographic Channel which I have not seen yet.
The issue also has an article on the Central African Republic, the Burning Heart of Africa, and “United in Protest” against the North Dakota oil pipeline.