Monday, October 25, 2010

Old vs. New School Publishing

Last week, “The Last Original Idea” became available through the publisher’s website as a paperback and over the next couple of weeks it will be added to the listings on Amazon and Barnes & Nobel. Within a month or so it will also be available as an ebook for both Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Due to vague guidelines, it’s going to be a month or more after that before it will be listed on Apple’s iTunes.
While, taking an idea from conception to publishing is an achievement in itself, there is a growing indication that the life of traditional paper books is on the decline and that the future lies in pure ebook production.  The pressure is even greater when authors such as myself & Geri, choose to abandon the world of traditional publishers and go with on-demand publishing (sometimes called self-publishing).

If one reads about the latest trends in ebook publishing you’ll see a fantastic growth rate for ebooks with the inevitable prediction that the future of words being printed on paper as a form of publishing is facing certain death. Environmentalist frequently join in on this discussion by referencing how many trees are being cut down daily around the world to support the paper industry and how ebooks help reduce this trend.

On behalf of the “The Last Original Idea” we took these three steps to appease our own personal environmentalist side.
  1. Brevity: we could have easily added lots of fluff to our book (more pictures), excessively sized chapter headings, larger margins, meaningless rambling on within the text to increase the number of pages of the book. Instead of being a trim and fit 100 pages, it could have easily been inflated to 150 or 200 pages without containing one iota more of insight or information.
  2. Print on Demand: we chose a print on demand publisher. By choosing to have the books only produced when people order them, we ensure that no paper is wasted by printing large quantities of books that may or may not sell quickly or that ultimately must be returned to the publisher for destruction. This process not only reduces the demand on paper, but also for the ink and electricity required to run the printing presses, amongst other things.
  3. Eco-Libris (  We participated in Eco-Libris which means that we arranged to have 100 trees planted in honor of the book being published and that it is printed entirely on recycled paper. Given the brevity of our book, unless it becomes an international best seller selling millions of copies; we have planted more trees than will be consumed in the printing of our book.
For those who believe that ebooks are still an environmentally sound choice consider these points:
  • How much pollution including heavy metals was used to create your ebook reader?
  • With the constant fear of oil shortages (a non-renewable resource) and rising oil prices how much plastic (created from oil) is required to meet the annual demands of the ebook readers?
  • And what will you do with your ebook reader when it becomes obsolete? Perhaps you’ll ensure that the few valuable metals in it are extracted before the remainder is sent to a landfill?
While we can’t deny the convenience of ebook readers (multiple books on one devise taking up no shelf room) there is still something to be said about the tactile feel of paper on your finger tips and the ability to read without worrying about dust/sand getting on your book or forgetting to charge the battery of before a long flight. When was the last time you had an author sign your Kindle? While we make no claim that ebook readers are not the natural evolution of the printed paper page, we do remember early failures like the Apple Newton and firmly believe that paper books will be with us for a long time to come.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We've Come a Long Way from Morse Code

Or have we?

Text messaging (and Twitter), a more sophisticated version of Morse Code has taken the world by storm. In the time of Samuel Morse telegraph companies charged based on the length of the message sent; therefore Morse Code's system of dots and dashes was a very economical and efficient way of sending messages across great distances. Although many people seem to be under the assumption that xoxo was a Morse Code term for hugs and kisses, in actuality 88 was love and kisses. However, many Morse Code abbreviations are strikingly like "text speak" today - tnx = thanks, tu = thank you, ge = good evening. Instead of revolutionizing the world with modern "text speak", we have just repurposed and remarketed Morse Code abbreviations.

According to the UN Telecommunications Agency almost 200,000 text messages are sent every second.

The International Telecommunication Union reports that:

  • In 2007 a total of 1.8 trillion SMSs were sent.
  • In 2010 the total number of SMSs sent was an astounding 6.1 trillion.
  • The revenues from SMSs generate a whopping 14,000 dollars (10,050 euros) every second and 812,000 dollars every minute.
  • Users in the Philippines and the United States were among the most prolific, accounting for 35 percent of all text messages sent in 2009.

Morse Code was invented in 1835 - 1836. In almost 200 years of evolution, is a text message the best that we could come up with? Where is the next latest and greatest in communication?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's the Price of Spam?

Finally we have a dollar value attached to spam and the magic number is 1 Billion dollars. That's what Adam Guerbuez, a Montreal resident, has been ordered to pay Facebook. It seems that Mr. Guerbuez spammed Facebook users with over 4 million messages promoting a variety of products including medication to treat such conditions as erectile dysfunction and enlarge men's genitals. Although the case is potentially precedent-setter it was a complete and total waste of time because although Mr. Guerbuez may have talent as a spammer, his business skills leave much to be desired. He declared bankruptcy over 2 months ago and the judgment was already deposed as part of the bankruptcy.In fact this whole hooplah has given Adam Guerbuez more free publicity than he could have paid for in his lifetime and he now has a book deal in the works about his case.

As Alan and I discussed in "The Last Original Idea", no one paid any attention to spam until it became the uncontrollable juggernaut that it is today. No laws were put in place to deal with the problems that spam causes and now cases like this are causing knee jerk reactions by the legal system that is spending money to bring monetary judgments against clients that will never be able to pay. Now let's talk jail time!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yoga is Now Mainstream

I recently read an article called "The Oversexualization of Yoga". The article is a hew and cry about how advertising Yoga with what are determined to be sexual photos and books and DVDs promoting Yoga as the answer to a better sex life is some how bastardizing the true value of Yoga.

Since the dawn of time man intrinsically understood that sex sells. There are very few industries on the planet that haven't used sex or tried to use sex to sell their wares. Yoga has become a huge business - Yoga studios, Yoga classes, Yoga mats, Yoga clothing, Yoga accessories, Yoga DVDs, etc. - thanks in large part to promises of a great body and better sex.

Critics of the oversexualization of Yoga may resent companies like Lululemon and mainstream America who are embracing Yoga in ever increasing numbers, but there is nothing surprising about the fact that sex sells. In this case sex has taken Yoga from a practice associated with the devoted few who practice Yoga as a religion and
and created a very successful industry, which history would have predicted.