Monday, May 31, 2010

Another look at the future of publishing

"I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea. We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (U R 2 1derful), blogging like crazy, reading for hours off their little screens, surfing around from Henry James to Jesse James to the epistle of James to pajamas to Obama to Alabama to Alanon to nonsequiturs, sequins, penguins, penal institutions, and it's all free, and you read freely, you're not committed to anything the way you are when you shell out $30 for a book, you're like a hummingbird in an endless meadow of flowers."

"And if you want to write, you just write and publish yourself. No need to ask permission, just open a website. And if you want to write a book, you just write it, send it to or BookSurge at Amazon or PubIt or ExLibris and you've got yourself an e-book. No problem. And that is the future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75."  by Garrison Keillor

BTW, Garrison: BookSurge was merged into CreateSpace last year, "ExLibris" calls itself "Xlibris," and PubIt is not open for business yet.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pathetic Schiel & Denver plagiarized a competitor's press release to improve online visibility

(left-click on image to enlarge)

On Thursday I told you that "Christ-centered publishing house" Schiel & Denver is dishonest, incompetent and wacky.

On Friday, I showed you a really stupid press release about Schiel & Denver that also includes a lot about competitor Create Space, and even mentions Random House.

A few days earlier people were horrified and amused to learn that Vaughn Ward, a Republican candidate for Congress from Idaho (and a favorite of Moosemama Palin) had ripped off pieces of President Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

And today I discovered that Schiel & Denver plagiarized a press release distributed by competitor CreateSpace, in a silly effort to gain news coverage for Schiel & Denver.

Apparently someone at Schiel & Denver had the brilliant idea that more people would read the release if the CreateSpace and Random House names were in it, than if it mentioned only Schiel & Denver; and that mentioning the other companies would deliver the release to people doing web searches for the other companies.

It's like the once-common technique of website designers to sprinkle words like "sex," or "tits" in websites about automobile exhaust systems, pizza delivery or copy paper.

The Schiel idea is probably right, but makes S&D seem like desperate idiots.

Internet search engines make it easy for a person or company to "ride the coattails" of a more famous entity. If Arnold Bipp is running for dog catcher supervisor in Burnt Corn, Alabama and sends out a press release  that says he likes Barack Obama but not Sarah Palin, or prefers Michael Jackson to Justin Bieber, or dislikes cunnilingus and Harley-Davidsons...his press release will be available to people searching for those more interesting terms.

A search for CreateSpace in Google News shows the Schiel & Denver press release in the second position -- right after a CS release that includes material that CS copied.

Press releases, like all written works, are copyrighted, but they are expected to be copied without permission -- by members of the media who use them to publicize the company, person, event or topic in the release. I send out releases to publicize my books, and expect my words to be circulated in the media to help me to sell books.

Companies that send out press releases do NOT expect the words to be copied by competitors, who use those words to try to take business away from them.

CreateSpace and Schiel & Denver are very different companies, but they definitely are competitors in the business of publishing books for authors who pay for their services. CS does not work for S&D, and deserves to be pissed off about the plagiarism.

Schiel & Denver brags about its "high ethical and professional standards, [that] embody the character and compassion of Jesus Christ."

I doubt that Jesus would be compassionate about lying and stealing.

And there's something particularly pathetic aboput a publisher engaging in plagiarism.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Really stupid press release from sleazy vanity publisher

Yesterday I told you about the lies, incompetence and wackiness of Schiel & Denver. Two days ago, the company sent out one of the strangest press releases I've ever seen. My comments are in red.

The Millionaires of Self Publishing:, Inc.'s CreateSpace Passes Two Million Title Milestone While Schiel & Denver Surges Into the Lead

HOUSTON, May 26 /PRNewswire/ -- It was the double May shock announcement from CreateSpace and Schiel & Denver that has rocked [The shock that rocked! Wow. I'm excited already.] the book publishing industry to the highest echelons [Probably not.], and caused the CEO of Random House to cancel a lunch meeting on Fifth Avenue. [Does this mean that Herr Markus Dohle ate on Sixth Avenue instead of Fifth, or had some bratwurst und sauerkraut delivered to his office on Broadway?]

CreateSpace, the self-publishing platform of the, Inc companies, last week reported that more than 2 million CDs and DVDs have been launched using the Amazon platform [CDs and DVDs? What the hell does that have to do with the book business?], while Houston-based independent book publishers, Schiel & Denver, a member of the United Nations Global Compact in NYC [Which is vastly superior to the United Nations Global Compact located in Bogalusa, Louisiana.], surged first ahead of rival Author Solutions, Inc. by offering independent authors Apple iPad and iPhone distribution services with S&D's innovative book distribution system. [Hmmm. Author Solutions says its eBooks "can be downloaded to popular devices such as the...Apple iPhone."]

"This milestone of success for CreateSpace demonstrates the significant growth of our business and the on-demand industry," said Dana LoPiccolo-Giles, managing director, CreateSpace. [Why the hell is Schiel & Denver touting CreateSpace's music and movie business? Oh, I get it. Because approximately zero journalists would read a press release about Schiel & Denver.]

While speaking ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair [WAY ahead. The Frankfurt Book Fair starts more than FOUR MONTHS after the press release went out. Strangely, the press release went out during Book Expo America -- which was not even mentioned in the release.], Jodi Malcolm, Author Services Manager at Schiel & Denver said: "More and more authors are seeing Schiel & Denver as the answer to their prayers. [Do authors pray that they'll find a company to overcharge them?] By combining traditional catalog marketing with a non-exclusive contract and world-class distribution to Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Books-a-million, at an affordable price [Maybe affordable if your last name is Trump. The publishing packages can cost as much as $19,999.], Schiel & Denver is succeeding by offering authors more choice and more control of the book publishing process. [Actually their customers give up a lot of control. They're not even allowed to have 201 words in a book's dedication.]  Best of all, when writers become published authors with Schiel & Denver, they own all the copyright and publishing rights to their book." [Just like other vanity publishers.]

But Ms Malcolm was underplaying Schiel & Denver's recent successes. [Then she should be fired for unnecessary modesty.]  It's no secret that many industry insiders [Many? Name three.] now see Schiel & Denver Book Publishers, which also boasts a thriving UK division, as fast filling the business niche left behind from the closure of's BookSurge earlier in 2010. [BULLSHIT. There was no niche left behind to fill. Amazon merely merged BookSurge with CreateSpace. And it happened in 2009, not 2010.]

As AuthorHouse and iUniverse look to attract new authors, Schiel & Denver is getting their authors on prime-time National TV, like independent novelist and former Oregon county commissioner [Is that better than being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska?], Caroline Miller, author of the bestselling novel Heart Land (2009) [If you buy that book and want to lend it to your mother, you need the publisher's permssion.], doing her third TV slot [This sentence works just fine without the word "slot."] interview this year on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, America's #1 Christian Broadcasters. [Trinity??? B.F.D. It ain't Oprah, or Howard Stern; and Trinity was co-founded by disgraced (sex scandal) televangelist Jim Bakker.]

Schiel & Denver also publishes in diplomatic UN languages, Spanish and French, [If you want to publish in Latin, pick another company.] as an honorary member of the United Nations Global Compact [This is the second time the press release mentions the Global Compact. It must be really important. How come I've never heard of it before now?], and with authors like Professor Ruben Nazario MD, a board-certified pediatrician [It might be more interesting to read about a board-certified peduncle or pederast.] at the University of Kentucky, this feisty publishing company with a smooth Texan style [i.e., lots of typos coupled with strange British jargon.], is now emerging as the premier book publishing company for all US and Canadian authors who want wider distribution and more expert support than either Author Solutions, Inc. or CreateSpace can offer. [Bullshit.]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vanity publisher promoting proofreading needs a new proofreader, and a lie detector

From a promotional brochure for vanity publisher Schiel & Denver, "If you need one of our professional proofreader to perform a line-by-line analysis of your book’s interior proofs to be absolutely safe, please order this now."

Try not to get the proofreader who approved the sentence above. The proper word is "proofreaders" (plural!).

The company's brochure also says, "Caroline, who is a former U.S. Politician from Portland, Oregon..."

The word "politician" should be in lower-case. They also put "University" in uppercase, where it should be lower. They also left the apostrophe out of "dept" (and the word should have been spelled out, not abbreviated). They also used an ampersand where they should have used "and."

They also wrote "U" instead of "U. K." as the abbreviation for United Kingdom.

They also have a lower-case "p" in "iphone and "ipad" and have "IPad" instead of "iPad."

They also hyphenate "press-releases."

The brochure is aimed at American writers, but uses Britishisms such as "whilst," "enquire" and "hard grafting," and "stand" for trade show "booth."

The company also says, "You can rest assured your book will go on sale at over 160,000+ online and traditional retail stores, in over 100 countries."

Not only is that line a big pile of steaming bullshit, it also has redundancy that the proofreader should have caught. There is no need to have "over" before 160,000 and the plus sign after the number. While a book may be orderable at thousands of stores, that's not the same thing as "on sale at" with implied on-the-shelf availability.

The company also bullshits about its printing facilities. It says, "The company operates printing and distribution centers in the following locations:  Lavergne, Tennessee; Nr Bangor, Maine; Allentown, Pennsylvania." It's 99% likely that the facilities in Tennessee and Pennsylvania belong to Lightning Source, not to Schiel & Denver. I doubt that S&D owns the Maine printing plant.

They also bullshit about freebies. They say, "Your book gets free marketing in our professional trade catalog" and brags about providing  "FREE softcover copies on publication." They're free only if you ignore the payment of as much as $19,999 for a publishing package.

They also bullshit about providing books through the instant-printing Espresso book machines at "ski resorts." No EBM is at a ski resort, or any resort.

They also bullshit that "Schiel & Denver is at the cutting edge of book technology to ensure our titles will be available via Espresso Book thousands of library and bookstore locations across America by December 2010." The correct number of EBMs for 2010 is about 30, not "thousands."

They also bullshit about showing customers' books at Book Expo America. I was at the Expo yesterday. The company is not in the show directory, and I could not find them.

They also bullshit about protecting your book from "literary theft and plagiarism." That's impossible.

They also bullshit about a "unique aspect" -- a catalog sent to booksellers. It's hardly unique. Lots of publishers produce book catalogs.

They also bullshit that your color book will be "selling at top bookstores in over 100 countries." They can't possibly guarantee that.

The company grossly overcharges for some services. For example, they'll grab $249 from you to get a copyright, which you can get yourself for $35! Their fee for a Library of Congress Control Number is $150. You can get one for FREE, in a few minutes!

The company says it is a "Christ-Centered Publishing House" and employs "staff who... lead with high ethical and professional standards, embody the character and compassion of Jesus Christ, and who thereby are prepared to impact the world. Our community of Christian book publishing staff seeks to honor and obey Jesus Christ, who is present in Spirit and speaks in Scripture, and to advance God’s purposes in the lives of every member." Also, " a company we strive to publish books that impact our Christian culture in support of traditional family values, sanctity of life, compassion for the poor, biblical view of human nature, limited government, personal freedom, and other such causes that preserve and promote high moral and ethical standards."
  • Somehow, I just don't think that lying and overcharging are "high moral and ethical standards." And how does "limited government" preserve those standards?
The company has some strange restrictions, like limiting a dedication to 200 words and not letting authors determine the cover price of their bocks unless they pay at least $8,599 for a publishing package and (maybe or -- I'm not sure) a $249 fee.

They also  promote their "ISBN book publishing." I've never seen any other publisher use that phrase.

Schiel & Denver is another inept, dishonest, overpriced vanity publisher, with some additional weirdness thrown into the mix. STAY AWAY.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alibris is a very strange company

On Monday, online bookseller Alibris (pronounced “uh-LEE-briss”) announced that its marketplace for new and used books has been enhanced in order to "empower self-published and mainstream easily promote and sell their books...through the world's largest online sales network."

I'm not sure of the mechanics of the operation, or the finances, or why it would be better than using Amazon. Alibris is exhibiting at Book Expo in Manhattan. I'm heading there in a few hours and will ask some questions. I'll let you know what I find out.

I've never understood why people buy books from Alibris

The company says it's "the premier online marketplace for independent sellers of new and used books, music, and movies, as well as rare and collectible titles. We connect people who love books, music, and movies to thousands of independent sellers around the world. Our proprietary technology and advanced logistics allow us to offer more than 100 million used, new, and out-of-print books to consumers, libraries, and retail business partners. Since launching in November 1998, we’ve grown to become the Internet’s largest independently owned and operated marketplace."

The company offers current books and out-of-print books. Some are sold by Alibris itself, and some by independent booksellers who use the Alibris website.

  • Alibris frequently offers USED books for many times the price of readily available NEW books. Up above you see copies of a book I wrote being offered for $37.57 and  $270.55. The cover price is just $15.95, and it's usually discounted 10% below that price by Amazon, B&N and others.
  • This book is not a fluke. Another book I wrote has a $19.95 cover price, and is usually discounted to $15.95. Alibris shows it for sale at $16.16 (used) and from $23.94 to $26.51 new. Some of the offerings are from independent booksellers, but Allibris itself is offering it for $23.94 -- much higher than Amazon or B&N charges.
  • Another book I wrote has a cover price of $10.95 and Amazon discounts it to $7.88. It's on Alibris for $25.57 and $69.61 (both new).
  • Bestsellers get a strange treatment. Spoken From The Heart by Laura Bush is the top non-fiction hardcover book on the New York Times list. Walmart sells it for $16.18, Amazon for $16.19, Barnes & Noble for $17.55 and Borders for $18. I figured that Alibris would charge about $25, but the book is not even on the Allibris website.
  • The 9th Judgment is the number-five hardcover fiction book on the Times list. Alibris "partners"  offer it for  prices as high as $24. It sells for $14.49 at Walmart.
Unless you are shopping for a rare book, I just don't see the point of buying from Alibris. There may be no point of selling there, either. I'll let you know.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And now, Brent Sampson's words of wisdom get butchered by the Mad Translator from Hell

(The original text from Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson is in blue. The semi-English from is in black)


In spite of growing evidence that self-publishing is poised to replace (or at least match) traditional publishing in the future, many conventionally published authors (and those striving to become such) still view self-publishing with contempt. They feel self-publishing companies and those authors who choose to use them are "cheating" somehow. After all, getting a book published traditionally has always been "hard work." Those who have done it (or long to) perhaps feel as if self-published authors are not paying their dues.

In annoy of flourishing justification which self-publishing is staid to reinstate (or during slightest match) normal edition in a future, most conventionally published authors (and those essay to turn such) still perspective self-publishing with contempt. They feel self-publishing companies as well as those authors who select to operate them have been “cheating” somehow. After all, removing a book published traditionally has regularly been “hard work.” Those who have finished it (or prolonged to) maybe feel as if self-published authors have been not profitable their dues.

But are self-publishing writers really "cheating," or are they simply taking advantage of widespread changes taking place throughout the entertainment and business worlds? Why Should the Book Publishing Industry Be Any Different Than The Music and Entertainment Worlds?

But have been self-publishing writers unequivocally “cheating,” or have been they simply receiving value of drawn out changes receiving place around a party as well as commercial operation worlds? Why Should a Book Publishing Industry Be Any Different Than The Music as well as Entertainment Worlds?

The same Do-it-Yourself (DIY) fever has swept through the music industry. Musicians (talented and otherwise) are no longer waiting for acceptance from the "establishment." Instead, they are distributing their music through iTunes. They are finding their audiences through Myspace. And, they're broadcasting their music videos via YouTube.

The same Do-it-Yourself (DIY) heat has swept by a song industry. Musicians (talented as well as otherwise) have been no longer watchful for acceptance from a “establishment.” Instead, they have been distributing their song by iTunes. They have been anticipating their audiences by Myspace. And, they’re report their song videos around YouTube.

It is safe to say the music industry has irrevocably changed. Musicians no longer give 95% of their royalties to the "industry" and customers no longer buy CDs from brick-and-mortar music stores. Are these musicians cheating? No.

It is protected to contend a song attention has irrevocably changed. Musicians no longer give 95% of their royalties to a “industry” as well as business no longer buy CDs from brick-and-mortar song stores. Are these musicians cheating? No.

They are still paying their dues, but now the invoice comes after their music has already become available. They still must market aggressively to obtain listeners, but at least they have something to market. The audience determines which of those musicians succeed and which of them fail. This is no different from the self-publishing book industry.

They have been still profitable their dues, though right away a check comes after their song has already turn available. They still contingency marketplace aggressively to acquire listeners, though during slightest they have something to market. The assembly determines which of those musicians attain as well as which of them fail. This is no opposite from a self-publishing book industry.

Can you imagine the uproar that would ensue if all that were required to start playing for the New York Knicks was writing a check for $1000 to some Internet company? Can you imagine the fervor if all that were required to obtain a recording contract was standing in line at some reality show try-out? Wait a minute! That's already happening. Reality television has altered the search for "talent" and now, in rare instances, getting "discovered" is no harder than filling out an application. Nowadays, instead of submitting audition tapes to countless producers, lyricists stand in line for American Idol and face the possibility of public humiliation at the hands of Simon and company.

Can we suppose a conflict which would occur if all which were compulsory to begin personification for a New York Knicks was essay a check for $1000 to a little Internet company? Can we suppose a passion if all which were compulsory to acquire a recording stipulate was station in line during a little being uncover try-out? Wait a minute! That’s already happening. Reality radio has changed a poke for “talent” as well as now, in singular instances, removing “discovered” is no harder than stuffing out an application. Nowadays, instead of submitting try-out tapes to large producers, lyricists mount in line for American Idol as well as face a probability of open chagrin during a hands of Simon as well as company.

Is this "cheating," per se, or has the do-it-yourself mentality simply removed unnecessary hurdles that prevented talent from being discovered faster? You see, talent is the one common denominator and talent cannot be purchased. Cast members of Survivor have their fifteen minutes of fame and then disappear back into the abyss. The try-outs for American Idol feature thousands upon thousands of "hopefuls" standing in lines around city blocks and yet the main competition is comprised of just a handful. Most had their opportunity to shine, and their audience rejected them. But at least they received a shot.

Is this “cheating,” per se, or has a do-it-yourself genius simply private nonessential hurdles which prevented bent from being detected faster? You see, bent is a a singular usual denominator as well as bent cannot be purchased. Cast members of Survivor have their fifteen mins of celebrity as well as afterwards vanish behind in to a abyss. The try-outs for American Idol underline thousands upon thousands of “hopefuls” station in lines around city blocks as well as nonetheless a categorical foe is comprised of only a handful. Most had their event to shine, as well as their assembly deserted them. But during slightest they perceived a shot.

As a recent New York Times article states, self-publishing companies are thriving, and that is because self-publishing companies give writers their shot. Their fifteen minutes of fame. Self-publishing companies are like American Idol for writers. They make it easy to publish a book. If "publishing a book" is your dream, you're going to be happy with the result. And if your dream is to be successful, famous, rich, or a combination of the three, you're going to receive your chance. But just like everyone else who is successful, famous, or rich, you are going to need to bring something special to the table. Most reasonable people recognize this. Those who don't may become disillusioned, but listen – if it were easy to become a bestselling author, a multi-platinum recording artist, a player for the New York Knicks, or a highly-sought-after runway model, then everyone would do it.

As a new New York Times essay states, self-publishing companies have been thriving, as well as which is since self-publishing companies give writers their shot. Their fifteen mins of fame. Self-publishing companies have been similar to American Idol for writers. They have it easy to tell a book. If “publishing a book” is your dream, you’re starting to be happy with a result. And if your mental condition is to be successful, famous, rich, or a multiple of a three, you’re starting to embrace your chance. But only similar to everybody else who is successful, famous, or rich, we have been starting to need to move something special to a table. Most in accord with people commend this. Those who do not might turn disillusioned, though attend – if it were easy to turn a bestselling author, a multi-platinum recording artist, a player for a New York Knicks, or a highly-sought-after runway model, afterwards everybody would do it.

See, self-publishing companies shine a light on writers. It is the writer's job to shine back. Some authors do, like Gang Chen, who earned more than $39,000.00 in royalties from Outskirts Press in the 4th quarter of 2008, and nearly that much again in one single month in January 2009. Did he sell a million copies of his book? No. Is he making a lot of money as a self-published author? Yes. By any reasonable benchmark, Gang Chen is a successful self-published author who has given specific permission to have his successes shared.

See, self-publishing companies gleam a light upon writers. It is a writer’s pursuit to gleam back. Some authors do, similar to Gang Chen, who warranted some-more than $39,000.00 in royalties from Outskirts Press in a 4th entertain of 2008, as well as scarcely which most again in a singular single month in Jan 2009. Did he sell a million copies of his book? No. Is he creation a lot of income as a self-published author? Yes. By any in accord with benchmark, Gang Chen is a successful self-published writer who has since specific accede to have his successes shared.

Can you achieve this kind of success when you self-publish your book? Yes! But, you must understand that success is never guaranteed. All writers are different just like all contestants on American Idol are different. If you are going to self-publish your book, you're better off publishing with a company where your chances for success increase. Above all, you have to believe in yourself and you have to work hard. Success rarely comes easily for anyone, but now, thanks to self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press, everyone has an equal chance. They will shine the light on you. What you do with that light is up to you.

Can we grasp this kind of success when we self-publish your book?Yes! But, we contingency assimilate which success is never guaranteed. All writers have been opposite only similar to all contestants upon American Idol have been different. If we have been starting to self-publish your book, you’re improved off edition with a association where your chances for success increase. Above all, we have to hold in yourself as well as we have to work hard. Success frequency comes simply for anyone, though now, interjection to self-publishing companies similar to Outskirts Press, everybody has an next to chance. They will gleam a light upon you. What we do with which light is up to you.


Monday, May 24, 2010

I've never texted and don't plan to.
What's wrong with me?
What am I missing?

In my local paper on Sunday, there was a column titled "You can resist the modern era only for so long," written by Joe Amarante.

Joe says he knows "some defiantly low-tech people" who don't own a GPS, use dial-up modems for web access, and don't own cellphones or send text messages.

I'm certainly not a defiant technophobe or Luddite. I was one of the first purchasers of a Blu-ray player. I waited just one week to buy my iPad. I have four generations of iPods. I have seven flat-screen TVs in my house and four home theaters with surround sound and subwoofers. I subscribe to both XM and Sirius. I used to build HeathKits. I can solder and weld and wire a house. I have five Tivo boxes. I have at least a dozen digital cameras, GPSes in each car, and I don't even know how many PCs I have. I've been online since the days of 300bps connections and $150 monthly bills from CompuServe.

I've had cellphones for many years, and get a new one every two years even if I don't need one.

BUT, I have never sent a text message. I am unlikely to ever send one. I don't even know how to send one.

I use my cellphone for talking, or for taking pictures if something important happens and I don't have a better picture-taking device with me, or for checking the time if I forget to wear a watch.

Phones are for vocal communication.

"Phone" comes from an ancient Greek word for "sound" or "voice" -- not "text." Alex Bell was granted a patent for the telephone in 1876 -- 41 years after Sam Morse built his first working telegraph, which sent text messages. Bell provided a better way to communicate than Morse did.

Today it's certainly easier to "dial" a phone number or tap a speed-dial key than to learn Morse Code, or to thumb-type a text message. Some of the newest technology is voice response --  which allows people to "dial" calls  by voice, or even to control cars or to type by voice. When you want to check on your American Express balance, you can say your account number into your phone, not tap it on the touch-tone pad. The trend is to less button-pushing and more tongue wagging.

If I want to send messages with my fingertips -- such as a complicated address or a quote from a website -- I send email from a PC or iPad.

If no one answers my phone call, I can leave voicemail or call again later. Why should I thumb-type a message to be stored for later reading?

Texting seems to be for people who want to send information or ask questions, but prefer to avoid conversation, maybe because they are too bashful. Maybe they can't be spontaneous and must think before each word. I haven't been bashful since fifth grade -- and that was a long time ago.

Except for a few instances where it's too noisy to hear or be heard, or if it's much less expensive to transmit data than to transmit voice, why would I want to text anyone? I just don't get it.

Wikipedia says, "74% of all mobile phone users worldwide or 2.4 billion out of 3.3 billion phone subscribers at end of 2007" are texters.  "Text messaging was reported to have addictive tendencies by the Global Messaging Survey by Nokia in 2002 and was confirmed to be addictive by the study at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium in 2004."

There are much more pleasurable things than texting to be addicted to. Like blogging. Or sex. Or clams.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Palin and publishing

"Just in time for Christmas, the queen of 'Drill Baby Drill,' Sarah Palin, will have a new book out. It's called, America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag.

For Sarah, that's two books in two years, or as she calls it, her trilogy." —Bill Maher

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More printing options from Lightning Source

Lightning Source, the major provider of print-on-demand ("POD") services and the printer of most of my books, has expanded the products and services it offers to publishers. There are new color interior hardcover book options, additional trim sizes for black and white interior books, expanded page count options for both perfect bound and hardcover books and a multi-volume set option.

Color interior hardcover books. To provide publishers greater choice in color book print-on-demand options, Lightning Source has added hardcover color interior books to its existing perfect bound color book option. Hardcover color books will be available in six trim sizes and multiple bind types. Content for hardcover color books will be accepted by Lightning Source beginning today. Hardcover color interior books will be manufactured beginning July 1, 2010.

New black & white trim sizes. Publishers that work with Lightning Source have identified a need for a larger trim size option for black and white interior books. Starting today, publishers will have 8 ½ x 11 black and white interior book options in both hardcover and perfect bound bindings. 8 ½ x 11 perfect bound books will be available immediately for printing. 8 ½ x 11 hardcover books will be manufactured beginning July 1.

Expanded page count. The minimum and maximum page count options for black and white interior books manufactured by Lightning Source have been expanded to meet the needs of the publishing community. Effective immediately, black and white interior perfect bound and hardcover books manufactured by Lightning Source may have a minimum page count of 18 pages. The maximum page count has increased to 1,200 pages for books with white paper and 1,050 pages for books with crème paper.

Multi-volume sets. The multi-volume set option from Lightning Source enables a publisher to set up and order multiple black and white interior perfect bound and hardcover titles under a separate single ISBN. Printed books are then consolidated and delivered to a designated delivery location. Publishers can set up multi-volume set titles with Lightning Source immediately.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Barnes & Noble wants to publish your book.
Prepare for more genital jokes.

Just as the snickering has died down about Apple's iPad being a new type of sanitary napkin, and Barnes & Noble naming their Nook eBook reader after a slang term for sexual intercourse, there's a new publishing service that's spelled almost like "pubic" and rhymes with "rub it."

Barnes & Noble has announced Pubit (officially "PubIt!"), an "easy and lucrative way for independent publishers and self-publishing writers to distribute their works digitally through Barnes & and the Barnes & Noble eBookstore." By following "simple steps" to upload their content, creators can reach millions of potential readers. The program starts this summer, several years after arch-rival started offering ePublishing service.

The announcement marks B&N's  latest move to build one of the world's largest digital catalogs, which currently offers more than one million digital titles in-store and online.

B&N says that content owners' intellectual property will be well-protected with digital rights management. Books will be offered in the industry-standard ePub format which allows books to be read on  Nook, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and other eBook reading devices.

Customers will have the opportunity to browse, sample, buy and download digital books in seconds with free BN reader software. People can also browse the complete contents of PubIt titles while in Barnes & Noble stores.

For more information on free BN eReader software and apps, see More information on PubIt and the benefits of joining Barnes & Noble's digital content catalog is at

This is not the first time that B&N has served as a publisher. The company has published books since the 1980s, reissuing out-of-print non-copyrighted titles, including literary classics, and acquiring rights from other publishers.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cataract surgery, post-op report #1


The people who said cataract removal and artificial lens implanting are no big deal were absolutely right.

Pain was minimal (actually, there was no pain at all). I'm typing just fine. Both eyes still work, and by seven last night my formerly "bad" eye was working better than my "good" eye. I watched TV without glasses for the first time in decades, and had no problem editing a book and watching a movie on my iPad.

The surgery took about 20 minutes. My surgeon Dr. Samuel Sprotzer, anesthesiologist Dr. Kishor Lathi, nurses Mary Ann and Barbara at the Connecticut Eye Surgery Center in Milford were skilled, comforting and in good humor. They do this dozens of times each day and their experience and knowledge made me feel a lot better during my first slicing. The surgery was routine for them, but not for me.

During the procedure I had the impression that Dr. Sprotzer was operating on me with his right hand, and using his left hand to hold my left hand.

Later it became apparent that my hand was being held by one of the ladies. I'm not sure who it was, but it felt good, and I recommend this treatment for others.

I was told that I'll probably need the same work on my right eye "sooner or later." Based on yesterday's experience, I think I'll go for "sooner." It was a lot less painful than having a cavity filled.

There is some glare from bright lights, but that problem is improving by the hour. My only annoyance is having to take 10 eye drops a day, and stay out of the swimming pool for two weeks (I'll probably cheat). I'll also have to get some new eyeglass lenses. I'm not supposed to drive until tomorrow, but I'm sure I'll be able to read the signs a lot better than I could on Tuesday. I also found and fixed a typo I made on this blog yesterday.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I've never won a medal for bravery. I've never been known as a macho man.

But through the course of my life, not much has frightened me. When I was a little kid, I used to collect bumblebees by grabbing them by the ass and putting them in a jar, climbed up and jumped off telephone poles, and had cavities filled without Novocaine. I even went SCUBA diving under the ice when I was a teenager.

On the other hand, I was scared by the wicked witch in Snow White and begged my grandmother to take me out of the theater.

As an adult, I've never had to go to war, never got scared by a movie, and willingly ate raw clams.

HOWEVER, I am super-squeamish, a real baby, when it comes to handling sharp blades. I am terrified about getting my hand cut, and don't even like to hear about other people getting a hand cut. And the notion of a blade near one of my eyes scares the crap out of me.

Nevertheless, in less than an hour, I will be going to a surgery center to have my left eye sliced open. I'm going to have a cataract removed, and a synthetic lens implanted.

Lots of people -- including both parents -- have had the same surgery and told me it's no big deal and I have nothing to worry about.

I've often said that worry is the most useless emotion, but this morning I can't help being worried.

In 1972 I was blind in one eye for about six months. My vision came back, but the cause of the blindness was never discovered. When I had just one functioning eye and no spare, I lived very differently. I was very protective of the one good eye, and was timid to cross the street.

I was born with two legs, testicles, arms, kidneys, lungs, ears and eyes. I've gotten used to having them in pairs, and want to keep my full collection.

I hope that Dr. Sprotzer's aim is accurate and his hand is steady, that my worry is unjustified, and that I'll be blogging again tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maybe some people just shouldn't write

I recently saw a question about becoming a published author posted on a forum.

It was so poorly written that I sent a private email to the writer.

I said, "I hope that you will be more careful when querying agents and writing books than you were in writing your message here. You repeatedly put an apostrophe in a plural where it did not belong, and you left out several apostrophes and a question mark, and had unnecessary commas, and misspelled words."

The response: "Thanks for the grammar check-up. Un-fortunately, I spell out words as I THINK they should be. I am not proud of this but the fact is that I failed English class everytime I went to class. I never understood proper placement, of punctuation, or the other "encyclopedia" of English rules. Do you think that agents will, really, scrutinize a work, so closely?"


Monday, May 17, 2010

Dumb Outskirts Press keeps geting dumber

Outskirts Press is undoubtedly the most incompetent company in the book business. Their mistakes are so frequent and so funny, that I wrote a book about them.

Last week I received an email notification with a link to an Outskirts press release dated Thursday, May 13th, 2010.

The subject of the release: "31 Ways to Promote Your Book in March During Small Press Month."

I don't think they were preparing for 2011.

(Photo at top shows Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels from 1994 movie.)


Saturday, May 15, 2010

More money for Moosemama Palin

If any of you have been concerned that your lack of writing experience or ability could hinder your chance of making big bucks from writing, here's some good news.

Sarah Palin's first book, "Going Rogue: an American Life," quickly hit number-one on the New York Times bestseller list, and reportedly will earn her several million dollars.

The half-term Alaskan governor and would-be vice-president now has a deal for a second book.

It's titled "America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag," and will be published in November.

Publisher HarperCollins said that the book is a "collection of Palin's favorite patriotic and family-based literary passages. It will include "the nation's founding documents to great speeches, sermons, letters, literature and poetry, biography, and even some of her favorite songs and movies. The book will also include portraits of some of the extraordinary men and women she admires and who embody her deep love of country, her strong rootedness in faith, and her profound love and appreciation of family." But probably not Levi Johnston, the father of her first grandchild.

(Cartoon by Brett Noel, with money added by the blogmeister)


Friday, May 14, 2010

Another publisher goes over to the dark side.

Hay House enters the vanity business, and tells the usual lies.

Don't they know what "free" means?

Following the examples set by Harlequin and Thomas Nelson, Hay House Publishing announced today that it is partnering with vanity behemoth Author Solutions to launch Balboa Press -- "a self-help self-publishing division."

Hay House calls itself "a leading provider in publishing products that specialize in self-help, and the mind, body, and spirit genre."

With the new arrangement, authors with books that are not good enough to get publishing contracts from Hay House, can generate substantial income for both Hay House and Author Solutions. Publishing packages to be offered by Balboa to Hay House rejects are priced from $999 to $7999.

Balboa says it wants "to help people improve their lives and the Earth." But, like the other sleazy businesses operated by Author Solutions, Balboa Press lies about providing self publishing, and free books (that are not really free).

"We receive thousands of manuscripts annually, but we can publish only 100 products a year," said Reid Tracy, Hay House CEO. "Our self-publishing division, Balboa Press, has been formed to allow many more people get their message out. While these books won't be published by Hay House, Balboa Press will be monitored for success, and hopefully we'll find the Hay House authors of the future."

Author Solutions will manage Balboa Press for Hay House, with responsibility for publishing, marketing and book-selling services.

Author Solutions boss Kevin Weiss said, "Hay House has a rich track record of innovation and leadership in the self-help and new thought publishing space. We are pleased to be able to help them expand positive publishing opportunities to more and more authors who want to share their messages of hope and self improvement."

Author Solutions owns formerly competing vanity publishers AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, and Xlibris. They may buy money-losing in the next year or so.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

The lies of

One side of is a vanity publisher which charges up to $1369 for various “publishing packs.”

The other side of Lulu produces and distributes eBooks, and prints books for self-publishers. If you can provide a properly formatted and edited digital file, Lulu will have it printed for you. In the book sample I received, the actual printing was excellent, but many pages had ripples where type disappeared. The book should never have been shipped.

Lulu boss Bob Young (quoted in the 8/6/07 issue of Publishers Weekly), said, "We publish a huge number of really bad books.” Bob also misspelled “misspell” and confused “less” and “fewer” in a blog post. A publisher should know better.

In addition to his deficiencies in literary taste and use of the English language, Bob has a major problem in separating truth from fiction.

Lulu claims to rank #1 among self-publishing websites and to provide free self-publishing. But if you use Lulu you may not be self-publishing, and Lulu’s publishing is not free. They get paid for every book they publish.

Lulu says it is “the only publisher that offers you all that it does for free.” The company has run online ads touting “Publish Your Book— Free,” “Free publishing,” and “Free Self Publishing.” Their website promises, “free book publishing,” but their publishing is free only if you don’t want any books to be printed!

Lulu's notion of free publishing is like free car ownership where there is no charge to view your beautiful new vehicle in the dealer's lot. But if you want to actually drive it home and put it in your garage, you have to pay $54,327.

Bob and his staff also have trouble with basic arithmetic.

Their deceptive book pricing example shown above uses a book that sells for $14.

It says that the cost to manufacture is $4, Lulu gets $2, and the author gets $8 ("your share 80%').

I recognize that there have been advances in mathematics over the past 50-plus years, but if I use the method I learned for figuring percentages back in the Davis Street School, $8 is NOT 80% of $14. It's actually less than 60%.

Furthermore, the chart makes it seem like the $4 manufacturing fee is going to some distant unnamed entity. It goes to Lulu, and you can be sure that there is profit built into it.

And, of course, the example is FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED because $14 is MUCH TOO HIGH for most 100-page books. Unless you are selling 100 pages of new and vital information, a book that size would sell for about $8, leaving very little money for the author.

Most $14 books have 200- 300 pages.

Lulu has a lot to learn about publishing, and honesty.

They'd better learn fast.

Lulu charges more than its competitors charge, but has lost money since opening day and recently canceled plans to sell stock to the public. Don't be surprised if Lulu gets absorbed by a competitor, probably AuthorSolutions, which now owns several formerly competing vanity publishers.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another really stupid lie from Outskirts Press

This book's idiot author says it's hard to read the book.

Brent Sampson, pathetically inept boss of pathetically inept vanity publisher Outskirts Press, is known for both stupid mistakes and deliberate dishonesty.

Here's what was distributed above Brent's name in a press release: "Now publishing a book is easier than reading one..."

Not only is that a ridiculous statement, it also makes Brent seem extra-stupid, because the sentence continues: "...if you happen to be reading Self-Publishing Simplified..."

Brent wrote that book, so he's saying that it's harder to read his book than it is to publish a book.

What a jerk. If he wasn't the boss, he'd be fired.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Opposites that mean the same thing,
and vice-versa

I've long been intrigued by English words that are often opposites, but can have identical meanings.

  • "After our number is called, we can move UP to the front of the line" (or DOWN to the front of the line).
  • "Please slow UP -- I can't run as fast as you can" (or slow DOWN).
  • The HOTTEST new computer can also be the COOLEST new computer.
There are also individual words that can have opposite implications.
  • "He was cited for bravery." (good)
  • "He was cited for being drunk on duty." (bad)
And individual words that can have opposite meanings.
  • "Inflammable" can mean a substance that can burn, or can't burn.
And words that can be compliments or criticisms.
  • "Lightweight" is good for a portable PC, but bad for someone who wants a job as a professor or sales manager.
Readers' additions are welcome. But please skip slang like "bad" meaning "good."


Sunday, May 9, 2010

HELP! I'm stuck between two centuries.

I'm in Florida for a few days, visiting my mother for Mother's (Mothers'?) Day.

I have my iPad with me. I used it on the plane to watch the Sherlock Holmes movie (excellent, BTW) and to show doggie pictures to the little kid across the aisle.

In my mother's house, I used the iPad to read books and watch TV episodes, and show Mom a slide show of old family photos, and podcasts of "Old Jews Telling Jokes." She loved a joke about fellatio, which surprised me. She wasn't my funny parent, or my smutty parent.

Now I typing on my HP laptop with a huge 17-plus-inch screen.

Even though it's less than six months old, it seems absolutely prehistoric.

When I wanted to delete an email, I touched my finger to it, but it didn't move. When I wanted to open a program, I tapped an icon, but nothing happened. When I wanted to move down on a displayed screen, I touched the elevator button, but nothing happened. When I want to move the mouse pointer across the screen, it takes forever.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't let "art" interfere with content

The plain old basic black on white is obviously much easier to read than black or red on royal blue.

I'll never understand why people who put great effort into their words make it so hard for people to read them. This happens with books, websites, magazine articles, advertising, graffiti, any appearance of text.

People shouldn't have to squint, magnify, adjust, or solve a puzzle to read what you wrote.

If you have an unstoppable urge to use reverse type (light text on a dark background) limit it to a small block of type, such as a headline, but NEVER put an entire page in reverse. And if you do use a dark background, provide a lot of contrast. White on black or yellow on navy blue are OK. Red on purple sucks. A web page or book cover is NOT a Day-Glo concert poster.

And don't use a decorative typeface that looks like it was attacked by bacteria, or those annoying distorted letter sequences you have to retype to prove that you're a human being and not a robot in order to subscribe to a blog.

And choose a type size that's big enough to be read without a microscope. A book or a website has more space than the back of a credit card. I have several books that I just can't read. This is a frustrating and unnecessary waste of money.

Don't let your medium hide, harm or destroy your message.

Eschew obfuscation and espouse elucidation, in content AND in form.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Make your mark on literary history.
Invent a word like Willie and I did.

William Shakespeare's birthday was celebrated on April 23. Since it was his 446th birthday, he was not present to blow out 446 candles.

The Oxford English Dictionary shows more than 2000 entries where a quotation from Shakespeare is the earliest source available. That doesn't mean that Willie invented those words, but he certainly popularized and legitimized them.

It's been said that the celebrated "bard of Avon" introduced somewhere between 8,000 and 15,000 words into English literature -- far more than other writers.

Here's a list of some of the words he is credited with inventing.


I, on the other hand, claim to have invented just one word: answerer. I will now present my claim to fame:

In 1969 and '70, I was assistant editor of High Fidelity Trade News -- a magazine that went to hi-fi dealers. In addition to audio components such as speakers, turntables and receivers, we also covered other electronic products that could be sold in hi-fi stores.

Part of my job was to edit press releases into brief new product announcements. The format included a one-line headline with the brand and type of product, plus a photo and a brief description with suggested retail price.

Unfortunately, our magazine columns were just 2-1/4 inches wide. That was big enough for "Harman-Kardon: Receiver." But there was no way to fit "Crowne: Telephone Answering Machine" into that narrow space.

So, with the approval of my editor, Bryan, I decided to call the device a phone "answerer," and no readers complained that they did not understand the term.

In later years, as recording tapes and motors and other mechanical guts were replaced with digital circuitry, newer terms such as "Telephone Answering Device" ("TAD"), "Digital Answering Device" ("DAD") and "Answering System" came along.

Although dictionaries still define "answerer" as a person who answers,  General Electric uses the word my way. As with Shakespeare, my word may outlive me. I am proud to have contributed one small bit to the English language.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some computer terms are old enough to retire

A while ago I suggested that some mid-20th-century words like "dungarees" and "gym shoes" should be abandoned.

There are a few cyber-era phrases that deserve to be banished, too.

  • Every time I hear an actor in a radio or TV commercial telling me to "log on to" a website that doesn't require logging on, I want to throw something heavy and pointy.
  • And when I hear or read "point your browser at...," I want to puke.
  • At one time, computer manufacturers and magazines insisted that there was a difference between a "notebook computer" and a "laptop computer." One type was heavier, but I don't remember which one.
Now, other than employees of Apple, Dell and HP, hardly anyone says "notebook" when describing a  portable computer. "Laptop" makes the point, unambiguously. So does "netbook." "Slate" is seldom ambiguous, because few people write on non-computer slates in 2010.

If I am going to attend a meeting, class or seminar and am told to bring a notebook, I don't know if I'm supposed to bring something filled with paper pages or integrated circuits.

If I'm told to bring a laptop, the message is clear.

So, unless you mean something with paper pages, don't say or write "notebook."

Eschew  obfuscation. Espouse elucidation.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I've been robbed. Call Batman!!!

Writing and publishing are part-time gigs for me. My main business is selling a wide range of telecommunications equipment -- everything from office phone systems, to fun phones, and installation supplies and tools. Our customers range from the White House to everyman.

Since 1995 I've created about 80 websites. Some stay online for years. Some fail to achieve their goals or simply become unnecessary, and are deleted from cyberspace. At any particular time, about 30 of my sites are online.

Over the years, about 100 competitors (that I know of) have copied my designs, words and photographs. One thief, Hindustan Telecom, was so stupid that it even copied my list of customers. The Indian idiots are still displaying words I wrote and graphics I devised more than 10 years ago!

Usually the thieves will remove the purloined intellectual property after I send them an email, without involving the law or lawyers. My standard message includes this line: "It takes big balls to steal unique intellectual property. It takes a small brain to display the stolen property where everyone can see it." The owner of the company or operator of the website usually apologises and blames an employee or other third party.

Last night I discovered a new kind of theft.

A few years ago I designed a Batphone for sale by my company. They're made for us and we are the only source.

This is a photo I personally took of the phone, with my own camera, mounted on my own tripod, in my own office, for use on my company's websites and in press releases.

(above) I found this "pop art" print for sale on a website called It doesn't require a forensics expert to determine that my photo was the source material. The listed artist/criminal is Suzanne Maestri-Walters, and she stupidly put a 2010 copyright notice on the work. The stupid Indians still show a 2001 copyright date on MY work.

Sorry, Suzy, it doesn't work that way. You committed a crime. I am the creator and copyright-holder of the original work, and I control the right to produce derivative work from it. You are not allowed to copyright something derived from my creation.

You did not ask for permission, receive permission, or pay for the right to use MY intellectual property. You do not deserve to make a profit based on MY work. Burn in hell, Suzie!

Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to FIVE YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON and a $250,000 fine. Go to jail, Suzie!

It's absurd for an artist who is presumably proud of her own creations, to steal the work of other creative people.

If Suzie had asked permission to use my photo, I probably would have given her permission. But because she took without asking, I want her to pay me and be humiliated. I seldom forgive, I seldom forget, and I don't like thieves.
Suzie has also "created" art based on photographs taken by other people. Something tells me that she did not get permission for those derivations, either.

This situation is similar to the case where artist Shepard Fairey created his famous "Hope" poster based on a photograph of Barack Obama taken by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia -- without permission from the AP or Garcia.

The Associated Press was justifiably pissed off about an AP photo being used without permission and tried to make a deal with Fairey. According to Wikipedia, Fairey filed a federal lawsuit against the Associated Press, seeking a declaratory judgment that his use of the AP photo was protected by the fair use doctrine and so did not infringe their copyright. Fairey admitted that he had based the poster on the AP photo and had fabricated and destroyed evidence to hide the fact. Photographer Garcia contended that he retained copyright to the photo according to his AP contract. He said that he did not "condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet."

It will be interesting to see what defense Suzie comes up with.

She's not the only one who ripped off my Batphone design. A company in China bought a phone from us, and has been selling knock-offs in England.

It's important that all creative people be vigilant about theft of their work. It's very easy to copy eBooks or anything on the web. Periodically use Google to search for unique phrases that you wrote, and look for your photographs and drawings, too.

(Photo at top is from ABC Television. I thank them.)

UPDATE (WEDNESDAY): Yesterday I sent an email to the thieving Suzie. She removed "my" artwork from her website, Facebook page and the site that sells her work. She has not responded to me, or removed artwork derived from other photos that she may not have permission to use.


Monday, May 3, 2010

The N. Y. Times says self-publishing is OK

Even my dog reads the Times each morning, and he reads it upside-down.

Recently, The New York Times, the "Gray Lady," the hallowed arbiter of "all the news that's fit to print," "the newspaper of record" and my favorite paper since first grade, published a column by Virginia Heffernan. She discussed recent changes in the book business and wrote, "It’s hard to remember the stigma that once attached to self-publishing."

Apparently some of Virginia's co-workers have not yet gotten the news that the stigma has been removed, because it's extremely hard to get the Times to print a review of a self-pubbed book.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

More about the iPad, and a bit about the Nook

Radio talker Alex Bennett likes Apple computers and the iPhone, but has been bitching about the iPad. Last week he spent $2300 on a new MacBook Pro. He's been criticizing the iPad, despite not owning one. Maybe even without using one.

The only specific criticism he had was that the screen was difficult to see in bright sunlight.

He told of someone he knew who was disappointed with the iPad, and when I told him how much I liked mine, he said, "The iPad is not all it promises. You will have buyer's remorse if you haven't already."

Last Friday, he ranted that people buy iPads and then find they don't know what to do with them. If what Alex said is true, the people he referred to are idiots.

On Friday, after listening to Alex ON MY IPAD, while sitting in my car, waiting for my wife, I did the following with my iPad.

  • Read and wrote email.
  • Read newspapers and magazines.
  • Finished reading one book and started reading another.
  • Watched TV shows.
  • Listened to music.
  • Downloaded music, videos, books and apps.
  • Modified two of my websites.
  • Viewed several websites and blogs.
  • Posted comments on several blogs.
  • Constructed a "slide show."
  • Played a game.
  • Looked at family photos.
  • Placed bids on eBay.
  • Put some entries in my appointment book.
  • Looked at a map.
  • Added info to the address :book.
  • Demonstrated the iPad to people who saw me using it.
Far from having buyer's remorse, I like my iPad more each time I use it.

Here's what I said about it before.

Here's what Egear said.

A few days ago I went into my local Barnes & Noble to buy some mags and discuss a book promo event with the manager. I also had my first hands-on experience with the Nook eBook reader. I tried swiping a displayed book page with my finger to move to the next page. Nothing happened. I thought the Nook was defective.

Then the manager told me I had to press a button to view the next page. PRESS A BUTTON? WTF? That's how people interacted with technology 50 years ago.

Defending his product, the manager said that the Nook's "electronic paper" display did not create eye fatigue like the illuminated display on the iPad. I told him that I had not experienced any fatigue with my iPad and I can use it in a dark room.

He said that the Nook was much less expensive than the iPad and is intended for people who just want to read books. That's like buying an inexpensive car that lacks a trunk, because you plan to transport people only. I told him that it seemed silly to settle for a button-operated monochrome e-reader, when I could get a colorful, big-screen, touch-screen e-reader that could do a great many things besides displaying dark gray text on a lighter gray background.

This afternoon I'll be giving my less-than-a-year-old Acer netbook to my sister. I have no reason to use it again.