Zero Hour @ Amazon + Truthiness @ Randstad = Angry Workers


For those of you that didn’t read the Daily Mail’s article on Amazon warehouse “employees,” you really missed a treat.

We won’t spoil it for you, but here’s a teaser: Employee bathroom breaks are timed. And of course Amazon knows an employee is in the bathroom because all employees are geo-tagged!

And if that’s not enough to convince you to read the story . . .

Amazon bosses tried to save money by instructing the Randstad agency (who provided the workers) to deceive their staff by not offering them holiday pay.

Andrew Kingsley, a former Randstad representative, said  “The [Randstad] agency reps were instructed not to tell them” [the Randstad people working as Amazon employees) that they were entitled to holiday pay.

And Randstad was ok with that. Really, just lovely.

America’s not only exporting  its 19th century business mentalities, it’s exporting the concept of Truthiness too.

59th Annual Emmy Awards - Arrivals

So, what will happen in US cities as Amazon brings “employment” to various sites — including 5000 jobs across the country in warehouses with at least 100+ of those at Amazon’s San Bernardino, California warehouse? Anyone’s guess.

But for a preview of all the possibilities, including zero hour contract workers and much, much more, read up! If you prefer your news in a more contemporary format, the BBC’s Channel 4 video report tells all — and includes interviews with some of the workers.


(And yes, we do love the reporter’s mutton sleeve jacket — an homage to the 100th anniversary of the UK Sufferagette movement!)

Stacks or Tracks? What the Music Industry Can Teach the Book Biz

Visit Billboard Magazine to purchase a copy.

Flipping through a copy of the Sept 01, 2012 Billboard magazine while at the gym — yeah, it’s just so California cliche it makes you want to wretch, right? — we came across an interesting article about sales of albums versus sales of tracks.

What became apparent after even the most cursory perusal was that top-sell album artists (Adele) don’t rake in the amount top-selling track artists do. Industry-wide, the tracts bring in about $2.1 billion, while the albums brought in $502.6 million.

It was at that point we got to thinking about book serialization in a new way. Considering that most books had a serial life before becoming book, think Dickens, this isn’t necessarily a giant leap in an unheard of direction.

What if authors released a book one chapter at a time, for 99 cents a go?

Probably the best delivery system would be to subscribe to a book release similar to a podcast and have a release of a chapter every week. This rather suggests the book is already written, but that would not be required.

A book might easily be written until there are no subscribers buying it anymore, and then it’s dead. Alternatively, once a book was completed, then it could actually be released in hardback or paperback.

A 27-chapter book (at 99 cents per) ends up netting the author 9.35 from Amazon. The total payout for the book is about the average of a hardback ($25.00).

That sounds a lot, but it isn’t because a new book is a new book and should be priced as such especially if only being released in an e-version.  Also, in this scenario, the reader in this case has the ability to opt out of the book at any time if he/she doesn’t like a chapter and doesn’t wish to continue on. If after spending, $2.99 you don’t want to read any more, you can save your money. Try doing that with a $25.00 hardback!

Just sayin’, there are many ways to think about distribution of a work and authors should consider them all.

Published in: on September 24, 2012 at 5:59 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Is your state living in the Twilight Zone?

Apparently more than 800K Goodreads members have read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.  So many in fact that Goodreads made a map on which states are hot for the book and which are decided stone cold.

It’s not quite clear why some states love the book more than others, but for a full take, pop on over to Goodreads. The graphic would seem to indicate that 16 and 30 years olds are the most avid reviewers (readers) with women out pacing men by 12:1!

Our state is fairly immune to the books charms, however, it may be because we prefer film versions of everything.

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 2:02 AM  Comments (1)  
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Austen and Dickens among the hot picks for World Book Night UK — but wait, World Book Night USA is coming soon!


If you live outside of the UK, you probably have no idea what WBN is. If that’s you, head on over to the The Bookseller to read Charlotte Williams Oct 11th post on World Book Night.  Or check out WBN’ s website.

Copyright All rights reserved by Macs Butterz “Reading by Moonlight”

What we’re really pleased to say is as of 2012 there will be a  World Book Night USA!!! The celebration of World Book Night US will also be on April 23, 2012. On April 23, 50,000 book givers will hand out 20 copies of one of the 25 World Book Night picks in communities across the U.S. Over the course of the night, a total of a million paperbacks will be given away.

They’ve hired a publishing veteran, Carl Lennertz, as their executive director, and as of this week they have a full board of directors.  You can read more about that on the ABA site.

Unlike in the UK, and probably because this is new, they aren’t opening the nomination of books to the public. Instead,

A bookseller and librarian panel is taking part in several rounds of voting to choose the titles from a list of books derived from 10 years’ worth of Book Sense/Indie Next Reading Group Picks, Barnes & Noble Discover Picks, ALA Best Book Picks, and Pulitzer and National Book Award winners, which have been cross-referenced with several years of’s most requested guides, as well as the Mystery Writers of America all-time top 100, the Goodreads top 100 adult and top 100 YA, and Above the Treeline’s top paperback bestsellers.

The goal is to announce the final list of 25 books for the US WBN (a blend of fiction and nonfiction as well as books for teens and young readers) by December 1. We are hoping something by Thoreau or Muir makes the list given we celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day around the WBN USA April 23, 2012 date.

WBN USA will also be launching a website soon (That’s a relative term!), which will supposedly have the same book giver registration process as the UK, commencing in December. So, please support reading and printed word, but considering becoming a book giver. When we get the site information, we will pass it along to you.

World Book Night is supported by publishers, Barnes & Noble, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, and Ingram Book Distributors.


The full list of 25 titles for UK WBN:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Vintage)
The Player of Games by Iain M Banks (Little, Brown)
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (Transworld)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (HarperCollins)
The Take by Martina Cole (Headline)
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins)
Someone Like You by Roald Dahl (Penguin)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Penguin)
Room by Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Little, Brown)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
Misery by Stephen King (Hodder)
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Transworld)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (Headline)
Let the Right One In by John Ajvde Lindqvist (Quercus)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pan Macmillan)
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage)
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell (Headline)
The Damned Utd by David Peace (Faber)
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (Transworld)
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Penguin)
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (Vintage)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Vintage)
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak (Transworld)

Ok, Love this Poster for the Paris Cookbook Fair 2012 – yea, that’s right Paris, they like to cook so much they have a book fair just for that.

British Foodscapes Photographer Carl Warner Creates Paris Cookbook Fair 2012 Poster

Published in: on October 12, 2011 at 2:02 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Free Book Fridays, with the Nook

Some of you are trying to create an ePub out of your current manuscript. We get that.  If you want to look at how ePubs look through a Nook, you can actually download software to multiple devices, including your PC or Mac, and view the books there.

Barnes & Noble offers a Free Book Friday with Nook.  If you sign up for a Nook account, really just a way to buy books more than a device if you don’t have one, you can start creating a library of free ebooks and books they offer for free on Fridays.  The books will remain in your Nook library perpetually, stored in an archive, if you desire.

Should you buy a Nook, you can use those books in your library on the Nook. However, if you don’t, you can still read your Nook ePub materials on your computer, or other device,  by downloading Nook software — similar to Kindle. To create your account, you will have to give them a credit card, even if the only books you want to collect are free.

The virtue of starting a Nook account and library is that you can use your collection to see how an ePub book is structured. You might be surprised by what you see. Something you’d expect to find in the front of a printed book, such as copyright info, is today typically in the back of many Nook ePubs. Not sure if that shift is to keep readers from thinking about the IP law involved or just a convenient way of cutting down on the front matter.

Anyway, in case you were wondering, we were at Barnes & Noble looking at Nooks today. There are 3 versions, all very interesting with a lot of cool features.  But a major complaint would be no real selection of fonts, and no ability to upload fonts to the Nooks.  This is always disappointing to people who derived a great deal of pleasure from the typography.

The tablet Nook is the largest of the three, holds the most books, runs the longest without recharging, costs the most, orients both horizontally and vertically, which is helpful, and is able to display PDFs.  But it’s very heavy and the battery incredibly strong, by that we mean one can feel the electrical current. Quite scary really.

The tablet version becomes very prickly and hot if one holds it more than a minute. The other Nooks have the same problem, but to a lesser degree. Definitely, if we bought a Nook of any kind, it would have to come with a stand, because honestly no one wants to touch it for fear of getting burned, electrocuted, or developing an inability to use one’s hand because it continues to buzz with excited electric current long after the Nook is put down.

So, would we buy a Nook? Yes, if it were inexpensive enough, say under $100, but it would only be used for testing ePubs on. Nook is a good idea, it has huge potential, but it’s got a long way to go.  We will also say that compared to a Kindle, Nook seems like the better made, more user friendly product.  But if you’re going to the trouble of buying a Nook tablet, why not just buy an iPad?

Published in: on September 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Be inquisitive — visit Smashwords

If you are creating an eBook, no matter the format, and you don’t own an eReader, please please, please, talk to your friends that own them, or go to an electronics store, Apple Store, and Barnes & Noble.

Look at the tablets and eReaders. Ask people to show you how they work for reading a book.  You need to know what your readers will experience. You need to know how your books will look.

And since you’re curious, we’re going to send you over to Smashwords.  Smashwords is sort of like an aggregator for individuals and small publishers.  They will help you create and distribute your eBooks in all formats on all the major platforms, for a small percentage on each sale.

They have an excellent “how to” on creating ebooks, that’s a free download. Smashword’s Style Guide by Mark Coker   We are not telling you to use Smashwords, simply that many authors have, including some successful ones, and if you feel overwhelmed at this point,  working with Smashwords might be the perfect choice for you.

They walk you through every step, and in the end, all you really need to do is turn in a MS Word .doc and they do the rest. This is partly because, all you need to do with Amazon and B&N is put your .doc through a converter.

If you want to submit to Amazon or B&N PUBit yourself, getting your book into the right .doc format before you run it through the conversion process at those retailers’ sites, will be easier if you read the book by Smashwords owner Mark Coker.

Published in: on September 16, 2011 at 7:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
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