Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Arbitrage in Createspace Sales

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon that is happening with POD books. Now that fact that I was in a position to notice this particular practice is an artifact of a failure. I wrote an odd quirky book that didn’t have a really good commercial hook. Then when I launched it and I let other life stuff get in the way and it launched with almost zero effective publicity. (Copping with Autism mean that I have plenty of experiences with doing things fairly clumsily the first time I try them. I’ll get this writing+selling books things down; it just may take me a couple more tries.) So the total number of sales of POD print edition is:

And I know who has both of those.

But then I noticed this on amazon:

I’m pretty sure most of these retailers don’t actually have a copy of An Arrow of Atossa on hand.  So here is what I think is happening.  I signed up An Arrow of Atossa for extended distribution, which means that books stores, or people with book store account on service such as Ingram or NACSCORD can by the book at a significantly reduced price, that is partially made possible by my taking a reduced royalty on these books. This is done so h brick-and-mortar stores can offer the book at the same retail price on it is available online and still cover their overhead. I think the re-sellers advertising on Amazon are bookstores that manage to contain their overhead so they can use their wholesaler discount to undercut the price. The thing is, one of the ways they are probably containing overhead is by not actually ordering any copies from Createspace until someone buys a copy from them. This means I’m not getting much greater visibility or availability because these retailers are carrying the title.

I initially saw the smaller royalty for sales through bookstores as a trade-off for better visibility and the faint possibility that if I got this marketing thing done properly, someday a bookstore might stock my book. And if the visibility then I wouldn’t get sales through that channel and lower royalty rate would be a dead letter. Now it looks like those lower royalty sales would mainly be siphoned off from my amazon sales. Now with the poor sales showing I’ve made with this book it probably doesn’t matter that much. But I’ll still probably be pulling the book from extended distribution.

The thing that is really interesting here is that this is another potential problem of brick-and-mortar bookstores, and while small, the current business model is already struggling. If other low selling authors also decide that extended distribution isn’t worth the loss in full royalty sales, then even if an indie book store wanted to shelf  oddball titles,  there would be and smaller selection that they could afford. This might mean brick-and-mortar stores forced more into the box of limited selections and mass audience only. Another interesting factory in the ever changing world of publishing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Enjoying being Cared For

This last week end my husband took me to get shoes. He just said I should go put on shoes and some real pants because he wanted to go shopping with me. As we went out the door I asked where we were going and he said to get shoes.
             Now I had some options. I could have asked where we were going before getting ready. I could have said I wasn’t sure we really had the money to get anything. I could have questioned the need for shoes or brought up other priorities. I could have sked what store we were going to if that would really be the best place to buy. But I didn’t. I didn’t try to manage the situation. I didn’t assume I needed be in charge and check that everything was being taken care of. I didn’t automatically take responsibility for all the decisions.
                My husband took me down to the mall to a store I’d never been in before that was having a sale on good quality athletic shoes. Shoes had been on my list of things that I needed to find the money for. And last time I had been shopping for shoes I had looked at getting walking/jogging shoes. But I had gotten intimidated by trying to figure out which type of shoes I actually needed and how to figure out if I was getting quality that was worth the money. So I had ended up getting a type of comfy work shoe I had gotten before.
                My husband had noticed that my shoes were looking a little worn. He had figured out how we could fit new shoes into the budget. He was confident and acted knowledgable about types of soles and types of shoes. As we looked at shoes for me he showed an awareness that color would influence how broad an array of circumstance I could wear the shoes in.
                I got a nice looking, comfy new pair of athletic shoes. I got to feel comfortable that I had decent shoes at a fair price. I didn’t have to use up any spoons deciding if this was the best possible next purchase. I didn’t have to stress out planning the trip. I got to relax in that fact that my husband had his own way of viewing the budget that worked as long as didn’t pull everything sideways by superimposing my own paradigm and priorities. My husband offered me his planning skills, his knowledge, his executive function. I could joy enjoy being cared for while he lifted the burden off my shoulders.
                The thing I noticed was that I needed to be willing before I could benefit from this care. Even if he had done all the same things for me, he couldn’t have taken the stress off of me like he did if I had insisted in knowing all the details and approving each step before moving forward.  If I had tried to question and understand and check out all his knowledge of tennis shoes I would have ended up less confident, because I would in the end be relying on my much inferior knowledge of shoes rather than his. If I had been focused on being responsible for myself, I couldn’t have enjoyed that sense of being provided for and looked out for, that certainty of being cared for. And I did enjoy it.

Thank you, Baby, for taking care of me.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Death Race 2015

The evil characters in the movie Death Race 2000 were organizing the cross country trek where many people would die for entertainment. They watched for the fun of cheering on their favorites. Today in 2015 we don’t even bother to watch. America and Europe pat themselves on the back about how popular our death race is and get all worked up about how we should give out better prizes.
People are taking themselves and their children on a variety of long journeys. It may involve trekking through deserts with just the water you can carry. It may involve crossing seas in leaky boats, it may involve involvement with criminal organizations. It may involve crawling under barbed wire fences. It may involve violence between you and your fellow travelers for the best chance of winning the prize. It is the journey to reach America or various European countries without a visa and the prize is being allowed to stay and given various benefits as an applicant for “refugee” status.
I can understand an individual being overwhelmed by the crisis and deciding to just help the person in front of them right now. But what I find morally inexcusable is to advocate that governments, whose job it is to make these big policy decisions, should make a practice of encouraging this gauntlet by making a premeditated decision to give out more and bigger prizes to those who win the death race. The responsible thing to advocate for is that those you think should be allowed to emigrate be given visas in the countries they are currently in, so that they can arrange ordinary commercial transportation at their leisure. To instead require that they “prove” they really want to come by risking life and limb is sadistic and evil. To require them to abase themselves, throwing away honor and respectability, and openly grovel by presenting themselves as helpless and desperate is frankly sick.
It does seem to me that letting in everyone who would like to come is not even close to practical, so some sort of selectivity is required. But the worst possible way select imigrantes is to require them to ignore your stated laws and suffer through at dangerous and degrading journey so they can beg for your mercy on your home turf.
It may be more soothing to our consciences to ignore that fact that we are being selective. It’s easy to say well the ones who made it here are the ones I can see and I’ll lobby for helping them while ignoring those you can’t see. But you are setting up incentives, and you are encouraging expectations, and you are being selective. You are just being selective for those willing to break laws, lie, and put themselves and their children in an abusive situation in order to win your favor. This is not the right policy for governments to pursue and it is wrong for Americans and Europeans to ask them to do so.