Saturday, April 5, 2008

Animated Map of Religion's Growth in the World

Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds?

Friday, April 4, 2008

On-Demand Publishing Power Grab
I just received this from The Author's Guild: Last week Amazon announced that it would be requiring that all books that it sells that are produced through on-demand means be printed by BookSurge, their in-house on-demand printer/publisher. Amazon pitched this as a customer service matter, a means for more speedily delivering print-on-demand books and allowing for the bundling of shipments with other items purchased at the same time from Amazon. It also put a bit of an environmental spin on the move — claiming less transportation fuel is used (this is unlikely, but that's another story) when all items are shipped directly from Amazon.

We, and many others, think something else is afoot. Ingram Industries' Lightning Source is currently the dominant printer for on-demand titles, and they appear to be quite efficient at their task. They ship on-demand titles shortly after they are ordered through Amazon directly to the customer. It's a nice business for Ingram, since they get a percentage of the sales and a printing fee for every on-demand book they ship. Amazon would be foolish not to covet that business. What's the rub? Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the "long tail" of publishing — the enormous number of titles that sell in low volumes but which, in aggregate, make a lot of money for the aggregator. Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it's uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount — or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books — to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.

We suspect this maneuver by Amazon is far more about profit margin than it is about customer service or fossil fuels. The potential big losers (other than Ingram) if Amazon does impose greater discounts on the industry, are authors — since many are paid for on-demand sales based on the publisher's gross revenues — and publishers. We're reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications of Amazon's bold move. If you have any information on this matter that you think could be helpful to us, please call us at (212) 563-5904 and ask for the legal services department, or send an e-mail to

5 questions to ask yourself to find
your latent talents and interests

As the soul takes over your personality, your interests are likely to change, as well as your values, motivations, and actions. You may also find new talents emerging from within, things you may not have suspected you knew how to do.

1. What interests and activities have I been doing, in one form or another, since I was a small child? How might these evolve to the next level?

2. What interests and activities engage me so thoroughly that I lose track of time? How can I integrate more of these into my work? And what other things, that I normally gloss over, could become abiding interests if I gave them the same kind of attention?

3. How much of what I do during any given week focuses primarily on my senses? Make a list of your activities that involve sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Then add at least ten more possible ways to experience each sense. Try doing some of them and see what new ideas they generate.

4. What are my main activities, talents, skills, and interests? If I combined two or more of these at the same time, what might that look like? What new experience might be generated? What activities would provide me with an experience where I can use multiple parts of myself at once?

5. What five new things would I like to study? What five new places would I like visit? What five new books would I like to read? What five new experiences would I like to have? What five new kinds of people would I like to meet? What five new creative projects would I like to undertake? What five new habits in myself would I like to develop?

This material is copyrighted by Penney Peirce, from The Intuitive Way, second edition