Monday, August 28, 2006

eBay textbook ban hurts homeschool teachers

Our friends over at WorldNetDaily are reporting that eBay has banned the sale of teacher's edition textbooks on their site. eBay claims it is a new policy meant to keep students from getting their hands on the answers to problem sets and tests.

Readers of my book The PayPal Wars realize that I'm often critical of eBay's management for being bureaucratic and out-of-touch. I think that's exactly what happened here. (And possibly some complaints from textbook publishers who would prefer to sell new books to homeschool teachers?) Regardless, it's a really bad move. eBay has gone from its original laissez faire approach of declaring itself "just a venue" to actively policing activity on its site -- beyond what even nosy government regulators could ask.

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Penguin going direct to consumers

Sorry for the lack of posts the past couple of weeks. Between work, a couple of short trips, and writing some updates for the paperback edition of my book, things have been hectic.

Here's an interesting item from Friday. Penguin is stepping up efforts to do direct sales to consumers with an NYC-targeted marketing campaign. Ignoring the effectiveness of handing out fans in front of Grand Central Station, this seems to reflect an effort by an industry giant to diversify away from the retail industry, which has high discounts, long payment cycles, and returns often in excess of 35% on hardcover books.

I'm not sure how much this will influence other publishers, since a lot of independent publishers have been selling directly to the public for years. This is not currently a component of World Ahead's strategy, though -- the World Ahead website refers visitors to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for purchases. Besides wanting to support our corporate buyers, we realize that direct sales are difficult and costly. Storage, fulfillment, and processing are costly, and website sales conversion is always a challenge for companies who don't specialize in retail.


Monday, August 14, 2006

The world's 10 most harmful books

While books can uplift us and convey powerful ideas, this recent article from Human Events is a reminder that they can also propagate evil. It's hard to disagree with the first (The Communist Manifesto) and second (Mein Kampf) books on the list. Number ten (Keynes's General Theory) is perhaps the most intriguing. While not as costly in terms of human life as the aforementioned titles, Keynes's economic theories have damaged economies worldwide and caused millions to die premature deaths in the process.

P.S. A hat tip to my Stanford mentor Arnold Beichman from the Hoover Institution for his participation in this panel.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bloggers catch NYT photo fraud

Chalk up another one for the New Media. Go here to read GatewayPundit's retelling of how the NYT published a photo essay with a Hezbollah "dead man walking."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More editorial bias in the trades (part 2)

The Book Standard is at it again. The BS headlined today's Retail Report with an article by Kimberly Maul entitled "The Scariest People In Prison? Republicans, Says Ex-Con Doper Author Tommy Chong." This headline comes from a single sentence in the interview, and it's a claim that the 60s stoner doesn't even bother to illustrate with an example. So obviously the only logical thing for The BS to do was to turn it into a lead headline.

P.S. From the sounds of it, I'd say that this hippie had purely capitalistic motivations for penning what's sure-to-be a critically hailed tome:

The BS: Was your goal for writing The I Chong to tell your side of the story of your arrest?
TC: I really had no goal. My goal, really, was to get a book. ...
The BS: Do you think you'll write another book?
TC: Oh, absolutely. I don't know what it will be yet; I'll wait until the muse tells me.


More editorial bias in the trades (part 1)

What's with Publishers Weekly's apparent fetish with Akashic Books? PW Daily's Felicia Pride writes up an infomercial about plans of the Brooklyn indie (whose motto is "reverse-gentrification of the literary world") to start a "street fiction imprint." According to Pride:

Akashic publisher Johnny Temple said the imprint will start slowly, eventually releasing two books a year.

So why does PW want to alert us all to an imprint whose goals is publishing two books a year about "street fiction." I don't suppose there was any sort of editorial bias in that story selection...


Monday, August 07, 2006

Terrorists, Please Cross Here

NewsMax ran an excerpt from Gilchrist and Corsi's Minutemen that discusses the terrorism risk associated with unguarded borders. This is especially timely given the current fighting in the Middle East -- evidently Hezbollah has found our lack of border security to be very useful.

Reuters caught with fake photos

James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" has a summary of the emerging scandal surrounding Reuters' use of doctored photos meant to exaggerate the damage caused by Israeli attacks on civilian areas in Lebanon. (He credits Charles Johnson for exposing this on his "Little Green Footballs" blog.) Taranto goes on to point out other examples of Old Media bias against the Israelis in covering the conflict.

Why would the Old Media be so ripe with anti-Israeli viewpoints? Amil Imani over at The American Thinker has an editorial entitled "Islam's Useful Idiots" that sheds some light on the broader theme of Islam and the Left.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Look behind you!

Another inane "Picture of the Day" from Publishers Weekly. Note the location. If Waldo really wanted to hide from PW, all he needs to do is head for the Holland Tunnel...

Waldo, of Where's Waldo? fame, has been popping up all over the country promoting his new picture book, The Great Picture Hunt (Candlewick). He's recently been spotted outside Good Morning America, the Today Show and in museums in California and Florida. Here, workers at the Children's Museum of Manhattan search for him unsuccessfully.

Al Gore's Penguin Army

The WSJ ran an article today discussing how a quasi-anonymous video on YouTube spoofing Algore's global warming movie might have been masterminded by a DC lobbying firm. The article said the video had 59,000 views, but as of now it's up to 67,280 (thanks no doubt to the Journal).

Worrying about the source misses the point. Algore and his fellow liberals (15-20% of the population) have had a disproportionate representation in the Old Media for decades now. But while he can get his views represented in a theatrical film, conservatives (35-40% of the population) now have mechanisms by which they can respond.

Watch the video

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

And a reminder to the Book Standard...

Speaking of liberal bias in publishing trade mags, there's still no word as to whether the Book Standard will investigate the motivation behind the iThenticate allegations against Ann Coulter that they published last month. (I'm sure it's coming any day now.)


Pics you won't see in Publishers Weekly

Hmm, I wonder why PW didn't choose one of these pictures as their "Photo of the Day"? They were even taken in Manhattan, so you'd think they'd be eligible.

Oh, that's right -- it was more critical to alert the world to Akashic, Truthdig, and Zuade...


Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, joins the New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement for a rally at 'ground zero' Wednesday, July 26, 2006, in New York.

Dr. Jerome Corsi, right, co-author of 'Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders', makes his way through pro-immigration protesters after a rally at ground zero Wednesday, July 26, 2006, in New York.

(Images copyright the Associated Press.)


Note to PW: Research confirms life outside NYC!

The editors at Publishers Weekly truly live in a world all their own. They refer to Regnery Publishing as a "niche" firm and make a point to never profile independent publishers -- unless they're left-wing, of course! Check out their "Picture of the Day" and caption:

Truthdig in Brooklyn

Johnny Temple (l.), publisher of Brooklyn indie publisher Akashic books, hosted a party at his Ft. Greene apartment for Zuade Kaufman, publisher and cofounder of the news and opinion website, and Truthdig cofounder and former L.A. Times columnist Robert Scheer (r.) and his new book Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton -- and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush, just out from Akashic.

Akashic Books is a left-wing indie whose motto is "reverse-gentrification of the literary world." (Anyone want to explain exactly what that means?) And Zuade Kaufman and Robert Scheer's website prides itself on "challeng[ing] conventional wisdom" by publishing articles such as "An Atheist Manifesto" that recite left-wing conventional wisdom.

Thank you, Publishers Weekly. I'm so grateful that you made us all aware of these important pillars of the liberal literary community.

Between PW, the Book Standard, and Kirkus, it's no wonder that right-of-center publishers have to depend on the New Media to get the word out about their books.


Andy Card says media harmed security

Former W.H. chief of staff Card slaps the NYT in this interview with Ron Kessler. It should be pointed out that nowhere in the article is he calling for censorship -- he's just making the point that certain media entities have been irresponsible in their decisions to publicize sensitive information about how the U.S. is fighting the War on Terror.