Monday, July 30, 2007

Rich kids don't stay rich

Robert Frank at the WSJ writes in a fascinating post today that the children of wealthy families often end up squandering their inheritances:

What if growing up rich actually has disadvantages?... Eventually, I argue, their money will run out. And much of the inherited wealth in America will flow back to people who actually earn it — as it has throughout history. This is what makes wealth in America dynamic, rather than dynastic.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Bestselling "Late Great USA" back in stock

As announced last week, the July 29th NYT Bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction includes Jerome Corsi's controversial new book, The Late Great USA. I'm certain it won't be on next week's bestseller list, though, because it has been completely sold out, which means consumers had no copies to buy last week.

Fortunately, that's just changed. The second printing has shipped, so the book is once again in-stock for purchase at Amazon and B&, and more copies are on their way to bookstores. We've initiated a third printing, but supplies are still tight so I'd advise anyone interested in picking up a copy to either order it online now or to make a special request at their local bookstore.

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Political bias in PW book reviews under fire

David Harsanyi, the author of a new book called Nanny State, criticizes the left-wing bias displayed in Publisher Weekly's book reviews. He catalogues a number of examples of PW bashing conservative bestsellers, and notes that Tammy Bruce also pointed out this trend a couple of years ago. (Thanks to Michelle Malkin for linking to David's post and therefore bringing it to my attention.)

Readers of this blog know that I've called out instances of bias several times before (e.g. here, here, here and here), and in my view Kirkus and the Book Standard have displayed a similar tendency in their reviews.

Before going any further, I'll add that I don't have an axe to grind with the trade pubs. In fact, PW has been reasonably fair to World Ahead. They ran a balanced article when we announced our WND Books deal last fall, and their recent review of Ike's Final Battle (available on the book's Amazon listing) was positive -- albeit the book isn't written with a political point-of-view. Hence I don't believe that PW is out to "get" World Ahead over our company's right-of-center focus. But nonetheless the fact still stands that their reviews are routinely negative for conservative titles and positive for liberal ones.

This persistent bias is a disservice to the publishing industry and consumers. While journals like National Review or Mother Jones can be expected to review books from an ideological viewpoint, the trade pubs would do better to focus on the quality of a book's writing and design. And while non-fiction reviews ought to comment on how effectively an author makes his or her point, the reviewer's agreement with that point shouldn't be that important. Whether or not you agree with a point is often determined by how you see the world, so if a liberal reviewer doesn't become a free marketeer after reading John Stossel it doesn't mean his book was poor.

Let's hope that the pubs acknowledge this problem and try to address it, perhaps by giving their reviewers instructions to leave personal politics out of the equation.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

FCC chair: Fairness Doctrine 2.0 not needed

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, noting: "...with the continued proliferation of additional sources of information and programming, including satellite broadcasting and the Internet, the need for the Fairness Doctrine has lessened even further since 1987," when the FCC stopped enforcing the rule.

A number of Senate Democrats -- including John Kerry, Dick Durbin, Hillary Clinton, Babara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein -- called for the rule's return following talk radio's vocal opposition to the recently defeated amnesty bill. Republican Trent Lott also echoed those sentiments before making a muddled retreat.

As I previously noted, it's curious that none of these august legislators called for government regulation of content on TV or in newspapers, both of which favor Democrats. Fortunately Martin has a made a sound, nonpartisan decision to reject federal oversight of a specific medium and instead stand up for freedom of the press.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Book alleges Flight 93 Memorial designs resemble a mosque

A forthcoming book from World Ahead entitled Crescent of Betrayal: Dishonoring the Heroes of Flight 93 by blogger Alec Rawls makes the startling claim that the plans approved by the commission overseeing the memorial project amount to a giant, outdoor mosque. As WND notes in an article today:
The primary feature, [Rawls] says, is the giant central crescent of what originally was called the "Crescent of Embrace" design. A person facing into this half-mile wide crescent – still present in the superficially altered "Bowl of Embrace" redesign – will be oriented almost exactly at Mecca.

That is significant, Rawls said, because a crescent that Muslims face to point them in the direction of Mecca – called a "mihrab" – is the central feature around which every mosque is built.

Judi McLeod at CanadaFreePress succinctly summarizes Rawls's assertion that Islamic symbolism is utilized throughout other elements of the memorial, including a minaret tower, a sun dial, and 44 commemorative glass blocks placed along the flight path -- for a plane that had 40 passengers and crew members, plus 4 hijackers. Taken together, Rawls asserts, these elements suggest the planned memorial would amount to a mosque "built on an epic scale."

McLeod then juxtaposes this alleged use of Islamic symbolism with the steadfast Christian faith displayed by Todd Beamer on that tragic day. McLeod writes:
“After passengers were herded to the back of the jet, Beamer called the GTE Customer Center in Oakbrook, Illinois. He told supervisor Lisa Jefferson about the hijacking. The passengers were planning to jump the terrorists, he said.”

And then, Beamer, who spent his days on earth as an evangelical believer, asked Jefferson to pray with him.

Beamer, who kept the faith even in the horror of Flight 93, will, along with his fellow passengers and crew, be commemorated with what Rawls calls an “outdoor mosque”.
As McLeod implies, a memorial that relies so heavily on Islamic symbolism that it might even be called a mosque is not a fitting tribute for the brave men and women who perished on that flight. Let's hope that the project's commission reaches the same conclusion and orders a change in the memorial's design.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

No wonder they call him "Silky Pony"

In the spirit of YouTube's co-sponsorship of last night's Democratic debate -- which included a snow man inquiring about global warming -- here's a clip of populist candidate John Edwards getting ready for the camera.

Also, speaking of YouTube, Politico has a piece on the politics of YouTube's founders, both of whom are my fellow PayPal alumni.

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Authors in your office

The SF Chronicle reports that companies offering "enriched lifestyle" perks (such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Google) have begun to host authors for speaking and book-selling events. This is an interesting manifestation of the long tail phenomenon.

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8.3 million Potters moved in first 24 hours

According to the WSJ, Scholastic estimates U.S. sales of the final installment of Harry Potter to be 8.3 million copies during its first 24 hours. Borders reports first-day sales of 1.2 million copies (compared to 850K of the previous book), and Amazon says it has now shipped 1.3 million copies of the 2.2 million pre-orders that it received.

As I've noted before, I'm not a Potter fan, but I do hope the extra foot traffic provides a boost to book retailers. My local Barnes & Noble was busier than usual this past Saturday evening, which was nearly a day after the book's embargo ended.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

"Late Great USA" lands on NYT Bestseller list

World Ahead's "WND Books" imprint, our partnership with WorldNetDaily, has just landed a book on an upcoming New York Times bestseller list.

Jerome Corsi's new release, The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada, will debut on the July 29 edition of the list. Dr. Corsi is no stranger to bestsellers, of course; he co-authored Unfit for Command.

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Political books making news

There's some publishing news that has nothing to do with Harry Potter...

Nancy Pelosi is writing a memoir for Doubleday that will be released next year. The book is still untitled, and the deal will need to be approved by the House Ethics Committee* before the speaker can sign it. House members are allowed to be paid royalties for book deals, but not to collect an advance. (*That committee must have a major back log of work given the majority party's ethical issues.)

Meanwhile, Rowan Scarborough's new book Sabotage asserts that the monitoring of Internet cafes in Iraq lead to the successful killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I wonder to what extent this will influence the privacy vs. security debate since it highlights both the risks and rewards of these kinds of programs.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter embargo broken

Scholastic is upset with online retailer for shipping copies of the final Harry Potter book to consumers that arrived before the Saturday pub date. Spoilers to the much anticipated book are already floating around the Web. Yesterday, the Baltimore Sun published an early book review based on an early copy obtained by one of its staffers.

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Hillary's judgment called into question

Thomas Kuiper, author of I've Always Been a Yankees Fan: Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words, has a new editorial in Human Events in which he asks if the so-called "smartest woman in the world" has what it takes to be president. Judging from Hillary's own statements and track record, Kuiper makes a good argument that she does not. For example, Kuiper notes a statement that Whitewater lawyer Mark Fabiani made to Bernstein that "...several members of the Whitewater legal team came to believe that Hillary’s 'instincts are horrible in terms of politics, in terms of managing a crisis like this…We had a joke that all we had to do was ask her, What would you do? And then do the opposite…'" You can read the rest of Kuiper's editorial here.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ask President Bush a question

WorldNetDaily, our partners on the WND Books imprint, are soliciting questions to President Bush that will be considered for a future White House briefing.

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Wash Times covers "Late Great USA;" first printing sold out

Today's edition of the Washington Times has an article on Jerome Corsi's new bestseller, The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada. Bush Administration has now officially waded into the debate, with Commerce Dept. spokesman Richard Mills attacking Corsi's comparisons to the stealth process that brought about the European Union.

The 1st printing of this book is now officially sold out and we have commissioned 2nd and 3rd printings. Borders should have a few copies left in its stores, but other retailers currently have a very limited supply. The Amazon listing is incorrectly showing a 4-6 week delay, however the B& listing is showing a more accurate availability date of July 28.

If you order from either online retailer, they should be receiving more inventory toward the end of next week. If you want to purchase it from a bookstore, my advice is to phone your local store and specifically ask them to reserve a copy for you.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No "glorious summer" in sight for the right

The conservative winter of discontent is showing up in polls of Republican voters. As I've noted before, Americans still favor Reagan's message of limited government but many elected GOP officials have forgotten this vision, which cleared the way for massive Republican losses in the 2006 midterm elections.

Now there's a new poll from the AP-Ipsos indicates that "none of the above" is the leading choice for president, coming in around 23%, ahead of both Rudy Giuliani* (21%), unannounced Fred Thompson (19%), and John McCain (15%). The poll suggests that none of the GOP candidates are fairing well among evangelicals, a problem that the party needs to be very aware of since poor evangelical turnout nearly cost George W. Bush the election in 2000. The article also noted that "Democrat" candidates have out-raised their GOP counterparts by $80 million to $50 million during the second quarter.

* If Rudy wins the nomination, does that make him the GOP's "sun of (New) York?"


Monday, July 16, 2007

My ABC News interview on Kids Ahead

I recently visited ABC's Los Angeles studios to discuss Kids Ahead, our imprint for children's books. It's a video essay, so instead of a traditional Q&A format, they recorded me talking for long periods of time and then stitched the quotes together with illustrations from several of the Help Mom books.

The Ted Kennedy voice over they added is brilliant. But I could live without the background music...

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Black and white but not read all over

Newspapers are an insignificant source of news for young Americans, according to a new report. Some of the highlights include:

The findings showed that while 35% of "older adults," those 31 and older, read a newspaper everyday, just 16% of "young adults," who were between 18 and 30, did so...

The Internet, however, did not seem to be stealing most youngsters from print, with just 32% of teens saying they went to the Web to "seek out news," compared to 46% of young adults and some 55% of older adults...

Television was the majority first source across all ages, with 62% of older adults citing it, 47% of young adults, and 41% of teens.

Finally, let me call attention to this statistic from the story: "Interestingly, after television, most teens, 28%, said they had first heard about a major story from another person." Given the importance that blogs, text messaging, and social networking now plays (especially for Gen Y and today's high schoolers), this finding doesn't surprise me at all.

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The North American Union (NAU) debate is heating up on both the left and the right. published an interview with Jerome Corsi regarding his new book, The Late Great USA. Alan Caruba from Enter Stage Right also discusses Corsi's NAU hypothesis in his latest column. And Marcela Sanchez from the Washington Post takes aim at Lou Dobbs and other "merchants of fear" for their concerns on the matter.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Farah to discuss U.S. sharia threat with Hannity

WND founder Joseph Farah, author of our book Stop the Presses!: The Inside Story of the New Media Revolution, will appear on "Hannity & Colmes" tonight to discuss western Muslims who call for Islamic rule of the U.S.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

North American Union efforts getting scrutiny

NewsMax is the latest outlet to cover the criticism surrounding the prospect of a North American Union (NAU). As Jerome R. Corsi documents in his new release from WND Books, The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada, the concern stems from something called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), an informal agreement struck in 2005 by President Bush and his then-counterparts from our neighbor nations, Vicente Fox and Paul Martin. According to NewsMax, measures of the SPP were included by Congress in the recently defeated immigration reform act. Corsi described the SPP as a harbinger of a bureaucracy-centric NAU:

"It is an attempt to turn North America into something like the European Economic Community," he says, "which began with economic cooperation and expanded eventually to include a common market, and then a full-scale regional government replacing, in many ways, the governing powers of the member nations."
While some commentators like Michael Medved have been quick to dismiss Corsi, the NAU issue is gaining momentum. Corsi's book is currently the #1 selling non-fiction book on and ranked #16 overall. It is also in the top 75 bestsellers on B&, as well.

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Audio book pioneer MediaBay shuts down

PW reports that MediaBay is ceasing operations and liquidating its assets. The company's audio book club, which it offered via mail, was a leader in the audio book market until the firm decided to go digital-only in 2004. Revenue subsequently dried up and it was unable to gain traction as market leader Audible took off.

MediaBay's decision to move from direct mail to online-only seems to be a key factor in its demise. Revenue fell from $45 million in 2002 to $9 million in 2005. (Audible, by contrast, had a top line of $82 million last year, according to PW.) MediaBay was probably a couple years ahead of its time -- and the iPod boom -- with its decision to abandon snail mail. But fierce competition from Audible surely played a well, as well.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Best wishes for a joyous Independence Day. I will return next week.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Netflix for books

PW reports that at least two companies are trying to copy the Netflix business model for books -- i.e. "loaner" books are mailed directly to you to read and return when finished in exchange for a monthly subscription. Booksfree has been around since 2000 and has 96,000 titles in its library. Last month it claims to have mailed out some 40,000 packages to its subscribers. BookSwim is a younger company and only has a few hundred subscribers at this point, but unlike Booksfree it does carry hardcovers in its library.

This is an interesting business model, and it sounds like Booksfree has perhaps found a viable niche for itself. But I suspect the market will prove too small for multiple players. Shipping costs (especially for hardcovers) would seem to be a significant obstacle, and there isn't likely to be much economies of scale as a company's subscribers and library grow. Also, with direct-to-consumer retailers like Amazon keeping consumers' costs down through free shipping promotions and heavy discounting (e.g. see this regarding Harry Potter), the demand for a rent-and-return service will face pressure a lot of pressure. Finally, to the extent that e-books are finally beginning to gain traction, they will also mitigate the need for this kind of service.

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