Archive for October 26, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #357: Halt

October 26, 2008

Nouriel Roubini: I fear the worst is yet to come

What does Roubini think is going to happen next? Rather worryingly, in London last Thursday he predicted that hundreds of hedge funds will go bust and stock markets may soon have to shut – perhaps for as long as a week – in order to stem the panic selling now sweeping the world.

Emphasis added by me.

But it was a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2006 that earned him his nickname Dr Doom.

Roubini told an audience of fellow economists that a generational crisis was coming. A once-in-a-lifetime housing bust would lay waste to the US economy as oil prices soared, consumers stopped shopping and the country went into a deep recession.

The collapse of the mortgage market would trigger a global meltdown, as trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unravelled. The shockwaves would destroy banks and other big financial institutions such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America’s largest home loan lenders.

“I think perhaps we will need a stiff drink after that,” the moderator said. Members of the audience laughed.

Emphasis added by me.

My January 1, 2008 post:

jor-el.jpg

He was laughed at too!

eBooks: The Issue Of Covers, Again

October 26, 2008

I really wasn’t intending to link to Zoe Winters’ post in which she mentioned covers. Because her mention was in passing and not the central subject.

Now it’s all blown up in my face here because of this article: When selling books means getting the right look

It is worth reading a comment on Shipley’s blog from Emma Barnes, the managing director of independent publisher Snowbooks. She explained why she’s gone for a lighthearted “garden parties and designer clothes” approach for Sue Hepworth’s Zuzu’s Petals, despite this not really fitting with the tone of the book.

Her first attempt didn’t work. The bookshops were absolutely uninterested in ordering stock, and she got just 19 orders after six months of trying to sell it in. “So at the very last minute, I redesigned the cover, and it was promptly selected for three-for-two or front-of-store promotion in two major retailers. We’ve sold several thousand copies so far,” Barnes writes.

“A publisher’s role is to get our authors’ writing in front of readers,” she says. “Cover design is one of the main ways to do that. By designing this cover, I’ve done my job by ensuring that several thousand people have the chance to read, assess and hopefully enjoy Sue’s writing, compared to 19 people – and Snowbooks has stayed in business to bring even more writing to readers.”

Emphasis added by me.

OK, now let me get to Zoe’s comment in passing, in a post that is actually about retaining eBook rights and possible publication for the abominable Kindle:

One problem might be covers. I can see a publisher being unwilling to let an author use the cover for his/her own book to upload their own electronic file version of the book into Kindle because that’s taking potential money out of their pocket. They’re going to want to be able to maintain electronic rights especially for something as hands off and basically “free money” as the Kindle edition. So if that’s the case, one might have to worry about an ebook version cover. Still, it’s not prohibitively expensive to have an ebook cover designed that is in keeping with the original theme of the original cover but not the original cover and not infringing on the original cover copyright.

I’m not sure how much covers matter on a kindle. Maybe they matter a lot, but I’m not really sure if that’s the case or not.

Emphasis added by me.

I left a Comment, but because it had a few links, it’s probably wallowing in her Akismet spamtrap.

Basically, I pointed her to this post, this post, and this post here at this blog.

I also made the point that the cover is what people will see first when they look at an eBook’s Internet listing. That’s the first impression they’ll have.

A cover will attract or repel potential readers.

Look at this infamous one:

Would you ever think anything other than gay erotica?

Now look at this one for the same book:

That’s pretty unambiguous, isn’t it? (Still rather misleading, however; it makes it seem like a thriller potboiler; it’s really one of the first — if not the first — alternate history novels: “What if America had lost World War II?”)

So, yes, covers do matter. They can make or break a sale.

If you still disbelieve me, here are two different covers with the same “story” underneath:

Which one screams “superhero” to you as a potential car customer? (Underneath both wrappings is the same car!)

Clicky Clicky Leads To New Book

October 26, 2008

I won’t describe the breadcrumb trail. It happens to us all.

In my case it led to a book with a intriguing title. A print book also offered as an eBook. An eBook listing that doesn’t yet exist (because the print book won’t be released until November 4). But the author wrote a book I read within the last year.

And because I liked that book, now I want to read his new one:

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford

Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist.

The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new life into a holiday that had fallen into disfavor, undermined by lingering Puritanism and the cold modernity of the Industrial Revolution. It was a harsh and dreary age, in desperate need of spiritual renewal, ready to embrace a book that ended with blessings for one and all.

OK, how can any writer not want to read that?

(For those who have already read biographies of Dickens: Shut up. In my Infinite Backlog.)

An interesting note regarding the eBook: No ePub version! (And, um, Random, update that blurb about the Sony Reader.)

The previous book I read was:

Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America, in which I learned that capitalist icon Andrew Carnegie launched his fortune with insider trading. So much for the Horatio Alger myth of pluck and luck, strive and succeed!

Additional:

Writer Les Standiford’s website

R.I.P. Scarlett The Cat

October 26, 2008

Scarlett, the cat that saved kittens from 1996 Brooklyn fire, dies

Scarlett the cat, a calico hero who drew worldwide acclaim after rescuing her five kittens from a 1996 Brooklyn fire, has passed away.

Free eBook: Casting the Runes

October 26, 2008

Casting the Runes by M.R. James

A gift from us this week before Halloween, the story that Olivia Laing recently called, “Scariest story ever, so horrifying that to this day I can’t keep it in my house”[.]

It’s a PDF file available at that post.

— via Twitter from Hello Kitty terrorist KatMeyer (who now also owns a Triffid, so you better Follow her — at a distance)

Book Tours 1.0: Endangered Species

October 26, 2008

Writer Tess Gerritsen:

How book tours have changed over the years

But even as my sales were growing, the tours themselves were getting less bang for the effort.

The media was harder to get. Even if I had some cool new nonfiction hook (corpses who wake up in morgues in VANISH. Or the how-to of shrinking human heads in THE KEEPSAKE) the TV and radio spots weren’t there as they used to be. I’m not the only novelist who faces this dwindling of interest; it seems to be a problem for all of us. The publisher pays to fly you into a new town, puts you up in a hotel, all to speak at a bookstore where you end up selling maybe thirty hardcovers. Without any TV or radio or print coverage, does that make economic sense?

Emphasis added by me.

No. It doesn’t.

That’s why I see Blog Book Tours as one wave of the future.

Another wave is Mini Book Expo for Bloggers.

The third wave is How Our Future Does Things.

And the fourth: eBook Signings: The Postcard Solution?

As the reading world moves towards eBooks, a shift in the culture will happen too.

eBooks = Internet. Thus the Internet should become the primary pipeline and meeting place for eBook readers.

With no physical copies to sell — except maybe some POD done for the leftovers and retrogrades — an author having to be physically present somewhere becomes pointless.

And economically nonsensical.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #356: Resentment

October 26, 2008

U.S. has plundered world wealth with dollar: China paper

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States has plundered global wealth by exploiting the dollar’s dominance, and the world urgently needs other currencies to take its place, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Friday.

The front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily said that Asian and European countries should banish the U.S. dollar from their direct trade relations for a start, relying only on their own currencies.

A meeting between Asian and European leaders, starting on Friday in Beijing, presented the perfect opportunity to begin building a new international financial order, the newspaper said.

The People’s Daily is the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party. The Chinese-language overseas edition is a small circulation offshoot of the main paper.

Its pronouncements do not necessarily directly voice leadership views. But the commentary, as well as recent comments, amount to a growing chorus of Chinese disdain for Washington’s economic policies and global financial dominance in the wake of the credit crisis.

Emphasis added by me.

I’d be fearful of this China threat, except they’ve got a land of nothing but goons, thugs, and cheats.

They can’t do milk properly without poisoning tens of thousands of people in their own country and setting off a worldwide panic recall of food that contains their poisonous milk as well as poisons in other products.

Here’s a clue for you, China; The Dollar remains strong and the last-ditch currency of the entire world because we have a reputation unlike yours.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #355: EastBloc

October 26, 2008

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard with:

Europe on the brink of currency crisis meltdown

The financial crisis spreading like wildfire across the former Soviet bloc threatens to set off a second and more dangerous banking crisis in Western Europe, tipping the whole Continent into a fully-fledged economic slump.

Currency pegs are being tested to destruction on the fringes of Europe’s monetary union in a traumatic upheaval that recalls the collapse of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992.

“This is the biggest currency crisis the world has ever seen,” said Neil Mellor, a strategist at Bank of New York Mellon.

Emphasis added by me.

Ah, new Doom!

The latest data from the Bank for International Settlements shows that Western European banks hold almost all the exposure to the emerging market bubble, now busting with spectacular effect.

They account for three-quarters of the total $4.7 trillion £2.96 trillion) in cross-border bank loans to Eastern Europe, Latin America and emerging Asia extended during the global credit boom – a sum that vastly exceeds the scale of both the US sub-prime and Alt-A debacles.

Europe has already had its first foretaste of what this may mean. Iceland’s demise has left them nursing likely losses of $74bn (£47bn). The Germans have lost $22bn.

Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, says the emerging market crash is a vastly underestimated risk. It threatens to become “the second epicentre of the global financial crisis”, this time unfolding in Europe rather than America.

Emphasis added by me.

After all this time of living under the shadow of European accusations of “American greed,” it turns out they’ve been piggy little bastards on their own too:

Austria’s bank exposure to emerging markets is equal to 85pc of GDP – with a heavy concentration in Hungary, Ukraine, and Serbia – all now queuing up (with Belarus) for rescue packages from the International Monetary Fund.

Exposure is 50pc of GDP for Switzerland, 25pc for Sweden, 24pc for the UK, and 23pc for Spain. The US figure is just 4pc. America is the staid old lady in this drama.

Amazingly, Spanish banks alone have lent $316bn to Latin America, almost twice the lending by all US banks combined ($172bn) to what was once the US backyard. Hence the growing doubts about the health of Spain’s financial system – already under stress from its own property crash – as Argentina spirals towards another default, and Brazil’s currency, bonds and stocks all go into freefall.

Emphasis added by me.

“The system is paralysed, and it is starting to look like Black Wednesday in 1992. I’m afraid this is going to have a very deflationary effect on the economy of Western Europe. It is almost guaranteed that euroland money supply is about to implode,” he said.

Emphasis added by me.

Could it be there might be a window of opportunity for me to go to Europe with an American Dollar that’s actually worth something over there?

Quote: Frank Rich On This Election

October 26, 2008

In Defense of White Americans

The first, and easy one, is that Republican leaders have no idea what “real America” is.

Direct Publishing With POD

October 26, 2008

6 Ways Authors Can Succeed by Self-Publishing Books

When most authors write a book, they go the traditional route: pitch it to publishers, wait months for a reply, shop it around, wait some more, go through rewrite, and wait some more… But when blogger Sramana Mitra partnered with Amazon’s BookSurge to self-publish her new book, she was taking a different route.

For a book about web technology and online business, she found self-publishing to be the way to go.

This is about non-fiction using POD.

— via Twitter from top_book