Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The universe is holding its breath

I am in a very calm and relaxed space tonight, after a very busy and very exciting day.

I have got into the practise this week of carrying my mobile phone in my pocket at work. I know that this is not ideal, but everyone else does it, and when I explained to my Assistant Manager what was going on with regard to the book, and how I was trying to capitalise on the crystal skull resurgence, he actually suggested that I do this. Am I glad that I did, for this morning I had a phone call from the same journalist who helped to kick start sales of the Yoof Shakespeare book - To Be or Not to be Innit by Martin Baum, which is now Richard's best selling work.

That may though be about to change, as after a very interesting 10 minute conversation where Ed asked me all about the book, all about crystal skulls, and all about the market I am trying to reach, he said that he would do his best to try and get some of the national papers interested.

He cannot of course promise, and I realise that it may take a little time, but I really feel now that the time is right, and I am ready for this. I can feel and I can sense that change is about to happen, and that that change, when it comes, will be very much for the better.

So tonight, for maybe not the first time, I am holding my breath in anticipation of what might be. It feels as if the universe is holding its breath with me too.

Booklocker files class action lawsuit against

As I mentioned last night,, the print on demand company that started the whole Amazon thing off by bringing it to the awareness of others within the industry, has filed a class A suit against Amazon. The following article is re-printed with permission and in its entirety from the Booklocker website.

" has filed a class action lawsuit against in response to Amazon’s recent attempts to force all publishers using Print on Demand (POD) technology to pay Amazon to print their books. You can read the complaint here.

Amazon began their clandestine effort earlier this year by phone (nobody there seemed to want to put anything in writing), approaching POD publishers, and telling them they must pay Amazon to print their books or their active “buy” buttons would be turned off at the website. What this means is Amazon customers won’t be able to purchase those books directly from (and would not qualify for free shipping), but only through third-party resellers on the site.

Under the Amazon/BookSurge contract, Amazon:

* Controls the printing price of the POD books - The prices can change at anytime, at Amazon’s discretion, with 30 days notice.

* Controls the retail price of the POD books across the board - Publishers would not be able to sell their books for a lower price through “any other channel” (including other bookstores), and would not even be able to sell their books for less to their own customers under any circumstances.

* Controls the wholesale price of the POD books - Amazon’s new contract demands a 48%-52% discount (different contracts have been sent to different publishers). Many small, independent publishers can’t afford to offer this discount to bookstores and would be forced to raise their book prices, which will ultimately hurt book buyers.

* Controls the digital setup and scanning fees for each POD title - After the initial dump of current books, publishers would be charged approximately $50 per title (again, different publishers are receiving different contracts) in setup fees and/or varying scanning fees payable to Amazon/BookSurge. These fees can change at anytime, at Amazon’s discretion, with 30 days notice.

* Controls the formatting specifications - Many publishers can’t absorb the massive number of man-hours required to reformat every single book interior and cover file in their inventory to match Amazon’s specifications.

* Controls the quality of the books - Refer to THIS ARTICLE for details and links. It’s no secret that BookSurge has a poor reputation for quality, including complaints about pages falling out of books, upside-down pages, and more. If a publisher pays Amazon to print their books, their reputation could suffer due to any possible BookSurge quality problems with that publisher’s books.

* Attempts to control the public’s knowledge of who has signed the Amazon/BookSurge contract, along with the details of that contract, through a confidentiality clause, so that publishers signing it may feel they can’t talk about it at all.

* And, Amazon controls the golden nugget - that coveted “buy” button that book buyers want (so their order can qualify for free shipping).

In a public statement, Amazon offered only one alternative to publishers, which is their “Advantage Program.” However, they did not divulge in the public statement that the terms of the Advantage Program are even worse than their printing contract. The Advantage Program requires POD publishers to give Amazon 55% of the list price, pay them $29.95/year, and pay the shipping costs for books going to Amazon.

STRONG DISSENT FROM INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVESThe Author’s Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), (the U.K.’s leading writer’s website) and the National Writer’s Union have all issued strong statements denouncing Amazon’s attempted power grab of the industry.

OUR STORY After hearing rumors of Amazon’s alleged activities, we spoke to an Amazon/Booksurge representative by phone on March 26th. You can read what transpired that day HERE.

After reviewing all the materials presented to us, and after talking on- and off-the-record with publishers, authors and industry representatives at all levels of this controversy, it is our opinion that Amazon may be positioning itself to directly print and control every book it sells. By forcing publishers to sign their extraordinarily oppressive contract, Amazon gains the power to charge publishers whatever printing and distribution costs it desires, as well as controlling the retail, discount and wholesale prices of the books it prints, and, through this contract, automatically positions itself to control the market.

We cannot say for certain if what Amazon is doing is legal or not at this point; that is for the Federal courts to decide. However, in our opinion, the seemingly covert manner in which Amazon has conducted itself in this matter seems to make their actions highly suspicious.

WHAT’S NEXT? Amazon has already taken control of publishers’ ebook sales on the website by requiring ebooks to be available for their ebook reader, the Kindle. Now, Amazon is attempting to take control of the printing of all POD books. We wonder if traditionally published books are next. Some are speculating that Amazon won’t stop until they are being paid to print every book they sell.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION You can read more information about this situation HERE, including a time-line of the events that have transpired. You can comment on this situation HERE.

ARE YOU AFFECTED? According to Amazon’s public statement, ALL POD books will be affected. If you are a POD publisher (this includes self-published authors who publish their own POD books through a printer), or a traditional publisher using POD technology for some or all your books, and would like more information, please contact:
Angela Hoy,"

Most of what Angela says is unfortunately from what I can tell, is pretty much true, apart from the obvious anomaly, that Amazon cannot remove books from their site without a lot of hard work on their side ! Titles are fed to their site via a direct feed from the ISBN agency, and the only way to remove a book and its buy button from the site, is to completely withdraw it from the distribution network, or for someone at Amazon to go through and systemically remove all POD books from their site - I cannot see this happening.
There is also one more exception. It does NOT affect all print on demand books - just those whose publisher originates in the United States. For the moment at least, overseas authors (that is to say, authors whose publisher is not based within the United States) are safe - one more good reason to keep the business in our country, and support the British book industry !

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Crystal Skull Gives Indie June a Boost

For immediate release, May 18 2008

Crystal Skull Gives Indie June a Boost

The imminent release of Hollywood blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has given a surprise boost to Surrey author June Austin. June has a long standing fascination with these beautiful objects, as guardian of several skulls herself.

Her book, Genesis of Man, originally published in 2006, began life as a thesis on crystal skulls when she was studying crystal therapy in 2001. The more June began to write and research, the more links she began to find between the skulls and other areas of interest, until it became obvious that this was to be a book, linking all the different subjects together.

In August 2007, June’s book, billed as the answer to life, the universe and everything in between, became one of the first print on demand books to be made available as a stocked title through Gardners Books, the UK’s largest wholesaler. Following this decision, June undertook a highly successful telemarketing campaign aimed primarily at Waterstones stores, and managed to get the book into over 100 stores nationwide, becoming one of her publisher, Authors Online Ltd’s most successful authors to date.

Genesis of Man took five years to write, and is essentially a potted history of our planet from 35 million years ago. The book brings together many different subject areas, including Atlantis, Gnosticism and Christianity plus of course, crystal skulls, representing a blending of spiritual, religious and scientific thought.

Copies are available to order from selected Waterstones and independent book stores throughout the UK, or

For further details the author’s website at

PUBLICATION DATE: May 2007 (First Edition June 2006)
Copies are also available direct from the publisher
Email or telephone 01633 676629

To request an interview or a review copy
telephone +44 (0) 1737 842523, email

Price £14.99/$22.95
ISBN 9780755202362
336 pages paperback

Positives and Negatives

I had been planning to write a little more about Amazon tonight, as I see from the Bookseller, that Angela Hoy of Booklooker in the United States, has now lodged a complaint against them in the US courts. Her website goes into much more detail than I could regarding the ins and outs and the whys and wherefores. It is not much that has not been said many times before, and I wish her well in her endeavours. I think it may be a while before this is over yet.

Several things have happened for me in the last few days - mostly concerning the imminent release of the new Indiana Jones film - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. My book, Genesis of Man began life as a thesis on crystal skulls, and Coran and I are still guardians of around 20 of these wonderful objects, which we work with from time to time, perhaps not as consciously as we might. A lot of the skull material has since been taken out, but I kept it carefully filed away for future reference, and I am glad that I did, as it has enabled me to begin using this new film as a springboard to increase both interest in and sales of my own book.

I got the ball rolling by sending an email out to everyone on my own mailing list. One of these is a man called Cris, whom I met around six years at a conference on the Knights Templar. Cris and I got talking and exchanged contact details, and have been in touch by email ever since. He is an interesting man, as he happens to be a personal friend of the late Anna Mitchell Hedges, who was of course the adopted daughter of real life Indiana Jones, FA Mitchell Hedges, and the discover and guardian until her death in 2007, of the Mitchell Hedges crystal skull. Cris has bought a copy of my book, which Coran posted me for today, and has hinted that he may be willing to put a link on the Mitchell Hedges site to my own website. He also informs me that the skull is due to visit the UK in June, and has promised to send me the details as soon as the dates are announced.

I have experienced the skull many times during meditation, but it would be truly wonderful to have the chance to see this fantastic object in the flesh, and also of course, to meet up with Cris again after all these years.

Out of this came a new crystal skull section on my website, followed by an amendment to the email to those on my mailing list, and the circulation of said email to every Waterstones in the country. This was rapidly followed by the posting of some press releases on various free PR sites, and this morning an email to all Blackwells stores.

A copy of the email was sent to both Richard and Paul, and Richard has replied to say that he loves what I have written, and will try and see if the journalist who picked up the news feed on the Shakespeare book that Richard had such success with, is interested enough to get in touch, and if I am lucky, and God is willing, take this to the next level.

The emails seem to have having some success, since on Sunday night when I sent them around, Gardners had 36 copies in stock, and tonight, 2 days later, they have 28. This means that 8 copies have gone out in the last 2 days, which is more than I have had for a while. It will be interesting to see over the weekend, once they arrive in store, which branches of Waterstones I can now add to my list of stockists.