Monthly Archives: June 2017

Gustave Flaubert and George Sand

29 June 2017

From Paper and Salt:

When asked “What famous writer would you invite to a dinner party?” famous wits like Oscar Wilde or Mark Twain definitely come to mind. But even the fictional dinner cast of my dreams pales in comparison to a real-life guest list: George Sand’s house parties in Nohant, France, in the 1860s and 70s. Balzac, Dumas, Delacroix and Chopin were a few of the mouths at Sand’s table. But one of her favorite guests was not only another giant of the arts, but her de facto gym buddy: Gustave Flaubert.

Although Sand loved to cook, she found herself with regular digestive problems, and kept trying different eating regimens in an attempt to find what would make her feel her best—an “elimination diet,” before they were cool. This included cutting out red meat, and occasionally trying vegetarianism. “In giving up trying to eat REAL MEAT, I have found again a strong stomach,” she wrote Flaubert. Her approach to cutting out alcohol was more moderate: “I drink cider with enthusiasm, no more champagne! … I live on sour wine and galette.”

Flaubert followed his friend’s lead; after all, a diet’s always easier when someone else is suffering with you. Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert’s protege, observed, “Almost never did he eat meat; only eggs, vegetables, a piece of cheese, fruit and a cup of cold chocolate … finding that too much nourishment made him heavy and unfit for work.” Flaubert and Sand would collaborate on their meal planning through their correspondence, sharing tips with each other. “I lunch on two eggs made into an omelet or shirred, and a cup of coffee,” Sand wrote.

Not only did the two writers share diet strategies, they also encouraged each others’ fitness habits. “I have followed your counsel, dear master, I have EXERCISED!!! Am I not splendid; eh?” Flaubert bragged in a letter to Sand—the 19th-century equivalent of posting your daily step count on Fitbit.

Despite living 300 kilometers apart, Flaubert and Sand would visit each others’ cities specifically to eat together. “I shall make a great effort and shall leave at eight o’clock Sunday, so as to lunch with you,” Sand would write. “When you arrive in Paris, give me a rendezvous. And at that we shall make another to dine informally tete-a-tete,” Flaubert encouraged.

Link to the rest at Paper and Salt

Amazon has author pages for George Sand and Gustave Flaubert plus The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

Dear iPhone, Happy 10th Birthday! Love, Digital Marketing

29 June 2017

From Udacity:

Social Media and Content Marketing, and all the other components of modern Digital Marketing strategy, have grown up a great deal since the days of Friendster and LinkedIn (launched in 2002), MySpace (2003), and Flickr (2004). Facebook of course launched in 2004 as well, but suffice to say that was a very different Facebook back then.

Yes, the early aughts were a different world when it came to Digital Marketing.

Things start to percolate a bit in the latter part of the decade. Facebook launched the News Feed in 2006, the same year that Google acquired YouTube; the same year that Twitter launched. Then in 2007, we got Tumblr.

But it wasn’t until we left that first decade of the millennium behind that things really started to heat up. Suddenly, all in a row, we got Instagram, Pinterest, and Quora (2010), Snapchat and Google+ (2011), and new video streaming options like Twitch.tv and Vine (2011 and 2013, respectively).

What changed?

Cue the iPhone timeline.

. . . .

Ten years ago today, the first iPhone was released. No 3rd party apps, no video. Still, amazing. The launch of the App Store came the following year, and the seeds of a revolution were sown; a revolution that would reach its first full flower with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Is it any coincidence that 2010 was the same year that Instagram, Pinterest, and Quora all launched?

. . . .

Those were Wild West days for Digital Marketing. Something new was launching every minute, and more and more products and platforms were talking to one another. As an “embedded” digital journalist, you could go to an event with an iPhone, and cover all the bases. Shoot video, record audio, take pictures, type out a macro- and micro-blog post, and share it all on social via TweetDeck which, back then, was really, really cool. It was heady times!

Link to the rest at Udacity

New Tax On eBooks and Audiobooks in Australia

28 June 2017

From Amazon Publishing:

Due to new legislation in Australia, a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10% will be levied on all eBooks and audiobooks sold to customers residing in Australia beginning July 1, 2017. The royalty rates in your contract with Amazon Publishing are unchanged (as royalties are paid exclusive of GST).Amazon Publishing will not be changing its prices in connection with GST at this time.

Link to the rest at Amazon Publishing

How Nike Capitulated to Amazon After Years of Resistance

28 June 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

For years, Nike Inc. was one of the biggest holdouts against Amazon.com Inc. refusing to provide its sneakers and athletic clothing for sale on the hulking e-commerce site. Its products were so cool, the company reasoned, it didn’t need or want the help.

Recently, Nike reversed course. Behind that decision lies a dramatic shift in the balance of power between brands and Amazon.

For decades, big consumer brands carefully controlled which retailers could sell their wares and at what prices. And for years, Amazon left the brands alone.

Lately, the explosion of third-party sellers on the site has led to authentic goods from companies such as Nike, Chanel, The North Face, Patagonia and Urban Decay being sold on Amazon even though they don’t authorize the sales, undercutting their grip on pricing and distribution.

Even though Nike didn’t send Amazon its products either directly or through approved wholesalers, Nike is the most purchased apparel brand on the site, according to a Morgan Stanley survey. A recent search for Nike products on Amazon turned up roughly 73,000 items.

These days, there are so many third-party resellers, who generally are allowed to resell goods they have lawfully acquired at whatever price they want, that companies see few ways to stop them.

. . . .

As traditional stores close and shopping moves online, Amazon’s dominance in retailing has grown, leaving even the most powerful brands unable to ignore it. Some companies disdain Amazon’s site design, which doesn’t conform to the tailored image they want to project, according to lawyers and consultants who work with them. They consider it a site that sells items, not one that builds brands.

One reason for their capitulation is the collapse of a retail distribution network they could better control, as malls flounder and chains like Sports Authority Holdings Inc. shutter.

A company’s power to dictate who could sell its products and how, penalizing retailers that step out of line by withholding inventory or other measures, has been a critical tool to preventing unwanted discounting, which damages the ability to sell at full price.

. . . .

Amazon, on the other hand, often gives third parties wide leeway on products sold on its site. Its goal is to offer the widest possible assortment of goods and bring down prices.

That has made it the first stop for e-commerce searches. Amazon pulled even with Foot Locker Inc. as the preferred U.S. retailer for buying sneakers in a spring consumer survey, according to retail analysts at Cowen & Co.

. . . .

Amazon is where the U.S. consumer is, said Adidas Chief Executive Kasper Rorsted, who estimates that nearly a fifth of the sporting-goods market is now online. “Amazon is the best, without any comparison, transaction platform in the world,” he said. “It might not be the best brand-building platform in the world, but that’s why we…separate crudely between transaction and brand-building.”

. . . .

Meanwhile, more and more of the sales of Nike and other goods on Amazon’s site were by third parties. The growth in the third-party segment had been fueled by rapid adoption by sellers and an offering in which Amazon warehouses and fulfills orders.

These days, analysts estimate third-party sales in total have surpassed Amazon’s own sales on the site, and the number of sellers has swelled to over two million. Amazon doesn’t report the value of sales by third-party sellers, but it confirms that about half of units sold on its site are from third-party sellers.

Third-party sales are generally more profitable to Amazon than its own, because it collects fees from the sellers without having to take on inventory risks. Amazon said its revenue from such sellers jumped 34% in the latest quarter from the previous year to $6.44 billion, nearly a fifth of total revenue.

The third-party sellers typically buy legitimate merchandise from distributors, big box stores such as Wal-Mart, or discount retailers such as T.J. Maxx, circumventing the retail networks companies have built up. The sellers then offer the items on Amazon at a slightly higher price than they bought them for, but typically lower than the suggested retail price, undermining companies’ control over pricing.

Two years ago, Mike “Reezy” Rezendes II started selling footwear on Amazon. Already a seasoned book reseller, the 33-year-old heard shoes were easy to get and profitable. So he and three full-time employees started scouring Marshall’s, Ross, Nike Outlets and even Nike.com.

“Nike is a large focus for us. We just keep sending them in and they keep selling,” he said. Nike makes up more than half of his current 2,500 pairs in stock. He said he makes an average of $20 per pair of shoes.

Nike has added controls to try to keep resellers away, limiting the amount a consumer could spend in one go, according to several resellers. Mr. Rezendes found ways around the restrictions. He pays other mall customers $20 apiece to make his transactions, and he places small online orders of about 10 pairs of shoes during sales on Nike.com to get around detection, since large orders are flagged.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Paddington Creator Michael Bond Dies at 91

28 June 2017

From BookRiot:

Children of all ages have something to sniffle about today. Michael Bond, the creator of the much-beloved Paddington Bear, has died at age 91. HarperCollins reports that he died at home after a short illness.

Bond leaves behind an illustrious career, including children’s book characters such as Olga de Polga and A Mouse Called Thursday, as well as an adult series featuring the detective Monsieur Pamplemousse. Despite these accomplishments, his most famous contribution to literature will forever remain the marmalade-toting, Wellington-wearing teddy bear named Paddington, who has spawned over 20 books, TV shows, toys, and two feature films, the second of which is due out this year. Bond’s most recent Paddington novel, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April of 2017, keeping Paddington in our modern thoughts as much as he exists in our nostalgic memories.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Where

28 June 2017

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

Henry Ward Beecher

Write an Essay, Win a Bookstore!

28 June 2017

From Shelf Awareness:

After more than a decade of running From My Shelf Books & Gifts in Wellsboro, Pa., co-owners Kevin and Kasey Coolidge are “ready to move on to new pursuits. But they’re not selling their bookstore using a traditional method. They’re offering one person the chance to win a bookstore for $75,” according to the shop’s blog.

The contest is straightforward: pay a $75 entry fee and write a 250-word essay about why a bookstore is important to a community. Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2018. If 4,000 people enter the contest, the Coolidges will select the top 20, then a panel of impartial judges will choose a winner. If 4,000 entries are not received, all entry fees will be returned, and the couple will continue to run the bookstore.

“My husband and I grew up here, and Wellsboro deserves a bookstore,” said Kasey. “Kevin thought it would be nice to be able to pay it forward and give someone else the opportunity, especially since starting a business is hard.”

“For $75 and an essay, someone could win their own bookstore,” Kevin added: “We need to at least 4,000 entries in our contest to cover our current inventory, shelves, signage and six months of paid rent.” At least 4,000 entries at $75 each would yield $300,000.

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Can You Really Have a Book Club for Eight Million People?

28 June 2017

From The Literary Hub:

In early January 2017, bright, colorful banners of grinning television personalities holding novels started popping up on the walls of New York City subway cars. The advertisements announced “One Book, One New York,” a joint venture between the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment and digital media company BuzzFeed. The campaign’s tagline, “Aiming to get all of New York on the same page—literally,” outlined its simple premise. “One Book” was to be the largest book club in history.

The idea is not as new, or as strange, as it sounds. Community reading programs are nearly two decades old. In 1998, Seattle introduced the concept, and four years later, Chicago followed. Since then, interest has exploded. Today, the Library of Congress estimates there are more than 400 programs across the country. In an interview with WNYC, Commissioner Julie Menin says Chicago’s program inspired her to bring One Book to NYC. The motivation was partly economic: “Other cities that have done One Book programs… have seen enormous spikes in sales of that particular book. Right now, we have about 65 independent bookstores in the city. The Bronx has no bookstore. Staten Island has one. These bookstores are under threat of closure, and one important economic reason we want to do this program is to… make sure that people visit their local bookstore.”

. . . .

Then the work—and reading—began in earnest. The Mayor’s office released a calendar of events taking place throughout spring and summer. Penguin Random House donated over 1,500 copies to the city’s libraries and developed a guide for book clubs. Digital subscription service Scribd made an audiobook available free for 90 days. But these were just resources. The question remained: would people participate? “Somebody recently described New York to me: it’s not one big city, it’s actually a ton of small towns, smushed right up against one another,” says Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed’s Books Editor.

If that’s true, then how, exactly, do you get eight million people on the same page?

. . . .

In the Bronx, it isn’t so easy, according to life-long resident Noëlle Santos. Santos is the entrepreneur behind crowdfunding project The Lit.Bar, the first independent bookstore in the Bronx in six years, and the only bookstore in the borough since Barnes and Noble shuttered its branch there in 2016.

Santos was invited to the launch party for One Book, but since then, she hasn’t seen much visibility for the program in the Bronx. The problem is, without bookstores, “There’s no space to bring readers together. I’m sure that people are participating, but I just haven’t seen it, because I’m the only one throwing literary events right now.” Calling the Bronx a “book desert,” Santos says residents must travel to other boroughs to participate in literary events. “We’re out here, and there’s people reading Americanah, and we’re participating in One Book, One New York. But we’re going to other places to share. That’s why I’m not seeing it.”

. . . .

In Brooklyn, where there are many “hubs,” it’s a different story. Author Emma Straub, who recently opened the Cobble Hill independent bookstore Books Are Magic, says they can hardly keep Americanah on shelves. “I think people like to buy novels they think have been deemed ‘great’ by several bodies of people—in this case, the book got great reviews AND was chosen for this city-wide reading project. So I think people are more inclined to take a chance on it that they might not otherwise.” She says Adichie is having a “moment.” “We sell so many copies of Dear Ijeawele and We Should All Be Feminists. She’s really striking a chord.”

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

Amazon: This Is Why Wal-Mart Kept Me Up At Night

28 June 2017

From Seeking Alpha:

A perfect comparable doesn’t exist for Amazon, so I often compare it to Wal-Mart. While Wal-Mart and Amazon sell their products in different ways, the majority of each is still comprised of retail sales. In the future, each will also become more and more alike. Wal-Mart is expanding its e-commerce business, and Amazon is building physical stores and just bought Whole Foods. When all of the sexiness of Amazon is stripped away and the crazy ‘what if’ scenarios are removed, I think few people would buy Amazon over Wal-Mart at its current valuations.

Based on enterprise value, Amazon is currently valued 1.76x more than Wal-Mart, but Amazon produces significantly less revenue. Amazon’s 2016 sales were $136 billion; Wal-Mart’s were $485 billion. This equals a Price/Sales multiple of 3.27x for Amazon and 0.47x for Wal-Mart. Amazon does have better gross margins, which is mostly a result of Amazon Web Services, and they are growing much faster. There’s no doubt Amazon deserves a premium, but a Price/Sales multiple that’s 7.2x Wal-Mart’s just seems crazy to me.

. . . .

I also believe this is an optimistic scenario for Amazon. There is no guarantee that it can continue growing at 20% for the next eight years. Also, Amazon will likely have a difficult time turning 6% of its sales into free cash flow. (Wal-Mart turns 3-4% of its sales into free cash flow). Amazon Web Services will definitely help, but a lot of Amazon’s growth will come from expanding food sales, which will bring down margins.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha

We’re In This Together: How To Help Other Authors Succeed

28 June 2017

From Writers Helping Writers:

A common query Becca and I get is, “Why do you do what you do?” It’s a fair question, because in order for us to coach writers through our books, speaking, and our One Stop for Writers site, we’ve had to temporarily put our fiction-writing on hold. Not an easy decision. But the fact is we love to see dreams realized. This is why we do it. As writers ourselves, we know the power of THIS particular dream–a book in hand, our name paired with the title, and the knowledge that readers are losing themselves in a world we’ve created.

We celebrate each time someone we know achieves this dream–and how could we not? It’s so wonderful to see all that hard work pay off! Today, we are celebrating because our friend Kristen Lamb has just released her first mystery thriller, The Devil’s Dance.

. . . .

When an author releases a book, it’s all smiles and excitement…on the outside. What we don’t see is the anxiety going on within: will this book find its readers? Will it become lost in the glut of fiction available? If I share my excitement too freely, will people see it as unwanted promotion?

These worries are universal among authors. And, with the saturation of promotion these days, it’s important we don’t push a book too hard ourselves. Inside, we hope others will step up and help.

. . . .

1: Ask your local library to bring the book in. Many libraries have an online form and they often pay attention to requests. Click here to find a library near you…and why not request Kristen’s book while you’re at it?  If it is an ebook release, first encourage your author friend to make the ebook available to a service like OverDrive.

2: Leave a review. This is the clear obvious one, but often people stop at only submitting it to Goodreads or Amazon. Please cut and paste the review to all the main sites the book is being sold (Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and if it applies, Smashwords.) For example, you can review The Devil’s Dance on Amazon and Goodreads. It wasn’t at LibraryThing, so I added it (if you’ve read this book, please give it some review love?)

3: Place the book on appropriate lists. If you loved reading the book, help others find it. Goodreads has many great lists you can add books to, or start your own. Using Kristen as an example, you’ll see her reviews are excellent. Think of how much it will help her if reviewers add The Devil’s Dance to some of the “best” lists so others also find it.

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers and thanks to Julie for the tip.

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