Money and Control

14 February 2014

PG is going to get bored by this pretty soon, but, in the meantime, he’s put up a few more t-shirts based on suggestions in the comments – The Passive Voice T-Shirt Shop


a1 a1 copy



T-Shirts with Smarty Pants Sayings Now Available

12 February 2014












You asked for them.

Here they are.

These designs are customizable. At the link, you’ll find both black and white lettering for each design. You can put any design on men’s or women’s shirt styles in a variety of different fabric colors.

PG doesn’t plan to get into the t-shirt business, but if you have other suggestions for snarky sayings, drop them into the comments and he’ll consider including them in this (cough) exclusive collection.

Loading Speed

25 January 2014

PG received a couple of emails telling him that The Passive Voice was loading slowly and pointing a finger at the Twittercounter/Feedburner widgets.

He’s pulled those widgets down.

If anyone sees any further load-time issues, please drop PG a note via the Contact link.

Kindle First

7 January 2014

Amazon has announced a new ebook program for Prime members called Kindle First:

Amazon Publishing editors select four new books each month.

. . . .

Prime members can choose one featured book for FREE every month.

. . . .

Books are available in advance of their official release date.

Link to the rest at Kindle First and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

The first four books (and PG suspects many additional groups of four) are all from Amazon Publishing imprints.

Depending upon how Amazon’s ranking algorithms treat the free versions, this could launch new Amazon Publishing books with some extra juice.

Best Wishes

24 December 2013

For those who celebrate Christmas, PG extends his best wishes for a wonderful Christmas. For those who don’t, He sends his warmest holiday greetings.

For all, he hopes for a fulfilling and successful 2014.

Black Friday

29 November 2013

For visitors from outside the US, the Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It kicks off the Christmas shopping season.

It’s called Black Friday because it’s the day narrow-margin retailers go from a loss (denoted by red numbers) to a profit (denoted by black numbers) for the year.

The Monday following Thanksgiving represents a more recent phenomenon, called Cyber Monday. It’s a huge day for online retailers because, after a long holiday weekend, people go back to work and take advantage of high-speed Internet access to buy a lot of things online.

Whether it’s Black Friday, Whatever Saturday or Cyber Monday, if you’re buying something from Amazon, PG receives a small affiliate commission if you click on the link in the right column of TPV to get to Amazon.

Tablets Are Becoming More Important Than Smartphones For Online Shopping

20 November 2013

From Business Insider:

This year will mark a major milestone for tablets and their influence on Internet retailers. We believe tablets will draw even with smartphones, and account for 50% of the total value of U.S. retail sales made over mobile devices.

How is it that tablets are beginning to overtake the smartphone for retail, despite the fact that there are fewer tablets than smartphones in consumer hands? It turns out tablets are perfect devices for “lean-back,” or power shopping sessions.

. . . .

Average order values, retail traffic, and conversion rates are higher on tablets, helping them punch above their weight class.

. . . .

Mobile now accounts for 59% of time spent on e-commerce.

Link to the rest at Business Insider

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…

20 November 2013

From The Oxford English Dictionary:

It’s that time of the year again. With a fanfare and a drum roll, it’s time to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. The votes have been counted and verified and I can exclusively reveal that the winner is….


. . . .

The decision was unanimous this year, with little if any argument. This is a little unusual. Normally there will be some good-natured debate as one person might champion their particular choice over someone else’s. But this time, everyone seemed to be in agreement almost from the start. Other words were considered, as you will see from our shortlist, but selfie was the runaway winner.

. . . .

But what of the word itself? While it is safe to say that selfie’s star has risen over the last 12 months, it is actually much older than that. Evidence on the Oxford English Corpus shows the word selfie in use by 2003, but further research shows the earliest usage (so far anyway) as far back as 2002. Its use was, fittingly enough, in an online source – an Australian internet forum.

2002 ABC Online (forum posting) 13 Sept.
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

The term’s early origins seem to lie in social media and photosharing sites like Flickr and MySpace. But usage of it didn’t become widespread until the second decade of this century and it has only entered really common use in the past year or so.

Link to the rest at The Oxford English Dictionary

What Does the Book Business Look Like on the Inside?

17 November 2013

From Vulture:

“You want to buy this book, Dan?” my boss, Ann Godoff, says, referring to the first work I’m trying to acquire at Random House, by George Saunders. “Well, do a P-and-L for it and we’ll see.”

“What’s a P-and-L?”

“I’ll walk you through it. What’s the advance?”

My only knowledge came from what I had been paid for my own books, so I thought surely I should offer more. “Fifty thousand dollars?”

“For a book of stories? But okay, what’s the payout?”


“Start with how much of the advance the author will get on signing the contract.”

“Thirty thousand dollars?”

“Twenty-five—half on signing.”

“Okay, 25.”

“On delivery-and-acceptance?”

“Well, 25, I guess.”

“No—you have to have an on-pub payment.”

“Oh. Twenty for D-and-A? And five on-pub?”

“Nothing for paperback on-pub?”

“Oh. Ten for D-and-A, ten for on-pub, and five for the paperback?”

“Nah—it’s okay. You don’t really need a paperback payment. I just wanted to mention it. How many hardcovers are we going to print at the start?”

“Twenty thousand?”

“Too much. Ten.”


“Second printing?”


“Good! Returns?”


“How many unsold hardcovers will booksellers send back?”

“Five hundred?”

“Nah. Usually figure one third—in this case, 5,000.”


“It’s a shitty business, Dan. What’s the price?”

“Twenty-one ninety-five?” I say, using my own most recent book as a guide.

“Good. So how much will we earn against this advance?”


“We make about $3 for each hardcover sale, $1 for each paperback.”

“So if we sell 10,000 hardcovers, that’s $30,000.”


“And say 10,000 paperbacks. That’s $40,000.”

“Right—so the P-and-L probably won’t work. So we have to adjust the figures. But remember, you can’t change the returns percentage.”

“Increase the first printing to 15,000 and the second printing to 7,500?”

“That ought to do it. Isn’t this scientific?”


Now I have been senior literary editor at Random House for six months. I remain in many ways ignorant of the realities of book publishing. But it begins to dawn on me that if a company publishes a hundred original hardcover books a year, it publishes about two per week, on average. And given the limitations on budgets, personnel, and time, many of those books will receive a kind of “basic” publication. Every list—spring, summer, and fall—has its lead titles. Then there are three or four hopefuls trailing along just behind the books that the publisher is investing most heavily in. Then comes a field of also-rans, hoping for the surge of energy provided by an ecstatic front-page review in The New York Times Book Review or by being selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Approximately four out of every five books published lose money. Or five out of six, or six out of seven. Estimates vary, depending on how gloomy the CFO is the day you ask him and what kinds of shell games are being played in Accounting.

Link to the rest at Vulture and thanks to Will for the tip.

“Huh” Means the Same Thing in Every Language

14 November 2013

From The Atlantic:

You may not be able to order a beer in Iceland, but misunderstand someone as they’re describing the regional elf lore, and you’re in luck. The expression “huh?” is practically universal, according to a recent study published in the journal PLoS One by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Here’s why this is so unusual.

Most languages sound dramatically different from each other because words aren’t tied to what they stand for—dog and chien both represent a four-legged canine, for example—and each language is basically limited to a finite number of possible sound combinations.

“The likelihood that there are universal words is extremely small,” the authors write. “But in this study we present a striking exception to this otherwise robust rule.”

“Huh” may sound like just an interjection, like a grunt or cry. . . . But rest assured, it’s a word.

“’Huh?’ may be a non-prototypical word, but it is a word,” they wrote. After all, it requires being spelled and conforms to the general principles of each language.

. . . .

“Huh” was unlike other question words in those languages—it was always one syllable, consisting of a short vowel sometimes preceded by a glottal consonant sound (one made deep in your throat). It also almost always had a rising pitch, the intonation most languages use for questions.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic and thanks to L for the tip.

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