(Don’t) take your vitamins

Thu 13 Jun 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Read this, “Vitamins: stop taking the pills,” the other day in The Guardian and haven’t been able to get it off my mind. There are years of training, ads, articles, infographics, friends and family voices all saying “Take your vitamins!” and then there is the science:

“In October 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t. Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer.”

Just two studies.

“At least 15 studies have shown that vitamin C doesn’t treat the common cold.”

But how dangerous can it be to just pop a pill? All my life I’ve heard that this is solid, preventative medicine, the one thing I can easily do (er, besides being aware of what I’m eating and doing some exercise) that will keep me healthy and enable me to enjoy a long life?

“In 1996, investigators from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle studied 18,000 people who, because they had been exposed to asbestos, were at increased risk of lung cancer. Again, subjects received vitamin A, beta-carotene, both or neither. Investigators ended the study abruptly when they realised that those who took vitamins and supplements were dying from cancer and heart disease at rates 28% and 17% higher, respectively, than those who didn’t.”

“In 2007, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined 11,000 men who did or did not take multivitamins. Those who took multivitamins were twice as likely to die from advanced prostate cancer.”

Read the article: “Vitamins: stop taking the pills.” Might be time to chuck the supplements.

• This is an edited extract from Killing Us Softly: The Sense And Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine, by Dr Paul Offit, published on 20 June by Fourth Estate at £13.99. To order a copy for £11.19, including free UK mainland p&p, go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop.

In the USA it is being published by Harper under the title Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine



So why do we care so much where people buy books?

Thu 7 Oct 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Well, here’s one reason we mull over now and then:

After various discounts and our excellent distro‘s cut, Small Beer Press usually receives 33.375% of the cover price when you buy a book from RudeGorilla.com.

So: should we cut the author’s royalty in half the way our contract says we can? (The way other publishers do for books we’ve sold them.)

On a paperback the author royalty would be 4-5%. ($0.64 – $0.80 on a $16 paperback.)

On a hardcover the author’s royalty would be 5-7.5%. ($1.20 – $1.80 on a $24 book.)

Sucks, doesn’t it?I don’t think we should do it but 33.375% doesn’t give us a hell of a lot of money to pay everyone else with. Ho hum, on with the show.

And, in the meantime: not so random Powell’s link!



Round up

Mon 26 Apr 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Catch-up post about recent happenings with our books.

1) April: Alasdair Gray! At last! Nope. Now a June book due to a printer error. Sigh. You can see an excerpt on Scribd.

2) May:  Edward Gauvin (translator of A Life on Paper) was recently blogging on translations, Belgium, and more at the 3% blog. (Surely 3.5% by now?)

4) June: 2 starred reviews so far for Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo!

5) July: good news coming soon on Julia Holmes’s debut novel Meeks.

Ok, bored with numbering now. The Interstitial Arts Foundation has a call for papers for a new interstitial-sounding anthology:

What is Interfictions Zero? Interfictions Zero is an online virtual anthology, comprised of a Table of Contents listing seminal pieces of published interstitial writings (with live links to those texts where possible) and original essays about the focus pieces listed in the TOC. With the online publication of Interfictions Zero, the Interstitial Arts Foundation will begin to create a historical context for how interstitial writing affects the growth and development of literature over time.

There’s also an interesting addition to the ongoing conversation about translations at the IAF blog.

Poets & Writers spotlights one of Chicago’s many wonderful bookstores: Women & Children First.

I Heart Rachel MaddowDo you like Rachel Maddow? Essentials in Northampton has the shirt for you—in white or pink and 10% of all proceeds will be donated to support the Capital Campaign for the Northampton Survival Center.

Apparently the folks at Essentials aren’t having quite enough fun there so there’s this site, too: My Parents Made Me Wear This.

The NY Center for Indie Publishing their 6th Annual New York Round Table Writers’ Conference, May 1 (er, tomorrow!), 9AM- 7PM, where you can meet various people in publishing—including Kelly’s fabby agent Renee Zuckerbrot. Tickets are Members – $69.00/Non-Members – $89.00/Student – $20.00:

Please e-mail [email protected] to reserve or confirm a spot today – we hope to see you all here on May 1st!

And that’s it for now. Maybe there’ll be more later. After all, what else is there to do on a spring afternoon but haunt the web and wait until the tick tick tick hits leaving time!



Amazon rude? Surely not?

Sun 31 Jan 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 6 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Er, yes, they’re at it again. Yet another reason we don’t have Amazon links on our site: who wants to deal with people whose sense of fairplay is somewhere in the vicinity of might=right?

First we’d like to point out that while Amazon dropped the buy links for all the MacMillan US titles from their site this weekend all of those books are still available on Powells, Indiebound, bn.com, etc., etc.

Amazon has been ok for us with ebooks: they use DRM and the books are tied into one device so it doesn’t seem like the best way to buy a book, but others think differently. At the moment we give them an ebook price (say $15.95 on a new hardcover book) and they pay roughly half of that even if they sell the book at $9.99. No strong-arming there. (Yet? Maybe because we’re not attempting to charge $24?)

We price the ebook editions of new hardcovers at $15.95 then drop them to $9.95 if/when a paperback comes out. If anyone wants to argue about these prices and claim that there are no costs to making ebooks please feel free to come on over and do the work for free. We are a small press and to format and upload different files to Fictionwise/bn.com, Google, Follett, Amazon, Scribd, (& our new site this spring) etc., is not a quick task. Nor is the information gathering for royalties—a bit of a  stinker, that. Although made somewhat easier with our nice generous 50/50 ebook royalties.

But back to the gorilla: Amazon sold a couple of thousand copies of our paper books last year—and we just don’t care. They’ve negotiated horribly high discounts with publishers and distributors so that we, for example, receive about 34%* of the retail price of a book sold on their site. (So $5.44 on a $16 paperback to pay the printer, freight, author, artist, ads, etc., etc. Yep, that math works out well.)

When indie bookstore orders from our distributor we receive about 40% of retail ($6.40 on that mythical $16 paperback). That 6%/$1 a book sure adds up—only a couple of thousand dollars over the year for us (although it would be nice…); it adds up to millions to larger publishers.

Amazon have a pretty typical huge corporation business model: make low low prices happen by twisting the supplier until they break in a Cash register. Then twist some more. Maybe they’re worried that won’t work any more? Maybe they’re worried about their closed-ecosystem ebook reader versus the Apple iPad/iBookstore/Nook/Que/every other reader? Maybe they’re just seeing what the other big houses will do once they see that Amazon is willing to be a weekend berserker? Maybe that’s just the way corporate capitalism is supposed to work? Blink.

(Via many sites! Esp. Gwenda, Kelly, NYT Bits, Scalzi, & more.)

* Since we’re not telling you the split between their discount, their mandatory marketing fee, the “free freight” (i.e. we pay to ship them books), and our distributor’s fee, we are not breaking the NDA’s we signed about discounts.



Need serious Mac help…

Tue 12 Jan 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 7 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Yon trusty MacBook was listening to the previous post and promptly gave up the ghost. Which is somewhere between utterly crap and mildly crap and I wondered if there’s anyone out there who can help? (Either in the comments or gjgrant at the google behometh.com, thanks!)

Of course my backup system, a hodgepodge of very careful and not so careful is now coming back to bite me. Hilariously I had just bought Snow Leopard so that I could automatically continuously back up our laptops. Ha.

I’d been running OS X 10.4 and I’d cloned the 80GB hard drive onto a backup drive (a Time Capsule, but not using Time Machine as it does not work with 10.4). I upgraded it to Snow Leopard (10.6.2) and it ran for a day or so then cra-cra-crashed. I ran it along to the Apple store in Boston who, telling me this was a known issue for that drive and this laptop replaced the drive with a new one (for free) and were going to recycle the drive. Today I went in and rescued the old drive as the cloned hard drive is either corrupt or not working (or I did it wrong) and can’t be opened.

Some of my files are on the office machine, some are backed up using SugarSync but there is some stuff on this dead drive that, if the clone is really useless, I’d love to get at.

The Apple guy here suggested buying a disc enclosure at Best Buy and some data recovery service. I’m thinking I will get a disc enclosure, take it home, see what happens—which will take care of the next couple of hours. I’m in Boston tonight, will be in Easthampton seeing what’s on the backup drive there tomorrow.



An Apple a day

Tue 5 Jan 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Looks more and more like my trusty MacBook laptop would like to be shipped off to retirementland so I’ve been thinking about what I need to replace it and I think the answer is easy: a huge new iMac for when Ursula is home and I work there and a shiny Shiny tablet-thingy for the nonce. Because surely, besides making toast and training me how to play the oboe and getting me to exercise and keep to a budget, it will run InDesign, right? Dum de dum de dum. Not a magpie. Not distracted by shiny things.



Apparently they didn’t

Thu 17 Dec 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

know what it takes.

tigerwoods



More Kindle yech

Tue 10 Feb 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

So it looks like we may have to withdraw at least some of our titles from the Kindle as the Wall Street Journal reports:

Some publishers and agents expressed concern over a new, experimental feature that reads text aloud with a computer-generated voice.

“They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”

An Amazon spokesman noted the text-reading feature depends on text-to-speech technology, and that listeners won’t confuse it with the audiobook experience. Amazon owns Audible, a leading audiobook provider.

We queried our contact at Amazon and he said:

The ability to read text aloud is very different from producing an audio version of a written work, so audio distribution rights are not required for any titles currently available as eBooks in the Kindle store.

But the difference is that the Kindle is specifically a reading device, so customers can buy the ebook—and get it read to them, which is a different product and right, an audiobook—whereas a computer is a multifunction device. We’re happy that computers have text-to-speech capabilities for visually impaired readers but this seems to be directly impinging on an author’s rights. Hmm.



Kindle King

Tue 10 Feb 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The news that Stephen King has an exclusive story for the Kindle is 1) not surprising: the man cannot resist a new channel and 2) depressing as all get out. His poor core fans. If they don’t have a $359 object they can’t read it. Wonder exactly how fast it will be 1) torrented and 2) in print.

When did Amazon acquire the One Ring? Amazon take such a huge cut that having books there is almost a loss leader ad for our books in stores. (People still like to pick up and see what they’re buying—and our books are all printed on pretty pretty recycled paper.)

When talking heads say not to worry about bookstores/chain stores/distributors dying because Amazon will save us all, I think: ok, I can find a job that will actually pay me because if it’s all Amazon all the time, this job won’t.



Mon 9 Feb 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Charles Platt shows he doesn’t know shit about how Wal-Mart works. Maybe this will clarify it, Charles: Demanding lower prices = moving jobs abroad. What a great company that it! And, those workers who used to work in textile mills or in manufacturing jobs that paid enough to support a family, can now get jobs at . . . Wal-Mart. And maybe a second job at Wal-Mart, too, as the first one sure as hell isn’t going to pay the mortgage.

While Wal-Mart may have made some positive contributions to society, they have also helped push thousands of people in this country out of their jobs. How? To quote Fast Company:

The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.



Mon 9 Feb 2009 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Charles Platt shows he doesn’t know shit about how Wal-Mart works. Maybe this will clarify it, Charles: Demanding lower prices = moving jobs abroad. What a great company that it! And, those workers who used to work in textile mills or in manufacturing jobs that paid enough to support a family, can now get jobs at . . . Wal-Mart. And maybe a second job at Wal-Mart, too, as the first one sure as hell isn’t going to pay the mortgage.

While Wal-Mart may have made some positive contributions to society, they have also helped push thousands of people in this country out of their jobs. How? To quote Fast Company:

The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas.



wanted for the office

Fri 5 Dec 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

although 23″ x 46″ isn’t as big as we could really do with:

2160527-3-eat-sleep-read



Mon 24 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Apparently One lucky driver in the US will be going around in a Mitsubishi i MiEV! Here’s what it looks like (and a pic of the toy one we have to content ourselves with until this country is lucky enough to get some for actual people to drive):

ybfh20.JPG by you.



Mon 24 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Apparently One lucky driver in the US will be going around in a Mitsubishi i MiEV! Here’s what it looks like (and a pic of the toy one we have to content ourselves with until this country is lucky enough to get some for actual people to drive):

ybfh20.JPG by you.



Coming up

Thu 20 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We have interviews with Ben Parzybok and Andi Watson coming up here soon. If you have questions, send them on in.

Herbivore has some excellent stuff for You. Not sure that the tray of cupcakes comes with the shirt, but you got to love the people they get to model their stuff:

Herbivore Cross Zip Up Unisex HoodieHerbivore Koala Women

Eat Like You Give a Damn Unisexual Tank TopEat Like You Give a Damn Unisex TeeKeep Singing Unisex Tee



Chuck and the inexplicable longing

Thu 30 Oct 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Chuck Taylor has inspired two feelings in me with their latest anniversary shoes: a weird blind consumerist lust as well as a mild case of self-loathing for feeling same. The shoes are either truly inspired or incredibly goofy. Wait, they’re both that and more (and less).

I’m discounting the leather pair because they are ugly but mostly because at this point in the decadent western world there is no reason to kill animals for clothing. “Fairies Wear Boots” is the nominal inspiration for the yucky strappy leathery shoes. It’s such a weird great happy song, I loved it as a kid—it is awesome (and I am awed) that I can watch it on YouFabbyTube now. Luckily everyone else at the office today enjoyed it (a couple of times), too.

Now the other two designs. First is really number four and features Ozzy from the cover of Sabbath’s fourth album, the brain shaker* and intellectually-titled Volume Four. If I wear these, will I be cool? No. I might wonder if Ozzy is going to climb up my trousers and bite my head off. So these are probably out. Unless they are under the xmas tree on Dec. 25th when I will dance into the snow with them on.

The third pair are even goofier. Demon logos (designed by…?) are cool but still: “Inspired by 1978 World Tour T-shirt featuring the demon logo, Distressed print on cotton to replicate vintage tour t-shirt”—which just says lazy designer to me. And the ’78 tour (which I’d have loved to see but while my parents were ok on sending 8-year-old boys off to the beach they weren’t so much into sending us off to see stuff like this), well, it’s not exactly Sabbath at the top of their game is it? Ozzy’s almost able to stand but none of the rest can stand him and soon he’s out to be replaced by Mighty Mouse. (We still love you RJD!)

So: lust, self-loathing. Got to give props to a company who can create and exploit a need (Black Sabbath . . .  shoes!) from absolute zero. Giving into that blind lust? Hopefully not. But don’t hold me to that if they turn up in the Vegan Store.

Oops. Made a mistake. Googled “1978 black sabbath tour demon logo design” to see if I could find out whether it was designed for them or ripped off. Decided I should stop and go back to work (pitch, pitch!) but not before finding that teenagers of all ages can get as much Sabbath merch as their wallet and fashion sense (and spouse) will allow here.

Black Sabbath Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Top - Black/White/GoldBlack Sabbath Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Top - Parchment/White

*This is misleading. Sabbath sound so happy and occasionally even poppy now (especially AOR hymn-to-pubescence “Changes”) compared to all those Masters of Modern Metal Mayhem.