Sell books the old-fashioned way: how the author of a small niche book managed to sell 27,000 copies

In the Internet age, you can still sell your self-published books the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar way. To do so, you must convince the independent bookstore owner your book will sell by creating a niche market.

My selling strategy is low-tech because I hate high-tech. I have sold 27,000 copies of Bee Lessons, my self-published book, now in its fourth printing, via this method. When my current inventory is sold out, I will have made $50,000 profit.

The book is a lighthearted but informative collection of lessons we can learn from bees, based on my experience as a beekeeper. Sample lesson: “Bees live naturally in the wild or are artificially kept by beekeepers. Simply put, we put a box over them and let them do their thing. Either way, they devote their lives to the hive. That’s the miracle of bees–complete subjugation of the individual for the group. Lesson 1: It’s satisfying to work for the greater good.

Here’s my sales approach. In my area of Massachusetts, I visit independent bookstores and speak to the owner or manager. I do not deal with the chains. I present my book and a promo sheet, and offer the stores a free copy if they will consider carrying it.

Beside briefly touting a good read, I present a niche solution. Because my book happens to be an inexpensive $4.50 life-lessons text, I might say, “Since the bee world is primarily female, this book is a feminist paean.” Or, “It makes an inexpensive little gift.” Or, “It can be an add-on sale.” In other words, I give them a hook on which to make the purchase.

A month later, I follow up with a call: “Did you look at my book? Do you have any interest in carrying it?” If I get a no, I counter with a one-sentence argument: “Your next-town neighbor has sold more than 50 copies.” For those who say yes, I offer books with either a 12-unit display (made out of cereal boxes covered in wrapping paper) or a 25-unit display (made out of shipping boxes), but I will sell the shop any quantity.

Everywhere we travel, I pitch my book. I have won great independent stores such as Malaprops in Asheville, N.C., Moby Dickens in Taos, N.M., and Nantucket Bookworks in Nantucket.

In my spare time, I make calls to independent bookstores, funky gift shops, bee-supply houses and nature museums around the country. I hear of these through friends or from reading in newspapers and magazines. I make a call to the buyer, send a free book, and follow up a month later.

I have made good accounts of Winterthur Museum in Winterthur, Del.; Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Ky.; and Ohio Honey Co. of Kirtland, Ohio.

I also seek publicity. I send a copy to reporters with a letter stating why my book is worth writing about. Two examples show the power of publicity. A Boston Globe reporter received my kit and included the book in a “new products” blurb. A short while later, while soliciting the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., the buyer was about to dismiss me when I shoved the Globe blurb into his hand. The piece called Bee Lessons a funky offering. The buyer, in arguably the funkiest area in the country, said, “All right, we’ll try a display.” That resulted in the sale of 1,100 books, and 300 copies of my subsequent book.

A freelance magazine writer called and came out to interview me, and a photographer followed later. The publication this time was American Profile, a Sunday supplement that reaches 9 million people. After the article came out, I took a Sunday phone call from a woman in Attapulgus, Ga., asking to buy my book. I took 20 calls that first day and several a day for the next four months. In all, I sold $3,500 worth of books because the article had included my phone number.

My book is small and it’s easy to send a free copy (66 cents), but each of you out there can take sales into your own hands and carve out a niche and a market for your book.

Competition is fierce for place in elite team of airborne firefighters

Walking into the rope room with dirty boots means 100 pushups. A wrong hand signal means 100 more.

It may sound more like the army than the forest service, but discipline is vital to British Columbia’s Rapattack crews – three-man teams of firefighters dropped by helicopter into rough terrain to douse fires started by lightning strikes.

”He’ve fought fires the size of football fields with three guys,” says Perry Smith, at 23 a five-year team veteran.

Mr. Smith, who wants a career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, says there’s fierce competition for a place in the Rapattack team – a model for crews in Alberta and the United States.

”Usually, you get 100 or 150 people for four or five openings. You have to be selective because it costs $20,000 per person for training.” The costs are high because of quadcopter camera time. Three to six choppers are assigned to Rapattack at any given time. The main bases are at Salmon Arm, in southeastern British Columbia, and at McBride, in the central part of the province.

At the season’s peak in July, the forest service can call in more than 1,300 government and contract firefighters. Only 45 of those are Rapattack crews, while 144 are attached to other helicopter crews. About 190 make up the “initial attack” ground crews, 240 the “final-assault” crews, and the rest are district officers, wardens, pilots and part-timers.

Before they get into a best drone for beginners, Rapattack recruits have to do 100 “drops” from 60 metres, going through every emergency drill in a specially designed tower.

Don Clark, a student in his third year, still remembers staring down at the treetops. “The only reason I left the helicopter was peer pressure. The guys next to me were saying: ‘You’re next.’ But from the first time, I was hooked.” Mr. Clark, a former ambulance worker, is in charge of emergency medical aid at the station. He and four others are qualified as paramedics if a helicopter goes down or there’s an accident to which other rescue services can’t respond.

Rapattack hasn’t lost a member in 12 years and 50,000 drops. At a fire, the crew, equipped with chainsaws, hand tools and pumps, rappels down 250 to 300 metres of rope and either puts out the fire or builds a helicopter pad so reinforcements can get in.

”The faster we get the fire out, the faster we can get out of there,” Mr. Smith said.

The Fast and The Furious

Online retailer Asos‘ menswear buying director James Barron and women swear buyer Celia Cuthbert discuss global fashion uniforms, the twenty something’s’ style icons and how to sell a look online.

You sell to 237 countries around the globe and only have one central buying department and assortment. How can that work? People have such different tastes and levels of fashion-consciousness everywhere!

James Barron: I would say people look quite similar everywhere. If you go out in the world, a lot of men are wearing skinny jeans and a pair of Nikes, that’s like a global uniform. When you look at the top sellers by country, in essence, they are all very much the same. Which is maybe a bit sad, but that’s the way it is.

Celia Cuthbert: Our global customers don’t look for different trends they just might adapt a trend differently. Let’s say we are doing very well with parkas then we have to make sure we have a wide offer, including a classic parka, one that is more oversized and a bit more masculine and maybe one in a more modern fabric like nylon.

I wouldn’t say that any country is generally more behind with fashion than another; they just have a different adoption of a trend.

Don’t you fear that any of the other brands you’re selling are cannibalizing the Asos collection?

JB: We don’t see that. If any brand happens to cannibalize Asos, Asos has to get better. We have an Asos buying team and a branded buying team and they are allowed to buy whatever they wish (as long as we sign it off). We don’t say: “You can’t buy that because that’s cheaper than Asos.” For instance, we sell New Look, which is cheaper than Asos now and we do a big business with River Island which has a very similar price point. In essence Asos is about being a twenty something destination so if you think of a brand that fits to this idea, we should stock it. Any fashion trend that you can think of we should actually have a piece of, and we should be the place where you come to find it.

Do you think your customers are very brand-conscious?

JB: I don’t think they’re as brand-conscious as the generation before, so I think it’s more about a look. We sell a look, we don’t sell brands. So I think they’re quite happy to mix Asos with a brand or a brand with some other or vintage with full-price items-as long as they get the look they’re after. Of course there are customers who will only buy certain brands, but overall I think our customers are more experimental.

And how do you sell a look online?

CC: I think in a lot of ways it’s actually easier to transport a look online than in a retail shop, because we can do it through the styling of each item and give the customer inspiration on how to wear different things. We can have a full structure skirt that could be quite ladylike but if you put it on a model wearing socks and trainers with it or combining it with a denim or bomber jacket, you can make it look much more street. The content on our site changes on a daily basis so we can constantly feature new looks and trends as we want to be the first ones to be talking about them.

JB: Our models definitely work well for us, they transport an image straight away, so you can look at them and think: “Now that’s what I wanna look like.” It’s a bit like seeing a friend in a pub. They get our looks across in different ways-if you want a look to be more sophisticated then we don’t put it on someone with a beard and a tattoo perhaps, but if we want it to be sophisticated but actually break the rules, we might do.

What do you do to seek inspiration for your collection?

JB: We do a lot of travelling. Our team goes to Tokyo, LA, New York, Berlin, Istanbul, South Korea for the first time now, Shanghai, Austin or Vancouver every now and then, Hong Kong is getting more interesting, so we spend some time there as well. It depends on the trend and what we are looking for. We go to certain stores and locations and look for new opportunities and customers of our age group and see what they are wearing. On the other hand you have so many blogs and such a huge amount of kind of library information coming in nowadays, so it’s quite easy to get information even without travelling.

Do you look at what’s happening in high fashion a lot?

JB: We don’t really look a lot at the catwalk because we’re a bit more street based. But the street and the catwalk have become quite conversed at the moment and a lot of the Givenchy, Kenzo etc. look and patterns have flown in from the top end to the high street. So at the moment you would probably say we do look at the catwalk. Two years ago we didn’t. I’m not sure how many of our male customers would watch the catwalk, it’s rather bands etc. where they get their inspiration.

CC: Recently the collections have been very strong because they have been quite versatile, not promoting one particular look only. For me, Miu Miu’s f/w ’14-15 collection was amazing, a very girly but wearable collection but then I really loved Saint Laurent in complete contrast with its rocky, edgy look and ’60s vibe. And of course these are influential to the Asos collection to some extent.

What about celebrities?

JB: Within our age group it’s more about where people go out, who they’re going out with, what their friends look like, influences like bands and music rather than the catwalk or celebrities as such. Men like to look mostly like their friends; men are more tribal. So they want their peers to say, “You look good today” rather than actually saying, “You’re an icon.” That changes with location. If you go to China or, let’s say LA, celebrities are much more important for the male consumer. But for the UK and most of Europe it’s less important. In women swear that’s different- someone famous can wear something and then sales will go up in the air, on menswear it doesn’t really happen.

LEGENDS OF THE FALL: ASOS TRENDS A/W ’14

MEN’S

  • Key Pieces: Varsity bombers, jogging pants (paired with formal top), basketball shorts (paired with leggings), longer line tops and coats, rollnecks, shirts with granddad collars
  • Colors: Monochrome looks, black-and-white
  • Material: Nylon, jersey, jacquard knits, scuba, mohair
  • Patterns/Details: Bold graphics, squares, photo prints, romantic stitchings Denim: Skinny and extreme skinny (“spray on”), cropped shapes, less color, little ripwping and bleaching
  • Shoes: Plimsoles, tech trainers
  • Accessories: Tech backpacks, baseball caps

WOMEN’S

  • Key Pieces: Coordinates (matching top and bottom, now also in knitwear), cropped tops, (structured) skirts, unstructured coats, kimono, culottes, girly skater dresses
  • Colors: Candy pink, sky blue, burgundy, oranges, mustard, monochrome combinations
  • Material: Scuba fabric, velvet, lace, bonded wool, chunky knits, embellishments, sequence
  • Patterns: Checks, florals/upholstery patterns, stripes
  • Denim: “Mom jeans” with awkward length (above ankle), high waist, 501 styling
  • Shoes: Loafers, desert boots with heels, boots with cutouts
  • Accessories: leg warmers, sport socks, veils

Is Nicotine Really Any Different Than Caffeine??

For well over 100 years, tobacco companies have had a product people loved, with a toxic catch. Cigarettes don’t just cause cancer (of the lung, throat, mouth, pancreas, bladder, nose, and more); they can also lead to heart attacks, strokes, and autoimmune diseases. Some 443,000 Americans die from smoking each year. But 44 million Americans still smoke because, as the tobacco companies know, cigarettes deliver an addictive, pleasurable drug: what does nicotine do?.

Now the three biggest tobacco companies have a new, tobacco-free way to deliver nicotine. Enthusiasts say “vaping” an e-cigarette–which relies on battery power to vaporize a liquid nicotine solution that the user inhales–delivers all the biochemical rewards and none of the lethal risks, and that it’s time to regulate nicotine like coffee, another stimulant. But can they convince their opponents? “We’re seeing a radical change in how people sell nicotine to the human brain,” says David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the American Legacy Foundation.

The antitobacco community is wary. Big tobacco introduced “light” cigarettes in the 1960s with the promise of a healthy alternative, and they turned out to be just as deadly as the originals. Antismoking advocates aren’t primarily worried that e-cigarettes will do as much harm as regular ones–this would be nearly impossible. They fret that the devices will keep people smoking. The “poly-tobacco dilettante” could be a new breed of smoker, Abrams says. These users might “vape” indoors and other places where conventional cigarettes are banned (fueling their nicotine addiction) and still smoke traditional cigarettes wherever they did before e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market in 2007.

A “poly-caffeine dilettante” is easy to imagine. People shift easily from morning coffees to mid-morning lattes to midday energy drinks to late-afternoon Frappuccinos. E-proponents want you to remember how readily you order another cup of coffee as you think about the health effects of vaping. Both caffeine and nicotine can raise the heart rate, cause nausea, and even kill, but only in extraordinarily high doses that are hard to come by. “Nicotine has similar qualities as caffeine,” says Ray Story, head of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, an industry group. “The nicotine itself is not a deadly product. If this product is sold within the parameters of what we feel is a responsible product, this product is basically harmless.”

The science of e-cigarettes is young. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration studied two of the brands on the market and found diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical present in antifreeze, in one sample and nitrosamines, which are among the worst-known carcinogens, in others. Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends for the American Cancer Society, pointed out that while propylene glycol, a key ingredient in the “e-liquid,” is an FDA-approved chemical for food, little is known about the long-term effects of inhaling it.

Meanwhile, e-cigarette users are developing their own “cafe culture,” encouraged by e-cigarette manufacturers. The Lorillard label blu offers e-cigarette cases that emit a signal and notify users when other blu cases are nearby–a kind of Tinder for the vaping set. The odds of finding a match are growing: Roughly one-fifth of adults who smoke conventional cigarettes have tried their electronic counterparts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in February. Six percent of all adults have tried them, almost double the percentage in 2010.

Users tout the benefits of vaping in online forums such as Planet of the Vapes, where aficionados review “e-juices”–different flavor packs–and discuss custom e-cigarette modifications. It took decades for high-end coffee to become widespread in the U.S., but you can already buy “locally made, artisanal” e-juice online from a boutique in–where else?–San Francisco.

Looming regulations could dampen some of these developments. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave FDA the authority to regulate the products, and the agency is expected to do so soon. It will regulate e-cigarettes, which derive their nicotine from tobacco leaves, as tobacco products, and it has the authority to block manufacturers from advertising on TV, require them to list their ingredients, and more. Some cities and states have already begun discussing regulations treating e-cigarettes like their combustible counterparts. The California Senate approved legislation to that effect in May.

Because of e-cigarettes’ connection to conventional smoking, they will grow up in a different, and almost certainly tougher, regulatory environment than caffeine, which is also getting a closer look from FDA. In April, the agency said it would investigate the safety of caffeine in food, and Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, wondered whether the agency should limit caffeine in certain products. Caffeine withdrawal, joining how long does nicotine withdrawal last, was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders this spring.

Still, it’s clear that the coffee culture is here to stay–and may be stronger now than ever before. If e-cigarette proponents can convince regulators, antismoking advocates, and consumers that their product is another version of coffee (and if the growing body of scientific work doesn’t find traumatic long-term health risks), big tobacco may finally have a chance to reclaim some of its old cachet–not to mention market share and cultural relevance.

Real world Invicta watches review

Every human being is born with rights to certain undeniable things. While women love their handbags, shoes, various accessories and trendy wardrobe collection, there is not much that men can flaunt. Well, here is one such thing that men love to wear and flaunt. Wrist watches. Even the most adamant man with no liking towards fashion will at some point have to dress for the occasion. Luckily, the Invicta watch group has an exquisitely versatile collection for men. Here is an Invicta watches review of the real world occasions.

  • For the office

The most important thing to keep up with in the office will be the time. Meetings, lunch, breaks, deadline hour for presentation and everything. Yes, of course. There will be an office clock hung on the wall but might never show the right time. Every computer will have time display, but simply cannot carry it around everywhere. Also, a simple flick of your wrist to check the time seems a more rational approach rather than digging through your pant pockets.

Your option: I force quartz watch from Invicta for men

It is a multipurpose watch with the classic silver toned stainless steel case. The black matte dial with Arabic numbers in silver tone appears to be in fine contrast. A genuine black leather strap with ivory stitching fits any wrist up to 9.5 inches

  • For a night out with your best friends

It is important to keep track of the time left before you get a last minute call from your office or home reminding of the upcoming event. Also, you need something to see in the darkness. Wearing a stylish wrist watch that befits the situation can bring out cries of ‘chic’ from your guy friends.

Your option: A corduba skeletonized bracelet watch for men

 With its unidirectional rotating bezel that sits perfectly on top of a stainless steel gunmetal case, it proves to be a charmer. The dial is skeletonized and reveals the Japanese automatic movement Miyota 8N24. The silver tones tritnite hands are powered by this gear in the watch. The Arabic numerals in hour’s position and the hands are luminous.

  • That first date

Remember that you will spend the entire evening with a woman who will for sure notice every little detail about you. Wearing a chunky cheap timepiece is not a wise choice for your first date. It is said that the watch will speak the personality of the wearer. You will want be seen as a confident and a desirable person rather than self absorbed.

Your choice: Vintage classic Swiss

The blue colored sunray dial along with rose toned numerals are stunningly beautiful and attractive. The case is a stainless steel and the bracelet is fashionable but not showy.

  • While playing sports

The necessary to remove your watch before the game should not be there. It should light weight, simple and comfortable. Also, it should be sturdy enough

Your choice: Sea vulture Swiss with quartz chronograph for men

It is the perfect choice for sports.

Go online to seek out more Invicta watches review and make the perfect choice.

Pedals & Effects: Modern Sanity Meets Retro Lunacy

Most guitarists inevitably turn to stompboxes or rackmount signal processors to breathe new life into their tone. There’s something magical about effects pedals and their rack-dwelling cousins that draws us to them like moths to a porch light. However, with the onslaught of floor-style multi effectors and high-priced boutique overdrives, even die-hard tone junkies can experience a serious case of stompbox saturation. No longer do we get that rush from just any effector–we need stronger stuff!

Since run-of-the-mill fuzz-tones and delay pedals aren’t turning heads like they used to, some manufacturers are cooking up increasingly wild, weird, and wacked-out products in an effort to give guitarists what they really crave–something new.

BIG BRIAR

Strutting a ’70s analog-synth vibe with its hardwood-framed enclosure, the Moogerfooger Ring Modulator ($299) is perfect for stompbox fiends who want to do more than just press a button and rock out. The unit’s wide-range carrier oscillator (2Hz to 4kHz in two ranges) and dual-waveform LFO (0.1Hz to 25Hz; sine and square waveforms) provide myriad clangy and metallic tones. If making your guitar sound like bells and gigantic industrial clanks turns you on, you’ll love the Ring Modulator. The Moogerfooger Lowpass Filter ($299)–a variable-resonance, voltage-controlled filter and envelope follower–produces over-the-top wah effects and a lot more. Controls include mix, cutoff frequency, resonance, and envelope. Two switches are provided for filter mode select and envelope response speed. Both devices support expression pedals, and include input-level LEDs and true-bypass switching.

BOSS

The Boss GT-3 ($495) was far and away the most powerful floor-based effects processor at NAMM. Housed in a metal enclosure, the GT-3 packs 32 effects, and uses the same COSM (Composite Object Sound Modeling) technology found in Roland’s VG-8.

The GT-3 provides 14 amp and cabinet simulations, as well as several microphone models. Up to 13 effects can be used simultaneously. The device also sports several new effects such as “auto riff” (produces phrases from a single note), “feedbacker” (accentuates overtones and fundamentals to produce natural feedback), and “slicer” (creates chopping patterns for rhythmic effects). There’s even a pickup simulator that sonically transforms single-coils into humbuckers and vice-versa. The GT-3 also includes features optimized for acoustic guitars such as anti-feedback control, a stereo chorus, and an acoustic-electric preamp stage.

If the thought of navigating such a feature-laden box onstage scares you, fear not. The GT-3’s EZ Edit function allows for quick tweaks of drive, tone, modulation, delay, and effects mix.

C-TECH

With its funky shape and hilarious control names, the Red Rooster ($199) overdrive/direct-recording device packs a lot of attitude. The Rooster offers ten preset overdrive sounds with names such as “Helter Skelter,” “Black Dog,” and “Aneurysm.” Along with gain and presence controls is a separate button labeled “911.” Designed “For Emergency Use Only,” this boost function delivers a huge increase in gain, saturation, and harmonics. Also new: The Chop Shop phrase sampler ($159) can digitally record up to 32 seconds of audio and be slowed down on playback to 2/3, 1/2, or 1/3 speed without pitch change.

DACS

Not for the timid, the FwS line of processors includes three rack-mountable units designed to produce anything from subtle modulation effects to unearthly freak-outs. The MODule8 ($735) features two ring modulators, the ColOSCil ($875) adds a variable oscillator to the equation, and the FREQue ($1,099) offers two oscillators and an expression pedal input. If these babies don’t put you center-stage, nothing will.

DIGITECH

Hot on the heels of last year’s RP20 comes the new RP21 ($850), a programmable, tube-driven, multi effect floor processor. New features include reverse delay, mono and stereo sampling, stereo detune, and “time warp” (a pedal-controlled reverse delay). The RP21’s dual distortion paths allow you to run tube and solid-state distortion effects in parallel, and the two timbres can be panned hard left and right for an expansive sound. In addition, the RP21 includes a S/PDIF output for connecting digitally to hard-disk recorders.

DOD

Adding to their line of popular floor processors, DOD’s new VGS50 ($300) sports a single 12AX7, 30 factory and 30 user-definable presets, and an expression pedal that can control nine different parameters in real time. The VGS50 also features a “Learn-A-Lick” function that enables you to slow down musical phrases. The effects menu consists of chorus, flange, delay, reverb, ring modulation, pitch shifter, tremolo, noise gate, phaser, detune, envelope phase, envelope flange, analog wah, and six different distortions.

For stompbox freaks, DOD’s FX66 Flashback Fuzz ($90) captures the buzzy outrage of classic ’60s-era fuzzes. It offers volume, low, tone, and fuzz controls; an LED status indicator; and active switching.

MENATONE

This “boutique” outfit unveiled The Mail Bomb envelope filter and the O-Ring octave ringer/fuzz ($174 each). The Mail Bomb’s attack, filter, and depth controls provide Mu-Tron III-influenced wah shades (from all-out quack to more subtle textures), while the O-Ring conjures delightfully twisted “I think something’s broken” tones along with traditional fuzz/octave flavors.

Controls include low octave, high octave, and volume. Both pedals feature die-cast aluminum enclosures, true-bypass switching, and LED status indicators.

MORLEY

Best digital reverb chill got you down? The AccuVerb ($1,500), a tube-powered stereo preamp/spring reverb, could be a godsend for those seeking more organic-sounding reverb textures. Specs include stereo 1/4″ and XLR jacks; LED-monitored input and output level controls; and reverb length, width, and mix controls. Additionally, a “source function” knob enables you to balance the two channels, and a switch lowers the unit’s +4dBu output to-10dBV for use with line-level gear. The AccuVerb Studio Pro ($1,800) adds a series of push/pull knobs for tone sculpting and enhanced control of the wet/ dry mix.

PEFFTRONICS

The rackmount RTSP Mk. II ($549), an analog/digital hybrid effector, uses “Random Modulation Circuitry” that reportedly enables the unit to create randomized flange, chorus, delay, and real-time doubling effects continuously for 76 years without repeating itself! The RTSP features 30 factory and 69 user presets. Controls include delay time, modulation depth, rate (with choice of triangle or random waveforms), feedback, and mix. Additionally, there are controls for input and output filtering and setting the degree of randomness. All parameters can be controlled via MIDI.

STRINGER INDUSTRIES

What do you get when you combine Snarling Dogs’ Whine-O-Wah circuitry with a ring modulator? The Mold Spore Psycho-Scumatic Wah ($TBA). The Spore’s wah section features a 3-position switch with “white Room,” “Voodoo,” and “Shaft” wah settings, and a variable boost provides up to 18dB of gain. Controls for the ring modulator section are numerous and twisted. With functions labeled “straight jacket” and “scum gate,” it doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you where this pedal is coming from. Definitely a candidate for the Most Demented Pedal award.

MODEL BOXES

Line 6 debuted three new stompboxes at NAMM that include models of vintage pedal effects. Though none of the units we saw were operational, they still caused quite a stir. Here’s what we know about them:

The DL4 Delay Modeler, a programmable 12-second delay/loop sampler, offers 16 delay types, three user presets, a tap-tempo control, and stereo inputs and outputs. Although Line 6 can’t confirm the final effects menu, assume that tape, analog, and various digital echoes are being considered.

The DM4 Distortion Modeler is a programmable overdrive/distortion unit with bass, mid, and treble controls; 16 classic distortion, overdrive, and fuzz models; and four user presets. The M14 Modulator packs 16 modulationeffects (including programmable chorus, flanger, tremolo, vibrato, rotary speaker, and phaser), four user pre sets, and stereo inputs and outputs. Reportedly, the three pedals will also have expression-pedal jacks and true-bypass switching.

As of press time, Line 6 had not priced these “cyber pedals,” and can only tell us they’ll be available later this year. We recommend holding off a bit before tossing your old TS-808 or Univibe.

Ebooks and the Retailization of Research

It seems as if every day brings another breathless announcement about the advance of ebooks. Most recently, Amazon crowed that it’s selling more ebooks than hardcovers. (It sells far more paperbacks than ebooks, but that’s not man-bites-dog newsworthy.) The uptick in ebook sales shouldn’t be surprising, given that Amazon is practically dumping the Kindle reader in a price war with Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and the Kindle is the perfect impulse shopping device.

CNET’s David Carnoy recently warned that it’s not wise to take Amazons numbers at face value when the company won’t provide actual hard figures, but most media outlets take Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s word for it that we’re at a tipping point. Interestingly, the most recent figures from the Association of American Publishers indicate that new adult hardcover sales in both April and May rose by more than 40 percent over the same months last year, a rebound from last year’s shopping paralysis brought on by the financial collapse.

What we stand to lose

Though ebook sales are growing fast, they still represent a small percentage of total book sales. What to me is more significant is that they represent a new relationship readers have with their books. I will leave it to others to wax nostalgic about the smell of leather bindings or the tactile pleasures of paper. The things I miss in ebooks (besides thoughtful page design; yes, I do miss that badly) are:

  • SHARING 1 love being able to hand a book I’ve read to someone else, or watch it make its way through the family, each reader sharing much more than the book itself.
  • INDEPENDENCE It’s worrying that these ebooks remain tethered to the mothership and can be altered at the flick of a switch. Amazon has been ridiculed for making 1984 disappear, but Google Books also offers authors the opportunity to alter or remove books at will.
  • PRIVACY It creeps me out that what ! highlight in a Kindle book would be shared with other readers unless I have the foresight to disable that feature. (I already hate it when I find someone has underlined passages in a library book; it feels as if they’re standing over my shoulder, pointing at the page, interfering with my reading.) It bothers me that publishers can learn not only what I’m reading but which pages I linger on. For an industry that does very little market research, this seems a devious way to assess my reading experience. If I decided to study reading practices through this kind of e-spionage, my research design wouldn’t make it past our Institutional Review Board because it would violate ethical and legal standards.
  • COMMUNITY-BASED ASSISTANCE The flip side of instant gratification is frustration when you aren’t really sure what you want and have to discover it through browsing. When building the collections, I seek out books our students might use for their assignments but couldn’t identify without help. Most of them seek books by topic rather than search for known items, and they don’t want a million books, they want some good ones; preferably not too many. I have a similar experience when I visit my favorite bookstores. They probably won’t have a copy of an obscure book I want, but they have lots of books that I didn’t know about, and they can introduce me to them. That’s why I go there.

Supply-side scholarship

Recently Alex Golub, a professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, founder of the Savage Minds blog and an open access supporter, reviewed the potential uses of iPads for academics on Inside Higher Ed and said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since I read it. Not only does he believe the iPad is superior to the Kindle for academic reading practices (because it’s much better for closely reading and marking up long-tail texts), it represents the potential “retailization” of academic scholarship.

“What would happen,” he speculates, “if journals went straight to consumers and sold articles like they were MP3s? What if you could log on to your ScienceDirect or JSTOR app and get a complete browsable list of your favorite journal articles, available for purchase for, say, 25 cents each?”

He thinks it may be time for individuals to foot the bill rather than rely on libraries, though this scenario is based on the proposition that the costs per article would be reduced a hundredfold. He makes this suggestion with a keen understanding of the dilemma libraries face:

“Currently folks like Elsevier act as content wholesalers, selling great bucketfuls of the stuff to libraries, who then make it available to students and professors. As journals have slowly transitioned away from paper, they have pursued business models of the ‘purchase this enormous bundle of journals you don’t want or else our Death Star will destroy another planet of your Rebel Alliance’ variety.”

Many libraries in the Rebel Alliance have opted out of the big deals and purchase one article at a time, though at a price much higher than a quarter. As Duke scholarly communications officer Kevin Smith surmises, the hefty consumer prices for purchasing a single article are probably more of a finger-wagging disincentive than a genuine price point; it prompts would-be readers to ask their library to purchase the article or subscribe to the journal for them.

What happens when we look in the crystal ball to see the future of books? Libraries have not been a major consideration in the development of ebooks. So far, most devices (and most publishers) seem more concerned with selling direct to readers and disabling sharing. The options open to libraries are expensive, limited in terms of available titles, and often difficult for end users. Some critics of Kindles and iPads believe they take a backward step, creating computing devices that are locked-down shopping devices. One blogger calls the iPad a “media consumption device … a shiny, pretty doorway to a mall where you can buy everything from books to movies.”

Ebooks designed for scholarship

What academics need from ebooks is not less than what they can expect from print books but more. They need to be able to read closely, annotate, and remix (through unfettered and accurate quotation and analysis); they need to be able to share texts, to be able to count on them to remain stable, and ideally to be able to assign them to students without requiring them to purchase specialized hardware. Scholars should be able to read widely without any concern that their reading list could be subpoenaed. And they need access to a wide range of books and other materials, not just that for which there is currently a consumer market.

Golub’s vision of inexpensive articles easily purchased by scholars is tempting; it would relieve libraries of the unsustainable financial burden of trying to supply every article a scholar might want with little negotiation power. But if taken to extremes, it would put an end to what libraries do: provide access to a wide range of information as a communal resource.

The challenge we face is including ebooks in our libraries without compromising our opposition to censorship, our defense of privacy as a condition of intellectual freedom, our support of sharing as a fundamental process of scholarly inquiry, and our underlying belief that access to information should not be predicated on an individual’s ability to pay. Simply providing our users with media for “media consumption devices” without ensuring they are consistent with our values would set us up for the same kind of hostage situation we face with journals. Maybe rather than seek a consumerist solution, we should ramp up the Rebel Alliance.

Sell your book to bookstore chains: a writer who’s been there offers a primer of useful tips

Who wouldn’t want her self-published book distributed to the bookstore chains? Funny thing is, when I first got started in self-publishing, I had no idea about the many avenues that awaited self-published titles, including the chains. With the help of my distributor, I was able to sell my book to Borders Books, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

The chains see self-published authors as small publishing companies, so some of the same opportunities afforded the major houses are offered to the small presses as well. If you have published a book as your own company–meaning you are the publisher of record–and have not published through a print-on-demand publisher, then you’ll find the following information useful.

Wholesalers and distributors. These are companies that supply books to bookstore chains and independent bookstores. Bookstore chains prefer to deal with wholesalers and distributors as opposed to publishers. To have one of the chains shelve your book, your title must first be listed with at least one of the major wholesalers or distributors. The latter receive a hefty discount, sometimes as much as 60 percent off the retail price, and all titles must be 100 percent returnable to publishers.

What’s the advantage of being listed with a wholesaler and/or distributor? It means any bookstore or library in the world can find your title and order it. The two major wholesalers:

  • Baker & Taylor. B&T does not discriminate against small publishing companies. Simply fill out a few forms, mail them back, and you are in its central database. If you are interested in listing your title with B&T, e-mail bttitles@ baker-taylor.com (at the time of this writing) requesting information about title submissions. B&T requires a 55 percent discount on titles it lists. There is no charge for the standard service. For more information, visit btol.com.
  • Ingram Book Group. Ingram prefers to deal with publishers who publish more than 10 titles yearly. If you do not, you’ll need to submit your title to its distributor Book Clearing House (at 46 Purdy St., Harrison House, NY 10528. Phone: 800-431-1579. Web: www. bookch.com.) BCH has a set-up charge of $100, and $75 for each added title. Visit its Web site for more information.

The chains. Now that your title’s listed with two of the largest wholesalers, you can begin submitting to the chains:

  • Barnes & Noble, Small Press Department, 122 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011. Phone: 212-633-3300. Web: www. barnesandnobleinc.com.
  • Books-A-Million, Attention: New Acquisitions, American Wholesale Book Co., 131 25th St. South, Birmingham, AL 35210. Phone: 205-956-4151. Web: www.booksamillion.com.
  • Indigo Books & Music Inc. is the largest book retailer in Canada, operating under Indigo, Chapters and other store names. It also runs an online retail site, www.chapters.indigo.ca. The company says its POD technology can make a self-published book available to 25,000 booksellers and e-retailers worldwide and its online site in as little as 90 days. For more information, find the self-publishing link on the home page.

* As of this writing, Borders Books no longer accepts submissions from small presses and will only accept titles submitted directly from distributors.

For more help, check out 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer.

Submitting to independent bookstores. Now it’s time to let all the independents know about your book. You can buy a mailing list from www.new pages.com ($105) and submit your title directly. Or you can use the Advance Access Program, from the American Booksellers Association (www.bookweb. org). It blasts a bulk e-mail to independent bookstores. The cost is $150.

Receiving payment. Your distributor is the one responsible for paying you. Some wholesalers/distributors will automatically pay you after 90 days (in the unlikely event a bookstore should return your title within that period, you won’t be compensated for it).

The Corset: A Cultural History by fashion historian Valerie Steele

The lure of the corset is both glorious and notorious. It is the object of flowery verse and painterly strokes, scorned in medical journals and subjected to the perversities of pornography. Now, wriggling into this controversial container of femininity comes The Corset: A Cultural History by fashion historian Valerie Steele. Bolstered by a host of experts in the arts and sciences, Steele attempts to separate fact from fiction, in effect unlacing the pretty lies that surround this famed, framing garment. Tracing the history of the best waist cincher from courtly dames through foppish dandies, industrial wenches, proper ladies and modern working gals to haute couture cat-walkers, Steele deftly removes the stays of unsubstantiated notions, old wives’ tales and just plain wild rumors to get down to the flesh of the matter: why has the corset remained the ultimate vehicle of fashionable femininity? Steele takes us behind the scenes into bourgeois dressing rooms, debutante bashes, brothels, even doctor’s offices in sear ch of an answer.

A coffee-table book on the cultural history of the corset by an internationally recognized fashion expert should be, well, very pretty. It is: from the cover, featuring a sublime pearl-gray and rosy copper-bodiced evening dress a la Christian Lacroix to page after page of text-supported glossy illustrations gleaned from art history whimsical advertising, satirical sartorial cartoons and finally, en vogue fashion layouts. The Corset is at once couture eye candy and intellectually enlightening. What does it mean, this collection of steel, brocade, stays and strings? Steele quotes liberally from philosophers, writers, artists, queens and courtesans to uphold her argument that the corset is as complex as the lacing it uses. Stripped of erotic illusion and the arguments of finger-wagging hygienists and antifeminists, the corset, Steele concludes, has reappeared because–and some folks aren’t going to like this–women have wanted to be noticed by men.

Striking a tone that is neither misogynistic-shrill nor fashion-essay fawning, Steele begins by examining the first real corsets, which were used more to ensure courtly deportment than to torture hapless ladies-in-waiting. Starting in the 1500s, both men and women were subjected to constrictive dress to indicate their upstanding qualities and their Godgiven ability to rule, whether in fashion or war. For European Renaissance nobility, the body politic was held up by the, one could say, esprit de corps. Steele notes that orthopedic metal corsets dating from that time were not popular fashions but doctor-prescribed devices for correcting spinal deformities. Their misinterpretation as keepers of virtue and imprisoners of damsels belongs to the same realm as the mythical chastity belt.

As the corset continued to capture and shape waists between the sixteenth and mid-eighteenth centuries, its sexual (think eager laces going through virginal eyelets and even phallic connotations (think stiff) played well among writers and artists. In Europe in the early 1700s, we see the rise of paintings depicting la toilette galante, by artists such as Jean-Francois Detroy in France and John Collet in England. Paintings of young women being helped into their corsets while male admirers idly sat by and watched were immensely popular with the European bourgeoisie, who had begun to ape their social superiors in wearing the once regal girdle. Eventually, the genre degenerated from innocent dressing tableaux to revealing depictions of sordid daillances: an amusing 1840s lithograph by Paul Gavari, for example, shows a befuddled French man perplexed that the knot he tied in his wife’s corset in the morning is now quite different at day’s end; his lady simply stares into space, no doubt hoping her laces will not be tray her.

Steele moves through the history of the corset both chronologically and iconographically. The nineteenth century marks the high point of the corset. Through mass production and mass marketing, everyone from society matron to scullery maid could now don the whalebone bodice. Steele uses lots of period advertisements, trade cards and posters to illustrate her points: corsets, coming under fire from health experts and dress reformers alike, began to be marketed as more comfortable, more forgiving, but still as essentially indispensable.

While the early 1800s saw the shortlived trend of male corsets spearheaded by those fops of fashion, the dandies, the primary consumers of corsets continued to be women. Young girls who attempted to buck the trend were reined in by mothers and grandmothers who reminded them, not too subtly, that narrow waists were the only way to gain men’s affection. Steele argues that because marriage was a girl’s only means to economic security, going without a corset was tantamount to accepting a life of poverty, ill repute or even position. To be sans corset was deemed slovenly and slutty.

By the mid 1800s, doctors began steping up their campaign against tight lacing, citing a myriad of health problems–even death–caused by corsets. But steele and the various medical and forensic experts she cites agree that nineteenth-century doctors’ anxiety over female anatomy and their willingness to link a host of evils to the corset says more about their prejudices than it does about the supposedly deleterious effects of lacing. The culprits behind the recorded maladies were insufficient nutrition, repeated pregnancies, poor working conditions and other personal and social ills. Perhaps some silly young things laced themselves into early graves, but such extreme behavior was the exception, not the rule.

Another fiction that Steele disputes is the pervasiveness of fetishistic tight lacing associated of fetishistic tight lacing associated with stern, stunning s/m mistresses. Mid- to late-nineteenth-century magazines such as the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine and the Family Herald of England began to cater to curiosity about this strange sexually charged practice. What dress scholars like Doris Langley Moore have discovered is that the letters is these periodicals, purporting to be from readers about their true experiences as the hands of cinched madchen, are actually no more real than, say Penthouse “Forum” letters–no Austrian tight-lacing boarding schools with methodically documented waist training notes actually existed. It” fantasy that dies hard. Then and now, it sold subscriptions.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, neither social reformers nor doctors had put a noticeable dent in corset consumerism. Concern for women’s health produced the sport corset, but whalebones and steel spring stays remained, for the most part, firmly in place. What did rustle the old guard’s bustle was a growing population of young women who were more economically and socially free than ever before. They had some money in their pockets, and the fashion and entertainment world knew it. Suddenly, a new wave of leaner, longer corsets was in. New fabrics and new techniques helped cater to. the boyish figures that appeared on the Jazz Age scene.

By the 1960s, corsets and their effects on the body had become internalized, Steele contends, in the forms of exercise and diet. Same old body map, just a different route to get there. It was not until the 1970s that iconoclastic designers such as Vivienne Westwood trotted the corset out into the open again. Suddenly, it symbolized female strength and an anti-establishment aesthetic to a young generation that grew up unaware of the afflictions created by the self-imposed prison of bombast and wire. When pop singers like Madonna prowled the stage in Jean Paul Gaultier full-length corsets complete with exaggerated conical breast cups reminiscent of fifties-style brassieres, it, seemed as if the corset had come full circle, employed again as a means of establishing power: once suited to the crown and upper class, it now became a cinch for big (show) business girls and sexual groundbreakers.

Steele takes us on a tour of the mysteries of the corset, dispelling myths, shedding light on furtive fantasies, unlacing the antifeminist, misogynistic interpretations so closely bound up with this enduring garment. And though she reiterates that women were and are its chief proponents and purveyors–prisoners of their own vanity at times-one question lingers: why has the corset been so popular? Is it merely part of the quest for feminine beauty–a willingness to be pressed into oppression? Or is it something more primal, more sublime?

Here, another “F” word comes to mind–no, not fashion, which is inarguably Steele’s forte, but rather fertility. The ties that bind men and women in their reproductive urges manifest themselves in the shape of the corset: its nipped waist, rounded hips, virginal, unplowed form are inviting to both sexes. Its exaggerated, hourglass outline loudly tolls mating time. Maybe we haven’t heard the last word on the corset. Steele’s book parts the curtain to even further speculations on its long-lasting and bewitching power. Perhaps the next step is to let biologists have a crack at decoding it.

Visteon using web to sell product, buy from suppliers

In a big new Internet push, Visteon Automotive Systems is selling electronic equipment directly to online shoppers and is buying parts from suppliers in global, Web-based auctions.

Visteon already has begun Web sales. At first, it will sell only rear-seat entertainment systems online. Shoppers can have the systems installed by distributors of aftermarket electronics.

Visteon also might set up a company to sell parts made by other companies on its consumer Web site. The Ford parts unit wants to use the Internet as its chief way to double its $1 billion in aftermarket parts sales by 2002.

“There’s really no limit to what you could put out there,” said Dave Bent, chief information officer for Visteon.

Visteon’s move into Web retailing brings it into direct competition with major aftermarket parts-makers in the mobile-electronics industry, such as Sony Corp., Alpine Electronics and Pioneer Electronics. Visteon is a major supplier of original-equipment electronics for audio, information and security systems.

The Dearborn-based supplier wants a bigger piece of the market for automotive audio and information systems. That market is expected to grow 4 percent to $8.5 billion this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, based in Arlington, Va.

Suppliers also will see big changes wrought by eVisteon, the company’s new electronic-commerce program.

Visteon held its first Web-based parts auction, putting an estimated $150 million in supply contracts for printed circuit boards up for grabs.

Seventeen suppliers from Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia – some of them new to the auto industry – bid against one another for 90 minutes as Kim Marslender, a purchasing manager, orchestrated the auction from her computer screen.

Visteon prequalified the suppliers; company purchasers will make follow-up factory visits before Visteon completes its circuit-board contracts later this year. Of the 17 suppliers that took part in the bidding, six had no previous business with Visteon.

The company declined to identify the bidders or discuss how much lower prices were driven by the online auction. However, Marslender said the Web auction gives Visteon a much more accurate and timely sense of market prices.

Some current Visteon suppliers will lose business, she acknowledged.

“It’s really going to change the way purchasing is run,” Marslender said. “We’re getting a little smarter, a little wiser.”

Using the Web to buy parts also elevates bidding to a global scale. Visteon was pleased to see Asian electronics companies in the auction, because many are slashing prices to cope with struggling economies in home markets.

Visteon plans to hold several more Web auctions for undisclosed commodity parts later this year. The company buys $8.5 billion in parts and supplies annually.

General Motors Corp. in Detroit has been buying parts via direct computer links to suppliers for about a year. Currently, GM makes 15-20 buys a month from suppliers with the help of a private online network. On Aug. 10, GM announced it would expand vehicle communications with a new business unit called e-GM.

A total re-engineering of Visteon’s computer infrastructure, designed with a possible spin-off from Ford in mind, has been in the works for more than a year.

E-commerce will help Visteon achieve its goal of expanding sales outside of Ford, Bent said. Non-Ford customers currently account for 9 percent of Visteon’s $18 billion in sales. Visteon wants to expand that business to at least 20 percent by 2002.

During the next three years, the eVisteon program will roll out throughout the company’s original-equipment business, a global network of 77 manufacturing plants and joint-venture operations.

The company is using business management software from SAP AG, e-commerce tools from Sun Microsystems Inc. and Netscape browser software from America Online Inc. A.T. Kearney Inc. supplied software for the auction in printed circuit boards.

Earlier this month, Visteon began moving business customers at its Carlite Automotive Glass unit to the Web. Aftermarket glass installers, which once depended on the telephone and fax, now may use a Web connection to order Visteon replacement windows from an online catalog. By combining internal systems with Web connections to the marketplace, Visteon is creating a “digital nervous system” that will be much more responsive to its customers and suppliers, Bent said.