Saturday, April 30, 2005


I read in the biz section of todays (Sat., 4/30/05) New York Times that Apple Computer is banning ALL books by publisher John Wiley because of an unauthorized bio of Steve Jobs that Wiley is bringing out.

Are we publishers going to let them do this? Is this the kind of action we want everyone to take when we publish something that some powerful organization might disagree with?

Does Apple have the right to decide what books go in their stores? Of course they do. But do we publishers have a right to dump our Apple Computers in Boston harbor? Yes we do!

Apple is suing a Harvard student who operates a web site for Apple users., accusing him of asking Apple employees to send him inside "secret" info. The company has also filed suits to stop leaks on other sites that report on news about the company?

Tell me something. What is the ONE INDUSTRY that Apple computers dominate? Yes, it's publishing... it's us.

What if every publisher decided that they would junk their Apple machines in favor of Windows or Linux-based machines? Would that be the proper thing to do? I think so.

What if every publisher refused to hire graphic designers, or publicists, or printers who used Apple computers to create their work? Would that be the right thing to do? I think so.

Would it be a hardship? Would it cost us some money? It sure would.

General Motors recently pulled its advertising from the LA Times. Has corporate America declared war on publishers?

We publishers are "big" on asking others to take action and protest or boycott. We're tough when someone else's oxen is gored. But how tough are we when it's our own pocketbook?

We know what's right. But do we have the fortitude to DO what is right?

Who is going to be the first publisher to stand up, write Steve Jobs a letter, make it public, and say to Apple Computer, "If you do this, you lose me as a customer!"

There must be some publisher out there using Apple machines who has some guts. There must be some publisher out there who knows right from wrong. There must be some publisher out there who will do the right thing.

Alan N. Canton, President Adams-Blake Company, Inc --- Adams-Blake Company provides the JAYA123 service to small businesses of all types. JAYA is an order-entry, billing, invoicing, inventory,royalty, and financial system used on the web ....nothing to download or install... and it cost all of $14.95 a month. "It's cool as a moose." Try the free demo at at: ---

Saturday, April 09, 2005


This is a great time to be a writer... either fiction or non. There are more publishers than ever. There is more media access than ever. There are emerging nations of new readers looking for material. There are more places to market intellectual property. Indeed, there is more opportunity than ever before for a writer or an artist, musician.... even poets... if they know a little about lyrics.

Why do you think there are so many people wanting to write... or "trying" to write? My take is because they see an opportunity to "make it."

How else does an unknown woman writer, on welfare (the dole) in the UK end up with more money than the royal family?

Where do four guys from Liverpool end up changing an entire culture?

Where does the 'good stuff' that we have come from? More importantly, why is there so little 'good stuff."

What I have said for years and years and years is that a major problem we have in our society is that we don't have many GOOD writers or GOOD artists. You can debate the hell out of this, but bottom line so much of the stuff that we are presented with is plain old unadulterated crap.

Write something really good. I mean really, really, really good (a Death of A Salesman, a Caine Mutiny, a Lord of the Rings, a Kill a Mockingbird, a What Color is your Parachute, a Grapes of Wrath, a Zen and Motorcycle Maint., or any of your favorite books) and if you work hard at it and do all you can to get it noticed, you will have A GOOD CHANCE for a huge success. I truly believe that. Hey. It works for 'pulp.' So why won't it work for 'quality.' John Grishem sold books out of the trunk of his car. He WORKED FOR IT. Most of his stuff is 'pulp.' How many writers are willing to really WORK for it like John did?

I don't believe that our society does NOT recognize quality. It's that we see so little of it from our "creative" intellectuals. It's a hell of a lot easier to write "another" murder mystery than something that takes some real "creativity".... like what a Hemingway or a Wouk might produce.

These are great times to be a writer or an artist or a musician. And because of it, everyone and their dog thinks they can be one... and the majority of them are just plain terrible. Thus, we are deluged with crap.

I've heard it time and time again that there are no 'quality" creative people in this "era". I don't know. But I don't for a minute buy the argument that it is TOTALLY our 'society to blame.' We're all here and when quality is presented to us (The Beatles, Rowling, Woodward, Miller, Williams, Vorst, etc.) we buy it.

It has been said that to have great writers we need to have great readers. Who reads today? When? I know the answer. It's people over 40 when they are on a plane. And that's about it in any numbers.

So we have few readers who are reading crap produced by the major "New York" publishers. The whole system is broken. Why? Because so few people see reading as an enjoyable pastime... and those who DO read are urged to read crap. It's that mass media at work. The lowest common denominator.

The solution is easy. We not only have to "sell" people on reading (as opposed to TV, GameBoy, etc.) but we also NEED quality content... and if the content is out there, I sure as hell don't know where it is coming from. All I see is crap.

It's true. The bestseller lists are for the most part crap. The hype is crap. Most of the 'airplane' books are crap. What is promoted by the mass media is crap.

Why is this true? Simple. It's because those who publish quality works, don't work hard enough to get it into the mainstream. They just don't. The publishers who have good 'stuff' either don't know or don't care enough to build a readership.

Moan and groan all you want about how "good works" don't get sold. Then show me the "effort" made on the part of those creators to get them sold and I'll tell you again that the only place where success comes before work... is in the dictionary.

Why are the 'evil' big publishers able to sell so much crap to those left who still read? Because the small press... the purveyors of so many very good books, either don't know how to market them, or they don't want to work that hard. I don't know the answer but I do know that as an industry where small publishers make up at least 60% of the available content, that they can all do a better job in publishing better works and working harder to get them sold.

And the first thing they can do is to stop publishing crap. And the second thing they can do is to work like hell to get the mega-corp-owned media to take some notice. This is NOT easy. The communication conglomerates want to push their own crap. But they also need listeners and eyeballs. Your job is to get these guys to realize that your books and the publicity around those books can CREATE a BUZZ and bring the media what they want... ears and eyeballs.

This is not rocket science... but it takes a fair amount of awareness on the part of publishers that seems to be lost on most of them.

It all comes down to two simple principles. Don't buy crap. Don't publish crap.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


By and large, men and women are pretty evenly split when it comes to the severity of their particular gender's specific health maintenance routines.

However, there is one particular procedure that women can only guess about. It starts when the doctor tells a man to "assume the position." There is nothing like a prostate examination to give one a certain Zen-like perspective on the world.

The way that Ingram accumulates all returns and passes them back to us for credit, is another example of how all of us, large and small, in this industry continually "take it in the shorts."

Long known as the "cesspool" of returns, when a distributor or chain goes under, Ingram always finds a way to make a nice profit from the adversity of their ex-customer. And who is going to get the shaft in the ass? You, me, and every other publisher. And I have it on good authority that there is another good sized distributor that could (not will) go paws-up. So stock up on the KY-Jelly because you are going to need it.

Is the Tennessee Mafia ever going to collect returned inventory and store it for later sale? Not on your life. They are going to ship it back to you as fast as they can.

What a deal. Say they sold and owe you for 50 copies of one of your books, to the amount of $500. And lets assume that you have other distributors or wholesalers who might have supplied some chain with, say 100 copies of your book. These 100 copies come back to Ingram. It will wipe out what they owe you and they may even decide to assess you a debit for the other 50 books. So instead of them owing you $500, you now owe them $500, plus they kept the $500 they were due to pay you. If you do business with Ingram, my best advice to you is that you better get ready for that rubber glove.

It is the way of the world for publishers to be reamed. It is one of the laws of nature. Why is this? Because we have no countervailing force or power to be used against the overwhelming leverage that Ingram has over us. In a Zen interpretation of the world, each force always has an opposite force to keep it in balance. Unions vs. management. Congress vs. President. Insurance companies and regulators. Auto companies vs. environmentalists.

What is the Zen body of force that surrounds us small publishers and which we hope will exert equal and opposite pressure on Ingram? Unfortunately for us, there is none. In the same manner that you know when you are at the doctor's office that there is no way you are going to get out of "assuming the position," our karma precludes that we will be hosed by Ingram; and there is no force great enough to prevail against them.

The purports of Zen, as well as the ancient Vedic literature, is an attempt to explain and justify to us what seems to be an imperfect world. And yet in all my readings of the old texts, I have yet to understand why the PMA refuses to stand up and exert the power that it surely has. Where are the protestations of the Executive Director? Where are the howls of protest from the president and the PMA board? Zen fails me here. The power is there, but is goes unused, even unnoticed.

Dare we look to Brian Judd for help? What about Jerry Jenkins and his empire? Maybe Dan Poynter or John Kremer might speak in our behalf? Fern Reiss? No, that is not to be. These are all private citizens or profit seeking organizations who don't see OUR troubles as being THEIR problems.

As for the PMA, indeed, it does not take a Zen master to realize that the more problems we publishers have, the more it would seem that we need the advice and assistance of Jan Nathan and Associates.

So my children, do not look to others to do what you need to do yourself. There is no one out there to help you. Indeed, as my old friend Don would say, " The father, son, and holy ghost have caught the last train to the coast."

So as we publishers are still being forced to "assume the position," I ask myself the eternal question. What is the real meaning of life in this industry? What is our real position in the publishing cosmos? Who will speak for us? Will you? If not you, than who?

Do you have the courage to write to Ingram to complain? Do you have the courage to write to PMA and complain? Do you have the courage to write to the AAP and complain? Do you have the courage to stop doing business with Ingram and anyone else who insists on returning inventory? If you don't, than stop complaining.

Maybe you need to ask yourself if you are part of the problem... or part of the solution?

What is YOUR response when Ingram tells you to "assume the position?"

"Ah, grasshopper, you ask so many questions."

Alan Canton, President Adams-Blake Company --- Adams-Blake Company provides the JAYA123 service to small businesses of all types. JAYA is an order-entry, billing, invoicing, inventory, royalty, and financial system used on the web ....nothing to download or install... and it cost all of $14.95 a month. "It's cool as a moose." Try the free demo at at: ---


Since today's Rant hit the wires I've been inundated with questions about which distributor (IMO) could be in trouble and maybe on the road to going 'paws up.'

I won't tell ('cause I don't want to end up in court), but find out who these people own.... and put 2 plus 2 together. (Oh, and DO notice the date! Am I on top of this stuff or what?)

While I'm never in doubt, I could be wrong (indeed, I hope I am) but those of you who have been around these parts and who have read A Saturday Rant for the past ten years know how it all starts.

Also, remember that over the years I have a pretty good track record in calling these plays. Forewarned is forearmed (not to be confused with fore-play!. You heard it from A Saturday Rant first! Snooze and you lose.