Reader Thanks and End of Year Thoughts

As nears it’s first anniversary, I am struck by how wide its readership has become. The blog is now being read in 45 countries, a fact I find quite surprising considering its left-of-center, highly secular orientation and eclectic approach to subject matter. That some of my readers live in places such as China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia and other countries not exactly known for their openness and/or access to liberal ideas has been eye-opening and extremely gratifying for me. So to all of you, thanks, and I hope you’ll keep reading as, in mid-January, the blog will be entering its second year of life.

Another event is also approaching. Late January will see the one year mark since publication of Zendoscopy. I was rather abruptly reminded of this when I received notice from my publisher in the form of a bill. Yes, a bill. Two, in fact. Apparently, I’m being charged for keeping the book on the publisher’s active list. One bill was for the hard copy and the other for Kindle.

Now, none of this makes much sense to me. First of all, the hard copy (trade paperback, actually), is set up for print on demand. This means that they have no actual stock and, therefore, no cost for storage of inventory. They get an order; they print and take their cut of the buyer’s payment. In other words, my book exists only as a file on a computer. So why should it cost $60 per year to keep it in their “active” catalog? Beats me, but I’m stuck paying it.

That leaves the question of the Kindle edition, which is even more puzzling. The Kindle edition resides on as a computer-based file. All the publisher gets is a cut from the sales. And yet, they’re charging $10 to keep it on their “active” list. As the guy on Saturday Night Live says, “What’s up with that?”

FYI, I paid both bills.

There’s a good lesson in this, and I’ve certainly learned it. My next book, which I’m currently trying to bleed out into my word processor, will be e-published by me and not by a publisher on my behalf. I did with Spacebraid and Other Tales of a Dystopian Universe, and it has worked out well. I will consider working with a publisher for hard copy, although I may handle that on my own, too, since the benefits of dealing with an on-demand publisher seem to be marginal at best. Perhaps the greatest advantage of working with the publisher of Zendoscopy was expert cover design, but that’s about it, since most of what the publisher offers in terms of marketing services can be done myself at half the cost.

Things have been so busy here that I haven’t had time to set up a Festivus pole. Maybe next year…Still, although we don’t have much seasonal change here in southern California, we do have subtle weather variations. And we’ve had a bit of a let-up in our long drought, with quite a bit of rain in the last week or two. This morning, we even had some lightning and thunder. Good weather for staying indoors and writing. So, as this blog entry comes to a close, it’s back to working on my next novel, subject to be announced…eventually.


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