Aiming At Amazon

by John Holbo on December 26, 2008

Eszter’s Amazon Price Discrimination post generated some heat and also light. Clearly folks are fascinated by how it all works. (I am.) So here’s something: Aaron Shepard, author of Aiming At Amazon, has posted the draft of the 2nd edition as a free PDF download (here’s the blog link; here’s a direct link to the zip file itself.)

What’s it about? I’ll quote the subtitle: ‘the NEW business of self-publishing – or – how to publish books for profit with print on demand by Lightning Source and book marketing on Amazon.’ That’s pretty narrow, so maybe you don’t care. If you do think that might be interesting, I’d say it’s a good book, and an excellent how-to. If you want a practical step-by-step to starting your own micro-publishing business, he’s got the blueprint. If that’s not for you, it’s still interesting. For example, he has smart things to say about Amazon’s apparently hair-raisingly ruthless attempts to stamp out the POD competition. (If you don’t know about that, you could start here, then graduate to reading the actual legal complaint here. It’s an ongoing class action suit.) Shepard doesn’t deny that Amazon is ruthless but he takes a small-fish-can-still-swim-here line. I’ll quote from his blog (presumably he doesn’t want his draft quoted, but it says pretty much the same): [click to continue…]

Saying thanks

by Eszter Hargittai on December 26, 2008

Last year, when I was putting together my tenure file, I kept thinking that a section was missing. Where was I going to thank all the people who had helped me over the years? Of course, it makes all the sense in the world that a tenure file does not have an acknowledgements section. After all, talk about a situation where one would feel obligated to include everyone, rendering the exercise completely pointless. Nonetheless, while academic work is often characterized as a lonely enterprise, feedback from others – whether on research, teaching or professionalization – is an essential part of the process. Thus it seemed wrong to put forward one’s materials without acknowledging all the assistance and support offered by colleagues and friends near and far.

When I heard that I got tenure, I said thanks to people as I let them know about it. But it didn’t quite seem enough. While there is room in articles to acknowledge others’ contributions, they tend to be focused on the specific actions related to that particular piece. Book acknowledgements can be a bit more inclusive, but even there, it is not clear how wide a net one would cast.

When talking to one of my colleagues about this, he suggested that the appropriate thanks is to pay it forward by mentoring future generations. That is a nice and generous idea and I’m happy to do it. Nonetheless, I still wish there was a way for the many people to get credit. This is part of all that invisible work in academia (and probably many other professions) that never shows up on CVs. Thanks to those who engage in it, it means a lot!

The exit door leads in, and other stories

by Henry Farrell on December 26, 2008

Happy Christmas to those of you who are so inclined; happy Festivus/religious or non religious holiday of your choice to those who aren’t. And in honour of those of you who have spent a large chunk of the day trying to open presents for the pleasure of impatient children, I present you with the iSlice, a ceramic blade purpose-designed to ‘open difficult plastic packages,’ such as those heat-sealed plastic packs ones that many toys and electronic devices come in. And what does the iSlice arrive in? Why a difficult-to-open heat-sealed plastic pack of course.