Topic: my books
I'm not writing about politics right now--too depressing! The hope for the world is in the Church.
Review by Dr. Bruce Cook at Reserve Books.com describes Our Oneness in Christ as a volume that "breaks new ground in the increasingly important struggle for unity among Christian believers" and that could be a part of "the most significant movement in the Christian church since the Reformation."
"This book should be read by all Christians who are looking for a true revival in this age," according to a review by Pastor Dwight Coffman posted on Spiritrestoration.org.
"As a Bible Study, this book is good and will benefit the reader" according to Theodocia at Ghost Writer Literary Reviews.
According to Richard R. Blake, reviewing on Amazon.com: "A much needed book on a subject close to God's own heart."
Book summary at The Authors' Den.
Obviously, as a Christian, the main purpose of my life on earth is to come to know God and to trust Him to live through me, through my thoughts, words and actions, that He may be glorified in the world around me. It is to learn to live out my oneness with Him in the Spirit.
I have long been aware that, for me personally, with my unusual gifts, personality and disabilities, a large part of that purpose involves letting God live through me intellectually, guiding my study and thinking (which are very major parts of my life). I have also long been aware one of the major purposes, or possibly better "sub-purposes," of my life involves moving the Church, Christ's Body on Earth, toward more outward manifestation of its real unity. That has been the focus of my intellectual activity for the last 14 or 15 years of my life. It has led to the publication of numerous websites (links to all of which are found on the Christian-oneness.org website) and one book (Our Oneness in Christ).
But thus far these efforts do not appear to have been very effective. The websites usually gather only a few hundred "hits" per month, and very little response. The book, published in December 2006, has received some very positive reviews but has sold only about 30 copies, total, not counting copies I or my coauthor have purchased ourselves and distributed for free. I have sought for coauthors for additional books, believing God was in it (and I still do believe that), but have received only weak response to my proposals. God works in His own time, but I have had to ask Him why nothing seems to be happening.
He has reminded me that I must let Him guide my course. And He has started me on a new course of personal preparation. The underlying ideas in my existing book and websites are generally scripturally sound, but I do not yet have the philosophical or theological background to adequately understand where the divisions in the Church really came from. I also don't yet have the background to fully appreciate why the various divided entities in the Church seem to be locked in the mode of insisting that everyone outside of them--whether unbelievers or believers from other denominational groups--must come to them on their own terms, fully understanding and affirming their theological terms of art, or not at all. (Obviously, this traditional insistence that those who come to Christ must first understand and agree with church language and forms of thought keeps many people away from Christ in this post-Christian country). So, he has strated me on a course of reading as He directs.
One of the major functions of this blog will be to present reviews of many of the books I'm directed to read, or have already read. These reviews will be posted in the "reviews" topic of this blog. The other major function of this blog will be to provide a place to vent frustrations with the world aruond me. This venting will occur mostly in the "pure satire" topic.
I've been looking around the web for confirmation of my publisher's reports about monopolistic practices of Amazon.com involving publish-on-demand (POD) books such as my own.
I have found only one article that discussed--briefly--Amazon's apparent price fixing last year. Recall from an earlier post that PublishAmerica said that last year Amazon threatened to stop selling PublishAmerica's books unless they would agree to sell those books on their own website only at full list price. Thus, in essence, they demanded that PublishAmerica promise never to undercut Amazon's discount in selling to the public. This is, if true, classic price fixing. The one article I've found thuse far that discusses the situation confirms that Amazon actually did demand the right to fix the prices of PublishAmerica's books and those of other POD publishers. See Amazon BookSurge information clearinghouse at Writers' Weekly.
But no one appears to have raised a big issue over this price fixing.
However, there are scores of online articles and blog entries concerning the subject of PublishAmerica's second letter to me--Amazon's threat to quit selling the books of any POD publisher who did not submit electronic versions of all of their books, reformatted to Amazon's specifications at significant expense, to Amazon's in-house POD unit, BookSurge. The method by which Amazon threatened to stop selling the books was also quite sneaky, and was a veiled threat to use Amazon's visibility to damage sales of the books through other distribution channels. Instead of simply taking down the web pages on Amazon's site advertising the banned books, Amazon threatened to keep the web pages up, but with the "buy" buttons removed from them. The books would still be availabe through Amazon's "used and new" links to other distributors, but would not be available directly from Amazon. This would give the false impression to customers seeking to buy a banned book at Amazon that the book was simply "out of print."
Of course, since these articles first started coming out, Amazon has actually carried out its threat against PublishAmerica, which refused to charge its authors the fees necessary to reformat their books to Amazon's specifications. All books sold by PublishAmerica, including my book (Our Oneness in Christ, ISBN 1424160359) now show up on Amazon exactly as if they were out of print.
Numerous articles and blogs refer to this situation as Amazon's BookSurge "imbroglio." Some speak of the possibility of an antitrust suit (which, incidentally, I would join as a plaintiff if a significant group of others was also participating). The best of the articles and blogs on this are:
Amazon BookSurge information clearinghouse at Writers' Weekly
Petition to stop Amazon's monopolistic practice at I-Petitions
The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla at Independent authors' Guild
Amazon's POD Monopoly on BookTwo.org
Amazon Bullying Raises Monopoly and Business Concerns on Blogging Stocks
Amazon's official response, which, unfortunately, makes little sense from my perspective.
Here is part of another e-mail from my publisher, announcing how it is fighting back against the Amazon:
PublishAmerica is drastically reducing sales prices of all titles on its own website!
A few weeks ago we shared with you news about the pressure that many publishers were receiving from online vendor Amazon.com. As you know, PublishAmerica refused to budge. Today we can also report that this was not the first time that Amazon attempted to strong-arm PublishAmerica.
Roughly a year ago Amazon forced PublishAmerica to raise the pricing of our own books on our own website. They would not allow us to sell our almost 30,000 titles at sales prices lower than what Amazon chose to charge, and they threatened us with the very same retaliation that followed a year later after all. We complied at the time, and have been charging full list price in our own online store, because Amazon also charged full list price.
Staring down the bully: Now that Amazon has decided to punish PublishAmerica anyway for resisting further bullying, the time has come to reduce prices in our own online bookstore. And as an introductory step we will now slash our prices in half. That's right: all book sales on PublishAmerica's website are at a 50 pct discount.
Go see for yourself at http://www.publishamerica.com/.
The introductory offer will expire April 28, when discounts will go back to approximately where they were before Amazon first attempted to dictate the nation's vending terms.
My book can be found on my publisher's website at Our Oneness in Christ (on PublishAmerica).
I recently became aware of another positive review of my book. This one was authored by someone I had never heard of before, and someone to whom I had not submitted a copy of my book for review.
This new positive review is on a "Book Reviews" blog (bookreviews07)on Blogspot.A listing of the other reviews of my book (all positive) may be found at Our Oneness in Christ.
According to a recent e-mail from my publisher, PublishAmerica, my book (Ian Johnson and Lauston Stephens, Our Oneness in Christ, ISBN 1424160359) is no longer available through Amazon.com due to a dispute between PublishAmerica and Amazon. My publisher's e-mail stated:
PublishAmerica is intensifying its ties with BarnesandNoble.com as its primary online vendor. At the same time, we are devaluating our relationship with Amazon.com. Unfortunately, we are doing this under pressure. Amazon has informed us a few days ago that they are insisting on printing every PublishAmerica book they sell, in their own recently bought in-house digital printing facility. We have been given just over two weeks to comply. Their ultimatum implies that PublishAmerica must submit almost 60,000 separate book files (text and cover), and redo every single one of them so they conform to the complicated technical specs that Amazon's in-house press requires.
They also demand a huge increase of their own profit-per-book, which would lead to dramatically lower royalty payments for our authors on all books sold through Amazon.com. Amazon's threat: if you do not play ball, we will disable the "Buy" button for your books.
Not surprisingly, PublishAmerica refuses to be swayed by anyone's strong-arming tactics, big name or otherwise, especially given the fact that budging would mean an additional expense on the publisher's side of tens of thousands of dollars, on top of the unacceptable royalty losses for our authors. When they tried to force our hand in the past, Amazon representatives have suggested that PublishAmerica should simply pass on its Amazon-caused expenses to its authors. Of course we have refused this. PublishAmerica never charges its authors as much as a single penny, ever. We are not going to change this winning policy under the threat of anyone's intimidation, nor are we willing to involuntarily accept any royalty cuts on behalf of our authors.
PublishAmerica's almost 30,000 titles remain available to Amazon, and we will continue to also make all future titles available to them. Amazon continues to be able to access our books the same way they, as well as all other retailers, have always accessed them, through at least four separate venues. One of those venues is LightningSource, a daughter company of the world's largest book wholesaler Ingram, which prints our books for retailers. (Amazon was attempting to take away a portion of this printing volume from Lightning Source until we prevented it.) If they want to obtain any PublishAmerica title, they can at all times, as they always have. PublishAmerica's books will furthermore continue to be available to just about every other book retail venue as well, including all Barnes and Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks, Books-a-Million and many other chain and independent bookstores, and to online outlets such as BarnesandNoble.com.
Barnes and Noble remains PublishAmerica's number one customer: more of our books have always been sold through Barnes and Noble and that company's online store than through any other vendor. Given the new circumstances, we now fully anticipate significant sales increases through BarnesandNoble.com and other places.
You may find my book on BarnesandNoble.com at: Our Oneness in Christ
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