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I was a very early fan of Amazon.com, but now Amazon is deciding what to sell based not on what customers want, but on how much they can undercut pricing and harm the publishers. I have come to believe that Amazon is a psychopathic institution. Here in America there is a great movement to imbue corporations with rights. To treat them as real people/individuals. That means a few are going to be sociopaths and psychopaths. Amazon now qualifies.

I am slowly replacing all the ‘buy online’ links on my website to link to other book buying sites like Barnes & Noble or Powells or Indiebound. Not that this will make a big difference to Amazon as I’m sure my links only deliver a handful of sales a year if that.

But after their latest conflagration with Hachette shows, they would rather destroy an industry than spilt a penny. Their offer to keep selling books released from Hachette only if the authors take all of the profit and cut out the publisher is so ugly in spirit I found it hard to believe. But here it is.

I have nothing against indy-publising. I’ve done it most of my life. I sold photocopied comic books for years. I ‘self published’ an iPad read-along comic book App. three years ago.

I will probably release some short, illustrated horror stories this Halloween for the iPad on the iBook Store. Putting work out there when you want can be a good thing for your creative spirit even if the work falls short for a broad majority of readers. But for Amazon to treat publishers and editors as if they add nothing to the work I do as an author and illustrator is beyond arrogance. My earnings are about as far from Stephen King’s earning as an author can be, but I have never once regretted working with a publisher and editor. They have done nothing but raise the quality of my work and help sell the books. Unlike Amazon that more or less throws up 10 billion things and hopes someone will find what they like. It’s road-kill-buffet style capitalism.

I would shop at Amazon for the convince alone even if they weren’t selling books at losses and strong-arming publishers. But they have made a choice. Domination or bust. Arrogance is such an unpleasant shortcoming for anyone or any corporation.

beanbean2How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans was recently picked by Parade Magazine as a top food-themed picture book! I illustrated David LaRochelle’s wonderful yarn and am thrilled to see that the book continues to gather new readers.

Check out the list from the page linked here. It’s a slide like list of the top books including Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and some book about Green Eggs and Ham.

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When a good dog dies there is no memorial parade. There’s just a lot of little things that aren’t quite right anymore. A quiet in the house at dinner time that seems unfamiliar. Tears fall every time you get lost in a careless moment of recollection.

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When a rescue dog comes into your life, you don’t know what they have been through. But they often have a look in their eyes that tells you more than you might want to know. Sometimes they come with scars you can see. Did they get time to be a bouncing puppy with their mother nearby? Did they romp and play with their siblings?  Have they learned not to trust the domineering animals on two legs? Did they get to sleep on the sofa –  because they can now, no need to look guilty.

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And you hope their past wasn’t that bad and you hope they will forget it if it was and you love them. And in time the look mellows. And they shine.

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And when they are gone you wonder how you lived your life before they joined it.

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hp2 hp1I just ran across these covers from (I think) the book’s release in the UK. Now, please don’t hold this against me, but I am not the ‘most biggest’ Harry Poter fan in the world so I don’t know all the details of editions release, colors used, day of the week when a new one came out. Anyway, what interests me is how these covers just feel wrong. And I’m not an expert cover artist, but these feel like what the covers should have looked like – if the books weren’t very good. That’s an odd thing to say, but that’s what they feel like and no slight against the artist or designers. It’s not JUST the art or JUST the design. They seem to latch onto the wrong tone. They feel too lite, too bright and a bit too reduced. They feel like an after school special announcement instead of belonging to one of the most read books of fantasy ever released.

I’ll need to think about this some more to understand what I’m reacting to.

I’ll be at the Barnes and Noble in Tigard on Saturday July 26th at 2:00 PM.

Actually I am often at the Barnes and Noble in Tigard buying books and stuff and I don’t announce it on my blog, but this time I’m there because they asked me to be. I’ll be doing a drawing lesson and a little dancing and I will be happy to sign books while I am there. I’ll even sign books by other people if you really want me to.

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You can read all about my visit by clicking on this link. This is the Barnes and Noble at the Bridgeport Mall off the 5. I guess I should qualify this by saying I’ll be there by 2 if I find parking. So I better leave a half hour for that.

They will have Earthling! and The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot to sell. They may have my other books available too but since I still don’t understand book distribution and ordering in these modern times when an individual can always get a book, but schools and stores can’t seem to – they may not have any of my other books. I will have copies of all my books with me to look at including a copy of The Great Thanksgiving Escape! Which sin’t released until September.

So if you are in the Portland area, stop by. Say hi. Or ask me if I wrote The Lorax. depending on my mood I might say I did.

 

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Scrolls lasted until about 800 AD or so, then the codex format took over. Well now some people think we are in a post codex world – back to scrolls (scrolling) in a digital world. But this document is a great reminder about why stuff on paper looks and feels so great.

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This is a French Paper Co. promotion from those paper obsessed folks at CSA design. As they say in the brochure – “Paper works best when printed with designs & messages that matter.” This is a wonderful counter against the modern notion of digital everything, everywhere, all-the-time. There is a timelessness and a sense of mortality with printed material and this paradox makes for a rich experience.


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I spent many years of my life enshrined in the digital end of design after starting my career at a newspaper and in an ad agency doing print design. I still have a soft spot for traditional print design (especially when it’s as great looking as this promotion) and I hope it doesn’t go away. I still love ink on paper. I think that’s why even after all the jobs I have had in digital media I find myself still working in books.

 

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I updated my website with info about my next book, The Great Thanksgiving Escape, which escapes in September from dank, dark warehouses.

It’s a Thanksgiving story. I hope the title didn’t give that away.

The first review ran for it in Kirkus, and they said very nice things and I could breathe again – so I guess I can start my publicity push…which mainly focuses on me walking around town with a copy of the book under my arm and when people look at me I say – “I noticed you seem interested in my NEW book!” and I read it to them. Out loud. After all, picture books are meant to be read aloud. This does lead to some delays and frequent calls to the police, especially when I do this while I’m in line at the grocery check-out at around 5:30.

OK. That’s not true. That’s not ALL my promotional ideas. I also super glue several copies of the book to the outside of my car and I update my website and blog.

OK. Sadly enough, my main publicity idea is updating my blog and website.

And the radio ads I’m taking out for it.

 

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