Book Biz: Kalamazoo Renaissance, eBook Royalties, Yoopers, Conservative Book Sales Drop

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Are you concerned that a college degree is unaffordable for your children or grand children? Does the prospect of mountains of student loan debt taken out by starry-eyed young adults who want to believe that somehow the loans will not haunt their financial health in their near-term future concern you?


Here’s a tip. Move to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the sooner the better. In 2005 it was announced that all graduates of the Kalamazoo school system and are eligible to attend college will have their tuition paid for by the Kalamazoo Promise. Even students who transfer into the school system as high school freshman qualify for 65% support. A group of anonymous donors fund the program, and so far has spent over $20 million on higher education for 3,831 students. 2


Former Kalamazoo schools superintendent Janice M. Brown (the only person that communicates directly with the donors) said the long term goal is to boost Kalamazoo’s economy, which like many Midwestern cities in the 21st century faced a loss of industry and a resiliently stagnant economy.


And nine years later, by any criteria, the Kalamazoo Promise works.


I thought of the Promise today when I read another article about Kalamazoo in the Detroit Free Press entitled Kalamazoo Quietly Emerging as a Literary Hotspot. I expected an exaggerated puff-piece written by the Chamber of Commerce, but it seems like there is actually a modest expanded literary presence in the city with the funny name. kazoo books


I don’t expect that anyone from the Iowa Writers Program in Iowa City will turn green with envy, but a rebirth of arts and culture in any small Midwestern town has surely drawn some attention from cities with underfunded libraries and those watching area youth migrate away from their hometown.


Might the Kalamazoo Promise and this mini-Renaissance that Kalamazoo is experiencing be related? Maybe, maybe not. But any city that goes all in to support its young adults pursuing their higher educations is bound to reap some rewards down the line and what could be better than adding writers, poets, and teachers to a community many thought could have been sucked into the black-hole vortex of shrinking employment opportunities and population loss that many formerly prosperous Michigan towns still face.

Vook Offers Ebook Sales Reports


Vook has announced a new sales reporting service that can track daily sales and issue a monthly report for all of your ebook titles. There’s no charge for the service.


Leveling the Playing Field


The closing of a Barnes and Noble in my boyhood hometown spotlights the uneven application of tax laws. How is it fair that one retailer selling a product collects sales tax on it (all the while paying state and local property and business taxes) while another retailer selling the same product doesn’t?


Conservative BookListWhat’s a Fair Ebook Royalty? 25% or 50%?


Since most publishing costs associated with book production don’t apply to ebook distribution, some authors will not allow their work to be sold as an ebook for 25% royalties.


Conservative Book Bubble Bursts


Books written by conservative politicians, pundits, and researchers have been on a tear for the last fifteen years, but it appears the party is ending. Sales figures show a saturated market that only attracts readers to books by famous, successful authors, usually elected officials.



Branded Print Magazines Are Growing


The print and bind industry has seen entire markets disappear in the past fifteen years. Now corporations are discovering that producing their own ink and paper magazine can be cost effective. These publications build brand loyalty stronger than pixel marketing or placing ads in consumer magazines.


Printing Isn’t a Growing Business, So…


Kathie Gillespie, owner of A&B Printing in Las Vegas NV realized her business (and industry) weren’t growing so she’s transforming her shop to enter a business that does: growing and selling medical marijuana. If her permits and inspections pass muster, she will operate the first legal dispensary in Southern Nevada.


Say Ya To Da UP, eh?yooper sign


If you live in Michigan you are either a Yooper, if you live “above” the Mackinac Bridge in the Upper Peninsula, or a Troll if you live “beneath” the bridge. Having strong Yooper roots, I’m pleased to see that Merriam-Webster has conceded that “Yooper” is indeed a word.


Garamond Saves


Not only is Garamond a beautiful font for books, apparently it can save you money if you use an ink jet printer because it seems to use less ink. If federal, state and local governments used it, it’s estimated it would save taxpayers $400 million each year.


On Being a Successful Writer


While ignoring prominent exceptions to the rule (think Walt Whitman and Charles Dickens ) perhaps the most important trait shared by successful writers is to be born and raised in a wealthy family. Unfortunately, poverty has again become the norm for many writers.


Day One Seeking Submissions


When Amazon’s digital only literary journal Day One debuted last October it did not solicit submissions, the plan being to troll MFA programs for content. Day One has just announced that it is seeking submissions. As of now, there are no guidelines, just this:


Is White Bright?


Selecting an appropriate text stock for your book can be confusing,. Twhiteness brightnesshere is shade, brightness, opacity, bulk, finish and whiteness to consider. We can help decipher all the various paper properties to help you in your paper selection, much like this explanation of the difference between whiteness and brightness.


Digital Shortfall


A decade or more ago we were awash in digital fervor, imagining all the possibilities that e-everything seemed to offer. In more sober moments, someone would look up and ask, “But how do we make money on it?” Apparently that remains the question.




The Harvard University library houses over 15 million books, but three share a bizarre distinction; they’re bound in human skin, the newest as recently as 1880.


Final Thought


If I’m engrossed in a book, I have to rearrange my thoughts before I can mingle with other people, because otherwise they might think I was strange.” Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl



About Wayne Johnson 69 Articles
I've worked in book manufacturing for over 30 years, closing my company Baker Johnson, Inc. in 2005. Currently I work freelance with a large group of publishers, advising them on the printing options available to them as the book industry endures major restructuring. My wife Cathy is a retired psychologist and spent most of her career working with the youth at Maxey Boys Training School. She is a small mammal rehabilitator with Friends of Wildlife. Our daughter Whitney is a PharmD working in the Denver area evaluating the pharmaceutical requirements of nursing homes. Our son Eliot lives in Waterloo and is an editor at Mathematical Reviews in Ann Arbor.

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