Book Biz: My Local Google Specialist, Paper Savings Bonds, The Craft of Bookbinding

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Do you have a web site? If so, you probably get recorded calls that begin, “Hi, I’m Sharon (sometimes Susan if you are out west) your local Google specialist”.

Since it’s a recorded message, anything (including all the blue language and invective I hurl back at old Sharon) is just a waste of time and breath (and at my age I’m increasingly cognizant of the finite amounts we have of each). Since some of our cordless phones don’t have Caller ID, but even if they do, after stopping whatever I’m doing to walk down the hall to answer the phone call from Sharon, I feel entitled to a little psychic relief, and with children no longer running through the house, I unleash a full and increasingly creative barrage of invective that would make the devil himself blush. Cathy just smiles and asks, “Sharon?” and I nod.yelling-on-phone

Satisfied that I’ve created an ever more efficient way of cursing thieves and liars to eternal damnation, I continue my previous activity psychically cleansed if karmically damaged.

There is no greater proof of the impotence and corruption rampant in our federal government than the flagrant disregard corporations, ranging in size from Bruce the Window Cleaner to Wall Street banks sniffing out mortgage refi clients, exhibit by their incessant calling of persons unknown and unconnected with their enterprises, flagrantly breaking the “No Call” rules Congress introduced in 2003 as a way to rile up their contributors who throw bigger bags of money to legislators when they’ve been riled.

That these organizations have banded together with the lobbyists like the Association to Send Senators Hoards Of Loot Everyday to fight for their God-given right to behave like petulant jack-asses says more about campaign finance laws than corporate morality (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one).

Now this “Sharon” (who might be a shrew of the first order but it’s doubtful she’s stupid enough to use her real name) says she’s a Google specialist. I’ve been using Google without need of a specialist for many years so I assumed that since Google knows more about me than I know about me, they simply called my phone number (which they of course already had) and decided to help me make better use of Boolean parameters when I did my searches.

Except that skank Sharon is to Google what I am to RR Donnelly…I’ve heard of them and know what business they’re in. And that’s about it.

It turns out that Sharon works for a company called Pacific Telecom Communications Group. Given that they use the word Pacific in their name, I’ve decided that they are either located in Southern California (having crawled out from under a rock in Death Valley) or outside of the US, probably in one of the Asian nations that sends us some sort of fatal flu each fall.

I want to believe that no one is so bored with life that they’ve actually listened to Sharon’s spiel, but having attained a wizened perspective after all these years, I’ve come to revise P. T. Barnum’s observation that,”there’s a sucker born every minute.” While perhaps true during the 19th century when Barnum was milking the suckers, the population of our country has expanded and to update his maxim, “there are at least dozens of suckers born every minute” would be more accurate.

But probably somebody ( I HOPE none of you) has actually forked over money to these cheating charlatans who promise zillions of clicks on your website but deliver common, freely available advice on search-engine-optimization (SEO). (At least that’s what a Google search says they’re hawking.)

But what’s even worse than that is that it wouldn’t even matter if we were all intelligently cautious and ignored their irritating come-on. While PTCG will happily take our dollars, they have an even greater revenue stream that makes our continual harassment inevitable.

PTCG collects money from telephone companies every time their information is displayed on your phone when you answer.

So the important thing isn’t that you buy their lousy product or even listen to their insipid pitch. They’re just happy when you pick up the receiver or press the little green icon, or whatever it is you do to answer your phone.

Of course the question becomes why hasn’t the might of the Federal Government slaughtered these vermin? It’s certainly not because they’re unaware of their existence. They seem to know all about them.

Apparently the burden of dealing with life or death matters like “did the IRS mess with the Tea Party”, and “what planet is John Boehner really from”, annoyances that the hoi polloi endure are allowed to fester. Our letters and emails of complaint pile up in a warehouse or are routinely scrubbed from Washington DC servers so as not to interfere with the real business of governance.

So if filling out an FTC form ratting out these perps makes you feel like you’ve contributed to the peace and happiness of future generations, who am I to tell you that you’re wasting your time? As a child of the 60’s, I say “If it feels good, do it.”

Myself, I revel in the millions of combinations and iterations afforded by the richness of the American English vernacular and will continue to try to ensure that no one associated with such shameful deportment has even the most minute opportunity to enjoy anything but eternal pain and strife in their afterlife.

Hey, you do your thing and I’ll do mine. I suspect we’ll each have an equal level of success in eliminating this vile harassment, but mine makes my wife laugh.

Check Out This InfoGraphic

From the moment you click on this you’ll get a second by second account about what’s being sold in America in real time. Book sales are shown foremost but sales from Amazon to Walmart to 7-11 and even coupon savings are shown. Note that ebooks sell in great volume but the dollars aren’t even close to printed books.

amazonvshachetteWeighing In on Amazon vs. Hachette

Stephen Colbert has weighed in on the Amazon v. Hachette (his publisher) brouhaha and has asked his legion of fans to purchase Hachette’s title Californias online from Portland based Powell’s Books, as well as offering free “I Didn’t Buy It At Amazon” labels from his website.

BEABook Expo Attendance Off

Attendance at this year’s BookExpo was down slightly (again) while their one day cheapie tickets (aka Book Con; take that either way I suppose) sold all 10,000 available tickets in three minutes. The Comments following the linked article indicate Book Con was not an unmitigated success. See you in Chicago 2016 (follow the link: are Atlanta and Dallas really in the same destination class as prison camps?).

Monopoly vs. Cartel

This business writer assures us the fuss over Amazon and two major publishers is merely a monopoly fighting a cartel. With 2,675 publishers in the US alone, that’s one hell of a big cartel. The writer then admits that as an author, he’s displeased with the publishing industry business model (surprise!).

Ultra Short Print Runs

I still work with a lot of new authors/publishers and the question about how few books can they produce comes up frequently. While Grub Street Printing shies away from ultra-short runs (less than 100), LightningSource (a division of Ingram Book Distributing) does very short runs of digital books and claims that their average print run is between one and two books per order.

Ebooks or Print

Now that the dust is settling, the fact that only 4% of readers exclusively read ebooks means that if you want to reach the broadest reader market, printing conventional books is necessary.

The Almost Lost Art of Craft BookbindingLeather Bible 2

When all books were bound by hand, creativity was used to enhance their looks and functionality. This short, non-technical article describes some techniques which are so uncommon now that soon there may not be binders capable of their execution.

Authors Validate Words

Over the years I’ve noticed that many in the book industry nurture a curiosity about word usage and origins. For the budding lexicographers, here is what the printed word has meant to linguistic evolution.

Print Is Still Big

After riding out a tumultuous couple of decades, the world of print may have diminished a bit, but it remains a huge industry with incredible reach.

Letterpress 220px-Fotothek_df_roe-neg_0006317_023_Mitarbeiter_der_Druckerei_Offizin_Haag-DrugulinLetterpress Never Died…

…nor has it faded away. I bought a $5 book online for scanning, but when it arrived it was a lovely mid 50’s letterpress edition with just-visible impressions from the type. I really didn’t want to take it apart to scan. Here’s more on desktop publishing, circa

E Bonds, Not eBonds

The sale of US Savings Bonds plummeted in 2012 after the Treasury Department decided to go paperless. Now some legislators are advocating a reversal of the paperless only bonds (H. Res. 97), saying the program provided a savings plan for many low income earners.

Final Thought

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint…. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. Henry David Thoreau



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.