Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Paganism 101--An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans (quick and dirty book review)

When I first heard of this book, I muttered, "Do we really need another Paganism 101 book?"

After reading it, I have to say, "Hell, yes, we needed another one."

The concept behind the book is to have a 101 different pagans get together and write about paganism. Think of it as a big circle where various voices of the paganism came together to give a newcomer a broad overview of how varied the community really is. You may not agree with all the voices, but you have to remember that they are out there in the community.

The book is divided into three sections with multiple topics in each one. Twenty topics all together. Each topic has five writers committing on it. Plus there is an introduction...which is how the 101st pagan comes into the picture.

The first section is Who we are--Druid, Heathen, Witch, Wiccan, Shaman, Christo-Pagan, Goddess Follower, Eclectic Witch.

The second section is What we believe--Deities, Nature, Ethics, Afterlife, Ancestors, Past & Present.

The third section is What we do--Ritual, Magic, Prayer & Meditation, Healing, Herbalism, Celebrant Work.

No, I do not agree with everything said, but I do find it marvelous that we have such diverse set of voices in the community.

I highly recommend this book to both newcomers and to those who have been around the pagan block countless times. This is a wonderful book that I am going to end up re-reading several times, if only to remind myself how interesting our community actually is.

Five stars out of five.

[Disclosure: I received a pre-publication electronic copy of this book for review purposes.]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Limited editions have to be limited

The other day, I was reading the comments on a Facebook announcement about a new limited edition book. (Yes, a Nick Farrell limited edition book.) And one of the commenters said that perhaps in the future that the author would consider reissuing the material in another edition or perhaps even in ebook form. At this point, I must admit that I sadly shook my head because I realized that the commenter was overlooking a basic fact about the limited edition book market.

If "limited edition" is being used as a sales tactic, then the edition truly has to be limited.

Limited edition sales tactics depend upon just a handful of things to quickly and completely sell out their print run--a very limited number of copies, the author's authority, the rarity of the information, and keeping one's word about the number of copies that are going to be issued.

Limited edition sales tactics also can benefit from deluxe editions (fine leather covers, signed and numbered copies), but for the most part, it is the rarity of the limited copies that drive the success of the sales tactic.

The things that can hurt the success of a limited edition include poor information and burning your previous customers (there are some publishers that I will never buy a limited edition from ever again, simply because they seem to think slapping the words "limited edition" on poorly written and formatted crap ensures a steady income). Poor economic times can also hurt the success of a limited edition (heavens knows that I currently can't afford to buy any books--limited edition or not).

But the number one thing that can hurt the success of a limited edition is for the customers to believe that you are going to print more copies in the future. (I am not talking deluxe editions here, which go hand in hand with a regular edition--deluxe editions are brought often simply because they are a luxury or better printed than the regular version--no, I am talking about true limited "only X number of copies will be printed" editions here.) If the customer believes that you are going to later republish, either with more copies, or in a cheaper form, the urgency for them to quickly buy a copy fades.

And if the customer has been burned before by an author or publisher deciding to print more copies than they originally promised to, good luck at selling them anything that you chose to label limited edition.

It is the rarity that drives the sales of limited editions. Period. End of sentence.

Now, rarity is not affected by some things. For instance, piracy does not affect limited editions. (Or at least, no one has ever showed me credible research to prove that piracy affects limited edition book sales.) The initial rarity of a limited edition is not affected by piracy because there is no promise that a book is going to be scanned and uploaded to the pirate sites. And piracy (if it actually occurs) does not affect the long term value of a limited edition either, for the physical copy is actually king when it comes to the second hand and collectable market.

(For those who are curious, I used to be in the collectable market at one point both as a seller and a collector. The rules have not changed, despite the presence of ebooks and pirate sites, as a quick hunt on eBay shows.)

So the poor soul--and by "poor," I mean that their budget is like mine, without any room for luxuries--asking if someday the author might change their mind and print more copies, is barking up the wrong tree. No working writer with knowledge of the publishing field would dare break their word about the number of copies that they were going to print, especially in a niche market such as Golden Dawn (which has a couple thousand members who all know one another). Any author daring to break their word would rapidly destroy their ability to quickly move copies of any future limited edition. And no intelligent or hungry writer would want to do that injustice to their own writing career.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A prayer for the asylum seekers down under

To magically affect the conditions in Australia. 
Oh Lord and Lady, please soften the hearts of those who believe that asylum seekers are simply parasites. Show them that all human beings are worthy of compassion, health, and kindness. So mote it be.

Night time satelite view of Australia. 
Australia--the land down under.