A few more comments about “A place of refuge.”
Month: <span>September 2015</span>
The uproar over refugees – as reflected in the Middle East, across Europe, and in the speeches of the Pope as he traveled across the United States – has reached a new level in its emotion and sweep.
But refugees are not new. Not even in Idaho.
And the prospect of taking in refugees wasn’t really controversial, not for a very long time, and refugees (most notably Afghan refugees, but others too) often got notable support from conservatives.
The Idaho state Indochinese Refugee Assistance Program was launched in the mid-70s when refugees fled Southeast Asia, fleeing the then-ascendant Communist regimes in the area as the Vietnam conflict wound down. Eastern European refugees, from stressed counties in that region, became more prominent in the refugee stream in the 80s.
In the 90s, the refugee office noted, “Idaho resettled over 5,000 refugees, more than half of which were from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Civil war, ethnic cleansing and unchecked violence forced millions of Bosnians to flee their homeland, and the subsequent impossibility of return for many led to a major resettlement effort by the U.S. The other half of the refugees arriving in the 1990s originated from other European countries, Africa, East Asia, the Near East, Central Asia and the Caribbean.” That pace continued into the 2000s. In 2012, the office said, “686 refugees and special immigrants arrived in Idaho from 20 different countries.”
None of this occasioned any great controversy.
In Idaho most refugees’ services, and so many of the refugees themselves, have been based in Boise. Twin Falls, through the College of Southern Idaho refugee center, has been the secondary hub, and by far the hottest debate in Idaho has been centered there.
Last week more than 700 people packed a community forum at Twin Falls about the local refugee program; it even drew Larry Bartlett, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office on Refugee Admissions. Much of the discussion was supportive, but some of it was not. About halfway through a speaker joked that there were a few empty seats in the room “we’d like to fill with refugees.” The Twin Falls Times News reported that then “a group of people wearing black T-shirts with the logo of the Three Percenters on them left,” and one man shouted out, “This is propaganda.”
In Twin Falls right now, there is no hotter topic.
Some of it may have been sparked by news that Syrians may be among the refugees coming to the Magic Valley. But so what? People from around the globe have come to the area for years.
One speaker said, “A word we’ve heard over and over again this summer is ‘sharia.’ And I think a lot of people are worried about refugees bringing values to this community that don’t jibe with traditional southern Idaho values. . . . Why should Twin Falls take in people that might not necessarily share the values that are traditionally here and have been practiced here for years and years?”
That same question could have been asked in the 70s, when Idaho took in refugees from far away. Or in the 80s, or 90s. But, in the main, it was not. Idahoans were far more confident in themselves then. Why are so many so frightened now?
You may have noticed about a week ago reports about two polls of presidential preferences among Idaho Republicans, in separate stories. If you put them together in one story, you can see the results of the two appear to conflict.
But there’s a straight line through them that says something about who supports who.
First, Dan Brown & Associates, from Utah, released a poll of 508 Idaho adults. Among Republicans, businessman Donald Trump took 28% of the vote for the lead. Physician Ben Carson came in second with 15%. Former front-runner Jeb Bush was down in single digits at eight percent; others were in single digits. This was fairly reflective of most of the recent national polls of Republicans (or what you could see in their placement in last week’s presidential debate).
A few days later Republican organizations in Bannock and Jefferson counties tried their own local straw polls, and the results there were a little different. Both counties placed Carson in a strong first place, with about 30% of the vote in each county. In Bannock, Trump was second at 22%, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio came in third at 20%. In Jefferson, Trump was far down the list, as second place went to Senator Ted Cruz (15%), and Senator Rand Paul followed him.
These are distinctly different results, even accounting for the more local polling from the counties. What should we make of these differences?
Here’s some speculation (and if someone from Bannock or Jefferson counties has an alternative explanation, send me a note).
The Brown poll, which was scientifically conducted, probably covered a broad range of Idahoans (other parts of the poll included results among Democratic contenders), and in such a poll party leaders, foot soldiers and activists would account for only a minute portion of the total. It was a “general population” poll.
The straw polls would have been informal, with no specific attempt, as in scientific polls, to account for various percentage portions of the population: The votes they get usually come from whoever happens by. That doesn’t mean these polls are garbage. Years ago as a reporter at the Idaho State Journal I worked with straw polls the newspaper ran at local grocery stores, and when it came to local voting a few days before elections they tended to be surprisingly accurate.
But local people active in the county Republican parties easily could have been over-represented in these two new straw polls.
And that leads to this suggestion:
Among the less-organized, out-in-the-fields Republicans (or Republican-inclined voters) around the state, Trump is highly popular.
Among the more organized Republicans, he may be much less so, with candidates like Carson, Cruz and Rubio finding more appeal. Based on the polls, Bush seems for now to be losing steam in Idaho as he has been nationally.
At least, that looks like a reasonable view from September 2015. Now we can wait a few months and see what it looks like around the holidays.
If you’re planning to publish an eBook any time soon, you might be interested in the results from two recent book industry studies:
Keep those eBook prices down.
And don’t get carried away with your financial expectations.
You can see the case for low eBook prices in the just-issued September Author Earnings Report, (from indie author Hugh Howey and his Data Guy), which examines the book industry overall and especially authors’ earnings within it.
The “Big 5” traditional publishers have sold their eBooks for high prices for years. The new bestselling novels by Lee Child and Sue Grafton, for example, sell for $14.99 in their Kindle editions, far more than most Indie authors charge for their eBooks.
The Author Earnings report noted, “Over the past 18 months, [large traditional publishers have] responded to shrinking eBook sales with progressive and continual eBook price hikes. But now, in 2015, the largest traditional publishers are seeing both their eBook revenue and their overall dollar revenues — including print revenue — declining.”
Does that mean the eBook-buying marketplace is in decline? Amazon.com doesn’t think so, and the Wall Street Journal reported, “Amazon says eBook sales in its Kindle store—which encompasses a host of titles that aren’t published by the five major houses—are up in 2015 in both units and revenue.”
In other words, various forms of Indie publishing, including some of the new Amazon publishing options, now are making up for the declines felt by larger publishers. The Author Earnings report said that “indie self-published books, which made up 36% of all Kindle eBooks purchased in February 2014, now make up 42% of all Kindle eBooks being purchased on Amazon right now.” The dollars earned by Indies have been growing as well.
The Author Earnings report goes on to say, “When we first started analyzing Kindle sales in February 2014, traditionally-published authors were taking home nearly 60% of the eBook royalties earned in the largest bookstore in the world. Not anymore. Today, traditionally-published authors are barely earning 40% of all Kindle eBook royalties paid, while self-published indie authors and those published by Amazon’s imprints are taking home almost 60%.”
Why has all this been happening, and why now?
The “why” is less conclusive than the “what,” but the Author Earnings report offered some ideas.
Put simply, charging higher prices seemed to carry little penalty in the marketplace when e-readers first were being introduced around 2010. Now, as fewer people are busily stocking their e-readers, price points may be a more sensitive issue.
Here’s another factor. For a couple of years after a 2013 federal court decision pointing to price collusion between Apple and several large publishers, eBook prices dropped, as part of an interim series of agreements to cut those prices. In the last year, however, those agreements have expired, and prices have risen again.
More specifically, when eBook prices jump above $10 a book, those lower indie prices still hovering around $6-8 look a lot more attractive to a lot of readers.
Amazon has analyzed this (of course) and reported on its Kindle forum in July 2014, “For every copy an eBook would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if compared at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular eBook at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000.”
Still, as long as indie authors compete in a marketplace where they can easily undersell the competition, they may continue to increase their share of the market.
They will need to, because a new survey from The Author’s Guild of its members shows writers are earning less than they did six years ago – at the dawn of the eBook era – and are spending more time on marketing. The Authors Guild membership consists mainly of traditionally-published professional writers, so they aren’t fully representative of the self-published community (though their survey indicates that a third of their authors have self-published). Still, the survey results are worth bearing in mind for self-publishers.
Among Guild members, the report said, author income has dropped by 30 percent for full-time authors and 38 percent for part-timers. It cites book industry consolidation, online book piracy and the rise of self-publishing as contributing to that decline in income for so many authors.
Writers are spending much more time on marketing now than in 2009 (about 59% more), and “many publishing contracts now require authors to maintain a web and social media presence. Many authors, both traditionally and self-published, have proven adept at using new technologies to connect with readers.”
But in all this, the Guild report does find a bright side: “The opportunities for author-reader engagement are unsurpassed in the history of book publishing—even if this engagement competes with an author’s writing time.” That’s a lesson many self-publishers already have learned for themselves in the past few years. It is part of what makes it all worthwhile.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear every other week.
We’ve made a few low-key mentions about it, but now we’re running it out formally – our new eBook, The Stuck Pendulum, about Idaho’s political history over the last quarter-century.
And it’s free, as you can see from this visual. Best place to immediately grab a copy for your e-reader – pretty much any e-reader – is at Smashwords.com. It’ll be up on Amazon.com too, soon, but Smashwords allows access to all readers. And the book is, for now at least, free.
A quick notes about what it is and isn’t. Although it works as a standalone book, it’s aimed mainly at readers of Paradox Politics by Randy Stapilus, a book about Idaho politics published in 1988 and covering several decades of history leading up to that point. Things have changed a lot since, and copies of Paradox continue to sell, so this book was intended to bring the story up to present. It isn’t hugely detailed or a source for a whole lot of new information for people who have been tracking the state closely in the last couple of decades; for those who have, much of what’s here will be familiar. For those who haven’t, but are interested in the subject, we think it may be helpful.
And it is, after all, free. At least for a while.
“But they’re closed on Saturday!”
And not there on Friday either.
The Idaho Supreme Court decision last week throwing out Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s veto of the bill to ban instant horse racing at Les Bois Park, an action which has split pieces of the state executive and legislative branches down the middle, reads like a complex and abstract piece in most news reports. Attorney David Leroy called it a “sweeping and significant precedent.” Otter said he was certain the the veto he signed was valid.
What the court decision mostly was, was a recital of the law.
Let’s break it down.
Late in the afternoon of March 30, a Monday, Senate Bill 1011 (the racing bill) was physically carried to Otter’s office. He then could sign it into law, if he chose, or do nothing, in which case the bill would become law automatically. (Governors sometimes but not usually do this.) Or, he could veto it, but if he wanted to do that, he had to act promptly. The Idaho Constitution says: “Any bill which shall not be returned by the governor to the legislature within five days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, shall become a law in like manner as if he had signed it,” unless the legislature has already adjourned for the year. Which it hadn’t.
Otter’s choice was a veto, and he may have signed his veto message on April 3, a Friday. That’s within the five-day period. But the Constitution says the vetoed bill had to be returned to the legislature, specifically to the Senate, within those five days – that is, by Saturday afternoon. There was a complication: That was Easter weekend, and the legislature had adjourned on Thursday to take three days off.
Whether because of sloppiness or over-confidence or some other motivation, Otter or his staff must have thought it would be all right if the vetoed bill went back to the Senate the next Monday morning – which was more than five days (with Sunday not counted) after the bill was presented to him. What’s a few hours among friends?
And besides, what choice did he have? The legislature wasn’t there on Friday, right? The office doors were closed. How could he return the bill?
But the Idaho code actually covers a case like this. It says (in Section 67-504), “If, on the day the governor desires to return a bill without his approval and with his objections thereto to the house in which it originated, that house has adjourned for the day (but not for the session), he may deliver the bill with his message to the presiding officer, clerk, or any member of such house, and such delivery is as effectual as though returned in open session, if the governor, on the first day the house is again in session, by message notifies it of such delivery, and of the time when, and the person to whom, such delivery was made.”
In other words, the veto could have stuck if the governor’s office had on Friday or Saturday tracked down any state senator and handed him or her the vetoed bill – and then formally notified the Senate on Monday.
It helps if you know how things work. And what the law says.
The Idaho Supreme Court did make an interesting and possibly new point about “standing” when it held the Coeur d’Alene Tribe had standing to bring the case. But when it came to deciding this convoluted question of whether the veto was valid or not, it simply recited the law.
The book Paradox Politics was written in 1987 and 1988, and published in that latter year – which, as this is written, was 27 years ago. Considering that it was intended as a current, up to the minute, review of Idaho politics and how it had gotten that way, that makes it heavily out of date now.
It’s been out a long time, but it’s not entirely forgotten. While most of its sales came in the 80s, it has sold copies ever since; Amazon has moved copies this year. That’s nice to see. What’s less easy to contemplate is that some of those people may think that Idaho politics in this new century is anything like what it was in the last one, and that would be a problem, because it isn’t. I think, generally, it holds up as a good review of the subject as of the time it was written. And I think it may have helped prompt a spate of Idaho political memoirs and biographies that cropped up in the years following.
But since then, much has changed.
Hence, The Stuck Pendulum. It’s a standalone book that also functions as an afterword – even a coda – for that earlier one, intended to bring up to date people who may have relied on Paradox for a look at Idaho politics. It doesn’t unearth a lot of secrets and not much in it will come a a big surprise to people who have followed Idaho politics in the last quarter-century or so. But for those new to the subject, or who may have wondered what has happened since 1988, I think it can be useful.
I have gotten requests from time to time for a sequel for Paradox, and it’s not just the passage of time that has increasingly made the point compelling. As the title suggests, Idaho politics, which once wandered across the political spectrum, driven by an electorate often willing to take a flyer on something different and didn’t trust anyone too damn much, has changed, locked in place, adjusting if at all only to whatever seems to be the hardest right alternative at hand.
How it got there, and especially after how it changed so drastically right after the best Idaho Democratic election year in a generation (1990), is much of the subject of The Stuck Pendulum. But there are overviews of more, of the Larry Craig incident, the fierce battles in the first congressional district and the recent splinters in the Republican Party.
For the moment, it’s priced for free, so get your copy if this sounds like your area of interest. We’ll attach a price (not a hefty one, though) a little later.
While I was reviewing old columns for inclusion in a book collection a few of them from years ago jumped out at me as especially relevant right now, and worth pondering even more now than then. This one (edited a little for length from a longer web-only original) dates from almost exactly nine years ago (about a year before the headlines that eventually ended Larry Craig’s Senate career), but it has resonance considering the issues in front of the presidential campaign now underway . . .
Senator Larry Craig and his staff – and they wouldn’t be alone – must still be wondering about just what the hell happened at their town hall meeting Tuesday night in Coeur d’Alene. They’d have good reason to, because a significant issue rides on it: To what extent did it reflect a substantial strain, or just fluke fissure, in the community?
Craig has taken heat for a few years now from parts of the conservative community – which for most of his years in Congress has given him unqualified support – for his stand on immigration and illegal aliens, a stance bearing some resemblance to that of President George W. Bush. Yes, there are a lot of people in this country who aren’t supposed to be here, and that fact – and border security – needs to be dealt with more effectively, Craig has suggested. But he also suggests that there’s no reason for a panic reaction, either.
As he was quoted by the Coeur d’Alene Press: “You can’t go door to door and force between 8 million and 10 million people to leave at gunpoint. For 20 years, immigration laws have failed. We know there’s a problem and we’re working on it. The first step is securing the border and we’re doing that.”
That seems hard to argue, reflecting a general reality we’ve managed to live with for a long time, and yet the reaction has suggested it’s an edgy statement. The reaction at – and yes, this is where it was – the Human Rights Education Institute at Coeur d’Alene, was something else again.
The Press said that “of nearly 60 people in attendance, many wanted action, including immediate deportation. They said it was a crisis that was going to bankrupt the country and cited numerous examples of problems in Southern California, including drugs, rape, and gangs. Some went so far as to say he wasn’t doing his job to uphold and protect the Constitution and has failed the citizens of Idaho.” Robert Vasquez, a Canyon County commissioner and recent congressional candidate, has for some years been saying the same thing; this year his message has expanded across more territory.
The spearhead of the protest or at least the loudest protester apparently was Stan Hess, a candidate for office, opposing Denny Hague for a seat on the North Idaho College Board of Trustees. The Press said he “erupted with anger over the immigration issue. He screamed at Craig and the citizens, who tried to boo him down. Then Hess confronted a woman and yelled at her only a few inches away from her face. Several people stood up to diffuse the confrontation. Craig’s handlers said they were moments away from calling the police. Hess, who also blasted NIC professor and longtime Human Rights advocate Tony Stewart, stormed out of the meeting.”
It may be, as Spokesman Review writer David Oliveria suggests, that Hess’ performance at the Craig town hall provided ample information about who not to vote for in the NIC trustee election. Additionally, though, it – and the not-so-divergent views of others in the audience – shows that razing an Aryan Nations encampment has not yet erased some ugly strains in northern Idaho.
What to do? Your book is finally ready to go. Now the question becomes what should you publish first—your eBook, your print book, or both at the same time?
Every time I help an author prepare for a book release, we bump up against this question. And, it turns out there is no perfect answer—no one-size-fits-all.
One theory suggests that releasing all versions together allows you to make more efficient use of your marketing efforts: Visibility lasts only so long, and if both versions of the book are released at once, they will both be timed to best coincide with publicity, advertising, giveaways or other marketing approaches you already have under way.
But there’s also the thought that early release of an eBook can help build buzz for the subsequent print book release, which can be promoted as the main event. When I posed this idea on a writer’s forum, one writer suggested, “A new self-publisher might release only an eBook edition first and use promotional programs such as Kindle Select in an effort to build a reader base, and only produce a print edition if/when the eBook has gained some traction.”
Still others think the print book should be released first. Since print books usually are more profitable per copy, the idea is that buyers should be encouraged to buy the print book first and only given the option to buy electronic version afterward.
In the past the authors I work with and I have leaned toward that third idea; it seems intuitive. But as I’ve become a more frequent user of e-readers, my view has changed. Now I suspect that most people will decide to either will buy the print or eBook edition, but aren’t likely to change their decision based on which edition is available first.
This question has generated a lot of discussion, and no small bit of study in the book industry.
In July 2012 writer Joe Wikert reviewed a report analyzing the effect of eBooks on print sales, and concluded, “For popular books, delaying eBook release dates leads to a significant substitution toward print books. In contrast, for niche books, that do not have strong brand awareness among consumers, we find an insignificant substitution toward print books when eBook release dates are delayed. [Further,] the net effect of delayed Kindle releases is an overall loss in sales and, based on the best available data, a net loss in revenue and profit to the publisher.” In other words, it matters mainly in the case of bestsellers.
Wikert concluded, “All those other books out there with either delayed eBook releases or, more importantly, no eBook releases, are leaving money on the table. That last point is the most important takeaway for me.”
Evan Schnittman, a vice president at Oxford University Press, suggested back in 2009 that, “I don’t think you want to withhold content from the public. I’m pretty sure that when a customer decides to buy a Kindle, they are making a decision to start becoming an eBook consumer.”
Today, in most cases I would lean toward releasing print and eBook versions about the same time, unless you have a specific marketing strategy for using one or the other as a promotional lever. Most often,that would mean promoting discount eBook copies a little ahead of the print version.
You’ll want to think this through carefully. Every book calls for its own distinct marketing plan. There is no one-size-fits-all, but now, for me and for most of my clients, releasing the eBook and print book at the same time is the strategy that works best.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear every other week.
– See more at: https://www.bookworks.com/2015/09/indie-author-dilemma-which-first-ebook-or-print/#sthash.x8n1OZGq.dpuf