David Gaughran

ASIPRHPenguin and Random House officially merged on July 1 creating the largest trade publisher in the world. This merger has given fresh impetus to one of their subsidiaries to scam unsuspecting writers – Author Solutions, the largest vanity press in the world.

One of my blog readers, who will remain nameless, has forwarded me emails from an AuthorHouse sales rep touting that company as the “self-publishing wing” of Penguin Random House (AuthorHouse is one of the many brands of Author Solutions, a tangled web which is deconstructed here).

When Penguin purchased Author Solutions in July 2012 for $116m, I warned that the Penguin brand would lend legitimacy to Author Solutions – who were already the market leader in author exploitation.

Defenders of the deal claimed that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions – a universally reviled vanity press which has been slammed by every watchdog in the business…

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Apple has so much money … And I happen to like the products. I hope that they settle matters quickly with the patent holder.


How do college students feel about this one? The powers that be at Boston University want a federal court to ban the sale of a wide range of Apple(s aapl) products — including the iPhone 5, the iPad and the MacBook Air — because they allegedly infringe a patent issued to one of its professors in 1997.

In a complaint filed this week in the Massachusetts federal court, the trustees of BU say the Apple products contain a “gallium nitride thin film semiconductor device” that is still under patent protection. Professor Theodore Moustakas applied for the patent in 1995, which means it is set to expire in 2015. Here’s an image from the patent, which describes the use of nitrogen to prepare a type of film that is “a potential source of inexpensive and compact solid-state blue lasers:”

Patent screenshot

Boston University is not only seeking an injunction banning the sale of a wide range…

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Borders didn’t go out of business because of ebooks.   There are plenty of bookstores around, which don’t sell ebooks, and for the most part, they’re all going fine, i.e. Half Price Books and Murder by the Book.  Ebooks and ereaders weren’t the Borders killer.


Borders went out of business because of coffee.  Seriously.  All it was, was the Starbucks factor.  And even though Seattle’s Best is basically the same thing as Starbucks, people are so brand conscious these days that they wouldn’t settle for anything less than the Starbucks Mermaid.


Half Price Books and Murder by the Book are still going strong because they don’t pretend to be coffee-mongers or have seating areas with free WiFi.  They just sell books, and only give you small aisles in which to do it.


Had Borders cultivated a hipper image for Seattle’s Best, instead ignoring the branding of the coffee, it would have had a serious fighting chance.  It’s pretty damn good coffee, after all.

I’m monogamous.  Once I’ve made my mind up about someone or something, something HUGE has to happen to make me change my mind.


I’ve been true to the same brand of milk for years.  I lived in my first apartment longer than I care to admit.  And I still follow my college sports teams . . . Well, OK that’s a lie . . . But I do pay attention to UH goings-on, especially now that James Franco will enter the Ph.D. program for Creative Writing.


I think that the hardest thing for my family, now that the BORDERS at Alabama / Kirby in Houston is going away, is getting into a relationship with a new store.  We’re bookstore-people.  I’m the person who brings the laptop and the kids and ends up leaving with three books at the end of a four hour stretch.  I do this three times a week.

Now that my bookstore is closing, what am I supposed to do?


Well, I’m not ebook people.  Amazon isn’t going to get my money.  Well, not yet.  I won’t say that  I won’t ever buy an ereader, but I’m not there yet.  Price-wise, and what not.  Also, it’s all a bit Orwellian for me.  And yes, this irony smacks me in the face as I’ve got a Twitter and Facebook, and now a blog . . . I don’t mind people tracking what I’m saying, but I’ve got a problem with them tracking what I put into my mind.

My DVR worries me, too.


So,  I dated a few bookstores.  There are lots of local shops like Murder by the Book, which specialize – spectacularly.  And of course there’s Half Price Books, which is the little bookstore that could.


And all the dating led me here:  Barnes and Noble.  Sigh.  Free WiFi.  Coffee.  PLENTY of space to sit and be left alone.


So we did it.  Got a Member Card.  Bought our first books here.  And damn it, I like it here.  But I feel like I’m cheating on a just-passed-away spouse, guilt ridden because my new one makes a better chicken-fried steak than the last.