Thursday, April 28, 2011

Betty White on moving books and repacking them in cartons

Betty White on moving books and repacking them in cartons

By Walter Haan,,

New York Times writer Frank Bruni has an article about and an interview with actress Betty White in today's paper. The following lines are from that piece:

"When Putnam asked her to sign 2,500 books in advance of publication, it offered to rent her a hotel or office suite for the task and to provide assistants to unpack the books, turn each to the title page, refresh her pens and the like. That’s pro forma, but she wasn’t having any of it. The boxes were delivered to her house, where she has lived alone since 1981, when Allen Ludden, her husband of 18 years, died. And she has been moving them around and repacking them all on her own.

“'It’s good exercise,' she said..."

Damn right! That's what I've been saying for the 28 years of working at Southfarm Press. And I've been ridiculed for saying it because some people don't consider repacking book cartons and moving them around to be exercise. To save them embarrassment, they shall remain nameless.

But I feel vindicated by 89-year-old Ms White's statement that it IS exercise. Of course it is. Book cartons can weigh 30 to 50 pounds. For example, last year I sold 33 cartons all at once of Dudley C. Gould's Follow Me Up Fools Mountain. That meant that I had to move the 33 cartons to the garage door, down one flight of stairs on the lower floor. Then when the truck arrived, I helped load it.

Now you might be asking, "I thought you were the editor and publisher at Southfarm? Couldn't you get a Southfarm flunkie to do that?" Well, I'm also the flunkie, graphic designer and marketing exec. That's the way it is at a small press. You wear multiple hats. I'm always lugging book cartons around to the post office, from room to room, repacking them after adding jackets
or invoices in the cartons. When exhibiting, I've lugged them to the USS Intrepid on the Hudson River and to air shows in Pennsylvania. At the air shows I set up a screened tent beforehand to actually exhibit books in.

I'm 70-years old now and still lugging. I admit that sometimes the cartons feel heavier than I remember. But if Betty White agrees with me that book carton lugging is good exercise, then maybe there's hope that I'll reach 89 too.

Of course I doubt that Nooks and Kindles packed in cartons weigh as much as real books. They're advertised as being lighter than paperbacks, as if that's important to a book reader. Other than to students with backpacks full of books, I don't think that's worth bragging about.
More importantly, future small press publisher/flunkies are going to have to join a gym to get the exercise I've gotten. Copyright © 2011 by Walter Haan,,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The case for destroying book inventory

The case for destroying book inventory

By Walter Haan,,

We recently finished destroying about 250 copies remaining of a hardcover that has done well for us over the years. But our contract was up and one of the authors wants to rewrite the book and add some romance so the story will be more appealing for a film deal.

This author thought we should give away these roughly 250 copies to libraries, veterans and any one else interested. But if there's one thing I've learned with 28 years of running an independent press, no one appreciates a free book. Libraries, for example, just throw it into their book sales instead of adding it to their collections.

I believe a publisher should support the people that really believe in a book. Those are the librarians and individuals who actually bought books with their hard-earned money. The used book market has really taken off thanks to Internet sellers such as and Abe Books. Used Southfarm books are offered on those sites for sometimes as much as a hundred dollars.

And I think if a genuine buyer of a book needs to sell it somewhere down the road, then he or she deserves to profit from a used book sale. After all, he or she paid for the book, made an investment in the scholarship of that book, and by doing so, encouraged both its author and publisher in their endeavors.

So, there will be no free books from Southfarm for opportunists to profit from. If anyone deserves to financially benefit from a book in their collection, it should be real buyers. And that is why in some situations we destroy books rather than give them away. By not flooding the market with free copies we hope it makes it possible for real buyers to benefit even more from their decisions to buy a book.--Copyright © 2011 by Walter Haan,,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Google bamboozle hits pothole

Google bamboozle hits pothole

By Walter Haan,,

Reported by The New York Times on March 22, 2011: “Google’s ambition to create the world’s largest digital library and bookstore has run into the reality of a 300-year-old legal concept: copyright.

“The company’s plan to digitize every book ever published and make them widely available was derailed on Tuesday when a federal judge in New York rejected a sweeping $125 million legal settlement the company had worked out with groups representing authors and publishers.

“The decision throws into legal limbo one of the most ambitious undertakings in Google’s history, and it brings into sharp focus concerns about the company’s growing power over information.”

Thank God Google was stopped. I am a publisher of nonfiction history books and have been for 27 years. To me the biggest questions were, "What is an orphan book?" and "Who decides if a book is an orphan?" Is it an orphan because, the seller of record, no longer carries an older book even though the original publisher is still offering it on its Web Site? All of our in-print books published prior to 2005 were suddenly dropped by Amazon in 2008 and the site only offered used copies at inflated prices from other sellers, even though we still had an inventory of new, unsold books we were selling to museums, or online, at book shows and air shows. I have greatly feared that because or didn't offer older books any longer new from the original publisher, in this case Southfarm Press, that Google and others would jump to the conclusion that the books were out-of-print and ripe for Google to digitalize. Google pushed this with us, asking wouldn't we like it if we could make money from their digitalized, sold copies? The answer was and is no. We'd rather sell our inventory. We made the mistake of signing up for Google Books, a program where Google digitalizes and shows a few pages of each book for potential customers, along with Google advertising, from which we would supposedly share in the revenue. From what I have seen over the years, we are owed 12 cents by Google and we haven't been paid even that. Since 1984, my late wife and I have published Southfarm Press books and we were totally "at risk" for everything, the editing, publishing, you name it. The last thing I want is for an Internet behemoth to swoop in, cut us out and make money from our hard work. The judge's suggestion that publishers and authors must "opt in" instead of "opt out" from Google's massive usurping of the intellectual property rights of others is a good idea.

Finally, I’m not against offering digitalized books using our print books as their basis. But, we should be the ones creating these ebooks and profiting from them along with our authors, not Google. I understand Google offers its employees at its headquarters near San Francisco free gourmet lunches every day. Dishes like rack of lamb. Google’s staff has gotten fat on free goodies. Let’s not let them get fatter by gobbling everyone else’s intellectual property rights. --Copyright © 2011 by Walter Haan,,

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Famous people think writing children's books is child's play

Famous people think writing children's books is child's play

By Walter Haan,,

Once upon a time there was a nation in love with movie stars, TV personalities and brand names. Eventually, some of these famous people, holed up in their castles or high rent condos or Malibu beach houses, discovered another trade to dabble in between making movies or being politicians: writing children's books. People such as President Obama, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and actor Treat Williams come to mind as star personalities who have suddenly discovered they could write books for children. Who is next? Charlie Sheen, writing while in rehab?

Famous brand-name people know that editors and publishers in castles at big name publishing companies love brand-names too. To them, whether a children's book has a story with engaging fictional characters and interesting imaginary worlds is less important than the bottom line that acts like the moats around publishers' castles to prevent non-famous writers from getting publishers' attention.

The big-name publishers in their castles sign distribution treaties with important brand-name distributor kingdoms and online and bricks-and-mortar book retail empires. That way they assure that their brand-name books by brand-name authors are displayed prominently in brand name stores and sold to the peasants in large numbers.

The peasants, exhausted from trying to survive in this brand-name world and indoctrinated by brand-name celebrity television shows to believe that celebrity politicians and actors are talented in all fields, purchase their books in record numbers.

The End (really).

--Copyright © 2011 by Walter Haan;,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Halloween Ride of the Bony Express

For children everywhere this Halloween, we bring you
the following poem for the little ones. Read to the kids
in a darkened room:

The Halloween Ride of the

Bony Express

By Wanda Haan
From Zoo Snooze: Poems, Rhymes and stories for Children
ISBN: 978-0-913337-71-4
Text copyright © 2009 by Walter J. Haan; All Rights Reserved

The Bony Express comes rattling down the track,
Nine riders up front… and one hanging on the back.
Ten smelly skeletons are out to have some fun
On the Bony Express’s big Halloween run.

Where’s the train coming from? Nobody knows.
But while it’s here—hold on to your nose,
Squeeze it real tight, and I will be your guide
While this Halloween gang takes its Halloween ride!

The first stop is Booville, a booming little town.
Taboola hops off… and boos Mrs. Brown.
Hold your nose! Taboola’s sunk.
Mrs. Brown’s a skunk!

Second stop is Meowtown. It’s full of gnats.
Off steps Gooey with a cage full of cats.
Hold your toes and socks!
Gooey found a dirty litter box!

Third stop is Pigsville, a p-u-ey place.
Off jumps Groanz and Moanz for the skeleton’s race.
Hold your nose again!
They fell into a pig pen!

Now The Bony Express comes to stop number four,
But the crabby engineer won’t open up the door.
“Please let us off,” begs bony Bobby Gibbs,
And gives the engineer a sharp jab in the ribs.

The conductor yells “Sit,” so everybody does.
Fuzz’s baggie full of bees begins to buzz.
Fuzz jumps off, and the rest begin to whine.
They know The Bony Express is near the end of the line.

It’s time to turn the train around at Stinkleyville Station,
Everybody gets off for The Bony’s rotation.
Back down the track goes The Bony Express,
Picking up the skeletons but leaving quite a mess.

Fuzz jumps aboard. Remember his bees?
He gave them to the kid who said, “Trick or treat, please.”
Hold your toes and I'll tell you thumpkin:
Bees just love a rotten pumpkin!

The train’s back at Pigsville, and quick as a breeze,
Groanz and Moanz have a triple-decker sneeze!
Groanz flies away with a swoosh and a swish,
Most of him lands in a satellite dish.

Moanz flips south and hits somebody,
He ends up on the roof of a port-a-potty.
The conductor (what a monster!) laughs at all the mess
And calls, “All aboard for The Bony Express!”

The Bony’s back at Meowtown. Remember Gooey’s gnats?
They nipped the paws and claws and jaws of several cats!
It turned out just fine and dandy:
The gnats preferred the Halloween candy!

The Bony’s back at Booville, the home of Mrs. Brown.
Taboola bursts aboard… in an odoriferous gown.
Do you just suppose
She smells like a rose?

Everybody’s in and it’s time to say goodbye,
So the Halloween gang has its Halloween cry.
Then The Bony Express goes rattling down the track.
Nine skeletons up front… and one hanging on the back.

Where’s the train off to? Nobody knows.
But you can turn loose of your rosy-red nose.
Those ten smelly skeletons with bones bleached white
Won’t be back again till next Halloween night.

Note: The book Zoo Snooze: Poems, Rhymes and Stories
for Children
is available at all Barnes & Noble stores,

Blog copyright © 2010 by Walter J.,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dudley C. Gould, historian, author (1920-2010)

Dudley C. Gould, historian, author (1920-2010) Chronicler of “Hitler is a jerk, Hitler is a jerk”

By Walter Haan,,

Word has come of the death of Dudley C. Gould, author of seven nonfiction books published by Southfarm Press. He was 90 years old and died a few weeks ago. I don’t have the exact date he died as everyone I’ve contacted about it doesn’t seem to know the date!

Dud was a creative writer, author, painter, sculptor. Heavily opinionated about all those subjects, he was passionate about writing popular American histories concerning the American Revolutionary War without footnotes getting in readers’ ways.

He is remembered here for calling our editor a Commakazee as she punctuated Times of Brother Jonathan (ISBN 978-0-913337-40-0; 2001). But he was a talented historian. His most successful volumes for us were about his experiences fighting in the Korean War. In my opinion, these books are brilliantly written and The Military Book Club evidently agreed with me by offering one of them.

Dudley C. Gould joined the Royal Canadian Army before World War II, transferring after Pearl Harbor to the US Army Air Corps where he was a tail gunner in a B-26 Marauder bomber in North Africa and Britain. Gould later transferred to the infantry in France where he received a commission.

He was recalled to active duty in 1951 and, following a year of combat with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, decided to remain in the service and establish himself as a military writer. He wrote a column on US military history for Army Times and, during a tour in the US Army Information Office in Japan, prepared a course syllabus for the University of Maryland about American military history.

While stationed at Fort Devens in Massachusetts in the late 1950s, Gould began his exhaustive research on the War of Independence in the stacks of Boston’s Public Library. Times of Brother Jonathan, is one of the results of those years of research.

His 2002 war memoir, Follow Me Up Fools Mountain (ISBN 978-0-913337-47-9), recounts the action he participated in as part of the 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean War. The Military Book Club issued its book club edition of Follow Me Up Fools Mountain in 2003 and the book was offered by The Book-of-the-Month Club that year too.

Recipient of the Silver Star, Soldiers Medal, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, Gould had resided in San Antonio, Texas.

As I was his publisher for eight years, I received a lot of correspondence from Dud, most of it revealing and interesting. The following paragraphs are among my favorites from his letters.

“I have considered writing my autobiography—more interesting than some others already printed. I remember being hoisted up on the right wing of Winnie Mae, the all white, record breaking stubby airplane which Wiley Post flew around the world in seven days, to shake the hand of Wiley. I was 13 and was repulsed as I looked up at and in the black hole behind one eye patch. My father was Secretary of the Watertown, New York Chamber of Commerce in charge of the welcome committee as Wiley flew around the States on his victory route.

“That same year, 1933, I stood on the banks of the St. Lawrence River at Cape Vincent, New York to watch the 24 war planes of the Italian Air Force’s Lieutenant General Italio Bilboa, Governor of Libya, flying at about 10,000 feet along the Canadian side. They were on their way to the fair at Chicago, intimidating as they flew in combat formation.

“We watched our movie screens as the brave Italian Army thrust their two-man tanks at the tall, spear throwing Abyssinians. A couple of years later the bully Russians tried it against the white clad Finns and were beaten back to the loud cheers of us patrons of the Pathe News.

“Movieland is where we witnessed the beginning of World War II, where I got the idea of personally trying to stop that dirty, boastful sonofabitch! Hitler.

“Kids went around singing—

“Hitler is a jerk, Hitler is a jerk,
Mussolini broke his weenie
And now it will not work.”

Dud, thank you for your service and creativity.

All seven of Dudley C. Gould’s books published by Southfarm Press can be purchased from us at our Web Sites.

--Copyright © 2010 by Walter Haan,,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ten largest book publishers in the world

And only one of them is American :(

By Walter Haan,,

Ever wonder why you can't get your manuscript published in the USA? Could it be because our book publishing business is dominated by foreigners, and they favor their own writers from back home? Just a thought.

Every time you buy a book published by Reed Elsevier, you're helping to pay for another jewel in the Dutch queen's crown. As an aside, every time you food shop at a Stop 'n' Shop Supermarket, which is owned by the Dutch firm Ahold, you are again paying for another jewel in the Dutch queen's crown.

As an American publisher, I'm against Random Haus being owned by the Krauts. But, according to a recent survey, the most successful publishers today are those that have abandoned national orientation for a global scale.

Out of the ten largest book publishers in the world, only one is American: McGraw-Hill Education, in eighth place. So if you're going to write a manuscript, make it a textbook.

However, eight of the top ten publishers generate the majority of their book revenue in the USA. And then take their profits home to London, Berlin, Paris or Amsterdam. A lot of good that does for creating more publishing jobs here during this never ending recession.

Here are the top ten book publishers in the world:

1. Pearson (British)
2. Reed Elsevier (British-Dutch)
3. ThomsonReuters (British)
4. Wolters Kluwer (Dutch)
5. Bertelsmann German)
6. Hachette Livre (French)
7. Grupo PLaneta (Italian)
8. McGraw-Hill Education (American)
9. De Agostino Editore (Italian)
10. Holtzbrinck (German)

It's all too sad. --Copyright © 2010 by Walter Haan,,