RFID in Books?

RFID, Radio-Frequency Identification, is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency to transfer data from a tag attached to an object for the purposes of identification and tracking. Usually embedded into the object being tracked, RFID chips do not need to be visible to transmit data.

For the past couple of years, Walmart has added RFID tags to individual items in their store to track merchandise and inventory. Recently, a Texas school district issued students badges with embedded RFID chips in order to track the students’ location to reduce absenteeism.

Now, a book manufacturing company, Bindtech Inc., has developed the Smart Guard system. This system allows book publishers to track a book from the manufacturing process, through distribution, to the end user by embedding a RFID tag into each individual book. When books are returned for credit, publishers can tell which books are the ones they printed and which are counterfeits.

I truly did not know that “counterfeit” books existed. I am sure that this is not a concern for most small publishers. However, if you want to learn more about putting RFID tags into books, watch this video.

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The Bell Curve and Books

I believe most things in life can easily fit into the classic bell shaped curve. For those of you unfamiliar with the bell curve, it is the graph used to depict a normal distribution in statistics. The top of the curve represents the most probable event. All possible occurrences are equally distributed around the most probable event, creating a downward sloping line on each side of the peak.

I think of the bell curve as representing excellent, mediocre, and awful with mediocre being the peak of the curve. Take foods for instance. Most fall into the “good” range, a few are “awful”, and a few are really “excellent.” The same can be said about cars. The majority of cars are nice, a few are awful (also called lemons), and a few are exceptional vehicles (generally priced above the average person’s ability to own).

I believe that books also fall into the bell curve distribution. Whether published by a large publishing house, a small publisher, or an independently published author, most published books fall under the “good” category. These books are good, but for the purposes of today’s rant, I will call them mediocre. There is nothing exceptional about them that stands out and really grabs my attention. Yes, they make a good read, but they don’t necessarily grab me and create an emotional response. A few fall into the “awful” category. These are books that really should never have been published. Then there are the few that fall into the “exceptional” category.

Since I read a lot of books, I read a lot of good, but mediocre books. Every so often, I come across an exceptional book. I love it when this happens.

I just finished reading one of those “exceptional” books. I think what makes this book exceptional is both the subject matter and some of the incredibly profound prose. The book I am speaking of is God’s Healing for Life’s Losses by Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D. Here are a few phrases from the book that really caught my attention.

“Our world is fallen, and it often falls on us.”

“Hurt is normal, and grieving is necessary.”

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Hope hoped for, received, then lost again, makes the heart deathly ill.”

I believe the bell curve is a result of our fallen world. God’s economy should host an exponential curve where things just keep getting better and better. I can’t wait for that.

In the meantime, in this fallen world, I urge you to strive to produce exceptional books that reflect God’s glory. Remember, the books in my bell shaped curve may be distributed differently from those in my neighbor’s. A well-written book, with good editing, a pleasing layout, and a message from the heart of God may not always be exceptional to the masses, but will be for those few who really need to hear the book’s particular message.

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Amazon’s New Author Rank

I have a friend whose teenage daughter is a coxswain on a rowing team for her high school. Her team had been doing very well and was able to go to a large regional meet where they were expected to place. My friend’s daughter made a bad judgment call during the race, and her team ended up coming in last place.

In the span of a few minutes, my friend’s daughter went from being a very popular girl at her school to being extremely unpopular. She became the brunt of team’s frustration and disappointment and this soon spread around the whole school.

Popularity is defined as “appealing to the general public, widely favored or admired.”

Amazon.com has decided to capitalize on this idea to attempt to gain more book sales. To this end, Amazon has launched Amazon Author Rank where the company ranks authors based on sales of the author’s entire body of works (similar to Amazon’s book ranking). The Amazon Author Rank page is updated hourly.

Amazon wants this new popular authors feature to help readers discover books by authors that are topping best-seller lists—to help the company increase book sales of course. The company also wants this new feature to provide both a benchmark for performance and a blueprint for success for authors. In other words, Amazon Author Rank can help authors determine how they are doing against other authors and learn what kinds of authors are successful right now. Here to, Amazon is hoping to motivate authors to try to sell more books.

Here is the truth. The vast majority of authors will never get listed on Amazon’s Author-Ranking Page (the page lists the top 100 authors on Amazon). Just as with popularity, where a few are popular and most people are just average; most authors are not “best-selling” authors.

Does this mean that average authors are not successful? Absolutely not. Don’t let a popularity list define your success. Popularity is fleeting. Remember that success in God’s kingdom is dependent on overcoming and doing the will of God.

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Independently Published

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the term self-published?

For a number of people, especially those in the publishing industry, the following word comes to mind:

“Substandard”

Personally, I find the term self-published confusing. Does that mean that the author published it through a vanity publishing house such as Xulon, Winepress, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, PublishAmerica, etc.? Does it mean that they published it through Lulu.com or CreateSpace.com and have that company listed as the publisher? Does it mean that the author, herself or himself, is the publisher and listed as such? Or, does it mean that the author published the book through a publishing company or business they own?

While self-published books are gaining ground in the industry, a prejudice against them remains. Many awards, book review publications, and even author and publishing associations do not allow “self-published” books or authors.

If you have self-published a book—by which I mean that you are listed as the publisher or a company you own is listed as the publisher of the book—then I suggest you use the term Independently Published to avoid stigma.

The English language is constantly changing. Words fall in and out of favor as different connotations become associated with them. For instance, “handicapped” used to be acceptable when taking about a disabled person. After a while, the associations with that word became negative, so “disabled” came into vogue.

The same is true for self-published. The term has gathered too much negativity. I suggest we start fresh. Let’s use the term independently published because that does describe what you have done—published your book autonomously.

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Talking Book Covers

Believe it or not, talking book covers are here. Technology has made them possible.

Using QR codes and smartphones, creative heads have developed the talking book cover. Watch this video featuring the talking cover of the comic book X-O Manowar. Then consider how you might use this same technology to make a talking cover for one of your upcoming books.

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