Monday, June 25, 2012

France Bans Book Discounts

Small, independent bookstores in U.S. have long complained that publishers grant deeper discounts to bookstore chains and to, because the latter buy more books. The chains and Amazon then pass these discounts on to customers. This puts small bookstores at a competitive disadvantage.

Of course, the chains are at a competitive disadvantage even against Amazon.

But this disadvantage does not exist in France, which, forbids stores from discounting books beyond 5% of retail price.

According to Angelique Chrisafis, writing for Britain's The Guardian newspaper (June 24, 2012):

"In contrast to the UK's famous three-for-two deals, the French state fixes the prices of books and readers pay the same whether they buy online, at a high-street giant or a small bookseller. Discounting is banned. The government boasts that price controls have saved small independent bookshops from the ravages of free-market capitalism that were unleashed in the UK when it abandoned fixed prices in the 1990s. France has more than 3,000 independent local bookshops and 400 in Paris, compared with around 1,000 in the UK and only 130 in London. But online book giants are still eating into small bookshops, many of which struggle to stay afloat."

According to Wikipedia, this is called France's Lang Law. It was passed in 1981, and extended to cover ebooks in 2011. Similar laws exist in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

I love bookstores, but as a reader, I certainly appreciate book discounts. A conundrum.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Verizon Wireless Truly Sucks

I've written before about my problems with Verizon Wireless and how much they suck ... and suck ... and suck and really and truly suck.

Most (though not all) of my problems with Verizon were billing related, their robots automatically charging me for services or time that I never used.

Then, after long waits on their automated customer service line, Verizon would promise to credit me the full amount -- and then not do it.

So I canceled all of my Verizon Wireless accounts last August. I haven't had a cell phone since then. Which is good, considering that cell phones cause cancer. (Yes, they really do. Truly, they do.)

Now -- after not hearing from Verizon for nearly one peaceful year! -- Verizon has begun emailing me a "monthly bill" of $46.62.

Verizon is truly retarded! I have no wireless account with them. Yet they keep on billing, long after I've kicked them out of my life.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ray Bradbury, RIP

I discovered Ray Bradbury in a trash can. On my way home from grammar school, I saw that someone had discarded some yellowed, worn 1970s paperbacks. I salvaged all the true ghost stories and horror fiction anthologies. One Berkeley paperback contained Bradbury's "The Small Assassin," the tale of a mentally mature infant who plots his mother's murder. (Think of The Family Guy's Stewie.)

People forget that Bradbury, known for his science fiction, was also a horror writer. With "The Small Assassin," I became a lifelong Bradbury fan, whatever his story's genre.

I first met Bradbury in 1992, at a Malibu, California book-signing. (His, not mine). He loved my trash can story. One would expect the author of Fahrenheit 451 to rejoice at people rescuing any books from landfills, incinerators, or recyclers.

Read the rest of my article in the Hollywood Investigator.