Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Water no more

Because my sales from CafePress.com have slowed to far less than a trickle over the past ten years, I rarely visit the site anymore. While I had made a couple thousand dollars off Water from a Skull in the wake of its initial release, there's been almost nothing since then. I do still sell the occasional Dalma Daesa tee shirt on that site, but sales aren't happening at more than a negligible rate.

Just a few days ago, I went back to CafePress to take a look at Water from a Skull... and discovered, to my shock, that the book has been yanked without any notification and without my permission. Just—poof. Gone. I'm charitably assuming this is because of some obscure, small-print policy that says something like, "If none of this product has moved during a 6-month period, we reserve the right to yank it off the shelves as a means to save data-storage space." Because that's what we're talking about, after all: data-storage space, not physical storage. What pisses me off about this is that, in publish-on-demand situations, you should theoretically be able to store your product on the cyber-shelves indefinitely: a huge company like CafePress can't possibly be hurting for storage capacity.

Well, whatever the reasons for my book's disappearance, it's gone. I can email CafePress to find out why, but the explanation ultimately won't matter. One of my future projects is to put out an improved version of Water from a Skull—heavily edited, with lots of new content, plus some of the basics that never made it into the first book, like a glossary, an index, and a much longer and more rigorous list of references. If it turns out that CP is no longer publishing books of any sort (and a cursory survey of the site seems to indicate that this is indeed the case—probably because of competition from publish-on-demand services like Amazon.com and Lulu.com), then I'll republish via Amazon.com, just as my friend Young Cheon did.

I'll talk about all my other writing projects in another post. Meantime, let's fondly remember that Water from a Skull actually had the honor of being selected for inclusion in one of Yale University's prestigious libraries (see here). Wow—that was ten years ago.

UPDATE, 1/31, 1:16PM: I wrote to CafePress, and CP has indeed discontinued the publication of all books, so it's not as though my book had been singled out for elimination. This probably does have a lot to do with the rise of e-books and the taking-over of POD books by the likes of Amazon.com and Lulu.com.

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