On 28 March I will finally introduce my book to the American Chamber. Good it is now for sale in The Bookworm! I must admit I am pretty nervous about the talk. People always assume “I talk so easily” but few realize what it takes…
AmCham’s own introduction:
Toxic Capitalism: Environmental Pressures from Excessive Consumption
You are invited to join AmCham China at a luncheon with Gilbert Van Kerckhove, who will discuss his recent book “Toxic Capitalism – The Orgy of Consumerism and Waste: Are We the Last Generation on Earth?”
China’s economic slowdown since the global financial crisis has led many economists to believe that only a fundamental shift in its economy will drive future growth. Less reliance on external factors like foreign investment and export driven growth, and a greater focus on internal ones–particularly domestic consumption–should result in a more sustainable growth model to guide the world’s second largest economy in the coming decades.
While these plans for rebalancing call for increased domestic consumption, the energy and resources necessary to fuel greater consumption for China’s population of 1.3 billion would likely put a great strain on the environment. Rising pollution levels and the impact of “toxic capitalism”- overconsumption and indiscriminate wastefulness – exacerbate the environmental problems that China already faces.
Gilbert Van Kerckhove, president and founder, Beijing Global Strategy Consulting
In the shop
Finally, it took me some time, after some disappointments with Chinese publishing companies. But since yesterday my book “Toxic Capitalism” on sale in Beijing: at The Bookworm, the best know bookshop for foreigners in Beijing (in Sanlitun, very close to Tai Koo Li and Sanlitun SOHO).
Sales price set by the shop is RMB 200, soft cover only.
Falling into the scam trap of Author Solutions
My (first) book, Toxic Capitalism, was published through AuthorHouse UK, which, as I found out later, is part of the global book publishing company, Author Solutions (AS).
In 2012 Pearson (who owns Penguin) bought Author Solutions, the parent company of dozens of self-publishing brands including iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford and Palibrio as well as media companies FuseFrame, PitchFest, Author Learning Center and BookTango. Add to the club: Archway, Partridge, etc.
So, when I opted for AuthorHouse UK, I was simply falling into the scam trap of Author Solutions.
I was lucky to get this link:
The excellent overview is highly critical of all those AS self-publishing companies. “Author Solutions’ modus operandi is pretty despicable, and they’ve been badgering, swindling and confusing writers out of money—and lots of it—for years.”. “Author Solutions is incapable of handling day-to-day operations for their current customers. Erroneous royalty reports and non-payment of royalties are frequent complaints given by authors”. And so on, reads the review.
My personal major complaints:
– Services they offer to “promote and market” the book are misleading, overpriced and largely useless;
– The media promotions they announce are simply opening accounts at Facebook, Twitter etc. and making e-mail address. That’s all. Anyone can do that.
– The editing work was somehow reasonable but far from being perfect; I agree that my book is difficult because of the specialized vocabulary.
– The transition from the approved manuscript to the publishing version was a disaster: they built in far over 100 mistakes that I failed to see at first; most were removed in the e-book version.
– I have to pay IRS tax for books that are not even that much sold in the USA; they are printed and shipped from the UK; were they not a UK company?
– They still pay by CHECK, who still uses that in the 21st century? An send them by snail mail to China. Result: you get nearly nothing left of the royalties. As the sales lady made the mistake to promise me by e-mail payment by electronic transfer, they are now a bit in a bind; as for now payments are on hold.
– Their reports on sales/royalties are slow. Still waiting for their 4Q 2012 report.
– Overall the major problem is the lack of coordination. A writer has no single contact person who can guide him through the different departments. Instead, we are sent from one person to another, each time for a different reason or step in the process. Each new individual has no idea about the writer’s background and previous discussions.
– AS always asks us to call. As people like me are on the other side of the world, that is very inconvenient time wise, always troublesome to call internationally. E-mail addresses are mostly general, so one does not know whom to contact. It is like walking in the dark.
– Any payments need to be done through the phone. This is so-called for “security reasons”. Seems Amazon and others are more advanced and you can simply execute the payments online. Once again, AS has not yet entered the 21st century.
So, be warned. Don’t fall for their trap.
I will have to look around for other options if I have a new book.
Western Academy of Beijing (WAB)
On 30 November 2012 WAB organized a one day event, with the slogan “CHANGE”, the 2012 Global Issues Conference which involved all students in the Middle and High School. They had found me through my book’s website and invited me to talk for nearly one hour, to introduce my book.
It was a very different and unique experience for me, going to this enormous Western school complex in Shunyi – they have far over 1,000 students. Very modern, great atmosphere. Today’s kids don’t know how lucky they are, in my time things were really very “basic”, the least to say.
I first joined the opening ceremony in their gym which included over 800 middle school and high school students and teachers. See the crowd. The speakers were very interesting and I only felt pity I could not listen to the end and meet them. Their topics were pretty well related to the themes in my book.
My talk was in the Blu Theater. The student audience was from Grade 9 to Grade 12 – with an age range from 13 to 19 years old. All students were high school students and a mixture of female and male. The Grade 11 and 12 students mostly take Economics; Environmental Science and other Scientific subjects.
An international buffet
After that I joined the enormous buffet lunch, where the parents from many nationalities were offering dishes, snacks and more at their individual stands. The choice was just too overwhelming. Great idea, just noticed there was no Belgian stand – there was a Dutch table (bitterballen!).
I also bumped into my old friend Richard Liu who works there.
Great many thanks to Suzi Roberts, Lorraine Mc Mullen and Echo Cai, and all who gave me such a warm reception.
In the Israeli embassy
On 17 December 2012 I was kindly invited for a book presentation to IsCham Beijing, to introduce my book Toxic Capitalism during the Beijing Annual Gathering and the inauguration of the new board members. IsCham: the Israel Chamber of Commerce in China.
Thanks to Fani Gurevich Bar, Ilil Bar Gat and all others for their assistance.
I had the opportunity to give a signed copy of my book to the ambassador, H.E. Matan Vilnai.
Speeches were given by the ambassador, Fani, Mickey Mushinski.
My talk lasted 43 minutes to introduce the main points of my book.
Pictures by myself and by IsCham.