Internations Book Club discussed Toxic Capitalism

Internations Book Club

In the afternoon of Sunday 26 February 2017 the Internations Book Club discussed Toxic Capitalism, in the Tree Gallery and Café, a nice coffeeshop near Capital Mansion and Liangma River – now closed as many other venues.

It was a lively discussion I enjoyed personally, always well hosted by Kevin.
More about Internations:

Intro by Kevin Paul Gouldmann, Activity Host

At our next activity, Gilbert has kindly agreed to give a brief talk and join our discussion about his book.

Short bio

Gilbert Van Kerckhove, is from Belgium and graduated as master in electronic engineering.
Since 1980 he has been working with China, where he spent over 30 years, mostly in Beijing but also in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
He is the president of a Beijing-based management consulting that provides strategy guidance to foreign and Chinese companies.
Since 2000 he has been assisting the Beijing Municipality in the areas of economic studies and foreign investment promotion. He has received the highest Chinese awards for his role in the 2008 Olympics, including the Chinese Green Card. He considers Beijing his home.
He is an avid reader of regional and international news and has built a large database on issues related to the environment, economy, public services, trade, labor markets, and more.

The book

Toxic Capitalism criticizes the overconsumption and wastage caused by questionable companies, financial institutions and governments, and leading to depletion of natural resources and to environmental destruction.
Living in China, Gilbert became alarmed by the dramatic pollution levels and the impact of Toxic Capitalism – an unwelcome strain of capitalism that thrives on overconsumption and indiscriminate wastage, promoted by the West with the help of questionable companies, financial institutions and governments.
China, as Factory of the World, is facing depletion of resources and roams the world to satisfy its voracious appetite for energy, raw materials, and food.
How serious is the environmental destruction? Is capitalism fundamentally wrong? How did we come to this madness?
What can we do to preserve the future of our children?

The Author Exploitation Business

David Gaughran writes

Another great insight into the murky world of self-publishing, exposing the Author Exploitation Business:
Count me in as one of the victims of Author Solutions, the biggest scammer of them all, now owned by Penguin who is happy to make the scam group even bigger.
As says David:
“Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations who claim to help writers, to respect them, to assist them along the path to publication are actually screwing them over.”

Bad choice

Yes, I did Google to figure out which publisher to use. Reduced it to two, AuthorHouse and XLibris. Happens they are both Author Solutions. Many of the web sites that “help you to chose” are stealth promoters of the same huge group.
Now I figured out AuthorHouse not only is from the Middle Ages (sending you checks in BP from the USA, so you get net like 40%), did not yet discover electronic payments but also under-reports my sales (you could call that stealing). Mails sent for clarification are never answered. So you can wonder: should you promote your book for them to sell so you even don’t see the royalties?
Worse, I thought I was dealing with a UK company. The I was forced to register with the IRS (and pay taxes, again less royalties). What the f*** do I have to do with U.S. taxes? For books sold mostly OUTSIDE the USA?

See also:

The members of the scam family

So, if you wanna do something, better follow David’s blog.
See his list:
Here’s the full list of Author Solutions companies (I might be missing one or two, there’s just so many): Author House, iUniverse, XLibris, Trafford, Palibrio, Publish in the USA, Abbott Press (Writers Digest), Balboa Press (Hay House), WestBow (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins), Partridge (Penguin India), Archway (Simon & Schuster), Inspiring Voices (Guideposts Magazine), Legacy Keepers, FuseFrame (previously Author Solutions Films), Pitchfest (Authors pay to come pitch their stories for film adaptations), Author Learning Center (Online learning tool hoping you’ll forget to cancel your credit card after the free trial ends), WordClay (Abandoned ebook imprint), BookTango (New ebook imprint), AuthorHive.
Good luck, and thanks David!

Toxic Capitalism: AmCham book talk

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

“Toxic Capitalism” on sale in Beijing

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.

The “swindling tactics” of Author Solutions

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.