L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 922, May 14, 2017
Why Jeff Bezos is a Billionaire and I’m Broke
by J. Neil Schulman
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Evidently nobody remembers Xerox PARC and how the lack of IP protection made Bill Gates rich. So nobody got the joke in my title, which said “Bill Gates” instead of “Jeff Bezos.”
Do I think I have ownership in an idea? Nope. I’ve already written endlessly that “Ideas can’t be owned.”
But, damn. My idea can be used without any compensation just because it’s unsolicited?
Stephan Kinsella’s screeds to the contrary, that just ain’t right.
Subject: From an author of 11 Kindle books
Date: Mon, 8 May 2017 23:00:06 -0700
From: J. Neil Schulman
To: Jeff Bezos
CC: Justin Ptak, Friends of J. Neil Schulman, Ken Holder, Editor, The Libertarian Enterprise
Dear Mr. Bezos,
I’m author of eleven Kindle books currently on sale via Amazon, producer/writer/director of two feature films currently streaming on Amazon Video/Amazon Prime, plus additional hardcover and paperback books, and an Audible audiobook, also on sale via Amazon.
Back in 1989 I was one of the earliest distributors of downloadable books by best-selling authors, SoftServ Publishing, and in 1995 was the founder of Pulpless.Com which marked up additional publishing milestones.
I predicted almost all of what has come to pass in publishing in a 1987 article titled “Here Come the Paperless Books,” and I taught a graduate course called “Book Publishing in the 21st Century” for the New School/Connected Education in 1991.
Being as immersed in writing and publishing as I’ve been I note the superiority of digital book editions to printed books in all ways but one: the direct personal contact between author and reader that used to take place in bookstore author readings, Q&A, and book signings.
I propose we now enhance the Kindle experience by introducing the Virtual Kindle Author’s Personal Appearance.
The VKAPA would be a scheduled and publicized Amazon Kindle Bookstore online event where an author speaks by live video-conference to Kindle readers, reads a portion of one of the author’s Kindle books, answers live questions from the on-line audience, then personally inscribes and autographs readers’ individual Kindle editions using an app that affixes the personal inscription/autograph to that reader’s individual Kindle edition.
I propose that Kindle authors participating in the VKAPA not be charged for this service by Amazon but instead be treated as honored guests and share in the additional revenue generated by the Amazon VKAPA event.
As originator of this idea I ask that Amazon respect my authorship of this proposal and that Amazon publicize me as the first author to be given a VKAPA, and that I be given a small percentage of revenue from all future VKAPAs, to help me survive in my impending old age.
J. Neil Schulman
Kindle Author and originator of commercial downloadable books
Reply from Amazon.com:
Subject: Kindle Direct Publishing — Executive Customer Relations
Date: Wed, 10 May 2017 20:49:15 +0000
From: Amazon.com firstname.lastname@example.org
To: J. Neil Schulman
Hello Mr. Schulman,
My name is Abbey Washington with Kindle Direct Publishing Executive Customer Relations. Mr. Bezos received your business proposal and I’m responding on his behalf. I have shared it with the appropriate department. If the team has any questions for you or interest in the proposal, we will contact you. No compensation is offered for unsolicited business ideas. Thank you for taking the time to share your proposal.
Executive Customer Relations
Kindle Direct Publishing
Reprinted from J. Neil Schulman @ Agorist.com
© 2017 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved. Web and email links with attribution permitted and encouraged. Other reprints permitted only with prior permission of the author.
J. Neil Schulman is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio personality, filmmaker, composer, and actor. His dozen books include the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, both of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Award for best libertarian novel, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish, And Short Stories. Read more about him.
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