Monday, December 14, 2009
DashBook makes it easy to calculate the statutory U.S. mechanical royalties on music, and to handle sales of both individual tracks and entire albums, whether they be physical sales or electronic downloads.
Here is one common scenario. I'll explain how to use DashBook to calculate mechanical fees owed to artists or publishers.
First, I recommend adding or changing the Product Types to include "tracks" and "albums" so that you can easily distinguish them later. (Setup->Products->Types) When you are on the product screen, you can set the product type to tracks or albums.
If an album has 13 tracks, create each track as a product in DashBook, specify the track or song length on the Measurements tab, and add anyone needing to be paid as authors for this track. A common retail price for a track is $0.99, so go ahead and use that. Now hit the Apply to save these changes, then click the Royalties tab on the first page of the product. If you press the "New" hyperlink, a new royalty will be created with this track and the next author not having an existing royalty agreement. Choose Mechanical Royalties, and type in 100% in the percentage field. Of course, you can choose 50% or any other ratio. Press OK to save these changes, and Apply on the product, and repeat for each track. DashBook has a royalty agreement copy feature, but this method is very easy. Oh, it might be a good idea to choose the non-stocking warehouse for the default for tracks, since you won't be interested in maintaining inventory.
After you have all 13 tracks defined as products, create one more product for the album itself. On the Components tab, simply select the tracks belonging to this album. If we are only concerned about mechanical rights, then this product does not need a royalty and the author/contributor column isn't necessary as well.
Now when you create an order that indicates the number of each track and album sold or downloaded, the royalties will calculate automatically. If the mechanical rate changes in the future, a simple update to DashBook (automatic internet download) will have the future rates updated with no changes required by the user. In fact, if you wish to input CD sale dates from 5 years ago, you'll notice that DashBook will use an older and smaller mechanical fee. Automatically.
Speaking of automatic, you don't actually have to enter the sales manually. For instance, you can create a customer called Apple, and ask DashBook to import your iTunes csv reports that you download from your iTunes account. (File->Import Sales Reports->iTunes) When importing reports for sales occurring in other countries, simply enter the currency conversion rate. DashBook will create the order/invoice for you, and leave it in an open state for you to review before closing it.
Even though you already own a spreadsheet program, you just can't afford to keep messing with it when DashBook is so easy and so cheap.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Recently we were asked about barcode support for an organization needing to track their products from their warehouses. DashBook already supports adding to and shipping from multiple warehouses, so that is not an issue. But what about barcode scanners?
As it turns out, barcode scanners are little more than machines that read code and type what they see as if a human had typed it using the keyboard. Simply plug in a USB barcode scanner, and the operating system will detect it and configure itself to use it. Here are a couple of things I played with using our new barcode scanner:
Within DashBook, I created a new order. Because our Simple order style does not show product codes, I clicked the Advanced tab to go to Order Detail. I clicked into the ISBN/Product Code field, grabbed a book off of my shelf, and scanned it. DashBook immediately created an order line with that product, filling out the price and presumed quantity of 1, which can readily be changed. Because the scanner automatically added a cr/lf (carriage return/linefeed), DashBook was ready for the next book. Just by scanning one book after another, an entire order can be filled.
My next test was to go to the product section of DashBook to create products. I just clicked the + sign to create a product, and DashBook popped open an ISBN window before the main product form. I then scanned multiple books, which automatically typed their ISBNs into this window -- all in a nice column because of the "returns" at the end of each code. When I pressed the OK button on that window, DashBook looked up these ISBN codes on the internet, and created each of the product records, automatically filling in the book titles, summary description, and authors.
Wow. I love automation!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
In the past, that has greatly bothered me. As I tell people, I’ve made my living from intellectual property (computer software), so I couldn’t steal someone else’s work with a clear conscience. It is my understanding that it is illegal to make public, like uploading to the internet, copyrighted material in which you do not own the copyright. Likewise, similar to using stolen goods, it would be illegal to view or listen to such material.
YouTube, owned now by Google, does not require that the person uploading videos prove that he has the legal right to do so, just like web hosts do not prevent website owners from uploading illegal content. There is a bit of difference though. The two most popular illegal uploads to YouTube are music and music videos which have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. And these works are publicly available for purchase. This means that Google could discover the origin of these works, as opposed to confidential company information that was newly leaked. See “Detecting the Origin of Text Segments Efficiently” for an example of Google’s intelligence when it comes to deciding the origin of news. They aren’t ignorant, and they have the money to access BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc. to find the information required to abide by the law.
But they don’t do that. Why? I’d say they suffer from an aggression that lawyers phrase, “It is better to ask forgiveness, than to ask permission.” This can be interpreted as, “It’s OK to violate the copyright holder’s rights, and if they complain, we’ll remove the offending material.” Google also used this stance when it decided to copy millions of books to make them available to readers, without consulting the publishers of those books. Like an ignorant child who taunts “Finders keepers; losers weepers,” Google tried to gift to the world that which was not theirs by claiming that they will make out-of-print books available even though these books are still works bound by copyright law. Basically, they are acting criminally, and asking to be policed, rather than seeking to avoid breaking the law.
Well, YouTube has recently changed this posture. While copyright owners who do not police their works may continue to have them stolen, YouTube now allows these owners to register their works with YouTube so that any uploads that contain these works will accrue royalty payments. (Scribd and other sites friendly to violators should follow this improvement.)
This means that when someone uploads a video, YouTube will scan the audio portion to see if it matches one of their commercial customers’ songs. If it does, then each time this video is played, YouTube will pay the copyright holder for this performance. I imagine that a registering copyright holder can also request that their songs not be allowed to be uploaded from elsewhere, just as there would be a need to disallow playing based on location, since licensing contracts can dictate different owners of the copyrighted material for different regions of the world.
If you are uploading videos, you can use YouTube’s AudioSwap feature to include legal music directly, to ensure that you are not violating someone’s music copyright.
What does this mean to me? Well, it now gives me plausible deniability. I can now claim that each time I play a video from YouTube, that the royalty owners are getting paid for that performance. This makes YouTube my new favorite location for finding specific songs -- all the music without the guilt.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Why do so many book publishers choose Lightning Source (LS) for their POD? This is very simple. Because LS is owned by Ingram, all books carried by LS are placed in Ingram's book listings. This means that all booksellers who use Ingram (that'd be every one in the U.S.A., plus) is able to see the LS book in the catalogue and order it. That would be fine for anyone expecting the readers to request a book from a bookstore, but it won't put a book on their bookshelf. No bookstore is large enough to carry every published book. Well...
then there is Amazon. While Amazon does not warehouse all of the books it sells, it does maintain a database of every book that it could sell. So to follow the thread, this means that all books in LS are listed in Amazon's database and are searchable and purchasable from http://www.amazon.com. Not only are the books listed, but Amazon keeps ratings and comments about each book, so if the authors or readers wish to comment on a POD book carried by LS, they can do so on Amazon - the largest seller of books in the world. (nope, I'm not gong to bother researching the veracity of Amazon's success)
So, now that many book publishers are using Lightning Source, they receive a nice report showing them their sales. Here's where we get back to Dashbook. Publishers generally need to pay authors and other contributors a percentage of the sales of books. The royalty contracts describing the conditions and amounts can vary quite a bit, and can become unwieldy to track without specialized software like DashBook. Within DashBook, a publisher can describe these royalty arrangements so that subsequent sales transactions will generate royalties accrued to each royalty recipient.
Now that DashBook has a built-in ability to import LS sales reports and perform a currency conversion (LS - U.S., LS - U.K., etc.), we save a lot of typing, which greatly reduces time and errors. In fact, when a publisher has a large list of book sales to import, this can save hours. When you add that savings on top of the time saved in actually performing the royalty calculations, publishers just can't afford not to use a great tool like DashBook.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
We have rules for grammar so that someone can know a language and understand books written to those grammatical rules.
One would think that an author would be capable of reading submission guidelines which were written in their native language, and follow them. Of course they could, but why do so many editors complain about submissions that do not follow the guidelines?
I think it is because the editors themselves have fallen into the trap of convention in the publishing industry. Everyone has "Submission guidelines" so they think that they must need them, too. Yes, it would be good practice to set rules for submissions, so do just that. Do not set guidelines unless you expect them to be read as helpful hints.
If you want to be forceful and reject submissions that are not within your standards, set standards instead of suggestions. How about using "Mandatory submission rules (not just guidelines)" to properly cast your requirements?
Can you be bold enough to not use old industry terms that apparently do not carry your intended meaning? What would be a new term that would properly convey your meaning to the thousands of authors out there who do not know your business?
This is your industry. Define it.
Our prior version 3.1 introduced our sales report import ability. DashBook can import sales reports from text formatted files, such as csv and tsv. Although we provide a utility that you can use to create a mapping to the sales reports you receive, we also include a bunch of them directly in our package so you can focus on your business.
Both the music business and software development require a community effort that is often compensated by paying a percentage of sales to those involved in creation of the product. And one of the hottest places to sell these wares today is iTunes.
v3.2 added an import map for Apple's iTunes sales reports. This map allows you to import your iTunes sales whether they are from music sales or iPhone App Store sales. During import, you can enter a currency conversion factor. One of our customers noted that typing in the bank transfer fees as a sales commission percentage allowed him to pass the pro-rata of that expense to each of the products sold, so that the royalties he pays out are properly accounted.
Our import was also enhanced to enable creation of invoices for consignment sales. This was critical to properly add the reports for Midpoint Trade Books and Consortium, two more distributors used by DashBook customers.
If you have a distributor or reseller for which DashBook does not have a built-in import, please let us know so that we can help.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Now, with the ability to check out books from the library, the eBook reader market will explode! I've checked out an audio book from the Houston Library using my laptop at home, and synchronized it with my Windows Mobile phone to listen to the book while jogging. It worked pretty well, and the book expired and disappeared at the end of its checkout period. I was even able to renew it. But this was a novelty for me.
Putting this type of power and ease on a device for the mass market is another story. It will cause people to buy eBook readers, and it will cause libraries to purchase more licenses for simultaneous checkout. Amazon would be foolish not to include this ability in their Kindle.
The need for book publishers to market their books to the library will increase, just as the sales to the library increase. Libraries. Hmm. Makes me think of another eBook angle.
Friday, August 21, 2009
We know the story. When radio came out, people said newspapers were dead. When television came out, radio was a goner. Now that movies over the internet are becoming more popular, broadcast and cable television will lose the spotlight.
You might be inclined to say that none of the obsolescent media have gone away. Although that is true on the surface, the fact is that their value has been eroded. Which is cheaper advertisement today, not counting production costs: three minutes of radio or television?
In terms of production costs, those has gone through the roof. When you add pictures to sound, the cost goes up. Likewise, when you add video to eBooks, the costs will rise.
Although anyone today can compose a novel and place it up for sale as an eBook all by themselves, collaboration is the key to greater works. Do you want to have nice photos, video, or the programming required for interaction? Here is where the networker or larger publisher will have the advantage. Greater investment will be required for the future's interactive multimedia. Publishers will have to hire the talent or contract for it. If independent publishing means an individual doing it all, they'll be left behind.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
But I think that the current eBooks are kind of funny. They remind me of so many technology transitions of the past.
When I was young, my family moved to the country where we could explore far and wide. For me, one of the most amazing things we found was in the old decrepit barn. Tucked away in the corner, and camouflaged by color and cobwebs, was a small electric lantern. Yes, electric lantern. You see, prior to electricity, folks used oil-filled lanterns with large globes and wire bails (hoops for carrying). So it appeared that when the manufacturer of this lantern decided on an electric wire and lightbulb, they packaged it into a form familiar and presumed convenient for the existing purchasers of lanterns. How quaint!
Likewise, most of us have seen the original automobiles that look like horseless carriages. These are evolutionary changes, and so it is with the majority of current eBooks. Most are just transcribed books from print.
What do I want from eBooks, then? I always want more value. The convenience of buying and receiving instantly is great. The convenience of having my reading with me whereever I am is luxurious. But I'm reading them on a handheld computer that has much more potential. Yes, I'm talking about multimedia in all its rich, interactive forms.
There are a few good examples out there. Take a look at "Buddy the Bus" for the iPhone. This app uses full color, can read to you, and offers five language choices for both the text and the audio. And if you consider the now aging Leap Frog book reader, where you can touch the props on the pages and have them yelp, you can imagine books that go far beyond our old printed pop-up books. It won't be just kids who will appreciate full animation. Can you visualize the advantages of a "How to fix" book with video clips?
Come on; use your imagination, and you can be a leader in this expanding world of publishing!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Well, that got my interest up to explore the other app stores. Having used an iPhone for a while now, I believe that Apple's tight grip can kill them. Not allowing a user to choose which apps can continue in the background is absurd. The Android system, on the other hand, is much more open and allows developers to write anything they wish, although publishing pornography is still forbidden.
Thus, the Android is my pick as the best competitor for Apple's iPhone system. So I started to research the Android Marketplace to see if I could find examples of their sales reports. Hmm. I have to pay $25 before I can read details about publishing on the Marketplace? Bizarre. Further research turned up inquiries by developers who are at a loss as to how to account for sales tax on their sales. Do they have to review each individual transaction to determine if U.S. sales tax was charged if the composite transactions report doesn't contain that detail? Wait! The developer is accountable for sales tax? Does Android Marketplace or Google affect the developers' nexus?
Oh, this is pitiful.
Apple's App Store and iTunes Store simplified this for publishers by taking on the role of a reseller, just like the prior online bookstores. If Android Marketplace does not do this, few developers will make the mistake of publishing there more than once.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Have you ever generated a royalty report or thought through a royalty calculation but had need to look at the actual royalty contract for confirmation? Well, now you can attach your royalty contract to your DashBook royalty agreement. You can attach your standard contract or attach the specific signed contract. Actually, you can attach any document. Just click on your attachment to view it.
You're not limited to attaching documents to the royalty agreement, either. Perhaps you want to attach a purchase order to the sales order, a scanned business card to a contact, or event photos to a book.
DashBook v3.1 now allows attaching any document to many places of the program. We include the ability to view many of the file formats while within DashBook, such as pdf files.
As before, you can freely download DashBook to try it for yourself. Even if you've downloaded a prior version, such as our version 1.0 from just a year ago, please visit our website to see all the things that DashBook can do for you now.
Check it out at http://www.DashBook.com
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
So that DashBook can calculate royalties or licensing fees, it needs to have events or transactions that cause the calculation. We made the brilliant decision to group these events together in what we call an "order." Amazing, right?
Well, many publishers are not very focused on the individual orders; they just want their royalties calculated. They may not be interested in knowing about orders to know who receives a shipment. They may have no desire for DashBook to handle inventory changes, especially if they are using electronic books (ebooks) or a print on demand (POD) printer.
Well, our upcoming update to DashBook not only handles this issue for publishers not focused on orders, but also helps to automate a time consuming and potentially error prone process. DashBook version 3.1 will add the ability to import the order information directly from the electronic reports that publishers receive from their distributors!
With a simple click - boom! a new order is created, containing all of the products sold and returned, according to the distributor's sales report. Our initial work includes the most popular book distributors used by publishers not handling inventory. Print on demand is led by Lightning Source, and ebooks are spread across Fictionwise, Amazon, and MobiPocket. We also received a sample from All Romance Ebooks (I understand Romance is a pretty big category for ebooks), so we've included them as well.
Please go to our website, www.DashBook.com to read more and request a beta to try this new feature yourself. Our new import is customizable, so you can add your own distributor's report for importing. If you do, please send the map file to us so that we can provide it to others. Or, contact us to create a map or import from your source.
Thanks for helping us make DashBook even more powerful!
Monday, May 4, 2009
However, Amazon knows that their price is considered a purchasing barrier. Although I think they've already done a superb job of pricing given that each Kindle includes (currently) unlimited internet access forever, a lower price will surely help sell more.
How can Amazon lower the Kindle's price?
1) Advertising - a larger screen gives more space for ads in addition to content.
2) Subscriptions - Why hasn't a book-of-the-month club offered a subsidized Kindle?
With the New York Times as a partner of this newer Kindle, they have the opportunity to do both, just like they've always done with their print edition.
Personally, I am very comfortable with the size of the current Kindle 2, but wish all my books were e-books on it so that I have access to them at all times (note that I carry an iPhone at all times).
Another rumor is that Kindle will receive support from textbook publishers. If all textbooks needed by students were on this one device, that would make cross campus treks a lot easier!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Due to outstanding suggestions, we have made many enhancements to DashBook. Some of the largest changes include:
- Vista 32 bit and 64 bit support
- Automatic mechanical royalty calculations for the music industry
- Expiration dates for handling subscription sales and followups
- Expenses tied to individual products, with royalties optionally adjusted
- Ability to review and create royalties directly from the products screen
- Ability to review order history directly on the customer screen
- Option to use PayPal on the subset of authors having PayPal accounts
Please check out our beta (beta link expired; contact us if you wish to be on the cutting edge!). If DashBook does not handle something you need in your business of royalties or licensing, please tell us what you want!
Friday, March 27, 2009
I love when someone searches out a solution to their problem, usually being overwhelmed with handling all of their royalty or licensing contracts, and discover DashBook. Their excitement in finding an affordable program that they can easily understand is contagious. Almost everyone gives us great compliments. Our most recent quote was "BTW, the ISBN import function is genius. Nice work."
That feels great. However, our excitement doesn't stop after they purchase DashBook. Our users have fantastic ideas on how to further improve our system. Although we will soon be releasing DashBook version 3, the developmental thrill has subsided, though exposing our latest work to the world will be fun. I can't wait to start work on our new list of client-suggested enhancements. Some are so good while being so simple to do, that we should be following up with an update to our not-yet-released v3 pretty quickly.
I love making things better!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The e-book market is heating up. 2009 will be a great year for this industry. Barnes & Noble is apparently taking e-books seriously now. They don't have much choice, if they want to stay in business. Yes, e-books were only 1% of sales, but their sales growth is exploding.
Now that Amazon has supposedly sold half a million Kindle machines, just released the Kindle 2, and now the Kindle iPhone app, they are poised to take over the ebook industry. We know that they will release Kindle readers for other devices, which proves that they want to own the business of selling e-books. If Amazon decides to make retrieval of free e-books easily done in their Kindle store, they would totally blow away competitors like Stanza while not hurting their sales at all.
The Fictionwise Pendergrast brothers can see the Amazon storm building intensity, and they need serious help to survive it. Good Luck!
Hey, Steve and Scott, how about we work with you on connecting your system with DashBook, so your publishers and authors can easily keep track of their book sales and royalties?
Monday, February 23, 2009
With DashBook, you can use an Advanced order to explain the details of your consignment arrangement. Here are the typical steps in the life of consigned books:
1) You create an advanced order, and mark the items as Consignment. For this order, you will be creating a shipment, but not an invoice. This tells DashBook that these units will be moving from your standard warehouse to the warehouse of your consignee. This is still stock that you own.
2) You receive a report from your distributor indicating that they have sold your books. Now is the time to add an Invoice to your order for the number of units that were sold. This means that the distributor finally owes you for something! Placing this invoice on consigned stock will instruct DashBook to reduce the inventory held at that consignee location. Do not create a shipment for these, as that work is done by your distributor.
3) Any returns can be handled on the Returns tab of your order. Simply tell DashBook how many units are returned for financial credit, and if any of them are physically being returned to your stock as opposed to merely increasing your consignee stock.
That's it! DashBook will allow you to create a special Consignment inventory report that will show you how much of each book is in each location. You can even ask for the details of every sale and return transaction on this report, so you can find out exactly what has happened to your books!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Since DashBook has now grown into the best choice for small book publishers to handle their royalty calculations, we have been getting requests to import from legacy systems. Publishers are moving from the old standards of AnyBook and PUB123/SOHO123 to DashBook, and are asking us to help them in their transition.
Well, we've responded with an automated import of current information and history so that users can now have the best of both worlds -- all of their history within the easy to understand and use DashBook system. Normally it could cost thousands of dollars to migrate history from one system to another, but we are offering it all at no extra charge within our $249 program. As a friend of mine would say with a smirk, "What a bargain!"
We import customer information, product descriptions, and yes, even royalty agreement definitions. Since DashBook can handle the sales channels of PUB123 as well as the breakpoint volume and discount tiering of AnyBook, the conversion was actually simple.
We also import all of the orders from each of these systems, so that you can review the history of your products and customer purchases within DashBook. Doing all of this work did point out a deficiency in DashBook. AnyBook has consignment ability, and one of our converts recorded Promotional copies sent out from consignment. Hmm. We hadn't addressed that in DashBook, but we have it now. You can now mark an order item as Promotional for a Consignment so that it removes those units from the consignee's inventory.
We have also greatly improved our Consignment Inventory tracking to be the best in its class, giving you the option of seeing changes as deep as individual orders, or just the totals for each consignee. Frankly, if you have AnyBook and used consignments, you need to import into DashBook if you wish to see accurate consignment inventory levels.
DashBook makes it easy to see how your data will look in a better system. If you wish to migrate to DashBook from a system that we currently do not import, let us know so that we can help you, too.