Day: September 30, 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

08:18 – Here’s one for the books. A week or so ago, I needed to order 25 g or so of reagent-grade 1-naphthol to make up some modified Griess reagent for forensic kits. Fisher Sci didn’t have it in stock, so I went off in search of some 1-naphthol on the Internet. I found a vendor on eBay that was offering 25 g of RG 1-naphthol for $37, shipping from Japan, so I placed an order. This morning I got the following email (spacing and line breaks sic).

Dear Buyer

Thanks for your order again.
Your item is already shipped with safe packing.

In these days, Korea/Japan country’s post office & major courier denied
air-shipping of some reagent products.
Especially, when MSDS section 14 ‘Transport Information’ has some
Regulation/Hazard Class info,* it can be returned to us. *
*And some countries customs denied customs clearance of these items also.*

We know this reagent is not so danger but they do not accept our shipping
*So we have to change the bottle label of the reagent products to
‘safe-looking’ random label for fast shipping.*
*The attached label is not real info so you should remove it & write real
info when you receive it.*

We take picture of your real reagent products before remove the label.
*Please see the attached images. *

We’re sorry for it. But this is only way to ship your reagent in right time.
Please understand our situation & effort for customer satisfaction.


So, basically they’re breaking the law by intentionally mislabeling a bottle of chemicals with a fake label that bears no relation to the contents. I’m of two minds about reporting this to eBay. On the one hand, this company has broken many laws and regulations by intentionally mislabeling a chemical bottle. On the other hand, I don’t doubt that what they’re shipping me really is RG 1-naphthol and I understand why they’re avoiding stupid shipping regulations. I don’t have time right now to get involved in a mess, so I’ll probably just let it slide and use the 1-naphthol.

Work on the book progresses. I’m still in the stage where I’m stubbing things out, recording thoughts as short sentence fragment placeholders as they occur to me, and so on, so it’s still a real mess. But I did manage to write more than 5,000 words yesterday on subjects ranging from guns to emergency heating alternatives to building a field-expedient sand/charcoal water filtration system with a 5-gallon bucket to building out a PERK (personal emergency relocation kit), and I have no doubt that I can continue doing 5,000 words a day for weeks on end.

Ebooks with large file sizes are problematic on Amazon because they charge a data transfer fee of $0.15/MB, which is deducted from the sale price before the royalty is calculated. On a standard all-text ebook priced at $2.99 to $9.99, Amazon pays a 70% royalty after minor deductions. A $3.00 ebook earns the author about $2.04 per copy in royalties after all is said and done, leaving Amazon’s cut at $0.96.

On ebooks priced at $2.98 or less or $10.00 or more, Amazon pays only a 35% royalty, but doesn’t charge the data-transfer surcharge, which is why most image-heavy ebooks sell in the $15+ range. For example, O’Reilly/MAKE prices our Illustrated Guide to Home Biology experiments at $15.39. They had to price it over $10, or they’d have to pay the $0.15/MB data transfer surcharge on a very large file. At $15.39, Amazon doesn’t collect the data transfer surcharge, but they pay only the 35% royalty rate, or $5.39 per copy. So, on each copy sold, Amazon keeps $10, and O’Reilly/MAKE splits $5.39 with us.

So, given the economics involved and also considering that PDFs suck on the Kindle, I’ve decided to publish the book in text-only form for the Kindle on Amazon, using AZW/MOBI/PRC format, probably priced at $3.99 or perhaps higher. But I’ll also provide buyers with a link to download a free copy of the full PDF version with high-res color images. Based on experience and the number of images I intend to include, I’d guess that full PDF version will probably run at least 200 MB and maybe more.

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