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Publishing and Promoting > Indie booksellers boycotting Amazon/CreateSpace

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message 1: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments I have two books published through CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. I am on the verge of publishing a third on August 1, but learned something very interesting today that's changed my mind.

I'm in Bend, Oregon, on a promotional tour right now. An indie bookseller today who wanted to order my book from Ingram stopped when she saw it was a CreateSpace title. She said that she, and all the other indies she knows, will not sell Amazon books, not only because of their unethical, anticompetitive practices, but also because CreateSpace books offer the retailer only 25% (when 40% is standard) and they are not returnable, as are most books distributed by Ingram.

She advised me to publish with LightningSource (an Ingram subsidiary), who offers 40% and makes books returnable; then she and other indie booksellers would be willing to stock my book.

Apparently indies are boycotting Amazon.


message 2: by Jon (last edited Jul 01, 2012 04:57AM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Good to know. I'm polishing off my third novel and had made up my mind to put this one into Amazon like I had done before. I did a little research and it's not just indies - B&N and BaM are openly boycotting Amazon books.

Question: has anybody had any luck getting shelf space for their CreateSpace books at Books-a-Million?

Second Question: Is the traditional sales paradigm so successful that bookstores can actually afford to slice off potential profits and throw them down the boycott hole? Gee, I'm gonna miss thumbing through the latest hardback while sipping on a mocha latte on my way to donate blood at the mall.


message 3: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments It's not just a create space issue it's also a print on demand issue. Most booksellers will generally not stock POD books because they can't return the book if it doesn't sell and the percentage they get is lower. This is inevitable - printing one book at a time is more expensive per book (usually twice as expensive) than publishing a few thousand. so if you do POD you'll have this issue. If you don't, you won't, buy you'll shell out a lot of money upfront.


message 4: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments Probably true in most cases, Steven. But this bookseller pulled up several examples for me on her computer of self-pubbed authors who use Lightning Source and offer both "Regular discount" (i.e 40%) and returnability. She orders these books through Ingram just like books from traditionally published authors. So it's possible with Lightning Source, at least. The easier we make it for the indie booksellers, the more likely we'll be treated like mainstream authors (assuming our work is up to snuff, of course).


message 5: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Is Lightning Source print on demand? And we can get that kind of deal from them.

If so, you've just given me some very helpful information. Thanks.


message 6: by Travis (new)

Travis Simmons | 42 comments Lightning Source is print on demand, but I don't think it is the issue with PoD, I think it is an issue with returns and royalties. I have published in the past with Infinity, and they are PoD but bookstores will stock that because they can return them and get a good royalty.


message 7: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Travis wrote: "Lightning Source is print on demand, but I don't think it is the issue with PoD, I think it is an issue with returns and royalties. I have published in the past with Infinity, and they are PoD but ..."

Who pays when the bookstore returns the book? the author, or Lightning Source/Infinity?

I guess I could go ask LS/I, but I think the response could be useful to a lot of indie authors.


message 8: by Travis (new)

Travis Simmons | 42 comments I can't speak for Lightning Source, but I didn't have to pay Infinity back, but they are a vanity publisher and I am not going through them again; too expensive.


message 9: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Marvello (drmarvello) | 48 comments Steven wrote: "Who pays when the bookstore returns the book? the author, or Lightning Source/Infinity?"

With LSI, you have three options relating to returns. You can set returns to: No, Yes-Deliver, or Yes-Destroy.

If you select No, retailers are not allowed to return your books.

If you select Yes-Deliver, you (the publisher) pay LSI the wholesale price of the book plus $2.00 per book for shipping and handling.

The "wholesale price" is the amount LSI collected for the book when it was sold, so if your retail price is $10.00 and you set a 55% discount, the wholesale price is $4.50. This amount is deducted from your proceeds for period, and if your sales don't cover the cost of returns, you are liable for the difference.

If you select Yes-Destroy, you still pay LSI for the wholesale price of the returned books, and LSI destroys them.

The returns issue is complex, and to get the full scoop, download and read the LSI Print on Demand Publisher Operating Manual. (I'm pretty sure you have to be logged in to do that.)


message 10: by Steven (new)

Steven Drachman | 159 comments Daniel - Thanks very much for the info.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Jon wrote: "Question: has anybody had any luck getting shelf space for their CreateSpace books at Books-a-Million?..."

My four are carried by Booksamillion...


message 12: by Kae (new)

Kae Cheatham (uppitywoman) | 4 comments I used a different option with Createspace and Indy stores with my recent book, Dead Heroes I purchase the books from CreateSpace at author's cost (no royalty). sell them to the indy store with a 40% discount, and still make a profit.

It might be that I have my own imprint and only use CreateSpace as a printer. The bookstores might not know it's a CS/Amazon book.

Has anyone else done it this way?


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Kae wrote: "Has anyone else done it this way?..."

No, but I've been thinking of it. What's involved in setting up your own imprint? Do you have to deal directly with the distributors? Or can they handle it for you? I would imagine you would need to purchase your own ISBN numbers (money is tight for me right now).


message 14: by Michel (new)

Michel Vaillancourt (MichelV69) | 12 comments Diana wrote: No, but I've been thinking of it. What's involved in setting up your own imprint? Do you have to deal directly with the distributors? Or can th..."

In Canada, ISBN numbers are free. You sign up with the Gov't agency responsible and that's that.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Michel wrote: "In Canada, ISBN numbers are free. You sign up with the Gov't agency responsible and that's that..."

Oh, to be Canadian!


message 16: by Kae (new)

Kae Cheatham (uppitywoman) | 4 comments Diana wrote: "Kae wrote: "Has anyone else done it this way?..."

No, but I've been thinking of it. What's involved in setting up your own imprint? Do you have to deal directly with the distributors? Or can th..."


Diana, As a Sole Proppietor, I have my book company registered with the state as an Assumed business name. Yes I did buy ISBNs. You can get a block of 10 through Bowkers. That's the main expense. Then when you list your book at Bowkers (in advance of publication)it gets listed in their directory and a few others.
I travel to art shows (with other work I do) and give presentations and sell my books there, as well as from my Web site, so I haven't bothered with a distributor. Barnes and Noble buys directly from me as they do with other publishers (Lots of paperwork involved), and of course, since it's a CreateSpace book, it is automatically on Amazon.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

You can get an ISBN for your own imprint from CreateSpace for $10. For an extra $25, you can get expanded distribution, including through Ingram.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

You might want to read this article. Very informative, and he has a lot of experience. http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Carol wrote: "You can get an ISBN for your own imprint from CreateSpace for $10. For an extra $25, you can get expanded distribution, including through Ingram."

Thank you, Carol! I will be reading. Especially now that I have a new book coming out within six months...


message 20: by David (new)

David Fears (MikeAngel) | 9 comments http://writersbistro.proboards.com/in...

Not sure if this is the right place, but our new message board for indie writers is now up and growing! To answer this thread subject, I'm using CS for my 7 detective novels and couldn't be happier with the quality or sales. I doubt I will want my books to be in any traditional venue.


message 21: by Jaye (new)

Jaye Frances | 12 comments Carol wrote: "You might want to read this article. Very informative, and he has a lot of experience. http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/"

Thank you, Carol. I read the post and it seems to be an objective comparison based on the personal experience of the author(s). From my own adventures, I have to say I agree with just about everything presented in the article, and for now, will continue to use CreateSpace for my upcoming projects.


message 22: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments I have tried to use Lightning Source, but have become frustrated with the process,not to mention the cost and other aggravations mentioned by the author of the article Carol posted.

I then tried to use Lulu, but they refuse to make an 8.5 x 5.5 book available for distribution, and their cost per book is almost twice that of CreateSpace.

I then checked out WordClay. It seemed reasonable, though I'd have to reformat to 8 x 5 (much easier than Lulu's 6 x 9). Then I discovered that they charge $799 per year—yes, per YEAR—just to make a book returnable!

And, of course, that was the whole point. The bookseller told me that neither she, nor any of the other booksellers she knows, would order books from CreateSpace because they are not returnable (and because Amazon doesn't offer enough of a discount to make it worth her while).

So it looks like I'm stuck with consignment sales to local bookstores only. The barriers to a self-pubbed author getting into bookstores nationwide seems insurmountable. I can hardly afford to tour the country to persuade booksellers to go with consignment sales.

That said, I have to say CreateSpace is the easiest and quickest to deal with.


message 23: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Marvello (drmarvello) | 48 comments Marty said: "The barriers to a self-pubbed author getting into bookstores nationwide seems insurmountable."

Yep. And once you realize that retail stores aren't much of an option, you compare LSI and CS differently. You no longer need to set a 55% discount at LSI, for one thing.

For us, it was a matter of profit. If you don't plan to sell very many books, CS works fine. But if you DO plan to sell books, you'll earn a lot more from LSI with a 20% discount than you will from CS with a 40% to 60% discount. Those setup fees everyone complains about at LSI are meaningless compared to the difference in per-unit margin. You'll make up the difference in setup fees within the first 100 books you sell (see article below for more detail).

http://www.thebookconsultant.com/LPMA...


message 24: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments Daniel wrote: "Yep. And once you realize that retail stores aren't much of an option, you compare LSI a..."

The problem for me, Daniel, is that I support indie bookstores all I can; I don't want to see them disappear. I buy all my books from indies. Most of my friends (and local book clubs I know) still read books in print. People ask me all the time if they can buy my books in a local bookstore. (As testament to Oregonians' penchant for paper, we've got the nation's largest bookstore: Powell's City of Books, which takes up three floors of an entire city block, with an annex across the street!)

If I bypass the indie bookstores altogether, I'm guilty of adding another nail to their coffin. I admit as much to book-loving locals when they inquire as to where to pick up a copy, if I tell them, "Sorry, you have to get it online, pay for shipping, and wait for it to be delivered." Most people I know like to walk into the neighborhood store and walk out with a good book. We're dwindling in number perhaps, but I'm not ready to write us off yet!


message 25: by Marie (new)

Marie Phillips (RIAP) | 2 comments Sad-since most CreateSpace books are by Indie Authors. If they boycot CreateSpace they are boycotting many of us who use it because it is cost effective. With ebooks and Kindle books becoming more popular the printed book is in peril of extinction. I do offer all versions to readers but soon that may become prohibitive if print copy is being boycotted.


message 26: by Linda (last edited Jul 06, 2012 03:45PM) (new)

Linda Nelson (LindaNelsonYoungAdultAuthor) | 6 comments I have found that my local independent book store will carry a createspace book if it looks professionally done.
If it looks like an amateur made it, a book store will not take another look at it.
They not only look at the cover but they also look at the formatting inside the book.


message 27: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments Linda wrote: "I have found that my local independent book store will carry a createspace book if it looks professionally done.
If it looks like an amateur made it, a book store will not take another look at it.
..."


I did persuade the bookseller who told me this to take three copies of my CreateSpace produced book on consignment, after she fell in love with the cover I designed (three times she said what a wonderful cover it was!) But I was already 150 miles from home when I visited her to plead my case; I can hardly do that at all the bookstores in the state or elsewhere. The one takeaway from the experience was: People DO judge a book by its cover! Hire a graphic designer! (I happen to be one, as well.) :)


message 28: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 06, 2012 04:31PM) (new)

Marty wrote: "People DO judge a book by its cover! Hire a graphic designer! (I happen to be one, as well.) :)..."

I second that. I do graphic design in a small way on the side, and I have done my own covers. Imagine how pleased and flattred I was to see one of mine on a list of beautiful covers here! (And no, I'm not the person who put it on the list!)

Edited to add: Just saw your covers: very nice!


message 29: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments Diana wrote: "Edited to add: Just saw your covers: very nice!"

Thanks, Diana.


message 30: by Marty (last edited Jul 06, 2012 04:43PM) (new)

Marty Beaudet (AuthorMartyB) | 38 comments Thanks, Diana. It occurred to me to add that the book I'm speaking of is published under my pseudonym, Martin Bannon; which you may not have seen. If you care to, it's here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14...


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Marty wrote: "If you care to, it's here: http://www.goodreads.co..."

I cared to. Love the motion and rhythm - definitely impressive!


message 32: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (NormalGirl) | 398 comments My collection book was done by a graphic designer. E.i. my brother. I think it might look amaturish but its bright and eye catchy which is what I was going for. My book is on the B&N website but I have yet to find my createspace book in an actual bookstore.


message 33: by Nick (new)

Nick Russell | 12 comments For many years, I have published my RV and travel books through Lightning Source, which distributes through Ingram. I have had quite a few readers tell me that both Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores won't even special order them because they don't want to mess with independent books and authors. On the other hand, I sell a dozen or more copies of my mysteries, which are through CreateSpace, on Amazon every month, not to mention many hundreds of all of my books in Kindle format.


message 34: by Michael (new)

Michael Henderson (Michael_Henderson) | 19 comments I don't think that indie sellers will buy indie published books, anyway. There are probably hundreds of thousands of titles (speculation), and the sellers do not have the space. It's not as though an indie seller would buy all indie published books, except those published on CreateSpace. It's unlikely they would risk using the space on an untested author, whether or not the book is returnable.

Indie sellers are a dying breed, and not major players. I seriously doubt that someone like me would sell many through them, in any event. And who wants to "sell" a book, only to have it returned at the whim of the retailer? We are not Simon & Schuster.

The answer for self-published authors is Amazon and CreateSpace, not indie sellers. They are not a factor.

Michael E. Henderson, Author of:

The Ghost of Caroline Wald; A Ghost Story and Horror Novel by Michael E. Henderson


message 35: by Linda (last edited Jul 27, 2012 02:35AM) (new)

Linda Nelson (LindaNelsonYoungAdultAuthor) | 6 comments I belong to a local writing group. Our group meets from September to June once a month in Peterborough, NH at the Peterborough Library. Our Writing group is the oldest writing group in NH.
The board members schedule speakers for these monthly meetings and these meetings are open to the public as well.
Last March we had a special meeting. It was a panel to address Publishing in the 21st Century. I blogged about this meeting and many of you may be interested to read this:

http://www.authorlindanelson.com/1/po...


message 36: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 14 comments Great article, Linda! Thanks for sharing the link.

Jon Michaelsen
False Evidence


message 37: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (JonEtheredge) | 495 comments Great! Two Jons! Well, I don't have to lurk around here and take this abuse. I'm changing my name!

Jon Etheredge


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Linda wrote: "I belong to a local writing group..."

That was an interesting article. Lots to think about.


message 39: by Jon (new)

Jon (jon_michaelsen) | 14 comments Jon wrote: "Great! Two Jons! Well, I don't have to lurk around here and take this abuse. I'm changing my name!

Jon Etheredge"


Great to be in such nice company!

Jon M


message 40: by Martin (last edited Jul 29, 2012 04:12PM) (new)

Martin Bannon (Martin_Bannon) | 6 comments Michael wrote: "I don't think that indie sellers will buy indie published books, anyway. There are probably hundreds of thousands of titles (speculation), and the sellers do not have the space. It's not as though ..."

Perhaps Portland is a different animal. Most of the people I know (in the flesh, as opposed to online) still read print books and love indie bookstores. they have stacks of to-read books in their homes. One of the first questions people ask me is, "Can I find your book in a bookstore?"

If a book is only available digitally they tend to distrust it, as it is so easy for unskilled writers to upload a file of poorly edited schlock with no expense or risk. I've heard many say about free and 99-cent books "you get what you pay for." True book devotees have no problem paying retail for a print book. Then they end up showing it to their friends, which makes an impression that tweeting doesn't.

I've never had anyone hand me their phone or tablet and say, "Hey, check out this book I'm reading." Yet several times a month my neighbor or another friend hands me a book and says "this is a fabulous book." In fact, three people who received prerelease copies of my book Senseless Confidential, coming out this Wednesday, have already ordered (collectively) 28 copies to give as gifts because they enjoyed it so much. One even organized a book-reading and signing for me at a local indie bookstore!

Powell's City of Books, the nation's largest bookstore, is here for a reason. And it's always jam packed. And despite its presence, there are another dozen or so indie booksellers within 90 minutes of me, not even counting the used-book retailers. Even over in the Bend area, on the dry side, there are six indie bookstores (and only one Barnes & Noble).

Don't write the indies off so fast! :)


message 41: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Marvello (drmarvello) | 48 comments Martin said: "Don't write the indies off so fast!"

I agree with your sentiment, but releasing a print edition of a book (regardless of whether or not you plan to get it into book stores) does not make business sense for most fiction authors.

You *might* be able to make a case for non-fiction, but most of the fiction authors I've met sell 95% (or more) of their units in digital formats. Producing a print edition requires a serious investment in design and layout that you are unlikely to ever recover.

I can state from my own experience that my sales are easily 99%+ digital. Since my book came out in February, I've sold hundreds of digital copies and only a couple of print copies. Both are equally accessible from Amazon.com, and the print editions are also available elsewhere. My print price is only $9.99, so I don't think that's a contributing factor.


message 42: by Eve (new)

Eve Rabi (EVE-RABI) | 32 comments Carol wrote: "You might want to read this article. Very informative, and he has a lot of experience. http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/"

Carol wrote: "You might want to read this article. Very informative, and he has a lot of experience. http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/"
Thanks Carol. Very helpful link


message 43: by Shawneda (new)

Shawneda | 6 comments While it may seem a good idea to go through Lightning Source for the returnability of the book there is a catch. I went through them initially instead of CreateSpace and it was all gravy until a year after a book event the bookstore sent the books back and I was hit with a bill for the returned books. So if you're going to be willing to be hit with bills from LSI for the returns go for it. If not, CreateSpace is sufficient. Bookstores can afford not to carry most POD books because most self pubbed authors aren't in great demand they don't feel they are leaving a lot of money on the table but I doubt if 50 Shades of Grey was a createspace book they would have walked away from the sales it generated. That is my two cents. I'm to do what is best for my READERS and that is CreateSpace not LSI.


message 44: by Shawneda (new)

Shawneda | 6 comments Kae wrote: "I used a different option with Createspace and Indy stores with my recent book, Dead Heroes I purchase the books from CreateSpace at author's cost (no royalty). sell them to the indy store with a ..."

I do it that way and it works great.


message 45: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Marvello (drmarvello) | 48 comments You do not *have* to accept returns with LSI. You can make your books non-returnable. With CS you just don't have the choice.

Also, with LSI you can set your discount lower, which means you can price your book lower and still make the same profit that you would through CS at a higher price.

I'm not sure if a lower price is what's best for readers, but I know I sure appreciate it when I'm buying books.


message 46: by Shawneda (new)

Shawneda | 6 comments Marty wrote: "I have two books published through CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. I am on the verge of publishing a third on August 1, but learned something very interesting today that's changed my mind.

I'..."


When you look at the DOJ lawsuit and the boycott of CreateSpace books by indie sellers from a business viewpoint you realize the complaint of traditional book and mortar stores is not the anti-competitive practices it is the realization that they can't compete because they are too far behind the pace Amazon set as an online retailer to catch up. If you Google and search online archives of how booksellers scoffed at Amazon.com when it launched as a bookseller in the early 2000s it is borderline arrogance. Now that Amazon has scooped them and patrons shopping tendencies have shifted in a way that is unfavorable for their business practices they are punishing readers and authors.Over the last six years when I do industry research I have read comments and opinions of hundreds if not thousands of publishers, booksellers and other "traditional publishing advocates" aka "gatekeepers" on blogs, Huffington post articles, yahoo and their own websites and not all but many of them expressed disdain for self published/indie authors. Not all of them but a good percentage.

Their boycott is more about staying in business than anti-competitive practices. What Amazon is doing is what will bring them the most revenue which is not anti-competitive it is capitalism 101.

I choose to focus more on readers and the avenues who are open to giving me and my books an opportunity to find readers. If the unknown factor that picks phenomenon books combined with timing, investments into covers/editors/marketing all happen to one of my titles at the right time and booksellers decide not to carry my books because I print them with Createspace ... oh well. They are working the best business practices for them, and I'm exercising the best business practices for my readers.

Using CreateSpace to print my books is best for my budget and agrees with my lifestyle (I've been green since before it was popular).


message 47: by Shawneda (new)

Shawneda | 6 comments Daniel wrote: "You do not *have* to accept returns with LSI. You can make your books non-returnable. With CS you just don't have the choice.

Also, with LSI you can set your discount lower, which means you can pr..."


You don't have to but in order for bookstores to order them you have to make your books returnable. That is how I was able to have two booksignings at Barnes & Noble the year after my book launched and other stores were open to them as well. They hold the books behind the counter to make sure they are not autographed so they can return the ones that aren't sold. That is a stipulation to being able to take part in most in store events. BooksAMillion states it does not allow POD books into it's store at all in my area. You can order it there but they won't hold a book event or stock them on shelves even for local writers ... maybe it is different where you are but in the part of Georgia I live in they told me that was the company's policy.


message 48: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Marvello (drmarvello) | 48 comments Shawneda wrote: You don't have to but in order for bookstores to order them you have to make your books returnable.

You are absolutely right. If getting into bookstores is your goal, then you must allow returns. Which is why going through CS is a particularly bad idea.

CS does not allow returns and CS does not give bookstores the standard discount. And now, CS is being boycotted by booksellers because of its affiliation with Amazon.

For writers who want to get into book stores, the best option is LSI. Enable returns and set your discount at 55%. That way, booksellers get the standard 40% discount (Ingram keeps 15%). You'll still have to get out there yourself and convince the booksellers to stock your books though.


message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Yoffa (webbiegrrlwriter) | 6 comments Marty wrote: "I have two books published through CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. I am on the verge of publishing a third on August 1, but learned something very interesting today that's changed my mind.

I'..."


Just to let you know, this has been going on for a little over a year now. I heard about this in June of 2011. I had to check the date of your post to be sure it was a 2012 post :)

Lightning Source is a lot harder to use but definitely worth the learning curve because of this known issue Amazon has created to bar us from brick-and-mortar Indie bookstores. I'm not sure why Amazon is so "anti-cooperative" (not a word, I know!) but they sure don't make friends with the business moves they make lately.

By the way, if anyone here is interested in Lightning Source but daunted by the setup and such, I highly advise hiring a professional to design, layout and (re)format your eBook for print production by LSI. I know the folks at Indie Designz (well, I know Dafeenah ;-) and they do excellent work at affordable prices.

-sry


message 50: by JoAnn (new)

JoAnn Hill (joannlhill) | 27 comments This has been most valuable. I published my historical novel through a local Tucson Publisher. I was beginning to wonder if I hadn't made a terrible mistake, as the profit is meager after they and Amazon takes their cut, but at the same time they have done a professional cover I'm pleased with and made the on demand novel available in many book stores. So I think now I should hang in there with the arrangement I have bought and payed for.

To Marty,I love reading on my Kindle, but keep a few of my hard back oldies around also to re-read. My eldest son lives in Portland, Oregon. I think he takes up residence in Powels book store. He loves it.JoAnn


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Ghost of Caroline Wald; A Ghost Story and Horror Novel (other topics)
False Evidence (other topics)
The Clouds Still Hang (other topics)
Crying Girl (other topics)
The Prophecy (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Michael E. Henderson (other topics)
Jon Michaelsen (other topics)
Jon Etheredge (other topics)