BookWise is BookStupid

Edgar Award-winning author Burl Barer, who also happens to be my Uncle, sent me this note about his encounter with a book biz get-rich-quick huckster:

I received the following email on MYSPACE…no doubt well intentioned, but it irked me. Here  it is.

"While reading your wonderful profile I could not help but notice that you have authored some books. If getting your  words out to a larger audience is something that has some interest to you…"
I continued reading this informative missive, and then the following paragraph hit me between the eyes:
"This is a great opportunity for you as a self-published author to have your book listed and distributed along with some of the greatest books ever written!"
Since when am I self-published? The next paragraph reinforced my "irk factor":
"BookWise is very supportive of the self-published author, and one of the perks of being a member is the Author’s Workshop coming up for all members this Oct 18,and 19th, 2007. And the 20th the first company convention-FREE TO ALL it’s members"
Well, that pushed me over the edge.  I wrote back:
"I am NOT Self-Published, subsidy published, or any other variation on vanity publishing. I am PAID to write by real publishers — I do not pay printers to print up my books and then have the nerve to call myself a published author.  In my opinion, calling yourself an author when you are self-published is like calling yourself a doctor because you purchased a stethoscope."
Okay, that may have been a bit harsh.
I heard back right away informing me that  Bookwise also features real authors published by real publishers. Good for them. I wrote back and wished them the best of luck on their charity endeavors. But why do people assume that we all self-publish? 
When I was recently introduced somewhere, and it was mentioned that I’ve written a dozen books, the first question was "Have any  of your books been published?"
"Yes. That’s why they are called books, not unpublished manuscripts. I also have unpublished manuscripts that are not yet books, or may never become books. And before you ask, I did not pay for the publication of my manuscripts – the publisher paid me."

Burl Barer…self flagellating, self-promoting, self-serving but NOT self-published

I’d never heard of Bookwise, so I visited their site and listened to their come-on. They bill themselves as "the most intelligent home-based business in the world." Basically, it’s a book club that makes their money from the books you buy and the other people you convince to join the club.

It works like this: you pay a $40 enrollment fee and $35-a-month to buy their books at a 40%discount. Most of the books are from name-brand authors from name-brand publishers, but I gather from the email my Uncle got that they will soon be opening their doors to the self-published, probably for a price.

You make your millions by either selling the books you buy directly to your friends and neighbors out of the trunk of your car…or by making a commission off the other suckers, er, people you convince to join the book club and become salesmen themselves.

But they also want you to feel like you are saving the world, one book and one commission at a time. One dollar of every book they sell and 10% of their corporate earnings will go to literary programs for children. Makes you all tear-eyed, doesn’t it?

So you aren’t just paying Bookwise $460 for the opportunity to buy their books…you are, as they proclaim, helping to "stop the dumbing down of America."

But that strikes me as a self-defeating goal for Bookwise…if we stop the dumbing down of America, who will be stupid enough to sign up for this scheme?

38 thoughts on “BookWise is BookStupid”

  1. To bad that someone jumped to conclusions about your books and assumed they were self-published.
    However, I don’t believe however that self-publishing is always a bad thing. And no I’m not a self-published author. I haven’t written a book or even a manuscript.
    Richard Paul Evans book, The Christmas Box, was on the New York Times bestseller list as a self-published book in paper back and at the same time as the hard-back version. The hard-back was published by one of the large publishing houses.
    The same companies that turned Richard down flat were fighting for the rights to publish the book later. If he had just given up after being turned down by several publishers, or had not been willing to put his money were his passion was he wouldn’t have been a successful number one author around the world.
    I’ve read some good self-published books. Just because they are self-published doesn’t mean they aren’t good.

  2. Leisa wrote: “However, I don’t believe however that self-publishing is always a bad thing. And no I’m not a self-published author. I haven’t written a book or even a manuscript.”
    What she forgot to add is: She works for BookWise, which, when you read their website, sounds like one of the greatest multi-level marketing jobs ever!

  3. I had the dubious distinction of being a well paid shill for a vanity publisher, NPI. They paid me a $25,000 advance for MAN OVERBOARD: The Counterfeit Resurrection of Phil Champagne, and contracted me via a $40,000 advance for HIDDEN WORDS:The Alaska Mail Bomb Conspiracy. I never got the $40k, and the President of NPI went to prison for mail fraud, embezzlement etc. I was, as far as I know, the only author paid an advance by NPI. Everyone else paid to be published. As an Edgar Award winner, I gave credibility to them, and MAN OVERBOARD was nominated for an Anthony Award in the Best True Crime category. I was rather chagrined when the truth of the situation was revealed..I should have known they were unprofessional when I received the proof pages and three chapters were missing. While I convinced them to put the missing chapters in the book, none of the typos or other errors in the proofs were corrected, including “God” spelled with a lower case “g.” This prompted a letter to them in which I asked, “What lesser known deity is my character supposedly addressing?”

  4. Bookwise is not exactly literate. When they say “FREE TO ALL it’s members” they are confounding the contraction “it’s” (a contraction of it is) with the adjective “its.”

  5. It saddens me to read such a limited view of BookWise from what appears to be an intellegent fellow like yourself. Based on your investigation, you read an email and went to a website to draw such a limited conclusion about BookWise.
    BookWise offers much more than what you see. For me personally, I wouldn’t have bought Barak Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope” if I wasn’t apart of BookWise. It forced me to choose and opened up a new world to me.
    Second, as an aspiring writer, BookWise offers an opportunity to learn about the world of self-publishing from Author Richard Paul Evans and Robert Allen who combined together have book sales of several million.
    I have some questions for you.
    1) In what part of the communication did you read that BookWise was a “Get-Rich-Quick- Scheme?” Was is in the email? Was it on the BookWise’s website?
    2) Where did it ask you to “pay” anything as a self-published writer?
    Your comment; “Who would be stupid enough to sign up for this scheme?” So far, over 4,000 + people have. And, they have a money-back guarantee at the end of an entire year. I suppose you don’t make any commissions if someone clicks on any of the books that are in the right column of your website, do you?
    Lee, I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm by your title “BookWise is BookStupid” but based on your research, you’ve seem to have judged a book by its cover. So who is really the smart one?

  6. Okay, I’ll bite:
    How many of the 4000 members have become best selling writers for their 35 dollars a month and their exclusive access to BookWise’s experts? It’s one of the the vaunted values of joining this multi-level marketing Amway-like organization, so I’m curious about that selling point.
    I think it’s fantastic you found Barak Obama’s book with your $35 dollar fee…it would have been hard to find the #1 bestseller in the nation written by a man running for president otherwise.
    How many of the 4000 members are actually making a living selling memberships?
    How many truly awful writers are being told to self publish as if they will soon become multi-millionaire selling authors like the Christmas Box fellow? How many have sold even 1000 books because of their involvement with Bookwise? How many have sold even 100?
    The offer presented in the email to Burl Barer offered him a chance to get his self-published books distributed with bestsellers…which is false. No, a self published book would simply be listed on a website, no different than a self published book listed anywhere. There’s no distribution. It’s just a scam to seperate a self published author from more of his money. It’s a significant difference.
    Other than the founders of the organization, is anyone making more than what they are putting in? Is anyone making signficantly more? Someone is getting rich and i’m going to guess it’s not you, Eric P. Martin. But maybe it is…let’s take a look at your website…oh, Eric, looking stupid is indeed an issue you need to be aware of. So, let’s take a gander at your BookWise website,
    My name is Eric P. Martin, an [sic] I’m an independent BookWise associate. I’m thrilled to share with you the opportunity [I think you mean “opportunities”] that BookWise has to offer.
    First, if your [sic] a book lover like myself, BookWise has an excellent selection each month of the national best-selling books with your membership. [I’m not sure what you mean by “the national best-selling books” but I assume you do, so I’ll go with it.]
    Things get a little more troubling the further we go…here are a few of the benefits you trumpet, which, well, seem dubious to me:
    * Free tax guidance from tax experts
    * Financial management training
    * Deep discounts on additional books
    * Free speed reading lessons
    So, let’s see: Speed reading. Discount books. Tax planning. What doesn’t fit? What isn’t all about books and your love of books? What smells like a weird multi-level marketing scam that has replaced air purifiers with Mitch Albom books?
    Maybe I’m just cynical. Let’s take a look at the testimonials you trumpet:
    ?I like all kinds of books. And I don?t want to be stuck in one category, which is why I?m always involved in my selections. There are so many wonderful books available in the BookWise catalog?I can?t imagine not making my own choice!?
    – Gail Wathen ? BookWise Associate
    ?Never before though have books impacted my life as much as since I joined BookWise. Who would have thought that I’d turn my passion for books into an extra income stream. Wow!?
    Ilka Flood, BookWise Associate
    ?Yesterday I tried the first speed reading lesson from BookWise… My first score today was 454 words per minute! After taking the lesson today my score improved to 498 words per minute!?
    – Ben Fitts, BookWise Associate
    I like to invite you to watch a 20 minute presentation by Richard Paul Evans himself, as he explains BookWise.
    Well, I’m sold. This looks very professional to me. You’re right. None of this is stupid at all…it’s fucking insane.

  7. Tod,
    I’ll give you a bit more to chew on. There is no maybe about it, you fit very well into the cynical catagory.
    BookWise is not about taking a self-published writer and making them “best-selling writers.” It really is about sharing an opportunity for those that love to read and buy books anyway.
    I’m sure that no one is making a living promoting BookWise, the company is less than a year old.
    How many writers become a best-selling writer in less than a year?
    How many of the books in your favorate book store sell each year (it’s called inventory turnover)?
    You make attempt to point out my writing weaknesses in what I consider a childish attempt to embarress me. Rather than help another aspiring writer, you rather point to the speck in their eye.
    I’m sure the BookWise community that is continuing to grow will welcome you with open arms.

  8. This guy Eric has definitely been sipping the Kool Aid and proves your point about Bookwise without you having to say a word. I found his last line kind of scary, didn’t you? Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
    The fact is, you can get all the “benefits” of their program by just walking into your local Barnes & Noble. Not only can you buy the same books there (and at a discount and with no monthly fee), but you can also join a writers group…for FREE.

  9. Moe,
    When can you receive free audio tapes from Barnes and Noble each month?
    When do you have access to best-selling authors and their contacts when you walk into Barnes and Noble?
    When was the last time Barnes and Noble’s CEO coached you on building a successful business?
    And Tod, I see that your website is promoting a lot of books.. Are you doing that for free?

  10. Plenty of wrtiers become “best-selling” within a year. You see, the term “best-selling” means nothing at all once you’re actually in the book business, which you’re not Eric. You might as well be selling soap. You see, I am a best-selling author, at least according to the times I’ve appeared on various best-seller lists across the country, the net result being, well, you know, nothing. Lee’s a bestselling author, too. Burl, too. In fact, Eric, I’d say that within our own family, we have 6 best selling authors, none of whom ever needed BookWay. (Oh, wait, AmWise. Well, you get it.)
    There’s no evidence to suggest you’re an aspiring writer, Eric, but if you were I’d point out your deficiences just as surely then, too, so that you wouldn’t get suckered into some god awful multi-level marketing scam that might take your money and promise you access to authors, agents and publishers that could improve your life. I’d poke you in the eye and tell you to learn how to write a fucking sentence before you try to write a book. But let’s be clear here, Eric, you’re a businessman. And that’s fine. But don’t pretend you’re all about the love of literature, because it’s clear you’re all about speed reading, tax help and money management…three things not conducive to a love of literature, I assure you.
    Call BookWise what it is — a money making scheme. Otherwise, why would you call your website

  11. Tod,
    I’m a businessman and an aspiring writer. For you to make an assumption about inetentions again shows me how narrow is your prospective is.
    How can one get suckered if they actually receive what they oredered? I have received every book I’ve ordered from BookWise.
    You still haven’t answered the question about the books on your website. Do you make money from purchases off your site or not? What is the difference here of what you’re doing with Amazon’s affilate program and BookWise?
    And you still didn’t answer how many books are sold. You harold about being in the book business but seem to avoid simple questions. I save you from thinking to hard about the answer. The answer is 2. On average, 2 books are sold out all the books in major book stores. I got that information from being apart of BookWise.

  12. The MLM con artists can’t make money selling soap (which people actually buy) — so they’re going to make it selling books…which people don’t buy? And they’re going to do so by selling books for more than they cost from Amazon?
    What a load of b.s.

  13. I do indeed make money from the books on my website, because I wrote them. You see, I’m a bestselling author. And today is your lucky day, as I just got my quarterly report from Amazon and am proud to report that I made $14 from the sale of my books through Amazon. (I don’t link through associates for the other books I mention, unless I remember to do it when I talk about my siblings’ books. I then return any profit to my siblings in the form of loose pocket change I leave in their sofas.) All the other books I talk about, I do so for no money at all, except when I review them for newspapers and such.
    The difference then from my personal website where copies of my own books are listed for sale and BookWise, is that BookWise is a multi-level marketing scam where books are used like AmWay products and self-publishing is trumpeted as a competent business plan vs. my website where the books I’ve written are for sale through a bookstore because, you see, I’m an author and part of being an author is that it’s always nice to have your books available for sale so your fans can buy them. Oh, and I also don’t offer tax advice or speed reading services. So there’s that.
    To review: BookWise is a multi-level marketing jerk off. Tod Goldberg is a midlist novelist. That’s the difference.
    (Oh, and I see you corrected some of the typos on your page…you missed a couple, but for $35 dollars I’ll send you Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.)

  14. David,
    My conclusions are evident from your statement. The reason people are adverse to any opportunity is because of some misconcieved idea about multi-level marketing. Rather than investigate, people assume they know everything about everything. They wind up missing an opportunity. You are a prime example of the type of people we in the industry want to avoid. The one’s with a closed mind.
    Let’s take a look at your statement. MLM con artist. I don’t believe either Richard Paul Evans or Robert Allen were involved in AM***, so how are they connected to selling soap?
    Lots of people buy books. Good ones, bad ones. Thier is a billion-dollar industry created around it. How can you say people don’t buy books?
    If you would have investigated a bit futhur, you would have discovered that you can buy books cheaper than Amazon as a member. But you’re not a member, so you wouldn’t know.

  15. Eric wrote: ” The reason people are adverse to any opportunity is because of some misconcieved idea about multi-level marketing.”
    Misconceived is miss-spelled. Here’s a rule I will teach you for free “I before E except after C.”
    Eric wrote: “You are a prime example of the type of people we in the industry want to avoid. The one’s with a closed mind.”
    You mean “ones.” Here’s another lesson I will teach you for free: when you add an apostrophe “‘s” it’s a possessive. As in “Eric’s dictionary from Bookwise will cost him $35 plus the cost of the book itself, which he could get a lot cheaper at Wal-Mart or Barnes and Noble.”
    Eric wrote: “Thier is a billion-dollar industry created around it.”
    Here’s another piece of free writing advice. “Their” is a possessive. I think you mean “There.” Here is an example of the correct usage: “There is no reason why an intelligent person would sign up for Bookwise.” Or “Richard Paul Evans and his partners are counting their money from the idiots who paid a set-up fee and a monthly fee to buy books they can get for much cheaper on Amazon.”
    Eric wrote: “If you would have investigated a bit futhur”
    You miss-spelled “further.” I think as a so-called businessman, you might invest in a dictionary and learn something about grammar.
    Your reasoning skills also need some work. There is no comparison between Lee or Tod listing their books on their websites and you paying a set-up fee and monthly fee to buy books and then sell them on your site. See, Lee and Tod are authors. They were PAID to write their books. They receive a royalty for each book sold. They list their books on their websites as more of a promotional tool than to make profit from the sales of each book. But they do get royalties for each book sold as well as whatever percentage they get from Amazon Associates. But, again, the primary reason they are doing it is obviously for promotional purposes.
    Lee and Tod aren’t laying out any cash to sell their books. They are actually PAID for them. You are laying out a set-up fee, a monthly fee, and 40% of the cover price to sell the books on your site and out of the trunk of your car. In order to make money, you will have to sell the book at cover price (or close to it). The only people making money out of this are Richard Paul Evans and his partners. What you are doing isn’t a business…at least not for you.

  16. Mr. Moe,
    Thank you for the free English lessons. I indeed needed a refresher course. I might conclude that you’re a third grade school teacher by profession. If not, you might want to look into comedy as a profession. I thought your reply was a real knee-slapper. It almost brought me to tears.
    Moe, when you speak about BookWise’s compensation plan, you really should be more knowledgeable becasue you fall into that catagory of people who think they know everything.
    You know, I thought about our dialog as I was coming home from work. What are you offering to people? What contribution are you making to help anyone achieve financial independence? You’re a mlm pundit who is offering nothing other than showcasing a person’s spelling mistakes.

  17. Tod,
    I would have expected someone who claims to be a best-selling writer to have a bit more expanded volcabulary. What is “mult-level jerk-off?”
    I’m sure from hearing your attitude on Bookwise that spending $35.00 to learn from a author who’s sold 6 million copies of his eight books worldwide of how to go from “midlist” writer to a “frontlist” writer would be too foolish of an investment. I might not know how to spell but I do have a clue about running in circles of influence.

  18. Eric wrote: “What are you offering to people? What contribution are you making to help anyone achieve financial independence?”
    I am warning them not to flush their money down the toilet by getting suckered by a scam like BookWise. I am telling them that anyone who thinks that “financial independance” means paying $500 for the opportunity to buy books they can get at Wal-Mart for virtually the same discount is an imbecile. My guess is that you have very little education and are working a menial job, which makes you intellectually ill-equipped to discern the difference between an opportunity and a con job. You are just the kind of person people like Amway, BookWise and Scientology prey upon. How is your book business going, Eric? Have you made back your investment in BookWise yet? Do you honestly believe that you are “running in circles of influence?” if you do, then you are even more self-deluded than I thought.
    What you and the other BookWise person who posted here don’t realize is that you are doing more to prove Lee’s point than anything he could say. (I love the fact that all the “testimonials” on your amateurish site are from fellow BookWise suckers!)

  19. Moe,
    You continue to humor me. What do you know about BookWise other than what you’ve read on the website? Nothing. What do you know about the mlm/network marketing industry? Nothing. My guess is that you have no experience or knowledge other than what you’ve read, or heard from your freind’s, mother’s brother’s uncle’s neighbor.
    You claim to offer a warning to not be suckered but what mlm pundit doesn’t. I bet your answer to financial freedom is work a job for 40 years and save as much as you can.
    BTW, you’re both wrong on my profession and education background.

  20. Eric, the definition of a multi-level marketing jerk-off would be: BookWise. I hope that helps. If it doesn’t, you might also want to look up the definition of the word “fucktards” which, I think you’ll find, ends up also explaining the definition of “multi-level marketing jerk off” but, in case it’s not clear, let me spell it out for you yet again: You and the company you’re keeping. Every time you type another sentence in this blog’s comments section, another Google hit registers about BookWise and another potential “investor” will see how much of a rook it is since the people who trumpet its values so much are unable to actually recognize when their sophisms are pointed out nor argue favorably in their defense. You’ve come to the blog of an author, Eric, a blog filled with other authors commenting, a blog read by hundreds and hundreds of other authors. So, in essence, you’ve come to a blog filled with the very people you’d think would really embrace this idea of BookWise since it ostensibly puts their books in readers’ hands. And yet you’ve found nothing but derision. You’ve shown such a poor understanding of the publishing industry and such a poor ability to present the values of BookWise (which, after reading the parent website and watching the creepy video of the Christmas Box dude I’ve concluded is just a company policy: we should portray ourselves as sleazy as possible!) that you’ve actually done quantifiable harm to yourself as the new face of BookWise. Don’t you think, Erik, that of all the people in the world, authors would support your business? Wouldn’t that seem smart? What does it say when authors, the essential soap you’re peddling, look at this business and uniformly declare it moronic? Lee and I and the other commenters here aren’t the only ones, of course, one need only google the words Bookwise and Scam together to see that (why, I even found a blog by a bookwise member touting what a moron another bookwise member was for making their site look like…a scam!). The problem here Eric is that you’re apparently incapable of understanding the barest of facts: No one cares about Mr. Christmas Box. His 6 million books are being used to sucker people. If he was such a giving guy, if he really cared about making everyone bestselling authors and getting books into their hands, I don’t think he’d be selling it. Do you see Stephen King selling the mystery of millions and millions of books for a monthly fee? Do you see Sandra Brown? Do you see some of the people who read this blog, daily, who have sold just as many books, operating Amways out of their houses? No. Do you want to know why? Because they aren’t charlatans and grifters. Why would I ever spend $35 dollars a month to learn at the foot of Mr. Christmas Box and his 6 millions books when I could simply pick up the phone and call any of the friends of mine who’ve sold 6 million books to learn the secrets? It’s a scam, Eric and your arguments carry the weight of a feather.
    The circle of influence you run in is just that, a circle. You’ll be spinning in it forever.

  21. If there really were a secret to becoming a bestselling author, do you think someone would sell it for 75 bucks? It’s like those scams for a system to win the lottery, which can be yours for the low, low price of only $300! It’s ludicrous on the face of it.

  22. Eric wrote: “What do you know about BookWise other than what you’ve read on the website? Nothing.”
    So you’re saying I can’t trust the information that Bookwise provides about itself on their own website? That’s not very smart. Isn’t the whole point of the site to sell people like you on the potential benefits of their scam, um, service?
    Eric wrote: “What do you know about the mlm/network marketing industry? Nothing.”
    On the contrary. I know far too many people who have been taken advantage of my schemes like this. They start out like you, preaching it like a religion, and then when they realize the only people making any money are the people they have to buy their products from, they feel stupid and cheated and ashamed. You will, too.
    Eric wrote: “I bet your answer to financial freedom is work a job for 40 years and save as much as you can.”
    My answer is to work hard, be creative, challenge yourself, and not flush your money down the toilet making other people rich off your desperation and stupidity. You will not become financially independant in a MLM scheme. It’s an illusion of “independance,” and not a very convincing one.
    Eric wrote: “BTW, you’re both wrong on my profession and education background”
    Then it’s a shame, because then there is no excuse for your gullibility.

  23. I would like to clear up a few misconceptions here.
    Is BookWise a scam?
    I don’t really know – I just recently joined BookWise. I guess it might be.
    Here is why I think it is not a scam.
    1. You’re wrong about paying $35 for the fee and then buying books in addition to that cost. $35 is the monthly fee, but that includes the book you buy that month. For $35, we cover our monthly fee and we get a hardcover best-selling book (or a classic novel, or a self-help book, or a business book, or whatever we pick). Sure, that’s a bit much for most books, but that $35 also includes another audio book, another e-book (a total of 3 books), a $1 charity contribution, and access to many web casts such as AuthorWise (writing advice from successful authors – all speakers have sold over 1 million books), TaxWin (tax advice on IRS deductions and credits available to owners of businesses – I am now legally saving more than $50 every month on utilities alone), and WealthWin (expert advise on advertising, marketing, and promoting our BookWise business to make it successful for us – commissions in our pocket).
    As great as all that is, and to me it’s worth every penny of the $35, that’s not the best part. The best part is that it’s also my business fee, as it were – it allows me to be in business for only a few dollars a month. I certainly could not open up a restaurant franchise for $35 per month. I can’t think of any business I can do for $35 per month, other than BookWise. Not even other MLMs I’ve heard of have such low monthly costs – my tax deductions for my home office are larger than my BookWise monthly fee, and quite a bit larget than the portion of that monthly fee over the cost of the book.
    2. BookWise offers a 1-year money back guarantee. At the end of 1 year, if I wish to terminate my BookWise membership, I am reimbursed for all twelve monthly payments of $35. I even get to keep all 12 books. I have this guarantee in writing.
    So, if BookWise were scamming me, a year from now I will get all my money back (except the $39.95 signup fee) and I have 12 lovely books sitting on my shelf (even at great sale prices, I cannot buy 12 new paperbacks for $39.95, but these are all hard-cover – collectively they will be worth far more than the $39.95 startup cost, probably worth 5 or 6 times that startup cost). If I manage to earn any commissions during this year (so far, I have earned $35.70 in commissions in just my first month, actually $0.70 more than my monthly fee, so technically I was profitable in my first month, not counting my tax deductions) I get to keep that too. So, in a year, if I quit BookWise with no further commissions earned, I will have actually paid a total of 39.95 – 35.70 = $4.25 for 12 hardcover best-selling books.
    I don’t see how BookWise can make any profit like that giving away 12 hardcover books for just $4.25, or even for $39.95.
    Clearly, BookWise wants me to remain an associate and not get my money back. But, I certainly won’t be inclined to continue wasting money after being scammed for 12 months, and it’s pretty hard to think I will be scammed for 12 months and not know, by then, that I’m being scammed.
    So, if BookWise is scamming me, they will lose money when I quit. They will lose even more money when everyone else quits. The percentage of people who get scammed for 12 months and don’t know it, and chose not to quit, would have to be fairly low. Sure, there’s a sucker born every minute, and many people may fall for a scam initially, but most everyone is clever enough to recognize a scam after 12 months of being the victim of a scam.
    Given all the money BookWise will lose from the thousands of people getting 12 books for under $40, I don’t think they will be profitable off of the few remaining clueless ones who bought 12 hard-cover books for $460.
    Given that the “It’s a Scam” business model cannot possibly be profitable, the only other business model is that BookWise does just what it says it does – it provides a home-based network marketing business whereby people like me (intelligent and open-minded) get some overpriced books at $35 per month but get lots of other benefits, including being in business, and we can then enroll other people who want the same opportunity and we then earn commissions on what they buy.
    Unlike some other MLM companies out there, BookWise doesn’t hide who they are or what they are. They claim to be a network marketing business opportunity on the home page of their website, and every BookWise associate with whom I have spoken announces the company name and the business model at the beginning of any presentation to a new enrollment prospect. No hiding. No gimmicks.
    41 million people are in network marketing in this country alone, counting all the MLM companies and all their enrollees (or so I’ve heard – I don’t recall the source). Some of those MLM companies are better than others. I have tried a couple, and I have worked as an employee of two more, and few of them are as forthright as BookWise, none of them have as great an opportunity as BookWise, and none of them have as high a percentage of profitable associates as BookWise. None of them have had the same degree of additional benefits as BookWise.
    If you were considering getting involved with some other MLM company, I would urge you to compare BookWise and see the difference. I feel that strongly that the value I’m getting in BookWise is greater than the value I found in other MLM companies I’ve associated with, or worked for, or simply checked out, over the years.
    And if you’re not considering any MLMs, or if you think they’re all scams, or if you just simply are not open-minded enough to review and investigate MLM companies, then that’s fine too. You’re entitled to your own opinions. But it does seem unwise to judge a company based on the merits (or demerits) of other companies in that happen to be in the same industry.
    I agree with a previous poster: It’s too bad that someone jumped to conclusions about the whole self-published thing. It apparently got Mr. Barer and Mr. Goldberg off to a bad first impression. I would like to point out that the original email in question was a misguided but well-intentioned first contact from a BookWise associate and does not represent BookWise, or other associates of BookWise.
    I would also like to mention that BookWise announced, on 10/20/2007 at the free conference mentioned in a post above mine, that they will now be selling over 1.4 million titles – everything offered by Baker and Taylor, Inc., the largest media distributor in the world. All of you published authors reading this blog know who they are, and I’m sure that includes Mr. Barer and Mr. Goldberg among those who recognize Baker and Taylor, inc. I look forward to the opportunity to buy and sell all of your books come December, 2007, when BookWise is able to start offering them through this new partnership.
    I hope my spelling and grammar have been up to the standards for this blog site…
    Thank you for reading this far.

  24. Why wasting time fighting with this idiot? He should writing his bestselling books and you should be sponsoring Bookwise associates. This guy is a lost cause! Maybe in the next life.

  25. You sir are the type of person who will work without any relief from it until you are dead. You seem to be the type of person to rely on the social security system, your IRA and your 401k plan. Good luck in the future.
    I am building two business, one of them BOOKWISE, the other a real estate investment company. Currently my trust holds 40 acres of land, another city lot, and a house out in michigan. I also work a day job. If you think that you’re smarter than someone willing to invest a few hours in starting a bookclub and earning a few extra bucks I pity you.
    What would you rather do? Mow lawns? Wash Cars? Pick up soda cans like my grandma used to do? Everytime she saw one she’d pull over and pick it up…. Or sell books!? It’s a no brainer. People read books, people buy books online and you can buy them 40% off of the list price. My brother has a contract with some company that sells bipod locks. They sell it to him for 25% off list and he puts it on ebay at retail value. 25% margins, and I can make 40% if I wanted to.
    It’s not the company you choose, it’s your mentality. I work at a bank and I know how banks make their money and it’s not helping you build your dreams, it’s not helping your acheive financial independence, it’s by giving you DEBT. The more you owe us, the more money we make. That’s why we encourage you to buy the most house you can, to take that vacation on your equity line and why we encourage you to use your POWER REWARDS VISA CARD because we know you are weak willed and will eventually carry a balance. Write a check now, pay later! OH and put your CD into our bank, earn 5 percent interest on your 10k nest egg, and please continue to pay uf 14% for your 25k credit card balance! Have you ever heard a banker say, “protect your savings?” That means, borrow our money now and save yours for later, and then pay us for borrowing our money, and don’t be late on paying us back or we’ll screw you over.
    The government takes just about as much money as you get to keep. Income tax, sales tax, property tax, traffic fines, capital gains tax, car registration fees… and then the banks get you too. The poor will always be poor and the rich will always grow richer because it is the poor who are indebted to them.

  26. Some people have really nasty personalities. The ego is just oozing out of everywhere. Is that something you catch from being a published author?
    I hope not. I’m an avid reader and look up to my favorite authors, they are my super heroes. I salute their talent,hard work and imagination. Books are my magic carpets and authors, the genies that make them fly.
    But after that display of ego, I’ve been sadly brought back to reality: some authors stink as human beings.
    Making my list (of “published authors” to stay away from) and checking it twice Goldberg,Barer…
    Note to self: Not deserving a penny of my hard earned money or a minute of my time. Too many great authors out there, too many great books to read.
    Don’t take yourselves so seriously, not very attractive, no matter how great you think you are…
    And No, I’m not a BookWise rep but I applaud the few (Eric in particular) who spoke up for what they believe in. Keep up your chin up. Don’t let them steal your dreams just because they think they’ve already arrived.

  27. Holy Crap!
    What egomaniacs you “best selling authors” are!
    No, I haven’t read any of your books… after these posts I will certainly avoid them.
    Just because a publishing company feels they can pump up your book and make money off of it, doesn’t mean it’s any good at all. It doesn’t make it bad, either. It just mean they feel they can sell it to the most people. (Food for sheep.)
    Just like crappy music on “Billboard’s Top 100” music charts in the music industry, there are plenty of crappy books on “best seller lists.” Is yours on of them? Are you sure?
    Congratulations, fellas on making it on to some best seller lists. You’ve essentially joined the ranks of Britney Spears, etc.
    Some people actually feel the best “art” is underground, “outsider” if you will.
    Music. Literature. Self published. Direct from the artist to the audience.
    I predict the demise of packaged art sold as “goods.”
    Like the record and video industries who will fall to the hands of self published artists, so will the book industry fall.
    Well, maybe not fall, (wishful thinking) but they will have to re-think how they’ll do business, anyway.

  28. Okay…So you are well educated, surrounded by successful family members and get paid by a publishing company for your books. What a great life you lead. We get it!
    Some of us aren’t as fortunate. We don’t have many opportunities available to us. So we have to look to the internet to make just a little extra cash. Do you have to be SO patronizing?
    If you are so concerned about people not getting taken, then why would you insult them? Do you really care or do you just like to have someone to pick on?
    The main point of your post was that someone thought your uncle was (gasp)…self published!! The gall!!
    Anyway, it’s great that things have gone so well for you. Hopefully one day you can become comfortable in yourself enough so that you won’t have to insult others to try to make yourself look and feel better.

  29. I Knew This Was Coming

    Victoria Strauss reports that BookWise has gone — surprise! surprise! — into the vanity press business, a natural extension of their multi-level marketing scheme. They are charging gullible aspiring writers $6000 to publish their books and take part …

  30. Thank you so much for posting this blog. From what I’ve read of the Bookwise followers I now know I should avoid Bookwise like the plague (and I am interested in reading your books too-loved the responses to the Bookwise acolytes). Old post but still very useful for those investigating this company.

  31. From the Author’s Guild:
    Recently, a handful of POD publishers have been soliciting and “accepting” manuscripts at an astonishing rate and not requiring money up front to publish a book. They even offer what on its face apperas to be a relatively standard publishing agreement and sometimes agree to pay a nominal advance (eg one dollar). This has led writers — particularly novices– to think they are being published by bona fide trade publishers.
    […]They typically will not publish any copies other than those ordered at the authors discount. Apparently, the total number of books purchases for friends and relativesat the “special” author’s price by the presumably large number of people taken in by this scheme makes it a profitable venture for the ethically challenge.
    […]If you are still interested in proceeding in the hope that your publisher is bona fide, be sure to insert, in addition to the requirement that the book be published within a specified time period at the publisher’s sole expense, language stating tha the number of print-on-demand copies of the book initially published at the publisher’s expense “will not be less than ______ copies” (eg 500 or 1000). Language like this, as well as a good out-of-print clause, should flush out the intentions of the publisher and save you from a bad surprise.

  32. Beware the “Term of License” Contract

    In this month’s Authors Guild Bulletin, Mark L. Levine warns writers to be very wary of publishers offering a so-called “term of license” contract (signing you for seven to ten years with an option to renew) unless you are already…

  33. So much for the “100% money back guarantee”, huh? Bookwise went out of business and couldn’t even uphold their most attractive promise.

  34. I have no sympathy for anyone who lost money on this obvious scam — the victims were warned, loudly and repeatedly, they just didn’t want to listen.


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