Tuesday, July 30, 2013

E-Verify – Everyone Holding their Breath While the House Takes Up the Issue

Nightmare or business-as-usual?
Right now E-Verify, the Government’s Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States, is voluntary for most companies.

Touted as “fast, free and easy to use,” the potentially universally mandated background check program has employers of all sizes quaking at their laptops. Right now only federal contractors and six states (AZ, MI, SC, AL, GO, NC) are required to comply with the program which started in 1997.

Many current employers who use the E-Verify system complain about difficulty of use, with one out of four applicants entered into the system being rejected as illegal when the system doesn’t recognize social security numbers or other identification. As of July 1, 2013, E-Verify can email employees directly if their information triggers a Tentative Non-Confirmation of eligibility (TNC).

However even this upgrade doesn’t compensate for the increased amount of time, energy, and manpower that is required to document and comply with US regulations. More likely than not, it’s only going to get more time-consuming for companies both large and small.

What to do?

Get Ahead of the Curve

Take a tour of the E-verify site and start an account for your current employees.

Review Your Procedures

Make sure you already comply with I-9 regulations.

Keep Detailed Employee Records

You should already have stored securely and on-file the following information for all employees:
  1. Employee’s name and date of birth
  2. SSN, "A" number or I-94 number
  3. Proof of identity and its expiration date, if applicable

Lastly, get over it!

If E-Verify becomes a requirement for all companies, everyone will equally be responsible for assuring the eligibility of their employees to work here in the US. Like every other regulation that has come before, onerous or not, we’ll all eventually become smarter, better and faster at maintaining this intrusive yet safety-oriented program.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest!

Benay stays ahead of the informational curve for all our clients so that changes in regulations and compliance issues aren’t a surprise. Want to learn how you can focus on growing your business rather than filling out forms and databases? Give us a call.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tin House Books Gains More Repute Through Favorable New York Times Review

by Colleen McClintock

Tin House Books' logo.
The Tin House Books title, The Celestials, was featured in a New York Times online review today*. The book, written by Karen Shepard, was released by Tin House just one month ago and has already amassed a fair amount of praise from some of Shepard’s more well-reputed peers, such as Darin Strauss and Julia Glass. The Times is likewise generous, calling the novel “richly detailed,” and claiming Shepard’s highly metaphorical style as more genuine and lifelike than anything else.

In The Celestials, Shepard weaves a tale of vivid fiction to life from a basis of stark fact. She takes the real, yet obscure history of Chinese migrant workers in the United States and shoves it into the spotlight, under the sympathetic context of an unhappy married couple. This couple is what drives the plot’s intensity, but the true, more refined quality of the book lies in the subtext; the historical accounts of the Chinese workers. Shepard hits on the historical points of their assimilation, starting with details as facetious as the immigrants’ obsession with photography, all the way to the serious, and tragic passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese immigration into the United States.

In addition to The Celestials, Tin House Books released a huge range of other books this season, not one bit less complex or gripping than Shepard’s. Since March they have released seven fiction titles alone, many of which have received much attention.

Horses of God – a book that has been pegged as the Moroccan equivalent of Paulo Lin’s City of God – won the English Pen Award, and the much talked-about American Dream Machine is in line to become the next Showtime Original Series (at the hands of Dexter, himself, no less).

Tin House plans to release six more titles before the year comes to an end, and if the past is any indication of the future, they will surely close it out with a bang.

If you’d like to learn more about Tin House Books has to offer, please visit their website by clicking here.

*The review will be published again in print in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Literary Group Merges With Folio; Impressive Roster Of Agents Draws Attention

by Colleen McClintock

Benay client, The Literary Group International (LGI), saw its biggest change in company history on July 1st, when it finalized its merger with Folio Literary Management. Upon the merger, it was decided that the company would maintain the Folio title.

October Sky, by Homer Hickam;
just one of many famous books
backed by The Literary Group.
LGI founder Frank Weimann will take the roll of Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. LGI agents Katherine Latshaw and Jeff Silberman will join the Folio team as well; Latshaw, as a full time agent, and Silberman, as a separate entity working in affiliation with Folio.

Though the company will keep the Folio name, there is no doubt that The Literary Group’s role will be an invaluable part of Folio’s future. Weimann’s roster alone boasts an impressive spread, with titles like the recent Grace, Gold and Glory by Olympic gold medalyst, Gabby Douglas, and the gripping autobiography by Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, entitled My Cross to Bear.

The Literary Group’s past successes have also included a wide variety of books – How-Tos by Tia Mowry, Carmen Electra, and Warren Brown and memoirs by Ed Hardy, Chris Perez, and Homer Hickam.

Neither company has made comment on the merger so far, but the prospects look promising for both as they move together towards a more secure, fortified future.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Apple Guilty of eBook Price Fixing

Apple, Inc. owns one of the largest media distributors in the world; iTunes. But today a federal judge ruled that the company conspired with five major publishers to raise the retail prices of electronic books.

The shocking conspiracy was revealed today when U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of Southern New York found “compelling evidence” that apple violated federal antitrust laws by playing a “central role” in a scheme with the publishers to eliminate retail price competition and raise e-book prices.

Apple planned to undercut retail giant Amazon.com and its e-book dominance by raising some prices to 12.99 or 14.99 from the 9.99 that Amazon charged. Amazon once held a 90 percent market share.

In the 159-page decision, Cote said “Apple chose to join forces with the publishers’ defendants to raise e-book prices and equipped them with the means to do so.” She also added that without Apple’s involvement, this scheme could have never been orchestrated effectively.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department released a statement, saying, “This result is a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically.” He also stated that the court decision is the first step in a long process to undo to harm caused by Apple’s price fixing scheme.

Apple released a statement, also in response to the ruling, that allegations against them are false and that they plan on appealing Judge Denise Cote’s decision.

Apple spokesman Tome Niamey said: “"When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We've done nothing wrong."

Last year however, Apple settled a separate antitrust case over e-book pricing with the European Commission. They also admitted no wrongdoing in that case either.

Only Apple went to trial; the publishers agreed to pay more than $166 million combined to benefit consumers. The publishers included were Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, Inc., News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Pearson Plc's Penguin Group (USA), Inc., CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster, Inc. and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan.

Baer said that Cote’s decision, together with the settlements, have helped to reduce prices of e-books.

This decision has the potential to be a major blow to Apple, whose stock prices have never quite recovered to its Jobs-era highs. In the morning trading, Apple shares fell by 30 cents. 

- Emma Kent

Don’t Be a Leader or a Follower; Be a Joiner!

Join the conversation
We were all told as children that there are leaders and followers but no one talked about the rewards of being a joiner. Try being a joiner in your own organization and get more out of your business by putting in less!

Join the Conversation, Don't Lead

During our weekly office meetings I always try to speak last so I can hear the concerns, thoughts, and issues of my team. By speaking last I don't lead or direct the conversation but rather act as just another participant. I also learn what is of concern and what's really important as opposed to my own preconceptions.

Follow the Lead of Your Team

My inclination is to always give my opinion but that quickly stifles discussion as I'm the head of the company.  When there's an important company decision to be made, let others give you their reasons for or against an idea and then weigh in. Many times others have better or more developed ideas, or are coming at a conclusion from a very different vantage point. You can always have the last word but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best.

Encourage Frank Speaking

If people know they can truly voice their opinions, innovation and change become encouraged and welcomed. Let people know they can interrupt you or suggest a change when necessary, especially if they think they’ll keep you from making a mistake or not putting forth the best effort you and your company have to give.

Enjoy Fresh Ideas

After 23 years in this business and with staff members who have been with our organization for 8, 10, 15 years or more, it's not uncommon for me to be overridden by staff on opinions and to be honest, most of the time they are right. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect me or my vision for the company. Rather, it makes room for others to jump in with their own ideas, which may be newer, fresher, or better. Conversations rather than decrees build a team.

Do What You Do Best, and Let Benay Do the Rest!

You and your team work hard to grow your business. Get more time to focus on what you do best by letting Benay work behind the scenes, handling your AP/AR, invoicing, HR issues, and financials.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Infamous Books Now an Imprint of Akashic Books

Benay client, Akashic Books, is taking it to the street with their new imprint, Infamous Books. Akashic has paired with Infamous Records to release a line of urban fiction novellas. The first book, H.N.I.C., by rapper Prodigy (who also owns Infamous Records) and Steven Savile will be released on July 16th. Prodigy (Albert Johnson) is a member of the rap duo, Mobb Deep and the H.N.I.C. release will coincide with Mobb Deep’s international tour.

H.N.I.C., a novella by Albert Johnson with Steven Savile will be released on July 16th.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Akashic Books will work as the distributor and “co-handle the editorial and marketing duties with Infamous.” Marvis Johnson, Prodigy’s talent manager, “will oversee the daily operations of the imprint.” Johnson plans to use innovative marketing strategies to reach audiences wider than just the African American demographic. “’The statistics are that 90% of urban music is not purchased by African Americans. But urban books, when they are released, are only promoted to African Americans,’” he said.

This will be Prodigy’s second book. His memoir, My Infamous Life (Touchstone), was published in 2011. Interestingly enough, H.N.I.C. began as a film script in 1999. “’After My Infamous Life came out, I decided to take the H.N.I.C. script and [work with] somebody who was a book writer,’” said Prodigy. He chose to work with Steven Savile who is an award-winning British novelist and has published works in the fantasy, horror, and thriller genres.

Albert Johnson is better known as Prodigy, a member of the rap duo, Mobb Deep.
“’Steve brings the European style and mixes it with mine,’ Prodigy says. ‘I love street slang, and I listen to the street slang of other countries. So Steve added twists and turns and changed the language.’ Savile added, ‘each of us basically added our own unique skill set to the book. It's certainly a book neither of us could have written alone.’”

The books will be in novella form (80-100 pages) with a small trim size of 5” by 7”. They will be published in all formats simultaneously (hardcover, paperback, audio, and e-books). As Akashic Books publisher, Johnny Temple says, “’We’ve had a lot of success with small trim sizes …With the Hip Hop street esthetic, there’s something about being able to slip it in your back pocket.”

Infamous Books will release an average of four novellas a year and will include novellas from other urban fiction authors such as K’wan (Hood Rat, Welfare Wifeys), JaQuavis Coleman (co-author of The Cartel, Murderville), and Miasha (Secret Society, Diary of a Mistress).

Prodigy is not the first rapper to enter the publishing world. 50 Cent, T.I., Jay-Z , and Eminem have all written books. According to the New  York Times, there is a stark distinction between urban fiction and street-lit, which many of these rappers’ books fall into. The street-lit genre features stories that are more violent and devious. Urban fiction tends to focus more on morality and issues of loyalty.

Akashic Books has previously published urban fiction but tends to stick with literary fiction and political non-fiction. “’It’s a perfect imprint for the way the book industry is suffering,’ Temple said recently. ‘It will bring in new audiences. I see this as crime fiction, and there are not many black crime fiction writers beyond Walter Mosley and the late Chester Himes. Akashic is a literary publishing house, and we’re in a perfect position to crossover books like this and to say, ‘Don’t let the hip-hop aesthetics scare you off.’”

- Marcie Gainer