New developments in the Civilisation of BRAND


“Many people look at the Internet as the last ‘gold rush’ or pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The Internet is no different than any offline store, business, or job if you are looking to make a full-time income from it. It’s not the lottery; it’s business and it takes WORK. Money is not going to magically drop into your lap or arrive in your mailbox – it has to be earned online just like it does offline – by putting in the time doing the necessary work and continuing to put in the time working and growing your ‘home business’ to a consistent level of income. Yes, I said ‘home business’, because that’s what it is – a job you do from home. It’s YOUR business and requires some discipline and commitment to make it grow. The rewards are huge, however …” ~ From an interview with Deborah Casey [the original article has long disappeared from the internet]

Exactly a month ago, on Monday, 9 January 2006 I was enthusiastically cutting-and-pasting text into a document entitled, “Guidelines for Unpublished Writers”. I had already been busy for almost two months working on the English translation of “Personal Agenda”, and I thought it was time to gather some information about literary agents and publishers in Britain and the United States. Shortly after the compilation of the comprehensive 60-page document, which includes the names of about 100 agents, I thought: If the conventional process does not produce any results … then I’m doing it on my own.

A week or so later came a great discovery: a copy shop where you can have books neatly printed and bound – here in Fengshan! Not a day later I had a copy of my collection of poetry printed and bound, and I was very excited about the possibilities, despite initial trepidation, of producing, marketing and distributing copies of my literary projects on my own. Creative independence, and perhaps a small profit, I reckoned.

Three weeks ago Natasja said something about Turkey, and we talked about the possibility of going there to teach English. My Internet connection had been very erratic at that point, so I couldn’t immediately search for information on the subject. By Thursday, 26 January I had had the problem fixed, and that night I started with what I thought would be a quick research session. English teaching in Turkey morphed within minutes into job opportunities in Hong Kong – which I, and the next day also Natasja, perused with great interest.

One of the Hong Kong websites brought something to my attention that I had also taken note of a year or so ago: books in digital format, or e-books.

“E-books that sell for as much as $12!” I exclaimed minutes later in the kitchen (as if someone other than me was standing there waiting for the announcement). Benefits of e-books include cheap production, first and final creative say, no shipping costs, and because I was already busy translating material into English, an international market.

As I was busy researching e-book formats, two other pieces of data entered in my brain: the first is a global online payment system called PayPal; the second piece of information is the possibility that I can manage my own Internet bookstore where I can promote books of my choice, which are then sold and shipped through the larger online bookstores. “I can receive payments over the Internet, by credit card?” I thought, and as an afterthought, “and other sources of income on the Internet?”

By 27 January, I had compiled a new document with text sorted alphabetically under guidelines for unpublished writers, this time more simply titled: eBooks.

So it has come that for the past two weeks I have started and ended my days with thoughts of large sums of profit that I can make with the international sales of my own material. Yesterday morning I got up with the idea – no wait, I had already fallen asleep with the thought on Tuesday night – of “Imagine I sell something like 37,000 copies of the entire project (I like the number “3”, and I like the number “7”, and thousands are a lot, so the number made sense). Since I am going on vacation in less than two months, I also entertained myself – this was roughly lunchtime yesterday – with the idea of how nice it would be if I could make some extra pocket money with a modest little project before my vacation. Reckoning that I shouldn’t lose my momentum with research on alternative sources of income, I clicked the fat “E” on my taskbar, and after reflecting a bit on exactly what I wanted to explore, I typed in the words, “marketing ebooks online”.

What should only have been a break from the translation work at lunch time became an almost feverish session at the computer which lasted until shortly after midnight. One click led to another, which led to the next, which led … to more than one throbbing headache. “The possibilities!” is what dozens of thoughts and conversations with myself came down to. Every now and then I shuffled over to my notebook to jot down cryptic notes on “new developments”, and on how to make sense of the implications, should it ever manifest in actual US dollars, and New Taiwan dollars in my local bank account. By the end of the day I was subscribed to more than a few newsletters, I had opened an account at [a payment system which has since bitten the dust] as well as a premium account with PayPal. Money could now roll in … in theory, at least.

“You know they are everywhere. You see them on job sites, on message boards, and even offline! It’s a work from home scam I’m talking about. Scams are EVERYWHERE and they get the best of us,” said Pamela La Gioia of Two days later the dust had settled after I had visited dozens of sites and had possibly viewed quite a number of scams with eyes that were getting redder by the minute.

Initial excitement – and enough of it to give me a headache! – had by now given way to a soberer view of the possibilities.

As far as I could tell there are basically three types of opportunities with which one could make money on the Internet: 1) the type where a salesperson talks of systems and programs that could potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each month – in ways anyone can master if you’re willing to pay $97 for the necessary material; 2) the type where you put in two or three hours of work every day, where the work is not terribly exciting, where you have to deal with what is indeed a job in a professional way, and where if you are disciplined and you put in your two or three hours every day you can make as much as two or three thousand dollars per month; and 3) the original idea that put me on the track of all these possibilities, namely e-books – and not only my noble literary type but short so-called info-booklets with helpful information that apparently thousands of people are willing to spend money on to get hold of.

One question that many people might want to ask before sitting back as if they had burst my bubble: If these opportunities are such good ideas, why do millions of people not quit their jobs at companies and schools and businesses where they work to make millions on the Internet?