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June 06, 2014

UNC basketball star whistleblows on fake classes, fake papers for athletes

Great. So student athletes don't get paid but they ALSO don't get an education. Former North Carolina Basketball Star Details Exactly How The University Rigged Classes For Him | ThinkProgress
In an interview with ESPN’s news magazine show Outside The Lines, former University of North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants detailed the program’s don’t ask, don’t tell attitude towards academics, saying that he could have been ineligible for the team’s 2005 national championship run had he not taken “bogus classes” and had improper assistance from tutors, and that he made perfect grades one semester despite not attending classes. McCants’ allegations are rooted in the same so-called “paper classes” that have been the focus of ongoing investigations at UNC by news organizations and NCAA officials. Students enrolled in these courses, many of them athletes in the football and men’s basketball programs, were not required to actually attend any classes and graded solely on one term paper turned in each semester. Those papers, McCants said, were rarely written by the students themselves. “For some of the premiere players, we didn’t write papers,” McCants told ESPN. “When it was time to turn in our papers for our paper classes, we would get a call from our tutors, we would all pack up in one big car or two or three cars, carpool over to the tutor’s house, and basically get our papers and go about our business.” School and athletics administrators at the Chapel Hill campus have been on the defensive ever since details began leaking about fake classes that required little or no attendance and yet handed down passing grades — often times A or B grades — to their athlete enrollees. Investigations into dozens of suspect courses have found that athletes were being placed in classes that were created solely for the benefit of those in jeopardy of losing their academic eligibility; that professors were being listed as the instructors on certain classes without their knowledge; and that course paperwork was being forged. McCants also told ESPN that while coaches in the program may not have been involved in the academic scandals, they were certainly aware of it and did nothing to correct the problem. . . .

May 09, 2014

Self-published genre books are eating Big Publishing's lunch

If you want to know why Harlequin is being sold--cheaply--to Haper Collins, this'll make it pretty clear. Self-publishing is dominating the charts for romance, sci-fi and fantasy. Self-Publishing’s Share of the Kindle Market by Genre | Edward W. Roberston
I’ve taken a quick whack at looking at what percentage of Kindle ebook sales self-publishers represent by genre. To get there, I simply look at the top 100 bestsellers in each genre—romance, mystery/thriller/suspense, science fiction, and fantasy—and split them up by method of publication. Note that, unlike the Author Earnings study, this is merely a breakdown of the raw number of self-published titles on the bestseller lists, not the number of total book sales within each genre. Also, instead of five categories of publisher, I use four: self-published, small/medium press, Amazon Publishing, and Big 5 (including, where appropriate, major genre publishers like Harlequin and Baen). . . . . ROMANCE Self-published: 49% Small/medium: 11% Amazon: 9% Big 5/Harlequin: 30% MYSTERY/THRILLER/SUSPENSE Self-published: 11% Small/medium: 5% Amazon: 16% Big 5: 68% SCIENCE FICTION Self-published: 56% Small/medium: 9% Amazon: 5% Big 5 (plus Baen): 30% FANTASY Self-published: 49% Small/medium: 7% Amazon: 7% Big 5: 37% . . . . [T]his is just a look at the top 100 in each genre out of hundreds of thousands of total books. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that a broader look at the data would present different trends. However, it does match up well with the Author Earnings study of these genres combined, so I’m not sure a bigger sample would be that much different. . . . Of course, there’s one more big factor here: each genre’s total share of the Kindle market. Fortunately, that’s really easy to ballpark. By looking at the #100th-ranked book in each genre and dividing that by its overall Kindle rank, we get an estimate of what percentage of the entire Kindle market each genre represents. For instance, if the #100 book in Romance were #1000 in the Kindle store, we could figure that 1 in 10 sales, or 10%, are of romance books. Here’s how it shakes out: Romance: 40% Mysteries/Thrillers: 20% Fantasy: 6.33% Sci-Fi: 5% You’ll note that adds up to 71.33%. Hugh Howey’s much bigger and better sample suggested these four genres comprise 69% of total Kindle sales (though it didn’t break it down by genre). To me, this means the above numbers should be pretty accurate, despite the crude methodology used to determine them.