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I love e-books, and manage to go through four or five per week, mostly nonfiction. How do I go through so many books in a week? As I explain in more detail here, I use my Kindle’s text-to-speech function, cranked up to two or three times the normal speed (no, there is no chipmunk quality), and listen to books whenever I am commuting, showering, dressing, etc.

The truth is, especially when you read multiple books on the same topic, even a really good book may offer only ten or twenty really good, new to you takeaways. As I’m listening to an e-book at warp speed, I can easily absorb the broad concepts, and if a really good takeaway pops up, I can slow it down and repeat, or have Siri send whatever I want to remember to Evernote.

(Did you know you can have Siri on your iPhone add notes to your Evernote account? Here’s how. Of course you can dictate directly into Evernote, but the Siri method allows you to do it hands free. No distracted driving for you! The next version of iOS will make this even better, because Siri will obey your commands without you even having to push that one button to get her attention. And if you’ve seen that episode of The Big Bang Theory, you know that Siri is a real woman answering your questions in real time.)

But feeding my brain is not without cost. Even though we live in wonderful times where e-books can be had for a fraction of the price of their printed brethren, going through four or five books per week can still be a costly addiction.

Enter Kindle Unlimited

Now comes Kindle Unlimited. Like other “Netflix for books” plans, Kindle Unlimited allows you to read an unlimited number of e-books for just $9.99 per month. The current catalog includes over 600,000 titles, and 8,000 audiobooks. The couple of reviews I’ve read about Kindle Unlimited have made the inevitable comparisons to Scribd and Oyster, who offer similar services for the same price, but from my perspective there is no comparison and they are utterly missing the point.

Authors who publish through Amazon have the option of joining a program called KDP Select. It’s a marketing system that allows the authors to market their books in certain ways and earn higher commissions. It also offers the books worldwide. It’s a great program. My book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, is in the KDP Select program. The price an author pays for being in KDP Select is that he or she must agree to sell exclusively through Amazon for no less than 90 days.

When Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited, without so much as asking “pretty please may I?”, it made the entire library of KDP Select books available to anyone subscribing to Kindle Unlimited. Amazon did announce, however, that authors with books in KDP Select did not have to wait until the 90 day commitment had run, and could immediately opt out if they did not want their books offered for “free” in KDP Select.

“So do you get a royalty when a Kindle Unlimited subscriber downloads a “free” copy of Big, Fat Pipeline?”, you ask. Thank you so much for your concern. That means a lot to me.

The answer is, heck if I know. You are probably familiar with Amazon Prime. You pay $100 per year for free shipping and a bunch of other goodies like free movies. Amazon Prime members also get to borrow one book per month for free, and can lend books they bought to others. Amazon creates a “fund” for all those freebies, and I still get a royalty when my book is borrowed or loaned. Thus far, those royalties have been about the same 70% I get for a regular e-book sale, and under Kindle Unlimited it’s supposed to work the same way. If true, then Kindle Unlimited could be great for authors, because any buying resistance is removed since the books are now “free”. Why hesitate to buy a book and take the time to carefully read all the reviews if it is free? Might as well download it and take a look. And if there are two similar books on the same subject – one that can be downloaded for free via Kindle Unlimited and another that the reader would have to pay for – which one is the reader likely to get? The program should get Big, Fat Pipeline onto a lot more Kindles. I’ll just have to wait and see if the royalties keep pace.

I thought you might appreciate that little primer on Amazon in case you are thinking of publishing, but let’s get to the point.

Kindle Unlimited Review

As a reader, Kindle Unlimited is AMAZING. The reason that comparing Kindle Unlimited to Scribd and Oyster is apples to oranges is because the latter two do not have access to the KDP Select library. That offers a HUGE repository of nonfiction books that you can draw upon to gain expertise on just about any imaginable subject. And don’t forget the 8,000 audiobooks being offered. I love audiobooks, but they are pricey.

Don’t quote me on it, but the average price of an e-book on Amazon (at least the ones I buy) is about $5. (Incidentally, for another peek behind the curtains, e-book authors usually price their books between $2.99 and $9.99 on Amazon because Amazon pays a 70% royalty for e-books selling in that price range. Any more or less, and the royalty drops to just 35%.)  My five e-book per week habit was running me about $25 per week, or more than $100 per month.

The day I signed up for Kindle Unlimited, I immediately downloaded ten books that I wanted to read, all for free. Ten books is the maximum you can “check out”  at one time, but it is kind of a distinction without a difference, because if you try to borrow number 11, Amazon just asks you which book you want to return. You can just swap out a book and then swap it back in later when you finish one of the ten.

My e-book habit.

The amount of information now available to you for just $9.99 per month is truly staggering. So, click here to try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days, and become a genius on your chosen topics for a lot less money, whether they be your practice areas and/or law firm marketing. Since my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days is available on Kindle Unlimited, you can help yourself to a free copy. You do not have to have a Kindle to read the e-books you download, but for the text-to-speech feature, you do.

To give you just a tiny infinitesimal sampling of the sort of nonfiction books you can download on Kindle Unlimited, here are the e-books I downloaded that I will be absorbing this week. Click on any of the covers for more information.

I was listening to a podcast (on podcasting) and the host interviewed Nick Loper, the author of this book. It sounded great, so checked it out, and sure enough it was available on Kindle Unlimited.

Same basic story as above, only this time I was reading a blog post. The article wasn’t even about StumbleUpon, but the author mentioned parenthetically (see, I’m not the only one) that blog authors are crazy is they aren’t using StumbleUpon. I know NOTHING about StumbleUpon, so I went on Amazon and searched for books on the topic. There were several, but this one was available on Kindle Unlimited. It is normally $9.99, and for that price I previously would not have bought the e-book just to find out if I might be interested in giving StumbleUpon a try. Now, it’s mine!

Saw it. “Bought” it. Has several five star reviews.

This is one that Amazon always pushes at me as a recommended book, but even though it’s only $2.99, I’ve never read it because it has only one review and that review is one star. But now that it’s “free” on Kindle Unlimited, I can give it a look and form my own opinion.

This is another one that lists for $9.99, and it has a bunch of five star reviews. I’m not opposed to paying ten bucks for a good book, but there are so many $5 e-books I want to read, and my reading habit is already so costly, that ten dollar books usually got a pass. No more!

How to Sign a PDF Without Printing and Scanning

So you’ve received a PDF document by email that you need to sign and return, or you’ve sent one to your client to sign. How do you accomplish that task?

Do you print the PDF, sign the document, scan the document, and then email it? If you do, you are being unnecessarily inefficient. There is an easy way to open and sign that document without ever printing and scanning, and it’s probably already on your computer.

The free Adobe Reader includes multiple ways to get your signature on a document. It will create a signature for you just from text, but if you want your real signature on the document but just can’t navigate turning your signature into a digital image that you can drop into the document, Adobe Reader even lets you hold your signature up to your computer’s webcam.

Go here for a detailed article on how to use Adobe Reader to sign a PDF.


How To Get Back a Closed Tab

I might be the only one who does this, but I was very excited to learn this shortcut.

When using Chrome (this also works for Internet Explorer and Firefox), I soon accumulate so many tabs across the top of the browser that I can’t tell what’s what. I then start closing tabs and occasionally realize that I just closed the tab with the case I found after a long search session. To bring back a closed tab, just hit Ctrl-Shift-T and voilà, it’s back.

Best Client Call of the Week

Not the one in question, but can you name the country this flag represents?

A “potential client” called this morning to discuss the case she has going in a foreign country. In order not to offend any of the residents of that country by repeating what she said, I won’t identify the country except to say that it is a small, non-English speaking country that I had to run through Wikipedia to confirm that it is in fact a real country.

She called to ask a question about a very specific procedural issue in her case. Picture getting a call from someone in Transnistria, asking you the deadline for opposing an application for a writ of attainment, and whether the opposition can be served by yak. That was the nature and specificity of the procedural question.

As I always do when I get a call from a call from someone about a case that has nothing to do with California, I asked why she called me.

“Because all the attorneys are crooks here, and you can’t trust anything they say”, she said.

So the next time you hear someone say something disparaging about attorneys, just remember that our reputation is far better than that of the attorneys in this unidentified country.

Why I Love Being a Lawyer — Taking Bank of America to the Woodshed

In case you missed it, there was a video posted on YouTube a few years back, consisting of a music video entitled “United Breaks Guitars“. Singer, songwriter Dave Carroll was sitting in a United Airlines plane while his beloved Taylor guitar was being loaded in the luggage compartment. He looked out and saw the baggage handlers throwing his guitar case, and upon landing, he discovered that they had broken his guitar.

The moment he saw his flying guitar, he reported the incident to the flight crew, but he did not report the broken guitar to the right person at United within 24 hours, so when he finally managed to navigate to said right person, his claim was denied.

Carroll used the best weapon at his disposal to express his frustration with United. He wrote a really catchy tune and created a music video about the incident, which at last count has been viewed by just shy of 14,000,000 people. He followed with a second and third video, but those have been viewed a paltry 2,000,000 and 600,000 times. Here is the first video, and I bet you’ll find your foot tapping:

The way United handled this disgruntled customer was a object lesson on the dangers of hubris, and that reminded me of my case against Bank of America. Continue reading

My Experience with Stephen Fairley and The Rainmaker Institute

Stephen Fairley

The Rainmaker Institute, headed by Stephen Fairley, is a law firm marketing “school” of sorts, where you can learn how to promote your firm primarily with Internet marketing. I’ve never attended one of the paid “Retreats” offered by The Rainmaker Institute, but on two occasions I have attended MCLE functions such as the California Solo and Small Firm Summit, put on by the State Bar, where Fairley was acting as the moderator. At one of those conferences I won a CD set from one of the retreats, and listened to that, so I also have that indirect experience as well.

The Summits I attended started with a breakfast where Fairley spoke, then we went off to one of the many offered classes, then we’d return to lunch and hear Fairley speak some more, and so it would go. I found the information imparted by Fairley to be very (dare I say fairly?) useful. I credit him at the very least with introducing me to the full power of Internet marketing. I took what I learned from Fairley, added my own spin and techniques, and truly took my firm to the next level.

Fairley and The Rainmaker Institute are currently in the news because one of their clients – the Michigan law firm of Seikaly & Stewart – is suing them under a RICO claim, alleging that the firm paid Fairley and company $49,000 for Internet marketing services that turned out to be worthless. The law firm does not go so far as to say that it was hurt by the services performed, but claims that defendants should have known that “their schemes would have no positive effect and might have a detrimental effect on the [Plaintiff’s] webpages.” Continue reading

Don’t Be That Attorney — Misstating Record on Appeal

Misstated RecordAs reported elsewhere, we received a very satisfying verdict of more than $1.5 million resulting from a defamatory email sent by a defendant, concerning our client. The defendant did not go silently into the good night, and appealed the verdict, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to support an award of that size.

That’s all fine and good, but in appealing the verdict, the defense attorney completely misstated the record. On an appeal based on insufficient evidence, the appellant is required to set forth all the evidence that would tend to support that verdict. Indeed, if the appellant fails to do so, the Court of Appeal can deem the issue waived.

I devoted a full two-thirds of my responsive brief on appeal just setting the record straight by pointing out all the misstatements made by defense counsel. Continue reading

You’re Not Alone — Everyone Gets Some Crazies

Crazy CallersI genuinely thought I was part of some long-term punking. I get so many calls from people wanting to hire me who use the same lines to try to get me to take the case.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I have a slam-dunk case that is going to make some attorney wealthy, but I need an attorney who can understand this case and won’t be intimidated by the other side.”

There’s one guy out there — I have no idea how I ended up on his distribution list — who sends me weekly flyers like you might get from a real estate agent trying to sell you a business, but they are all for HIS own personal cases.  They are on impressive pre-printed forms, and the client just fills in the blanks.  They look something like this: Continue reading

Just How Scary Am I? — Wacky Big Firm Behavior

Oh, the wacky, wacky things big firms do.

My firm just took over a business litigation matter that has been going on for about eight months. It’s the usual nonsense where my client left a company and the company doesn’t want him to compete, so it is claiming he took trade secrets. I’ve had probably 50 of these over the years, and never once has the strategy worked. They try to beat the client into the ground, and when it doesn’t work, they slunk away. Shame on the attorneys who prosecute these cases.

But this one is getting entertaining very quickly. The Plaintiff company is represented by what appears to be a huge firm. I’d never heard of the firm before this action, but they list 30 offices on their letterhead, with offices all over the globe, and five here in California.

In typical fashion for some big firms, every time we’ve been to court, at least two attorneys have shown up from the other side. Continue reading