Barbara Perfetti has one of my favorite work success stories. The Palm Harbour resident was a corporate number cruncher for over 20 years, and in 2005, with a couple of friends, she started a small online publishing company - romance books for literary types. She turned a profit in the first year of business, then opened a second business, an online bookstore, All Romance eBooks.

She sold the publishing company in 2008, expanded ARe into OmniLit, an e-book store that sells all genres. It became the largest independent, female-owned, digital bookstore in the world. (Amazon is their largest competitor.)

With lower financial entry barriers, publishers can take risks on new authors that before would never have stood a chance of landing a contract from one of the paper publishers. And topics no longer have to appeal to the masses - niche books are doing great, even when they only appeal to a small segment of the society and that's helping to promote a feeling of acceptance in what used to be viewed as outcast subcultures (gay romance, for instance, is a huge seller in eBooks but hard to find in the brick and mortar bookstores). And having a global community to appeal to is breaking down barriers between countries and cultures, helping people from all over the world find common ground with others they would never have known existed.

Lots of people in the world of journalism, writing, and publishing are scared by the overhaul of their industries due to advancing technology, but others, including Barb, love what it's doing for the environment.

ePub is great for the physical environment - no more cutting down trees or powering factories to bind books. No more shipping fuel costs. And no more unsold books being destroyed at alarming rates. On average, half of the books shipped to brick and mortar bookstores end up as "returns" (which means in dumpsters with the covers torn off), I was horrified at the waste the print book industry generates. Digital books not only save the trees used to make their sold/returned print equivalents, they save the manufacturing and shipping pollutants. There's no question that enjoying the latest 'how to' book, magazine, newspaper or bestselling novel in digital format is better for the environment.

She also co-founded GoGreen Read e, which is devoted to the eReading community.The OmniLit/ARe newsletter also keeps up on all the news with the latest eReaders (the devices) and software.


Hippie Do-gooders: the Spirit of the original Woodstock

Spencer Hinkle has lived in Portland for 30 years, but the Tampa native is currently in town for a visit. Last night he played the Globe with his old Duckbutter buddies, an impromptu reunion show that brought together many folks who haven't been in the same room in 40 years. (Facebook doesn't count.)

On his way over to the East Coast, he made a stop in New Orleans where his project, Cities Building Cities, is giving a Katrina-damaged home new life.

WMNF programmer Jeanne Holton, who used to sneak out her bedroom window as a preteen to catch Duckbutter shows, hosted Spencer and former band mate Ronny Elliott this morning on her show (available online in the WMNF archives). Between Spencer's story on New Orleans, and a PSA Jeanne read for the Coddington Benefit Concert, it turned out to be a very do-gooder show.

The Coddington Benefit, btw, is for a Marian Coddington, a local mom (and wife of St. Pete Times Photojournalist Stephen Coddington) who suffered a brain aneurysm which caused four hemorrhages in less than a month. Her insurance has reached its max out, denying further coverage for her recovery, and Stephen is both sole caregiver of his wife and single parent to their 4- and 7-year olds.

Schedule of performers at Skipper's Smokehouse Benefit for the Coddington Family - Sunday Aug. 23

4:00-4:30 Lara Cerri and Dan DeGregory w/ special guests Carol Blair and Amy Wimmer Schwarb

4:40-5:10 Wendy and Don Morris w/special guest

5:25-5:45 The ReKorders (w/ Demorris Lee)

6:00- 6:30 September Penn

6:45-7:25 Uncle John's Band

7:40-8:20 Ocean Road (w/ Dave Scheiber)

8:30-9:10 The Deadliners (w/ Eric Deggans & Kerry O'Reilly)

9:25-9:45 Car Bomb Driver (w/Dave Reeder)

9:55-10:15 Super Secret Best Friends (Stephanie Hayes, Emily Nipps, Alex Zayas)

10:25-10:55 The Unitards (Rob Farley, Chris Tisch, Ron Matus and Edmund Fountain)


Health Care: An Issue of Humanity, not Politics

Two years ago I wrote about a few uninsured folks for Creative Loafing. The story included my own: when I was 19 and out of college for a semester (unable to pay tuition), I was dropped from my dad's health insurance policy. Then tore my achilles tendon. Less than a year later I was back in school and insured again, but because of the pre-existing condition, I was allotted only one month of physical therapy to "fix" the scarred-over injury.

After college, instead of pursuing my drive to create media full-time in Seattle (notoriously low paying entry level work, even then), I got a job with a corporate bank processing loans. I cried everyday, trapped in that office for a year and a half. It was the excellent health insurance that kept me there - they paid for eight months of physical therapy despite the pre-existing status. (They also paid for the mental health counseling it took for me to face that office for so long).

I'm not complaining about hard work. I can and have always worked hard. I am creative, intelligent and good at so many things, although processing loans sure wasn't one of them. (The worst part of the job for me was not understanding why the management allowed loans to go to people who barely made more than their mortgage payment...we all see where that got us.)

At 25, I declared bankruptcy to free myself from the debt I acquired from being young, reckless and injured (those co-pays added up). This allowed me to finally quit the job, move to Tampa in with mom, and find work I loved. That first year I was an AmeriCorps volunteer, and a couple years later I found my way into the editorial assistant seat at CL. Life was good at last!

Sadly though, it didn't last long. As a part time employee at the paper, I made around $1000 a month, several hundred more depending on the number of stories I had published. I had been uninsured for a year, and when I started having stomach probs, I bought my own health insurance through United. $140 a month, with a $2500 deductible. The week after my Sicko story came out, I sprained my the ankle of my "good" leg and was on crutches for a couple of months. Naturally I spent almost all of the $2500 that year, on top of the monthly premium. I picked up other p/t work wherever I could, working as a teacher in a special needs public school and then as an on-air instructor at HCC's student radio station. Working over 60 hours a week to pay my medical bills burnt out that energetic 29-year-old. I fled to a friend's in DE, found a great paying corporate job in D.C. - that I left after six weeks because I couldn't let myself get stuck in that corporate rut again. (The job was as soul-less for a journalist as my former bank job: building a database of journalists as the country's newspapers consolidated/died. Aye yi yi.)

My choices weren't always the best ones, but the system is set up to encourage failure. No one in American should have to endure pain every day. I personally have spent too much yet received so little. I still carry the pain of that first injury 10 years ago. We shouldn't have to cling to corporations for our well being, because they will never care about us. As office cynical workers everywhere are fond of saying, "It's not my job."

Rep. Kathy Castor is holding a town hall meeting to hear your health care story.

Where: Children’s Board in Tampa
1002 East Palm Avenue (near Nebraska and 7th Ave)
When: Thursday, August 6th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Folks are encouraged to get there early and be prepared to learn more about the proposed healthcare plan and to speak up for their rights.