Greg Sampson on August 9th, 2014

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com

Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com

Greg Sampson on January 20th, 2014

A message from the mayor of Jacksonville, Alvin Brown:

Dear Friends:

On this day when we look back on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I believe we must also look ahead to prepare our young people with the opportunities and support they need to embrace the American Dream.

That’s why I have just announced a Youth Initiative to provide more positive opportunities for Jacksonville’s next generation. The initiative has three key actions as a starting point.

First, we will expand the great work of our Summer Jobs Program. Last year, more than 600 Jacksonville youth participated. For many, it was their first job and their first paycheck.

This year we want to increase the number of private-sector employers that participate so we can provide positive work experiences for even more young people.

I am urging local businesses to find a way to put Jacksonville’s eager, energetic young people to work this summer. Please consider having your business participate in our Summer Jobs Program. You can obtain more information at www.coj.net/summerjobs or by sending an email to MayorsSummerJobs@coj.net.

This is an important public-private partnership to invest in the next generation. If a business can provide even one job for one teen, it makes a big difference.

Second, we will provide additional support to help Teen Court prevent first-time youth offenders from becoming repeat offenders. I am asking the City Council to reallocate funds to increase the number of participants in Teen Court and the Neighborhood Accountability Boards as a constructive alternative to arrest and detention for misdemeanor offenses.

This budget transfer will help a program currently used by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office and the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court to serve an additional 250 eligible youth each year.

Third, I am establishing a Young Leaders Advisory Council to help develop the future leaders of our community. The Advisory Council will be composed of a diverse group of 25 seniors and 25 juniors recommended by principals and community organizations.

Advisory Council members will learn more about city government and effective citizenship so they can make a positive difference as young leaders. They will also advise me and other city officials on youth issues.

Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, said it best: “it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.” If Jacksonville is going to continue to thrive and prosper in the years ahead, all of our young people must have the opportunities and support they need to succeed. Thank you for your help in this mission.

Sincerely,
Alvin Brown
Mayor

Connect with Mayor Brown and the City of Jacksonville!

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Please assist me in getting the word out by forwarding the link below to your friends and family, encouraging them to subscribe.

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Greg Sampson on April 6th, 2013

Bright blade of blood sunk in red skin
Whence came you to this place?
Sprung from the earth with burning face
Checkerboard harlequin.

Great coils surround you, yet within
Constricting pressure, tiny space
Bright blade of blood sunk in red skin.
Whence came you to this place

Dark angel with the unknown sin?
Marked on your heart the slightest trace
Of love unknown—no mother’s lace
To dry the tears upon your chin,
Bright blade of blood sunk in red skin.

(This poem celebrates Antwan’s victory over the snake that attacked Abeba, Adama’s granddaughter, the day after Antwan appeared before the elders and sparred with Nakara and Amadi. It is the day after he woke up from his sickness and fever when he first arrived in the village of Oonan.

Greg Sampson on March 30th, 2013

I came across this a while back and saved it to share with you:

1. What band introduced the song, “Eye of the Tiger”? (It’s also the name of a popular reality TV show.)

2. what is the first and last name of the Hall of Famer with more than 4000 hits who played for the Detroit Tigers from 1905 to 1926?

3. Which boxing movie had sequels featuring the song, “Eye of the Tiger”?

4. What second-most populous naton is one to which the Bengal Tiger is native?

5. Which Ivy League school’s athletic teams are known as the Tigers?

6. What is the given first name of golfer Tiger Woods?

7. For which movie did Jack Lemmon receive his acting Oscar? (This three-word phrase is also a rallying cry for those wishing to preserve this animal species.)

Answers next week.

Greg Sampson on January 10th, 2013

Many great writers and poets were considered for this anthology, and I made the cut!  View it on Amazon.
Open Mic 2 pic

Greg Sampson on December 20th, 2012

I asked for comments on my reworking of the site. Please leave them here. Thanks for the feedback!

Greg Sampson on December 16th, 2012

The old oak sat upon the ground
Brown leaves ascending to its crown
Where dark green leaves in bushy sprigs
Balled waxy midst the brittle twigs.

Close by the grey-trunked holly mean
Sharp pointed leaves of deepest green
Scraped branches ‘gainst a breath of wind
December day when devil grinned.

The Christmas rose appeared ‘mong such
Its spindly stalks did not seem much
Its white buds lost in snow aplenty
I stopped to count and there found twenty.

O life within! No one can measure
The petals tight—life’s future treasure
Under the sun yet to unfurl
And blossom with a beauty curl.

‘Pon the holly popped berries red
Blood gathered from the young now dead
With twisted hearts we cry out why?
The universe has no reply.

Blackest gloom descends to Earth
It is the time of sun dearth
From the sky the angels’ tears
Made us realize our worst fears.

From this evil there is no buffer
Always, always the innocent suffer
We mourn and grieve the latest shoot
Our tears to water the holly’s root.

Greg Sampson on December 15th, 2012

So you want to take a gander at my new book, Tiger Claws, available from the Kindle store here:

But you don’t own a Kindle. No problem. Read it on your smart phone or tablet!

Click on the Download, or copy and paste the link in your browser:

 

Download the iPhone/iPad app

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle-read-books-ebooks-magazines/id302584613?mt=8

 

Download an Android app

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kindle+for+android&c=apps

(I use an iPhone, so I can’t test these and make a recommendation.)

 

Download a Windows smartphone app

http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/amazon-kindle/48195fb4-ee0e-e011-9264-00237de2db9e

 

They’re free! And then head over to the

 

Kindle store for Tiger Claws

http://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Claws-ebook/dp/B00AL4YHJ0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1355572394&sr=1-11

 

Only $2.99. Amazon Prime members can borrow it free! Or, keep checking in, the give-away promo will be happening soon …

Greg Sampson on December 9th, 2012

On the Kindle: Tiger Claws

Tiger Claws is now available in the Amazon store for a download to your Kindle e-reader. Grab the link and happy reading. If you like the book, give it five stars and a good review. Thanks!

 

Gregory Sampson

Greg Sampson on November 22nd, 2012

I give thanks to all of you, who have interest in the stories I have told.

I give thanks for the completion of Tiger Claws. The interior design of the book is done. Once I receive and approve the book cover, I will upload everything for a December release in e-format on the Kindle with a print-on-demand option for those who want a traditional book.

I give thanks to God, who created me and blessed me with the life that I have.

 

Greg Sampson on November 11th, 2012

The book came out of edit in September. As its main distribution channel will begin through e-book release, particularly the Kindle, the next step was to have a cover designed.

However, not all readers have Kindles, and many prefer a traditional book. It has always been my intent to offer a Print-On-Demand option for those who prefer it. So I need my cover designer to give me both.

My selected designer has asked for the specifications, including the spine width, so she can provide me with the proper files.

Oh, crap. I forgot that a cover designer needs to know how wide the book spine will be to provide a cover for a traditional book. Now I am working to line up my POD manufacturer and figure that out, which means I have to lay out the book and choose the paper. Surprise! If you don’t know anything about book manufacturing, different types of paper have different thicknesses.

So I am trying to figure out Quark. Yes, I invested in the product. One of the few perks of being a teacher is that most software publishers offer their products to educators at tremendous discounts. That $900 Quark package you would buy only cost me $200.

Quark is top of the line publishing layout. Only the best if I want to provide a professional product and I am committed to that. I have seen designs that have failed because people choose their friends instead of proven professionals. I have a friend who does outstanding work, but I’m not sure she has ever designed a book, and at this point of trying to establish myself, I need proven experience. I am building a team for the next thirty or forty years, as long as my life and my mind are left to me.

The book, then, may not see release until Christmas. But I will be satisfied when it’s done right. I’m not trying for a traditional agent/publisher contract, with about two weeks to make it or the book falls into the dustbin, as my route to success. I want to give my writing the time to find and develop its audience. I believe it eventually will be a large one.

Greg Sampson on November 10th, 2012

I continue to share verse as I get my new book, Tiger Claws, ready for release. The title is Sometimes. I have not had an easy week at school.

 

Sometimes I feel like lightning

Cold front colliding

Warm front rising

Energy clashing

Dash upon plus

Striking

Wrath

 

Sometimes I feel like a volcano

Lava churning within

Cap of rock bolted on

Steam pushing, pushing

Ground rising

Land shaking

Boom!

 

Sometimes I feel like an earthquake

Pressure mounts; land grinds into deadlock

Glass trembles on the shelves

Energy shoves for release

Buildings shake

Land drops

Crumbs

 

Sometimes I feel like a cyclone

Whirling about the land

Devastation follows

Tornado Alley

Cows flying

Trucks wrecking

Balls of fire

Debris

 

Sometimes I feel like a hurricane

Slow gathering out of deep waters

Fuel for organized chaos

Swirling, piling, driving

Howling winds

Storm surge

Waste

Greg Sampson on November 4th, 2012

the challenge was to write a tritina about a habit …

 

Coffee

 

Deep earth aroma from a harvest sustainable

Peruvian organic, I search for thee at the Kangaroo

Bypassing Columbian for my morning caffeine fix.

 

Dark covers the earth and the sun has yet to fix

Its cream in Earth’s coffee. What makes my day sustainable?

Caffeine that hops in my veins like a kangaroo.

 

Blood boxes my ears with swift kicks from my cup Kangaroo

Palms tingle, sweat beads, and 24 ounces puts me in a fix

That makes me wonder if my caffeine addiction is sustainable.

 

I fix my addiction with a decaffeinated Kangaroo. Sustainable!

 

The new book is close to release. Tiger Claws, with its hero, Antwan Duvallier, and his adventures in a land he never thought existed. Stay tuned. The blog is clattering awake.

Greg Sampson on June 2nd, 2012

I have not felt emotion this deep in a long time. It poured out as this:

Down deep the Grand Canyon rushes
Time through its carved sandstone layers
Tearing riverbed asunder–
Flinging gravel ‘midst its plunder.

Needle rocks lift prayer off the floor
Down deep. The Grand Canyon rushes
Grow where silver blue gray tears pool
In bass sorrows full of regret.

A yellow sky paints o’er the rim
Surreal thoughts ‘pon red rusted brim.
Down deep the Grand Canyon rushes.
Pine scraggles with ugh-tipped brushes.

Drops fall from a thunder-filled sky
Dashed upon sands gibbering why
In the swallow of Gulf green water
Down deep the Grand Canyon rushes.

Greg Sampson on April 29th, 2012

Pleased to announce that the latest book is with my editor. Target release is mid to late summer.

Tags: , ,

webhub on April 29th, 2012

Here’s a short piece I wrote for possible submission to an anthology. You get the first look. Comment, please! How good is it, really?

The P.E. Coach did it. Not the murder, that would come later, but the taunt.
“Slow bo’. Move it, slow bo’. Can’t make it once around the track. Need a motorized wheelchair?”
Jonathan’s cheeks burned. Around him, a hundred boys and girls laughed. “Slow bo’, slow bo’,” they chanted.
So I don’t have speed. Or lungs. Or legs. I got asthma. Bad. I can’t do this.
He balled his fist and glared at the coach. He tensed his shoulder and twisted his pencil-muscled arm. Lips parted, his breath hissed through the ivory walls of his teeth. He wanted to take a swing at his tormenter. But since that was Coach, he knew better than to start a fight with an adult. As for the asthma, he was lying to himself.
Sixteen, never been kissed, except twice. Both girls were drunk. Stuck on first base but most often thrown out, Jonathan was rangy. 126 pounds stretched over five feet, nine inches of bone. Thick waves of dirty blond hair undulated around brown eyes and lobe-less ears. He grew it long to cover both. His mane flopped to his shoulders and curled along his upper back.
“Twice around, slow bo’, or I fail you.”
He resolved that day to get in shape.

Gracie stood on the couch and barked when Jonathan came in the door. He grinned. It was her way to say hello. He stretched out his hand to scratch her ears. She backed away, but jumped in excitement. As he lowered his hand, she plunged to the floor, reared up, and walked on her hind legs toward him. She pawed at his chest.
He grabbed her head and moved it side to side as he scratched her ears. “Want your ball, baby?”
He slung his backpack on the couch and went outside. A green, dirty tennis ball lay on the ground. He picked it up and threw it. Gracie ran after the ball. She scooped it up, came back to him, and dropped it on the ground. He threw it again. Gracie took off. She snatched the ball, sniffed at the ground, and spread her legs.
He laughed. The ritual was complete.

Midnight. Jonathan lay in bed and stared at the ceiling. He recounted the conversation he had with his Dad. You gotta run, boy. Build yourself up. He imagined the sneer on his Dad’s face when he spoke those words. The secret fear of his childhood dripped cold water through his loins. Can’t be my son. Not this spaz. He heard those words in his mind although they had never been spoken.
He felt the rib that flared out on his left side. Tears crinkled in the corners of his eyes. As one drop dragged down his face to fall on his pillow, he clutched his right fist. He pounded the sheet. I’ll show them. I’ll show them all. I will get into shape.

Hot sun seared Jonathan’s shoulders and arms as he stood in front of his house. Gracie wandered about the yard with her ball in her mouth.
He inhaled deeply. Already his sleeveless t-shirt clung to his back from the copious sweat he exuded. He scratched his chest. The incoming hair itched. Long, baggy shorts draped his legs. The hem kissed his knees.
Gracie dropped her ball at his feet.
He picked it up and threw it. He would have preferred to do this instead of what he had purposed, but the Coach’s taunt rang in his ears. “Slow bo’.” He ran after his dog.

Three houses later, he stopped. Gracie was back. Both panted.

Sampson jogged along the street. As he came into view, Jonathan marveled at the sight. That’s what I want to be like.
Curly black hair licked around Sampson’s ears. 32, tall—about 6 feet, 3 inches, athletic, and shirtless, Sampson’s sweat clung to the crevasses that outlined his deep pectoral muscles and abdominal six-pack. The damp triangle on his cotton shorts that barely dipped below crotch level darkened the blue of the fabric.
Jonathan gaped in envy.
Sampson waved at the kid as he swept by.
Jonathan squeezed his eyes, grit his teeth, pumped his arms, and took a step. And another. And another. He forced himself down the block until he had to slow to a walk. For the first time in his life, he cursed.

It became a daily ritual. Sampson waved at Jonathan as he ran by. He noted that Sampson was often accompanied by one or two women as he ran along the street. Jonathan ceased to notice Sampson’s physique in the presence of bouncing sports bras, swishing hips in mini-shorts, tanned legs, and tight bottoms when he gazed behind him after they passed. His envy increased as he felt his shirt outline that rotten left rib that stuck out.

Each day Jonathan ran as much as he could. Soon he could go around the block without stopping. Gracie ran with him. He was glad. Having a friend along made the ordeal much easier. As he sweat like a pig, he began to carry a gallon milk jug to swig from as he forayed through the streets. He waved to Sampson and the women as they passed.
Gracie bounded alongside. She loved to dash ahead, return, chase squirrels, and investigate each sign post, often leaving a mark of her own.
Jonathan progressed. He now was able to make two circuits around the block without stopping, although he was slow and plodded more than ran. The day came when he decided to run through the neighborhood streets as far as he could to see how much distance he could cover.
Overhead, dark clouds boiled up to blot out the hot, summer sun. Gracie pawed at him. He threw the ball and ran with his water jug in his left hand.
Waves of humidity shimmered from the asphalt pavement. He downed a quarter of his jug and kept running. His shorts were soaked with his sweat. He felt additional rivulets slide through his waist, negotiate his nether region, and drip down his legs. He grinned. He hated to run, but the actual exertion gave him a pleasure of physicality he had not known before. Next time I’ll steal second.
Gracie came back to him. He pushed her away with his leg. He felt icky to have her fur smack against his sweaty leg.
He slowed to a crawl to greet Sampson.
“Run fast today,” Sampson said. “Fifteen minutes a mile is a walk. Ten minutes, you’re still too slow if you can talk. Get it under eight. That’s a rough storm overhead.”
Jonathan nodded. He swigged from his jug and offered it to Sampson, who shook his head.
“Gotta go. Run fast. Get under cover.”
Thunder rumbled. Jonathan looked up, shuddered, and took off. Gracie ran behind him.

Several streets flew by. The darkness put the neighborhood under shadow. A cold wind burst through the area. He chilled. Goose pimples puckered his arms. A greenish glow emanated from the dark clouds.
He looked around. He was off course. He had always avoided this part of the suburban sprawl that covered several hundred acres. He thought he knew the way, but everything looked different.
Huge drops of rain pockmarked the street. He ran. He gasped, but he still ran.

Sheets of rain wavered across the street to collapse against the houses. He bolted. Gracie barked.

Jonathan sucked at the air. The water jug slipped from his hand. He bent over and grabbed the hem of his shorts as his chest heaved. Rain crashed around him. Lightning struck nearby. The thunder smote his eardrums. He twisted his head to locate the target of the bolt. Gracie looked for her ball.
“In here, boy, in here!”
He saw a man wave from the safety of an open garage. With jerking steps, he rushed toward safety.
Gracie hung back. Her barks shattered the downpour. Lightning tore through a nearby pecan tree. 30,000 amperes sheared the main fork. With a grinding squeal, the wood screamed its protest. Gracie yelped and dashed after Jonathan. One-third of the tree slammed to the ground. The garage shook.
“Thank you, mister.” But the man was gone.
A motor hummed. A chain clinked. Jonathan turned around to stare at the garage door, which descended to trap Gracie and him in the garage.

If you like it, I’ll develop a novel.

webhub on November 26th, 2010

“Good stories have the capacity to make readers think who want to engage with the book on deeper levels, while entertaining those who don’t.” –G. Sampson, sample interview questions, in my media kit.

Above all, books have to appeal to buyers. I would rather sell a ton of books than win a pile of awards.

Happy Thanksgiving

webhub on November 16th, 2010

“The Governor’s feisty today,” whispered a business magazine journalist.
“Roseanne Maria Ariana, Network Poll. How do you respond to people who say your administration’s failure to prevent illegal dumping is a failure of your policies for safeguarding Florida’s natural resources?”
“How do you respond to readers who say that your failure to prevent typographical errors is a failure of your editorial policies?” [responded the Governor.]

“Mistakes happen. They’re no reflection on our rules for syntax, grammar, and spelling.”

“Likewise, criminals breaking the law do not equate to policy failures.”

Tattered Flags, written in 2005. (Before Chris Christie.)

webhub on November 16th, 2010

Nobody noticed the disappearances at first. This might seem odd for a small town in the rural South, but for the intersection of two major rail lines, north-south and east-west, which brought transients, freight-hopping hobos, headed south in the winter and elsewhere in the summer. The rail yard, which enveloped this transcontinental interchange, parked and switched freight, human and cargo, as it arrived on the tracks. Hobos camped in the woods. Trails from the rail yard, town, and highways led to the camp. Though it was permanent, its population was not; though its people changed, its character did not. It was a “dog eat dog” world of “might is right”. Consumed by the misery of their lives, men used robbery, theft, and violence as means of survival. Addicts that sought money for another bottle—the next hit–preyed upon the weaker men that were losers at life. Hobos left or disappeared all the time. The others were too busy or obsessed with their problems to care.

The disappearances began among the hobos.

—Power In the Blood, winner of the 2006-2007 P.O.W. award.