“Where the Hell is My Money!”

A couple of weeks back I was making the rounds of the city with a friend of mine when he points at a high rise and tells me he bought an apartment unit in the upper floors. Great! “So what are your plans? What do you intend to do with it?” He already had wonderful living quarters and he must have other plans for the apartment unit. He hasn’t yet decided. The construction started some seven plus years ago. What? And they haven’t finished a single block of apartment in all those years! (In some places they could have built much of a new city given the advanced technology in the industry!) Maybe my friend was behind in his payment. No, he wasn’t. In fact he had settled the entire payment a couple of years back. The reason was that they are giving the place the finishing touches and the conventional wisdom is that when it comes to the construction business finishing is one hell of a time consuming undertaking. Hmm… My friend says otherwise. It is already years since they claimed they are ‘almost finished.’

Some of the most upsetting, even offensive messages and calls that come in via your smart phones are from real estate agencies. There are so many of them these days help but crack a joke or two. Previously a few people open boutiques in parts of the city and all of a sudden it seems the entire city is going into the business. No wonder we sometime feel the same about the real estate industry.

Of course as of recent times the real estate business seems to be not a very attractive undertaking. It is said the number of house buyers has dropped drastically and many of the real estate crowd are nearing the red lines with some already waist deep if we’re to believe the rumor mill. We need economists to tell us what is meant by the number of home buyers dropping and what the outstanding reasons were.

Your cell rings and you see at the caller’s number; a new number. And as curious as you are you answer, “Hello!” not much music in your voice. But the voice from the other end is usually measured and tuned for maximum effect. Mostly you hear female voices. “My name is so and so and I’m calling from…” Many times without asking if you were interested to hear all about the real estate some of them delve into telling you that their real estate was one of a kind, adhering to modern standards and run by highly skilled efficient architects trained locally and abroad. “…We remain committed to the agreed timetable and…” ‘Hey! Cut it out!’ Of course you wouldn’t want to startle a young lady with such a musical voice. Others ask you if you are interested as should be the case. Now I think that’s more professional.

Now, to the beef of the issue. I told you my friend has paid the entire cost a couple of years back and he still doesn’t know when he’d see the inside of his apartment unit. Now it’s one of those ‘follow the money” scenarios. The fact that he has paid every last cent expected of him means that the builders don’t face any financial risk. They have already collected their profits; what more do they want! I mean the fact they have already made their profits there is no way the books go into the red! So the guy has paid everything, he is still waiting for the keys to is apartment to be handed to him I’d not blame him If he ran to the top of the nearest mountain and shout; “What the hell did they do with my money!” Isn’t that the question on many people on his position lips! The rumors are that after collecting their money they turn their attention to their other building sites and put the construction in those places into higher gear. Someone was telling me not to fall to the 95% complete. 90% complete narratives. His logic is that things on the ground aren’t as the numbers sound. The remaining five or ten percent might take half the time already spent! The money law abiding clients usually goes into other ventures while they still wait with folded arms to be handed what they paid for in the agreed time.

Such rumors of clients’ money being used for other ventures are rampant in the book publishing industry. (In fact I’m not sure there is anything as book publishing industry in this country. We’re so drastically left behind in that sector!) Here is how things generally happen. Say authors take their manuscripts to individual book sellers. By the way, while any substantiated research is lacking, one could say that for decades the most book were published individual book sellers and not so-called publishing enterprises. It’s easy to take one look at their not very impressing shops and concluding “It must be a miracle how they can stay in business selling books in such places!” Well these very people are behind most of the books in the market. Had it not been for their involvement most books would never have seen the light of day. It could be said that for decades they have been the one who carried much of the book publishing weight despite their shops which may time than not are not your idea of a place you want to come visit the next day again.

Any ways the story here is that you enter into an agreement to have your book published. The publisher pays for the printing and if things go right after the printing cost and other expenses are deducted the author usually gets 30%-40% (usually 40% and sometimes a little higher) while the publisher takes 70% or 60% of the net profit. Not bad when you see the surface but that is not all. The publishers who are the distributors could have sold every copy of the book in a couple of months you should have gone home whistling to the bank having takeng your share. It’s not at all that easy.

First of all most of the time you’d be a blessed person if the publisher tells you the book is sold out. No. Not in your widest dream would this happen. You’ll probably be told he hasn’t they haven’t yet got back the printing cost! Mind you your share of 30% or 40% is the publisher and what do you think he does with it! For the printing of other books! You too can say, “Where the hell is my money!” of course those close to the book publishing business know the whole story.

So be it the real estate business or book publishing ventures the “Where the hell is my money!” inquiry shows no sign of weakening.

Ephrem Endale: Contributer


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