Archive for August 2012
Last Saturday I joined the kids at the Doctor Who Club of Victoria for their games meeting. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t go for the games as I’m just not into that kind of thing but I do like the vibes when others are playing, what I went for was to put some books on a table with the hope of selling some. The meeting was great fun and I may go again, the next meeting is on the 20th October. While they had a Doctor Who computer game running and a Doctor Who board game with a miniature TARDIS in the centre of the board they also had other games. The people in front of me were playing a Garfield game with hamburgers, pizzas and other food printed on bits of cardboard. They all seemed to be having a great time and the vibes were lovely.
Yesterday I went to the Small Business Big Marketing conference as part of Victoria’s Small Business Festival run by Small Business Victoria. If you’re running a business or just in the process of starting out or even just thinking about it then this website is the place to be and this is the festival you should be following for next year. There were only three seminars run by Peter Williams the CEO of Deloitte Digital, Dominic Thurbon, MD of ChangeLabs and Paul McCarthy, Australia’s RockStar Marketer, and while they were useful the real business was held in the room next door where there were about 20 stalls and you could spend time talking to someone at each and every one of them. They included the Small Business Mentoring Service who were giving away free mentoring sessions and I managed to snaffle a few minutes with a very nice man. I was excited to meet Suzi Dafnis of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network, I’ve seen her around the twittersphere and blogosphere and we shared a moment with our names before moving onto other things. It was a very worthwhile morning, I walked away energised with freebies and a stack of information. If you get the chance to see Paul McCarthy in action I strongly recommend taking it as he was a wonderful speaker.
Last night was date night with the OH, we went to an amateur theatre production called Chaim’s Love Song presented by JYM theatre. It was lovely, I laughed, I cried and overall had a good time. It officially starts tomorrow, I was very lucky to get tickets to the preview, there were lots of friends to catch up with. We saw how Chaim and Sara come together and finally admit to each other how they love each other, we see all of this through a new friendship between Chaim and Kelly. Intertwined with this we see the effect the Holocaust had on so many Jews. They showed us how some people choose nicknames to show their state of mind. It was both happy and sad and there were so many highlights.
In which I talk about the origins and behind the scenes on Squid Ink.
This is the earliest squid I still have. It’s about two centimetres tall, and drawn (as best as I can remember) entirely in pencil. It normally lives on my bookshelf. The design has altered a little since then.
I drew it for a school project, which tells you something about how long I’ve had this character for. I then drew it all through the rest of school. I put it aside for a while after that, until I was asked to come up with an idea for a webcomic about books. I decided to use an original character, so I went for something I knew how to draw. The rest is Squid Ink.
I had one of those moments this week where I suddenly started believing in the goodness of people and their ability to make presents rather than buy them. Don’t get me wrong, a bought present is lovely but there’s far more thought and care taken in making a present. A tweet about it from a friend caught my eye and made me smile.
This is it:
Just found a MP3 file my family had hidden as a birthday present of them reading Dr Seuss’ Sleep Book, page turn sounds and all. @pat
This tweet was followed up by another:
Not that I want to make people jealous, but it’s just further proof that my family is super amazing.
Questions elicited the information that the MP3 file was on a USB drive delivered to him from Melbourne to his current place of residence in Edinburgh by some friends.
I think to understand how good this present really is you need some background information. Pat is an adult, he is the Founding Director of the First Australian Discworld Convention held in Melbourne in 2007 and I first met him when I found out about Nullus Anxietas and decided I needed to get out so I volunteered to join the committee. He’s a lovely young man, extremely capable and a co-Founder of Trampoline a self-organising convention which just looks so awesome, one day I’ll attend. Pat’s family is just lovely and supported him with Nullus Anxietas, giving him much useful advice and actually attending the event, I was able to tell them how impressed I was with him.
Let’s have a closer look at this present. It’s a children’s book, written by one of the very best writers of children’s books, so that’s all good. It’s going to an adult who obviously loved this book so much as a child and his family must have known that and took the time to read it aloud into a computer. They’ve made it as authentic as they could and included the sounds of the pages being turned to make him feel as if he’s really there.
Further discussion with Pat gave me this information:
It’s worth noting that they managed to get my sister and her husband taking part as well from South Australia, plus the snoring of their dog to add to the sleepy ambience. My parents, my siblings and their partners all took turns reading pages, before reading the last page together.
Then, just to add to the experience they ‘buried’ it on an MP3 drive, Pat is ‘sort of into computers’ being a programmer and all. His tweets show how pleased he was to find it and how awesome he thinks his family is. I just love this kind of present.
If you’ve received a really special present I’d love to hear the story, please leave a comment below.
I haven’t managed to twist anyone’s arms for Mondayitis today and there’s a new player on the Australian secondhand books market making things much harder for everyone so I’ve decided a diatribe/rant is in order.
It’s been getting increasingly harder to sell books in Australia. Thanks to the UPU we have agreements with various countries’ postal services to send their parcels for a certain price once they hit our shores, despite it actually costing far more. This has been getting increasingly challenging over the past few years since companies like Book Depository started up, they are receiving large discounts from Royal Mail to post outside the UK which is being very heavily subsidised by AusPost once they hit Australia, meaning they can offer free post. Books are also much cheaper over the UK as they have more people and when you have a bigger market you can negotiate lower prices, so it’s possible to buy a brand new book from them and have it shipped here for less than our bookshops can buy it wholesale.
There are some very big players on eBay. People like BordersOnline, The Nile Australia, Booktopia Books, Oodals Store, Angus and Robertson Outlet and so many others with more coming onboard regularly. Most of these are dropshippers and don’t actually have the books on hand so they have to be shipped from somewhere outside the country. Many listings show they’ve dropped the publisher’s catalogues directly into eBay without bothering to add anything new, postage time can sometimes be rather long and far too often the item is poorly packed or out of stock and you don’t find out till some time later.
Add to this mix is World Of Books Australia, a new player on the market. This is the first secondhand book megastore on eBay and they’re also trying it out on the web with their website. They collect books from charities and at this time they’re only collecting from overseas and haven’t started collecting from Australian charities. They say they’re actually buying them but I do wonder if they’re giving the charities good value for money. As with most of the other companies I’ve mentioned above I don’t believe they’re paying GST or tax to the ATO so they’re virtually operating in Australia but not playing by our taxation rules.
Today there are almost 9 million book listings on eBay. The Nile Australia has 1.8 million listings, Booktopia has 1.5 million and World of Books Australia a paltry 500,000 books. Bear in mind the first two specialise in new books and World of Books in secondhand books, that’s a lot of books. This makes it hard for us small people to be visible on eBay. On their listings World of Books Australia state the book is in Wahroonga, NSW but that location turns out to be a P.O. Box for a solicitor (it must be one crowded P.O. Box) while sending it from the UK by so called “Express Post”. They don’t even have a photo or a proper description for the book so you’ve very little idea until it arrives if it’s going to be what you want.
I don’t mind people buying some books from overseas as sometimes the book you want just isn’t in the country but when there’s plenty of people selling here who actually have the book on hand and don’t have to have it shipped 15,000 kms then I begin to get a bit irate. It’s impacting not just my sales, but sales of my friends and so many bookshops both new and used. It’s definitely having an impact on the book economy here and I worry about the future if we don’t have a book economy here because everything’s coming from overseas. Just imagine, no bookshops for either new books or secondhand books, where will you browse? Not a future I want for my country.
Backs are sort of important, they’re the cornerstone of your whole body and when things go wrong with them then you’re in trouble. I have an uncomfortable relationship with my back and see the physio regularly for a tune up.
The last six months or so I’ve been wondering how much longer I’d be able to continue with the books and I’ve tried to minimize the number of books I buy and maximize the number I sell in an effort to reduce my stock and this has worked to a small extent but I still have a lot of books and at the rate I’m selling I have enough stock for at least 20 years without actually buying any more. The problem is my back and with the amount of trouble I’ve had in the past few weeks I’m thinking I really need to stop trying to earn money by selling something heavy which aggravates the whole back thing.
I have been anticipating this as while I only admit to being 18 I do realise I’m not and am feeling the effects of age, I started the process of repositioning my blog to try and make money with other means, you will have noticed the recent competition. I’m also attempting to sell my proofreading and writing skills, hopefully a part time job will be on the horizon as well as other income streams. I’m hoping something will work.
I was very careful, took all my pain meds and did so little around the house and I was given clearance to do the market only two days prior on the understanding other people help me with the boxes. I was worried my physio might tell me I have to stop lifting boxes of books completely. I thought I might be forced to get rid of them all very quickly, thank goodness everything I didn’t do paid dividends and I am back to my normal aches and pains.
How do I feel about this?
Mostly relieved, I am getting very sick of having books all around, there are so many boxes and I’d really like to tidy up and move on. There is a little regret as some of my books are worth quite a bit and I’d hate to give them away but if I keep any part of the selling I will slip back into having lots of books so I’m developing a clear plan to get rid of all of the books I have to sell and only keeping the ones I want to keep or read. That will still be far too many and will add a couple of boxes to my already groaning shelves but I will be getting rid of books as I read them and will be focussed on not keeping them unless they’re ones I want to read again. Having said that I am finding it problematic to find a buyer for the part-work magazines and as I don’t want to just give them away to an op shop who might not see the value in them and send them for pulping I have decided to keep them going for the time being. I guarantee it will be interesting continuing to look for part-work magazines and the few books I want to flesh out my collections while not buying other books to sell.
How can you help?
Go through the stock listed on the website, buy what you want and then email me your list of wanted books as I have at least a thousand books still uncatalogued, I will give you a good price and reduce postage if I can. By this time next year I anticipate being totally clear of books to sell.
What am I resigning from?
Just selling books. I still plan on writing the blog, Mondayitis will continue and Squid Ink will continue for as long as he is capable. I will be continuing to bug people on Twitter but I’m not certain about the Facebook page, it does have a cool name, I Like Books is awesome but people don’t really seem to be as interested in it and while I’ll be diverging a little most of my focus will remain on books.
This will give me the freedom to speak on a wider range of topics so you will read more about current affairs and my thoughts on them. Until now I’ve felt I really had to focus mainly on books and bookish related topics.
Squid comment: I decided to try my tentacle at colour art. At the same time, I wondered what was thought of me, so I looked in the obvious place: a dictionary. The dictionary was intriguing; however, colour did not work so well. I am not that shade of orange.
The book was written by Enid Bagnold in 1935 and filmed in 1944 only nine years later (just proving I can do the maths), MGM billed it as a ‘heart drama’. There are many differences between the book and film as there almost always are and I can tell you some of the reasons but not others.
The book is about 250 pages and if you were to transfer it directly from print to film I believe it works out at roughly one minute per page which makes a four hour movie, a bladder buster in most people’s language. MGM got it down to 123 minutes making it much easier to view, but in order to do that things get lost and other things get rewritten to accommodate the loss. So instead of taking the relationships between the family members and building it up slowly you’ve got to show them much faster in short snippets.
The story is much the same. Velvet Brown is horse mad and just wants to ride, she ends up winning a horse in a raffle and from there rides him in the Grand National horse race.
Some of the changes.
Mi Taylor (played by Mickey Rooney) is not a trusted staff member but comes along at the beginning of the movie. He has a different agenda and wants to get as much out of people as he can, even to the point of planning to steal everything he can from the Browns, this changes as he gets to know them and finds Velvet trusts him implicitly.
In the book everyone knows from very early on that Mi Taylor’s father coached Mrs Brown across the Channel, but in the book this is left as a cliff hanger for Mi and he’s not told until the very last moments and even then we only see the very beginning of the discussion from afar and can’t even hear Velvet tell him.
In the book Mrs Araminty Brown is a solid woman with a good solid body and it’s quite easy to imagine her being able to swim the Channel in her youth. Anne Revere does an excellent job as Mrs Brown and everything about her is right except she’s far too thin, she’s just not solid enough. It’s just like the Poirot movies on TV, David Suchet looks the part but there were a short series of movies made in the 1980s with Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot and he has the part down pat, it’s just a pity he looks wrong.
The change I find the most interesting is what they did with Velvet Brown and Mi Taylor. The dynamics were mostly right but in the book Velvet just wanted the horse to run and do his best while Mi had all the ideas and did all the work with getting everyone to the Grand National, finding a Polish jockey who wouldn’t be riding and ‘borrowing’ his papers so Velvet would be able to take his place, while the movie shows it to be mostly Velvet’s ideas with Velvet rejecting the jockey due to his lack of ideals and then persuading Mi to help her by cutting her hair and walking her through all the procedures. Basically they’ve made Velvet be much more forthright and far less wishy washy than the book, she’s far less of a dreamer and much more of a doer.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoyed both book and film. I loved seeing Elizabeth Taylor in her first big role and I always enjoy seeing Mickey Rooney, he’s such a good actor. It was great to get a different picture of a life totally different to mine. Angela Lansbury played Velvet’s older sister and it was lovely seeing her in her youth, she hasn’t changed all that much. I could rave on forever about the different actors but I won’t, I’ll let you go.
Today’s Mondayitis brings you the delightfully quirky Lincoln.
What do you read?
I mainly read non-fiction, but have a degree in English Literature, so…
I read books, articles and blogs that cover areas such as business and personal development, coffee industry news and issues and social media opinion. I also read the Bible.
Why do you read?
I read to grow my knowledge of subjects I’m interested in, and also for enjoyment. I really like learning new things and being challenged by ideas.
Can you do the Safety Dance while reading?
I can walk through crowded streets, hang upside down, or dance while reading. I prefer the chicken dance, though.
Are you a rabid Discworld/Twilight/Harry Potter fan and would you attend a flash mob dressed as your favourite character?
My “favourite character” involves wearing a mankini, so…maybe.
Lincoln roasts and tastes coffee for kicks. He’s a Type 1 diabetic, a data visualisation enthusiast and a purveyor of fine dad jokes. He is known to abuse ellipses. He loves his partner, his kids and reading… You can follow him on Twitter.
Last Saturday I had a very special morning, there was a Bat Mitzvah on at the Synagogue and I’d been asked to sit at the door and be the meet and greet person. My duties were to smile, say hello and hand them a prayer book. Normally it’s very easy but this day the family was very well known and I expected around 150 people in a room that normally holds about 110. When I got there the furniture had been moved to include more chairs and they’d set chairs upstairs as well.
Some explanations might be in order. I belong to a Progressive Synagogue which means men and women are treated equally, in this case it means that a 13 year-old girl will have a Bat Mitzvah, the female equivalent of a Bar Mitzvah, or a coming of age. The only difference between the two is the name, one is the masculine word and the other the feminine word.
It was a very busy morning and I was grateful they had scheduled another person with me so we were able to divide and conquer our duties. I knew a lot of the people and so she handed out books etc while I was still talking.
We both left our posts for a very short while and my prayer book disappeared, I borrowed one from the shelf and gave that away, kept on doing that until I ran out of books and had to go from memory, I have a lot to learn. My book came back later with all the others.
The Special Parts
The girl in question did a fabulous job.
There were a number of little kids around and I got to watch and smile. One 15 month-old interacted very nicely with a gentleman over 80 and I had tears in my eyes just watching.
Lots more special parts but either two days later I’ve forgotten or I’m going to respect their privacy.