Feeling snarky

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

And the comment part needs an apology in advance. The day is again cold and overcast, downright gloomy, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is not a laughing matter. So if I’m a bit grumpy don’t blame me, blame the weather. And then do something about it.

*** As many of you know, or even if you don’t, your friendly neighborhood bookseller depends quite heavily on the US Post Office. Make that, completely depends on the USPS. And over the past few years he has noticed the level of service at his local post office plunging. It’s not good. That’s not to say that the fine people working the counter are to blame, they’re not. Some are faster than others, true, but overall they work hard and fast and BBG has no complaints. Except that there aren’t enough of them.

My post office has 5 windows and usually only two are manned at any given time, regardless of how long the line may be. Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, there are three. A few weeks ago I walked in, the place was jammed with customers, but all five windows were manned and the employees were flying around like they were possessed. I knew at soon as I walked in that some bigwig must be in the house, and so it was: the local postmaster was paying a visit. Amazing what you can do when the boss is watching.

Anyway, we now learn that the post office wants to cut back on delivery days. Unlike the private sector, where poor service that leads to lower business means somebody gets the axe and somebody else increases the quality of the service provided, the government decides that if they can’t serve you in the proper fashion and you take your business elsewhere, instead of improving themselves they will just cut back on the level of service they provide. Brilliant. Instead of delivering mail 6 days a week they want to cut back to 5. Why 5, then? Why not 4, or 3 or 1? That would save lots of money.

The truly ironic part about this linked article is how it would affect ebay sellers. You have to laugh, don’t you? Ebay, which should have been flourishing as people try to sell their stuff to makes ends meet, is dying because of gross mis-management by a con man, and now the USPS wants to cut back because of mis-management. Ebay sellers must think they have been forsaken. Glad I’m no longer one of them, although I do depend on the post office.

I think I agree with the commercial: put firefighters in charge and get out of the way.

Post Office is tired from working semi-hard and needs a break

*** Speaking of ebay, their newest, and possibly their one-day-to-be biggest competitor, Bonanzle, topped the 1 million listing mark the other day. Pretty impressive stuff. The site now has over 23,000 members and the page hits are approaching a quarter million.

*** And while we’re on the ebay thing again, the con man John Donohoe has a new scheme up his sleeve: Fulfillment by Ebay. Essentially, sellers will ship their items to a central Ebay warehouse, who will them send them to the customers. Oh boy, doesn’t that sound like a good idea. The guy who drove the stock from $34 down to the $12-13 range wants sellers to trust him to deliver the goods. Really, you have to laugh. But what’s the most humorous is that some people are going to take him seriously and actually debate the merits of this lunacy.

*** The world has changed and I can now admit this: growing up, I was a comics guy. That’s right, I read and collected comic books, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I am, however, ashamed to admit that I sold them all off long ago. At one time I had a decent copy of X-Men #1, Spiderman #3 (and up), Conan #1-up, Avengers 1-66…well, I had some great stuff. Anyway, I wish I had been as smart as the guy in the article below, keeping them until I could donate them to a library and take the tax write-off. Not that I need a tax write-off these days.

Old friends in a new home

*** There is a project to digitize the books in the Library of Congress, to make them available to everyone. Assuming that whoever puts together the website where these could be used knows what they are doing, I think this is a fine idea. But, seeing as how I’m feeling cold and snarky today, I have to wonder whether a library maintained for the use of Congress has ever been used by one of the elected leaders in the Congress today. And I have to doubt it. For the Founding Fathers, of course, it was virtually mandatory. Indeed, after the British burned the original library it was re-started by Jefferson giving his personal library to the country. Today’s politicians seem too self-absorbed, though, too busy stepping in and out of limousines and giving press conferences, to actually sit down and read something. So if this project makes the rare works in the Library of Congress accessible to those who will read them, I think that’s just dandy.

*** Keeping with today’s theme, me being cold and tired of winter and overly critical, here’s an article on something that just offends the heck out of me: authors as brands. James Patterson and Stuart Woods are two examples of this, writers who don’t so much write as disgorge material that is, supposedly, theirs, but which I suspect is thrown together by others from some passing thought the Branded Writer throws out. Maybe that’s just me being cynical, but does James Patterson have time to actually write the 40 or 50 (or however many it really is) books that come out every year with his name on them? Is it even physically possible to do this? I know they use about an 18 point font and probably don’t have more than 30,000 words per book, but still.

Oh well. Maybe I just know too many worthy authors who either can’t get published, or can’t get noticed behind the stacks of Patricia Cornwell’s latest monstrosity at the chain bookstore. I think of all the good stuff out there lost in the drek and am sad. Or maybe it’s just me. I’ll let you decide.

Authors as Corn Flakes

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