I am an avid reader, and have a particular weakness for second hand bookstores (“fascinating” I hear you cry) … I can’t seem to pass by one without picking up a bargain. This has yielded both unexpected success and disappointing failure. In both cases said tomes end up residing somewhere on a bookshelf in my house. The net result of this is that I now have far too many books, a fact that was brought home to me in the past month. We are currently remodeling our home, and in preparation I spent what seemed like a whole day packing paperback and hardback books into boxes and then lugging them down the cellar. (Add in my wife’s large format design books and that’s a backache right there). There are now several teetering towers of book boxes taking up one whole end of said cellar. I decided something had to change (so first off, look out for many of my books on Amazon/ thrift stores/ my street in the coming months) but I also decided that I need a new way to read without acquiring mounds of paperbacks. Here’s what I found …

flying books

First off, the public library obviously can’t be beat. But there are other options out there, too, that can keep my acquisitive reading habit in check.For eco-friendly, instant-gratification, new millenial reading, there is obviously the Kindle (though – in a chronic piece of mismanagement by Amazon – it’s sold out at least until February 2009).

I have also found pay services such as BookSwim (inevitably: Netflix for book lovers), which allows you to hold paperbacks or hard covers for as long as you want. What’s not to like? Well, they emailed saying the plans start at $9.95 a month. That’s not technically untrue, but the deal is actually $9.95 for the first month for the least expensive plan. After that, it jumps to $19.98. A rather tired bait and switch.

BooksFree isn’t free, though shipping is. You can sign up for $9.99 a month, which gets you two paperback books at a time.

America’s BookShelf has a slightly more complicated, but less expensive setup. There’s an annual fee of $12 and you’ll need to be willing to share the books on your bookshelves. Each book you receive will set you back $3.50.

BookMooch takes a different tack. There are no costs, except for mailing. Give someone a book, earn a point which you can redeem to get a book. A similar concept for paperbacks at PaperBack Swap, which has a printable postage option.

BookCrossing is essentially a catch-and-release idea—books are left in the “wild” for you to pick up, read, and then return to a public place. Right now there are 28 books in NYC.

And to help you select your next book, check out:



What Should I Read Next

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

JWT’s Mad Men

I came across an article in AdWeek: “JWT this week said that it would run a brand spot on the upcoming release of the Mad Men DVD set, featuring creative that spells out the words “mad men” using letters and logos from the ad agency’s global client roster. The spot, which carries the tagline, “Making brands famous since 1864,” appears at the outset of the first disc in a four-disc set produced by Lionsgate.” You can see the ad here.


JWT’s global CEO Bob Jeffrey gave a rather flabby explanation as to the rationale, objectives and success metrics surrounding this effort: “This is an opportunity for us to leverage our brand,” he said. “All I’m looking for is a nod of the head and recognition for what JWT is… The show has drawn audience of both consumers and industry people, giving JWT a platform that is hard to refuse”, he added.

“Leverage our brand” … “nod of the head” … “consumers and industry people”. Well, I will forgive Bob for having been away from the sharp end of writing business presentations, but … really.

Bob continues: “I always thought that the best way to build an agency is through the work it does for its clients, but this was a different kind of opportunity because of the nature and the content of the show.”

“A different kind of opportunity”. OK.

I guess I have two “issues” with this effort:

1. Why would JWT – long thought of as a dinosaur (or pre-digital anachronism) and only recently reinventing itself as an Agency for the new era (Digitivity Deep Dive Days and all) – want to associate itself with the “good old days of” the 1960s? It seems that, rather than embracing the new landscape, JWT rejects 2008 as dystopic, and would like instead to travel back in time to the old utopia of the 1960s. I might give them a pass on this as wanting to celebrate their heritage, but still think that attaching themselves to that specific era is an odd move.

2. Maybe I am being a tedious comms planner here, but isn’t using mass-market DVDs to reach the marketing community a teensy bit wasteful? As Booz Allen’s Chris Vollmer says: “It suggests that some of the people watching these DVDs must be important influencers somewhere” He also notes “It’s an industry play rather than a consumer play, because I can’t see how it would make sense to a consumer.”

“Some” of the people who will watch are “Influencers”. Hmm. So, assuming JWT paid market rate for this, whichever bright spark at JWT that came up with this idea had to present the budget for approval, look his superior unblinkingly in the eye and say “Probably less that 1% of those who see this will be our target audience”. So: take whatever JWT paid for this, multiply it by .99 and that is how much money they wasted.

And DVDs? Who buys them any more? I thought we all downloaded these days?

I am not the only one who is perplexed. Says Simon Sinek, CEO of SinekPartners: “It sounds like someone reacting to an opportunity to me, and in doing so, JWT is acting like one of their own worst clients”. Steve Hall at AdRants, whose headlines I always enjoy, wrote the immortal line “JWT Uses ‘Mad Men’ DVD Set to Wank Off”. No comment!

If there was a cleverly thought out play to “insert JWT in the national dialogue” (or similar) surrounding this effort, then I can see a glimmer of hope. And if I have missed anything any key points here, in the unlikely event anyone at JWT reads this and would care to enlighten me, please don’t hesitate!