Monthly Archives: December 2009

Borders Bookshop RIP

No, that is not meant to be flippant. I have spent many hours in Borders, writing as well as browsing and drinking coffee. I took my Granddaughter to the Edinburgh shop when she was three and four, watching her as she sat with staff for readings of children’s books. She loves books. She is now ten and has just read, and understood, all of the Harry Potter series (and my own, unpublished, Keewatin). I hear that the Borders stores are now having clearance sales and have banners outside, slung across them like cheap discount shops. I will not go there, vulture-like, to pick over the stock. I also hear that the staff are remaining loyal to the end, despite the grief they are getting from a minority of customers. What timing! What a Christmas present for staff! I have also heard that one of the three Waterstones in Edinburgh might close. Time will tell if this correct or simply rumour. Big bookshops, it seems, are going the way of the dinosaurs and whether we like it or not the era of online buying / downloading is here to stay. I often browsed for music as well as books in Borders, more often than not finding and buying something I liked that I didn’t previously know about. Then they removed about three quarters of their CD displays, so I no longer bothered to browse, there wasn’t enough choice. Presumably, with the advent of easy web downloads, selling CDs became unprofitable. So will this happen (is this already happening?) with books? I used to have a shiny collection of vinyl, scratches and all. I liked reading the bumf on the sleeves, slipping the disc out (remember the way they rolled out?) and replacing it carefully after playing. Then came tape cassettes, I had a collection of those foul things. Compact discs eventually took their place, I have hundreds of them and I like them, they sit on my bookcase shelves (rather like books, actually…). But when I glance at them from the sofa I get a fleeting glimpse of an archaeopteryx flitting (did they ever flit?) past my window. Extinction, I fear, is beckoning my CDs, threatening to replace them with… well, nothing, actually, except for digital code on a chip or a disc drive, something ethereal, untouchable, gone with a drive crash. I have not yet downloaded music files from the web and have no intention of doing so until I am led screaming… etc. BUT I have downloaded eBooks books for my eReader, and if someone like me has started to do that, then things must really be changing (I am spanner-man, I like steel, oxy-acetylene cutters and tangible things). Will we lose our big bookshops? I hope not, it would be a sad loss. Very, very sad. What must they do to survive?

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Website up and running

Up and walking, more like. If it had been professionally constructed it might have cost me the best part of a thousand, (dollars, pounds or Euros, it doesn’t matter which), so the hours of anguish getting it right have been worth it. It’s years since I had to wrap my brain cells around computer code. They have formed a trades union and are still protesting from the effort. My brain is more used to writing. It has evolved from a policeman’s (you really don’t want to know…) to an engineer’s, to a geologist’s and then to a writer’s. Never again does it want to program (I haven’t told it that it might have to, I will break it to it gently, because my site is far from perfect). But at least it can now be read on screens smaller than that of a home cinema. Try it: www.richardwhittle.co.uk

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Website problems…

If you have clicked on my website, then humble apologies for the problems. It looks good on my own monitor, but I’m told it looks rubbish on some others. I have also been told the reason. We live and learn. My son (bless him) is helping me out.

…things have improved. Thanks to someone with more knowledge about constructing websites than I have, the title pages of my site are now readable on smaller screens than my own. With luck, the individual novel pages will soon follow. It all goes to show that a little knowledge really can be a dangerous thing. I should have read one of my own blogs – in this case I was the guy with the duck gun – talk about shooting yourself in the foot! And for those readers who have read all my blogs, you might have noticed that I have not given you the quick link to my blog entry about writers with dodgy websites…

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My new website

I can hardly believe that six weeks have gone by since I decided to build my own website. I have finally finished it. Well, finished it in the way they finish painting the Forth Bridge. How can you ever be satisfied with your own website? It’s like writing a book, there is a stage where you just have to stop editing and just let it go. So, if you want to see the website of a writer on a very reluctant ego trip then click this.

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The god in the machine

My Grandson thinks my garage is a brightly lit Aladdin’s Cave of goodies. He is not allowed in unescorted of course, and as is the case when he visits B&Q, he is allowed to touch very little. He recognises drills and hammers but the rest of the stuff is, I suspect, quite magical – which might explain the phone call I had from him recently. ‘We have to drive in the car and it’s foggy.’ ‘It’s not foggy here, it’s sunny.’ ‘We have to drive and Mummy won’t go if it’s foggy. Make it go away.’ I have done many strange things in my life, but making fog go away is not something I remember attempting. ‘I can’t do that. It has to go away on it’s own. The sun will do it.’ ‘You can make it go away. You can do it in your garage.’ Which only goes to show how much faith three year olds have in their Grandfathers. There are probably ways of fulfilling his request (have you heard of FIDO?) but it would need quite a bit of organisation and a supertanker-load of petrol. And it would do nothing to improve my personal carbon footprint.

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Playing trains

Picture this: A bus at a bus stop. Another one pulls up behind it (and you know how close to each other they get, they are very friendly indeed). A third bus pulls up and soon there are five, nose to tail. A delivery lorry stops right behind them, lowers its tailgate and starts to unload. And guess what? The front bus has broken down. I didn’t stay to watch, I got off and walked. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera.

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