I haven’t really given much commentary on the traditional publishing v. e-publishing, or printed books v. e-books – ok, so I haven’t done much commentary on anything lately. I know, I know. (So, actually, forgive the long post – I had a lot to say, and you haven’t had to listen to me for about a year now, according to the date on my last post). Anyway, there’s been plenty of material on that subject by more experienced voices, so I didn’t feel the need to add mine to the mix.
But, since I’m done with the Createspace rush, I’ve started catching up with some of my online blogs. I read an interesting couple of articles today that got me thinking about it – or at least online shopping in general. These articles discussed the possibility that in the nearish future, food might be facing the same predicament. Or at least, grocery stores. I find this pretty hard to imagine. I mean, it’s not like I enjoyed going grocery shopping with my parents when I was younger. I mean, the food they made was great, but I had more interesting things to focus on than the ingredients and prep for dinner (like books! Seriously, just because my parents wanted food was no reason for me to stop paying attention to whatever I was reading).
But now that I’ve been cooking for myself more often, I go to the grocery store at least once a week. It’s still a bit of a chore to get myself out of the house, but once I’m there, I enjoy picking out fruits and vegetables. I try to plan my meals ahead of time, and mostly stick to a grocery list, but there’s usually something there that pulls at me and makes me want to grab it. And there’s something to just looking around and thinking “well, that looks good.”
On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed picking out a book in Barnes and Noble or Borders and sitting in the comfy chairs, or even finding a spot on the floor if the chairs were all full, and just reading. I could lose myself completely in the pages. And yet, I jumped on the Amazon bandwagon pretty shortly after I heard about it. I thought it might have been even earlier, but Amazon has my purchases as far back as 2000, and I’ve almost never had a problem with them. And it’s just about the first place I look when I want to buy, or even price anything. And e-books? Well, I’ve still got shelves overflowing with print books. I still buy them, and I still read them. But I’ve also got a Sony e-reader that I love reading on, and an iphone with a Kindle app, an ereader, and Goodreader for pdfs and other documents.
Clothes? It makes sense to try them on before you buy them. You never know when the cloth may not drape quite right, and it will very often look different on you than it does on the model or the mannequin. But honestly? I probably do about 75% of my clothes shopping online now. I mean, I’ve kept pretty good track of my measurements since high school, since I usually had them taken for costuming in theater. I might have been skeptical at first, but nowadays, it seems that a lot of the online retailers provide the exact measurements of a garment, rather than just a Small, Medium, or Large tag, and make it easy for me to know whether that dress is going to be just a bit tight there, or whether that shirt is going to be falling off of me. And since these retailers don’t have the same overhead the brick-and-mortar stores do, they can sell the clothes for cheaper (cheap-er, not necessarily cheap). It eventually comes down to whether or not I trust the seller, and lately, while I still try to do my research, I’m more and more likely to give the online stores a shot.
But food is different, right? I mean, we’re talking about perishable items here, that need to be kept cold, and probably shouldn’t be sitting on my doorstep for half a day. I mean, this is stuff that I’m going to be putting in my body (and hopefully, seriously enjoying). Food is a different beast from clothing or books or electronics – it’s a lot harder to look at a picture of an orange on the computer screen, and think “The oranges that arrive on my doorstep are going to look exactly like that.” There’s also the fact that food tends to involve more of our senses than other products. Sure, sight’s everywhere, and people may make some purchases based on touch (I find it very hard to resist velvet). But when it comes to food, everything matters – the sound a coconut makes when you tap on it, the smell of ripe strawberries…. And taste. You should see me when I spot a sample cart at H-E-B with freshly made guacamole and chips. It. Is. Heaven – the tangy avocado almost melting on my tongue, and onions, and tomatoes (yes, I know some guac purists will be horrified by all the additional ingredients, but I love a bit of onion and tomato in my guac). How could I possibly leave grocery shopping to some unfaced entity?
It comes down to trust, really. We want our food to be fresh, healthy and delicious. As a society, or even as individuals, can we trust others to start picking our food for us and delivering it to our doorstep like everything else? To a certain extent, we already have. CSAs are popping up all over the place, and I’ve had my eye on one or two myself. The only thing stopping me is that, much as I love my vegetables, I don’t actually use that much every couple of weeks, since I’m mostly just cooking for myself. I can imagine liking the idea of picking out what I wanted online, and saving myself a trip to the grocery store . Some comments in the articles talk about how they’ve already abandoned grocery stores by going to the farmers’ market, but for the purposes of this question, I think that’s the same thing. You’re still going out and getting out your own groceries. I do think it’s a different experience than going to a regular grocery store, but it lacks the convenience of online shopping, assuming you’re willing to wait for it to be delivered.
I could easily see a new model of grocery store in the future, based online, similar to how some of the CSA’s I’ve looked at operate. A stock inventory picture displayed online, and getting some fresh apples becomes as easy as clicking on a button. Now, I’ve got a pretty good imagination, but a good product description can get my mouth watering nearly as much as the food itself. And there are definitely companies who produce specialty and artisan products, some of them perishable, that do deliver. If I trust a company to pick out good, fresh products for my basket, and deliver them safely to my door, there isn’t a downside to this. The key is going to be my trust that what I see on the website is what I’m going to get on my doorstep. Maybe the “store” could focus on properly storing food, rather than displaying them for customers, acting as a warehouse. I think I’d like to see local “stores” who can advertise fresh, local products, and deliver them to my door (probably not driving from halfway across the country). Or maybe the company could act as a buyers’ club, finding potential buys, listing them for customers to buy, and then ordering from the manufacturers (I’m not sure that this is how all buyers’ clubs work, but I think some of them do). Either way, perhaps without the overhead of setting up product displays and other ads, maybe the cost of the food itself could come down.
I don’t think grocery stores will disappear altogether, at least not in the near future. I don’t do it often, but there’s been times when I’ve had to make a last minute run to the store for an ingredient. Until they invent a reliable method to teleport food to my door as soon as I order it, neither online shopping, CSAs, or farmer’s markets will be able to replace that last minute convenience (God knows I’ve been grateful before that my H-E-B is a 24-hour one. And I’m willing to bet I’d miss the sensory indulgence of actually being surrounded by different foods that I might want to try. This is maybe where the farmers’ markets come into play more – it would be more about the experience and luxury of shopping for your food, rather than the necessity to have food. And while stores might be able to save on certain overhead costs, they’ll have to start budgeting for packaging and shipping instead.
Whether or not online shopping for groceries becomes more popular, I think it will take awhile – grocery stores will have time to adjust their approach to sales, and customers will have time to build up their trust of online companies, and decide who they want to shop from.___________________________________________________________
Hey, lookit here!
I write like Anne Rice, huh? I can deal with that. No matter that I haven’t actually read anything since Interview With a Vampire……7….8….9 years ago? I still enjoyed it. Maybe I should pick it up and try out the rest of the Vampire Chronicles again. Not sure why I never got around to reading them.
Now, if the quiz had said I wrote like Stephanie Meyer………
There would be blood.
Fun quiz for writers. ^_^ Thanks to @slushpilehell for the link.
So, anyway, since it’s been about forever and a day since the last time I posted, I figured it was about time I picked up again. Today, just a bit about my life these past several months, just because. The short version:
1. Finished NaNoWriMo (Can’t remember if I posted anything about that on Muse’s Block. Whatever). I got a little over 50,000 words written in Past Returns. I’ve got an idea where that one is going, but I’m not quite sure how to get it there yet. Only time will tell (and possibly this year’s NaNoWriMo. Hopefully, I can get another 50,000 words into that. Wonder why I can’t do that all the time? Oh yeah, all this stuff).
2. Went to Japan. I have been wanting to do this for years. Japan is awesome, and I want to go back. But, when I can speak the language a lot better. I’m working on that bit.
3. Learning Japanese. So, shortly before I went to Japan, a friend recommended JapanesePod101 to me to learn. Funny enough, I didn’t decide to kickstart my Japanese learning until after I got back from Japan. Go figure. I decided to start from the beginning, and I’m currently somewhere in 2006. Need to pick that up again. Also, I started using James Heisig’s Remembering the Kana and Remembering the Kanji Books to learn the reading. So far, I’ve learned fboth the kana sets, and I’ve been using an iPhone app to review them from time to time so I don’t forget. I started on Remembering the Kanji, but I haven’t gotten very far yet. Need to pick that up again, too. I’ve got a few other resources to work with – just need to get moving again.
4. And then there was work. I spent a lot of time earlier this year after I came back from Japan catching up with stuff at work. I will not talk about work much here, but between jetlag>insomnia>being-unable-to-stick-to a regular sleep schedule, and having a regular 8-to-5 job at The Office, a toll was took, and took and took. I’m still paying it. I’ve taken some steps to help out with that. They’ve helped somewhat.
5. I have been living in this place for almost4 years now. It needs a name. I think I’ll call it the Disaster Zone. For today, at least (my parents would probably agree with that). Anyway, the Disaster Zone had white walls. All over the place, white white white white white. It is no longer white. Well, at least the downstairs isn’t. It’s a light sage green and a light, cloudy blue. The blue wasn’t supposed to be cloudy, but I’ve decided that it works. ^_^ So it is.
6. And then there was June. Circling back to November, Createspace, wonderful Createspace made an offer to the winners that we couldn’t refuse. One proof, one free proof copy of our novel. The catch? We had to use the code by June 30th. There was a little confusion on the date, but the deadline was June 30th. So, June became a mad rush of uneasy procrastination resulting in a marathon editing session of Divinity the weekend before, and spending a couple of days focuses on the cover art. I barely made it in time. The results can be seen here. Pretty, isn’t it? It’s just a rough draft, n a cover of my making, but it makes me happy. The fact that I can hold a book in my two hands, feel and smell the paper as I turn the pages, and realize I created it……….. it’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I’m not going to order any more copies of it. Not right now. There needs to be some improving done before more of these get into circulation. But damn. What an incentive to get it there.
7. I’m playing D&D again. It’s an online group, about once a week (And no, I’m not talking about DDO. I have an account, and it’s fun, but I can never keep up with playing MMOs for long periods of time. I get too addicted, and I have too much other stuff to do. On the other hand, I’m also thinking of joining Fantasy Earth Zero. I mean seriously, a free MMO by Square Enix? I have Greg Dean to thank for cluing me in to that one). Anyway, I’m playing a character I created for an older campaign. I didn’t really get much of a chance to exercise her talents in that campaign as I had to move soon after we started, but the game so far has been a blast. I’m working on creating yet another character, but I’ll talk about him later. Hopefully, after I get a portrait drawn of him.
So, there’s pretty much the first half of my year for you. I’m slowly starting to get back into the critiquing groove. I’d been so focused on writing and editing my own work , that I hadn’t gotten much of a chance to look at others’ and it’s good to be catching up with all the stuff on the internets. I feel like I’ve been missing out on so much, but there never really seemed to be a good time to catch up.
As for Muse’s Block….. I said it would continue, and it will. I know I’m stuck in the storyline I started last October. I think I need to redraw the next strip. I’m hoping that I’ll have time to work on that again soon. Part of doing that comic, however, is aimed at filling in and fighting off the times I have writer’s block, and I really haven’t had that lately, in one way or another. I’ve been focusing on getting a lot of other projects done instead. So, it’ll be back. I don’t know when, but it will, and there’ll be Facebook and Twitter posts when it does, just like any other post.
I’m going to make an effort to update these blogs more often, but we’ll see how I do.
On another note, does this blog look like it’s written in size 8 font to anyone else? It’s supposed to be 12 – that’s what the code says, anyway, and that’s what I set it at. I don’t get it.
The Divinity page is now up!
For the moment, it contains a blurb, and a description of each of the main characters. I’m hoping to add a few portraits to the page, soon.
Also, I’m almost done with the first draft! Woohoo!!
19,713 / 35,000
(61,493 +) (56.3%)
I’ve only got a couple of scenes left to write, so this book will definitely finish a wyas before the 35,000 mark. But, it’ll be finished! Yay!!!___________________________________________________________
Tweet. Tweet. Where’s the birdy?
So, I’ve started a twitter account for this site, and I’m trying out a plugin for WordPress called Tweet My Blog that apparently feeds links to my blog posts to Twitter. So for those of you who want to know when updates are can get notices on Twitter. It should update both for posts here and on Muse’s Block. In fact, this post will probably be the first test of that plugin.
Not only that, but I’m also planning to follow Insanejournal‘s lead for when the site is down and post updates on Twitter for that. After all, even the best of hosts have site outages, and it’s good to have an alternative way of letting people know what’s going on. (Now, here’s hoping they don’t both go down at the same time. I’m not sure what the next step would be then.___________________________________________________________
It took a little while, but http://www.musesblock.com now works and redirects properly to the comic! So now, for those of you who want an easier URL to remember to get to the comic can just type in or save http://www.musesblock.com instead!
11,009 / 35,000
(61,493 +) (31.5%)
Need to get started for tonight, don’t I?___________________________________________________________