It's Not easy being a publisher (4)

Before Christmas, I sent out quite a few books to Bertram Books. I was slightly concerned that they might be caught up with the demise of Woolworth, but I wasn’t going to refuse to supply them. My trust was rewarded and they paid me promptly as they always have before and since. In fact, they and the other big UK book wholesaler, Gardner’s, are a pleasure to deal with. On the other hand, I supplied a bookshop in one of London’s swankiest neighbourhoods with books on 2 and 9 December and they still have not sent me a cheque. Grrr! I wonder if I should name and shame them.

By contrast, again, I invoiced Heffer’s, the famous Cambridge bookshop, for some books on 6 March and they’ve already sent me a cheque. Well done!


These pages, as I have mentioned elsewhere, are produced using the excellent RapidWeaver program. One of the most useful plug-ins for this is the recently-introduced Stacks from Your Head Software. One of the best things about RapidWeaver, and in turn Stacks, is that they have spawned third-party development. For instance, the appearance of Stacks has encouraged a whole new wave of products, including a Stacks version of John Malinowski’s RapidBook, a very neat way of putting sample pages of one’s books on the internet. RapidBook for Stacks was developed by Phil Warrender and is a remarkable example of the sort of collaboration which occurs in the RapidWeaver environment: RapidWeaver create the basic web design program, Your Head create Stacks, John Malinowski creates Rapid book for Blocks (another Your Head plug-in), and Phil Warrender adapts RapidBook for Stacks. My first attempts are here, here and here. You need Flash to view them

Right Said Fred

I have underestimated Sir Fred Goodwin again. His pension is now apparently £703,000 per annum. Moreover, it appears that about half the amount was discretionary. So why did they pay it? The decision was apparently made in the early hours of the morning and the Government were not informed. The Chairman and the Remuneration Committee certainly have some explaining to do, and it would seem quite in order for the British Government, as the largest shareholder, to sue them. It won’t get the money back but it may serve to encourager les autres.

However, compared with the vast sums which the Government itself has squandered, and continues to squander, Sir Fred’s pension is unimportant. Having devised a scheme, the Public Finance Initiative, to rob the taxpayer blind while cooking the Government’s books, the Government is now going to bail out the very companies which made so much money from the scheme in the first place.

If it is right that Sir Fred should be hounded into returning at least some of his pension, it is surely even more appropriate that senior ministers and mandarins be expected to forego at least half their pensions.


Professor Fathi Habashi in Canada has sent me flyers for three new books. One is for a book called Gold: History, Metallurgy, Culture. It sounds very interesting (the flyer is here) and I only wish I could afford it. I also wish I knew how to sell a 256pp. book for $60. This is not sour grapes; I’d genuinely like to know, and I wish him every success.

My recipe for surviving the recession

In truth, I’m the last person to be giving financial advice. Tiger of the Stripe has never made me enough money to live on. Nonetheless, my income has increased substantially in the last twelve months. This is partly due to hard work and partly due to the pound’s declining exchange rate against the dollar. A year ago, every dollar I earned was worth about £0.50 to me. Now it is worth about £0.70 - that’s a 40% increase!

I’m not by nature mean, but my low income has forced me to be quite frugal. Most of my spending has been on council tax, utility bills and food. I can’t do much about council tax except vote against the incumbent Liberal Democrats whose arrogance, ineptitude and profligacy have been quite astounding. I can do little about the utility bills, except to use energy more efficiently.

That leaves food. I hear that sales of baked beans have soared in recent months. This is understandable, because they are quick, cheap and nutritious. However, it is even cheaper to make your own meals from scratch, and it is more rewarding too. I made a red lentil soup on Saturday and it was so delicious that I can’t wait to make it again. An onion, a carrot and a large handful of lentils (plus some water, of course) is all you need to feed two people at, say £0.15 ($0.23) per head, plus the cost of gas or electricity. I add some chilli powder and ground coriander seeds at negligible extra cost. They make it a very warming, cheerful soup for a winter’s day. A piece of home-made bread completes the meal. It’s absolutely delicious, and there are so many possible variations - you could use yellow split peas or Puy lentils (although both need longer to cook); you could drop the onion and/or the carrot and add, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, or just about anything else.

It's not easy being a publisher (3)

I mentioned the other day that the paperback of Bibliomania didn’t seem to be available from Amazon UK. Well, it is again, rather emphasising Amazon’s unpredictable nature.