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Hug Mug & Chocolate OD

February 27, 2011 4 comments

I rather like chocolate, so I took it upon myself to try out a chocolate bar on the Gold Coast. My friends might be surprised to learn that I’ve never quite recovered. The photos might explain why.

Chocolate bar

While I was happily drinking my hot chocolate in a “Hug Mug”, I was thinking two things:

Dark hot chocolate, milk hot chocolate (skipped the white hot chocolate)

1. Isn’t this mug a great idea?
2. What does it remind me of?

Hug Mug (was a man standing up, or sitting down, when he thought of this?)

As if sensing my thoughts, Miss Six asked, “Mummy, why does your mug look like a men’s urinal?”

After that, nothing quite tasted right. Otherwise, I would highly recommend the nearest chocolate bar, though you might like to order a bit less than we did….

I've never met a chocolate thing I didn't like ...

Everything with its own chocky dipping sauce

Milkshakes in curious vessels

Just a tiny bit more? (Monty Python's man with the bucket comes to mind)

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Brisbane City markets

February 26, 2011 3 comments

An unexpected delight this week – a fresh food market in the city!

Just some of the little lovelies …

L-l-lurvved the spelt fig pistachio bread!

Funkiest little finger limes, Aussie natives!

Beads of lime heaven, ready to burst in your mouth.

Extraordinary tomatoes - tasting as they should

I was too busy shopping and eating to take any more photos, but take it from me, it’s worth a visit. The stone fruit was the tastiest I’ve had in YEARS, ditto the apples. The French bread shop didn’t disappoint, either. My lunch break ran out before I could get to the cupcake stand, which leaves me something to look forward to for next week.

Wednesdays, top of the Mall – enjoy!

PS. Thanks to my ‘tour guide’, SJ.
PPS. Want to see more about the finger limes, check out Bagni di Lucca and Wild Finger Limes – citrus caviar. Amazing.

Craft: Best kind of office plant

February 14, 2011 3 comments

My kind of office plant is one that looks pretty and doesn’t require watering. Just put me in the corner with the cactus.

But then, a clever person at work made this.

Wire, stripey fabric and a basic zig-zag stitch...

The perfect office plant

Have fun making your own (try Etsy), or message me and I’ll see if Miss B will sell you one.

Categories: Australia, Business, Craft

An uplifting corporate uniform

February 13, 2011 4 comments

Something on the grinding, awful bus trip from work on Friday made me smile, so I simply had to share it (at great risk to myself, I might add).

It was at my eye level, as I’d scored a seat, so it’s not like I was looking for mischief… Anyhow, take a look at this uplifting corporate uniform and note which way the little plane is pointing on the belt buckle.

A perky, corporate belt buckle for a travel agent (Flight Centre)

Now, think what message it might send should the little plane be pointing down.

Assuming we both keep catching the same bus, I shall be avoiding eye contact with this man all year.

Have a great day!

Coffee shop? Really?

February 13, 2011 6 comments

Imagine my surprise, when my new boss led me in between and behind old buildings and under a boom gate for our first team meeting over coffee. Coffee shop? Where? Is this some peculiar initiation ceremony for writers?

Squeeze through a little gap to get around it, or just go under it. All in the name of coffee...

What was even more surprising, was that we couldn’t get a seat. It was packed.

Wooden bench seats & tables inside and coffee machines screaming their own happy tune. Brisbane's hip new place for caffeine.

What does this say about Brisbane’s sophisticated coffee-drinking set? Would you like to get mugged with your coffee, or would you like your coffee in a mug?

Now that I’m back in the city working, after a long stint in the burbs, I’d appreciate any tips on places to go. Do you know of any cool places?

P.S. This place is somewhere around Elizabeth St Brisbane. Have fun trying to find it!

I’m in love with Caketopia

November 12, 2010 5 comments

Today’s must-share experience is all about cake.

Cake is one of my favourite subjects. I majored in cake at law school and it did me heaps good. A dear buddy once made me a birthday cake and couldn’t get the glass out of the middle. We wore silly hats in the uni refectory, which went with the well-meant but equally inedible torte della microwave. Lucky she’s really, really good at law, is all I can say. (M, maybe we’ll order from this site next time?)

Take a look at the Caketopia blogspot and tell me that you’re not in love too.

Two examples…

(With thanks, Reader A.)

E-books & the death of book stores

November 9, 2010 5 comments


With the arrival of e-books, people in publishing are deeply worried about:
A. the survival of brick ‘n mortar book stores; and
B. the future of traditional paper publishing.
What the conversation is missing, is the consumer.

What do consumers want?
Do they want paper books to continue as they are?
Do they want physical book stores?
Do they prefer e-books and e-stores?
Can they continue to have both?
Will they mind waiting longer to get Print On Demand books, instead of just taking something off a shelf?
What about the cost of books and e-devices?

In this post, I’ll focus on the effect of pricing and invite your thoughts.

The price of books & the death of book stores

The price of books in Australia is always a contentious issue. They seem expensive and yet, very few authors can live off their writing and book sellers are bleeding. People in all aspects of publishing live modestly. There’s lots of love, but not a lot of money. Why?

Book shops are diversifying more into gift lines and coffee, since book selling is becoming uneconomic due to:
* on-line selling;
* predatory discounting practices of department stores; and
* e-book retailers because (in Australia) brick ‘n mortar stores aren’t able to sell e-books (why?!).

I’ll briefly touch upon the main players in the price wars.

Parallel importation?
Over a year ago, book sellers, led by Dymocks, thought that parallel importation would save them. The New Zealand uptake of that policy proved disastrous. You can’t have eggs without chickens. Killing local publishing to save local book selling is at best, wonky thinking.

Predatory pricing
Big department stores sell books cheaper because they demand around 70 per cent off from the publishers, and they use cheap books to lure more people into the store to spend money on other things (to offset the discount). This dynamic works for consumers until the competition is killed off, then prices go up and choice goes out the door. It’s not competition; it’s a killing field.

GST
In Australia, GST is applied to all stages of a book’s production. No government has been open to dropping it. Economists tell me it’s because book sellers will apply the GST savings to their own bottom line and not pass it on to consumers.

So the choice is: GST revenue to the government to churn and burn, or leave it in the industry so that more businesses can keep their doors open (and possibly, pass on price reductions to consumers in the line of normal competition?). Frankly, I would’ve thought that an “Education Revolution” (to use a Labor Party slogan) might’ve included books.

E-books will be the final blow to Aussie book stores, unless…
E-books are currently retailing around $9.99 on Amazon and according to Michael Hyatt, there’s no likelihood that prices will sustainably drop below that point. E-publishing and e-distribution, perhaps surprisingly, doesn’t deliver big cost savings.

I think that once publishers work out all the other funky things they can do in the e-world, prices will eventually go up because they’ll be producing more on-line content to sell their books. Publishers will rise from the ashes of burned out book stores insofar as they’ll be selling directly to online consumers.

In America, e-books are rapidly gaining popularity. The Aussie uptake has been slow and the publishing industry has been reluctant to respond to the new paradigm. Australia doesn’t have the population to shoulder massive market changes as readily. That being said, we can’t put it off any longer.

Conclusion
So, what will e-books do to the price of books in Australia? Not much, it seems, unless the government removes the GST from the equation and revises competition law. With the GST in place, more people will shop on-line to avoid it and brick ‘n mortar book stores in Australia will continue their rapid decline in the face of anti-competitive practices by bigger players.

People will go to book shops to have coffee, browse inside books and then purchase them (either in paper or electronic format) elsewhere, online. That’s not a sustainable business model. Book sellers had better come up with something new, quickly, to value-add to the experience of loving books.

While $9.99 for an e-book is up to half the price of a traditional book, you have to buy the e-reader as well. And even though they are coming down in price, will you be buying one for your kids this Christmas? They aren’t so forgiving when dropped. And how many e-books do you have to buy to make up the savings as against the cost of the device?

I’m not against e-books. I’m not advocating for them, either. I love what’s inside books and where those books take me. People should have a choice. I just hope that the Australian government and industry get the balance right, before our favourite book shops bleed out.

QUESTION:
What do you wish you could tell the government or publishing industry in Australia? Do you think book shops will survive?

N.B. I encourage all respectful views. Feel free to disagree, without being disagreeable. No-one has all of the answers. Sharing is caring.