Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Am I the only one who is bothered by this?

Okay, I'm a bit late here. This offer just expired. Still, it is representative of a lot of deals Chapters/Indigo offers to their iReward customers.

Take a look at the coupon on offer here. It allows you to take 10% off any book in the store. That’s good.

But if you are an iReward card holder, you get 20%. That’s even better, right?

It is if you actually GOT 20%. In reality, you get 19%.

To figure out how, you have to look at your bill. The bill takes 10% off the top as you would expect from the deal. No problem there. But then, iReward card members get an additional 10% off the discounted price, not 10% off the original price. The latter would give the iReward card holder 20%. The former nets 19%. Chapters/Indigo saves themselves 1%.

So, if you spend $40.00 on books and you have a iRewards card, you would get 10% off ($4.00 off) for a discounted price of $36.00. With the iRewards card, you get an additional 10% off ($3.60) for a grand discounted total of $32.40 – a difference of 40 cents, which is exactly 19% off the original price – not 20%.

Now, if Chapters/Indigo had hedged their bets and said “iRewards card holders get an additional 10% off”, I probably won’t have much to quibble about. But they don’t. They make a blanket statement that iRewards card holders get 20%. It isn’t even mentioned in the fine print.

I know what you’re thinking. iRewards members are still getting a substantial discount and in the example above, all I am doing is quibbling over 40 cents. That’s very true. On an individual basis, my complaint is only over small dollar amounts. It’s probably the reason most people just suck it up. Even on a $100 purchase (pretty easy to do these days), you’re still only talking about a loonie.

But, taken at the corporate level, Chapters/Indigo makes an additional $10,000 for every $1,000,000 in books they sell. That’s more than chump change. If we take Indigo’s 2008 second quarter profits (I couldn’t find Chapters) of $191 Million dollars and use that to figure out what they might get, that comes out to be over $600,000.00. Now not all of those sales are from iRewards holders or even books, but if a third of it was, that is $200,000 in extra profit (not revenue) they would not have had if they calculated things properly.

So, is saying you get 20% and then only giving 19% in discounts still not a problem? I would like to hear your comments.

This Week's Reason to Read: Shimura Trouble by Sujata Massey - Alas, this is the 10th and the final book in the long-running mystery series which combines Japanese culture and murder mysteries and spins it with a little romance. I always found the series to be a light entertaining romp. The series took a turn several books ago and has never looked back. Now, the series last book is finally available in trade paperback, which should make it easier on the pocketbook for some. Here is what the publisher says about Shimura Trouble: In Agatha-winner Massey's engaging 10th mystery to feature antiques dealer and part-time spy Rei Shimura (after 2006's Girl in a Box), Rei and her father, who's recovering from a stroke, travel from California to Hawaii for a family celebration with previously unknown Shimura relatives, who turn out to be involved in a legal battle to recover land stolen from them during WWII. An appealing protagonist and memorable supporting characters blend smoothly with lessons in Hawaiian and Japanese history in a tale sure to win new readers for the series.

That's a Rap, Folks - World Fantasy 2008

I just returned from a whirlwind four days meeting and greeting some of the greatest authors and publishers in the industry. These are the people I aspire to be. The guests of honour included David Morrell (the creator of Rambo was Canadian – go figure), Barbara Hambly and Tom Doherty (the big kahuna at Tor Publications). They were all gracious, friendly and warm. I was fortunate enough to meet these and other extraordinary authors and publishers and get to know them as people. Some, like David Morrell, have inspiring life stories that are more fascinating than the stories they tell, and knowing their life stories helps you understand their work in meaningful ways. It makes me wonder how someone like me, who came into this avocation so late in the day, is going to fare with such luminaries gazing down.

IFWA was well represented too. There were two book launches by Calgary ’s own EDGE publications that featured IFWA writers: Gaslight Grimoires (with Jeff Campbell) and Tesseracts 12 (with Randy McCharles). Many IFWits talked up their latest projects to the powers that be and might even miss the Slush Pile when they send out their work.

To give me hope, publishers all seemed to be saying the same thing: they are looking for anything that is different – including fantasy fiction with an Asian edge. They’re looking for what I’m writing and that gives me hope that I will stand out of the slush pile.

Some Highlights:

- David Morrell’s two hour workshop on the Author’s Voice – the golden orbs of wisdom he gave everyone who showed up were priceless. I found my dominant emotion that night and noticed it throughout my work. It isn’t pretty, but it’s the truth. Now I have to re-read his writing book, The Successful Writer.

- I met new friends and got re-acquainted with many others (John Mansfield – my how your beard has grown).

- “When all else fails, if you can’t make the reader turn the page, at least make sure you don’t end a sentence at the bottom of the page.”

- Kij Johnson’s tattoos. She does rock climbing too. The next novel in her Heian series (The Fox Woman and Fudoki are the first two) is still in the works.

- Canadian Fantasy is not much different than other genres of Canadian literature – they are all stories told with an outsider’s point of view and none of that nasty racism and sexism.

- Gayleen Froese was at a panel. Alas, Ryan States did not attend as well and Gayleen was there for only a few hours. Still, it was great seeing her again.

- Jeremy Lassen of Nightshade Books (publishers of the Inspector Chen series and 9-Tail Fox). It would be very cool to be associated with such an eclectic group.

- There was a lot of Adria spotting and some catch and release, but no definite captures.

- Tad Williams’ speech about “American Fantasy under the glorious regime of President-for-Life Bush” at the Closing Banquet was hilarious. I hope someone got it on film and puts it on You Tube.

- I almost caught the cute and fuzzy Black Death, but did not succumb. I thought about getting the Common Cold, HIV or perhaps the Flu but decided to wait to get them after the Con. Apparently, the Clap was very popular. A couple of IFWits got a Brain Cell to prove to their friends and family that they have one.

Props: My congratulations and thanks go out to everyone at the Con Committee who spent countless hours and countless dollars over the past few years to make such an event possible in Calgary – Randy McCharles (how many more cons next year?), Kim “Running on Adrenalin” Greyson (get some sleep, okay), Cliff Samuels, Danita Maslankowski, Kim Nagata (oh my gosh, the food, the food) and Eileen Capes and all the tireless Con Committee Members and volunteers who contributed to the smooth running of the Con. My hat is off to you all. You have earned a much needed rest.

And now, I’ve got a massive bag of books to sort through. Where to begin … ?

This weeks reason to read: Along with all the luminaries I met at the conference, I also found (or heard about) a lot of Asian fiction that I had not been acquainted with. You can bet that I picked up as much of it as I could. I’ll have more of my findings in the weeks to come. In the meantime, here is one I never expected to find: Yume no Hon (The Book of Dreams) by Catherynne M. Valente. It is the story of a woman, Ayako, who wanders through dreams and myths, receiving lessons from the mountain and the river. Yume No Hon is an internal landscape painted with thoroughly poetic turns of phrase and a slim volume that packs a great deal of punch.

Note: the list of authors writing about a Fantastic Asia keeps getting longer. Thus, I have adjusted the list to your right with updated links to all those authors and what they write. I try and include everybody, but there is a lot of YA that would also fit into these categories as well and I just don’t have the space.