Tuesday, May 27, 2008
This year BEA is being held in Los Angeles so the show business aspect will be more visible than ever, but since I'm attending under the auspices of ThingsAsian Press, a small, very independent travel publisher, I don't need to pay much attention to the glitz, except to gape and be appropriately awed.
My focus is the bookseller, which is always my favorite part of BEA, meeting fellow booklovers and talking about what we've read and like and dislike. This year I'll be roaming the exhibit floor, handing out ThingsAsian bookbags, and a book or two to those who are interested, and meeting people who love travel literature and will be happy to find a new and innovative collection of books to sell and to enjoy.
That's what it's all about really. People who sell books on a retail level do it because they love them, and love showing them to people who are eager for something new. I'm lucky to have the chance to meet booksellers and to chat about our consuming passion for print.
If you're going to be at BEA, look for the small, plump, darkhaired woman with bright orange ThingsAsian book bags slung over her arm. (That would be me.) Or for the tall, slender blonde woman with the very same bookbags. (That would be my friend and colleague, Kim Fay.) Both of us are eager to meet you and to talk about books, whether they be from ThingsAsian or from others.)
If you're a bookseller who won't be at BEA, let me know and I'll send you a bag (with some gorgeous postcards and a small catalogue.)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are approx. 100,000 complaints outstanding at PayPal (Are any of these yours?). In many instances disputes can run on for months leaving people frustrated and out of pocket as they are unable to access their accounts. So what happens to the millions of dollars tied up in frozen accounts and disputes? Well, here is a clip from the San Francisco Chronicle that basically sums it up:
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose refused to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks class-action status on behalf of thousands of PayPal customers nationwide. A common allegation is that the company brushes off or stalls customer grievances for months and meanwhile freezes the customer's account and pockets the interest (So that's how they make their money!). No wonder they freeze so many accounts!
This is a quote from www.paypalwarning.com
There are an unhealthy preponderance of sites like this, which I wish I'd looked into before sending money to Paypal. Among them are www.paypal.org and www.paypalsucks.com
These sites, in addition to horror stories, offer alternatives to Paypal. Since they cover the bases, this is all I have to say about the matter.
My payment/donation was accepted almost immediately, which was on May 9, and I was a happy woman. Today, as of May 25, my payment is still in a Paypal account, along with other donations that were made for the same purpose, and Myanmar cyclone survivors haven't seen a penny of the money sent to Paypal.
The person who holds the account sent an equivalent amount with friends who were going to Myanmar, money that came from his own pocket that he was sure would be reimbursed by the funds that had been sent to his Paypal account. Now he's out of pocket by a thousand dollars or so, because Paypal promptly froze his account on suspicion of fraud.
The communication received from Paypal indicates that this was done because of cases of fraud that occurred during the tragedy of Katrina. Further research has shown that Paypal has been the object of more than one class action suit well before Katrina struck U.S. shores, because it hadn't sufficiently explained their fraud policy to people who used their services.
Paypal has paid millions of dollars to plaintiffs in these suits as the courts ruled in the favor of the injured parties rather than in the "protective" interests of internet big business. Apparently they can well afford the loss of a million or two every once in a while because they continue to exercise an insufficiently explained fraud policy. They also seem able to pay people to scour the internet in search of possible fraud.
This blog was found, and all entries relating to Paypal were read, by somebody working for Paypal's parent company, EBay, when they googled the account name of the person to whom I had sent money. When I discovered this by looking at my StatCounter info, I didn't feel particularly "protected," more like violated in some way.
This is all, to a company that deals in millions in a single class action suit, very small potatoes. My donation was for $50.oo. My friend is out of pocket for $1000. $5o I'm sure can buy a significant amount of survival necessities in Myanmar, and $1000 could perhaps save more than one life. And, if enough Paypal accounts for $1000 are frozen for a month, perhaps they will earn that entity enough interest to pay for a good business lunch for two of their executives.
It was so easy to press the button to send the money to Paypal. Pity that it's not so easy for them to press the button that will thaw an account that should never have been frozen in the first place.
As for me, I'm looking for alternatives to Paypal and will certainly publicize whatever I find. There are, as I learned in Econ 101, always alternatives--and thank God for that!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The money is being given to monks to buy clothes, medicine, water purification tablets, and vehicles to bring people to safety. If you go to Don's blog www.bangkokdazed.com you can see the relationships he has built with temples and orphanages as he has traveled through Myanmar and the faces of people who are probably now destitute.
It is a tragedy that cynicism and suspicion have blocked a project that is grass-roots and workable. Paypal seemed the best solution for getting money overseas quickly, but now I will never use it again for any purpose. For those who have sent money to Don's account, please know that while it languishes with Paypal, Don has sent equivalent amounts from his own funds to Myanmar. Your money has gone to help others--please do not send more to Paypal unless this mess can be straightened out.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
my own plan for cyclone relief
Friday, May 9, 2008
This is an email from my friend Ma Thanegi, who lives in Yangon (it continues from the subject line "I am all right but") What stands out for me, in addition to the relief that she is unhurt and still in her home is the line "I really did not take notice of the cyclone warnings from the state media although they did say it would be serious..."
I'm not an apologist for the current regime and neither is Ma Thanegi (she spent years working with Aung San Su Kyi and subsequently several years in prison as a result.) But it bothers me intensely when rumors are reported as the truth (the government didn't issue cyclone warnings) when the truth alone is what we are looking for and often is quite horrible when unvarnished.
I live in a country where a natural disaster ripped the heart and soul from New Orleans. It was one of the worst things to ever happen in the U.S. and the worst happened after the hurricane. The core of the horror of Katrina was what was and was not done for the survivors. Let's not obscure the tragedy in Myanmar, with its death count rising higher and higher as different parts of the country reveal their dead, with rumors and political demonizing.
A small amount of money can go a long way toward helping people in this part of the world. You can help by reading the post Myanamar Tragedy that was written after this one. This is the account of writer and Bangkok bookstore owner Don Gilliland, who will make sure that all money goes directly to people in need in Yangon and elsewhere. (You can read his blog at http://www.bangkokdazed.com.)
Please, in whatever way you can and with whatever avenue you trust, send whatever you can give.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
They also have jobs that are physically demanding and aerobically beneficial--climbing stairs and ladders are integral parts of the job. And the only rich bookseller is a trust-fund endowed bookseller.
I've been away from the trade for almost a year, and there has rarely been a day that I haven't missed a small portion of it. As a "civilian," I have had one hell of a time finding anyone with whom I can have a satisfying book discussion--the rest of the world seems to reserve those comments for their book groups, using "I liked it" or "I hated it" for any other chat involving reading habits.
When you're a bookseller, you live in a world of why.
I've tried to be a recovering bookseller. I've judged a book prize, reviewed books that I love, have gone to the library for my reading material. Of all of those activities, only the prize judging gave me a hint of the camaraderie, insight, and humor that was my daily bookselling sustenance.
Reviewing books is a purely one-sided affair--if it's done online, at least the number of hits are shown, but who knows if the reader finished the review, disagreed with it, bought the book....these are things a bookseller longs to know.
As for libraries--if I read one more book that is adorned with another person's meal, I'll become a functional illiterate.
I'm lucky--the bookstore that exemplifies the best of bookselling is letting me return for the summer, on a part-time basis so I can both work there and write. It may not be paradise, but it's as close as I will ever get.
"Hello. I'm Janet, and I'm a bookseller."