Hate-Love Kindle: The Psychology of Easy

I don’t like Kindle (or Apple’s iBooks). I like books.  I love books, in fact.  The real ones with pages that you hold and read and put on shelves.  They’re reassuring, they’re easy to reference and they’re a constant reminder of the wisdom and entertainment that’s within your grasp on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t treat them with any kind of reverence.  Recently a fellow author and I swapped books (I gave Cathrine Jansson-Boyd Consumer.ology, she gave me Consumer Psychology).  When I warned her that I was a committed book defacer – I will write notes all over a book – she was quick to recommend Post-it notes as an alternative: sorry Cathrine, I’ve written all over your book too (if it’s any consolation, the more I write the better the book).  I know that you can make notes on Kindle and iBook books.  But it breaks […]

Market Research Saved My Life!

Be honest, how many of you thought you would ever read that as a headline? As someone who has worked in and around what is generally known as “market research” for twenty years I was always slightly disappointed that I didn’t have a job that might be called upon dramatically. “Help!!! Is there a market researcher on the plane?” Is not a phrase I ever expected to hear. As a brief aside, I was once able to put my consumer behaviour skills to good use with strangers: I was taking a train with a friend and a number had been cancelled, resulting in the sorts of over-crowding that’s not permitted for the transportation of any other mammal. We’d failed to get on two trains and watched two passengers almost come to blows as one attempted to compress an over-crowded carriage. When the third train arrived we saw a tiny space, […]

How Racist Are You? Not the Lesson Intended

Last night I watched Channel 4’s documentary in which American school teacher Jane Elliot conducted a demonstration of how racism feels by dividing a group of volunteers along lines of eye colour and discriminating against the blue-eyed group. From the outset the blue-eyed group were treated badly by Ms Elliot, being put down and ridiculed by the fierce moderator herself, segregated into an uncomfortable room for two hours, before being put with the brown-eyed group who she had attempted to prime to treat the blue-eyed group as inferior. Her original aim had been to demonstrate to her own class of all white children how it felt to be discrminated against for something as arbitrary as eye-colour is unfair and illogical.  She described that in her original exercise… “I watched how what had been marvelous, wonderful, thoughtful, co-operative children turn into nasty, viscous, discriminating little third-graders.”  Leaving aside how unethical her experiment […]

Getting a Book Published: Contacting a Literary Agent

With my adviser Francis to guide me I’m feeling a lot more comfortable about navigating my way through the world of publishing – not that that’s any guarantee of success – and I will try and share as much as I can from my “industry angel” as I like to think of him. I sent my proposed submission to Francis to give him a better idea of the sort of book I’m writing, to get some suggestions about what I might do to make it more attractive and to seek his view on whether or not I should try to get a literary agent. Firstly, he was very complementary about my opening chapter; thus far the few people I’ve shared it with have been very positive about it.  Of course, I know enough about the dangers of the research process so I’m not reading too much into this; nevertheless a […]