Thursday, 10 December 2009

Online shopping vs Bookshops

I might be a bit behind the times, but I have yet to venture into the world of online shopping. Many of my friends and family swear by it for the great deals they get on books, but for me, getting my books over the internet holds little appeal. Great deals or not, nothing beats actually going into a good bookshop, taking my time to browse the titles, examine the books and flick through the pages. It’s one of the most relaxing ways I can think of to spend a lazy afternoon; buying books online negates this enjoyment.
It’s sad to see bookshops losing business and having to close down, as seen in the recent demise of Borders in the UK and Ireland, but I got some consolation regarding the state of our bookshops when reading about Lutyens & Rubinstein, an independent bookshop recently opened in London, which has been experiencing huge success in its opening months.
Having not had opportunity to be in London myself, I went vicariously through the reviews, which were all raving and portentous. I hope that their success will inspire the opening of similar independent bookshops that make the experience of browsing and buying books truly enjoyable.
Having said all that, I do see the many benefits of online book shopping. Here in Maverick House we get orders from all over the world for some of our titles; it’s a great thing to be able to get books that are not available in your own country. Our newest book, Mango Rains, which is being sent to the printers today, is being released in Thailand initially, and will then have a summer release in the UK. Having just finished proofreading it, I think it’s a great read that would appeal to many readers outside of Thailand. With online shopping, it will be available for anyone who wants it.
I hope that in the future, both e-books and physical books, virtual shops and actual shops, will co-exist successfully, and that the day will never come when bookshops are and thing of the past and tangible books become redundant.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Talking to Angels

I started reading Christine Holohan’s new book A Whisper from an Angel, and must admit I couldn’t read it too close to bedtime as it sent shivers down my spine! Christine previously published A Voice from the Grave with Maverick House, which recounted the story of how she assisted in the Jacqui Poole murder investigation after she was visited by the ghost of the murder victim. In this updated edition, Christine has added more details of her encounters with the angels and the afterlife. She gives an honest portrayal of how her gift has impacted on her life in both positive, negative, and at times, petrifying, ways.
Christine’s accounts of her experiences are so vivid and realistic it got me thinking about mediums and psychics and how they are perceived today. There is much scepticism surrounding this whole area, and many immediately laugh such things off as being “hocus pocus”. However, Christine clearly proves to us that she can communicate with spirits, and she left the detectives in charge of the Jacqui Pool murder investigation in no doubt as to the reality of her powers. There are many fraudsters who may fake having psychic abilities to make a quick buck, and these kinds of scams give mediums a bad reputation. However, for people like Christine whose abilities have been proven to be genuine, they can “create a bridge between heaven and earth.”
I must admit to being cynical about such things in the past, but stories like Christine’s help to open my mind to the possibility of an afterlife, and of links to it in the known world.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

As time goes by

It is now nearly five months after I have arrived in Ireland. The time of my internship here with Maverick House Publishers is coming to an end, as next week I will be flying back home to my family in Germany.

I am quite excited about seeing my family again, as well as my friends. And I love the area we live in. I have really missed the vast forests around our small village in the east of Germany. I am also excited about starting my last year of studies in October with the new term.

But, nevertheless, I am also a bit sad about having to leave Ireland. Over the last five months I have become very fond of the Irish people, as they are a wonderful and charming nation. I have even picked up a few things from the Dubliner’s accent and I am sure some words will stick with me. Dublin is also, by far, my most favourite city. For being the capital of a country it is still charmingly small, and the colours of the buildings and doors have been the motive for a lot of pictures. The way of life here in Ireland seems to be a bit more easy-going than it is in Germany.

Before I came here I was a bit nervous. I have never done more than just a short summer internship, and the prospect of really being involved in a company did, to be honest, freak me out a bit. Also, I had no experience in publishing whatsoever, and was therefore a bit apprehensive about not knowing what to do.

But now, at the end of my time here, I have realised that most of the things I was afraid off just needed to be tackled with confidence. Off course there were times when I wasn’t sure how to do something or what to do next, but I could always ask Jean, who was able to help me whenever I had a problem. One thing I am happy to have learned is that, through justified criticism, I was able to advance mentally.

The Maverick House books have played another very important part during my time here. Since all these books are non-fictional and based on the stories of real people, each and every one of them showed me that my life was pretty easy and extremely happy compared to what so many others had to go through. I have read more books in the past five months than I would usually read in that time, even though I always read quite extensively. But the topics of the Maverick House books interested me so much that I just had to read as many of them as possible while here. Through them I have come to realise that every problem I might have is only a small one, and can be overcome by putting your heart to it. I hope this will, in future, help me to overcome obstacles I long since wanted to overcome.

All in all, I am very happy to have come here and certainly do not regret my decision to come here. Maybe one day, after I have finished my studies, I will come back to Ireland.

So goodbye then, Susanne

Monday, 29 June 2009

Digital books

All the talks and discussions about the Google Book settlement and Scribd, who are trying to digitize millions of books to make them available on the internet, got me thinking about my idea of a book. I have always been a book lover, and there are certain book series I have been collecting for a long time. It is a wonderful feeling to see the complete series of a book standing on my shelf. I also have a thing for first editions of books, the older the better. I like being able to stand in front of my book case to choose a book I haven’t read in a while.
Now there are a lot of people who read their books on the computer or on their e-reader. They just buy this book as a file online. Granted, you can save a lot of space when you have all your books as files. But personally, I cannot imagine reading a book on a screen. I spend too much time on the computer anyway. Also, laptops and e-readers are quite expensive, and I wouldn’t want to take either of them with me on a holiday. On the beach they could easily get damaged by sun, water or sand. And certainly they would hold more of an attraction to steal than your paperback book. There are also some places where you should not turn on some electrical devices, like in hospitals or in planes during take-off and landing. You have to be careful about that, too.
I might be a bit sentimental when it comes to that, but a book to me is still something I can touch, hold in my hand, take with me everywhere and put onto my bookshelf.

I understand the need to digitize very old books though. There are a lot of great books that aren’t available anymore nowadays. And there are also a few books without an existing copyright holder. To have these books on the Internet does make sense.
But other than that I prefer having a real book. And I have been talking to a couple of people who share my ideas. One of them said she likes reading a book while taking a bath. Now that would be really difficult if you have your book only as a file.

I am interested what you guys out there think, though. If you want to share you views, feel free to do so.

So long, Susanne

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Being a foreigner

A while ago I have read one of our books, “Farang”, by author Dr Iain Corness. He fell in love with Thailand during a holiday there and moved there permanently in 1997. Since then he has experienced numerous strange things. In a hilarious way Corness describes the differences between our western culture and the Thai culture. From dangerous animals inhabiting the kitchen, building work that takes months and months, the weirdest laws to the ritual of moving into a new house – everything is different in Thailand. Based on his experiences a new book by the author will be published this year, which I can’t wait to read.

Although Ireland and Germany may not be as different as Germany and Thailand would be, after nearly three months of living here I have come across things that are typical, so it seems, for Ireland. For example, the Irish seem to love to talk about the weather. It’s not important if the topic has been discussed with a person, if the day brings a change it will be discussed again. I think it’s just wonderful how much time one can talk about the weather here before getting bored. Another thing I have come across is the Barber shops. In Germany men and women nearly always go to the same hairdresser. I haven’t seen a hairdresser only for either men or women. Imagine my surprise when I realised that at least two hairdressers in my village are “prohibited” to me.

Other than that I think there are not too many differences between Ireland and Germany. We certainly both suffer from the economy at the moment! Anyway, I am excited about the new book, “Farang: The Sequel” coming out soon, as it helps me to see how easy it is for me to live in Ireland. I am sure that living in Thailand or, in fact, in any Asian country, would be far more difficult and certainly very different.

That’s it from me,

so long, Susanne

Monday, 11 May 2009

The seasons and reading

A lot of people say that their reading habits change with the seasons. One of my friends for example reads much more when the days get shorter and darker. With the first snow she basically caves herself in beneath five or six thick blankets, lights a couple of candles, makes herself a cup of hot chocolate and starts reading.
Others though read a lot more books in the summer time, lying on a blanket in the grass, letting the sun shine on their faces. They feel that reading is a way to pass the time one spends outside.
And there are those who normally don’t read much at all but will always have one or two books in their hand luggage when they are on a holiday. After all, if you still have time at the airport, what better way than to spend it in a book store?

Strangely to me it doesn’t really matter what the weather is like at the moment or which season it is. I can (and want to) read all the time. Whether it’s snowy, rainy, sunny, windy, cloudy…. Who cares?
Nothing much whatsoever has a lot on influence on my reading.

Except for money maybe. If I have a lot of money to spend freely, which doesn’t happen too often, I just can’t resist the force of attraction book stores hold for me. That can be pretty bad, especially when, in the week afterwards, I realize I would really need that money I had spent in the bookstore. Too late.

So I guess the amount of books we read can be influenced by lots and lots of things. If there is anybody out there not influenced by anything, please let me know.

So long, Susanne

Friday, 17 April 2009


The recent protests in Bangkok got me thinking about our forthcoming book, Conflict by Nelson Rand, which is going to be published next month. Rand has lived in Southeast Asia for over ten years, and Conflict is about the secret wars which are taking place Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

I was impressed by his ideas and his motivation to go to remote and highly dangerous areas in order to talk to the people involved in the conflicts of Southeast Asia. In his book Rand tells the stories of the conflicts and their background, and it is shocking to realise that the world seems to have forgotten or is basically ignoring the struggles of so many people.

But Rand’s book also made me realise that there are two sides to every conflict. Rand is an excellent reporter, who outlines the conflicts in an impartial manner, helping to give the reader an understanding of why these battles are taking place.

Which brings me back to how things are in Thailand at the moment? Some of our friends who live there have written to us, saying that even though certain areas have been inflicted by riots and battles, you can find people celebrating the Thai New Year, drinking and dancing just around the corner from the protesters. In cities with millions of people, a couple of thousand protestors can get lost pretty fast. Nearly everybody is carrying on as normal.

This can also be the face of a conflict – what is perceived as normal life goes on while riots rage around the corner.

If you are interested in learning more about the struggles in countries like Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, read our new book “Conflict”, which will give you a great insight into some of the world’s forgotten wars.
Even if you are planning to go straight to the beach in Phuket to chill out for two weeks, it’s worth knowing what is happening in the countries surrounding you.

See our website for more details.

So long, Susanne

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Easter Holiday

In my family in Germany there are only a few people who are religious. For them Easter holiday means going to church, having special church events and get-togethers. For the rest of my family, including me, the religious meaning of the Easter holiday isn't that relevant.

For us, the Easter holiday is all about getting together with our family. For years we have been meeting on Good Friday, early in the morning, for a hike. Each year another part of the family organizes the hike, where we'll have lunch, which route we will take.... As a child I loved these hikes because all my aunts would buy little presents, like chocolate bunnies, for the children and then hide them somewhere in the forest for us to search. Now I am a bit too old for that, but I still love the Easter hikes, they are part of our family tradition and I always get to see my family.

This year I am here in Ireland and can't take part in our Easter hike, so I'll be going to the Wicklow Mountains and hike there, see something of the beautiful green island. And the rest of the time?

Well, I guess I'll just catch up on some reading, because that's also what free days are for, right? And maybe I'll find a chocolate bunny somewhere...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The connection between movies and books

I have just discovered that the book "The reader" by German law professor and author Bernhard Schlink has hit the Bestseller-Lists of Books USA Today.

The award-winning novel was published in 1995 in Germany and two years later, having been translated into english, in the United States. So that was 12 years ago. Why is it in the Bestseller-Lists now?

The answer is the film adaption of 2008, which was extremely well received and was nominated for five Academy Awards, of which it won one. It also received 10 other prizes and was nominated for 23 more. With Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet in the main roles, the film already has become a hit.

So it is no wonder that a lot of people seem to discover the book, on which the movie is based, only now. I think that was the same with the Harry Potter movies. Many children, and not only children, started reading the book only after having seen the movie.

All in all I don't believe this to be a bad thing, for if the movies get the people to read again or read more, why complain?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Cats and Dogs

I don't know how it is here in Ireland, but in Germany there seems to be some kind of pet-owner-movement. Everywhere you look new books about all kinds of pets just spring up like mushrooms.

Here you can buy the book by a pretty famous german comedian, Ralf Schmitz, about living with his 23 year-old cat Minka. His book is subtitled "Dogs have owners, cats have employees". In his book Schmitz talks about how to get your cat through adolescence, what to do when he/she is hungry, how to organize that your cat does not disturb your love life.....

The author Hauke Brost however wrote a book called "111 reasons to love dogs". Being himself the owner of big dogs, he obviously wanted to share his feelings. This book isn't meant to be some kind of guideline for dog owners or wanna-be owners, but its 111 reasons are funny and may help you to get over something your dog just did.

And it's not just books: A new movie has come to the cinemas worldwide, called "Marley and Me". This movie is about a family who got Marley, a golden Labrador, when he was still a pup, and shows how life has developed in this family.

So it seems to me that pets got back their popularity, and even though people around the world don't have as much money as they used to have, I'm sure only a few want to abandon the idea of having a pet. I hope that this development won't stop, because let's face it:

Pets cost money, they can be nerve-racking, they might smash your most beloved possessions

- but they are still darn cute!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

What about...?

“No, that’s not available, I’m sorry…”
I don’t know how many times I have heard that sentence. Or something very similar.
You see, I am from Germany. And I love books. The only problem is, hearing about great new books or reading about the latest bestsellers on the internet is usually the first step to misery. I tend to have this unreal idea of getting every book I’d like to read in this globalized world, where a guy from Laos chats with you and tells you the best way to get from Germany to Peru via China.

But then I go to a couple of well-known German websites, type in the name of the book or the author, and get – nothing. Not available. Never heard of it. What?

Well, by now I really should know the reality. But na├»ve as I am, I think I’ll just try a book shop then. With all the qualified staff there, should be no problem to find the book in no time. Only just after popping the big question the truth is revealed. This girl standing in front of me, her nameplate shining like it’s the first time she’s wearing it, doesn’t know the first thing about books or authors or even about how to use the big computer thingy in front of her. After half an hour of pure agony, torn between the impulse of either slapping the girl or starting to cry, I leave.

You’d think I’ve learned my lesson after trying this for uncountable times. I haven’t.
The terrible truth is, even if you don’t care whether a book is in German or in English, you still can’t read it. Unless you order it on a British website, for example. But for me personally, that’s just too expensive.

I found a solution though: Ignore the news about great books. Turn blind and deaf temporarily. But does that really solve the problem?

To all German bookstores: Please consider all these people who are isolated from the rest of the publishing world!