Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mass Market Paperbacks at MITS

2nd in a series on organizing books at the Mercer Island Thrift Store.

Mass Market Paperbacks (MMPB) are are about 110 mm x 170mm (about 4" x 7.0") in size. If they aren't really thick, they might fit into a pocket and thus, at MITS, we often call them "Pocket paperbacks". They have their own price point and provide inexpensive reading alternative to Trade Paperbacks and hardcovers.

In general we don't mix tMMPB with the hardcovers (or hardbacks - HB), which get the premium shelves, or with the paperbacks, because we would rather sell HB or Tradepaperback than a MMPB. Also, the shelves look a lot neater and are easier for a shopper to scan if the book sizes are similar.

We stock MMPB in several places, chiefly by genre:
  • Our most common MMPBs are action/adventure/spy/crime and the like. If it's about something blowing up, it probably fits there.
  • Romance novels usually come in MMPB. This is one of the few locations where we mix HB and MMPB since the entire category is a small number of shelves. While Romance does sell well, we tend to get more donations than sales, so it's a good idea to cull the slow sellers. Romance in particular seems to prefer newer titles instead of old ones, so if there's a shortage of room, cull anything that is older.
  • Classics, like Romance, mix MMPBs and other formats. They tend to sell steadily.
  • Science Fiction is similar to Romance, in that MMPBs and HB mix well and sell slowly. Cull anything that's a movie adaptation.
  • Westerns also mix MMPB and HB but usually don't need to be culled; we have greater demand than supply so almost anything Western will sell.
  • Children's MMPB don't sell much at all. We set them out but if there's a space shortage, cull them! We'll get more.
  • General MMPBs. If there's no room in the proper category for a MMPB, put it in the catch-all shelf (the one that is unpainted wood, at the Housewares island endcap). These seem to sell well; some shoppers seem to enjoy looking through the "anything goes" mixture!
MMPBs don't make a lot of money per-unit, but they seem to sell steadily and make customers happy.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Welcome to MMX

In Roman Numerals, 2010 is MMX, which is way cool.

Kudos to the of the comic strip "Betty"
(or to the comic's writing/illustrating team Delainey and Rasmussen) for pointing this out! Betty chronicles a working-class family that deals with everyday life in a realistic way.

We may have our troubles, but we can face them with a laff!

Per wikipedia, MMX can also stand for some other pretty interesting things:

... but I'm still hoping it's the year that the monoliths let us settle Titan, so long as we stay well clear of Europa.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010: The Year of Posting Positively

Can I get through an entire calendar year posting positively?

I don't know. There's plenty of bad stuff in this crazy old world, and I feel some duty to point it out. But I might also enjoy pointing out the bad stuff just a little too much. I really doubt that any Global Warming Deniers, advocates of wars of aggression and fans of torture (...who tend to be pretty much the same people ...) are persuade by anything I say, or that anyone else say; they're faith-based religions that feed on verbal persecution. Even in cases of less cosmic awefulness, such as pointing out why certain websites suck, I have the awful feeling that I'm just wasting my time and contributing to the energy-sapping negativityn (not to mention the time-sucking...).

In contrast, I've noticed that sometimes starting something with the phrase: "Good News! We have a way of doing stuff better!" and then launching into substantively the same critique, but worded positively, can be far more effective at changing minds. It also gives me a happy or proud feeling that contributes to my energy.

Imposing an artificial structure onto writing can sometimes lead to more thoughtful writing, as the content must be carefully pondered to fit into the structure. I remember one month when, on a certain listserve that had degenerated into bickering, I restricted myself to posting only in limericks. It made me stop and consider well what I meant to say, in the process boiling off needless snark and generally packing the same point into few words. I really enjoyed the exercise!

I'm not ready to post only in limericks, but, as an experiment, I'd like to try getting through 2010 posting only positively. I've had good luck making carefully-considered vows on the subject of drinking, so let's see if this new vow results in more effective writing and a happier, more effective me
"For the calendar year 2010, I will post only positively."
Wish me luck!

CO2 Fractions vs. Amounts: Latest Denier Foolery

A misunderstanding of the difference between a fraction and an amount is fueling the latest global warming denial talking point.

The deniers quote an article "No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years, New Research Finds" without understanding the difference between the Amount of CO2 in our atmosphere and the Fraction of human-generated carbon that remains in the air.

Here's what the article says...
"... Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere. ..."
...and from this, the deniers conclude that man-made global warming is a hoax.

This is a stupid conclusion. 45% of the carbon emitted by human activity is a heck of a lot of carbon. The "Fraction" referred to in the title is the fraction of the total emissions that remain in the atmosphere, not the fraction of the atmosphere that is CO2.

Indeed, the study does not say anything about the undisputed fact that global atmospheric CO2 levels have increased. But that doesn't stop the deniers from stupidly citing this study in support of their claim.

Reasonable people may question the best way to address this problem, but the deniers have once again shown they don't know science and cannot be trusted.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Web Resources for Free CLE

As this year winds to a close, need for web-based free CLE does not decline. This year's collection includes more than a dozen audiorecordings of events which are eligible for credit in some jurisdictions:
(Note this list goes to multiple pages; click on "older posts" at the bottom of that page to see more)

Washington and Oregon attorneys should take special note of the ethics credit on ( ). I would urge you to send them a few bucks to keep their site running!

Let me also shout-out to the Intellectual Property Colloquium - another leader in providing interesting and free online CLE!

As always, if you come across free CLE resources, feel free to contribute to the list. May 2010 be a great year for you and yours!

Debugging Life

Living life well is your biggest project, so why not adopt tips from successful project leaders to the project of managing your life?

In the self-help field, there's no shortage of people, books, churches and more, all eager to tell you what to do, but most suffer from provability problems. One can never be sure whether a priest's advice has ever gotten anyone into Heaven! Reports of success from  self-help programs may be artifact of observer bias or even of modifying goals to meet the results achieved. It is hard to find objective standards for evaluation.

In contrast, product development has a somewhat objective standard for success; products ship on time or late, buggy or not - and customers complain loudly! It stands to reason that successful project leads have ideas that that we may profitably swipe and modify to other parts of life - such as life itself!

In this spirit I just finished reading Steve Maguire's "Debugging the Development Process: Practical Strategies for Staying Focused, Hitting Ship Dates, and Building Solid Teams", and can report that it is, indeed, full of ideas that can be adapted to everyday life.

For example, in the workplace, we may all recognize we should "work smarter, not harder" and Maguire is no exception; his parsing this concept into particular skills, with homey examples of actual implementation, is helpful for extending this concept to everyday life.

Another concept is that project members should work only on things that advance the goals of the project; the function of a project lead is to shield the rest of the staff from anything that gets in the way. To adapt this concept to managing your own life, ask yourself: If your project is to be a better person or to have a happier life or whatever, ask yourself: why are you doing anything else? You may have good reason for doing those other things but if you don't know what those reasons are, perhaps you need to re-evaluate.

I most enjoyed the idea that part of every day of successful leadership is pausing to think of how we can hit the project goal just a little be better. Not every improvement will be major but they add up; the important thing is an attitude of systematic, continuous improvement. Surely this applies to life as well as to business!

These few ideas drawn from the book may seem obvious, but if they are so obvious, ask yourself: are you doing them? Perhaps you need a program of systematic, continuous improvement in your life skills; you can start by giving this book a quick read.