Have you heard of Made in Weston?

It is a craft collective with members who live in and around Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

If you haven’t heard of Made in Weston, here is a little bit of information about the organisation:

Many of the products that visitors to Weston take home are made in China and already travelled further than the tourists.

But this town is home to lots of talented people who are very capable of making quality products much better than the mass-produced “gifts” you find in a lot of the shops.

So we decided to get as many of them together as possible to sell the fruits of their labours under one brand – Made in Weston.

The ethos is to promote Weston as a thriving arts and crafts town as well as give all these talented residents an easy outlet for their products. We also promote a green element to the products by reusing materials wherever possible.

Made in Weston started small and is growing all the time.

Our members produce a huge range of arts and crafts including jewellery, cards, candles, homeware and kids toys.

Because everything is handmade we pride ourselves of being able to offer a made to order service that is second to none. If you can imagine a product – we know someone who can make it.

Our main outlet for selling products is through craft fairs in Weston.

We are also very pleased to offer more intimate events in the home where we can bring along a wide range of products or a more specific selection focussing on one range such as jewellery. For more information about this, please contact us:


First contact

September 29, 2010

As mentioned by a commenter on a previous post about publishing, it is great to get a copy of the Sunday Times and spread it out across the lounge and read it.

Of course, you have to make sure you have nothing booked on Sunday and that you get to the paper shop early doors to have enough time to read the bulk of it that day and that you have at least one completely free evening in the week to mop up reading the various magazines / other non time specific supplements.

The publication, as it’s advertising used to say, “is the Sunday papers”. At £2.20 a pop you have to read it all.

Unfortunately owner Rupert Murdoch has erected a pay wall around his publications, so I can’t link to the original story I want to post about.

A brief synopsis is that a UN employe at the little known UNOOSA dept based in Geneva apparently told the Sunday Times it was she who all first contact with alien life forms should be directed too.

The paper ran this story on page 3 of the News Section of last Sunday’s edition.

I was fascinated by the story as I’d always assumed the US president / Russian President / Chinese President / UN Director General would be among the delegation sent for by any visitors. But no, this story said a UN dept head would deal with it.

Can you imagine, visitors arrive and instead of Obama or Putin or Cameron or Julia Gillard or Kim Jong Il their first appointment is with the head of a small UN dept.

“Er, right, we were going to give you the gift of eternal energy from water, but since you don’t seem to think its worthwhile we cross hundreds of light years of space, we aren’t going to bother now,” or something similar crackles through their universal translators.

The lady in question, Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, has since insisted she did not say such a thing.

Well, whatever she did or didn’t say to the Sunday Times reporter I’m glad its been cleared up and she won’t be the person first up to meet the aliens.

However, my Jerry Springer final thought for today is: maybe it would be a good idea if we worked out who would be first in to bat if they ever did show up?

Bad Robot

September 27, 2010

I was speaking to a lady the other day (an acquaintance, I guess, if people still have such things in our world of six degrees of separation) who is losing her job because the organisation she worked for is closing down.

Since it became clear she would be out of work by the end of the year she started applying for jobs in similar organisations. Times are hard in that industry (and many others) and no one is hiring.

So she turned to one of the big supermarkets, the logic being working for one of them until the current recession is over is better than the dole. I couldn’t agree more.

This has not come to pass – from the discussion I had with her, I came away with the distinct impression the supermarket was not hiring till staff because they were expecting to increase the number of self-service tills.

As a child and teenager I was an avid reader of science fiction books (and of sci-fi comics and I’d watch movies and TV shows too) and one of those ever-present themes was about machines taking away jobs from people. This would lead to anti robot uprisings amongst civilian populations and would generally create a big mess.

Robots have been present on production lines for many years (I’m fairly certain I read in an Asimov story once about robots building robots that were better than humans could ever build), but this is the first time I have actually heard someone I know say they haven’t got employment because of the robots.

This is a worrying turn of events. Computers and robots are supposed to be machines – tools – to assist us. Not workplace rivals.

When you see the cute Asimo on the the Honda ads (great ads btw, made by Wieden + Kennedy) remember one day he may be stealing your job out from under you.

I foresee the Daily Mail stopping the immigration stories and running with the robot stories instead…

What James Brown did next

September 25, 2010

James Brown, the guy who launched Loaded (back when it was really, really good) has always been someone I have admired.

His latest project is Sabotage Times which I am thinking is pretty cool.

Contributors don’t get paid upfront for being featured on the site, but if they get sold on to other sites / publishers they do. A sort of shop window for the writers, where the open market judges what is worthy of being read rather than the publishers themselves.

He was interviewed a while back by Media Guardian about the site.

My favourite bit of the interview (not about the bird watching, so apologies to James himself) :

“He has no desire to go back to “dead tree” publishing. “With a high volume, high frequency publication you end up spending a lot of your time thinking about printers, distributors, what’s on the cover, and actually you don’t spend much time thinking about the journalism [he said].”

Which feeds right into my ongoing themes on this blog of where is book publishing going – and I refer to books, magazines and newspapers here.

The interview goes on to say:

“This is my office,” says Brown, holding up his iPhone. “The technology allows you not to invest in bricks and mortar any more. It’s a new type of business – a business of ideas and content, a business without a building.”

So anyone in the publishing industry hoping to hold on to their offices and staff by charging the same prices for digital downloads as real books, should take a look at the business model James Brown is using.

Having changed the face of magazines in the mid 90s, he may yet again be at the forefront of something else revolutionary.

Sunday Times price increase

September 24, 2010

Not only is Rupert Murdoch trying to make us pay to read his online Sunday Times content (no link inserted to paid content!), he has also raised the price of the print version too.

I am no economist, but I am sure I heard once raising prices in a falling market doesn’t usually work.

Come on Rupert, let’s not have a repeat of myspace.

I do have an account with myspace, but having just popped across to have a look at it, I have noticed they have removed the last logged in info. From looking at my own site, I would guess I last logged in back in February. Which I suppose would look bad as it is September now.

What is worse for Rupert, while I am having trouble remembering when I last logged into his social network (and it didnt even occur to me to try and link this blog to the blog function in myspace, off to have a look if that is easy to achieve in a minute), is that  my Facebook page gets visited most days.

Bookstore blues

September 23, 2010

I love book shops.

I really, REALLY do.

When I was a teenager I used to go to the one in the shopping centre near where we lived as often as I could – nearly every day in school / sixth form hols.

I went to Waterstones in Bristol this week.

About a year ago, I went in there and saw they had inserted a stand selling eReaders and the like. I wondered to myself about how long they would remain needing so much space for books when they were already selling the digital replacements.

And yesterday I went in and discovered a huge space to the right of the main door as you go in is now a CARD shop. Seriously, cards and wrapping paper in the area which I believe (if I am remembering correctly) used to hold poetry, bioography and it was certainly where I got the books on pregnancy / early years we purchased ahead of having our child.

I worry how little space will be used for actual book selling in this book store a year or two from now?

(The Broadmead area of Bristol is well served by coffee shops, but I guess as the mall this store is in has a food hall, they couldn’t have a coffee shop even if they wanted too)

Standalone digital readers

September 22, 2010

Amazon seem to be leading the way in the standalone reader category.

Compared to its rivals the Kindle seems the most affordable starting at £109.

Altho you can get a Sony eReader for under £150 at the moment.

My big concern about the standalone reader is that you’ll end up carrying this device as well as (at least) a mobile phone. (most people don’t carry a camera around anymore as their mobile phone has this covered for the everyday user)

The by word in the electronics industry has been “convergence” for as long as I can remember.

The Apple iPad is going in the right direction, but probably needs to also be an actual phone to get closer to being the finished article. I understand there has also been an issue with Flash, but word is a patch is underway.

Print is dead?

September 20, 2010

Anyone with a big interest in digital publishing should check out this book: Print is Dead by Jeff Gomez. (At time of writing I can only see a paperback and hardback version available on Amazon, think someone is missing a trick here by not having a digital version…)

Jeff is a  senior director of online consumer sales and marketing for Penguin Group USA – so he knows his apples.

I read his book while in Zante last year sat by the pool and mostly found it enlightening.

The only real area I disagreed with him was on pricing of digital books. As I recall his argument was that publishers needed to charge the prices they do to ensure they could keep their staff in their offices doing the fine work they do.

This mostly amounts to quality control of submissions that go on to become books and then editing the text and laying them out before distributing them.

In my previous post I mentioned Gail Rebuck of Random House, in her Media Guardian interview she said: “Publishers are relevant. We have practical expertise and, of course, money. We give our authors advances which enable them to concentrate on their work in hand … My idea of hell is a website with 80,000 self-published works on it – some of which might be jewels, but, frankly, who’s got the time? What people want is selection and frankly that’s what we do.”

The argument from the established publishing houses appears to be the high prices of digital books needs to be maintained so THEY can offer the paying public quality control.

For some reason I quite like the idea of a website with 80,000 self published works – I suspect the collective readers of the internet will let you know what is good and what isn’t – hasn’t Gail just described YouTube (I recommend the video I link to here btw) but for books???

Anyone interested in setting up such a site should email me at edd@edwardkeating.co.uk

Gotta love the GaGa

September 19, 2010

The other Sunday the Sunday Times ran a story in its magazine about Lady GaGa.

I would link to the story, but since Rupurt Murdoch has erected a paywall around it I won’t bother – I wouldnt want you to think I was encouraging you to pay for it – mostly cos the article seemed to be aimed at giving GaGa a good kick in.

The upshot was she was an upstart oik stealing her ideas from all sorts of previous icons. I’m fairly certain this is quite a common thing with pop / film / etc. The article itself ludicrously points out Madonna made a career from doing pretty much this, but for reasons the writer didn’t fully explain she felt when Madonna did it, this was cool, but with GaGa it was just rubbish.

GaGa is a bit of a loon – witness if you will the meat dress.  But she has moulded a sense of style into what she does that has captured the hearts and minds of many across the world.

Nova is coming…

September 19, 2010

all I have been hearing for weeks now is that Nova is coming.

I am looking forward to it finally getting here!

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