18 March 2011

Save Money on Books! (in Canada)

With the Canadian dollar now eclipsing that of the US dollar in value it's time to capitalize on some opportunities.

Recently I was asked to review a book for one of my favourite marketing people, Guy Kawasaki. When I got to the end, I analyzed the book itself; the cover, the jacket, the feel... and then the price. Whaaaaa??

What astonished me was that on today's bookshelf, it was $6 more in Canadian funds... looking at an older book by the same author it was $11.50 more in Canada. As a Canadian, this has always bothered me, but now that our dollar is worth more, it's time to take advantage of this opportunity.

Here's how it works:
  1. Go to the bank and exchange $100 CDN for $101.50 USD.
  2. Go to your local bookstore and shop for books.
  3. Pay with your newly acquired US currency.
  4. You save 15 - 25% on the book and you have more money to spend!
Cool, eh? But it's not that easy, in fact, it doesn't work.

But why? Well, some Canadian book retailers and publishers have been ahead of the curve on this front. Putting stickers over the cover price with a 'Canadian Price' or 'New Price' - in many cases offering a lower price than even the US price.

This is great news for readers, especially Canadian ones, eh? I think so.

The US/Canadian pricing disparity stems from a combination of things, in fact, one top bookseller in Canada posts on their web site the following:

• We buy and sell books in Canadian dollars. We do not profit from a strengthened Canadian dollar.

• A majority of our suppliers are based in the US. These suppliers add an extra charge, sometimes 10-15% more, on items shipped to Canada due to the extra cost of doing business in Canada like freight, minimum wage etc.

Having first hand experience with printing, shipping, warehousing and distributing print books through our last title, I can assure you, there is an enormous cost in shipping and warehousing tied to print books.

I say, good on the Canadian retailers and publishers for recognizing this perceived issue with consumers, doing something about it and communicating it.

So, as a Canadian consumer, thanks to Canadian publishers and retailers, you can save money on books after all. Now get out there and buy some.

PS - For my image, I chose to go with a literal translation of the blog's title today... stock photography filling the role of obvious, once more.

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08 March 2011

My First Book Review - Enchantment

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Guy Kawasaki to review his latest book, Enchantment. Now, I'm not a book reviewer, I'll get that out of the way right now as to lower your expectations on the posting you are about to (are) read(ing), so I was a bit confused about why my opinion on his book would be important or even necessary. Keep in mind, that Guy is not a friend, colleague nor family member, so to ask me to review the book was really a bit of a surprise. I'm a nobody.

As it turns out, my business blog is listed on Alltop, Mr. Kawasaki's web site that lists top blogs in various fields - Tales from the Expedition is a marketing blog and fit the bill to review a book on marketing.

But, to simply call Enchantment a marketing book would be foolish and unedu-macated. Enchantment is a book about being better, about being enchanting, about so much more than just marketing... having said that, it can all be applied to marketing. The fact that it's not just about marketing is why I believe this book will do very well - it's a book about business, relationships, marketing, leadership, sales and about being someone people will like and trust. It's about being enchanting.

I learned while reading Enchantment that approaching nobodies like myself (a lot of us actually), that the message of this book can be spread. Well, we'll see about that... I'm sure if Guy had access to our Google Analytics, he wouldn't have approached us to begin with (LOL). Also, after learning of Guy's passion for hockey, I had an obligation to review this - it's the dressing room code. With his passion in mind, I took my review copy to the site of the NHL's Heritage Classic, where my team was fortunate enough to play one afternoon following the big NHL game, for a quick photo (above) - hockey is also a passion of mine.

OK, so, here it goes, my first book review:

At first I was afraid I was petrified...

While reading the book I was overcome with the thought that the secret is out - thanks Guy for telling everyone, thanks for ruining what we had. Not to say I am enchanting myself, but Guy goes on to tell people, in point form and with some very good examples on how to be enchanting - some of these techniques I use myself (although, admittedly, I didn't know they were techniques until after I read the book). I was mortified that this information could get into the wrong hands and only calmed down after convincing myself that not all horses drink when lead to water. Even when the water is so easily presented, with the fences removed.

Also, when you consider that everyone has access to the secret eleven herbs and spices used by the colonel (thanks to the interweb) and nobody is making it, that tells me that the secret is still mostly safe. Mostly. You must consider that the internet doesn't give you point form, step by step instructions on how to perfect the recipe, not like this book does.

The tag line on the book says, "The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions" and holds true to this throughout. There are lessons learned, great examples, stories and illustrated points - explaining how to be enchanting. The onus is on the reader however, to implement the content from this book and become an enchanting person. Now, really, it can't be hard, it's practically an instruction manual - and I don't mean that in a negative way, I just mean that you can't mistake or misconstrue the information in this book - it's clear and well written. It just requires action on the readers part after reading it. Quite simple, really.

Advice like, 'apologizing is a sign of weakness', you know, the kind of advice that a father may bestow on his son while driving him to the monster truck rally, is not what you'll find in this book. The advice is real, it's genuine and Guy does an amazing job of tying it all together with some real world examples and sound rationale. You begin to see exactly why enchanting people are enchanting.

Now, I have read many business books, many stinkers, ...too many. In fact, I've read so many bad ones that I've pretty much narrowed down the field of who I listen to and take seriously to include just a handful of people who's opinions I respect and believe. I'm happy to say that Guy Kawasaki was on my shortlist, even before he approached me to review this book. I've read his other books - they're good, really good. This one is great. Enchantment is packed full of what seems to be Guy's secrets to success, it's like listening to your mentor impart their wisdom upon you. I actually felt better for reading it, like I had learned something useful. I had.

Unlike a Christopher Hitchen's book where it takes 200 pages to make a single point (no offense to Hitchen fans, but business books need to be succinct IMHO), Enchantment makes several points and explains an entire way of conducting oneself while coming in at just under 200 pages. It's light and easy-going in nature, but don't let that fool you - it packs a serious punch if you let it. I know that this is one book that will be read repeatedly by myself and recommended to trusted colleagues.

However, the icing on the cake was the last chapter, "How to Resist Enchantment" - this for me, was the clincher,... reading chapter after chapter on how to be enchanting, one begins to wonder what would happen if this information got into the wrong hands. Well, luckily, Mr. Kawasaki takes care of this with useful advice on how to be aware of and resist enchantment, or pseudo enchantment. This made me feel so much better. Thanks Guy.

OK, I guess this is the part where I sum it up and tell you to go buy the book. If you deal with people in any way shape or form, this is a must read book - buy it now.

Although I reviewed the hardcover of this book, I highly recommend the digital version, why? Read the book, you'll understand.

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