300 Seconds: A Stitch in Time

300 Seconds: A Stitch in Time

“Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“Well done is better than well said.”

There’s a reason old adages have staying power: They’re true, even in this digital age.

Or maybe I should say especially in this digital age. Hardware failure, viruses, ransomware… digital information is susceptible to loss more than ever.

One adage I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks is “a stitch in time saves nine.” I’ve been thinking about it since the morning I opened my laptop only to be met with a blank screen. My tech guy confirmed my fears that my hard drive was shot. The computer didn’t even recognize that a drive was there.

Notice I said “my fears” and not “my worst fears.” Last May when my hard drive putzed out on me, I lost everything. Once my programs we reinstalled, I made a conscious effort to save everything to Dropbox. Because even though my files resided in the ether, I could access them as easily as any other folder on my computer.

This time a few files and downloads were lost, but it took this little hiccup to realize I need to alter a couple more file-saving habits. Because even though I’d been saving files to Dropbox, I didn’t have a reinstallation plan for all of the programs that I use. Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Suite are easily accessible. But some of the other programs I use on a daily basis–GIF Animator, TextWrangler, and FileZilla–are not as easy to grab and install. Oh, I could find them. But it would be a process. And sometimes I doubt I could even begin to remember the NAMES of these programs.

This time, my story has a happy ending. When the new hard drive arrived and was installed, the computer didn’t recognize it either. It wasn’t a hard drive issue after all. So we popped my old drive into a different laptop, and I’m back in business. And even though I didn’t suffer a lot of data loss, I lost an incredible amount of time.

So here’s the “stitch in time” part: My 300 Seconds recommendation for today is to look at the different areas of the bookstore that require back-up.

  1. First, the data: financials, inventory and other POS information, customer database, photos, logos and other store collateral material, employee information.
  2. Now, the software: Can you readily restore any programs that might have been lost, like the Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office, and POS software?
  3. And finally, the miscellaneous: things like printer drivers, passwords, fonts, and the like.

Take these 5 minutes to figure out not only the best form of backup (cloud, external drive, etc.) but also the frequency and who should be responsible for each one. Thinking about these things now might save you from a huge headache in the future.

And an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Video: Colson Whitehead on His Early Writing

In this video, Colson Whitehead talks about his first big writing assignment, auditioning for creative writing classes in college (and being turned down each time), and his big break writing for The Village Voice. He says, “The main thing to know about The Voice is that whenever you worked there, it was at its height. And when you left, it went downhill.”

If you’d like to share this video with your customers, here’s the embed code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/bYUeWL-6BWM?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Endlessly quotable, tirelessly honest, thoroughly edifying, and delightfully witty: if these are the things you want in a summer read, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is your beach book. Scaachi Koul of Buzzfeed fame (don’t worry, no listicles here) fills these pages with essays that are at once timeless and timely.

If you don’t know Koul from Buzzfeed, you might have heard of her after she became the queen of Twitter, then abdicated after Milo Yiannopoulos sent his goons after her. This incident is the subject of perhaps the most fascinating essay in the book, “Mute.” Following death threats and concerns about doxxing, she left social media for two weeks. How does someone who trolls the trolls (with Good Will Hunting quotes, no less) end up going on internet vacation for a fortnight? What does it feel like to have some of the least sane people in North America hurling racist invective at you and threatening to harm your relatives? Koul eloquently describes both the experience and how she moved on from it.

Most of us (hopefully) will never be chased off a social media platform by puerile xenophobes, but other essays describe events familiar to nearly everyone. From questioning the unusual traditions around weddings (five-day Indian weddings in Koul’s case) to grappling with parental mortality and the way friendships change as we age, essays like “A Good Egg” combine relatable anecdotes with Koul’s particular perspective and incisive wit. As the Canadian-born daughter of Kashmiri immigrants, her split cultural identity informs the writing even when she details experiences almost every woman will recognize. Another standout essay, “Size Me Up,” exemplifies the author’s special talent for not only asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” but walking you through her experience as she lives out the answer. Shadeism and public humiliation are seldom so entertaining.

Then there are essays like “Hunting Season,” which every student should probably be given on the first day of high school. Koul pulls aside the curtain on rape culture to reveal, with raw honesty and startling specificity, precisely where it begins. While many think pieces have been written on this topic, this is perhaps the most pointed and direct one yet, exposing how commonplace the problem is while retaining the distinctive voice and personality that typifies Koul’s writing. More relatable than straight journalism but more polished and credible than a random Medium article, this format and style is perhaps the ideal one for tackling this kind of issue.

The title of this book is a bit of a trick–a portion of it appears on the cover crossed out with a thick black marker, shifting it to “One Day This Will Matter.” Ultimately, the topics Koul writes about do matter, and they matter right now. They will continue to be pertinent issues in the culture at large until it’s no longer remarkable that somebody has written a book like this; until a woman can put these words in print and not have thousands of people clamoring to see her jobless, raped, or murdered.


One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul (Picador |9781250121028 | May 2, 2017)

Video: ‘Into the Gray Zone’

Neuroscientist Adrian Owen reveals his controversial, groundbreaking work with patients whose brains were previously thought vegetative or non-responsive but turn out—in up to 20 percent of cases—to be vibrantly alive, existing in the “Gray Zone.” This video features Owen explaining the his journey of medical discovery outlined in his book, Into the Gray Zone.

A website with the same name–intothegrayzone.com–includes supporting materials and chapter correlations on several subjects, including First ContactScaffolds of ConsciousnessThe Mind ReaderAre You in Pain?Live or Let Die?, and Back From the Dead. Owen is also on Twitter @comadork. If you’d like to share this video with your customers, here’s the embed code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/oOP328QQAyM?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

This is the time to update that media list.

It’s been a little while since we’ve updated our media lists. These lists are not only a great tool for your own use, but also for publicists trying to garner publicity for your bookstore events. It helps save money on postage, duplicate book deliveries, and time if you are able to provide the most current contact information. It should take around 300 seconds to give your media list a once-over.

Give your list a quick glance to see if anyone retired or moved on to a different market. Then take just a few minutes to call those on your list to verify that the contacts you have are still appropriate. If your local newspaper is large enough to have a book page and a children/family writer, be sure to include names for these individual specialties. And news directors at radio and television stations tend to change often, so be sure to call them. For each individual listed, include the name, title, e-mail address, phone and fax numbers, and mailing address.

Once you’re finished, add an “Updated 04/18/17” footnote, then save it as a PDF. Now the list is ready to send to any publicist who might be sending an author your way. When you send it to the publicist, remind them that this is to replace the previous list. Otherwise multiple books might be sent to one media outlet.

If you have a bit more time to devote to marketing today, it’s also a good time to look at your own press release email list, which should include the names you just updated on your media list, but also weekly, daily, and specialty newspapers in your area. (Here’s an updated list of state, regional and national press associations. Most press association websites have a list of members available to help you build your media list.)

If you email media releases, errors can leave a long-lasting digital trail. Be sure to look at the reports from the latest releases you’ve sent, especially the bounce report. Some emails bounce because a mailbox might be full, or the recipient’s email service might have some other temporary glitch. But if an email address consistently shows up in the bounced field, the media person has probably moved on or you have a bad address. A quick web search or a phone call will yield the correct address for press releases.