Amazon and WHSmiths a Double Edged Sword

The future of Books!?!
The future of Books!?!

I have for lack of a better been thrown to the lion’s, and they are two heavy weight of the retail world and they have me and other writers and publishers by the balls. On the one hand everyone uses Amazon and WHSmith’s for buy ing books, although even WHSmith’s high street selling has been hit, as everyone clamours to buy brand new books discounted online. With bug titles like Harry Potter, where the book is discounted by sometimes as much as 50%, the issues aren’t as bad due to the volume.

However with small niche markets like Climbing, where books sell in hundreds and thousands rather than million, that reduction in price isn’t coming from the likes of amazon, WHSmiths or Tesco’s. No, the discount has to be made by the publisher reducing their wholesale cost, which is then passed onto the writers through reduced royalties. For instance my royalties for books sold on Amazon can be as much as 40% less than if sold through other outlets. Yet you the customer doesn’t get that 40% difference.

To me having learnt this, I really feel that I owe it to the writer and the publisher to dig a little deeper into my pocket and pay the full retail price at my local outdoor shop. As I am not only supporting them but also the writers and small publishing houses. I will put a few links to other similar stories below.

High Street Books Sales Fall Sharply

Amazon Ebook Price War

Royalties and Book Deals

Publishers in Battle with Amazon

So book selling through places like WHSmith’s and Amazon is a Double Edged Sword, where they have volume of sales. However having seen sales for a niche outdoor book, the sales where higher for non amazon/discounted sales outlets than through these retail giants. So whilst for the Tony Blairs and JK Rowlands of this world discount sales can be great for moving books off shelves and getting their books in the top ten list. Sadly it isn’t for us.

My book is due out by the 25th September, I’d prefer it if paid a few pence more (maybe up to a ¬£1), and feel a warm squiggy feeling inside that you have helping the author and you local bookstore or outdoor retailer keep their head above water. You are in a free market though, the main thing is though that you feel you have value for money. If you do get a copy, please drop me a line here and give your feedback, as I won’t have seen the book as I have to head west to the US of A!

Never Believe A Stranger!

Me on the final exciting moves of Cutting Egde, F6c+
Me on the final exciting moves of Cutting Egde, F6c+

Well, having asked someone at the crag what grade a route was I got a rather convincing answer that the route was F7b+, I then thought the route was way too easy. Having looked on the UKC logbooks it turned out my F7b+ was downgraded to F6c+. In a way I am gutted, but it figures as it was easier than the F7a+ I mentioned. The route is amazing though especially for that grade.

If you fancy a go then it is called Cutting Edge. Here are some more photos of me top roping it, remember that I thought it was F7b+, otherwise I might just have had a pop on the sharp end. Never Mind, Just thought I’d correct the post I made a few days ago, wouldn’t want to be a lying, cheating bastard, I am just a bastard! ANyway I have robbed some pictures from a friend from B’mth Olly Arnold, hope you like his B&W’s.

Cutting Edge, the cuttings Portland by Olly Arnold
Cutting Edge, the cuttings Portland by Olly Arnold
Me fight up a F5+ crack, believe me it was as hard as it looked, the jams were rather rattly!
Me fight up a F5+ crack, believe me it was as hard as it looked, the jams were rather rattly!

Final Prep and Finally Packed!!!

Well I had a flurry of activity today, where I finally got all the kit that I hope we’ll need into the bags ready for travelling States Side. So I feel ready to go now, although I had to go shopping today to buy some essential gear as well as get some topos, insurance doc’s and other essential info.

Fortunately Staples provided an ace service for doing all the admin side of the photocopying and laminating. They also had the passport hard drive I had been looking for, not to mention a spare SD card for the SLR. So I am packed and ready to roll. Although I have to go back to Cotswolds to get some trousers, more specifically provide some proof of employment to get my discount.

Heat training in Portland

Ancient Art-0062

I went to Portland today with a few friends from my old school. It was good to catch up and see these guys getting psyched for climbing. We went to the cuttings and it was ferociously hot, which is a good thing given that I am about to head to america, and within two and a half weeks I shall probably be in the middle of the desert again!

We got a fair bit of clibming done, most easy although I dod a couple of 6’s, and had a top rope on one of the nices looking bolted aretes I have ever seen. The climbing was amazing, and if it hadn’t been for the heat, although I suspect I am solar powered as I flew up the arete, that was meant to be F7b, although both Night Glue and Geordie Warcry at &a+ are harder, although nowhere near as technical.

A fab day out all in all. One word of warning though, in preparation for the 2012 olympics there is a lot of road construction, meaning that getting to and from the island will be a pain in the arse. Although arguably, there is no room for a large road, so I suspect there will be gridlock there during the games. Although having spoken to a friend who lives within 5 miles of the olympic village in London, he is planning to take 2 weeks annual leave during the games, as London is full to capacity with traffic already, so doubts it can take any added olympic traffic.

Dave being sandbagged into climbing a F5+ crack!!!
Dave being sandbagged into climbing a F5+ crack!!!

Book Update: Due 20th Sept

Well, I had some contact from the publisher in the last couple of days, and it seems like there has been a delay at the printers, and the book will now be due on the 20th September. Great for you guys but bad for me as I won’t get to see a copy before I head away. So the chances are that everyone who gets a copy will see the finished product before I do. If you do get hold of a copy, I’d like to hear all the feedback. Good, bad and of course the downright ugly.

OMG i’v gn n nrolled on Twatter

Well due in part to my departure and travels I have decided to sign up for twitter, just incase all I can manage to write is 140 characters. My guess is that I will not update this that much but I might be wrong, I will certainly try and avoid joining any twitter feeds! Anyway if you want to die of boredom then my twitter feed is Verticallife.

The feed should appear on the top left handside of my main blog page.

Final Day done, bring on the beer!

Well I have finished my final days work teaching some guys from a christian outdoor centre that is based somewhere flat, they were a good bunch of lads with a love for climbing. Which is good to see because they will be introducing thousands of kids to it at there centre over the coming year.

We head up to Clogwyn Y Oen, which was beautifully sunny all day, nice to get an extra day to work on my tan before I hit the road. Not to mention the jumaring practice.

I went and got a skype account last night, and manage to chat to my mum, so at least I know it works. I just have to hope that we can find some wifi broadband in the states. I will put my skype address on the SMG site under the book and contact info if anyone wants to get in contact when I am away, then I will probably miss everyone so will be grateful for the conversations. I’ll probably be on farcebook as well!

One more day of graft…

Its official I have one more day of work before I head off to Bournemouth for a week before heading state side for a few weeks of climbing before heading south to work again. It must be my first holiday in over twelve months, the last one was the amazing US road trip I did with Llion last year. I am getting excited, although I have one last hurdle to overcome, and thats the leaving dinner in the Curry House tomorrow night.

Odds are high for me crying at some point during the evening. Until then I have just got to do one more day of teaching rock climbing with Andy Newton, before its party time!

Review: Climbing Great Buildings BBC2

My housemate tipped me off about this new series, I tuned in expected to see some Alain Robert esque film of Lucy Creamer soloing a few of the classic building of the UK. Sadly I was disappointed, as in reality the programme is little more than a architectural programme shot at height, and the only climbing was something more akin to industrial rope access.

That said the programme was enjoyable, more for the architectual history. As a firm fan of megastructures on discovery or Nat Geo, I enjoy a little edu-tainment. The first programme focused on Durham Cathedral. However for me I had already seen ancient megastructures earlier in the week, which had given a complete history to the development from the round arch to the pointed arch to over come problems of structural integrity. As such for me the programme covered little ‘new’ ground.

I also love the series ‘The Worlds Biggest Fixes’, and I am quite used to programmes featuring IRATA techniques. So whilst the programme was OK, for me it was walking in the wake of a few programmes that have covered the genre of both architecture and IRATA in far more impressive ways.

What I did find when trying to link to some info on the programme was Ian Burton’s website. He has been involved in On Sight and The Asgard Project. I encourage you to visit his site and look at his time lapse video. Totally stunning. You have ¬†probably seen much of this footage before on these films, but it’s still impressive!

What is Acceptable Risk?

I have just read part of a inquest statement into the sudden death of a teenager in gorge. The full report is here, and makes interesting reading for anyone engaging in activities that include ‘jumping’ into water. I would see this to include gorge walking, sea level traversing and sea level traverses. The report notes that because these activities are reasonably new, that previous legislation inparticular the Young Persons Safety Act, that prompted the formation of AALA, now AALS (Adventurous Activities Licencing Service now part of the Health and Safety Executive HSE), doesn’t require a licence to undertake such activities.

In essence the report looks at what it considered to be an inappropriately risky jump into a pool of water, and that despite concerns raised by staff the Chief Instructor was insufficently qualified or experience to make the a judgement as to whether the activity was suitable for young people. The report mentions numerous times that the Abernethy Trust failed in my mind in their duty of care to implement robust safety guidelines and proceedures, inparticular not discussing the use of the higher pool jump with there technical expert, who acts as an independent expert for centres when they establish new activities, and helps centres make robust decisions on the safety of people in the centres care.

In particular to anyone who makes clients jump into water from height should read this report, as it highlights the reasons why this pool used by the Abernethy Trust was inappropriate. As it had a drop of 9.5 meters and required students to clear 1.5 meters to clear a rocky ledge.

I know of other centres that use similar configurations of jump where a student has to jump outwards to avoid impacting on rocks or submerged ledges to avoid injury. In the report it argues that this is totally in appropriate, as in the case the report has investigated the student tried to chicken out of the jump after they had committed to the leap. Something that is so unpredictable that it makes assessing such a risk impossible. On a previous occasion another jumper from the sight had slipped as they jumped, narrowly missing the same fateful ledge.

To me this report makes a clear and unarguable finding that for a jump site to be appropriate that a vertical fall from the take off platform should lead to a clean landing in the water, meaning the drop needs to be either vertical or overhanging. Similarly the take off point needs to be flat and easy to access. The needs to be no reliance on the student not slipping or not chickening out.

Similarly I would question the need to use a jump that is in the magnitude of 9.5m, as to what extent does this add to the ‘educational experience’ of the group, what message are you sending them away with and mainly why are you justifying such an activity.

Generally the idea of risk used in Outdoor Pursuits is to use what the profession refer to as apparent danger, in that we put students in a situation that is beyond there normal comfort zone, and make them feel like they are engaged in a risk activity, however the actual danger is reduced to near zero by safety proceedures and measures like safety ropes, helmets, bouyancy aids and even things like the choice of venue.

I can only feel great sorrow for the family of the young girl who lost her life in such terrible circumstances. Hopefully those that engage in such activities will read and take heed of all the advice and recommendations made by the report.