Friday, October 21, 2005

I'm a Wuss for OnStar (TM)

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No, hubby and I don't own GM vehicles and so we don't have OnStar in our cars, but next best thing to having OnStar access in your vehicle, is listening to the OnStar radio spots.

I'm such a sucker when I hear these three minute ad pitches: it's like a soap opera for the airwaves -- Will the "victim" get through to the OnStar person? Will OnStar get through to the emergency services? Will OnStar be receptive to compliments following the crisis?

I like hearing the disparate accents of callers and the OnStar reps. I like knowing that usually there will be a happy ending. If not, I think the company has their advertising means a little mixed-up.

Sometimes the desperate voices pierce my heart was the case this a.m. just as I drove into the parking lot at work. In this scenario, a 48-year-old man thought he was having a heart attack, emergency personnel were contacted and by the end of the commercial, they'd arrived on the scene. But by the end of the commercial I was also suddenly weepy. I could actually hear the pain in the caller's voice, the tightness, the clenching in his chest, and I actually hoped that he, too, received a happy ending.

Need directions? Call OnStar. Need help unlocking your vehicle? Call OnStar. Car won't drive? Call OnStar. G-d forbid you need emergency medical treatment? Call OnStar.

Need a laugh? Link to BlondeStar.

Give a Book a Look

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I grew up around books: reading them, buying them, collecting them, proofreading them, copy editing them, editing them, shelving them when I worked in campus libraries, donating them when my personal collections got too vast.

I've always been interested in book cover design, typography, author bios on book covers, back cover blurbs, front cover flashes.

In almost every way, books have been appealing to me, except in one as the years went on: THE PRICE. As I got into my late teens and early twenties and I cruised bookstores, lookin' for a good read, I'd find something that I might've read about in a magazine, which sounded interesting to me, and I bought it. I could still afford to. As time went on, I began to head to the publishers' clearance tables of the bookstores, gathering up several books at a time to buy.

But even those days are long gone. Books are damn expensive to buy. Working in the industry, I know that books are damn expensive to produce, so paying the price shouldn't be such a shocker. But it still continues to be.

I always wonder how people can afford to belong to monthly bookclubs, such as my company offers, and get boxfuls of books, paying shipping and handling and state/provincial taxes. I wonder how people can go into the bookstores and buy two or three hardcovers or even paperbacks each month.

As a parent who wants to pass on a few good reads to a child (and not necessarily from a public library or even a secondhand bookstore), I'm at somewhat of a loss when I see the prices of books. Tonight I bought two thin paperbacks for my two oldest children, as a treat for them. These books that total between them less than 200 pages, ran me up a bill of $14 or so...Canadian. Maybe in the States it would have cost me $11 or so. It's still a lot for a silly and simple read, nothing notable about these books.

I, on the other hand, managed to find a softcover publishers' clearance book for myself; I paid 99 cents for the book, which was about 6 years old and a wonderful piece of fiction by a Canadian author who is fairly well-known in these parts. This book even received a wonderful review in the NY Times in its heyday. I felt lucky to have a 99 cents find for a good piece of fiction, but honestly, it hurt me that the author-publisher relationship had come to this and his book was like confetti that's left on the floor after a great party -- fun while it lasted, but a hassle to get rid of.

I adore children's books. Children's books, hardcover or soft, do not come cheap, but a parent has to make some exceptions to make some worthwhile purchases of such books that can become family keepers.

I'm only blogging about the price of books because when I came home tonight and showed the kids the books I bought for them, my daughter asked me after examining the book jacket, "How come we always have to pay more for books here than in the United States?" I had to give her a quick explanation of the American vs. the Canadian dollar, and then gave her a brief concept of book publishing costs in general.

Maybe she "got it" but I'm still wondering about it all.