Archives for June 2010

Books the Cost of Cigarettes? I dare you Penguin!

The septuagenarian publishing company is celebrating its 75 anniversary. But rather than blow out 75 candles, it has pumped out 75 classics for our reading consumption.

The 75 new Popular Penguins feature 13 titles by some of Australia’s best known writers, including Thea Astley, Isobelle Carmody, Bryce Courtenay and Tim Winton

The first Penguin paperbacks appeared in the summer of 1935 and included works by Ernest Hemingway, André Maurois and Agatha Christie. They were colour coded – orange for fiction, blue for biography and green for crime – and cost sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes, according to Penguin.

The latest batch of Popular Penguins are in bookstores now.

(taken from the Carte Blanche  ,The Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia)


One cannot help but notice that the whole pricing deal for books is very different now.

…and cost sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes

Now I haven’t bought a book in Australia for 18 months, but wandering through stores and occasionally buying books  in Canada is a favourite activity, and trust me when I say that the cost of a paperback book is nowhere near as ‘affordable’ as a packet of cigarettes.

Of course, not being a smoker, I had to do some research to write that last line with any authority, which resulted in my trolling though the internet to find the cost of smokes, raising eyebrows around here. With approximately ten packets in a carton, and the cheapest carton I could find being $55 (Marlboro King Size) then the cost of an individual packet of cigarettes is $5.50 a pack.

Any bookworm would know that getting the latest best seller for $5.50 is to dream the impossible dream.  Heck, it’s almost impossible to get a modern day classic for $5.50.  The Popular Penguins  are priced at AUS$9.95 (tax in) which is CAD$8.98 which is still not as cheap as a packet of cigarettes, but it is getting there.

The only other thing I would add in my thoughts is that when Penguin started publishing books for the cost of a packet of cigarettes, the stories they were offering were not as old as they are now. That is, they were much closer to being considered ‘modern’ stories. And there are no current best sellers on the Popular Penguin list that I can see.

 I get giddy at the thought of being able to fuel my addiction to the written word so affordably. Come on Penguin; I dare you. Start making cheap as ciggies books, because everyone knows that reading is a much healthier habit!

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

For five long months I was tortured.  I was in the midst of educational philosophy and the amount of brain power it took to read and more,  actually comprehend  what I was reading  for my university studies severely limited the amount of free time I had to dedicate to writing. In January I was able to concentrate on writing for a solid two hour block when Bronwen was at school. But the amount of work that came with my university course meant that for the last seven weeks I basically had to give up any and all creative writing and work solely on my mini thesis. In fact, I promised my Life Make Over group that I wouldn’t touch any creative work because I was finding it all too stressful to try and do it all. But I would look longingly at the spiral books that I enjoy writing by hand in and moan to anyone who would listen that I couldn’t wait to get back to my fiction writing.

Well get this. I finished the course last week.  For the last seven days I have been free of the academic writing and I am struggling to get back into the swing of creative writing.  I now lack the quiet spirit that I had cultivated last year and the idea of sitting for two hours and churning out 1000 words fills me fear and a certain awe; I used to do that five days a week?  There are just too many distractions right now. The house has gone to pot whilst I was buried in my books, so I could spend every day for a month cleaning. My daughter has been gifted with bags of clothing that needs a permanent home, resulting in my needing to weed out the clothing too small to make room for the new, meaning I’m  going down memory lane with every single item of clothing I’m having to put away. Having read so much educational stuff  over the past five months, there is now a pile of books from the library >this big< that I want to lose myself in.   And the World Cup has started.

So I remind myself that it was a scant week ago that I sent my work in. That seven days after five months of hard slog isn’t so very much. But I really ache to get back to my writing. Of churning out 1000 words a day.  Of the ‘muse’ returning and the words flowing easily.  Maybe I can fool my brain into thinking creatively rather than academically by writing this blog post.  That or I’m going to have to get strict and force myself to write a smaller amount (500?) of words growing to larger numbers and simply train my head to get back into the swing of things.

I forsee hard work ahead.