Tuesday 28 January 2014

The Cost of Value

Yesterday, I responded in a private message to a post on my facebook timeline. To my surprise, the message window appeared again seconds later with a reply. I say surprise, because the person I messaged is not only extremely well known in his field of exploration and authorship, but recently apologised to his followers en masse that, due to an exceptional workload, he was unable to respond in person to the many who had contacted him. However, he kindly added that he really appreciated everyone's contributions. I just assumed that my message would be pertinent to his posting and that he might read it sometime.

We then engaged in a brief exchange, during which I mentioned some information I had related in one of my own books that might be of interest in relation to one of his current topics. He wanted to know more and then said he would buy the book.

It wasn't until I had sent him the Amazon purchase link, that I remembered the cost of the book. For a moment I wondered if I had over-priced it - due in part to the cost of production being higher than other books I have written because it necessarily has to contain colour images. The book is also rather thin - actually being more akin to a booklet. He seemed a little surprised at the price and I apologised with the explanation just given.

"Bought it." He typed.

I thanked him and we ended our conversation. After about 10 minutes of elation, that someone of such standing had bought a book off me, I thought I'd better have a quick read through and see if it stood up to the scrutiny it would no doubt receive... and at that cost!

It may seem odd to some, but I often read through my own books. I actually believe I write well and it is testament to my diligence that I rarely feel anything needs to be changed in hindsight. I write precisely and concisely, with little unnecessary padding. Of course, the downside of this is that I often end up with booklets more often than books! As a writer, I choose my words very carefully. It is very important to convey what I mean to be received. QMS was originally a talk given to scientists and researchers in Barcelona.  It came from inspiration and the words flowed easily through me. For over 30 years, I have explored the more 'hidden' aspects of physical life, and QMS suddenly made a lot of sense.

I realised that the 'Worry Monster' (as my friend puts it) was dancing on my shoulder as I read through my work.  "Is this value for money?" it goaded. "Are you actually saying anything new?"

I woke in the early hours, still thinking about the book and what apology or recompense to offer, should it be rejected on receipt. Perhaps I could offer to return part of the cost, or maybe offer a second complimentary book free. "Stop it!" I thought. "Think of all the things people spend money on. Think of that same amount of money you put into the car as fuel every few days!" The Worry Monster wouldn't let go. "Yes, but look at the thickness of his books - and you can buy them for less than £10." I just hoped that my book was appreciated as substance over quantity.

Check out my books at www.richardgentle.com and here: https://keekoo.co.uk/books

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Stopwatch TV

Until a few months ago, I hadn't realised how invasive TV advertising had become on Freeview channels. On the old terrestrial stations, 3 minutes of advertising during programme breaks was normal and whilst it was still annoying, most of us learnt to live with it. 

However, I now find myself having to endure 4 breaks of between 5 and 6 minutes each in a 1 hour programme! That amounts to some 20 minutes of wasted time.  It means that an hour's programme could actually be shown in less than 40 minutes (I include here the fact that most programmes on advertising channels end a few minutes before the full hour).

These intrusive marketing interruptions are wasting my life! In an attempt to avoid them, one might just say: "Mute the volume." But quite frankly, I would still be sat there, wasting my time. No - that is not an option... and neither is missing my programme by leaving the room and returning too late!

Since I do not want to take the other option of recording the programme and then viewing it at a later date - skipping through the often scare-mongering sales-pitches... You could get Cancer if you don't do... You could lose all your teeth or get horrendous disease if... I choose instead a different tactic of avoidance.

Let me introduce you to my solution: 

I have timed the adverts on some of my favourite programmes and now I can start my stopwatch as soon as the interval begins.  I now mute the TV and leave the room, taking my stopwatch with me.  I can go to the loo; I can make a drink; or more often than not, I can check my emails or social networks... there's certainly plenty of time and I am doing things I would otherwise do if I wasn't watching the TV adverts!  When the clock reaches the 5 minutes or the 5 minutes and 15 seconds, or the 6 minutes - depending on the programme and which advert break we are on: 1, 2, 3 or 4 (for the average hourly episode), I return to the TV just in time to see the start of the next segment.

The bottom line is: The ad breaks are now too long! 

I know that many channels rely on advertising to finance their programmes, but this is an invasion of my time and when we reach a point where we have to sit through almost as much time in adverts as the programme or film we are watching, something is seriously out of order. 

I'm never going to be interested [even subliminally] in any of your stupid mis-information, your high-cost services, or expensive household products - so stop bugging me!  The only people who gain anything from these adverts are the broadcasting channels who charge the advertisers. In fact, the same goes for most advertising. The winners are the people selling the space - not the people selling the products - and certainly not the people having to sit through so much drivel. 

Actually, the same applies to hosting conferences and other public events.  The winners are the owners of the accommodation and those providing catering. We all need somewhere to go and we all need something to eat and drink.  We don't need most of the products alongside these.

I suppose that the ultimate solution is to just stop watching TV altogether. Indeed, I have one or two friends who have taken this path and ditched their TVs forever! It's not that I watch a lot of TV, but when I do watch it, I really don't want to be interrupted every 14 to 17 minutes for a 5 minute... and always increased volume (did I miss mentioning that?) delivery of verbal and visual excrement!

And it's not just adverts that waste my time!

I am sure I hardly need to mention that most hour-long programmes could be condensed into about 20 minutes!  Because after the adverts, many programmes insist on giving a complete synopsis of what has so far happened - just in case we are either switching the TV on part-way through, or in a stupefied state of catatonia have suddenly contracted a pandemic outbreak of TV amnesia!