We end 2015 with Christmas cards used for greetings. Internet communications have been with us for only a few years, and Twitter is a relative newcomer, but the concept of Twitter – writing a message in a few words – is much older. The General Post Office in Britain (which became ‘The Post Office’ in 1969) once provided a next-day delivery (in some places a same-day delivery) of letters and postcards without levying an extra charge. It was not uncommon for someone to post a postcard around midday to warn that they would be late home – and for the postcard to be delivered that afternoon. For much of the 20th century, there were relatively few telephones in Britain and mobile phones were a sci-fi dream, so postcards were the tweets of their day.
A 1905 greeting
At Christmas, cards became the main form of seasonal greeting, but festive postcards were used as well, especially for last-minute communication. The one below is a postcard of Queen Victoria’s statue at Southend-on-Sea in Essex, overprinted with ‘Best Wishes for Xmas and the New Year’ in embossed red lettering. It was posted with a halfpenny stamp in January 1909 at Sacriston in County Durham to an address at Wolsingham about 10 miles away. Agnes was writing to her uncle ‘to thank you for your cards which were very much admired especially those with the tinsel on. I am sending you this, which is not very nice, Continue reading
Gifts for Christmas (and other occasions) have traditionally included books. Many people prefer physical books, even if they buy an e-book version as well. E-book sales are apparently no longer rising, while print book sales are holding up, so it looks as if they will continue to make great presents.
Book blogs and more
One problem is knowing what to buy. Newspapers and magazines have reduced the number of books they review, while public libraries are buying fewer books or closing (can you believe that our own brilliant local library was demolished to make way for a 99P store?). Most chain bookstores have changed drastically in the last few years, with far fewer titles being stocked and an emphasis on celebrity books. Perhaps you are lucky to have a good independent bookstore close by, but another very good way of finding out about new and old books is to sign up to some book blogs. There are many wonderful people out there Continue reading
Origins of ideas
You often hear authors – fiction ones especially – saying that the most common question they are asked is ‘where do you get your ideas?’ From a reader’s point-of-view, it’s a fair question. Even though we write books, we still want to know how other authors work, how they develop their plots and ideas, and how they interact with their agents and publishers. Some authors, exasperated with the question, have written pieces claiming to buy their ideas from retail outlets. A few weeks ago we spotted ‘Plot For Sale’ on a signboard alongside a Devon country lane Continue reading