Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finding Books (and swimsuits)

You'd think it would be easy to find a swimsuit in July. But no, not if you're at all selective or wear the wrong size. Granted, I only went to Target and didn't bother shopping around, but still, I'm not sure how much luck I would have had elsewhere. If I'd been looking for a string bikini I might have been able to find something, but that's what I already have that I wanted to avoid wearing. In general, they should rename them and call what they had on sale "hanging around by the pool/on the beach suits" because anyone who tried to actually swim would surely suffer a wardrobe malfunction.

Take, for instance, the one with the cute little skirt, which might have been nice for hiding the lumpy thighs, but it was strapless. The skirt creates drag on the suit, so I could only imagine what would happen just swimming across the pool. Otherwise, we were dealing with a total Skank-o-Rama. I'm not a serious enough swimmer that I need the racing tank suit, but I do need something that's good for activities that go beyond sunbathing (and by "activities" I mean moving around in the water, not holding a drink with an umbrella in it). I found something that's not ideal but that should work. I actually like the style of the suit, but it's not the color I would have chosen. I tend to go for basic black or navy in swimsuits, and this is brown with some kind of animal print trim. I also had to get a size larger than usual because they had absolutely nothing other than dental floss woven together with a few metal rings, the strapless skirted suit and a few string bikinis in my size. The larger size just makes the suit a little less high-cut in the legs and should work okay until the Spandex commits ritual suicide and the suit suddenly becomes baggy. But it was on clearance, so if it lasts the rest of the summer, I'll be okay.

Last night was the last ballet class of the summer session. We'll be starting up again in August. I've already registered for the fall semester, so I think I can justify getting a new leotard so I can switch them around and not just wash the same one every week. I may even get one of those little ballet gauze wrap skirts. The teacher showed us some stretches to help get into the splits, and I think I have a new goal. I used to be really flexible, and I could do splits three different ways well into my 20s, until I had knee surgery. Then all the therapy after that built up my leg muscles, and I went for a long time without being able to stretch much, so I lost that flexibility. I'd really like to be able to get it back and be able to do splits again. The problem is in my hamstrings, as my hip flexors are still really loose.

Thanks for the responses yesterday about book reviews. Not that I can do anything about it since even if I went insane and decided to start my own book publicity agency that does things in a way that makes sense for the way the world works today, I'd be limited by what the publishers allowed me to do or gave me the material to do (even an independent book publicist has to work along with the publisher's publicity department). But I had a feeling that this issue was yet another way that the book publishing world makes their decisions based on their own lives, how they respond and what interests them rather than on any knowledge or understanding of how their target audience really behaves. I seriously doubt that the majority of the reading public even reads book reviews, let alone rushes out to buy books right away on the basis of a book review. Since they don't do much advertising or other marketing, they really need to look at reviews as just another "exposure," part of the number of exposures someone needs to have to something before it sticks in the brain.

I don't read a lot of newspaper or magazine book reviews (well, I read them, just because they're words and in front of me, but they don't influence my behavior at all) because newspapers and magazines don't review the kinds of books I read. I guess if I read genre-specific publications that would be different, but I don't. I do read a number of book-related blogs, and there, it's not the review that gets my attention, but just the mention of the book. If the book sounds interesting, I'll jot it down in my notebook. If the book's at the library, "Sounds interesting" is enough to get me to check it out. If not, then I will do more research before buying it. I generally prefer amateur or semi-pro reviews -- people who talk about books just because they love them -- and what I look for is some specificity in what they liked or disliked because that way I can tell if it's something that would bother me or something that appeals to me. I don't usually read Amazon reader reviews before I buy a book, though I will check to see what the rating distribution is, but I may check Amazon to see if there's a Booklist review because I know some of their reviewers and know whose tastes I trust. I may read Amazon reader reviews after I read a book, if it's one that I've heard a lot of positive buzz about but I really hated, because sometimes seeing the reader feedback helps me understand what the deal is, if there was something I missed or if I'm apparently not the target reader.

Even with the title and author's name jotted down in my book, it may take me seeing that book mentioned in several places and then running across it in a store before I buy it, and then it may be weeks or months before I read it. I can't think of a book that I've gone out and bought and then read on release day, other than the Harry Potter series. I don't often even read books the day I buy them, unless I buy something while I'm traveling for reading in transit -- if I'm getting to the end of what I brought with me to read, I may buy something new and start reading it immediately. Otherwise, I buy books to have them handy for when I want to read them.

And I don't think I'm a real oddball in acting this way. I probably seek out more information about books than the average person, and there are still books I miss that would have been perfect for me. That says to me that the industry isn't doing a good job of identifying and communicating to their potential audience and are relying on people to just somehow stumble across their products or to take the initiative to find out what books are available and then learn about those books. They also rely heavily on word of mouth, which takes time, but then expect the kind of results you get from a multi-million dollar, multimedia ad campaign.

I'm going to have a lot to do when I succeed in the Ongoing Quest for World Domination. Maybe I should start taking minion applications.

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