Edgar would be 200

January 19, 2009

It’s the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s birth and the New York Times have a good article/slideshow on Edgar and his works at


Just a reminder as well that I now have a twitter account, so if you’re on twitter you can keep up to date on site updates and basic dribblings from my brain at http://twitter.com/weswapbooks

Also hope to have an announcement soon on book reviews, watch this space.


So, last night I went to the Edinburgh Internet Marketing Meetup and I heard Mike Coulter speak about Social Media and the way it’s been going and the possible road ahead. Now I’m not one for reviewing so I’m not going to list everything Mike said, but if he’s doing a talk near you and you have the opportunity to go along, then go. He had a lot of interesting insights, good ideas, cautionary tales and other assorted internet related adventures to share with the group. If you’re involved in the web in a professional sense in any way, I would recommend listening to one of Mike’s talks.

One thing he convinced me of is that my site (www.weswapbooks.com) is, in old diplomatic terms, a closed border country. I’ve been thinking since the talk that people are only going to visit the site to swap books, no other reasons. I was hoping to turn the site into a book community. Obviously that people would swap books there, but discuss books and participate in a community sense. It hasn’t happened and I just though “well maybe that’s not what people want”. But after last nights talk I think it is. I think somewhere for people to meet, talk about authors, review books and swap books is maybe what people want and I think maybe the site needs to be more interactive, more social.

So, planned improvements include

  • Members will be able to upload their own book reviews into the book reviews section
  • They’ll also be able to leave comments on other reviews, leave feedback and discuss the reviews as well as rate reviews
  • Only this week I’ve just started using twitter and I am going to use it, not only as a personal account but, also as an announcement service for weswapbooks
  • I’m not 100% what the tools are, but I’m going to look at the Amazon Developers Network and perhaps utilise some of their tools in the site

And I’m going to keep the old grey matter ticking over on what new and exciting tools we can use in an attempt to, going back to the old diplomatic terms, open the borders of our country.

And this is where you come in…if you have any ideas/suggestions on how to improve the site and/or make it more sociable, I’d love to hear. Post them as a comment to this post, please. Thanks.

By the way on a side note it was great to meet everyone at the event last night. Good people, good ideas, good beer, good chat, I will hopefully be along to the next one.

Recommended Books

December 22, 2008

This Christmas the Scottish Book Trust has reviewed 16 books that they recommend for Christmas presents. Some fantastic books on this list, including one of my favourites “Day of the Triffids”.

The list can be found at the URL below.


Great list and some great stocking fillers if you’re stuck for an idea.

And also to all our swappers we hope you have a Merry Christmas  and a Happy New Year.

Browsing through the Scotsman website when I found their recommends section and in it, some book related lists so I thought I’d post some links to the ones I found the most enjoyable.

Best Scottish Author : A bit disappointed not to see Rankin on here but then I’ve never read Burns, maybe if I had I would understand. RLS the best author from Scotland and I would say certainly in the top 10 of worlds best…but then being Scottish I’m biased.

Best Scottish Children’s Author

Best Football Book : Glad I found this list, “A season with Verona” just jumped to the top of my “have to read” list.

Best Book Scottish Location : Don’t really get this one but enjoyed it all the same.

Best 2nd hand bookshops in Scotland

Sorry for anyone outside Scotland who wanted more than Scottish book lists but then I think you can understand why The Scotsman would concentrate on those in particular.

I am a huge fan of the Kurt Wallander books by Henning Mankell and was pleased to discover this morning that on Sunday, this Sunday the 30th of November, shown on BBC1 at 9pm will be the first of three TV Movies adapted from Mankells books.

Some more information on this blog, including excerpts from a Branagh interview : http://eurocrime.blogspot.com/2008/11/wallander-bbc-interviews-branagh.html

Like I say I am a huge fan and I’m suprised they got such a notable actor like Kenneth Branagh to play Wallander. Being filmed in Sweden, this has all the ingredients to be great.

Fingers Crossed.

Royal Mail Warning

October 17, 2008

A lot of us use Royal Mail to post books to one another, so I thought it might be prudent to post a warning message here about a couple of things when dealing with Royal Mail

1. Make sure you have copied the other persons address correctly. Double check if you have to. We’ve had a couple of rare occasions where books are returned to sender because the address wasn’t recognised. It’s unclear why this occured but I’m putting my money on incorrect addresses, so please double check before going to the post office.

2. This has been confirmed by Royal Mail and the Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 09066 611 911 (a premium rate number). DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize .

If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 02072 396 655 or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk


On a side note the new design looks great, might post a preview here next week.

edinburgh book festival

August 25, 2008

A little disappointed I didn’t get to the book festival more often this year. I was ill for the start of the festival and then the weather really took a turn for the worse the rest of the festival, I only managed to make it along twice and hand out leaflets outside. I think handing out leaflets outside is a good way to gather more members for the site and generate interest in our community.

A few things that disappointed me while handing out leaflets

  • Staff from the festival were very dismissive of me. I had thought if they were really into books they would have at the very least taken one of my leaflets, especially as I was saying “book swapping site” to them. They not only were pretty dismissive, some of them outright ignored me. Now I can understand this to a degree as they did have a few people outside advertising shows, but as far as I could tell…the times I was there I was the only one actually handing out leaflets for something book related. So a bit miffed with the staff at the festival…
  • The amount of tourists I saw that were almost hit with a car outside the festival was worrying to say the least. Now I was only outside about 3 hours this year but I think every 10 mins a tourist would just walk out, how no-one was hurt is a miracle. In saying that Edinburgh drivers coming up to Charlotte Square aren’t the most patient. Especially the day 5 of them sat and beeped horns at an old woman who was taking to long to cross the road…an old woman with 2 walking sticks. I mean what was she going to do, drop them and run.
  • At one point I felt kinda sick and shaky so I went inside the festival to get something to eat. So I bought a can opf lemonade and a biscuit (an empire biscuit to be precise cause I found it funny the guy behind the till didn’t know what I meant when I called it an empire biscuit. I said “been in catering long then” to which I got a bemused look. No more bemused he got when he told me for a can of lemonade and biscuit I owed him £3. £3. Remind me to take food next time I go.

To be honest if it weren’t for my site and handing out leaflets I would give next years book festival a miss. Unfortunately I won’t be able to, like I say it’s just too good an oppurtunity to let other book lovers know about the site. Mind you by next year hopefully the site will be a bit bigger, sister site should be up and running by this time next year.

Nigerian School Books

August 18, 2008

Standing outside the book festival handing out bookmarkers I met a guy who was promoting an African Children Stories show happening later that day. I got chatting to him and he let me know something quite interesting.

Apparently the rate of inflation in Nigeria has made many things unaffordable for a lot of people, one of them is school books. He’s been spending his time trying to find second hand school books (I don’t think the subject matters or even age range) to send to Nigeria where they’re screaming out for these kinda resources.  Education is a big thing in Nigeria (where isn’t it?) and this would be a huge help for a lot of kids.

I said I would help anyway I could, so…

Does anyone know anywhere or anyhow to get a load of second hand school books to send to Nigeria?

cool book covers site

August 5, 2008

I found a pretty cool website that lets people look at some amazing book cover designs and rate them. Pop over and visit the site, you’ll find yourself looking at the designs for hours.



June 25, 2008

a great podcast that does have a bit on book reviews and poetry, some music as well and live performances. I was delighted to find this because most of the book podcasts out there are always in such a formal and stuffy way so I was glad to find this which is much more relaxed and it is great, interesting, check out the podcast on iTunes and here is their site


Thorough thumbs up from here :o)