Thursday, May 31, 2012

Botanical Garden: Palmengarten in Frankfurt

One of my favorite places in Frankfurt is Palmengarten, a very large (over 70 acres) botanical garden. It isn't far from where I live, so I often walk through the gardens and various plant halls.
Sometimes I take a notebook, sit on a bench, and write.

Here are a few photos I've taken over the past couple years.

Palmengarten and the entrance building

Spring bulbs. The lawns are filled with color during April and May

An autumn view of the lake. A waterfall is to the left and underneath is a cavern.
Flower in front of one of the garden halls
Rowboats on a lake in Palmengarten

Small greenhouse--this is one of the smallest in Palmengarten. Most greenhouses are very large halls.

One of the many statues that are carefully placed in the gardens.
Palmenhouse--one of the large buildings filled with plants. This one is filled with tropical plants. The ceiling is about 40 feet above the floor.
I use my time in Palmengarten to both enjoy the scenery and to think about whatever I happen to be working on with my writing at that moment.

I also enjoy seeing the various birds and their babies. Most are waterfowl (such as swans, ducks, moorhens, geese--brown European geese and bar-headed geese, and a heron) but there are also many other birds including blackcaps, pigeons, crows, magpies, dunnocks and more. I've also seen rooks while walking to the gardens.
Here are two bird photos:

Bar-headed geese in Palmengarten. (They are stunningly beautiful.)

Gray Heron at the lake. Normally these turtles don't have to share their sunny log. The other side of the lake has rowboats and paddle boats.

Sometimes after I walk through the gardens with my family, we drop by Siesmayer (restaurant/cafe/confectionary shop) and buy some treats. I highly recommend visiting Siesmayer if you are ever in Frankfurt!
The box has plastic windows: brilliant marketing!

 My favorite is the chocolate framboise--a gluten free chocolate-raspberry cake, with a pistachio on top! Yum! I'll miss this when I move away.

 A few more of their desserts.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Advertising on book covers and inside books

 Ads on book covers?
Last week a book was published in China with an advertisement on the back cover. It isn't intrusive--the ad is a small logo of a textile firm. The deputy director of the Publishers' Association of China announced his association's deal with an advertising agency in March. He talks about it in this article in People Daily. (Well worth reading.)
Though ads on covers may be new, ads inside books are not new. 

I remember reading books with ads in them. The ads weren't for products, they were for other books by the publisher. But they are ads! I went to my bookshelves to see if I could find these ads in some of my older books.
First, I found a picture book I bought when I lived in China. The back cover shows photos of other picture books: advertising. (As I thumb through this book, I now wish I had bought more copies of this book and bought some of the other books shown.)

Some books advertise other books published by the author--these advertisements use several pages at the back of the book and show book covers and include pitches or blurbs. (Some books published today still mention other books by the author, but they don't have the tone or look or feel of an advertisement.)

I own some recent children's books that include the first chapter of another book by the same author. This is a type of advertisement, one that can hook the reader. (It can also frustrate the reader if the book isn't yet published!)

Historically, some publishing houses included mail order forms on the back pages of their books.
Here are some of the publishing houses (who used these types of ads) that I found while browsing my shelves.

-Vintage Random House (1984): the back four pages lists "Vintage" classics: "Available at your bookstore or call toll-free to order." Plus, there is another page (and order form) to order the book on audio-cassette.

-Avon/Harper Collins (1990) published a Newbery Honor book. The back page has lists of books and prices, plus a coupon for ordering books.

-Apple Scholastic (no date) has the same type of form in the back of their Apple Classic Black Beauty. The books available are classics and are offered for around $3, with $2 for shipping.

-Ballentine (1976) Tolkien Books have information about ordering other Tolkien books. Plus, one book has ads for both Lord of the Ring Maps and posters on one back page and an ad for the MS Read-a-thon on another page.

Tolkien: Smith of Wooten Major and Farmer Giles of Ham; The Tolkien Reader.

-Other publishers on my shelves that have order forms are Dell (1973, 1990); Bantam (1974); Penguin (1986; 7 pages with 4 order forms! But no prices, yet it says, "please include sales tax); and Signet (1965 and 1984).

A more recent Scholastic Book (2002) has three (!) pages in the back with illustrated advertisements with mail order blanks to fill in.

What about picture books?
Golden Books and some Scholastic books and others show either book covers or a list of books--and I've bought books because of this--but these books give no way to order directly.

Next, I wondered if there were any books from a long time ago that included advertising. I found an example online from 1776: about 3/4 the way down the page shows an ad on an endpage of Aristotle’s Masterpiece.

At some point, most US publishers went away from selling directly to the public. I wonder why that decision was made; I think a few publishers are now again selling e-books directly to customers.

Advertisements could be intrusive and take away from the reading experience. (I can imagine a poorly done ad being placed right at a cliffhanger.) But perhaps the right type of ads placed in the right place would be acceptable to readers.

Here are a few questions that I'm now asking myself:
  • Would advertisements in the back pages of a book irritate me as a reader? (I remember when I was a child, I would always read these ads and wish I could get some of the books mentioned.)
  • What about ads on book covers? What if it was only a small logo?
  • What about a book where the author was paid to insert and highlight a product? (This has happened, by the way.) 
  • What if advertising meant that high quality books (edited and published by reputable firms) were available inexpensively?
  • Or should books, as one of the last few places we go for entertainment without marketing and advertising, remain ad-free?