Amazon.com to Customers in Switzerland: Merry Christmas and Farewell!

What should I find in my E-mail today but this, from Amazon.com.

Amazon to Swiss Customers: Farewell

After more than two decades as the preeminent source for books for Anglophone readers in Switzerland, Amazon.com have decided to celebrate Boxing Day 2018 by punching their loyal customers in the gut.  They will no longer be able to order physical books or any other non-digital product from Amazon.com, but will rather be restricted to the much more limited selection available from Amazon subsidiaries in European Union (EU) countries.

People living in Switzerland who wish to order books in languages not available from subsidiaries in the European Union, for example Japanese and Chinese, are completely out of luck.  They will no longer have access to books from any Amazon site outside the EU.

Why is this happening?  Well, as usual, when you encounter something foul, coercive, and totally irrational, it’s a good bet the wicked European Union and its crooked Customs Union is involved.  The European Union has used its economic power to coerce Switzerland into conforming its trade policies with its deeply corrupt Customs Union.  The EU styles itself as a “free trade” zone, but in fact, it is a cartel with tariff barriers surrounding it which are erected to protect constituencies with political power in Brussels.

It deeply offends the slavers in Brussels that anybody should book a profit, anywhere in the world, which is not subject to their taxation (even though imports from outside the EU are subject to tariffs, duties, and Value Added Tax).  So, by putting up barriers, they prevent Amazon.com, a U.S. company, from shipping physical products even into non-EU countries over which they can exercise their power.

If you wonder why the issue of remaining in the EU Customs Union is such a big thing in the Brexit deal, this is why.

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Ex Libris: Bookplates Maritime

A book about bookplates inspired me to look around home for interesting specimens I’d not noted properly. The yield so far has been low, especially compared to the yield of “Discard” stamps and scrawls. But we set such thoughts aside for now, and look at a few bookplates with seafaring theme.

Fielding’s The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, published in reassuring solidity of hardcover in just the right proportions about 120 years ago by John W. Lovell, reveals this prize on the inside front cover.

Endpaper color looks teal like that indoors and through the scanner; in sunlight it is hunter green. Why is that? It’s beautiful but mysterious.  And see how the bookplate was cut unevenly?  The edges, though straight, are not parallel. The owner wisely set the plate in the book with the edges of the engraving parallel to the edges of the book cover.

The engraving border is all oak leaves and piled-up fruits and nuts. I like the way the two images are bound to each other and to the border with those fantastical bindings; they appear suspended from the border like signs on the frame of some signpost.

Was Harry Kent White a horseman? Who invented that font with its bits in the Hs and spur on the A?

That ship is a prize-winner of imagination!  The sails are shaped to match the hull. An inner hull, white, appears to bear a row of shields as though somebody is going a-Viking. But the nets are out above them, which is nice if a man goes overboard, but what if the call comes to Up Shields and the silly net is in the way?  But I am not the proper critic. Let us have Jane Austen’s Admiral Croft, issuing judgment on a ship in a painting in a Bath shop-window:

But what a thing here is, by way of a boat!  Do look at it.  Did you ever see the like?  What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that any body would venture their lives in such a shapeless old cockle-shell as that?  And yet here are two gentlemen stuck up in it mightily at their ease, and looking about them at the rocks and mountains, as if they were not to be upset the next moment, which they certainly must be.  I wonder where that boat was built? (laughing heartily) I would not venture over a horsepond in it.

The tall ship, below, looks less scornworthy; would you agree?  With luck some Ratburgian expert will name all the sails for us. I like the tall rectangular bookplate for the tall ship; I like the shimmering water reflecting the hull; I like the friendly stars on display between the fat ribbon  and the lower bunting.

Guy Kelsay was our friend. A Midwest Quaker lad, he suffered asthma badly, and so after his second year at college in the 1930s signed on to an oil tanker to chip paint and scrub decks.  As they left harbor, and pollen, behind, he felt his lungs free of the grip of asthma for the first time in his life.

He set ashore and returned to campus only to be told that he would not be allowed to return, the sensibilities of the young people at his Quaker college needing protection from the undoubted coarseness of his soul acquired out in the rude world.  He became a landsman then, a nurseryman, but never ended his romance with things maritime, and collected many books on seafaring and adventuring.

My 1966 Little, Brown hardcover copy of Hornblower During the Crisis was evidently owned by a proper reader.  I salute the Verplaetse family for the notations of book in series (#4) and time setting of the action of the novel.

Nice bookends depicted on reading table, there!  The little seated reader on the right appears to be nodding off.  Who does that?

That was the one single maritime-themed bookplate in the entire Hornblower collection. As a consolation prize, Commodore Hornblower offered up this prize, bestowed on it by a woman after my own heart. Blessings on Ruth M. Hill, whoever she is.

So, shall we be treated to a peek at some other people’s bookplates?  I hope so. It’s your turn. In any event, I do recommend looking through books with a bookplate search in mind; something good is bound to turn up.

Next time we will see some landscapes that came up in the search.

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Books of the Year: 2017

Gnome carrying pile of booksHere are my picks for the best books of 2017, fiction and nonfiction. These aren’t the best books published this year, but rather the best I’ve read in the last twelvemonth. The winner in both categories is barely distinguished from the pack, and the runners up are all worthy of reading. Runners up appear in alphabetical order by their author’s surname. Each title is linked to my review of the book.

Fiction:

Winner:

Runners up:

Nonfiction:

Winner:

Runners up:

I should note that due to demands on my time from other clamant priorities, I have accumulated a number of books which are candidates for this list which I haven’t yet had time to review. The rules for Books of the Year are that the book must both be read and reviewed to be listed, but here are books worthy of your attention which would have made this list had I time to write the reviews they deserve. I had to work in great haste, with frequent interruptions by a variety of other tasks. You may see these books in next year’s Books of the Year: so sue me. Since I haven’t published reviews of these books, I’ll link directly to Amazon should you wish to purchase them.

What were your books of the year for 2017?

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