New! BOOK BYTES ANNUAL AWARDS
In the December, 1998 issue of My Mac Magazine, we will
present the first annual awards for the best books published
in 1997 and 1998. All books on Macintosh or Internet
topics are eligible.
We are beginning the awards with books I reviewed for
My Mac, Macsense, and TidBITS during the past two
years, in order to enter 1999 with a clean slate.
The awards are honorary, and will be selected from two groups:
â€¢ BOOK BYTES AWARDS, chosen by the My Mac staff, in a variety of categories; and
â€¢ READER AWARDS, nominated by you, on the topics of your choice.
Send your nominations to <email@example.com> by November 1, stating your reasons for choosing the book(s) you recommend.
THE VANISHING BOOKSTORE
One of the special vacation pleasures on my annual return drive from San Francisco to Tucson is passing a lazy afternoon in Santa Barbara, California, two hoursâ€™ drive north of Los Angeles. With timing and luck, Barbara and I can cruise through the L.A. freeway system after the evening rush hours.
The high point is having an hour to browse in the Earthling Bookstore, an outstanding independent bookseller, on State Street, in the heart of Santa Barbaraâ€™s shopping district.
Last year the Earthling was fighting for its life, asking customers to â€œcontributeâ€ to the cause by â€” gasp â€” buying their books at Earthling, and not elsewhere.
The invasion was complete by the summer of 1998. Within a few paces from Earthling, and from one another, are two huge full-service megastores. Yep, you guessed correctly: â€œBorders & Noble,â€ to coin a phrase.
Throughout the United States, the pattern is predictable, so that roughly 700 of the â€œB&Nâ€ behemoths now inhabit prime real estate in town centers and sprawl-malls. These stores sell books by the truckload, and put the ma and pa shops out of business. It is happening here in Tucson, and it happened in Santa Barbara.
Donâ€™t get me wrong: the megastores provide an excellent selection of the books that My Mac and Book Bytes readers purchase and read. The plain truth is that consolidation is now king and queen in most forms of commerce, and the trend is accelerating. (Did I hear you mutter â€œMicrosloth,â€ perhaps?)
Taking an exclusive stand in favor of the independent book shops is a lost cause for most of us. Business is booming at Amazon.com and other Internet bookstores. Look at our Book Bytes Web links, and youâ€™ll see my point immediately.
In Santa Barbara, the Earthling is finished: â€œEverything in the store now 30% – 50% off. We are closing.â€ Tears were in my eyes as I walked past the store for the final time, unable to enter a living tomb. Adieu, old pal.
Consider your purchases carefully, readers. If possible, help keep the little guys and gals afloat. Vote with your wallet, and you can make a difference.
End of sermon.
INTERNET STOCK MARKET MARKUP
September, 1998, was a bewildering month for investors in the stock markets of the world. Predictions for October and beyond are: UNPREDICTABLE. You read it here first. Tell a friend.
I have participated in the U.S. stock market as a growth stock mutual fund investor for nearly 20 years. Even considering the wild swings in prices this year, my total return has been positive.
Most of my personal investments have been goal-oriented:
â€¢ periodic small deposits accumulated, and were cashed out to pay for my daughterâ€™s college tuition;
â€¢ money market funds were left untouched, and then were used for a down payment on our home;
â€¢ long-term contributions are locked away in retirement funds, to be withdrawn in 10 – 20 years.
My wife, daughter, and I are â€œout of the marketâ€ now, meaning we have no new money to invest, except for annual retirement fund contributions. For us, for now, the party is over, to be resumed â€¦ ???
I cannot presume to address the overall investment profile for readers of the Nemo Memo. Therefore, I present the following five very personal rules of thumb, which you may consider, given that:
MY INVESTMENT ADVICE IS WORTH EXACTLY WHAT IT COSTS YOU TO OBTAIN IT.
1. Investing in common stock mutual funds can provide greater peace of mind than owning individual stocks, but either one can be risky or conservative. Do your homework.
2. Mutual fund managers are very smart, so find one who â€œworks for you,â€ and let him/her do their job. Be patient.
3. Save and invest initially for the essential costs of life: home, education, and family. Then set aside as much as possible for your retirement, and for the next generation. Think: SECURITY.
4. Read, read, read. Then read some more: personal finance magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Concentrate on the investment publications you understand. Keep reading.
5. Life is for living, not worrying. Invest carefully, using common sense, and keep your finances in perspective. Enjoy yourself.
As for the high-flying Internet (or bio-tech, or railroad, or tulip) stocks, either get lucky, get in early, make a bundle, and get out, or forget â€˜em.
I welcome your comments.
NEMOâ€™S READING LIST
Oh yes; one more thing. Book Bytes has â€œgone to the printer,â€ so Iâ€™ll mention two favorite non-computer books here. If you are looking for a â€œgood read,â€ I recommend both these books, which are available in paperback worldwide, in English and in translation:
Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
(non-fiction; heart-stopping true-life adventure on Mt. Everest)
by Jon Krakauer
$7.99 U. S.
Paperback: 360 pages (May 1998)
â€¦ and â€¦
(historical fiction; adventure and romantic saga, set during the U.S. Civil War)
by Charles Frazier
Paperback: 448 pages (August, 1998)
(finally, and certainly not least)
EMAIL RELIABILITY: THE LAST WORD?
I had catastrophic email disasters during the summer. I planned to give you all the details, but the story is so grim I canâ€™t bear to think about it any more. The result is what matters, correct? Good. Here is my conclusion:
â€¢ For Web-based free email, I personally prefer Mailcity <http://www.mailcity.com> and MailExcite <http://www.mailexcite.com>. Many other comparable services are available, so you can decide for yourself, depending upon your browser and your connectivity speed. I am familiar with (in no special order):
Yahoo! Mail- <http://mail.yahoo.com>
and there are probably a dozen more, if you care to investigate.
â€¢ America Online (AOL) has improved dramatically, and is nearly 100 percent reliable for email, from my personal experience.
â€¢ Mailcity and Iname offer automatic forwarding. Iname is free, and Mailcity Premium costs $12.95 U.S. per year. I prefer the client interface for Mailcity Premium, and can recommend it.
That does it for October. See you next month.
â€¢John Nemerovskiâ€¢ <firstname.lastname@example.org>