Monday, February 28, 2011
People who know me know I am big on personal responsibility but in business sometimes it is necessary to remind clients because as I have found out myself, it is too easy to forget. Age either brings humility or arrogance, but not much in between.
So this is a reminder that if you have been after the really cool booklet I've put out on Blackurne, 41 pages of him titled Blackburne The Black Death in Spades, then today is your last day to get a FREE copy. To get that FREE copy you had to have spent at least $100 in the months of January and February with me. You do that and you get this $12.95 book free and free shipping of it.
As I write I just got confirmation that the books were released from the printer. It should be shipped by about the end of this week. I have already begun work on the next one, for the month's of March and April and you won't want to miss: Alekhine The Executioner. This book will be third in the series and this guy was a real sandblaster. It will mostly be games you DO NOT know. Where do I find them? My secret, but I have a lot of archives at my office. I still have to input them and I still have to put notes to them and clean it up, so it's not like I do nothing. The artwork is already being worked on too.
On top of that, I am close to finishing up two more projects:
a) Chess EXTRAS #5 which has some really neat stuff in it (40 letter sized pages); and
b) Lasker & His Contemporaries #6 which has a big section on that Massachusetts' genius, Harry Nelson Pillsbury! $25 + $3.50 for mailing (in the USA) if you act now. Otherwise it goes to $34.95 plus mailing charges. At least 64 pages, letter sized.
If you don't subscribe to Chess EXTRAS you should consider it. $65 for 240 letter-size pages of chess' pot-pourri stuff, collected by me now and from the past, most of which has not been in print before. Information will be forthcoming soon. If you have a GOLD CARD 2011 you can get one for $50 if you order by March 31. One issue to go and I find another box the other night full of goodies to be published.
NOTE: Buying Lasker or Chess Extras also counts toward your $100 or more total in the month you bought it in.
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Ed Reedy claims my book Lasker The Ultimate Streetfighter did just that, and recently. He scored 4-1 in a reserve event for chess newcomers.
Ed, an expert in martial arts, was at my Last Chess Clinic in October. As is common in my events there was a gift bag and one of the included items was that book, which had JUST come from the printer the week before.
Ed said he read it, cover to cover, maybe twice. He is my first feedback on this book.
What is contained were brawls. In most of the games Lasker was new to the NY crowd, and others. He waded into complications, strenuous endgames, and his mastery was unparalleled. On A.J. Goldsby's web site (AJ is a master) he claims that Jeff Sonas, a rating statistician, evaluated Lasker's TACTICAL play at OVER the 3000 Elo level! This modest 50 page pamphlet proves it!
I've sold out of two printings so far, but some more are coming. It's a whopping $12.95, replete with notes and diagrams, 40+ games, all wins, from either side of the board. Add $3.00 for shipping and handling in the USA. One of chess' bargains!
It's part of my series, The Chess Gangs of New York and London. Book #2, on Blackburne, is at the printer's now. I should have it in 10 days or so. Ask how you can get FREE copies of these books.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Where do artists and designers get their ideas and inspirations? Often, from each other.
How do they do when it comes to chess. Often, not too well.
There's a chasm between being able to design and knowing something about chess and being able to design and not knowing anything (or hardly anything) about chess. But the "rules" are not fast nor do they always make sense. I have no problem with that. The older I get the more I find rules to be disruptive rather than helpful, and often they are "created" by those who don't know enough to know how to apply them. But, maybe we should at least have a "starting point."
In the upcoming issue of Chess EXTRAS, No. 5, I explore some of this, visually from "Deception in Art" on the cover, to Magritte, to kid's and beginner's books, and in the wide world of chess goofiness.
So, to answer some questions, "Yes, it is coming, but probably won't arrive until March." There is no dearth of material, I have lots of it... just the dearth of time. It took a while for sales to climb in the 1990s before I could hire extra people to do the things I now do solo. Phone answering, order taking and shipping, graphics, books and catalog elements for future mailings, watching the DVDs to be reviewed, and of course, the most time consuming and non-money making aspect of all, bookkeeping.
So hang on to your bowler, Chess EXTRAS will be here soon. (Lots of bowlers in the Magritte arena.)
An Explanation of what Chess EXTRAS is: Size wise it is 36-40 pages, but I think all 4 issues so far have been 40 pages each. A little editorial content, but it is whatever strikes my fancy about chess. In the first two issues of CE I spent some space writing about my 1971 trip to Denver to see the Fischer-Larsen match using notes I made during that adventure. I even wrote about some time spent with Bobby Fischer while he asked me questions about my "chess on stamps" business! Frank Brady didn't cover everything! This leads me to believe his book, ENDGAME, isn't the last book on Fischer. There will always be new discoveries, but I don't intend to write one. I put my efforts with Gufeld in that direction many years ago in another TPi book which is out of print.
Chess EXTRAS is letter size in scope, in color, often with many pictures, and depicts unusual stuff about our game--even some positions sent to me from GM Karsten Müller which show problems for chess computers to analyze and their inability for the software to do a good job of determining, win, draw, or loss. There was an article also, which I found to be most important about chess openings, in which big computer systems have already determined the FATE of many chess openings, through repeated trial runs (called replications)—and the results are a little surprising.
In the current issue we have some pictures from Bob Woodworth of GM Patrick Wolff playing at a Warren Buffett gig in Omaha for the shareholders. Not great pictures mind you, but "evidence" chess is still alive and useful even in business settings. Chess EXTRAS, in some ways, is a hodge podge, a pot pourri about something other than the analytical side, though I also published that in a game between Lasker and Pillsbury from the British Chess Magazine many moons ago where I concluded that the annotator, Mr. Mason, must have been in the bag as he got near the end of his musings!
I can send you a small sampler I created, for FREE, if you ask. For those who want to subscribe, it's $65 for all six issues. If you own a 2011 Gold Card it is $50. It will be downloaded via PDF to you for you to print out and read.
Oh yes, Readers can send things in of interest. And now and again I publish almost forgotten photos of something I was involved in, many years ago, chesswise (usually). I'm amazed that some of these show up, but I have boxes of photos.
Contact me: email@example.com
Even if you got snow this weekend, like I did, have a great weekend. Stay inside, go through my catalogs (or blogs), and send an order via email. Keep the Post Office guys busy. I don't need to be kept busy any more than I am, but it's nice to pay the never ending supply of bills.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
"How's this Blog working for you?"
Glad you asked Phil. It's doing fine.
Yesterday a new client contacted me and in his email he asked a few questions. In the course of such he told me a little about himself and that he was switching "allegiance" from another chess vendor to me. "Allegiance" is my word, but it means the same thing he wrote. He liked the way I write and what I write about. I can't take credit for that, I give that to God.
Loyalty of any kind has become a scarce "commodity." There is still "branding" out there (look at Apple, or Best Buy, Facebook, Borders, and such), but nowadays people also think Amazon, Wal-Mart when it comes to watching their wallet or purse. But as I've explained before, Amazon doesn't CARE about YOU, no matter how much or how often you spend with them. They don't cook up "events," they don't "know" you, and whether or not you are a chess master or an average player means ZIP to them. That's the SCALE of their business (to read more on SCALE and Business levels, go today to: sethgodin.typepad.com). But they STILL don't care.
As you have noticed while reading the past week, I am looking at a trip to Minnesota for a couple days, probably July, to be with people I know and want to know better; read my posts for the past week. My new client is interested too! Does that mean he will come? Maybe. But he's interested... that makes THREE of you already, up from none last week!
This is HOW I get things started. Then, I go into action. It juices my brain. Interaction also fuels more ideas and finally, there is some kind of a program... but the main emphasis always IS: that you have a good time because THEN I have a good time! I have to provide BENEFITS for you, first.
THINK ABOUT THIS: Older folks KNOW where it's at! (You can quote me on this.) I know this is true because EVERY time, locally, a new joint was opened which catered to the 50+ crowd, it was eventually RUINED by also attracting the YOUNGER crowds. They "liked" what we were doing, the music, the atmosphere. But the original crowd didn't like their barging in and ultimately it would change everything. The older folks left (the ones with the $$$) and eventually the place would go belly up and everyone would wonder, "Wot happened?" I said "locally" but it happens nationally too. I can remember my sister-in-law. She and her husband retired and moved from MASS to NC, where the "people were such hicks," in so many words. The pace of work was slower, etc. They said "people down here don't like people coming down from the North to retire because they try to tell the North Carolinians how to live." Guess who was there first?
So I welcome my new friend, but I won't mention his name since that might make his previous vendor sad, upset, or pissed off... and that's just not necessary.
Now I need to make a couple phone calls and get more information about who and when and where. Thanks for reading... feel free to offer suggestions. Years ago, for Chess Festival III, Allan Savage suggested I have the new and young Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson as a guest. A very fine idea as he had just written a terrific chess book. I had him come and he wowed the crowds (about 54 paids + others). That's how it sometimes gets started.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Too many things going on to stick to one topic today:
1) Have received the OK from Dr. Nathan Divinsky to use several of his great articles which were held over from Lasker & His Contemporaries #5. They will appear in issues #6 and #7.
2) Chess historian and all around nice guy and writer for McFarland, John S. Hilbert, has agreed to using his Part II material from Lasker #5 IN Lasker #7. See, Lasker #6 is already pretty full and Hilbert's article on Lasker coming to New York in 1892 is quite lengthy.
I am beating myself up to get Blackburne The Black Death in Spades off to the printer, tonight or tomorrow. Also will be included a nice little caricature of Blackburne by J. Hesse asking for "whiskey and lime" (from about 1905!)
Spending some more time with web guy tonight. When evening rolls around it's hard to estimate how tiring all of this is after a busy day of handling unbelievable amounts of paper work (still trying to get caught up from when I was in Georgia).
So... I better get back to it... and by the way, I am also working on a BIG SALES catalog for Small Presses so I can clear out much of that inventory. My goal is to beat all Amazon prices but, I may not!! Reason: There are 650 other people that I email to who never respond. I suspect I could meet each one personally, offer them a free chess book, surrogate substitute for their play at the local club, and it wouldn't phase them! Not at all. They may be zombies. I've asked them if they want to have their name deleted from my lists and even that is too much work! Of course you heard about the guy who was elected to the Procrastinators Club of America. He never got around to voting himself in or out, and the members who did vote were apparently not procrastinators, and so felt guilty about voting for themselves. That's politics folks!
Contact me at: email@example.com
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
People I've known over the years cover just about ever strata of life. One thing most of them have in common is stress on the job. You may not think so, but as you get older you find out it WAS true! I know I did. I never really thought I was under "stress" even though I had lots of responsibilities that I could and did handle. Now when I look back I see how "useless" many of them were--should have been lower on my "priorities list."
So the chess soiree I have been talking about recently offers you a chance to get away from your current grind whether you are retired (even that can be a grind due to its very "unstructured nature" one person (actually two) told me).
Minnesota is beautiful and if I can get 10-20 people to come it will be another great event. Look at the Chess Festivals... they kept growing, so did the Chess Clinics... but each time I feel I have to start completely over again because, I get the thought which I think occurs to some, "How can it be better than what I've already had?" That's nothing more than the fear of "lack of imagination."
You don't even have to make a commitment at this moment, just tell me you are interested and I will keep you up to date! It looks like:
1) a wooded area, log cabins and main area, but a lake in Minnesota.
2) meeting old and new friends (always some new people),
3) chess is the main topic on the menu but there could be other things too,
4) you don't have to be a genius (most people aren't anyway),
5) we will have a "great fireside" get together,
6) tell us what is on YOUR mind and we will tell you what is on ours... and
7) I will have a very special guest or there will be no event.
Probably be two nights where you can get away from depressing news, and all the b.s. that goes on in the lives of each of us.
Great food. Great friendships. Great times. Sometimes between June and August it looks like.
We won't allow you to HUG any bears!
Contact me at:
Monday, February 21, 2011
My very good friend Dale Suilmann knows what I am up to--he lives in Elk River, MN.
I want to plan a chess event (soiree) between June and August up north. Reasonably close to an airport, a lodge, where we can rest and relax in comfort. Dink around with some chess but in the main be there for a good time, log cabins, dining rooms, etc. No damn TV. Throw your cells in one of the 10,000 lakes they have there.
I will bring a Special guest, we would have some special topics, and probably a sales table as well as some special artifacts for the occasion.
Dale has kindly sent me info on at least 4 separate places--they all have a certain novelty in them, especially winter time!! Yikes, none of us want that after this winter (I am presuming.) But if any Blog readers have any favorite spots in MN or know of some, send that info along would you?
And if you are interested in coming for a couple days, please drop me a line right away, okay? (again). As I've said before, this is not about the National Open, the World Open, or the US Open... they are doing their own thing--so if you are going to those, I suspect I won't hear from you unless you know a great place in MN to have a great chess time. I might even consider hiring a special photographer for this too. A place for spouses to come, buddies, new friends.
At any rate, if you have thoughts and druthers, drop me a line at:
It will probably be an intimate setting for 10-20 people. There is a fee + the cost of the lodge setting where you would be staying. This all sounds like common sense, but, I am taking NO chances.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
i took my 6 year old grandson to one of the local public libraries.
I always learn a couple things:
a) How smart he really is and what a terrific memory (if only I had that!);
b) He still finds me useful to have around.
We spent 5 minutes looking at kids books but he kept bugging me to use the computer.
What a riot.
Friday, February 18, 2011
It's going well. 32 pages of a planned minimum of 64 (letter size) are already in the chess cauldron. I have no shortage of good material, just a shortage of time and fast moving fingers. I have been finding piles of files I had saved for many years--am glad I kept them.
Artwork will be included. Any cover art you see will most likely not be the final word.
Lasker & His Contemporaries #6 will be out in 1-2 months (maybe sooner). Taking advance subscriptions at $25.00 + whatever I said for shipping yesterday (USA). Goes to $34.95 when deadline is up (see yesterday's post).
Some are also buying the COMBO package of issue #2 and the new issue #6 for $39.95 + shipping. The price will go back to normal when the deadline has passed of $54.95 for some of the best in chess history about Lasker and those who surrounded his era.
Singlehandedly, this may help Thinkers' Press the most as many remember this early publication and became regular customers.
Do I have enough for Issues #7 and #8? Yep, just a question of time. The above extraordinary artwork was completed years ago for me by Paul Herrera, who did other pieces for me in L&HC. It is of the Russian chess whiz, Emmanuel Schiffers, who will be featured in this issue. He taught Chigorin, and then, Chigorin taught him!
The subscriptions for #6, received so far, have been quite gratifying. Many from those who do not count themselves as "followers" in this Blog, which number a mere 52.
Contact me at:
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I announced this first to chess resellers, none of whom took notice. So many of these people are so "busy" and so clueless, and new, they wouldn't know what to do if I visited them personally. I sometim s wonder if some of these folks have any idea who Lasker was.
Something happened yesterday which propelled me into action.
The oddity is that 2 weeks ago I ran across the material which I had typeset in the late 80s for L&HC #6. I have been putting this off for years. I had much of the material but no time to put it together or proofread it. Last night, I made the time, and this morning, and this afternoon, and tomorrow, etc.
To begin there are three major articles, a long one on Schiffers, the #2 chess player in Russia when Chigorin was around, Lasker on Combinations, and information in detail about his PhD in mathematics.
Then there are vignettes such as a position at the 1914 St Petersburg tournament where Tarrasch said Capablanca had a win over Lasker in their drawn game. Lots of bits like this. The magazine will be somewhat in the style of issue #1 of Purdy's Chess Chronicles.
At the moment I am also looking for the artwork for this issue which I expect to show up within the week (you have NO idea how much chess material I have, even organized!)
The last magazine (#5) was $20 and ran 64 pages and that was a LONG time ago, 1997 I think, which I co-edited with John Hilbert. We even won the Fred Cramer Award for the best new chess magazine (I have no idea how many submissions there were for that category). This one is an issue I planned a long time ago. There were even some article which others wanted published but I couldn't promise them anything. I think one was since published somewhere else. My tough luck.
So now it is coming out, probably in April 2011. I am making a PRE-publication offer which goes like this:
$25.00 + $3 for shipping (in the US) if you act before March 15th. If you get it later, it will be $34.95. That's a $10 savings, worth going to the trouble.
If you buy multiple copies, the minimum is 5, and there is a 20% discount. If you want 10 or more, you get a 30% discount. Checks and Paypal are OK too as well as credit cards.
In earlier issues, such as 1-4, I sold between 500-1000 copies of each issue to collectors, dealers, and people just like you. The magazine was the same size as #5, but fewer pages. This one will have at least 64, and also be printed.
I've got to get back to work on this as the typing part is what is slowing me down as I am not a touch typist, per se.
Email announcements will be sent out within the week too.
I expect a rush on this and those who contact me right away with payment or authorization on their credit card is on file--will be handled first. Please, no questions (they are nothing but a stall). More information will be put on the Blog and provided in emails I send out as well as enclosed in packages I mail.
I also have a few issues of Lasker #2 available at $20 (mint condition, just found them). If you order Lasker #6 in advance WITH #2, the special price is $40 + $4.00 for shipping.
Thanks... Here comes Lasker and His Friends, #6.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This book is 400 pages. Written by Frank Brady it covers chess legend Bobby Fischer. It's cheap. Hardbound for $25.99. I have a few in stock.
It's not easy to review here because there are so many interesting points in it that to reveal one and not others makes it a personal selection rather than an important review. It's well written, making comparisons with others, literature, and such, but it left me "wanting" when I was done. Gangly kid who had the best opportunities for a fantastic life, but he couldn't let go of his prejudices, not even one of them. Did those prejudices drive him? help him? Not the ones in the end.
Fischer, basically, was a loner. Insecure, feverishly interested in chess growing up, and he wanted a woman in his life to carry on his genes of greatness. He slept late, and disdained people who had befriended him for years including Jack Collins and many others--wrote them off with no regrets. Seldom did he accede, he was a full blown narcissist. And he hated losing--not that any of us like to lose, but with BF it scared him (most of the time).
Some of these things you might already know, but most do not know WHY he did these things. Most will not know that at his first tournament outside of the Manhattan Chess Club he didn't want to play for fear of being crushed. And, he didn't do that well when he finally changed his mind.
Several things are woven throughout this book, one of them was his attack on "Jews." The reason I quote this is because eventually it was figured out that if Fischer didn't like you, you were a Jew! The other is his independence and dependence on his Mother. She took care of him, feeding him lest he forget to eat (and his appetite as he grew up was astonishingly huge), saved money for him, put him on buses and trains. She visited him in Reykjavik wearing a blonde wig. When he was so down and out he couldn't rub two pennies together his Mom would pay for expenses from her Social Security check. She was a saver and extremely interested in his welfare. Fischer seldom thought ahead about much. Ate out every day, never fixing anything to eat for himself.
He made strange allies and seldom did they last long. He was infuriated with a movie documentary using Saemi Palsson, his Icelandic bodyguard, because the emphasis should have been on him, Bobby Fischer. He was intemperate with the cops and resisted arrest in Japan like a wildman. Several psychologists have not judged him to be psychotic but his emotionalism, treatment of others, and disdain for anyone who dared cross him were not infrequent. He spat on the US government (who gave him ample warnings) and then feared U.S. retribution.
He did NOT have filings removed from his teeth for the placement of a miniature radio for signals to Russian assassins or to be used as an antenna for the transmission of information. He laughed about that.
When he became great friends in Hungary with Andor Lilienthal it looked like Fischer might settle down. But when Lilienthal made some moves to help Fischer (financially and otherwise) by signing Bobby's name to a document, Fischer went nuts, and Lilienthal, though Jewish already, was forever banned as a "Jew" by Fischer no matter how much hospitality he had been shown.
Of course there are hundreds of incidents and personalities throughout such as the Polgars, Boris Spassky, Bill Lombardy (who was treated horribly when I saw him in Reykjavik), and others. One person Fischer did not cow was Fidel Castro... the telegrams are included. Fischer's demands were tinged with "common sense" but always always intractable in the end. His unwillingness to compromise pleased his most ardent fans but also alienated others who would like to have seen him go farther. The problem Fischer's fans had, as I see it, was that he didn't want any fans even though he would proclaim, "I am Bobby Fischer." Boris Spassky wanted Fischer to win for the good of chess and so he wouldn't quit, so it's hard to say how strong Fischer was in his 1992 match. There was even a short term talk about Spassky being in a third match with Fischer.
The book is full of goons, glory, bodyguards, trips to the library, sneaky larking lot photography, etc. You can dip in anywhere and find something interesting to read. I'd call it a 2 a.m. book--you know you are supposed to go to sleep but you have to read one more page.
In the end, Fischer went quickly, leaving no will, and not even happy with the atmosphere of Iceland where the RJF committee jumped through hundreds of hoops to help Fischer get on with his life after being stranded in Japan.
He loved to walk (I had seen him do this when I was in Denver in 1971). Contrary to "popular" opinion, Fischer did keep a chess set around and he still analyzed the "old chess." His guidance system was himself, and that was not a very good system. He read voraciously and picked out things which his memory could spew out, both good and bad.
Lots of bibliography, lots of stories you never heard or read before. But when I was done with my reading, I was kind of depressed.
Sure, only God can judge his actions because only he knows everything about the Man and the Whys, but he would have made, for most of us, the worst kind of friend. Taking, taking, and taking. His acts of kindness that we hear about? There didn't seem to be that many... but hey, maybe we only need one to save our soul, if it is genuine.
A slightly fuller and better edited review occurs in issue #123 of The Chess Reports, the magazine for anyone interested in chess, books, and DVDs. Send for a FREE sample copy. Need your full name and email address.
Monday, February 14, 2011
In January I had 2 subscriptions to Purdy's Chess Chronicles.
I'm almost half way through February and I am closing in on two dozen.
I sold thousands of those books we published on Purdy so I am hoping for at least 100 subscriptions (I hope BIG). I've written to people in Australia and New Zealand gotten one subscriber (New Zealand).
One guy wrote and told me he had the Search for Perfection book in Descriptive Notation! Who cares, I am selling the Chronicles. I asked him to subscribe, so far, no answer. Read on...
I've tried to make it clear that the Purdy Chess Chronicles will be full of bits of business, stories, games, and photos that are NOT in My Search for Chess Perfection. Now I will tell you a story. Maybe some will think it is braggin' (probably because they have nothing to brag about) but it makes a point, which is a lot easier to do when it is personal.
What happened launched my career as a mathematician!
In grades 9-11 I was a disaster in mathematics, a C student. The Poster Child for "He doesn't get it." Late in my Junior Year the whole school (High School) was required to take the State's H.S. mathematics test. I got the highest score in my school! HOW ON EARTH did that happen? I read the darn instructions! It said, plainly, and clearly, "If you don't know the answer or how to work the problem, and your answer ("guess") is wrong you will lose points on your total score." So I did only the ones I knew how to do and left the others alone. The school's top genius in math (a good friend of mine) did ALL the problems and obviously got a lot of them wrong. I was stunned. No kidding. The high school math teacher I had for 3 years said, "Long, I knew you could do it!" (I thought to myself, "you are the only one.") So he talked me into taking the Advanced Course in Math the next year. For the first time ever I ended up on the Honor Roll.
Trying to decide between mathematics and accounting, I chose mathematics and though it was hard, I loved it. And in 1967 I was awarded the college's first Mathematics Excellence award. Only one was given out. HOW DID this happen? I READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!!! Amazing.
Now that I am older, though not senile, I occasionally miss something. Not too often, but...
This week will be the beginning of a series on the SLAV for the Chess Reports (#123). Probably run several issues. You can still subscribe for $69.95 for 10 issues which is full of all kinds of good stuff, including every other time, an article by IM Andrew Martin, original stuff for you!
See ya soon. Read the Instructions.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
This one is for "New in Chess" books and my prices beat ALL of Amazon's sale prices and many of the prices being sold from others (who of course add on postage).
I am doing this to clear a lot of inventory, so if you don't get a catalog for whatever reason, just request the NIC catalog.
I knew it years ago, but I persisted thinking other things I did could make a difference, and they do to a small number of people. Some people ONLY buy based on price, further education is beyond their ken. So I am unloading a lot of NiC stuff and my website will have more personal and informational chess product information as time goes on plus be home to the Purdy website and WHOLESALE.
While in Sept. of 2008 Amazon paid off a long term convertible bond of $1.25 billion, they still carry over $400 million in debt and it is mostly on the backs of publishers who put our books up for consignment. As the public doesn't really care about the ethics of selling this way, and looks only at "how cheap is it?" it puts companies such as Borders and little ones like mine, in a precarious position. I can't sit this out forever, so I am acting now.
In order to stay afloat I will introduce products which will not be sold to Amazon or through them. They get as much as 55% off of anything I sell them so they can afford to even low ball my own stuff! Even people I buy wholesale from low ball the resellers they sell to! There was a time when this wouldn't have happened, but that's long gone. So the entrepreneur in me seeks new and possibly more profitable havens such as chess events, chess specialty publications, and things like that. I don't know how some of these chess resellers with employees survive unless it is through credit card debt, putting off to tomorrow because of the fear of looking at their demise today.
Funny thing, I am still selling to overseas retailers!
Amazon.com has some type of algorithm which takes into account inventory, out of print status, what is and is not selling, as well as paying affiliates for sending customers to them. You might notice that in most cases there is little or nothing about the chess books they sell on their site. People can go to my catalogs for that and then order from Amazon. I have run into chess buyers who are REALLY surprised that I know about that! (Oooh, that was so difficult to imagine.)
So here is an opportunity to clean out my NIC inventory. One set of books I have found pretty close to impossible to sell have been the New in Chess Yearbooks which are actually quite good, but I also see my wholesaler practically giving them away! So, in a matter of time, he will lose me as a customer and have to unload more inventory as people struggle to find him. He denies that sales are that significant. If that is true, how does the small amount convert to the RISK of losing loyal wholesale customers? He's an idiot if he thinks this will work.
In the end this may be a blessing. But I do have a lot of "industrial secret" information I have garnered over the years, such as who puts out really crappy books (you can't give them away), who are resellers I wouldn't trust any further than they can be tossed, and worse yet, those who sell stuff and have NO idea what their products contain. There are a lot of them and they use discounts to move their stuff... no marketing skills. NOTHING to help their customer. The average rating of the average customer out there is about 1400 and these people who need the MOST help, get the least, unless they buy from G&L CHESS (me).
Yes, I do have faithful and great customers, I just wish there were more. And they will be treated like Kings and Queens as the year rolls on.
One last note: I have had quite a number of people tell me they wanted to come to the Las Vegas event only AFTER I cancelled it! I announced it, hardly anything happened. In business, I am ALWAYS, always, serious. I'm not out there putting up trial balloons like the politicians do to float an idea. Maybe in 2012. As it is, I have some other ideas, possibly for the summer. I know some will complain, "but hey, I'm thinking of going to the US Open or the World Open." Keep thinking, I have no shares of stock in those. First I will be starting off with a "by invitation only event." This is a good time to sign onto this Blog so I can collate names of interest. Do not dilly dally, time, as they say, waits for no one.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday night I met with my web guy. We discussed a lot of stuff. Lots.
I look forward to getting something up--inventory management is the biggest issue and "how affordable" do we want to go? Next is the Blog.
At present I am on Google's Blogspot. I know Google is adored by many, but I am not one of them. The other day I went to get into my YouTube account and play some tunes while working. Now they wanted my password to "link" to some other damn idea they had that morning. I know what my password is, but it didn't work. I went to set a new password, it didn't work either. I had the same problem with THIS Blog Account just a few minutes ago. Google is ALWAYS tinkering, even with gmail. Yes, some folks never seem to have a problem. I think they have short memories. I work with this computer EVERY day, all the time.
So if we should get to a point where you wonder, "What Happened to That Guy in Iowa?" you will know. I will be setting up my own Blog on my website, IF that ever gets done! In the meantime, just to be safe, if you who read this want me to contact you when I move, just send me a brief note and I will put your email address in a MAIL folder. The paranoid will act like I am email address collecting but I really have no time for such machinations. The fact that I occasionally miss a Blog Post should show that.
Why am I busy? Right now I am working on another Catalog supplement. The descriptions in this supplement will eventually find their way into my online catalog. They are lengthy and hence, time loss. I want my catalog to make a difference.
It's nice to get email response to my Blogs or to even have you leave comments. But if you don't, I won't cry. I read CNN and only a few other ancillary sites every day. What amazes me, continually, is the incredible stupidity of those who comment on a Blog when it somehow disagrees with their own perceptions. Invariably it is political and one-sided. But it can also be, "Why does CNN give so much coverage to Apple?" My guess is that interests a lot of CNN readers. Do you see "chess" stuff on CNN? No. How about on Google News? No. Like the guy who said, "Yes, we have no bananas," the US or world, has no Fischer. Anand is lethargic. Nice guy but not a tree shaker. Kasparov was somewhat of a tree shaker. Kramnik was not. Carlsen makes some news (on ChessBase). We are in a "hobby" where there is no horse (Knight). When FIDE stubs its toe it is expected. The inept leading the inept.
So hopefully you will continue with what's going on here. Recently I've had two Blog Collators talk to me about setting up links, etc... I hate to say it, I don't know how or have the time if I did. People find this place, somehow. Maybe some of you could tell me how you did. Just leave a note. And remember, if you don't see anything new on here in a while, Google did it... Control freaks making us all "safe."
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Every time I heard Gomer Pyle say that I wanted to throw a hammer at my TV screen.
But, a number of people were surprised when I sent them a "warning" yesterday telling them they were about to receive a free hardbound book, the one called ENDGAME by Frank Brady on Bobby Fischer. They were surprised they were in the TOP 21. To me that means they figured there were bigger spenders than they out there! Hmmm... you know what, wouldn't that have been nice?
I will be sending out another batch tomorrow and then be finished for now. I had asked the publisher Random House for a desk copy (I did buy 25 copies to resell) and never heard from them. I prefer to review my own book rather than one I want to sell to someone else. That way I keep the coffee stains off of it--which is interesting because I don't even drink coffee. Greg Delaney donated his copy to me. Thanks Greg.
Who services the West Coast or down South when it comes to chess books? If there are chess resellers in those areas I never hear from them. Is it just me, USCF and ChessCafe? That's hard to believe. I know some look at Amazon 15-20 times a day but that's not the same as buying 15-20 times a day. If any of you out there know of other sources I would like to meet them. One reason is that I am sending most of my stuff overseas! Germany, England, Holland, Australia... and am wondering what is happening to the USA. Wholesale Chess keeps telling me they will order from me but I think they would rather sell chess sets (which everyone else has too). Some are only into scholastic stuff and that means clocks, pads, bags, and sets and boards... and probably their whole garage is full of that.
I am giving some thought to opening up 15-20 boxes of books, magazines, and chess sets which I have had sitting idle for years and letting the cosmos rip with that! All previously owned stuff.
By the way, I see a few more have signed up (whatever that means) for this Blog. Thank you.
Am working on a catalog of New in Chess titles and it is in a format I think I can now live with for other catalogs. Sometimes it takes years of experimentation. I am always getting catalog requests from out of the blue. It reminds me of the days when we used to mail out catalogs (and so did Chess Digest)... I would often get scores of requests from people who never ordered anything. I took that to heart--it meant one of two things (future chess business people, note this):
a) there were those people, and not just those in prison, who sit down and send off for catalogs on all kinds of stuff and never have any intention of purchasing, they are just looking for cheap reading material, which regularly, will show up in their mail. Herman Herst, one of the best stamp dealers in NY told me he regularly took postcard requests and tossed them in the waste basket.;
b) those who want to be tantalized but who can never reach for that credit card, checkbook, or PayPal button. I've met them. In fact, Bobby Fischer was kind of like this. No price was cheap enough or low enough. No book was fat enough. No DVD was long enough in content. And in those extremely rare times when they actually did buy something (I am sure that by this time the seller had just been put into an asylum) it was so dog-earned and worn that you would have thought they would be a genius at the subject only to discover--they weren't. As the old Jewish lady said, "I could tell you stories."
Just another day at the salt mine. Now... to fill some orders. Sorry I missed ya yesterday, busy.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Super marketer and "rethinking things" pundit Seth Godin wrote about the "best customer" yesterday in his Blog (sethgodin.typepad.com). He said in one paragraph:
"But what if you define "best customer" as the person who brings you new customers through frequent referrals, and who sticks with you through thick and thin? That customer, I think, is worth far more than what she might pay you in any one transaction. In fact, if you think of that customer as your best marketer instead, it might change everything."
My experience says he is right. However, most chess players and buyers are reluctant to give referrals. I've seldom seen anything like it, not even in magic, an intensely secretive business. Are chess players afraid to send a friend to some business such as my G&L CHESS for fear a future opponent will get a leg up on them in a future contest? Or could it possibly be that the referral might make your friend more important to G&L CHESS than you are? Or are chess buyers essentially only concerned about themselves if they are concerned about that at all?
It's a mystery to me, sort of. The excuse (reason?) some will offer is "I am just so busy." Myself and others have suggested getting rid of the TV set for a while JUST to find out how busy you really are! Once you find out that the TV provides you little time to do anything else, then you can go back and retrievc it for further watching. I know a guy today who if his TV was taken away he would be hopelessly adrift because he drones on about the most incredible TV shows he has seen in just the past week (and in excruciating and mindless detail, even recording them). I don't see how he has time to sleep. His conversations are bland to the point of my finding a derringer water pistol to take myself out!
What Am I Gonna Do?
New, fresh customers are important to any business so I will have a contest. But I have to think about the prizes (help?). Remember when you were in school and they would have an Ice Cream Social or some other benefit where the person selling the most tickets would win a Cadillac? (No, I don't remember that either.) I remember once selling 100 tickets and my results were a joke! Some other kid stood in front of a grocery store and sold like 400 tickets! It killed a lot of my enthusiasm for future endeavors because I was just blown off the map. So I will have runners up prizes too. I will have to think of appropriate prizes and timing for 2011 instead of giving a free book (such as a hardbound!) to the most worthy.
After all, you who go to chess clubs must know people. You who play correspondence chess must know people. You who run chess camps, or organize big events must know people! Right? (Secret: it's been my experience that those who run events (organizers) never let anyone in on what they do. Some years ago I wrote to many organizers around the country and never heard from any of them. I suspect, though I can't prove it, most of them are not really players, collectors, or even that interested in chess... they just have to be doing something.)
So, REFERRALS are my next thought, starting today. I will keep a spreadsheet of names, email or physical addresses, and who referred. Your contributions will be counted. Incidentally, I don't think Facebook will be that helpful, some accumulate lots of names but I never see anything done with them, probably because they are on Facebook nearly all the time to do anything else.
Can we start now? Yes.
PRIZES: They will be good ones.
Monday, February 7, 2011
It is a book on Bobby Fischer's life which I am providing FREE to my top 20 customers (for the past two years). The calculation was based on two metrics: Sales of at least $375 per year for the past two years, and a profit index of at least 33%. In other words, while I appreciate sales to those who are looking for rock bottom deals (as it helps clear out sluggish inventory), those who are keeping my business alive in profit performance have a strong relationship with me.
Initially the book looks good though I admit to reading captions under pictures I haven't seen before including a picture of Fischer when he was 1 yr old, and one of his Mom with him in 1972 in Reykjavik wearing a blonde wig!! Copies will be mailed out over the next few days.
I love doing things for those who have loved helping me. Some of you know who you are are. A few others might be surprised that I HAVE been paying attention to you. Restarting a business is nothing if not hard work and some of you have made it worthwhile on those days where I wonder if it is worth it. But like Fischer once said, "What else would I do?"
I have some other ideas for later this year. I've already made purchases and have a "in my head outline," but I need more time to put it all together.
I've met with my "web master" and there are some significant snags. The "shopping cart" he was going to use is seriously flawed in the area of categorization of inventory. As I mentioned to him last November... people who design software for FREE (while trying to make money from plug-ins) invariably lose motivation after a while. In my mind, Ubercart lost its motivation. So, we are reassessing. Back in the days when I had 14-16 employees I had NO interns, or people working for free. You pay nothing, invariably you get nothing unless it is an industrial spy who is working for someone else and getting paid by that someone else.
Big corporations who have interns working for next to nothing would be better off paying them something decent and firing some VP who makes a pile of money for being pretty much, non-essential.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Yesterday I related how difficult it can be to break into the chess business whether, selling, publishing, or running events. Often the "old guard" (of which I am now one, sort of) wants you to stay 10-15 years away. Dan Kennedy also writes about this in one of his books about when he lived in Arizona and was also on the "speech giving" tours. Problem was, he was making a lot more $$$ than the people keeping him down... so that only made it worse (for them).
All this reminded me of how vicious the internet can be at times (not to mention those who pass on lies via word of mouth). I remember browsing through the net looking for something when I came across a link for a Mr. X. Years ago I remembered him whining about how he never got feedback from what he wrote on his "Chess Blog." I think he was into correspondence chess... something like that. He wasn't getting readers because he wasn't interesting. That simple.
Like I said above, I came across him years later when I saw a link so I thought, "Hey, let's see what X is up to these days... maybe more readers, more feedback!"
Instead it was a harangue about ME!!! The main thesis was that I had undeserved popularity. I hadn't been anywhere, done anything, and yet I was getting undeserved PR. This guy was not too bright apparently and as bad as politicians are (and chess politicians are usually worse), he should never consider politics.
I never wrote to this dipshit for obvious reasons. But, never been anywhere? Let's see, at 27 I was in Iceland when everything was hitting the fan over the Fischer - Spassky match. I attended meetings, got photos, met some really cool people, made a lifelong friend (Bragi Kristjansson), and wrote many articles about my time there, meeting Euwe, Al Horowitz, Bill Lombardy, Larry Evans, Harold Schoenberg (NY Time music critic and chess bon vivant), and who knows who else including meeting Bill Wheeler (more about him in my book The Chess Assassin's Business Manual, still available from me for $30).
I've sold from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh. to Minneapolis to St. Louis, and in between including Chicago, Denver and Des Moines. I've sold and marketed out of Davenport, IA, Iowa City, Macomb, IL, and Savannah, GA. I've played in events from the US Open in Boston (1988) and Chicago (1994), several National Opens in Las Vegas, etc. and held 4 Chess Festivals, 6 chess clinics, and I have never been anywhere or done anything!!? This guy is an ass who knows nothing about me at all.
Publication wise Thinkers' Press has done nearly 150 books and journals, mostly on chess. I've published SQUARES, Chessstamps Informant, Chess Atlas, The Chess Gazette, Lasker and His Contemporaries, The Chess Reports, Chess EXTRAS, and now Purdy's Chess Chronicles. I suspect the reason this yahoo complained about lack of feedback to his writings is that HE hasn't done anything and wouldn't know what that kind of work looked like!
I've even ghost written stuff for others! And all that was in the realm of chess which didn't include my years in magic and the typesetting business and computer sales conferences. Most of this stuff I haven't written about except loosely and I didn't even include 10 years working for DoD as an applied mathematician. So, don't believe everything you read on the internet. Maybe best is checking the credentials of the person slamming someone else. He gave MY name in print. I ignored him. I will not give his name in print because he hasn't done anything of value. He's probably still around because I think the last time I checked he was head of The Narcissists League of America.
If you have a choice between whining and doing something, doing something always wins out.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Before I got into books I was labeled that "chess stamps" guy. After I got into books the reviewers kept harping on that "chess stamps" thing as if I had never read a book in my life. The weirder thing is I received manuscripts from one author who claimed to have almost no chess books, none by Batsford, and his manuscript was completed full of needless mistakes, and this guy was rated over 2400. Apparently reading about chess and writing about it were BOTH foreign to him. His books did well! When he learned more, and read more, he started writing total crap. That was an interesting reverse!
After Thinkers' Press became better known than any other chess publisher in America it seemed I had finally arrived. Just the other day I got a call from a promoter in Las Vegas and he said, "Oh yeah Bob, every body in chess knows you." News to me. I haven't heard from these "everybodies."
Then in 2008 or so I started into the area of DVDs and was pretty much universally ignored though I sold some. It's now 2011 and this past week I have sold quite a few DVDs with the prospects increasing in Europe (hopefully). Fortunately, I have a great tendency to ignore people who to my mind KNOW nothing and prove it frequently. I guess if you keep bad mouthing me you can hope I will go away but the facts are quite the opposite, usually it is the bad mouther, not the mouthee, who disappears. That kind of marketing tactic to drive people away from one company and toward another (yours?) is a 2-edged sword. You better have some good reasons, but even then, getting them to stick with a fickle public isn't easy.
In fact, I have a couple ideas for some great DVDs but like everything, "in due time." When was the last DVD you saw that had a NEW idea that was good? (Or, even an idea?)
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
1. Friday issue of The Chess Reports is done for Friday. Will be shipped on Thursday. Need to proof again.
2. Purdy Chess Chronicles #2 is already being worked on. One phase I am in is a tremendous match with Gregory Koshnitsky. 4 annotated games so far. Great stuff.
3. Some more work will be done this week on Chess EXTRAS. Special art issue and "Why are there so many chess kids' books being done?" 4 titles to show. And "Chess Around the World" has got some funky oddities.
Something has to break soon, right?
I sent out a Special SALE list this morning. Where's the response? Am I impatient? I must plow on.
I haven't heard back from Random House yet about the book by Brady on Fischer. Big Corporations, bigger morons. Why? Because I filled out 4-5 pages of crap to order 25 books. I was an older customer but apparently they thought I had moved to Tanu Tuva to find Richard Feynman.
Another day, another no dollars? Nothing much new in new books that are worth anything. Remind me to tell you about a new book called Play Like a Girl! I am amazed at the crap that publishers put out on a consistent basis.
I figure if I leave no email address today I will be contacted. Is it the snow? No emails today? What's the snow got to do with it? Are the ISPs down? Mine aren't. I have snow up to my kneecap.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
For a whole host of reasons, I have postponed the June 6-8, 2011 Chess Book Camp. The Hotel ONLY contacted me this afternoon AFTER I had already cancelled the event. The organizer of the National Open, Al Losoff also called me this afternoon (I knew Al from Chicago days).
Due to the lateness of several things, I just felt that 4 months was not enough time to put together the kind of show I like to produce. So, it may be moved to the same place next year. Al has already indicated a willingness to talk with me about this as he had a non-compete clause in the hotel contract.
The GM celebs have already been notified and agreed to this postponement to possibly another time.
I had no advance entries thus telling me people were either NOT interested or they wanted to KNOW more. I couldn't say more until agreements were in place but, I'll tip you THIS: they were going to be GREAT!
In the meantime, two other things will be happening. CHESS TNT will be the name of the October event which replaces the "spot" previous Chess Clinics. More data soon. Andrew Martin and I are talking about it already. TNT stands for Teaching N Training in which an event will be run (mini tournaments), play critiqued, and lessons learned before the start of the next round. I recommend you rejoin the USCF if you have let it lapse (membership). I could take that upon myself and earn some affiliate dollars but I just don't have the time. If you have no other option let me know and I will take care of you on this. There will be prizes--good ones, not $$$. The POINT will be you will have your games critiqued by Martin and possibly others (qualified). It will be like TUTORING on the GO. You might even be able to apply what you have learned in the games in the 4-round event over TWO days + our usual evening get together. From my knowledge, this is another unique TPi experience and event which only later will be copied by others (as usual).
And one other thing: CHESS SOIREE. Another unique event where we have a nice intimate setting in a lodge, a woods setting, or some place where we can pick brains, discuss books, present interesting examples, etc. I will hand pick the invitations but show YOU how you can get one. This is designed this way mainly to keep out people who have no interest in anything but their own agenda. Fortunately, over the years I am blessed with virtually no problems in this area. (I can think of a guy who called me on the phone several years ago to tell me what a great collector he was, yada, yada, blowhard. He spent lots of money, was a doctor, knew everything about everything. Do I need this or him? Nah. Let him buy a another mirror.)
If you want to know more, contact me at the email address below. No $$$ costs or locations are yet known. To make the Las Vegas deal work and to handle the many expenses, I needed at least 45 people paid at a larger amount. I am currently looking at other venues AND access. Maybe even around Wisconsin, Chicago, or even Davenport if they have what we want.
Stay in touch. Here's the BIG P.S. (postscript): It will be better than other things I have done, I already know this. Andrew and I spent a lot of today emailing ideas back and forth. And if you aren't a particularly strong player, you will also have your place in the sun as prizes will be awarded in the last round or last two rounds no matter how well you did earlier!! Another new concept. Fun and a state of being "charged" where everyone matters. Hard to believe, but that's my goal, I hope it is yours.