Verily, We Swim in Books!

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Greetings all! It’s a little while since we did any communicating in longer-form, so, Prudence here, with a touch of housekeeping and a couple of updates!

In PatC-world, we have been reunited with our worldly belongings, from which we’ve been separated for over a year whilst relocating. It’s wonderful to have everything back, but it’s a little overwhelming, having boxes stacked ceiling-high and all manner of things to sort, share and get rid of!

The best part of this for me was having my grandparents’ books home with me at last – I was fortunate enough to inherit all their hardbacks, which range in quality and interest, but all bear my grandmother’s name, scribbled in ageing ink inside the cover, often with the date she bought and read it, or the details of the person who gave it to her. She and my grandad bought each other books for every Valentine’s Day (also their anniversary), birthday and Christmas, and I love seeing their marriage in terms of those gifts of fiction. I also have my great-aunt’s very random travelogue books, mostly Victorian accounts of the Far East and South America, which make for interesting reading. It’s hard not to drop everything and immerse myself in these wonderful, and sometimes dreadful, books, but there’s work to be done, so they must wait!

In the world of housekeeping, a couple of points!

New Subscribers – the address we will have for you is your default PayPal address. If this address is NOT the one you’d like your box delivered to, you do have to drop us a line and let us know, otherwise, that’s where it goes! You can pop the address you’d like the book to go to either in the questionnaire you’ll find at the end of the payment process, or through the Contact Us page on our site.

Price Changes – It’s April, so that means the cost of postage has risen once more! Alongside that, most of our suppliers raise prices around this time, so we’re going to be reviewing costs over the next month or so. Consider this a little forewarning, if you are thinking of signing up! We will never raise the cost of subscriptions for those who are already signed up, so, as long as your payments are continuous, you will only ever pay the cost of the box when you take out your subscription, regardless of any future raises for new subscribers.

Box Business – We’re still a work in progress, and everything isn’t quite as polished and consistently brilliant as we’d like! I try really hard to balance things out during the run of a subscription, and as ever, do know that, at this point, unlike most (indeed, all the ones that I can think of) other subscription boxes, we do not have any partners, nobody pays us to include anything in our boxes, and we do not receive any free inclusions from others in order to promote them and increase the value of our boxes. Think it looks a little handmade around here? It totally is! We love that about our boxes, and we’re always working on making each box more awesome than the last. The Crow and I buy or make all our inclusions ourselves, and we always try to make them fun, well-sourced and entertaining. One day we might partner up with people, if we get the right offer, because we’d certainly, especially in the world of teas and sweets, like to be able to promote our favourites, but we’re discerning, and also control freaks, so that’s one for the future.

Contacting Us – We love to hear from you! Love it! But if you have a query, or anything that requires an answer, you must, must use the contact from at prudencenandthecrow.com – it’s the only way to ensure that we see it, and we like to keep a copy of all our correspondence with you. Don’t send us details through Facebook or TWitter etc, as a) we don’t check them so regularly and b) we can’t guarantee we’ll actually see them, owing to the high level of both correspondence and spam we get through social media channels!

Let’s go back to some fun things – I’m so, so happy to see Ursula K. le Guin getting some love from Radio 4 of late. The Earthsea Chronicles were hugely, enormously formative reading experiences for me, and I still find them so powerful, so gloriously well-constructed, it’s so exciting to hear that they’re about to be dramatised for the dear BBC. The fun has already begun as well, with the two-part dramatisation of The Left Hand of Darkness finishing this weekend, and the wonderful interview with the master herself which you can also find via that link. Anyone with any interest in sci-fi, feminism, great story-telling, the power of language, the language of power, magic, world-building, or any combination of the above, if you aren’t familiar, or even if your familiarity is simply a little distant, I implore you to go and enjoy all that there is to offer from her works.

We’re so excited by every new subscription we receive. I always look forward to new questionnaires, and we love, love getting to know your likes, shaping a corner of your library, seeing your #patcbox #shelfie photos, all of that. I love when I’m out and about, and I suddenly come across the perfect book for Sarah in Lancaster, or the very novel that Jamie in Edinburgh has been hoping to receive for months. We genuinely love what we do with our hearts, and we promise to keep working hard to make our boxes as enjoyable, as curious, as readable as possible.

All the best this Spring,

P (and the C).

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Dear Bloggers: Advice For Would-Be Reviewers

In light of many recent requests, might I point to some recommended reading…! Also, subscriptions are open ūüėČ

Let's Not And Say We Did

 

Having had and been involved with several successful online businesses, I’m very familiar with the blogosphere’s role in promoting and reviewing such things. We get a lot of requests around all these businesses for reviews, features, requests for donations to things, offers to sample our products, any which way you can think of phrasing the getting of something without paying for it, we get them. Thing is, whilst, as I say, we know and love a good reviewer, we very rarely end up responding to anyone, because the requests are just so unhelpfully written, or missing vital information. And when you’re trying to get something for free on the basis that you’re going to review it on your excellent blog, if you can’t ask for it properly, it doesn’t give great hope for your blog being, well, worth our getting involved with.

But we get SO many poorly-phrased/organised requests…

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January at PatC HQ!

Some books!

Greetings, all! What a wonderfully wet and windy January we’re having here…just perfect for curling up with a hot drink and a good book!

Part of our resolution for PatC this year was to try and do at least a monthly update because, well, it’s good to talk, isn’t it? And we’ve so much to share, and we love how much we get to connect with you all in the book-selecting process, and figure it’s only fair you get to connect back a bit, should you so desire! So, here’s what we’re reading, loving, listening to and doing this month:

Prudence is reading The Boy in Darkness, by Mervyn Peake again, because it’s the best thing she read last year and it made her heart sing with glee. It’s one of the Crow’s long-held favourites, too.

The Crow is reading A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan because Prudence bought it for her for Christmas.

We are both very positive on the Taylor Swift front and have had 1989 on repeat. Last year we pretty much only listened to the Lorde album whilst boxing; this year it seems that has competition. Prudence got a new digital radio that doesn’t break every ten seconds for Christmas and, when not listening to music, is obsessive about listening to Radio 4 Extra (or, BBC7 as she still calls it) which is, for all its broadcast of the best archive comedy, sci-fi, literature and plays, is worth the licence fee in itself. Or not, as the case may be, because you can listen worldwide online, and we could not recommend it more if you’re a fan of basically anything BBC have ever done.

We’ve not managed to go to the cinema since Mockingjay came out (despite a burning desire to see Paddington!), but we have been catching up with Elementary (oh, Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu <3), and Prudence was most excited to watch A Hard Day’s Night for the first time in years on iPlayer the other day. If you’ve not seen it, or not seen it in a while, do, go, view. Hilarious, and the music hasn’t aged a day.

We are also card-carrying (seriously, there should be cards) Wittertainees – are there any others of the persuasion in our midst?

In actual business news, we continue to try to streamline and perfect things – do know that we are always trying to make your box experience ace, yes you, yes your box!, and we still put frankly disproportionately large amounts of thought and care into each one! This month we are super on it, prep-wise, for Prudence’s Christmas break involved a lot of folding, and have some excellent things going on. Of course, we also have some wonderful vintage books to share…

The new boxes have done extremely well, and we’ve had some excellent feedback about them, so this is good to know! We’re hoping to stick with this design for now, and will evaluate again in a couple of months to check that, as ever, we’re doing the best we can!

Don’t forget to follow and share things with us in the places one might follow and share things – find our online homes on our social media page, here.

But I nearly forgot! To celebrate your reaching this part of this post, one very exciting thing. On Tuesday 13th January, if you haven’t already got one, you have a chance to sign up for a recurring subscription with us! We’ll be opening subscriptions up again for not more than 24 hours, at prudenceandthecrow.com. Tell your friends and check often – we don’t know when next we’ll be offering them again! We will continue to offer our fixed-term up-front subscriptions both before and after, but if you like the idea of a monthly payment subscription, then’s your chance!

So! What are you reading this month? This year? Any resolution-reads? Anyone determined to tackle a classic, a series, an always-meant-to book? Any recommendations for things we must get around to?

We trust you’re all as bright and well as can possibly be, and that 2015 brings us all some joy, somewhere, somehow, at the very least in the pages of an old, loved book.

Despatches from the Land of Nearly Christmas!

Goodness, what an extremely long time it is since I updated this blog! Prudence here, surrounded by no fewer than three kinds of tea and two cups of coffee. I trust you’re all keeping well? ¬†I thought it was time to do a little update and let you know how everything’s going!

We have been wonderfully, incredibly busy here at PatC HQ since my last update. We’re thrilled by how many wonderful customers and subscribers we’ve got, and sorry to have sold out of subscriptions for the time being, but we do plan¬†to open them up for limited periods again in the future – do keep an eye out in January!

We’ve learnt a lot about what we do and who we’re doing it for – every month we pick up on something new we can do to make things work better – and we’ll be improving things significantly in the months to come, from introducing a new box style that will a) get to us on time and b) get to you on time whilst c) being made in the UK from good quantities of recycled paper, and from restructuring how we do things around the month. We’re also trying to be good and be more strict with our ‘office hours’ – no good comes of 3am customer service, a rule we’ve learnt so often, but always struggle over, because, well, in the middle of the night, you see a query, you want to help! But we must be strong; it’s not always helpful, and it’s easy to end up talking rhubarb when you do this. So, if you don’t get an immediate reply to a query – don’t panic! We’ll be there as soon as we can, we promise. We aim to answer all correspondence¬†within 72¬†hours.

The other thing we’d like you to know is, we remain just the two of us! We’re not a large subscription box company with a warehouse of books, we’re not backed by financial groups or sponsored by, well, anyone at all. At this point, PatC¬†makes no revenue through anything other than sales of our boxes. We’re two young women who’ve been doing online business for fifteen years, and this is a venture we created from scratch without capital, with only our knowledge and experience. It’s growing beautifully, and we’re so proud of what we do and thrilled by the responses we get every day.

Every box is folded and stamped by Prudence, every single thing in your box is put there by Prudence; every box is wrapped and stickered by the Crow. The Crow does all our photography and coding. Prudence does the Twitter and Facebook; the Crow does Instagram and Pinterest (Prudence is really bad at Pinterest…). Prudence does the post side of things. We share handwriting, cutting-out, book-choosing, gift-making and stock-organising duties, and both do customer service.¬†The only thing we’ve sometimes ‘outsourced’ is the bookbags – Prudence’s mum has done some quite heroic sewing over the last month for us in order to have everything ready for your December boxes!

Also, apart from our little ad with the wonderful IGGPPC, we haven’t advertised externally at all – everything comes from¬†word of mouth, and the loveliest thing of all is to see the groups of friends and family we send to, and to see more and more addresses cropping up in¬†the same student halls, office blocks, streets, schools, cities, towns and villages. Know that we really, really appreciate your conversations in the coffee break, your photos and shares, blogs and unboxing videos!

We really, really love what we do. There’ve been some (extremely!) long nights and some rather heated arguments (“But I just don’t think they’ll like Book X as much as Book Y!” “I think they will!”) but we wouldn’t change a shred of it. Here’s to many more boxes, and, best of all, many more books!

From the picture at the top, you can see this was meant to be more about our Christmas bundle, but I got all excited writing the catchup here! But don’t let me forget – until 10pm GMT on 5th December, you can buy a random vintage book and have it beautifully and seasonally wrapped and sent straight to you, or your loved one, or a vague acquaintance, for just ¬£6 in the UK. To do this, head here¬†immediately! Quantities are limited; some genres more than others, so we’d advise not leaving it too long! Meanwhile, happy December!

Review: My first Prudence and the Crow box!

Such a lovely review of a June #patcbox within!

A deal of nothing.

After developing a seriously major obsession with subscription boxes a month or so ago (it started with Lootcrate and I haven’t looked back) I stumbled across Prudence and the Crow and instantly had to subscribe.

As a humongous literature nerd and generally book-obsessive human, it seemed totally perfect. Prudence and the Crow is a monthly vintage book subscription service, sending you a hand-picked vintage or used book based on the specifications you lay out when you subscribe, plus a few little goodies, too.

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We’re Doing A Webinar at Summer Camp – Any Questions?!

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We’re super, super excited at Prudence and the Crow HQ – we’re going to be hosting a webinar¬†about¬†creating and developing an online business¬†at the IGGPPC Online Summer Camp in August!

We’ve got a few ideas, but, in the camp spirit of Be Prepared, we’re casting the net for any questions / suggestions for inclusion now, so we can shape accordingly!

How can you do this? SO MANY WAYS. Comment here, email us, tweet us (@PrudenceCrow), or fill out our comment form on our Contact Page if you like!

Let’s be more specific: we’ve run several formal and informal online businesses in a few explicitly geeky areas, some which continue, some which we’ve outgrown, some which have reached a logical conclusion. We’ve learnt many, many things in that time, and we’re keen to share them and, hopefully, learn a few things ourselves in the contemplation! When we started out,on mailing lists and eBay and with rudimentary websites,¬†receiving payment in cash-stuffed envelopes¬†from around the world,¬†social media was almost¬†a decade away¬†and promotion was¬†a very different kettle of fish. As the internet has grown, we’ve found many ways to keep up, get ahead, and stay on top.

Here are the broad questions we’re starting our conversation with each other about what we’ll discuss with – have you any more to add? Any specifics you’d like our thoughts on? Prudence and the Crow-specific is welcome, but anything relating to the creation of small business online is too – as I say, we’re just at the drawing board here, and we’d love you to scribble on it ūüôā

Starting Points:

– In need of money and feeling sure there must be something you can do with your geek powers to make it?

РCreative, but not sure where or how to start selling your works?

– Already have an online business, and looking to expand?

– Wondering how to create and develop a brand identity?

– International sales…a good idea?

– Customers. Need them? Hate them? Struggling to communicate with them?

– Just plain curious about who we are and how we came to do the things we’ve done?

 

There’s Nothing Like A Penpal! #IGGPPC and How We Fell In Love With A Geek Community Again

Greetings, everyone! Prudence here. When we began putting Prudence and the Crow together, there were so many inspirations. So many things we wanted to encompass, so many feelings we wanted to encapsulate. Right up there was the feeling of getting post from someone who’s made an effort to put together post that you’ll actively enjoy! The idea behind our curated vintage book-providing service is that it’s with you in mind – the longer you subscribe with us, and the more we get to know you through social media and so on, the more accurate our bookshopping for you can be! Of course, we’re always happy to send completely random books to subscribers who enjoy that, and no contact is required at all to get the most from that service – we have some customers who specifically say they’d rather not let us know anything about what they usually read because they’ve come to us to branch right out, and that’s fun as well, but for others, the ongoing relationship is all part of the fun.

And that, that is a lot like the old art of Having A Penpal. I had a lovely penpal when I was about eight years old, who lived in the UAE. She wrote me incredible long letters about her life, her school, her family. Everything was so very different from my life, and so utterly fascinating, of course, but as I grew older, and she grew older, we wrote less frequently and less still – our cultures were so far apart, and the means to access them to share just didn’t exist in the early nineties, so I would tell her about TV I liked, but couldn’t share it with her, and vice versa…she would tell me about music she enjoyed, but couldn’t send it to me to experience. We couldn’t have things in common, then, and, alas, I didn’t have the skills to keep up the conversation, and so we fizzled. I still wonder how she is. We did exchange the occasional card, in later years, and, I confess, I still hope to get one from her again one day!

But the point here is – there’s never been a better time in history to have a penpal from across the world! It’s so easy to share interests, to meet through something/someone/somewhere/someplace you love, as a fan, a student, as a professional, whatever! And there’s also never been a nicer time to receive physical post, for so much of our communication is electronic and transient. That’s not to say that physical is better, but the option is a wonderful thing. And it’s so easy to point someone to, say, Cabin Pressure, and within moments you can introduce someone to what was, for years, a little British radio sitcom, but what is now (rightly, marvellously) regarded as one of the most accomplished pieces of British comedy in a generation. Then you can play Yellow Car together via Facebook Messenger, even if it isn’t quite fair when one of you is in Wisconsin, and the other in London! You can have so many shared jokes and entertainments, and all at the touch of a few keys.

When the International Geek Girls Penpal Club launched last year, I was in there like a shot. I’ve participated in at least ten rounds, and met some incredible people. I’ve made penpals I know I’ll write to – whether truly, or via email – forever, simply because we get on SO WELL. When you sign up for a round with the #IGGPPC, you list your top five current geek loves, whether that’s the works of Neil Gaiman,¬†Ancient Greece, Sherlock Holmes, crochet or the¬†films of Ingmar Bergman or whatever, and the marvellous people at IGGPPCHQ will hook you up with a fellow geek with as much in common as possible, and off you go! You know you’ve likely already got something¬†you both love¬†to share your enjoyment of, and then also you’ve got all those differences in country, town, life, pets¬†etc that make having friends such a worthwhile pursuit!

Plus, even if you aren’t sure about the idea of having a regular penpal right now, there’s the magnificent forum, with active conversations going on about everything from recs for inexpensive¬†fountain pens (my Lamy, btw, is one of my favourite things ever) to Ms. Marvel to fanfic to the films of Tim Burton. There are regular blogs and¬†vlogs¬†on a variety of topics, meetups all over the place and as if that wasn’t enough, you can participate in swaps and challenges from candy swapping to daily Instagramming. Honestly, everything is awesome. Nothing is too geeky to bring to the table, and you can bet that somewhere in the world, there’s an Iggle who’d love to share that love with you! In a year of hanging out there, and on Twitter with many an Iggle, I’ve yet to see a cross word exchanged, or an issue had. My experience of it has been gloriously fluffy and fun, and it makes me so incredibly happy to be part of such a thing, especially when the internet so often¬†loves nothing more than¬†to fall hard for criticism and the dark side.

The reason the IGGPPC is the only place we’ve advertised with to date is because we feel so completely at home with that community, and it’s, frankly, a pleasure simply to see ourselves alongside such great company! And because we hope that, having already established a love of communicating, good post and geekery, people will also enjoy what we do XD

I just can’t speak highly enough for this community, and, if¬†you’ve yet to jump in, then Round 15 -Time Travel-themed! – is now open, and there’s no better time to get your best stationery together and go for it! There’s no more geekish, daft, wise and joyous community out there. I meant to write this post long ago, to celebrate the IGGPPC’s birthday back in March, but I never did get around to it…so…happy June, IGGPPC, and all who sail in you! Thank you for some fabulous friends and conversations and, indeed, customers! We love you all ūüôā