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 🙂

 

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Cats and Wizards oh my!

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The joint #1 loves of our subscribers, that is, and that makes us ever so happy. Also, thrillingly, during one our busiest signup day ever last week (who knows why? We’re just so glad you’re all here!) we had TWO instances of my favourite thing – two apparently unconnected people signing up one after the other, one stating Book X as their favourite book, and the next subscriber choosing that very same book, out of all the books in the world, as their least favourite! The joy of the perfect coincidence? I can’t imagine it’s anything else, but it’s such a satisfactory amusement to me!

A well-filled-out questionnaire does help us considerably with the selection process, and, whilst the whole thing is very much the Secret Ingredient situation one might find with a famous, delicious fast-food company, most of it is simply Prudence and the Crow sitting there wielding one book or another, shouting things like “THIS HAS THE BEST CAT IN IT THOUGH” and the other countering with “THE PLOT OF THIS ONE IS SO MUCH MORE EXCITING THOUGH”, and mostly we have a really awesome time fighting that situation out, over and over again. Obviously, there are a great number of subscriptions where, either we’re super fortunate and able to fulfil a request directly, or there’s such a clear choice that we both chorus a title, as we read the subscription email. Sometimes we’re not super certain, or the recipient seems genuinely to want something random, and that’s a diferent kettle of fish – occasionally Prudence does a bit of detective work and decides whether random might really mean ~random, and that’s when, say, with the sci-fi category, the super-weird stuff might come out, or we might go the other way and opt for a real classic that’s just so beautiful, no-one could be sad to have it!

We have some stock favourites that we’ll send any time we get the chance and feel they’re a good match, and those are the ones that are often the most ‘loved’ books we’ll post out…to me, a pristine book is a gorgeous thing, of course it is, but we love the books that have been thoroughly enjoyed too, the ones with the notes and creases and folds and scuffs, the ones that you could drop in the bath but that you’d promptly scoop out and take emergency measures with. Although – rest assured – we wouldn’t send any that had actually been dropped in the bath, not even if they were the best! It’s mostly that there are some reads we’d bet anyone would want to read over, and over, and over, and how lovely to be able to give someone that handbag copy, the one you can slip into a suitcase for a beach holiday ‘just in case’, or the one you’ll take for a long tube journey because you can bend the pages around without fear, and grasp it in a grimy London paw without fearing for the smearing, or the one you’ll have on a bedside table and read, squinting by the light of a streetlamp sneaking through the curtains, when you can’t sleep and are wondering whether or not those little noises are the sound of a tiny mouse…

…you get the picture! So, thanks for all your many questionnaires, and remember that you’re always welcome to update your answers as your subscription continues – if you’ve lost the link, just pop by our ‘Contact Us’ form at http://www.prudenceandthecrow.com and use the email you signed up with, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

And for the record, the current #1 Favourite Book of Prudence and the Crow subscribers is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere (about which we’re thrilled, for it’s a favourite for us both, too – especially the magnificent audiobook edition), and the most mentioned requests are, as I say, ‘cats’ and ‘wizards’ – although ‘wizards’ are also one of the most mentioned dislikes, surpassed only by ‘romance’ 🙂

We’re thrilled to have you all on board, whatever you enjoy, and hope April has ticked along pleasantly for you! Roll on May, though, for these boxes are shaping up even more beautifully than ever thus far!