A competition for using your imagination

In 1997 a book was published by an unknown author living in Edinburgh.

It was to become a publishing sensation, but since nobody knew that at the time the first print run consisted of a mere 500 hardback copies, most of which went to libraries.

The book was “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, by J K Rowling.

harry-potter book jacket

Image from boingboing.net

If you want to buy a first edition, first print run, copy of the book today you’ll need to have several thousand pounds to spend on it, and if it’s a signed copy you’ll need several thousand more. The copy above apparently sold for $29,875 in 2011.

Then again, if you just want to read the book you can get the hardback in a new edition for less than £10 and the paperback for about half that on Amazon. If you’re lucky you might even pick one up in a charity/thrift shop for much less.


A good rummage in a shop like this might just produce a Harry Potter bargain.

When I self-published a little guidebook to tearooms last year I had no idea how many copies to order, but I found out from the printing company I used that the more I ordered the cheaper each book would be.

Taking a complete stab in the dark and lured in by the lower cost price if I had lots made, I plunged in and ordered 2000.


A small sample of my book stock.

Had I known then what I know now about the sort of quantity I was likely to sell, I would have paid more for each copy and ordered far fewer, but such is the benefit of hindsight.

On the plus side, lots of lovely customers have shelled out for this small tome, for which I am most grateful, and who knows I may even sell a few more before they become completely obsolete.


New book by local author in the window of The Bookshop, Blairgowrie, last year.

I was chatting to my sister about this today, and telling her that I felt I’d like to do something with some of the remaining copies.

The only idea I’ve come up with is to make them into some sort of art installation, but beyond piling them up, sticking them to a lamp-post, or arranging them in a sculptural manner, I’ve had little inspiration.

She suggested I ought to have a competition for people to propose things I might do with them, and that made me think about writing this blog post.

This reminds me of a situation my dad was in a few years ago, when he was lumbered with boxes of a book that wasn’t selling (he was running a book stall at the time). I remember leaving a copy on a train once, and on a bus, and I think possibly even on a park bench. I hoped that in each case someone might pick the book up and read it, or give it to a second hand shop or something, but I really don’t know what became of them.

I could do the same with my book, except that I am still selling it online and in a few shops, and I don’t want to upset anyone who’s recently purchased a copy.

The longer I have it, however, the more out of date it becomes, and I’d like to work towards putting it to another use.

If you happen to come up with an interesting idea for what I might do with, say, a box of 100 copies, perhaps you could leave a comment below. There might well be a teatowel for the winning suggestion.

Since I haven’t yet broken even on the cost of producing the book, I’d like whatever I do with spare copies to cost nothing. I have given quite a few to libraries, but I don’t want to offload more onto them when the book is getting a bit dated.

I’ll be putting my own thinking cap on again, and if I come up with anything of interest I’ll post about it anon.

Perhaps I’ll try wearing a pancake like this beautiful rabbit, to see if that proves more inspiring.


Categories: Blogging, Books, Inspiration, J K Rowling, Rabbits, Tearoom Delights, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Malteaster Bunny

One of the nice things about January is that this is the month when Easter treats pop up on shop shelves here in the UK.

Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are one of my favourite Easter snacks, but I’ve waxed lyrical about these before (here), so instead I would like to introduce a relative newcomer to the Easter treat market, the Malteaster Bunny:

Malteaster Bunny

I don’t know exactly when the Malteaster Bunny hopped into production, but I’ve been aware of them bouncing about for the past two Easters.

When it first came out, as far as I’m aware, the Bunny was available in one size only – the 29g pack pictured above. This year, however, I’ve noticed for the first time that there is a smaller treat called the Malteaster Minibunny, which weighs in at a teeny wee 11.6g, less than half the weight of the original Bunny.

From what I’ve seen of them, Minibunnies only come in packs of five. Here is a single original sized Malteaster Bunny next to a warren of 5 Minibunnies:

Original Bunny with a warren of Minibunnies

And here is the warren, with the Bunny and then one Minibunny:

Warren, Bunny and Minibunny

Here’s a full complement of 5 Minibunnies:

5 Minibunnies

The original Bunny and the Minibunny are a little bit different from each other in shape, as well as size. Here’s a Bunny on the left with a Minibunny nextdoor:

Malteaster Bunny with Minibunny

Where the Minibunny is pretty svelte, the larger Bunny has an agreeably expansive paunch:

Fat Bunny and Minibunny

The Minibunny is just over 5cm tall and the Bunny is very nearly 9cm:

Bunny heights

Both the Bunny and the Minibunny are made of the same stuff, a thick and creamy chocolate coating round a Malteser-based centre. The centre is made up of the honeycomb crunchiness you find in Maltesers, encased in an almost fudge-like matrix. The chocolate on the ears of the Bunny, in particular, is quite glossy:

Inside the Bunny

In an attempt to find out if there was any difference in taste between the Bunny and the Minibunny, I did a blind taste test. The only discernible difference was that the Minibunny seemed to have a creamier taste, but I think this was due to me biting a bit that had thicker chocolate and less honeycomb centre than that of the Bunny.

I’m not sure what the recommended retail prices are, but when I bought them they were all on special offer and the Bunny worked out cheaper than the Minibunnies per gram.

As you would expect with any sort of chocolate, Malteaster Bunnies slip down perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee (and a piece of marmalade cake if you happen to have it):


Bunny with bunnies

Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Malteaster Bunny, Maltesers, Photography, Rabbits, Scotland, Tea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

Easter bunnies

I’m glad that rabbits are such a big part of Easter because it gives me an excuse to dedicate a post to them.

I’ve always been fond of rabbits. I used to draw them all the time as a child, and they’re still one of my favourite doodles.

Earlier this year I received a beautiful birthday card from my dear parents:

I also got a calendar for Christmas which is full of rabbits. These two little gems appeared in March and fairly brightened up my month:

Along with my drawings of rabbits as a child, I used to write stories about them. According to the date on the back of this piece of paper (my parents are very good at putting dates on things), it was done in spring 1977, when I was 5. The translation is: “I saw a rabbit in the forest, it was jumping, it was furry, it was very nice”:

He’s now retired, but in his working life my dad was an astronomer and worked at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.  He used to bring box-loads of what we called ‘computer paper’ home with him from the office for us to draw on. It came in perforated sheets with holes along the top and green stripes on the back.

In June 1977 I made use of some of this paper to write the following story, and draw a one-eyed rabbit filled with flowers to illustrate it. The translation would appear to be: “I saw a rabbit in my garden. I like the rabbit, it was furry, it was running all over the place. I want it as a pet, mummy said that I could have it. I had it for a pet.”:

On the other side of the paper I drew a jolly little dancing rabbit:

Yesterday there were three small Lindt bunnies playing round this wooden drawered ornament:

This morning they were outside having a serious discussion in the grass:

Very fittingly for Easter, my April calendar page depicts this delightful little rabbit with two eggs that are not that much smaller than the bunny itself:

Happy Easter!

Categories: Chocolate, Drawing, Egg, Photography, Rabbits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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