Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm home

Didn't really have time to post anything before leaving for the Ohio Episcopal Celebration at Kenyon, but I was sure I'd be able to get online at some point and check in. I was wrong. Once I arrived on campus, my GPS stopped working, as did my phone service/mobile web. Someone mentioned that I might be able to get a temporary account that would allow me to access the college's wireless web, but that too was wrong. I was then told of three local businesses that had wireless hotspots. I was able to get one of them to work, sort of-kind of. Meaning I could sometimes get access on my Blackberry, but never with my laptop.

I enjoyed the conference, but found it disconcerting to be unable to send a simple text message to my husband. And then there's the fact that I couldn't use the evenings, as I had planned, to prepare for the new quarter of teaching (which starts on Monday). But that plan really hinged on my ability to access the internet.

The upshot of all this is that I came home this evening instead of tomorrow morning, and I have to make up for lost hours of course prep, so I don't have time at the moment to share any details about the conference. But I did want to take this opportunity to say where I went, and how it is that I ended up being largely cut off from outside communication. I'd also like to thank Cat and puddle for making sure people could find the new comment threads when they didn't publish automatically.

Oh, and one more thing...

There's no place like home! ;)


THIS is the link to today's thread.

Friday, June 26, 2009

THIS is the link to today's thread. . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From the White House Photostream flickr. Posting it because I thought it was cool.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Supporting shopkeepers and designers

About a week ago, I posted an excerpt from a blog post outlining the recent changes at CafePress. Manz left a comment saying "I'll be a very happy lady on the day I hear people say "I love the design by X and bought one through their online shop" over "I love cafepress - just bought one of their t-shirts."

I feel the same way. And, while I don't have a big enough megaphone to do that much to raise awareness, I'm going to do what I can.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that my husband Demetrius created a number of the designs that are available at CafePress. It used to be that, if we were telling someone how to find his designs, we could say, "Go to and search for (insert topic here)." These days, if we were to give those instructions, we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot. Toward the end of 2008, CafePress changed its volume bonus program so that only "shop" sales (as opposed to sales through the "marketplace") counted toward a volume bonus. I think it's called a "shopkeeper incentive program" now--you don't get the bonus unless you're actually the ones bringing in sales CP wouldn't be getting otherwise.

Okay, fair enough. I won't say that I like it, but I can see a certain merit to the argument that if it's CP that is doing the marketing and sales work, we shouldn't get a bonus on top of being able to benefit from more sales there.

But the changes as of June 1 are a lot worse than that. Now, if someone finds one of our designs (while Demetrius created most of them, the one I'll use as an example below is one of mine) through the CP marketplace, we get a flat 10% of the cost of the purchase. We can still set our own markup for shop sales, but we've had all of one shop sale since this new pricing structure took effect. By the way, it is often the case that when you buy the same item as a "shop sale", you actually pay less than you would if you bought through the marketplace. Not always, but at least a fair amount of the time.

Back to Manz's comment, incognita expressed a similar sentiment when she wrote, As many have pointed out – without the designers, CafePress (and every other POD company) would just be selling blank t-shirts.

If you agree, and are willing to go to a bit of extra effort to see that your purchases are benefitting the individuals who created the design you like (and not just the company that has done the best job marketing their blank t-shirts and printing process), I have a couple of suggestions.

First, let's say you do find a design you like via the CafePress marketplace. It used to be that when you found a design via their internal search engine, you would see a link to the shop where you could find more from that designer. Now, there are no longer links to shops in CP search results. The system is set up so that, if you find a design by searching the marketplace, you will be purchasing through the marketplace. This spells a real loss of income for shopkeepers/designers. But (at least, at the time of this writing) there is still a way of finding out who the shopkeeper is.

When I go to CP and type asperger's syndrome into the search, I can see some of Demetrius' designs in the results. Clicking on one, I am taken to a page where I see the following:

Instead of a link to our store, the link is a marketplace search for more designs at our store

Of course, this could change, but the way things work right now, the part after the = sign tells you what you need to find the shop, because shop urls are always So, from the example above, you've learned that the shop url is

After finding out which shop you want to buy from, I'm guessing you probably want to bookmark that and then clear cookies before going back to make the purchase.

Many shopkeepers and designers sell their designs through more than one Print on Demand company, but of course it wouldn't be cool to say so in your shop. But if you want to find out if a design you like is available elsewhere, you can try a Google products search. I tried one earlier on one of our designs. Since it features her cat, Stevie, my daughter gets 20% of whatever we make on it. It's an agreement we made with her several years ago, and was a steady little flow of pocket money for her for a while for a while.

Anyway, here are the first few results that showed up when I plugged quantum cat t-shirt into Google product search. You can see by the image that these are all the same design, but you can also see that it's available from different companies.

Anyway, if you see a design you like and wonder if it's available through other P.O.D. companies, that's one way you might find out.