The Lausanne area continues to turn up interesting young companies and ventures, one of which is Bookapp, a joint venture between Frederic Kaplan who founded Ozwé and Laurent Bolli, co-founder of Bread and Butter. People in Lausanne are forever climbing hills, which probably leads them to look for convenient shortcuts. Bookapp has developed a simple to use e-book search engine, a beta programme, which turned out to be useful in helping me find an e-book quickly. It’s called u.ki and through it I was able to get information about my own early-days print and e-book, China on the Ground.
The e-book business was still suffering growing pains on the production side in 2005, and I let the book more or less disappear because I wasn’t happy with the end product, the fault of no one in particular but rather of the state of the art at the time. The idea was to do an e-book with photos to accompany the print-on-demand paperback version since, at the time, these could not be printed with photos. The world wasn’t really ready for that. I couldn’t bear to let slide those 1985 photos, hard-earned as I dragged a Nikon with three lenses around on my bike in those pre-digital days.
As a result of ignoring the book, I was having trouble finding who has it. Now I know.
I then looked up a couple rather obscure travel writers and their book appeared promptly. Isabella Bird and her travels to Sichuan, Tibet, Hawaii and more. Peter Fleming, writerly brother of Ian, prolific fellow and good writer. Google has 40 references to him but Kindle none, tsk tsk.
A great little tool, this!
Now for some raw self-promotion (the China book, that is)
In case you want to know more about my travels for 10 weeks in China in 1985, crossing the country on a bicycle with one companion, most of the time in areas closed to foreigners (no one asked for papers so we cycled on), just write me for a copy of the pocket-size paperback, now on special offer here for CHF8, including postage if you’re in Switzerland, CHF7 plus postage if you’re elsewhere. I’ll provide the Paypal link or e-banking details. It’s designed to be read on the flight to China.
Here’s the description I re-found, thanks to u.ki: “China, on the Ground is a seasoned reporter’s personal notes on China today, in seven cities in one month (July 2005), compared to the country as she saw it 19 years earlier. It is an open letter to other travellers, primarily business people, who want a deeper understanding of the country than guidebooks offer, but who don’t have the time or interest at the moment for treatises on the subject. Ellen Wallace uses a light touch to compare China’s shift to a market economy country, viewed from the ground today, to the barrage of reports in the press. Most of these take the measure of China as it flies at high speed into the future, without pausing long to observe the Chinese as they move about their daily lives…”
The funniest part, for me, is rereading this, about my China travel companion in 2004, my son: “But the China of the future belongs to a new generation. In January 2004 Liam Bates, age 16, British, American and soon-to-be Swiss citizen, decided that he wanted to study Chinese in order to better learn wushu, often known (and misunderstood) in the West under the name “kung fu.” This was despite, and not because of, his parents’ trip to the fabled Middle Kingdom during the dark era before his birth.”
Today that boy is a TV star in China. Who could have predicted that in 1985?
Best little cup of coffee in Geneva
It’s an entrepreneurs’ week, starting with the best little new coffee place in town – Geneva, that is – Boréal Coffee, in the financial district. Long live healthy competition! There’s finally a good Anglo-saxon-style independent alternative to Starbucks where you can get a great cup of coffee, have a sandwich or a salad and run back to the office with them or sit down and relax in a comfortable, tasteful setting. It just opened at 60, rue du Stand and my own experience is that it’s perfect for quick lunch meetings or slow novel reads, depending on your day.
The owners are two young men, Julian Caron Lys and Fabien Decroux, who met when they both worked as IT managers for Cross Systems, a large IT company in Geneva. The two caught the entrepreneurial bug and worked on one startup for a fruit smoothies company in central Europe, but they were short of financing and language problems got in the way, so they abandoned the venture.
Back in Switzerland he and Caron Lys decided in early 2008 that Geneva needed the Australian coffee touch. They spent several months learning the business, learning about barista coffees, touring coffee shops in the UK, Germany and elsewhere in Europe to get a good sense of what works and what doesn’t.
It took another few months to find the right location, knock out walls, and get set up, but they are definitely on the right track.
Webster offers entrepreneurship workshop 24 June
Webster University’s Hub for entrepreneurs is offering a workshop with contest for people who want to start their own businesses, 24 June. You need to present your idea to the public, which will discuss it under the leadership of a panel of judges and the winners that evening will be given mentors for their projects. Details