Sunday, 24 April 2011

North Light Shop - Digital Download Deficiencies

Going round in circles - trying to download to no avail
This is all about how the North Light Shop makes it difficult for international customers trying to download a digital copy of The Pastel Journal

I've become a big fan of digital downloads of books and magazines - but while iTunes and Amazon work fine for me (and sync between my Mac and iPad beautifully)  it is possible to encounter difficulties when trying to buy/download from suppliers who are less well attuned to digital downloads.

Art Magazines from North Light Shop

I used to subscribe to various American Art Magazines but gradually got fed up by the time they took to arrive and the cost relative to the content - given the amount of content available for free online which was of comparable quality.

The other major problem was the massive postage cost for international customers which made a journal which is available for a reasonable cost in the USA a very expensive proposition when buying as an overseas customer.

It's a challenge that a lot of publishers of journals and magazines face.  It's also a challenge which must be losing them custom and customers.

One of the delights of the Internet is that it is now possible to order individual copies of magazines as digital downloads.   That means I can get a copy as soon as the magazine is published.  It's all very fast - see/buy/download/receive.  The admin process is extremely speedy on other sites.  The only time I have to wait is the time to receive the download.

This is why some of the publishers of art magazines now make digital downloads available from their website stores.

Which is fine - so long as they work!

This is the story of trying to buy the April 2011 copy of the Pastel Journal which has the Pastel 100 winners in it.

It was always a copy I looked forward to getting and I'm very happy to try and download a digital copy for $7.99 (although I would expect the publishers to realise at some point that they will achieve a lot more sales when they start relating the digital file to cost ie there are no paper or printing costs involved with a digital file)

This is the process I followed - which ended up in this blog post.
  • Read Pastel Journal Blog - see article about the Pastel Journal 100 edition and click the link to the 12th annual Pastel 100 competition
  • Arrive at North Light Store 
  • Bonus:  I note the following This item does not have shipping or handling fees, but does count toward your order total to receive free shipping on other products.
  • Realise I need to set up an account and do so.  Get rather irritated by an antiquated American ecommerce system which assumes all international addresses work in exactly the same way as American ones.  It's something I've seen a lot of in the past but much less so nowadays hence the irritation at having to make "England" a province.  It's a country!
  • Click through the North Light website menu to get to the Pastel Journal and choose the digital download option for the Pastel Journal 100 issue (April 2011)
  • Next I click the link and.......
    • Billing information has been automatically inserted
    • Just the payment information to complete (what a pity they don't offer Paypal which is used by soooooooo many people these days for international payments)
    • see the shipping information but do not complete this as they don't need it, the digital download is coming to my computer.  It's not a CD coming to my B&M address
    • HOWEVER I do note that there is no option for "digital download" in the shipping information!  Which seems very odd to say the least
    • Odd that is until I press "continue"
    • The next thing I get is a screen demanding that I complete a shipping address.  This states the following
Invalid First Name For Shipping Address
Invalid Last Name For Shipping Address
Invalid Shipping Address 1
Invalid City For Shipping Address
Invalid Postal Code for Shipping Address
Invalid Ship Country
  • So now I wonder what to do - which is never a situation I like to be in when in the middle of a transaction on a secure website
  • I try choosing default and that loads my home address and announces that it's going to send me my digital download as "international printed matter"
  • I try the same process twice more with identical result.  Nope I didn't do anything wrong.  The system running on the North Light Store does not appear to be one which can cope with digital downloads of files!  Either that or somebody forgot to ask the webmaster to include instructions specifically for digital download customers.
  • This is the point at which I begin to "lose it" and......
  • Start this blog post instead.  I give up!
So - a question for you

Has anybody SUCCESSFULLY downloaded a digital file to an international address from the North Light Store?
  • If so, what did you do?  Did it arrive as a digital download?
  • If not, why not?  Plus what did you next?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Faber Castell Coloured Pencils - Ann Swan Selection

Ann Swan selection of Faber Castell Coloured Pencils

I got a pleasant surprise earlier this month when attending the Private View of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists (Review: Society of Botanical Artists Exhibition 2011).  In the "shop" area of the exhibition were all the usual piles of books about creating botanical art - and next to them was a stack of tins which indicated they were a brand new set of coloured pencils by Faber Castell.

Faber Castell have teamed up with Ann Swan to create a set of 24 pencils specifically selected to go with her book about creating botanical art with coloured pencils (see Book review: Botanical Painting with Coloured Pencils)Each of the tins has a special sticker on it - as per the illustration.

The colours chosen by Ann for this starter set of pencils are:  
  1. FC101 White
  2. FC103 Ivory
  3. FC102 Cream
  4. FC184 Dark Naples Ochre
  5. FC118 Scarlet Red
  6. FC142 Madder
  7. FC133 Magenta
  8. FC193 Burnt Carmine
  9. FC194 Red violet
  10. FC123 Fuchsia
  11. FC134 Crimson
  12. FC139 Light Violet
  13. FC138 Violet
  14. FC170 May Green
  15. FC168 Earth Green Yellowish
  16. FC172 Earth Green
  17. FC174 Chrome Green Opaque
  18. FC278 Chrome Green Oxide
  19. FC179 Bistre
  20. FC178 Nougat
  21. FC175 Dark Sepia
  22. FC230 Cold Grey I
  23. FC274 Warm Grey V
  24. FC273 Warm Grey IV

You can order the sets from Ann Swan for £30 plus P&P or buy them for the same price at the last day of the exhibition tomorrow - if there are any left!

Alternatively, if you're already using Faber Castell pencils you might want to check out your colours against those selected for the tin.

Links to book:
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