Thursday, December 18, 2008

Golla Laptop Bags

Golla of Finland makes some of the most street-worthy laptop bags around and were among the first to buck the "basic-black bag" trend. We thought these new releases (pictured above) were particularly worth noting as they show that two trends we spoke of last year are still alive and kicking. A touch of neon (the piping on the black and grey bags) and stencil & flat pattern floral prints continue.

Emoticons for Everyone

One of the defining things about today's youth culture is the obsessive-compulsive use of emoticons in texts and emails. That's why the upcoming emoticon keyboard called Bajca is sure to send more than a few neurons firing out of the atmosphere. Slated for release on Valentine's Day, 200 (although the Italian company behind Bajca tells me they do not yet have a distributor), the keyboard comes with interchangeable expressions and the ability to convert key caps into jewelry. Simply connect via USB to your computer, and voila. Emoticon your loved ones into oblivion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Greatest Laces

We've talked about the cult of lace-lovers among youth culture before - remember those neon laces we mentioned last year? Berlin-based brand Solebox recently put neon laces to shame when they collaborated with Puma and unveiled a sneaker with laces that actually ILLUMINATE.

New York based Starks is a laces manufacturer that is always upping their game. The newest arrivals to their online shop are the screen-printed checker laces (shown above in a coil). We also love a few of their others, like Tiger Stripe Camo, Step Tech, Fade to Blue, and Plus (shown above).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Designer Headphones

The big trend here - as I'm sure those of you who've followed our trend report in the past have noticed - is the increasing demand for unique looking personal gadgets. First came the laptop-and-ipod-stickers trend (which is now a huge industry) then came the earbuds-that-look-like-jewelry trend (still going strong). Next up are speakers that look like anything but, and new to the game are headphones with serious style.

All of the headphones shown above fall way outside of the typical student price range, but all are worth noting. The chocolate leather & stainless steel pair are from California watchmaker Nixon. The two printed pairs are part of an artists' series collaboration organized by WESC, and the wood-framed pair are a collaboration between Dutch artist Parra and The Perfect Unison company.

Watch for cheaper, student-friendly versions from competitive brands that aim to cash in on this new addition to the customization trend.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rocky Mountain Soap Co

The Rocky Mountain Soap Company isn't exactly a new Canadian brand, but their growing product line is certainly Fabulous (the capital F is warranted!). Not just about soap, they offer all natural ingredients in everything from the apricot lip butter (a chap stick of sorts which retails for $4.49) to the avocado face bar (retails at $4.99). Our favorite of favorites is the cold and flu body rub (retails for $7.99), featured above.

Flamingo Sport EarClick2 Earphones

If you have ever been out running and wished there was an earphone that would not pop out, well your wish has been answered. Enter the Flamingo Sport EarClick2 Earphones.

The earphones comfortable sit securely in front of the ear canal. I bought a pair to try and and they are all I use now. They never fall out and since the speaker in not in your ear canal, you can hear ambient noise so you can be more aware as you are active:

Click below for a full review:

They retail for $40 to $50 and are distributed in Canada by Winleader.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Luggage Tags from Pamela Barsky

The humor of the tell-it-like-it-is luggage tags from Pamela Barsky are fun, bright, and a great way to spot your bag on the busiest of carousels.
The website lists a package of 6 for $12.00, but we see no reason why you couldn't sell them individually for $4 - $5 each.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Elecom Ear Drops

As we have mentioned several times in the past, one of the on-going trends in technology is to not LOOK like technology. We fully support the idea - and so does Elecom - why wear a piece of black plastic in your ear when you can wear jewelry?

Ok so the jewelry part might be more of a female-driven trend, but there are fun ear buds for guys too...we will post on those in the coming weeks as well.

These particular Ear Drops by Elecom (featured above) retail for $49.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just a book

McMaster University Bookstore recently became the second location in Canada (and the second Campus Stores Canada member) to own an Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books of New York.

There has been no end of media drop-ins and calls in the past few weeks; no end of a stream of customers interested in the amazing possibilities that exist when a local bookstore has the ability to produce a perfect bound trade paperback book right on the spot in a matter of minutes.

This is the first time in my career as an academic bookseller that I have seen students wonder at a printed book. Normally it's the latest iPod or other electronic handhell device that captures their imagintion. But this time it's an old-fashioned handheld device. A simple book.

Watching a book being produced is indeed a wonder, and not just for "book nerds" like me. Certainly, the process the EBM uses isn't the same as the one which is used to mass produce books. But it is certainly a fascination to observe. Anyone who attended the recent CSC 2008 in Edmonton and got a chance to see the University of Alberta Bookstore's EBM in action knows what I mean.

But having a technology like an EBM doesn't just create excitement for a long-existing product (the book), but it opens up all kinds of opportunities for publishers and bookstores to work together.

In the short time we've already had the machine, we were able to collaborate with a small Canadian publisher to get the rights to print copies of their book for an upcoming course. The lowered cost of printing the book ourselves combined with the royalty payment resulted in a lower cost to my store and thus allowed us to reduce the price to students by 30%.

Similarly, in cooperation with McGraw, the University of Alberta bookstore was able to drop the price of a "custom textbook" produced by McGraw for one of their courses by about $60.

This new publishing model, which saves publishers money and shipping costs, also saves the bookstore money and shipping and removes the often frustrating business model that includes returning books to publishers. That doesn't even take into account the reduced carbon footprint involved when you're not shipping books to and from the publisher's warehouse.

I'm certainly looking forward to watching this new opportunity within the publishing industry continue to grow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Circular Scarf from American Apparel

The circular scarf is one of those well established classics that disappears and resurfaces every ten years or answers so many needs: fashion, function, and fabulous variety. Our team is crazy about them! This particular one (shown above) is from American Apparel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Great organizers at International Arrivals

Mundane office supplies are a thing of the past, and International Arrivals offers a great selection of fun and fashionable office organizing items. We especially love the new colorful paperclips! They have always stocked great folders too, this wood spiral folder (featured above) is one of their newest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mimobots still going strong

Mimobot flash drives by Mimoco are one of those rare types of products that just get stronger and cooler. Practically at cult status, the new generation of Mimobots are designed by the who's-who of the street arts & graphics industries. And of course, with every cool product come the off-shoots - like clothing to dress up your drive.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Suzy Jack Stationary

Making a splask on the stationary scene is a line called Susy Jack created by Manhattan artist Susan Connor. The line - which is made from 100% recycled paper - received great press at the National Stationary Show in the US this past summer. We love the graphics on the notebooks and ringlet jotters.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Eco Back Packs

When it comes to back packs, those that are eco-friendly haven't always been price-friendly (Voltaic's solar powered ones are $200 - $500) unfortunate circumstance for students interested in sustainability. Osprey and Targus have recently launched some cheaper alternatives, featured above.

The Cypher back pack by Osprey (top photo) retails for $84 US and is made from PET and uses reground buckles.
Even more affordable are the EcoSmart backpacks from Targus (bottom photo) - retailing at $60 US, they are made from 100% recycled polyesters & plastics. Even the metal details are nickel-free.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lug Lunch Cubes and Pack Bags

Our junior staffers couldn't get enough of the Lunch Cubes and other padded carrying goods by Lug. Available in bright fun colors and variety of shapes and sizes, these are perfect for students (functional yet fashionable) and very easy on the pocketbook.

To contact Lug's Canadian office, click here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Liquid Bookmark

In the spirit of Halloween, we thought something a little "strange" was in order. So when we came across the Liquid Bookmark by Kyouei Co Ltd (Japan), we knew it fit the bill completely. Made out of silicone, not only is the bookmark truly strange, it's perhaps one of more functional bookmarks we've ever seen. It can fold over a specified group of pages, ensuring the page you wish to mark "sticks".
A great novelty gift item for the student with unique and alternative taste. At the moment, Kyouei products retail at only 3 locations in Canada (and one is an on-line site). To contact Kyouei directly, click here.

Note: if you want to see this image in better detail, click on the photo.

Monday, October 27, 2008

iphone & ipod covers & cases

Incase (above) is an increasingly popular brand that specializes in making protective cases for gadgets like phones & mp3 players. They have just recently launched their "metal slider" covers for the iphone 3G. Their previous sliders (in colors) were a huge success, and they're betting that with all of the metallic trends on the market, these sliders in gunmetal, silver, gold, and bronze will continue to increase the cool factor of their brand.

istyles (below, based in the US and Singapore) also makes great stickers with matching downloadable wallpapers for a variety of different types of phones, as well as game & music players. Here are some of our favorites (and coincidentally, they are among the best sellers):

Friday, October 24, 2008

Notebooks from New Growth Design Studio

For those of you who may remember my trend seminars, one of the big directions that continues to "trend" in graphics is that of flat pattern and sketchy nature prints. The flat pattern prints on these notebooks from the New Growth Design Studio in Colorado are a beautiful example of the flat pattern trend.

The notebooks retail closer to notebook prices you would find at Chapters ($18US) but I'm sure there are volume discounts at wholesale. For contact info, click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CyberClean goo - the unexpected desk accessory

Ok so maybe you wouldn't keep it on your desk. And no, this slimy goo is not a re-release of the Ooze-in-a-Can from the days of Ghostbusters - but it does look strikingly similar.
CyberClean is actually good goo. This bio-degradable substance is made for the specific purpose of getting into those hard to reach spots between the keys on your keyboard. You know, the spots that fill up with random dust and the crums from last weeks' sandwich you at ate your desk. Who said cleaning couldn't be fun? We love it!

To view their worldwide distributor list, click here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peel & stick chalkboards from Wall Candy

While the brand and website are geared towards little kids, the peel & stick (removable) chalkboards from Wall Candy are a fantastic idea for small offices and workspaces. For those who love decoration or a splash of something ornate, the Rococo styles are a great option. There are also the super-basic versions for those with more minimalist tastes.

Each chalkboard kit comes with chalk and range in price from $36-$68 US (retail). Wall Candy is based in New York.

Monday, October 6, 2008


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Pressure Free Book Buying

Something that has begun occuring more often, and which happened quite regularly this past September Rush was upper year students standing in front of the skids of first year books and attempting to sell their used textbooks to first year students.

While there is an inherent issue with this (the act of someone standing in the middle of a retail space in which rent and utilities are paid and performing their own sales transaction), the fundamental reason why I found it offensive was because of the pressure it put on first year students to make a snap decision to purchase a book. With a perceived "good deal" dangling in front of them, many students felt pressured to have to decide NOW whether they would take advantage of the offer.

But the downfall is multi-varied:

First, was the edition of the textbook they were purchasing even a valid one (ie, the same edition that their instructor was using in class?)

Second, if the student changed their mind, would they be able to return their purchase within a reasonable time frame or even return it at all?

Third, was it actually a good price, particularly when compared with the options our store offers to students, which includes used books sales, which, in many cases are well below the industry average of 25% cheaper than new books (if we can get a really low cost supply of used books, we take advantage of that and pass the savings along to the students)

The bottom line, in my mind, comes down to this: students should be aware of ALL the choices they have when purchasing textbooks. Our role as booksellers should be providing them with as much information as we can to allow them to make the BEST, most INFORMED decision possible.

Students should feel NO pressure to purchase course materials, whether it is from myself or my staff OR from someone else who happens to be standing in my store.

Here is how I personally addressed the issue at our store when it occured this past September.

1) I let the students who were flogging their books know they had various options available to them. In our case, we have a BOOK BUYBACK program in which they can recoup up to 50% of the original selling price of their textbook. There is also an on-campus consignment bookstore operated by our Student Union group which I would let them know about. And third, our website offers students a free online classified allowing them to list, barter and sell their textbooks directly to other students.

With all these options available, there should be no need for them to stand in front of a pile of textbooks in my store and pressure another student to purchase from them.

2) If I witnessed a student putting any sort of pressure on first year students I immediately asked them to stop it as politely as possible. I explained the mandate that no student should feel pressured to purchase course materials. I also cautioned the student they were pressuring to not make a rash decision; reminding them of the option to return a book (new or used) to us by the return deadline.

3) If the aggressive seller persisted, I requested in no uncertain terms that they leave and reminded them that this activity was not acceptible.

Again, at the end of the day, our job as campus booksellers should be to ensure students are making informed decisions on purchasing their course materials. The students should NOT feel pressured. If we have done that, we've done our duty as academic booksellers and we hope that they make the decision to purchase their books from our store.

Because when they make THAT decision, it supports our ability to be around in the years to come to continue to serve student needs and support the academic mission of our respective campuses.

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