Not to talk about food again, but I'm going to talk about food again. But not really. It's more about shopping; it just happens to have to do with shopping for food. That being the kind of shopping I do most often.
Worcestershire sauce is something I use frequently when cooking. Mostly, I use it on meat, but I use it in other things, too. For a long time, I've been buying Lea & Perrins', which is kind of the standard for Worcestershire sauce. They are the originators of it as a brand, a brand that's been around 180 years or so. It's good stuff, and they have a few different varieties, though I mostly just use the original.
Now, I don't know how it is everywhere else in the country, but food prices around here have been going up quite a lot lately. A gallon of milk has gone from being in the $3.00 - $3.50 range to the $5.00 - $6.00, and we drink a lot of milk. A pound of butter has done the same. And don't even get me started on the prices of pork and beef. That stuff has gone insane.
All of that to say that I am having to be a lot more aware of food prices, right now, than I was, say, six months ago.
So there I was in the condiment aisle looking at the Worcestershire sauce since I knew I was almost out. I was looking for the large bottle, but they were out. Which is when I saw that the small bottle is now the same price as the large bottle used to be. Since they were out of the large bottles, they hadn't put a new shelf tag up with the new price, so there they were right next to each, and the small bottle price was the same as the previous price of the large. I just stared at it.
But, as I was staring, I noticed the Safeway brand of Worcestershire sauce. Now, I've always known that the Safeway brand was sitting right there next to the other. I've had to push it out of the way before or picked up a bottle of it because it was in the wrong space or whatever. However, this time, I really looked at the Safeway brand. I glanced down at the price: It was half that of the Lea & Perrins'. For the first time, I wondered what could possibly be the significant difference between the two. And, so, for the first time, I bought the off brand.
Well, not the first time I've bought an off brand; I actually buy the Safeway brand on a lot of things, but it was the first time I bought the off brand on the Worcestershire sauce. (So far, I haven't noticed a difference, but it hasn't gotten the full range of testing, yet.)
Of course, I'm not here to sell you Worcestershire sauce. I don't care one way or the other what you put on your slabs of meat or if you put anything on it at all. It's just that the whole thing made me wonder, even while I was standing right there in the grocery store staring at the shelf and the prices, if this is the same process readers go through when deciding to buy a book that is not traditionally published. And I don't know if it is, but I suspect it might be.
Or something like it, anyway. Maybe not with actual physical books in a book store since a bookstore is pretty much guaranteed to only carry traditionally published books, but do people buying books for their e-readers ever look at the price of a traditionally published e-book and think, "I'm just not paying that much for an e-book." I know I do. Actually, when it comes to traditionally published books, I almost always buy the physical book, often because it's actually cheaper than the e-version (which is just wrong). And I'm buying fewer and fewer physical books. Basically, there are only a few authors left for whom I'm willing to spend that kind of money, which, I suppose is leading me to a place where what I will be buying is independently published material.
And I have to tell you, so far, I haven't noticed a difference. I mean, it's just hard to be worse than Snow Crash (traditionally published). And, in fact, my favorite book of 2012 was Demetri and the Banana Flavored Rocketship (independently published), so, looking at all of this from a value standpoint, I think we might be getting to a point where we get a lot more for our money from independently published (which includes self published) books, especially once you've figured out which authors you like. The only catch is that you have to be willing to try them to see if they're the kind of sauce you like. Just, you know, when you find one you like, make sure you leave a review and let other people know, too.
So here are some suggestions:
Pick up Shadow Spinner: Collection 1: Tiberius (Parts 1-5). Beside the piece of Shadow Spinner that you get, you'll also get "Like An Axe Through Bone" by Bryan Pedas, the author of the Demetri book that I just mentioned.
Or grab Shadow Spinner: Collection 2: The Man with No Eyes (Parts 6 - 12) which contains "Augurs of Distant Shadow," a great new take on vampires, by Briane Pagel.
And, if you like Augurs, you can follow it up with "The Magic Cookies," which contains another piece of his vampire lore.
And don't forget Shadow Spinner: Collection 3: The Garden (Parts 13-21) which contains "A Nightmare Named Ricky" by artist extraordinaire Rusty Webb.