Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Creating a Web Site Is Hard, and... Wait for It!

Creating a web site is a lot of work.  If you have ever created a web site, you know what I mean.  If you haven't, then I hope you have some idea.  Many people don't, especially the people who think it is okay to lift scans out of Google images or the entire text from a website and copy to their sites without proper credit given to the source.  Most all of the scans from my site have been copied elsewhere, sometimes with credit given but often without credit.  I really don't care if people copy an image so long as they provide a link back to my site as the source.  Unfortunately, most of them don't.

This is my website:  Series Books for Girls.

I used to add new series sections to my website quite frequently.  I quit around 2009, primarily because I became quite involved in promoting my Bonanza booth.  Later, I continued not to be interested because I was disgusted about all of the copying of content from the site to other sites without proper citation.  One particular incident killed all desire ever to put up more scans on the site.  Read this post and follow the two links in it to read the comment sections of two posts that show the incident as it transpired. 

Judy Bolton and Penny Parker Reprints

Since several years have passed, I am not bitter like I was at first and don't really care any longer.  However, this should well explain why I haven't been interested in creating more sections for the site.  Why do all the grunt work and have other people copy the content to their sites?

I read the Ken Holt books sometime in the last few years and briefly thought about creating a section for them.  I was not into the series enough to overcome my aversion caused by the Penny Parker scan-copying incident.  I enjoyed the books, but not so much as other people thought I should.  That is, boys' collectors rave about Ken Holt as being the very best boys' series and unequaled by any other.  The books are very good, but I like many girls' series much better.  I'm not that much of a boys' series fan, so even the very best boys' series isn't a huge favorite.

I never did create a page for Ken Holt.  I didn't even review the books here because I felt bad that I wasn't going to rave about them.

I started reading the Three Investigators recently.  I really enjoyed the first five books, so I thought about creating a page.  I didn't want to do it.  No.

I kept reading.  I thought about creating a page again, but no, it would be too much work.  It's been five years since I created a section.  It's too much work!  I did think about just creating a cover art gallery.  I did just barely start one in early June, then I decided that I didn't want to do it.  Nope.

I read some more and thought about creating a section some more.  Maybe...  but maybe not.

At about volume 16, I thought to myself, "This series is too good for me not to add a section to my site.  But I still don't want to do it!"

But then I decided to give it a try.  I tried some more and put together the beginnings of a cover art gallery up to around #8.  I decided that I could finish the cover art gallery if nothing else.  I still didn't want to do it, though.

I read a little bit more.  During #17, I thought, "I have to make myself do it.  Somehow... someway.  But I really don't want to write summaries of all 43 books.  I would have to write up more of a proper summary than what I am writing for the blog reviews.  That would be a drag."  Obviously, I have some motivational issues that I need to overcome.

Meanwhile, I had purchased a small lot of Three Investigators softcover books on eBay, on impulse.  The books arrived, and as I looked at them, I realized that each book has a short summary on the back.  That's it!  I could do short summaries like I did for some sections of the site and use those summaries word-for-word, with proper citation given. This would cover all 43 books.  However, I didn't have all 43 books in softcover.  Off to eBay! 

I scanned a few books from the small lot that I had just received and cropped out a square section to go with the short summaries.

I had to do a little editing near the top to remove part of the title.  You can probably tell on this one, since I didn't go for "perfect."  With all the image copying out there, I am no longer interested in trying to be perfect.  I did around three of them and decided that surely I could make myself do it.  Surely this series deserves it.

My enthusiasm grew.  With it came a sense of urgency that I must do this quickly before I lost my enthusiasm.  I quickly began purchasing softcover books, selecting the lowest-priced ones that I could find that were in decent condition.  As the books arrived, I quickly scanned them and typed in the summaries.

I continued checking eBay, finding more titles to work towards completing the set.  As I acquired softcover books, I scanned them and typed in the summaries.  I discovered that some of the softcover summaries are extremely poor, and it appears that Random House didn't care to put much effort into the series by that point.  I was forced to rewrite some of the summaries, because they are that bad.

This caused me to speed up my reading of the books, because some of the bad summaries are for higher-numbered books.  I couldn't improve them until I had actually read those books.

On June 25, I made a major accomplishment.  I spent between three and six hours that day working on the main page of the Three Investigators section.  I had already spent a few hours on it previously, but on June 25, I was able to move the page very close to completion and almost exactly the way I wanted it.  I felt good about that progress.

I then determined that I only needed to read up to #33 before I could finish the Three Investigators section.  #33 The Mystery of the Purple Pirate was the highest-numbered summary that was so awful that I would have to change it.  All of the ones past that point were good enough in their original form. 

Since as of today, July 2, I have read partway through #33 and have now altered that summary, here is the result of my project of the last few weeks.

The Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators Mystery Series

I will be making a few more edits in the coming days and may change some of the summaries for #34-43, but the section is close enough to publish.  I hope you enjoy it.  My favorite part is the nifty list of titles in which I have used different colors to denote which books are by which author.  I find it very helpful to keep straight who wrote what.

Since I am quite far into my reading of the Three Investigators series, I know what I think about the series as a whole.  I will be writing my summary post with my thoughts about the series within the next two weeks, but that post will not get published for a couple more months.  I do want to make one short statement right now.

The Three Investigators are to Trixie Belden as the Hardy Boys are to Nancy Drew.  If you like Trixie Belden and have never read a Three Investigators book, then you need to try one or two to find out whether you would like the Three Investigators.  If you are someone who likes a number of different series and have never read a Three Investigators book, then you should try reading one or two.

I ignored the Three Investigators series for 20 years.  I wasn't interested in the books, because I thought I wouldn't like them.  I was very wrong.

My favorite series is Nancy Drew followed by Trixie Belden, because I read those as a child.  They will always be #1 and #2.  #3 and on are always up for grabs.  After I finish reading the Three Investigators, it should fall somewhere between #3 and #7 on my list of at least 50 series that I have read.  That means that it will rank very, very high.


TimK said...

That page is excellent, Jennifer. I've always liked this series (I had "Talking Skull" as a kid and acquired a few more volumes as an adult), and I appreciate your putting this effort into it.

sequesterednooks said...

Just wanted to say thank you all the work that you have put into your website! It was a huge resource when I was first acquainting myself with other series, and I still reference it from time to time. I love the page with all the Files covers.

Barrett LeRoy said...

Does this mean you'll be updating your site more often?

Jennifer White said...

It would be nice if I were to add something sometime in the near future, but don't expect it. I purposely did not tell anyone I was doing this until I finished it completely. I didn't want to disappoint anyone if I didn't follow through. I had to really force myself to do this, and it took many, many hours of work.