I love bookstores. We only have one large one in my town, but I could spend hours looking around with a cold frapaccino in hand. And do, on a regular basis.

One of my pet peeves is people who walk around the bookstore blathering on their cell phones. IMHO, bookstores are like libraries – they are places for people to think, read, and entertain their curiosity. Loud conversations aren’t appropriate. I don’t have them myself because I think it’s very rude.

Today I read a bit from a NYT article about Borders bookstores, and what they’re planning to do to some (all?) of their stores. I like Borders because it, like Barnes & Noble, has a nice selection of movies and music as well as books. But this is just not cool:

A new strategy at Borders will reinforce the message that its stores are not just about books: the company has been installing 37-inch flat-screen televisions to show original programming, advertisements, news and weather.

I can watch original programming, advertisements, news and weather at home, if I feel the urge. I certainly don’t want to see (much less listen to) them while I’m enjoying some quiet time at my local bookstore, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one. I’m thinking this idea might not go over so well…

I need a cart (must be customizable PHP/MySQL/open source) that can do this:

1) Needs to be able to download order info in an Access-friendly format (this is easy).

2) Needs to interface with Authorize.Net (also easy).

3) This particular client will never have more than 10 products but often gets orders of 200 to 400 boxes to separate shipping addresses from a single customer, like holiday corporate gifts. The client wants the product page to look like this:

  • the list of products is always visible on the page
  • a radio button at the bottom – ‘order for myself’ or ‘order a gift for someone else’
  • the customer should be able to fill in the address on the same page where the product is selected (the full list of up to 10 products)
  • the process would be: customer selects product, selects ‘order a gift’and sees the address box to fill in. Customer fills in the address, seesanother set of ‘order for myself’ or ‘order a gift’ buttons, selects one, sees a new page (maybe) with a full list of products and another empty address box, and so on. The important point is, the customer doesn’t have to jump back and forth between product pages and addressing.

4) The total including shipping charges is displayed as a running total at all times while the customer’s in the cart (like when they’re entering their 200 addresses by hand).

Does that make any sense? On his current site, he has it set up so that a customer can enter 8 addresses on his order form and then has to place another entire order for more.

Now I’ve been checking around at the usual suspects – X-Cart, ZenCart, Cubecart – and haven’t found any that can do the hard parts here. Someone pointed me to Magento, and this one looks very promising, but it’s beta and the working version won’t be available until early 2008 (which might not be a problem). This is the best-looking one so far…

But does anyone else have suggestions? Ideally I need a built-in address book with an unlimited number (or 500, say) addresses per customer. It’d be really cool if they could provide my client with an Excel spreadsheet full of shipping addresses that my client could dump into a database and ship to, but I’m not sure if that’s even possible.

I’ve been sitting here since before 12:00 trying to get into the Rockies’ ticketing site on two machines (a few others are trying too at different locations). Here’s what we see:

rockies ticket site

The countdown lasts 120 seconds then starts over. I’ve actually gotten to 1 second a few times since noon (it’s now 12:51) but when that happens, it eventually just goes to a ‘server connection was reset’ screen.

So… I’ve found few reports of someone actually getting in to the ticket purchase area then being booted back to this countdown screen before he/she could pay. It’s hard to know what might be going on in real time, but it sounds like there’s not a lot of success so far.

And one of the Denver news stations has just started reporting that team spokesmen say that tickets are selling, just very very slowly, and they expect to have them all sold ‘by the end of the day.’

I think this is a process that would have taken a half hour or so, maybe, on Ticketmaster? I really don’t like Ticketmaster’s fees, but I would have been happy to pay a surcharge for a less frustrating experience. And I would have felt like I had a fighting chance at something with Ticketmaster, rather than having to wait in the dark not knowing if I’m really in a ‘queue’ of some sort or just being repeatedly delayed for one reason or another.

The Rockies organization was set to have a press conference at 4:00 today to discuss what happened this morning and when fans could expect the ticketing website to be back online and ready for sales. That time was pushed back to 5:00, then 6:00, and it just happened.

Basically, the Rockies spokesman apologized for the problem, stating that their system was overwhelmed this morning, and they hope to have more information before the 10:00 news broadcast.

There were a number of irate people in the audience and one got rowdy, asking why this wasn’t anticipated, as I agree it should have been; no more explanations were offered by the spokesman who apologized again and left. Perhaps we’ll know more later tonight, but I can’t see how tickets would be sold before tomorrow morning at the earliest at this hour.

So this morning I got ready to try my luck at getting tickets for the World Series. The Rockies have finally made it, and they’re playing in Denver on Saturday, Sunday and maybe Monday. The Rockies decided a few days ago to ditch box office sales and go entirely to online ticketing, which has turned out to be a minor disaster.

I and my husband and a few friends tried for more than two hours to get anything for any day, and never once got into the ticket sales site. While sitting here waiting around, I found the posts of many, many angry and disappointed fans in the same boat – plenty of tickets out there, if you’re willing to pay $650 and up. But not if you’re a person who doesn’t have a spare $1300 to burn.

There were literally 25 or so posts going up on Craig’s List every few minutes from people wanting to buy tickets at something approaching a reasonable price.

One of the local news stations reported at around 11:40 that no one had reported actually being able to buy a ticket online yet and another said that of 300 or so emails it had received, only three people had gotten through.

At around 12:20 a spokesman for the Rockies gave a short question-and-answer session outside Coors Field in Denver (with a backdrop of a hundred or so frustrated, booing fans). He reported that the server had been overwhelmed by over 8,000,000 hits in the first hour (and what did they think was going to happen?) and that it was now down. He asked fans to stop trying to get in, and said that the Rockies would ‘let people know’ when the site was back up again. How will they do that? Do we have to sit in front of the TV or computer all day and keep checking in?

He also said that virtually all of the 60,000 tickets were still available.

As of right now, 12:52 pm, the Rockies website (www.coloradorockies.com) STILL has no information about what’s happening with ticketing. According to their site, you can ‘buy tickets now!’

I’ll let you know if I happen to get a pair, but right now they can’t even guesstimate when the server will be back online. Today, tomorrow… all up in the air…