International -- Readers Report
BRITAIN IS FOR BOOK LOVERS (int'l edition)
Thank you for the international perspective on the way consumers are turning to the convenience of the Web ("E-shop till you drop," European Business, Feb. 9). I have purchased PC software, music CDs, and books this way and find it a great way to get around the problems of being an expatriate American living in rural Japan.
Your article states that "because wholesale book prices in Britain are higher than in the U.S., online shoppers often get a better deal from Amazon.com than from the Internet Bookshop (iBS) in Cambridge, Europe's biggest online bookstore."
But here's a good reason why shoppers--even in the U.S.--might want to visit iBS: With one-quarter of the U.S. population, Britain publishes annually almost twice as many titles.
Fukui-shi, JapanReturn to top
THE CRAZY MATH OF LIFE IN HONG KONG (int'l edition)
"Hong Kong" (Cover Story, Asian Edition, Feb. 16) should make property owners there nervous. You reported that Bertha Mang makes payments on her 1,300-square-foot apartment of U.S. $7,752 per month. At rates of 11 1/4%, this means that Bertha has borrowed about $825,000--around two-thirds of the value of her property.
Converted to Australian currency, the cost of Bertha's mortgage is a frightening $11,500 per month. Were Bertha making this kind of repayment to an Australian bank, where mortgage rates are around 6 1/2%, that would imply she had borrowed principal of $2.1 million Australian. Such a sum would give Bertha the choice of almost any freehold property in Australia--barring the most lavish mansion. And Bertha would still have the original equity in her apartment of U.S. $375,000.
Balwyn, AustraliaReturn to top
LET'S HEAR ABOUT EUROPEANS WHO MADE IT FROM SCRATCH (int'l edition)
When I first saw "Rich kids" (Cover Story, European Edition, Feb. 16), I was anticipating success stories about a nouveau riche breed that was sending a glimpse of hope to a torn economic Europe. Instead, I found your article repeated the divisions of today's society: The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Although governments across the Continent commit themselves to act against unemployment and declining confidence, millions of people still live on the edge.
But your story should have concentrated on people who have made it in their own way without relying on their father or mother. I am convinced that there are people out there who by their ambition and clear vision have succeeded and set a good example to others who lag behind.
Your story should have encouraged readers, especially the younger ones (like me, 25 years old), to have a more positive approach and guide them to a better life. Instead, the entrepreneurs [profiled] are yesterday's heroes. They are simply living their lives in the shadow of their inheritance. But to those who generated their fortunes from scratch, life has given them a challenge, inspiring dignity and humility.
As we witness the growing number of demonstrations in Germany and France, along with unemployment rising and breaking through record levels, one must regard your article as mere sensation with no real message behind it. In this fin de siecle period, wouldn't it be better to portray former unemployed people who had made it to the top? Let us help them come out of the dark.
Antwerp, BelgiumReturn to top