Last night I was browsing the internet when I came across a term I hadn't heard of before: 'nekonomics'. As someone with a degree and a passing interest in the field of economics and a Level 3 Japanese language proficiency exam certificate, my interest was piqued. I knew that 'neko' was the Japanese for 'cat' and anything that ends '-onomics' must be interesting. I had heard of cat physics before but never cat economics.
If you google 'nekonomics' you will see that it is indeed a real thing. It relates to the concept that cats can help the economy. I don't mean they go out to work and earn money. I mean, by their mere existence.
Adrian and I often joke about the value of the Hobeck Cat to our business. We didn't intend for her to be our mascot. It just happened. She just was from Day One. She still is. Blissfully unaware of this fact she adds value to us, as she snoozes, meows, eats, rubs her chin against books and generally does cat-like things.
There is something about the connection between cats and books, and, more specifically, cats and crime books, that our readers seem to connect with. Most of the Hobeck Advanced Reader Team have cats (not all though, but most). Many of our Twitter followers are cat people. As a result, Aki (meaning 'autumn' in Japanese) the Calico Hobeck Cat has become the star of our business. We love her dearly and she's very much a part of our day-to-day lives.
She sits on my lap when I'm writing cover copy or emailing one of our authors about their cover. She uses my laptop to scratch her chin when I'm trying to read a Jack Cade novel on the screen. She snoozes next to me as I type a new contract, snoring gently. And she bothers Adrian for food when he's trying to concentrate on the latest audio edit from Alison Morgan's forthcoming novella.
Through discovering the word 'nekonomics' I have discovered the power of cats as much written about and discussed online. I have learnt that perhaps the most valuable calico cat was a Japanese cat called Tama. Tama has a fascinating story. Kishi station in Wakayama had been at risk of redundancies and maybe even closure until Tama came along. Tama started off as a stray living near the station. She was saved from homelessness and appointed as official station master (paid in cat food). She did such a good job of increasing traffic to and from the station that she was then promoted to number three executive (and the highest-ranking female) at Wakayama Electric Rail. The company then designed a Tama train, and they also re-designed the station to look like a cat’s face. It is estimated that in her lifetime Tama contributed over one billion yen (seven million pounds) to the local economy. Sadly she died in 2015. To mark her passing, she was enshrined as a Shinto spirit goddess. She has successors (also cats). And they visit her every year to pay their respects.
Aki may not be quite in the same league as Tama. I wish I could say she has added to our profit margin. If only! We are still in the infancy of our business experience. We haven't been active for a full year yet. But what she adds to both our domestic and our working lives (which if I am honest it is hard to distinguish between) cannot be measured in monetary terms. She adds joy. Our readers love her. We love her. She is the face (with whiskers) of Hobeck. We can't imagine life without her.
She's asleep somewhere, as I type, dreaming of books and cats no doubt.