Quotation of the Day
Renaissance Publishing: Reaching Out to 'Pragmatic Readers''
"The situation really is that the first generation of printers, encouraged by scholars, naturally produced the sort of books these people wanted. But it's hard to apply this sort of commercial model--this small, bespoke model used for manuscripts--to a new process that produces 300 or more identical items. The irony is that there were plenty of other readers out there. The first printers ignored the groups that we might call pragmatic readers. Literacy was already widely-disseminated in the fifteenth century. There were lots of people who could read but did not habitually buy books, so the trick was to discover how to reach them. "
--Andrew Pettegree, author of The Book in the Renaissance
(Yale University Press) in an interview with the Atlantic
Notes: BAM Sales Decline; B&N's Board Nominees
In the second quarter ended July 31, net sales at Books-A-Million
fell 2% to $120 million and sales at stores open at least a year fell
3.2%. Net income in the quarter rose $1.9 million, compared to $1.5
million in the same period a year ago.
Chairman, president and
CEO Clyde B. Anderson commented: "We are pleased with our earnings
despite the tough comparisons to last year in the core book business
during the quarter. The success last year of the Twilight series and
titles from Glenn Beck and Mark Levin proved difficult to match with
this year's lineup. Nonetheless, our team did a good job to deliver
solid results in a tough environment."
The two company-backed nominees for election to the Barnes &
Noble board who will run with chairman Len Riggio at the annual meeting
September 28 are David G. Golden and Dr. David A. Wilson. They aim to
fill the seats being vacated by Michael Del Guidice and Lawrence Zilavy.
Riggio is running for re-election. The trio are being opposed by a
slate backed by insurgent shareholder Ron Burkle, who is one of that
David G. Golden is executive v-p and a partner
of Revolution, an investment company. Earlier he worked at JP Morgan
Chase and Chase Manhattan Bank. He serves on the boards of a variety of
Dr. David A. Wilson is president and CEO of the
Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the Graduate
Management Admission Test (GMAT). Earlier he worked at Ernst & Young
in a variety of positions. He holds a Ph.D. in accounting.
The BookMark, Atlantic Beach, Fla., which is relocating to 220 First
Street, begins the move this weekend: the store will close on Sunday,
August 22, and reopen on Saturday, August 28. The new site is 300 steps
away from its current location and is a green building with more parking
and more space for events and book club meetings
The store is
expanding its events schedule. The first author event in the new
building will take place on Friday, September 10. A special reception
will be held on Sunday, September 26.
"We love to read and have a
very knowledgeable staff," owner Rona Brinlee said. "We handpick our
inventory and usually can get a book within a few days of a customer’s
The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has launched NW Book Lovers,
a blog for the general public featuring PNBA member stores, libraries,
Northwest books and authors and everything literary in the Northwest,
aiming for "a behind-the-scenes indie store kind of vibe," as PNBA put
The site, which the association hopes stores will promote to
customers, features daily headlines, a store directory, a place to
comment on what participants are reading, news about stores and local
authors and links to store blogs and websites.
Author Susan Gregg Gilmore is chronicling her book tour to promote The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove with a special series of posts called The Southern Byways Bookstore Project.
"Without a doubt, one of the great and unexpected joys of being published two years ago was meeting YOU--all the readers, booksellers, and bloggers--who enjoyed Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen," wrote Gilmore, adding, "After that experience, I couldn’t help but want to give a little something back to the independent booksellers down South. So, while I’m traipsing across the Southeast and farther afield for my book tour, I’m gonna be starting a special series of blog posts profiling bookstores in Dixie. Some I’ll be visiting in person. Others I’ve only gotten a taste of through photos, fans and alike."
Gilmore has already written about That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, Ark., and Maple Street Book Shop, New Orleans, La.
Random Acts of Reading turned its spotlight on the Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.: "I was skeptical when I first heard that Elliott Bay had decided to move.... I was absolutely floored the first time I walked into the new location. Though they were unloading boxes of books, you could feel how fantastic this new store was. Somehow they had managed to bring Elliott Bay’s smell of cedar and sense of space to a completely new space that’s better laid out, lighter and airier. It’s truly unbelievable how the new store captures the essence of the old."
Business Insider explored the question: "[H]ow well does completely open work on the Web?" Submitted for evidence were Wikipedia and Amazon, which "are not the open Web. They represent some form of centralization and some limits. That centralization and those limits must be adding value at least for now." Of Amazon, BI observed: "Small merchants could set up their own websites rather easily these days and sell directly. So what is it that Amazon adds?" Several benefits for Wikipedia and Amazon were identified:
Will "Who's the author?" replace "What's your sign?" as an irresistible opening line? Alikewise.com hopes so. The social networking site is "looking to connect people free of charge based on their favorite reads.... Alikewise users can search and be searched by the books and book opinions they put up next to their profile pictures.... Other users can leave comments about your books, and the site sends notifications when somebody adds the same title or books in the same general interest area," the Associated Press reported.
"There are plenty of niche dating sites, but they struck me as a bit too niche," said co-founder Matt Sherman. "They seem to orient themselves over one particular interest or type of person--athletics, religion. Our attitude is that books can be about anything. They're a means to an end to get the conversation going."
On August 21, children's bookstore Petunia's Place, Fresno, Calif., will celebrate its grand reopening at a new venue on North Palm Avenue.
"We love the new location," co-owner Jean Fennacy told Bookselling This Week, noting that it is "a much more wide-open area, about the same square footage, but a different shape." Fennacy and Debbie Manning have owned the shop for more than 20 years, but BTW said "their connection to it goes back even further. 'Beverly Woods, who started the store, was my third-grade teacher,' Fennacy said. And, she said, Jean Pereira, the store's other co-founder, still works at Petunia's Place one day a week, doing some of the buying and serving as the 'store grandmother.' "
Being the only bookstore in town "has its ups and downs," according to Lisa Butts, owner of Noble Scholar Books, Bristol, Conn. The Bristol Press reported that "in its new location at the Stop & Shop Plaza on Farmington Avenue, Noble Scholar moves into its second year as Bristol's only store devoted exclusively to books.... Since its move from ShopRite Plaza, Noble Scholar's visibility is an issue."
"We have people walk in and say, 'Oh, I didn't know there was a bookstore in Bristol,' " said bookseller Liz Borajkiewicz, who added that the bookshop is persistent. "We have something unique that you can't get in any other store. It is a little more intimate.”
When President Obama met with small business owners at the Grand Central Bakery in Seattle's Pioneer Square district on Tuesday, John Siscoe, owner of the Globe Bookstore--located nearby--found himself on the outside looking in.
"They rousted us all out," he told Patricia Sorenson of Dover Publications, who shared John's account of the brief presidential adventure with Shelf Awareness. "Even though the meeting was for small business people, we were, I guess, just too small to be invited. The Secret Service people were very thorough, and the basement and ground floor of the building were kept empty (save for the invitees) until 1 p.m. However, it worked out all right for me. I was standing on the corner of Second and Jackson (because there was a spot of shade) when the whole entourage left the Grand Central on Main, roared around the corner onto Second, and headed straight for me. Having spent my childhood in DC, I knew to look for the car with the President's flag. And there it was, on the second black SUV. I stepped to the curb, looked at the back window, and waved. And the President, smiling, waved back. Made my day!"
In the Huffington Post, Nancy Ruhling shared her recent search for Harry Fiegelson, an 83-year-old street bookseller in Astoria, Queens, N.Y. Since last spring, he hadn't appeared "on his usual corner at 31st and Ditmars to sell us his used books and to show us that everything was right with the world." Ruhling was able to confirm that Harry had been ill, and had moved to Florida when he recovered enough to travel. "Harry sold more than books: His kind words gave us hope," she wrote. "Harry used his used books to brighten our days."
The iPad has spawned innovation in many segments of the book industry, including an iPad version of Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy, published by iStoryTime, which includes sign language for deaf children. The New York Times reported that the "signed version is actually a QuickTime movie, which can be paused by the user. The woman signing stands against a black background, her movements flowing flawlessly as the book is read aloud by an off-camera narrator."
CVS will be selling a "$100 Sylvania netbook and $179 e-reader this fall, Tylenol not included," Engadget reported. CVS marketing materials obtained by Engadget advertise a 7-inch LookBook e-reader that features "512MB of storage space, a full keyboard and will have access to Kobo's e-book store. Seems like some good old cheap tech to us, but we're willing to bet that more than a few CVS shoppers will be tempted to throw one of these into the basket along with the deodorant and shampoo."
Forbes showcased the 10 highest paid authors, whose combined earnings--led by James Patterson's $70 million--were $270 million from June 2009 to June 2010.
Are you a sipper or a gulper when you read, asked Jo Walton on Tor.com: "I don’t think of reading as something I have to stop to do. I read in the interstices of my day. I feel I have to clear time to write--I need free time that’s also psychologically free time I write, if I have to go to the bank later that hangs over me and gets in the way. But I don’t feel like that about reading at all. I read all the time I’m not actively doing anything else--and even sometimes when I am."
Walton wondered "how odd am I? How many people are like me, reading as they go about their day, and how many like my friend, needing clear chunks of free time to get into a book? Does it matter if it’s a new book or a re-read? Do some books require more sustained attention than others?"
World Cup fans take note. The vuvuzela
, which--depending upon your point of view--was either the defining sound or the noisy scourge of this year's soccerfest in South Africa, attracted enough international attention to land a spot in the new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English
, the Guardian
Harlequin is offering a variety of series romance stories as free downloads at www.TryHarlequin.com
Book trailer of the day: Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business
by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho (Chronicle).
Obituary note: Edwin Morgan, Scotland's national poet, has died, the Guardian
reported. He was 90.
AAP: Increase for June Includes Children's Books
In June, net book sales reported by 87 publishers to the Association of American Publishers rose 10.6%, to $1.1 billion, and are up 11.4%, to $4.2 billion, for the year to date. Children's books showed notable strength, particularly the Children's/YA hardcover category, which jumped 19.6% in June.
|Univ. press paperback
|Univ. press hardcover
Adult mass market
Cool Idea of The Day: Celebrating Mockingjay's Release
Bookselling This Week reported on the indie bookseller frenzy surrounding next week's release of Mockingjay, the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, noting that "bookstores around the country will be open late on Monday night for customers who can't wait to get their hands on Mockingjay."
Although the series is written for a YA audience, adults have become big fans as well, and WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y., "is catering to that crowd with an adults-only midnight party," BTW reported. "Most of our YA is sold to adults," said manager Stephanie Anderson. "We're in discussions right now about what exactly a Haymitch cocktail would look like."
At the Book Stop, Hood River, Ore., "We are doing a 'Not-Sleepover' after the release, similar to the one we did for Breaking Dawn," said owner Cynthia Christensen. "We invite up to 36 girls to sleep all night in the bookstore, although most will spend the time reading the entire book."
Michelle Galo, a bookseller at Red Fox Books, Glens Falls, N.Y., worked with a local teacher and several teen Hunger Games fans to create a game based on the books. "Each player draws a card that designates a particular skill, like 'Survivalist' or 'Trailblazer,' " said co-owner Susan Fox. "They receive base points, and then can add to those points by visiting four 'zones' and taking part in contests in those zones, i.e., in the Forest, they take part in a trivia contest and can build on their Knowledge points. There's a Nerf archery contest, and a luck contest as well. Participants can trade items, like a sleeping bag for a knife, which will also allow them to build points. They can also challenge each other to show their cards; the 'loser' has to leave the game. The winner is the last person left, or the person with the most points come midnight!"
Another book-related game designer is Magic Tree Books, Oak Park, Ill., where co-owner Iris Yipp will have a game "with a life-size board. We're recreating the whole Hunger Games world in the hall behind our store."
Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo., will celebrate Mockingjay's release Monday afternoon. Mandy King, marketing and promotions manager, told BTW the bookshop "got a couple of local businesses to co-sponsor and offer prizes, mostly gift cards. We'll have food and drinks, including specially designed Mockingjay cupcakes from a local shop, Tee & Cakes. As for games, we plan on having multiple stations throughout our ballroom with different Hunger Games-themed challenges: a Nerf archery station, an identify edible plants station, a Cinna dress designing station, a trivia station."
Television: 'Bloody Fangtastic' Trailer for The Vampire Diaries
Entertainment Weekly featured a "bloody fangtastic" sneak peek at the trailer for season two of The Vampire Diaries, based on the book series by L.J. Smith.
Michael London's Groundswell Productions and producer John Morris have acquired the film rights to Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta. Deadline.com reported they "will use the book as the blueprint for a feature film that tells the story of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and the fast rise of the juggernaut Web business that made them billionaires."
"It's about these two young guys who created a company that changed the world, and how the world in turn changed them," London said. "The heart of the movie is their wonderful edict, don't be evil. At a certain point in the evolution of a company so big and powerful, there are a million challenges to that mandate. Can you stay true to principles like that as you become as rich and powerful as that company has become? The intention is to be sympathetic to Sergey and Larry, and hopefully the film will be as interesting as the company they created."
Books & Authors
Awards: Dayton Literary Peace Prize
Pulitzer prize-winning novelist and acclaimed journalist Geraldine Brooks won the $10,000 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the New York Times reported. Brooks "reveals to her readers what their political leaders try to hide--the ugly realities of conflict and its destructive effects even on those far from the frontlines," said Sharon Rab, founder of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. "We are delighted to be honoring a writer whose skill, imagination, and unique background allow her to create vivid characters whose stories help people understand the vital importance of fostering peace throughout the world."
Shelf Starter: What I Didn't See
Didn't See and Other Stories by
Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer Press/Consortium, $24, 9781931520683/1931520682, September 2010)
Opening lines of a book we want to read:
From "What I Didn't See"
I saw Archibald Murray’s obituary in the Tribune a
couple of days ago. It was a long notice, because of all those furbelows he had after his name, and dredged up that old business of ours, which can’t have pleased his children. I, myself, have never spoken up before, as I’ve always felt that nothing I saw sheds any light, but now I’m the last of us. Even Wilmet is gone, though I always picture him as such a boy. And there is something to be said for having the last word, which I am surely having.
I still go to the jungle sometimes when I sleep. The sound of the clock turns to a million insects all chewing at once, water dripping onto leaves, the hum inside your head when you run a fever. Sooner or later Eddie comes, in his silly hat and boots up to his knees. He puts his arms around me in the way he did when he meant business and I wake up too hot, too old, and all alone.
You’re never alone in the jungle.... At the same time, you understand that you don’t matter....
Eddie had this idea once that defects of character could be treated with doses of landscape: the ocean for the histrionic, mountains for the domineering, and so forth. I forget the desert, but the jungle was the place to send the self-centered.
We seven went into the jungle with guns in our hands and love in our hearts. I say so now when there is no one left to contradict me. --selected by Marilyn Dahl
Book Brahmin: Lori L. TharpsLori L. Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism at Temple University and the author of two books of nonfiction,
Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America and
Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. Atria Books will publish her debut novel,
Substitute Me, on August 24, 2010. Tharps blogs about her multicultural life at My American Melting Pot.On your nightstand now:
Seriously, the only book on my nightstand is Diary of a Wimpy Kid
because my nine-year old likes to read in my bed. Favorite book when you were a child:
I loved to read so much as a child, it's hard to say. I went through phases. Like during my detective phase it was all about Encyclopedia Brown. And then I was really into Archie comics. But the book series that I could always go back to was Anne of Green Gables
. Even though I'm not a little white Canadian girl, I truly felt like Anne and I were kindred spirits.Your top five authors:
As a first-time fiction writer, right now I'd say Andrea Levy, Isabelle Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, Bernice McFadden and Margaret Cezair-Thompson because their work inspires me. But our president, Barack Obama, gets an honorable mention on that list because Dreams from My Father
was that good.Book you've faked reading: The Intuitionist
by Colson Whitehead. I tried to get through it, twice, but I couldn't get excited about elevators. But I own it and I promise I'll try again.Book you're an evangelist for:
Danzy Senna's Caucasia
. That book still haunts me. I think Caucasia
should be required reading for every citizen of the United States. Book you've bought for the cover: Wench
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I hadn't even heard about the book but the cover was so beautiful and so intriguing I had to buy it. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. Book that changed your life: Black Ice
by Lorene Cary. Before I read Black Ice
in high school, I didn't know there were other black girls like me who struggled with their identity as the children of privilege. Black Ice
saved me and inspired me to write my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain
because I knew there still had to be more girls out there who needed to know they were not alone in their quest to define black outside the limits of stereotype. And I was right. Favorite line from a book:
"I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands." --From Zora Neale Hurston's autobiography, Dust Tracks on the Road
.Author who was your first guilty pleasure read:
I haven't read one of her books in over 20 years, but if you dangled one in front of my face I'd gobble it right up. And that author is none author than romance great Kathleen E. Woodwiss. I got hooked on her bodice-ripper romances as a preteen and still have a special place in my heart for her work. Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Ann Patchett's Run
. I loved Run
more than any of her other novels.
Robert Gray: Opening the Door at Battenkill Books: The Plan
Everyone knows that opening a bookstore is more complicated than just filling the shelves, hanging a sign out front and unlocking the door. Whether everyone knew that 15 or 20 years ago is debatable, but the new and prospective indie booksellers I've met during the past couple of years strike me as a much more business savvy crowd than many I encountered during the 1990s. They know the stakes; they do their homework; they harbor fewer delusions.
I mentioned last week that I'd been asked how Connie and Chris Brooks prepared for their entry into the business as owners of Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y.; how they had learned about the intricacies unique to retail bookselling, and what led them to believe they could be successful.
They didn't take any formal bookseller training, relying "primarily on our own research and backgrounds," said Connie. "Chris already owns a small business and has an MBA, so his experience in particular was very important. It is important to note that we took over a smaller existing store with a 24-year history in our village. We began drafting a business plan (nights, weekends, and coffee breaks) in January 2009, then presented it to a counselor at the Small Business Development Center in Albany, N.Y., in May for feedback. We had a relatively complete plan to present to two loan officers in June 2009, and opened our doors November 1, 2009."
She added that from the beginning they "knew we had a community of readers and one that would be inclined to support a small, independent bookstore. Analyzing census data and incorporating it with a book buying behavior study and an NEA report on trends in reading confirmed this in quantitative terms. We used some planning tools like a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis and Porter's Five Forces Model of Competitive Analysis. These are instructive. Guess what our top 'Weakness' was? 'Lack of experience running a retail operation.' It also shows up as a 'Barrier to Entry' to the industry in our Competitive Analysis."
Geography also played a significant role, since "the nearest big box bookstores are 45 minutes away and the nearest brethren indies are about 30-40 minutes away," Connie said. As part of their preparation, they took "recon" trips to bookstores in the region and discussed "what was good about each and what we would use or change if it were our shop. We took a map, outlined how far we would drive for a good bookstore and started adding up the population in that area, their income, and (based on the studies noted above) what they could be expected to spend on new books. Along with a conservative estimate of the market share of that total new book spending Battenkill Books could expect (i.e., versus online sales and regional competition), we arrived at a first year top line revenue figure."
They assumed "cost of goods sold to be 60%, based on buying from distributors to start, which brought us to our gross profit," said Connie, noting that by checking anticipated expenses "against ABA's Abacus as a rough guide, we had a handle on our pro-forma income and expenses."
On paper, the numbers didn't work initially, she admitted, and only with "a lot of thought and revision" did they begin to make sense. Ultimately it "came down to controlling expenses. If you take a look at the industry, that is what it is about. Gross profit is essentially fixed. So this is an expense controlled, cash flow business. We found a way to make it work on paper, by prioritizing spending on basic needs and areas that would support increased sales."
In an earlier column, I outlined how they handled the real estate aspect of this venture, but Connie said the "big splurge was on a computerized POS system that has paid dividends and will pay more as we use more of its functionality. I spent most of the months preparing to open the store learning the basics of running a retail operation--setting up tax exempt resale status, learning New York's labor laws, researching business, workers comp, and disability insurance, learning about sales tax, etc. I set up a relatively few accounts with book distributors, and am still very much learning on the ground how to run a bookstore."
Conceding that a course for future booksellers might have helped, Connie noted they "had no budget for it and little time. There are still terms that I don't understand and whole areas of the business that are as yet foreign (remainder buying, handling used books, how to make the most of a sales rep call, etc.), but I also am a believer that at some point you just have to take the plunge and get on with it--there are some aspects of the business that you can only learn by doing and over time."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)
Note: Photo by Leslie Parke, whose painting, "Moths," is on the wall behind the information desk.
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