"Jane and her team have created a strong retail presence with long-term credibility, and I bring an Internet fast-growth mentality, so I think if we combine the two we'll be able to see some interesting things."
"Jane and her team have created a strong retail presence with long-term credibility, and I bring an Internet fast-growth mentality, so I think if we combine the two we'll be able to see some interesting things."
The Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop in Mechanicsburg, Pa., held a dual fête on Saturday that honored both Nancy Drew, who turned 80 this year, and the store's 20th anniversary. "I don't know who had more fun... the customers or me," said owner Debbie Beamer, who gave a talk and slide show about the fictional heroine. Both grown-ups and kids were entertained with a screening of one of the first Nancy Drew movies, a quiz with prizes, a cardboard cut-out of Nancy Drew for photo ops and a custom-made cake to feast on. Aspiring sleuths were given "Nancy Drew Detecting Kits" with a magnifying glass, a notepad and pen, a flashlight keychain and chocolates. "We had an absolute ball," Beamer said. "I think every girl wants to grow up to be Nancy Drew."
Total sales at Barnes & Noble in the second quarter ended October 30 were $1.9 billion, including $798 million from B&N College Booksellers, the subsidiary bought late last year whose results were not included a year ago. Excluding the college division results, sales for B&N rose 1%. The net loss was $12.6 million compared to a $23.9 million loss last year in the same period.
Sales at B&N stores open at least a year fell 3.3% and dropped 1.5% at college stores open at least year. By contrast, sales of $176.7 million at B&N.com were up 59% compared to last year, "driven by increases in core products and sales of digital devices and digital content."
The company noted that the expanded toys and games department in stores had a sales increase of 42%. Currently B&N is "testing additional concepts, including an expanded children's offering and digital and electronics accessories." B&N is continuing to invest in the Nook e-reader, adding titles to its digital catalogue and more.
B&N predicts that comp-store sales will increase 5%-7% in the third quarter and be flat to up 3% for the year, "largely driven by sales of Nook devices and accessories, and by increases in children's products and other non-book merchandise."
B&N had recent cause for giving thanks: during the three days after Thanksgiving comp-store sales rose 17.2% and online sales rose 105.7%.
Sales yesterday, Cyber Monday, rose 20% compared to last year, according to Cometrics even though the percentage of people shopping online from work yesterday dropped to 12.1% from about 13% last year, the National Retail Federation's shop.org estimated. The New York Times noted that online sales, which are up over the long weekend, now are less dependent on consumers having better Internet connections at work than at home. In addition, online retailers added more promotions last week, including on Thanksgiving Day.
Among significant changes, between 5% and 7% of shoppers used their cell phones to shop yesterday, several groups estimated. Target.com, the third-most visited website yesterday, discounted books 60%, according to the Times. Amazon was the most popular site, and one employee told the Times that the biggest seller was the Kindle. Land's End had a Twitter promotion yesterday, parts of which were exclusive to that medium.
Fiona Dias of GSI Commerce, told the Wall Street Journal that strong online sales put "the retailers on notice that consumers are choosing to buy online in ways that we have never seen before."
Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, went so far as to say to the Journal: "It's the end of the store as we know it." She said websites are getting better at encouraging impulse purchases through flash sales and other promotions. "It's now about what is on sale that I can be inspired to buy."
While prognosticators nationwide gazed into their crystal balls to predict Black Friday sales, Thomson Reuters was using satellite images from Remote Sensing Metrics, which showed "more cars parked outside shopping malls across the country in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and increasingly crowded parking lots usually mean higher sales," Reuters reported, noting that "35% percent of parking spaces have been filled since mid-September on average, compared with 31% to 32% the previous two years."
Independent bookstores near Boston that have been sold in recent years or are for sale are going like "proverbial hotcakes," the Boston Phoenix reported. Why? Because "in Boston, sales of independent bookstores seem to be recession-proof.... As the bookstore megafauna topple, what's left is a warmblooded, hardier breed of independents, altered but thriving." Broker Paul Siegenthaler told the paper, "In the right locations and with a proven track record, these stores can do very well."
Among other bookstores, the Phoenix visited the Harvard Book Store, Brookline Booksmith and Wellesley Booksmith.
Jill Stefanovich and Jenesse Evertson have bought Narnia Children's Books in Richmond, Va., the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The store had been founded in 1984 by Kelly Kyle, who decided to retire. The new owners have changed the store's name to BBGB because of copyright issues with the Chronicle of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. BBGB officially stands for Bring Back Great Books, but, "it can be anything," Stefanovich told the paper. "We want people to come up with their own interpretation."
Stefanovich and Evertson have long shopped at the store and intend to add a website, have a social media presence and increase inventory, particularly with books from abroad. They also plan to expand readings, workshops and other events at the store and off-site.
One unusual twist about the store's owners: Evertson, who has lived in Richmond and plans to return, is currently living in London, where her husband is working. As a result, the pair spend a lot of time on Skype. The distance works, Evertson said, "because we have different strengths."
Stefanovich will manage the store, along with two employees who worked at Narnia for years, while Evertson, "who has a doctorate in literacy and a master's degree in children's literature, will work with publishers to unearth new titles and will write the store's blog," the Times-Dispatch said.
"The real test is going to be what happens when we're together," Evertson told the paper, laughing.
BBGB is located at 3100 Kensington Ave., Richmond, Va. 23221-2423; 804-353-5675.
Book trailer of the day: Living into Art: Journeys Through Collage by Lindsay Whiting (Paper Lantern).
Al Miner, who retired earlier this year as manager of the Juilliard Bookstore in New York City, died the week before Thanksgiving after a long illness. A memorial mass for him is being held Wednesday, December 1, at 3:30 p.m. at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Avenue (at 66th St.) in New York.
The release of the movie Miral, based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, is being postponed until next March 25. The tie-in edition (Penguin, $15, 9780143116196/0143116193) was published November 3. The movie won't be released this Friday, as we wrote yesterday.
The first Joe's Pick, a new New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association program that honors the late Joe Drabyak, a legendary handseller, is The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson (Simon & Schuster), which will be published next May.
Mark LaFramboise of Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., wrote that Thompson's "eye for detail and her ability to paint textures are extraordinary and are put to great use telling the story of the Erickson family. I was thinking about half way through that one of the most important things literary novels do is make us feel empathy. By giving us different points of view of members of the family, and how they see each other and feel about each other, at different points of their lives, Thompson shows us our best and worst selves, depending how much we care to identify with her characters."
The San Jose Mercury News caught up with Clark Kepler, owner of Kepler's, Menlo Park, Calif., who described the store's brief closing in 2005 as "a sense of death and of letting go" that changed his perspective on many things. As for the post-closing period, he said, "I'm writing that part of my life."
Cool idea of the day. Inkwood Books, Tampa, Fla., is holding a special, different sale every day in December, which includes, for example:
December 1. On the First of December, Inkwood Gave to Me a Partridge in a Pear Tree: 20% all books about or starring birds or trees.
December 4. Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day: Bring yours to ours, for 20% off books for young readers.
December 11. Don't Be Doomed to Repeat It: 20% off all history books, paperback or hardcover.
December 15. Enough About Me: 20% off all memoirs.
December 20. Good Day Sunshine: 20% off all books in the Florida section.
December 26. The Party's Over: Holiday books, 25% off.
December 31. New Year, New You: Sports/Health/Diet/Self Help, and all blank books and diaries, 20% off.
In recommending "20 books [that] made the biggest impact in 2010," Quillblog said, "There's no formula for choosing the books of the year. Some break ground, some tackle familiar themes with new energy. Some represent the best work from established authors, some introduce us to important new voices. And some are simply in-house favorites we feel deserve a little more attention."
Even in the digital age, when it comes to reading about fashion, "nothing beats the glossy, full-color grandeur of a coffee-table book," the Los Angeles Times observed in featuring fashion-book gift suggestions.
Flavorwire showcased "10 Great, New Books That Didn't Make the Times' Best of 2010 List," noting that while this year's 100 Notable Books list "got most of the big names--Ian McEwan, Nicole Krauss, Zadie Smith, and, of course, the literary novel's pop-culture poster boy, Jonathan Franzen--we couldn't help but notice how many of our favorite new novels and non-fiction books were left out."
Geekologie featured "Famous TV/Movie Characters Sorted Into Hogwarts Houses."
Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jimmy Carter, author of White House Diary (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30, 9780374280994/0374280991).
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Anne Rice, author of Of Love and Evil (Knopf, $24.95, 9781400043545/1400043549).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: a discussion of Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (University of California Press, $34.95, 9780520267190/0520267192).
Tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Greg Fitzsimmons, author of Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439182697/1439182698).
Tomorrow night on Conan: Tim Gunn, author of Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work (Gallery, $23.99, 9781439176566/1439176566).
In an interview with Deadline.com, Noomi Rapace, who played the central role of Lisbeth Sander in the Swedish film adaptations of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, discussed her role as well as the American version of the series that is currently being shot by director David Fincher.
"That's weird. They're doing it with a Swedish accent as well," she said. "That's also pretty weird. But I'm quite okay with it. I really knew in my heart that I totally loaned myself to her and she took over most of my life. When it was released and they started to talk about the remake, people asked me and I said. 'No, I'm done with her.' And then everybody came back to me and said, 'But it's David Fincher.' There can't be any reason to do it again. I don't want to repeat myself. Hopefully they will do something far away from our films."
Rapace also noted that having the books instead of just a script to work with proved to be advantageous: "I used it a lot. It's like you have the whole background, you can dig, and you can take things that are useful, and find some clues to who she is today and all that. Lisbeth is something between Noomi and something in the script."
Rowan Somerville's novel The Shape of Her won the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award "for a scene in which a nipple is likened to the upturned 'nose of the loveliest nocturnal animal, sniffing in the night,' " Bloomberg reported. The author nabbed the U.K.'s "most dreaded literary prize" by besting a shortlist that included Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean, Neel Mukherjee's A Life Apart, Craig Raine's Heartbreak, Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap, Alastair Campbell's Maya and Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross.
"There is nothing more English than bad sex, so on behalf of the entire nation I would like to thank you," Somerville said in his acceptance speech.
Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 7:
Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn (Nan A. Talese, $27.95, 9780385530996/0385530994) explores Jacqueline Onassis's career as an editor in the publishing industry.
Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood (Putnam, $28.95, 9780399157233/0399157239) is the newest geopolitical military thriller with Jack Ryan.
Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland by Susan Fraser King (Crown, $25.99, 9780307452795/0307452794) is historical fiction set in 11th-century Scotland.
Buttons and Bones by Monica Ferris (Berkley Hardcover, $24.95, 9780425237045/0425237044) follows Betsy Devonshire, amateur investigator and owner of Crewel World Needlework.
The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas (NAL Hardcover, $24.95, 9780451229298/0451229290) chronicles the financial history of rap and hip-hop.
Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man by Steve Harvey (Amistad, $24.99, 9780061728990/0061728993) contains relationship advice for women.
Now in paperback:
The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell (ESPN, $18, 9780345520104/0345520106).
The American Civil War: A Military History by John Keegan (Vintage, $16.95, 9780307274939/0307274934).
Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg by Virginia Mecklenberg (Abrams, $65) is not just another Norman Rockwell book. Both filmmakers are major collectors of Rockwell's work, and according to Mecklenburg, they have "long appreciated the cinematic aspects of Rockwell's practice and see [him] as a kindred spirit." In examining his art from the magazine covers of the 1910s to his work through the 1970s, she hopes to refresh our appreciation for and understanding of the artist. She also ties the filmmakers' visions to Rockwell's art. In discussing the 1943 painting Freedom from Fear, she quotes Spielberg as saying that the illustration had a deep impact on him when he saw it as a boy--the parents tucking two boys into bed, while the father holds a newspaper with a headline about bombings. Spielberg later used that scene for the beginning of Empire of the Sun, as a foreshadowing of the family's separation when the Japanese invaded Shanghai. This is a marvelous introduction to Rockwell and a fine addition to a fan's library.
Spielberg is one of the founders of DreamWorks, and from that, in 2000, DreamWorks Animation was created, the company that produced Shrek, Wallace & Gromit, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, to name a few of its hits. Forty-five artists from the studio have gathered their after-hours work in Moonshine: DreamWorks Artists After Dark! (Design Studio Press, $19.95). In the foreword, Chris Saunders says that during the day, the artists are strong, clear voices singing in a choir, but singing in the choir doesn't stop the need and the desire to sing in the shower, "when you stay in touch with whatever started you singing in the first place." Some of the art is fantastical, some is cartoon-like, some is mystical and Blade Runner-ish, some is more "traditional," like the watercolor of an iguana. All of it is exceptional.
Exceptional and unique are a few of the many words that describe the art of Nick Cave in Meet Me at the Center of the Earth (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts/D.A.P., $49.95). Cave trained as a dancer with Alvin Ailey, and now is a performance artist and a fabric sculptor. He's most famous for his Soundsuits--wearable fabric sculptures that are fantastic in so many senses of the word: incredible, other-worldly, fabulous. One is made from crocheted fabrics, painted metal and wood spinning toys; another is made from beaded baskets, sequined garments and topped with a papier-maché rabbit; many have towering flower edifices; one is made of Chinese embroidered fabric appliquéd with sequins and beading, others made from brightly dyed human hair or twigs. But that's only the beginning: sculptures with antique black lawn jockey forms, tondos (circular forms) and photos of his performance art. These dazzling works by a consummate shape-shifter are astounding.
More fabric art, but of a sort that mere mortals can create, can be found in two craft books from Stash Books/C&T Publishing. The first is Socks Appeal: 16 Fun and Funky Friends Sewn from Socks by Brenna Maloney ($17.95). Finally! A use for those unmatched socks we all end up with, although the sock toys are so appealing you'll probably go out and buy socks so you can make lots of rabbits, baby cats, owls, penguins and snakes. After an ode to socks, Maloney starts with projects for beginners and children and moves on to more challenging projects ("Pass the Excedrin"). Utterly appealing and, even better, doable for the amateur. More sophisticated is City Quilts! 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House ($23.95). I don't quilt (early Home Ec trauma), but a quilter friend says that the book has good explanations, both in process and design. What I do know is that the designs are gorgeous: City Harbor in deep, deep blues and black, City Shops in black, white and gray (inspired by bar codes!), City Center (downtown Houston from a helicopter) and pastel City Sweets (petits fours). If you want a change from traditional patterns, this is the book to get. --Marilyn Dahl
Rescue (Large Print) by Anita Shreve (Little Brown and Company, $28.99 Hardcover, 9780316120524, November 2010)
Shreve's 16th novel is less satisfying than some, such as Fortune's Rocks, for this reader, but it will keep her fans turning the pages.
Peter Webster is a young Vermonter training to be an EMT. On a cold, nasty night he goes to the scene of a car accident and finds a young, beautiful woman half dead after hitting a tree. She is legally drunk and in a bad way. Peter is immediately drawn to her; in fact, she is the love of his life despite her salty tongue, bitchy disposition and questionable provenance. Shreve doesn't give us much to like about her, but Peter finds her irresistible. Maybe he is just a collector of strays, or maybe his EMT rescue training crosses over into his personal life.
In any case, he pursues Sheila Arsenault, beds her, she becomes pregnant, they marry and begin caring for their lovely and well-loved daughter, Rowan. Peter's parents have serious misgivings about Sheila, which his father speaks up about. His mother just wants a grandbaby to rock, so she keeps her counsel. Things go along, with normal marital ups and downs, until Peter discovers that Sheila has been drinking while caring for Rowan. There is an attempt at AA which falters, then another; a little lying, a lot of persiflage.
Shreve interweaves a ton of EMT lore with the story of Peter and Sheila: we go from accident scene to home heart attack to huge pileup to SIDS death while Shreve trots out all her research. It serves no narrative purpose except to remind the reader that Peter confronts tragedy and bad outcomes on a daily basis.
One day, he is called to an accident and finds that Sheila has hit and injured another motorist, Rowan has been thrown from the car and is injured and Sheila is--get ready for this--drunk. The inevitable has occurred. Peter gives her money to leave town so that she can avoid jail, telling her never to come back. Rowan is two, and she and Peter are on their own.
Fast forward 15 years: Rowan is a senior in high school and has suddenly turned from a sweet, loving daughter into a surly, incommunicative teen-ager--and one who drinks. For whatever reason--it's hard to fathom--Peter tracks Sheila down and seeks her help with Rowan. This part of the story line pushes probability, but there it is, and we need it to get to the end of the tale. At first, Sheila demurs and is the same tart-tongued woman we knew before. Then an incident takes place that turns everything upside down. To say more would spoil the whole reason for reading the book, and that reason would be because Shreve draws us in with her feckless characters. Remember The Pilot's Wife? She had plenty of clues and so did we, but we couldn't put it down. Same here.--Valerie Ryan
Shelf Talker: Anita Shreve is back with a story of family, this one fraught with a broken past and an uncertain future.