The Dallas Morning News
weighed in on the Amazon vs. Texas sales tax debate with an editorial
contending that it "defies logic that a book bought online can elude
sales tax while the same book bought in a bookstore can’t. A sales
transaction is a sales transaction, and if one is taxed, why shouldn't
the other be taxed as well?... The Texas Legislature and Congress need
to do something to level that playing field."
State Comptroller Susan Combs was praised for not backing down despite criticism from Governor Rick Perry (Shelf Awareness
, February 14, 2011). The Morning News
editorial argued that Combs "is right to try to collect sales tax from
Amazon and protect brick-and-mortar stores in Texas from unfair
competition. State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, recently proposed
legislation, HB 1317, to make it harder for companies to skirt the
'physical presence' standard. This newspaper hopes the measure prods the
Legislature to seriously review the sales tax dilemma. While it is not
the total answer, it's a reasonable starting place for the discussion.
As online commerce increases, Texas mustn't come out on the short end of
receiving its fair share."
Sadly, Borders Group was not the only bookseller filing for Chapter 11 reorganization this month. On February 11, Page One, Albuquerque, N.Mex., filed for Chapter 11, listing debts of $1.37 million and assets of $800,000, according to reports in the Albuquerque Journal
and New Mexico Business Weekly
In an e-mail to customers, owner Steven Stout said that "in this age of Internet-related doo-dads and the convenience of doorstep shipping, we realize that we need to change our (business) model in order to survive. Filing Chapter 11 reorganization has given us the leeway to do just that." He hopes to keep the store open but plans either to move or downsize its current 24,500 square feet of space.
In the filing, Stout, who founded Page One in 1981, listed himself as the largest secured creditor, owed $453,393. Bank of the West is the second largest secured creditor, owed $250,000. Some 52 unsecured creditors, including publishers, are owed $474,866. The filing stated that "after any exempt property is excluded, and administrative expenses paid, there will be no funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors."
profiles Kate Rattenborg, the owner of Dragonfly Books
, which opens this week in Decorah, Iowa.
Rattenborg has worked as a librarian at the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota. Six years ago, she returned with her children to Decorah, her hometown, after her husband died suddenly. Dragonfly Books is named in honor of her late book-loving husband, she said. Dragonflies symbolize renewal and change, light and rebirth, and the power of life in general. "Life is short, and you don't know what is going to happen," she told the paper. "Instead of postponing a dream, just embrace it--and go with it."
Dragonfly Books is located at 112 W. Water St., Decorah, Iowa 52101; 563-382-4275; dragonflybooks.com
In a note to customers entitled "nothing endures but change," Lisa Stefanacci, owner of BookWorks, Del Mar, Calif., said that the store is making "a few physical modifications" as it continues "to develop a rock solid bookstore model." These include opening part of a wall "to create a more synergistic space with the Pannikin," the neighboring café, as well as rearranging furniture.
The store will show off the changes and celebrate its 35th anniversary on Thursday, March 10, when Patricia Churchland appears to discuss her new book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality.
As Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass., begins the last year of its current lease, it has issued a challenge to 500 of its customers and readers to join the store's annual membership program. That amount of new members would, owner Mary Cotton wrote, "change the fortunes of your independent bookstore" and allow the store "to renew our lease and continue bringing bookclubs, writing workshops, and author events to your community." Individual memberships are $50 and family memberships are $75, and offer 20% discounts on all purchases.
She also wrote: "From the moment my husband and I rescued the bookstore from closing in 2007 (and steered it through the worst economy since the Great Depression), we've endeavored to make Newtonville Books a cultural center for the neighborhood, introducing book clubs, Grub Street workshops, and our own writing workshops, as well as continuing the First Editions Club and the award-winning reading series established by the previous owner, which brings nationally-recognized authors to the community. This is the sort of literary programming Borders, Barnes and Noble, Costco, Target and Amazon don't provide in exchange for their deeply discounted books."
Appropriately enough, perhaps, the Borders Bookstore in
Pasadena, Calif.--one of the 200 stores slated for closure--was the most
recent Bookstore of the Week featured by Jacket Copy, which noted that the location "is still an entirely good bet for book shopping. That is, for now."
Cool idea of the day: Clinton Bookshop, Clinton, N.J., is hosting a workshop this Thursday called "An Introduction to the College Search Process" featuring Linda Canulette, an educator, school counselor and private college advisor. The workshop will present and discuss topics such as searching for the right college, résumé writing, interview skills, student profile and more. The cost is $35 and includes a copy of Barron's Profiles of American Colleges 2011.
Writing on his blog as Bruce J. Quiller, publisher's rep Bruce J. Miller lamented what he calls "the devaluation of books by museums shops, a class of stores considered by publishers to be an essential part of the retail picture. The very non-profit institutions whose raison d'etre is the preservation of knowledge about art, anthropology, zoology, botany--a vast range of subjects--have decided that, while books are a necessary evil, they are an unprofitable and embarrassing holdover from a time when the economic life of museums was less complicated." Among the institutions in his region that have outsourced bookstore operations are the Chicago Botanical Garden, the Chicago History Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry.
"A bookstore run by museum employees will be better than one administered by absentee managers who buy a limited number of titles and only those they can purchase at the highest discount.... I am not criticizing anyone for trying to adapt to the marketplace. Cost-cutting measures have been introduced everywhere in brick-and-mortar retailing. I do not expect museum shops to behave like libraries. All I ask is that museum bigwigs view their bookstore operation as part of the fulfillment of the mission that gives them their non-profit status. If there is plenty of room for tote bags and calendars, then there is room for scholarly books as well."
Book trailer of the day: Man Up!: 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy by Paul O'Donnell (Artisan), which shows up April 28.
To emphasize its diversity and appeal to general audiences, effective next month, IPG's professional and academic distribution program is being renamed River North Editions.
"While the titles in the River North Editions catalog appeal to an intellectual reader, they are not always published for a strictly academic audience," IPG president Mark Suchomel said. "The label 'professional and academic' no longer goes far enough to describe the breadth of the audience."
The current list includes titles from such publishers as Independent Institute, Melbourne University Press, Earnshaw Books, University of New South Wales, Fons Vitae, Society for Human Resource Management, Carcanet Press, Auckland University Press, Parthian Books and Freemantle Press.
"Labeling these titles as solely academic might lead our customer to think they are published primarily for course adoption," Paul Murphy, v-p of professional and academic marketing, said. "While many of the titles in this catalog are highly specialized, they are not unlike other titles found in quality trade and university bookstores, and we think they have great appeal to the intellectual reader."
River North Editions takes its name from IPG's neighborhood in Chicago.
At Hachette Book Group, the following changes have been made in online marketing:
Kelly Leonard has been named v-p, executive director, web strategies, and will be responsible for strategy and ongoing development of all corporate and product websites and share online marketing knowledge with publicists throughout the company.
Brad Parsons has been named associate director, online marketing.
Brianne Beers, online marketing coordinator, is moving to Grand Central Publishing.
Anna Balasi is joining Little, Brown as online marketing associate.