The South Carolina House of Representatives voted 71-47 yesterday to reject a proposal extending a sales tax collection break for Amazon, WIS-TV reported. The proposal would have exempted Amazon from collecting the tax for five years.
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee voted in favor of the tax break, moving the measure to the Senate floor for debate (Shelf Awareness, April 20, 2011), but the State noted that "both sides agree the outcome in the House was a key showdown on the future of the exemption for Amazon."
Bankruptcy Judge Tracey Wise tentatively approved the results of the Joseph-Beth Booksellers auction (Shelf Awareness, April 21, 2011) "pending the entry of a sales order that's expected Wednesday afternoon. The deal will close at the end of business Thursday, with the new owners taking over operations Friday morning," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
Booksellers Enterprises LLC entered the highest bid--$3.977 million--for three former Joseph-Beth stores in Lexington, Cincinnati and Cleveland, as well as the corporate headquarters in Cincinnati. The figure "included $2.604 million in cash plus various other items including the assumption of gift cards," the Herald-Leader wrote.
Joseph-Beth founder Neil Van Uum had entered second-highest, and losing, bid of $3.801 million, but he has since struck a deal to continue operating the former Davis-Kidd store in Memphis (Shelf Awareness, April 27, 2011).
That Memphis Davis-Kidd location "not only has a new, 10-year lease with Laurelwood Shopping Center, but plans for a major remodeling," the Commercial Appeal reported. The bankruptcy judge's approval of the store's purchase by DK Booksellers, a group that includes Neil Van Uum (Shelf Awareness, April 27, 2011), will ultimately result in "a large--24,000 square feet--independent bookstore."
"I'm sorry everybody went through this," said Van Uum. "It's been a grueling period for our people." He praised Laurelwood Shopping Center president and owner Tom Prewitt for his support, saying, "I can't thank him enough. He's a great Memphian. We're going to march forward arm-in-arm."
Van Uum also hopes get the rights to the bookstore's original name back from Booksellers Enterprise. "We're not giving up on the 'Davis-Kidd Booksellers' name," he said, adding that DK Booksellers would be the fall-back choice. He also looks forward to focusing on one store instead of a chain: "As
pressure built with Amazon and with the chain roll-out, probably the
mistake I made was to grow our company to scale."
After thanking the Memphis community for its support, Prewitt said, "During this complex, four-month process, Laurelwood has been motivated by finding a bookstore operator that would remain committed to the best interests of the bookstore employees and customers of Laurelwood Shopping Center, as well as the Memphis community."
Prewitt told the Daily News he wants "to make this the finest bookstore in the Memphis area. I was certain Neil was virtually the only bidder who was going to retain the employees, keep the focus on the customers and really commit to remaining in Memphis. I am going to meet with Neil really very shortly and start looking at interior enhancements to the store that will make the experience there even better."
In a letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos made the case for Amazon's heavy investment in technology. "All the effort we put into technology might not matter that much if we kept technology off to the side in some sort of R&D department, but we don’t take that approach," he wrote. "Technology infuses all of our teams, all of our processes, our decision-making, and our approach to innovation in each of our businesses. It is deeply integrated into everything we do.... As I've discussed many times before, we have unshakeable conviction that the long-term interests of shareowners are perfectly aligned with the interests of customers."
Reminder: tomorrow is the day voting closes for the shortlist of the
inaugural Independent Booksellers Choice Awards, sponsored by Melville
House and Shelf Awareness. Find your e-ballot here.
At his Los Angeles bookshop Libros Schmibros, David Kipen "has created the closest thing to a public square for the local, mostly Latino community--a place where people feel just as comfortable camping out for the free wi-fi as they do stopping in just to use the restroom (as a patron does during our conversation). It's all the same to him, says Kipen, as long as they're reading," GOOD reported.
"Job number one is to get books into people's homes," said Kipen.
R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., is celebrating
Get Caught Reading Month (i.e., May) by dedicating the store window
display to pictures of customers reading. The most inventive photo gets a
B Is for Books, Orchard Park, N.Y., hosted a "Princess Party" Tuesday to celebrate the royal wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton as part of the bookshop's "Regal Week." Owner Jane Bell, who is from the U.K., said that as a teen she was one of millions of "royal watchers" who lined the streets the day Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. The Princess Party "was also a good excuse to enjoy fun picture books with little girls, eat cherry-pink cupcakes and mini-chocolate cakes, make crafts and celebrate the community spirit of a locally owned, indie bookstore that specializes in children's books," she added.
To celebrate National Arbor Day tomorrow, Harper Perennial is offering booksellers a tree sapling from a famous author’s home. "An arborist has all of Richard Horan’s tree seeds from his travels during the writing of Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers," said Harper's Carl Lennertz. "Many are sprouting now, but are still fragile. If you send me a photo of Seeds displayed nicely, tell me you’ll sell a bunch, or tell me your favorite author visit from the book, I’ll send you a tree sapling a year from now when they are okay to ship." He added that the arborist has quite a few white pines from Emerson and Thoreau, catalpa from Rachel Carson, live oak from Henry Miller and a few redbuds from Faulkner.
The New York Public Library is cooking up a tasty idea. Ben Vershbow, manager of the library's digital labs, and culinary librarian Rebecca Federman are in the "process of transcribing the 10,000 menus in the library’s online gallery to turn it into a fully searchable database that can be browsed by dish, beverage or price as well as name and date," the New York Times reported.
Their effort, called--What's on the Menu?--has rallied thousands of participants. "The ferocity of the response we've had is amazing," said Vershbow, adding that the crowd-sourced effort was sparked "solely through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Metafilter. Collectively, volunteers have typed in 65,182 dishes from 887 menus since the site went up last Monday," the Times noted.
"For people who love food, typing up the contents of an old menu is a weird thrill," Vershbow said, "and I think people jump at an opportunity to commune with the past."
The New York Times reported that Harper Lee issued a statement yesterday through her sister’s law firm saying she had nothing to do with The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee, a forthcoming book by Marja Mills. On Tuesday, Penguin announced that it had acquired the memoir "written with direct access to Harper and Alice Lee and their friends and family."
Miriam Altshuler, Mills's literary agent, told the Times that the book's author "has the written support of Alice Lee and a lifelong family friend, and prior to Harper Lee's stroke in 2007, she had the verbal support of Harper Lee."
Spenser and Jesse Stone are on the job once more. Robert B. Parker's estate announced that Michael Brandman will write the first Stone novel under the title Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues, Deadline.com reported. The novel will be published September 13. Brandman was co-writer and producer of CBS's Stone movies featuring Tom Selleck, as well as producer of three Spenser novel adaptations for A&E.
Ace Atkins, whose novels include White Shadow, Infamous and Wicked City, will write the first new Spenser novel, to be released in the spring of 2012. Sixkill, Parker's final Spenser novel, will be released by Putnam in May.
Flavorwire recommended the "Best Books for the Armchair Traveler," noting that "if you aren’t able to throw down a couple hundred bucks for a last-minute plane ticket around the world, you can still travel from the comfort of your home by living vicariously through the new wave of travel books growing in popularity."
NPR's What We're Reading series this week includes Cuban Star: How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball by Adrian Burgos Jr., Birds, Beasts, And Seas: Nature Poems From New Directions, edited by Jeffrey Yang; Tender: A Cook And His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater and My Mom, Style Icon by Piper Weiss
The art of the bookplate. The Guardian featured samples of this "highly imaginative form of miniature art" culled from the British Museum's upcoming book Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates.
"Shopping vintage isn't just a smart move for the planet; it can also be great design inspiration," according to Re-Nest, which showcased the Bookscans project, "a visual catalog of all (yes, all) vintage American paperbacks but especially those printed before 1960 and those having a 25¢ or 35¢ cover price. And all the images are public domain (free) so they can be used in whatever way your inspiration dictates--artwork, art projects, paint color palettes... you name it!"
Book trailer of the day: Marry or Burn: Stories by Valerie Trueblood (Counterpoint). The trailer is by Tucker Capps, a young writer and filmmaker.