As Texas considers striking a deal with Amazon regarding an online sales tax exemption (Shelf Awareness, June 21, 2011), BookPeople's CEO Steve Bercu offered this response: "As I have testified in both the House and Senate, Texas would be much better served by passing the bill it has in front of it now. If the bill passes, Texas retailers will create at least 10,000 jobs without any extra incentive other than being able to compete fairly. The state does not need to pick favorite retailers and especially not out-of-state ones. Favoring out-of-state retailers over Texas retailers that already collect sales tax, pay property taxes, contribute to their communities, and live in Texas makes absolutely no sense. Talking about imaginary jobs instead of helping existing retailers create them is foolish. We should all be doing everything we can to contact our state representatives and senators and urging them to support SB1 as it is written."
Yesterday, Amazon upped the ante a bit from 5,000 jobs to 6,000. In a letter to Texas lawmakers that was obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, Paul Misener, Amazon’s v-p of global public policy, suggested the state could eventually see as many as 10,000 new jobs (6,000 "direct jobs" and up to 4,000 "indirect jobs"). But Senator Bob Deuell indicated "the odds were slim the deal with Amazon would survive in the legislative conference committee report that would have attached the language to Senate Bill 1," the American-Statesman wrote.
How do you become a top 1,000 Amazon reviewer? A new study by Cornell professor Trevor Pinch suggests that the website's elite reviewers "do not always make independent decisions about which books and other products they write about.... the reviewers in many cases acknowledge that in order to maintain their high rankings and continue to receive free products (one of the perks of being a top reviewer), they have to make surprisingly calculated decisions about what to review and what to say about those products," paidContent.org reported.
Pinch noted that a fundamental problem is the expectation on the part of Amazon's customers that reviewers are just ordinary shoppers. "The issue of the 'customers' not really being customers needs to be addressed," said Pinch, who found that 85% percent of respondents had received free products from publishers, agents, authors and others. The "way to keep those freebies flowing is to pump out glowing book reviews," paidContent.org wrote, adding that 88% of respondents reported that most or all of the reviews they wrote were positive.
Congratulations to American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression president Chris Finan, who will receive the 2011 Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor Award this weekend at the American Library Association’s national conference in New Orleans. Bookselling This Week reported that FTRF is honoring Finan for his "distinguished career in both study and activism on behalf of the freedom to read." In addition to his work with ABFFE, he is a member of the Media Coalition, and member and chair of the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
"The First Amendment and the cause of free expression could not have a more committed, articulate, and effective champion than Chris Finan," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "As the president of ABFFE, Chris’s hard work and insightful writing have ensured that the booksellers' voice is heard in the fight for free expression, and all of us at ABA congratulate him on this great honor."
As if to underscore the growth of e-book sales evident in AAP statistics (see above), Bantam said yesterday that Janet Evanovich's new Stephanie Plum mystery, Smokin' Seventeen, sold 218,000 copies on Tuesday, its release date: 100,000 hardcovers, 100,000 e-books and 18,000 audiobooks. The figures include 1,000 hardcovers sold to some 900 fans at a kickoff event at a Barnes & Noble in Princeton, N.J.
The Washington Post profiled Matt Wixon, founder of the moving company Bookstore Movers. Wixon said he "started working at a used bookstore and fell in love with the place--it's a temple, a sanctuary. The name Bookstore Movers is because [I'm] saving up to buy Capitol Hill Books when the owner retires. But working at a bookstore isn't always as intellectually engaging as you might hope. You cannot be world-weary and having an existential crisis when you are carrying 100 boxes. I've never known someone to do a full 10-hour day of moving and be depressed. You have a very clear, tangible sense of what you've accomplished. You took one apartment full of stuff and emptied it. And then you filled a new one and helped people start a new chapter in their life...."
"I never thought I'd be the guy who got up at 4:30 a.m.--I used to read until the sun came up. I recently met up with friends from high school. I could tell they were surprised that the bookworm was a manual laborer who traipses around with a dresser on his back. But there was a certain amount of pride. There were doctors, lawyers, college professors, but I think I was the only small-business owner, the only one not working in someone else's system, the only one who had created something out of nothing."
On his store blog, J.B. Dickey, owner of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, shared a recent exchange of e-mails he had with an author who'd sent a sample copy of his new book and was interested in scheduling an event. Problem #1: the novel was published by Amazon's new mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer.
"The authors are understandably eager and excited and they have a hard time understanding when they run into our brick wall of NO," Dickey wrote.
Patrick Marks was interviewed by SF Weekly, which noted that the former buyer for Cody's Books now "owns and operates the Green Arcade bookstore, sings in the lounge act Lars Mars and His Men, publishes noir literature, and lives in the same San Francisco apartment he's had for the past 27 years."
"I didn't want my skills to go to waste," he said of his decision to open the bookshop in 2008. "I figured I might as well give it one last stand."
Marks considers the Green Arcade "a representation of the city itself: simultaneously a refuge and a crass, commercial space. His taste in books reflects it, with selections ranging from noir literature and art to urban planning and politics," SF Weekly noted.
"Reading was always my way of dealing with reality," he observed. "They say the truth will set you free--well, reading is a big aspect of that. It's an important part of citizenship."
Song of the day: "Sit Down" by Beth Porter, part of the Bookshop Band trio, the in-house band for Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, in Bath, England. The song was inspired by the book A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, who won the Carnegie medal yesterday (see below). It was performed when he appeared at the shop last week for an author event.
In an article appropriately headlined "Tea for Two," Bookselling This Week spoke with a pair of booksellers who have found their niche serving tea rather than the ubiquitous coffee/books combo.
Gary and Kathy Robson, co-owners of Red Lodge Books, Red Lodge, Mont., began selling loose tea in tins about a year ago and have since expanded by adding a serving counter. BTW noted that even though the tea "comes from all over the world (places of origin are marked on a large world map), Red Lodge has made an effort to add local elements by offering tea accessories. The bookstore sells alfalfa and clover honey from a nearby ranch, and handmade pottery tea ware from a local artisan. The Robsons are also working on developing some tea blends based on Montana-grown herbs."
Francine Lucidon's the Voracious Reader children’s bookstore, Larchmont, N.Y., also operates A Proper Cup. "It fits with the whole vision of the bookstore," she said, "which is about slowing down, relaxing, and spending time with the kids.... Tea is so much fun. It's all about learning. It ties in with so many interesting things--it's a geography lesson, a science lesson, and a lesson in heritage. It's fascinating, and drinking it has more of a slower, more ambient feel."
Lucidon added that the tea shop adds a community feel to the location and has attracted new patrons: “Sales have skyrocketed. People come in and browse for longer, go over to the shop for some tea, and then they’re in such a good mood that they’ll come back to the bookstore and shop some more."
Now that summer is officially in season, the Huffington Post checked its biblio-radar for what's new and hot in summer books, noting: "We've been unpacking books for summer reading and thought you'd want to know what we've found--everything from big fiction to quiet first novels, from great biographies to historical love letters."
And on NPR's Morning Edition, America's favorite librarian Nancy Pearl presented 10 Terrific Summer Reads: "When I'm ready for my next good read, I look for a book (fiction or nonfiction) with a strong narrative voice, wonderfully drawn characters and writing that makes me stop and savor the words the author has written--all of which are present in these 10 terrific books."
A new Mark Twain "forever" postage stamp will be issued June 25. Jacket Copy reported that the release will be marked by a ceremony in Hannibal, Mo., where the author grew up.
Why designers like Austen: Design Observer's Alexandra Lange "had been thinking about Austen again lately because she turned up on the lists of several designers I admire on Designers & Books. Whenever I peruse the site I am always making up my own book list in my head, and [Pride & Prejudice] was definitely on it. But why do designers like Austen? Michael Sorkin calls it 'precise' and that is definitely part of it. You don't feel as if she had a messy dressing table, and probably never left a pen unwiped." Lange created a brief list of reasons why designers might like Austen:
- Architecture plays a part.
- Rooms = ritual.
- The precision thing.
(Tasty) book trailer of the day: Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop by Meg Ray (Chronicle Books).
Effective September 1, the University of Nebraska Press will distribute Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho, which was founded in 1925 and focuses on the people and culture of the American West. Caxton publishes six to eight books a year and has a backlist of 100. It also manages the backlist of the University of Idaho Press.
Caxton Press president and publisher Scott Gipson said the new distribution deal will introduce Caxton's list to a larger readership. "The University of Nebraska Press is well-known to readers of Western history and literature. We look forward to growing our audience through our partnership with Nebraska."