It might seem odd that Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, opened the membership meeting at the group's annual trade show, held last week in South San Francisco, by announcing he had bought a book from Amazon--but so he did. Landon said he not only bought a book from Amazon, he paid sales tax on it--the point of the exercise--to commemorate the end of a long battle to require the e-tailer to collect California sales taxes.
"I had wanted to buy a copy of Jeff Bezos Is a Short, Bald Idiot or Amazon the Bully," said Landon, naming fictitious titles he'd wished Al Franken might have written, but he settled instead for buying Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity--A Community Resilience Guide by Michael Shuman (Chelsea Green), for which he paid $1.31 in tax.
Dan Cullen spoke for the American Booksellers Association when he expressed "galaxies of gratitude" for NCIBA's 12-year effort to get California to require Amazon collect sales tax. "As goes California, so goes the nation," Cullen said, adding that after the election the ABA would focus its efforts on getting bills passed in the Senate and House to continue the Amazon tax campaign.
In the old/new news category, this NCIBA show marked an exit for Carol Seajay (at left in photo), who is leaving her part-time administrative position with the association to pursue an independent bookkeeping business, and an introduction to Elsa Eder (right), who is taking over Seajay's post. Eder comes to NCIBA with a background in independent film and video companies.
NCIBA also announced it will move its awards for books and booksellers to its spring meeting and plans for a pilot program with Goodreads. Landon explained that booksellers who want to participate will be asked to display the award-winning Goodreads books in 22 categories in their stores in December. "The more [bookstores involved] the merrier," said Landon. "In return [Goodreads] will promote the hell out of it." Goodreads has 10 million members, with hundreds of thousands in Northern California to be targeted in the pilot program.
At the University and Small Press rep session, Cynthia Frank from Cypress House got the ball rolling by naming Understanding Each Other After 9-11: What Everyone Should Know About the Religions of the World by Kirk Heriot (Lost Coast Press, May) as her pick in the "Food for Thought" category. For Chronicle Books, Anna-Lisa Sandstrum picked Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything by former New York Times Ethics columnist Randy Cohen; the book claims, she said, that the average person tells two lies per day. From the rep group Book Travelers West, Phoebe Gaston picked The Art of Procrastination by John Perry (Workman).
|Craig Popelars with Eureka Books owner/author Amy Stewart, who served up drinks from her The Drunken Botanist (Algonquin, 2013), getting everyone in the mood for book buzz.
Columbia University Press rep Will Gawronski noted that China's Terracotta Warriors by Liu Yang (University of Washington) is timed for the final U.S. exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco before it returns to Beijing. While pitching The Richard Burton Diaries (Yale University), rep Patricia Nelson said the actor's omnivorous reading habits interested her most. "He writes about reading Octavio Paz while Liz is reading The Godfather and calling it trash, but couldn't put it down," said Nelson.
Among the children's indie press picks, Ingram's Julia Cowlishaw shared the word-on-a-page versions of Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick, in the Cozy Classics series published by Simply Read Books. Bob Ditter from Ditter/Imprint Group West picked Squeak, Rumple, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis (Candlewick)--"absolutely the coolest individual you will ever meet"--for the "Book I Want Everyone to Read" category.
On the children's/YA panel, Scholastic rep Roz Hilden practically had everyone in tears when she shared the book she wanted everyone to read: Skinny by Donna Conner. In it, a teen takes extreme measures to lose weight, wanting really to shed an internal voice named "Skinny" that says terrible things to her. Random House rep Dandy Conway talked about Every Day by David Levithan, which goes to the heart of identity as the main character wakes up daily in a new body--male, female, gay, straight, etc. Another book about identity was PGW's Susan McConnell's pick, Up Above and Down Below by Paloma Valdivia, from Owl Books, a publisher known more for nonfiction. In Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack, said Chronicle's Sandstrum, there's a scene in which the pessimistic mouse finally loses it in the face of his friend the rabbit's optimism. Jim Hankey from Harper wanted everyone to read Dodger, Terry Pratchett's take on the Artful Dodger. Abrams rep Andy Weiner said he liked the strong female character in The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry. And rounding out the kids' rep picks, S&S's Kelly Stidham wanted everyone to read The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, to get ready for a new movie based on the author's work.
Ten reps from the larger houses had their chance to pitch booksellers before the very popular author reception on Friday. And while all 10 of the reps went the extra mile for their chosen titles, Wendy Pearl's assertion about The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (Viking, March 2013), a debut novel she compared to The Kite Runner and City of Thieves, stood out. "If this does not become an NCIBA bestseller and an Indie Next pick," Pearl declared, "I will eat this galley." That sure sounds like a new kind of book pitch. --Bridget Kinsella
[Note: in yesterday's reporting on NCIBA, we incorrectly referred to the publisher of 'Who Could That Be at This Hour?' (All the Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket. No question it's Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.]