Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Quotation of the Day
Koen Files for Chapter 11
"100% we're getting out of this," he commented. "We're going to be a lean, mean machine. On second thought, no, we're going to be nice." The company will, he emphasized, revamp inventory to better reflect current trends.
Koen's financial problems came to light two weeks ago, when it notified accounts that Baker & Taylor would be fulfilling its orders for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Koen said that the company had gotten into trouble because it was "too top heavy, expenses were out of whack and a few accounts went bankrupt." Koen's bank called the wholesaler's revolving credit note, forcing the filing. The bank didn't consider the new Harry Potter enough of a white knight to go forward with the huge order.
Some customers are already rallying around Koen. Over the weekend, Larry Robin of Robin's Bookstore, Philadelphia, Pa., issued an "open letter" in support of Koen, pledging to order first from Koen and pay Koen first to keep its account under 30 days. "For us, that is unheard of," he continued. "I invite other booksellers to speed up their payments to Koen and publishers to extend to them the flexibility they need to get through this crisis." Other booksellers have agreed to pay Koen quickly, he said.
When his store "faced its crisis in the mid 1990s," Robin noted, "it was Bob Koen who supported us. He extended the credit we needed to get through. We have survived and we may not have, had it not been for Bob Koen. . . . It would be a pity and horribly short sighted for booksellers and publishers not to trust and support Bob Koen."
For her part, Eileen Dengler, executive director of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, said that Koen "has always been a friend to booksellers in the region and to NAIBA. He has served the industry really well."
Circle of Bookstore Life
In this case, the bouncing baby bookstore is Read Between the Lynes: Your Hometown Bookstore, which opened on Saturday on the main square in Woodstock, Ill., a town of 20,000 an hour northwest of Chicago. Owned by Arlene and Keith Lynes, the 1,600-sq.-ft. store is strong in fiction, regional titles, children's books (in the Lynes' Den) and some faith titles (to fill the gap created by the recent closing of a Christian bookstore).
Arlene Lynes has worked in human resources; Keith Lynes has been an instructional systems designer and management consultant. The pair opened the store only four months after attending the Opening a Bookstore: The Business Essentials workshop. They aim to work with other independent businesses in the area to create special events.
Read Between the Lynes is located at 129 Van Buren St., Woodstock, Ill. 60098; 815-206-5967; readbetweenthelynes.com.
After three years, Branch's Bookshop in Chapel Hill, N.C., has closed, according to the Durham Herald-Sun. Owner Kate Branch had had some well-publicized financial difficulties, in large part because of a stalled theater project in the Village Plaza shopping center, where the store is located. A sign on the store said: "It has been a long road and we did the best we could. We still would like to re-open at another location but first must deal with closing this store."
Oshkosh bookstore switcheroo, by gosh.
LP Books, formerly Little Professor Books, in Oshkosh, Wis., is closing July 27 because of increased rent, the Northwestern reported. But on August 18, Apple Blossom Books, owned by Candy Pearson, will open.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Trachtenberg, Goldberg
Tomorrow morning the Today Show gets to know Robert Trachtenberg, author of When I Knew (Regan, $22.95, 0060571462), in which more than 80 contributors tell of when they realized they were gay.
Tomorrow Leonard Lopate hands over the stage to Sir Antony Sher, who talks about his new one-man show called Primo, based on Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, which opened yesterday in New York City. Lopate also talks with Martha Cooley, whose new novel is Thirty-Three Swoons (Little, Brown, $23.95, 0316159018).
Tomorrow evening the Daily Show with Jon Stewart hosts Bernard Goldberg, author of Bias and Arrogance and now the new bestseller, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America and Al Franken Is #37 (HarperCollins, 25.95, 0060761288). Apparently Stewart is not one of the hundred.
Tomorrow Charlie Rose talks with Christopher Hitchens, author of Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (HarperCollins/Eminent Lives, $19.95, 0060598964).
Schwartz Opens Fifth Store: Bay View Is 'Beautiful'
The store is opening informally a few hours a day this week "so that we can figure out what we haven't got," McCarthy told Shelf Awareness. Its official opening is this Friday. The timing is not for Harry Potter, although the store will hold a midnight party. Instead, it's for former owner David Schwartz, who died last year and would have been 67 on July 15. "It's been a difficult year," McCarthy said. "You draw in. You don't want to expand or do anything new. But David wouldn't have wanted that, and we're opening the store in his honor."
The 3,200-sq.-ft. store is smaller than the other Schwartz shops, which range from 8,000-10,000 square feet each; still, it will carry about 80% of the other stores' average inventory.
The company is "testing some new bells and whistles" in the Bay View store and will carry DVDs, a new item, McCarthy said. Some aspects of the store were influenced by advice from the retail consulting company run by Paco Underhill, author of The Call of the Mall and Why We Buy. It counseled, among other things, that Schwartz upgrade shelf talkers, have a big sign with information rather than shelves of books behind the information desk, use Schwartz's erratically applied Boswell logo consistently, give customers room in the store and improve lighting. ("We have such good lighting you can do brain surgery here," McCarthy said.) Ideas that work in Bay View will be implemented in other Schwartz stores.
As with Schwartz's four existing stores, the Bay View shop was designed by president Carol Grossmeyer, David Schwartz's widow. "He would be so proud of her," McCarthy commented. "It's gorgeous."
Schwartz has transferred experienced staff to the new store from its other stores. The six staffers "know our culture" and now constitute the best of all the Schwartz staffs, McCarthy said, adding that the company had learned from the experience of its Racine store, which closed last year. "We didn't have established booksellers there, and that hurt."
A main force to open the store was the local alderman, who called McCarthy weekly, asking that Schwartz open in Bay View. "I'm Chicagoan enough to respect the alderman, so I went down to the neighborhood with him and met many people," McCarthy said. "There was lots of interest." When she suggested hesitantly that Schwartz might want to open in Bay View, McCarthy learned that other staff members had the same idea--and that many Schwartz employees live in and like the neighborhood.
The newest Schwartz bookshop is at 2254 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee, Wis. 53207.