"Budget-oriented shoppers appear to be playing a game of chicken with retailers this year, waiting for steeper discounts from stores than the 30 percent to 50 percent off already on offer," Reuters wrote. "But analysts expect retailers to hold their ground in the week before Christmas."
While some predict sales only equal to last year, the game of chicken could make for stronger sales on "Super Saturday" weekend, the last weekend before Christmas, which begins tomorrow. [Editor's note: Where did this month go?] In fact, ShopperTrak predicts that sales this weekend will be higher than Black Friday weekend, which is usually the biggest shopping period of the year.
State governments facing budget shortfalls "will be looking at different ways to increase sales and use tax revenue," according to Bookselling this Week. In a recent white paper, "The Impact of the Loss of State Sales and Use Tax Revenue," CCH--a provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services--indicated that these strategies may include "beefing up tax collection staff, increasing tax rates, becoming a member of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, or following New York State's lead and passing e-fairness legislation."
"This report makes it abundantly clear how significant the issue of e-fairness is and how it is imperative that we urge states to act now," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "As online shopping grows, states will suffer increasing sales tax revenue declines and larger budget shortfalls as significant remote retailers eschew their legal obligation to collect and remit sales tax. We continue to believe that a simple, direct solution is the equitable enforcement of existing sales tax laws."
BTW also noted that several states have increased or plan to increase their sales tax rates, including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada and Utah.
"For our member booksellers in these states, it is imperative that we get the word out that the first order of business in meeting the challenge of falling sales tax revenue is to equitably enforce existing sales tax laws," said Teicher.
The Canadian Booksellers Association has scheduled its National Conference for May 28-30, 2010, at the Delta Toronto Airport West Hotel. The event will take place right after BookExpo America in New York City, May 25-27.
Quill & Quire reported that "CBA executive director Susan Dayus says she hopes to capture booksellers and publishers who may be returning from BEA by way of Toronto. 'We felt some people who come from out of town and may be attending BEA could come back through Toronto to attend our event and avoid that dual fare,' Dayus said."
Highlighting its "Best of the Decade" choices, the Baltimore Sun's book blog Read Street singled out indie bookstores, noting that the "decade has brought intensified pressure on independent bookstores. It seems odd to include that trend on a 'decades best' list, but it certainly has been a major factor in shaping the landscape of booksellers. And you've got to admire and respect the fact that they fight on, against long odds.... Here's hoping that there are enough lovers of literature to keep indies thriving in the coming decade."
Dennis and Linda Ronberg, co-owners of Linden Tree Children's Recordings and Books, Los Altos, Calif., are planning their retirement, and the Mercury News reported that unless they find a buyer, their "independent, kid-centric and quaint" bookshop "could start holding going-out-of-business sales early next year."
"We don't make a lot of money," said Dennis, "but it is so rewarding in other ways. . . . It's not that the store is doing poorly. It just seemed like kind of a natural time to (retire)." The Ronbergs have been in discussion with "several potential buyers, and hope to know more after New Year's," the Mercury News wrote.
"(Buyers) kind of want to know how we've done for the year, and I think we've done OK," he added.
Mountain Lore Books & More, Hendersonville, N.C., will close for regular business December 26. The Ashville Citizen-Times reported that the store issued a statement saying, "Due to the poor economy and resulting significant decrease in sales, we are unable to continue as a standalone bookseller." Mountain Lore plans to hold a liquidation sale in January.
Bookselling this Week profiled John and Michelle Presta, who founded Reading on Walden bookstore, Chicago, Ill., in 1991 and "got their start in politics about a decade later working on the campaign of then-congressional hopeful Barack Obama." The Prestas are co-authors of Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers Did It (Elevator Group Publishing, $24.95, 9780981971926/098197192X, January 2010).
John recalled how his early encounter with Obama's writing sparked his later involvement. "We ordered a copy of the paperback of Dreams from My Father, then published by Kodansha Globe," he said. "We even tossed around the idea of a book signing since we loved to host local authors.... The book was the catalyst, [but] it was on March 13, 2000, when my wife, Michelle, and I talked to Obama at length, and I realized, 'This man is going to be president one day. He has it.'... He had that gift of making you feel like the only person in the room."
"The words 'independent booksellers' connotes involvement in the community," said John. "Booksellers are catalysts for change, and it is what independent booksellers have done for many years."
Obituary note: Novelist and journalist C. D. B. Bryan, best known for Friendly Fire, his 1976 book about the accidental death of a soldier in Vietnam, has died. He was 73. The New York Times praised his career as that of "an old-fashioned man of letters."
NPR's Ketzel Levine harvested "2009's Crop Of Great Gardening Books."
The application form is now available for the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize 2010. Each year, the NBF awards a number of prizes of up to $2,500 each to individuals and institutions--or partnerships between the two--that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading. Postmark deadline for all materials is February 17, 2010.
Congratulations to Kirsty Melville, who has been named president of the book division of Andrews McMeel Publishing, a new position. Before joining the company in 2005 as executive v-p and publisher, she was v-p and publisher at Ten Speed Press for a decade and earlier was founding publisher of Simon & Schuster Australia.
AMP CEO and president Hugh Andrews said that the company has benefited from Melville's "creative vision and remarkable dedication to fostering and guiding innovative strategies to fruition. She skillfully conceived, developed and launched AMP's cookbook program, streamlined our product offerings, accelerated our digital and online presence, and provides energy and leadership to editorial, marketing, sales and production teams to positive effect, resulting in an enhanced value and range of titles and in New York Times best sellers."