Politics and Prose bookstore, Washington, D.C., will be put up for sale after 26 years in business. The Washington Post reported that owners Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade "say they are simply too tired to keep steering Washington's most prominent non-chain bookstore--a premier stop on top-shelf author tours and a frequent setting for book talks televised on C-SPAN--through the uncertainty of an industry threatened by e-books. Cohen is also seriously ill."
Meade said, "It's time for us to stop and let somebody else take over for the future. I just don't have the energy like I used to." Both owners stressed this is not the bookshop's final chapter, with Meade adding, "There are no financial problems here. We make a good profit." The owners said the bookshop sold 156,000 hardcovers for $3.3 million last year, compared to 141,000 hardcover books for $3 million in sales two years ago.
Michael Norris, an industry analyst for Simba Information, said, "I think they will survive because it's Politics and Prose. A lot of independent bookstores have a specific formula for success. They have a brand and that brand means something. It means something to a lot of people."
"We're not just looking for a buyer," Meade said. "It's about someone to continue our legacy."
Added Cohen: "Our legacy of playing an important role in this community."
iRex Technologies, the Dutch manufacturer of the Iliad e-book reader, has filed for bankrupty, the Bookseller reported, noting that in addition to dramatically increased competition in the e-reader sector, the company's chief executive Hans Brons said "the business ran into difficulties because of the late arrival of some of its new products. 'We know that if you promise a product for a holiday release and don’t deliver, bad things can happen. But, to think that missing the launch window by a few months meant the demise of a company, well that’s simply staggering.'"
Brons also said, "The expectations are still positive," SlashGear wrote, adding there is "some hope from Brons that the company will survive this, and will resume business soon enough, but nothing is for sure."
After a drop of about a quarter of its value in the past two months,
Barnes & Noble has rated an upgrade from Standard & Poor's to
"hold" from "sell," the AP reported. Analyst Michael Souers called the
stock "fairly valued," taking into account the pressures on
bricks-and-mortar bookstores, too.
B&N closed yesterday at
$16.96 a share, near the low of its 52-week range of $16.11-$28.78.
"The message I have for you is that what we see now is really a snapshot," wrote Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs Books, in the Atlantic magazine, where he predicted, "If there is as much change in the next ten years as there has been in the past decade, then iconic brands of the moment may be replaced by gadgets and networks being devised right now by some graduate student in a garage. This is, of course, exciting, but it is also extremely daunting, especially for those of whose main role is to develop the content in all the ways technology now permits and, increasingly, demands."
Seth Godin offered Amazon some advice as it contends with the ongoing Kindle-iPad battle. Among other things, he suggested a "paperback Kindle. Don't worry about touchscreens or color or even always available Internet to download new books. Make a $49 Kindle. Not so hard if you use available wifi and simplify the device. Make it the only e-book reader in town."
Godin also wrote that he "saw a two-year old kid (in diapers, in a stroller), using an iPod Touch today. Not just looking at it, but browsing menus and interacting. This is a revolution, guys."
In the Huffington Post, Alex Green, owner of Back Pages Books, Waltham, Mass., wrote, "Before I opened a bookstore, I had only been to a handful of author readings in my life. Now I host them regularly, but I am always conscious of what an inadequate word 'reading' is for what goes on when an author comes to discuss and read from their book at a bookstore. As someone once said to me, 'calling it a reading is about as exciting as calling sex, intercourse.' "
Green featured a video clip "of what I think of when I hear the word 'reading.' It is from an event with Damian Platt, the co-author of a phenomenal new book called Culture Is our Weapon: Making Music and Changing Lives in Rio de Janeiro. Platt flew from Rio to six cities in the U.S. to talk with local human rights workers about how groups from Brazil to the States use music and culture to fight back against violence. What the crowd of forty people assembled here in Boston participated in was a fascinating, roving discussion between Platt and three leading figures in our community about human rights across borders and cultures."
Tracy Beltran, co-owner of Barnhill's book and wine store, Winston-Salem, N.C., "was looking for a place to showcase the works of independent authors and publishers" when she and Thais Black decided to open their shop, the Journal reported.
"Considering the economy and that we're kind of off the main streets, we're doing really well," said Beltran said. "We want people to know they can come here and be comfortable."
Offering a new spin on traditional city reads, One City, One Story is a new initiative from the Boston Book Festival, which plans to publish a short story by a well-known local writer that will be distributed as a bound booklet to 30,000 Bostonians, free of charge. It will also be available for download at the festival's website. The writer's name will be announced later this summer, and he or she will appear at the festival, which takes place October 16.
Waiting for George. Fans of George R.R. Martin, who have been anticipating the next book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series for five years, got some sympathy from Rebekah Denn in the Christian Science Monitor. Denn recently began reading Martin as "a great bet for a weekend of relaxing and reading and reading some more. It wasn’t until I finished the last page a few days later--technically, as it was 2 a.m., a few mornings later--that I understood what the clerk at Powell’s Bookstore told my husband after seeing the book in his hand. It was something to the effect of, yes, that’s a great book, but once you finish it, you’ll be suffering along with the rest of us."
World Cup reading lists continue to take their positions on the pitch. In the Guardian, sports journalist Mihir Bose picked his top 10 football books.
As book events go, the one scheduled for July 1 at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City promises to be revealing. School of Burlesque headmistress Jo Weldon, author of The Burlesque Handbook, will "bring page to stage" as each member of the troupe takes on a chapter from her book and performs a signature act that highlights the skill presented in that chapter. Weldon will also be selling and signing books after the performance.
NPR's Michael Schaub suggested a summer antidote to all the bad news by "escaping with the help of a good historical novel. Luckily, there's been a bumper crop this year. If you want to be taken back to a time when, say, the ocean was full of Viking long ships instead of leaking oil, wait no more." His recommendations are The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson (translated from the Swedish by Michael Meyer), Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey, The Last Rendezvous by Anne Plantagenet (translated from the French by Willard Wood), Stettin Station by David Downing and I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita.
Yesterday, Diane Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas
(Chelsea Green), poured simulated oil on herself "in a graphic expression of support for legislation lifting oil companies' current liability cap" during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, CNN
reported, adding that Wilson interrupted "opening remarks by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of several Republicans who have expressed opposition to lifting the $75 million cap." She was arrested and later released.
Obituary note: Jeffrey Wayne Williams died on May 25 of brain
cancer. He was 56.
Williams had worked at Pocket Books for many
years and become a sales manager. In 1995, he moved to Helena, Mont.,
and worked for Falcon Press, Greycliff Publishing and Riverbend
Publishing. The Helena Independent Record
has an extensive
Book trailer of the day: An
by Jarret Middleton (Dark Coast Press).
Sometimes what's on the outside counts, too. AbeBooks featured 25 iconic book covers
On Tuesday, a fire destroyed the house where Sterling Books editor Alyssa Smith (@booksandcorsets
) lived. She and her roommate lost everything, and an online campaign was quickly launched by friends and colleagues to provide assistance. The details are now available at Alyssa's blog