Citing "continuing changes in the bookselling industry, combined with a bleak economy," Joseph-Beth Booksellers announced the closing later this month of its SouthSide Works store in Pittsburgh, Pa., and SouthPark Mall store in Charlotte, N.C., the Post-Gazette reported.
The Pittsburgh location opened in 2004 and, along with the Charlotte bookshop, is one of the newest of the company's seven stores. Joseph-Beth also owns two Davis-Kidd stores, in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.
"It was a very difficult decision," said Chad Showalter, Joseph-Beth Group's marketing director, adding that the company's economic forecasts for the first half of 2011 were not encouraging. "We decided we needed to make a significant change."
The Charlotte Observer reported that, in addition to the imminent closure of the SouthPark Mall Joseph-Beth location, a Borders bookstore in nearby Morrocroft Village shopping center will close January 7.
"It's just a very difficult, low-margin business," said Charlotte retail consultant Jennifer Stanton. With three big stores--including a Barnes & Noble--in the same area, "it is just too competitive, because it's a commodity that you can buy at Amazon.com for less."
"Book retailers, in general, are facing more competition than they've ever seen in history," Showalter added.
But Sally Brewster, co-owner of Park Road Books, expressed optimism for local independent businesses in the changing economy: "I think smaller shops are the way of the future."
Yesterday, a New York appeals court reinstated Amazon's and Overstock's 2008 lawsuit claiming a state law forcing them to collect sales taxes was unconstitutional. CNET reported that the court ruled 5-0 that "the dismissal of the entire complaint was premature" and that the lawsuit should continue. Amazon has been collecting sales taxes on shipments to customers in New York while the case is under way.
The decision "is anything but a complete victory for the Internet retailers, however," according to CNET, which noted "the judges ruled that, in at least some cases, the state law can be constitutional. That leaves the retailers' other arguments--which are separate and still in play--that the statute remains unconstitutional as applied to the Internet and their businesses. Further proceedings are necessary 'before a determination can be rendered' on that point, the appeals court said."
"We're pleased with the decision in light of the fact that the court found that the statute is indeed constitutional," said Brad Maione, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. "We are confident that we will prevail in the end."
The 53-year-old New England Mobile Book Fair is seeking a buyer. The Boston Globe reported that the "company is partnering with Paul Siegenthaler of Ridge Hill Partners, Needham, which successfully brokered the sale of two other local independent bookstores: the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge in 2008 and the Wellesley Booksmith earlier this year."
Steve Gans, the store's general counsel, said the Book Fair decided to make a public announcement "before the holiday season in order to reassure its loyal customer base that their bookshop--famous for its book-loving staff, eclectic layout and steep discounts--is healthy and vital," the Globe wrote.
"We were concerned that if we waited to announce (until January), there would be the wrong inference," Gans said. "We have a great relationship with the community and people have visceral feelings about the Book Fair. That is because of the amazing loyalty and constituency we have here."
Siegenthaler said there was "pent up demand" from the previous two bookstore deals his firm had closed, and that a public announcement might draw more prospective buyers: "It's a way to reach the emotional and passionate buyers, because no hard numbers guy is going to buy a book store. We want to find someone who loves (the Book Fair) as much as the current owners, and will honor the legacy and bring it forward."
Ed Devereux, owner of Unabridged Bookstore, Chicago, Ill., was interviewed by the Chicagoist, which observed: "Maybe it's the little yellow note cards affixed to shelves touting staff favorites, or the jaw-dropping selection of high-quality (and cheap!) remainders, or their collection of relevant LGBT literature--we’re not entirely sure how they did it, but incredibly this week, Unabridged Bookstore is celebrating 30 years in business, in the same location. We pause to let that sink in--especially considering this independent bookstore is thriving in an age when the Kindle and other e-readers are becoming de rigueur, and as the mega-chain book stores shutter high profile locations such as the flagship Borders on Michigan Avenue, which is expected to close next year."
"I wanted to sell all kinds of books, and to have the bookstore reflect the neighborhood," said Devereux. "So, I decided to start a general bookstore with a large gay section that would almost be like a store-within-a-store. The store would be a go-to place for everyone in the neighborhood, both gay and straight."
A new children's bookstore, the Bookworm Burrow, will open November 16 at the Public Market on 1530 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham, Wash. The Bellingham Herald reported that owner Natalie Page, "who has an interest in writing children's books, said the idea for a store really came together while she was pregnant with her son. She found the public market to be a good fit because much of the start-up overhead was covered, she could open quickly and it's a community-oriented facility."
"I want children to have places to play, look through books and be creative," Page said.
Lynn Sciaccia has opened Main Street Books in Lee, Mass., taking over the space formerly occupied by Berkshire Soul & Spirit Center, which closed last May.
"I was thrilled about the opportunity to open a business in Lee," said Sciaccia, "I've always loved the book business, because I can satisfy a customer as soon as they walk inside whether it's history or a children's book."
The Berkshire Eagle reported that Sciaccia "is a 30-year veteran of the bookstore business, whose local connection dates back to 1981 when she initially moved to the Berkshires and opened a store in Pittsfield. October Mountain Books occupied space in the Allendale Shopping Center from 1981 to 1992, closing due to competition from the Berkshire Mall, which opened in 1988 just to the north in Lanesborough."
"My passion for the area has never waned, so when the space in Lee opened up, we had the money," she said.
Rock Point Books, Chattanooga, Tenn., will close in early December. Co-owner Albert Waterhouse told the Times Free Press that the bookshop opened in 2006, "shortly before the nation's economic slump, and has faced stiff competition from online booksellers like Amazon.com and e-readers like the Kindle and the iPad."
"We started off strong, and the author readings were responsible for moving a lot of books, but as the economy collapsed two years ago, we saw the direct response of that," Waterhouse said, adding that while online bookstores dominate the field, he believes "there is a niche for a bookstore in Chattanooga. I'm gonna be back."
The American Booksellers Association's 2011 Winter Institute--which will be held in Washington, D.C., January 19 to 21--is now fully booked and a waiting list is forming, Bookselling this Week reported.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of Raised by Wolves, selected her top 10 supernatural families in literature for the Guardian, noting: "There's only one thing I love more than a good supernatural story, and that's a story that explores what it means to be a family: the good, the bad and the ugly. Whether it's a family of choice or blood makes very little difference to me, but there's something so compelling about the idea of being connected to other people and part of their lives in a permanent and often complicated way. One of the reasons I chose to write about werewolves was because it offered a lot of opportunities to explore growing up within--and sometimes away from--your family (or, in werewolf terms, your pack)."
Book trailer of the day: Let's
Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful,
Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By by Lesley M.M. Blume (Chronicle).
Effective November 15, Nicole Dewey is joining Little, Brown as
executive director of publicity. Her last day as executive director of
publicity at Holt is today.