In a move that both unsettled a business
already shaken by the steady erosion of Borders Group and contrasted to the energetic,
optimistic mood among independent booksellers at the Winter Institute, Barnes
& Noble laid off much of its buying staff, including some of its best-known
They included Bob Wietrack, v-p,
merchandising, and Marcella
Smith, director of small press and vendor relations. Other casualties were Dan Mayer,
Lee Stern, Kim Corradini and David Hathaway and other buyers and assistant buyers.
Barnes & Noble's official comment was: "We made a small number
of organizational changes this week that are designed to better align our
resources with our business. Barnes & Noble is a growing company with both
our revenues and new hires growing faster than they have in years."
Earlier this month, B&N called the holiday season its best ever, and although much of the gain came from sales of e-readers and e-books, the book operations are still a huge part of the company. The gutting of the buying department with the loss of many longtime, respected buyers who were key parts of the growth of B&N in the past 20 years, seems a drastic and short-sighted move.
Thelma Kidd and Karen Davis, founders and former owners of Davis-Kidd Booksellers, hope to keep the spirit of the business alive through the Davis Kidd Booksellers Fund
. Partnering with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the fund will provide grants to nonprofit organizations dedicated to literacy. Applications will soon be available, and grant winners will be announced in August, the Tennessean
When the Davis-Kidd bookstore in Nashville was closed last month by parent company Joseph-Beth Booksellers, "so many people immediately began to express their sorrow and loss about the closing," Davis said. "We felt that as well, so we thought what can we do to put these feelings some place where there's action?... We had been a community partner since the beginning. We held book fairs. We invited authors in for book signings. We were not just a retail space. We extended into the community."
Ellen Lehman, president of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, said that, as in Davis-Kidd's heyday, the fund will continue to encourage book lovers and support the community.
Wilfrid Sheed, "the wittily satirical man of letters who drew upon his Anglo-American background to write bittersweet essays, criticism, memoirs and fiction about cultural life on both sides of the Atlantic," died Wednesday, the New York Times reported. He was 80.
Nearly two decades after Borders and Barnes & Noble invaded the Albany, N.Y., region, local indie booksellers are "not celebrating as Michigan-based Borders closes stores and sheds jobs in an apparent attempt to stave off bankruptcy. That's partly because the problems hurting Borders--online competition and the rise of e-books, in particular--are faced by all booksellers, big and small," the Times Union reported.
"It was devastation," recalled Susan Novotny, owner of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza and Market Block Books, when asked about the chain bookstores arrival on the scene in 1993. "There were literally 11 independent bookstores that went out of business." She added, "None of us can say that our sales are strong. But they're strong enough that we can see our way through."
Connie Brooks, co-owner of Battenkill Books, Cambridge, observed that troubles for Borders could harm the publishing companies that are owed money: "None of us want to see more publishers go away. And none of us want to see fewer authors able to bring their books to the market." Brooks expressed confidence for her shop's future: "We felt good about this community supporting a bookstore, and I'm happy to say that so far it's going well."
Is there a potential buyer for the Mystery Bookstore? Last week (Shelf Awareness, January 12, 2011), owners of the Los Angeles bookstore announced plans to close by the end of the month. But UCLA's Daily Bruin reported that co-owner Kirk Pasich said "a publisher has already made an offer to buy the Mystery Bookstore. However, Pasich said he would only sell it as long as the new owner agreed to keep it as a bookstore and maintain its character."
Ariana Paliobagis is the new owner of the Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont. She purchased the bookstore in December from longtime owner Mary Jane DiSanti, the Daily Chronicle reported.
"I'm so excited," DiSanti said. "There's not a person in the world who would do a better job. She's going to keep it the same and make it better. She has exciting new ideas and energy, so much energy."
"It's my dream; it really is," added Paliobagis, who has worked as a bookseller at the shop for the past five years. "This is kind of like my kingdom I've been dreaming of since I was a child.... I've got the best staff in the world, and the most beautiful shop in the world."
DiSanti called the store her "fifth child. Imagine the confidence I have in Ariana to let her adopt my fifth child." She had considered selling in 2007 after some temporary health issues, but the recession ultimately became the deciding factor. "I loved every minute," she said. "There wasn't a day I wasn't excited about going to work. It's the books and the people, too.... Unless you've worked in a store, you don't know how much work it is. I've been thinking it's kind of time."
Karin Anna, owner of Looking Glass Bookstore, Portland, Ore., plans to close the 38-year-old bookshop in March if she can't find a buyer. The Oregonian noted that Anna "was no romantic neophyte when she bought the business, then downtown, in 2001. During the 1980s, she was a book buyer for large stores and saw how the industry was changing."
"But I still believed in the independent bookstore. I didn't anticipate all the technological changes," said Anna, who also cited the recession that forced customers to be more price-conscious. "I call it a perfect storm. It breaks my heart."
The Oregonian spoke with other indie booksellers in the area, including Will Peters, manager of Annie Bloom's Books, who said, "We've been in business 30 years. I started out before we had computerized inventory. The hardest part is getting customers into a physical store. A store has to have a good assortment of books. It's a tough climate now, but we're holding our own."
Educators, parents, publishers, librarians and book lovers are gathering in Montreal this week for Canada's second National Reading Summit "to develop schemes to encourage more reading--and to welcome the results of the book count, which will add together last week's sales figures covering an estimated 80% of the Canadian book market with the week's circulation figures from 19 urban library systems serving 11 million Canadians," the Toronto Globe & Mail reported, while posing the question: "So why are we so worried about the death of reading?"
"There is a kind of anxiety about the new replacing the old," suggested Jane Pyper, city librarian at the Toronto Public Library and one of the summit's organizers. "In the libraries we have this dialogue between formats, as activities that can support each other, but it is easier to tell a story of competition."
The goal of the Reading Summit is "to hammer out a series of concrete proposals in time for its third meeting in Vancouver in 2012, but its first solution is that, for both young and old, reading should be nothing but pleasure," the Globe & Mail wrote.
You've heard the speech; now read the book. Nation Books will publish the text of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders's epic eight-and-a-half hour filibuster last month against the tax cut deal made between the White House and congressional Republicans. The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class, with an introduction by the senator, is set for release in mid-February. An e-book edition will be available by January 28.
Eva Gabrielsson may have plans to finish the late Stieg Larsson's fourth novel (Shelf Awareness, January 18, 2011), but Knopf's Paul Bogaards told Word & Film there "is no fourth book from Stieg Larsson on the horizon. Only the estate, controlled by his family (Joakim and Erland Larsson), can authorize publication of a fourth book, and they have no intention of doing so at the moment."
The door may be open a crack, however. Word & Film noted, "It's clear from the ambiguous language in Random House's statement (i.e. 'on the horizon' and 'at the moment') that the keepers of the Stieg flame have not ruled out coming to an agreement with Gabrielsson (who claims she possesses the laptop containing the unpublished manuscript). But, for the time being, that horizon is still too far off to see clearly."
Watch where you're walking... or reading. Inkstone Software has launched a new safety feature for its MegaReader iPhone app. Walk n'Read HUD uses the iPhone’s front facing camera to let you read books and documents on the move while staying aware of hazardous obstacles in your path.
Inkstone also offers a brief safety guide for people who regularly walk and read. Our favorite tip: "Before going out on the street, practice reading safely while strolling around your own home."
Big message in a few words: "Reading Means Resisting," an advertisement from Feltrinelli Publisher, was featured by Ads of the World.
To celebrate National Mentoring Month, Flavorwire paid tribute to 10 of "literature's most fruitful mentorships."
"Don't censor Huckleberry Finn... hearing there are bad words in it is the only reason teenagers do read it." The Huffington Post reported that on Friday's episode of his HBO show Real Time, Bill Maher "has some choice words for the publishers who want to omit offensive language from Mark Twain's classic."
What, no Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? NPR's Three Books series featured Jonathan Bastian's reading choices for his motorcycle road trip, including The Meadow by James Galvin, In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison and Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson.
Book trailer of the day: Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life
by Hal Needham (Little, Brown). Needham is a longtime stuntman in
Hollywood and directed his friend and roommate Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper. The book appears February 9.
Melville House Publishing has launched the Neversink Library, a new imprint that "champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored." Melville House is also inviting readers to suggest forgotten literary masterpieces.
Effective July 1, children's publisher Blue Apple Books will be sold and distributed worldwide by Random House Publisher Services. Bestselling Blue Apple titles include Alphabeasties, Bear in Underwear, Stella Is a Star and Doodles at Breakfast as well as licensed titles from Dwell Studio.
Apple publisher Harriet Ziefert said, "I am thrilled to be going home
to Random House, the publisher of my first four books, all of which are
still in print after 20 years. Our publishing is built on collaboration
and Random House offers a uniquely collaborative approach to sales not
offered anywhere else."
Chronicle Books has been handling distribution for Blue Apple Books.
Effective immediately, Peter Costanzo, former director of online marketing for Perseus Books Group, has been named director of digital content at F+W Media. He will report to executive v-p, eMedia, Chad Phelps, who said, "In Peter’s new role, he will work closely with our development team, digital asset team, marketing department, and community leaders to further refine and implement our go-forward strategy regarding all enhanced e-books and apps released by F+W Media."
David Nussbaum, the publisher's chairman and CEO, added, "Peter's experience and innovative leadership in the e-book and enhanced e-book sector will quickly accelerate our growth in the digital book business."