Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft


After Floods, One California Bookstore Closes

The severe New Year's Eve flooding in Northern California has claimed one bookstore: Paper Ships Books and Crystals, a small New Age store in San Anselmo.

The storm devastated some "150 of the 250 businesses in San Anselmo and about 300 of the town's 5,000 homes were damaged," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Although about 60% of the retailers in the Marin County town are back in business, many are still trying to reopen or, like Paper Ships, have closed permanently.

A sign on Paper Ships's door, written by owner Elaine Scheeter, read: "With a heavy heart, I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who has supported this little store over the past 36 years. If anyone knows of available work aligned with my spirit please contact me."

Scheeter was reportedly able to save the stock, but the landlord took out the bookshelves and padlocked the door. Joyce Ripp of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association said that "it's heartbreaking" to drive through San Anselmo and neighboring Fairfax, which was also damaged. "You can get a feel of what Katrina did."

University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans

Notes: Wasserstein Dies; Fact Checking; Distribution Changes

Today is the last day in business for the History Merchant, which the Dallas Morning News described as "practically Dallas' last specialty bookshop." Richard Hazlett founded the antiquarian store 17 years ago in a "quaint" city building. Despite having many loyal customers, Hazlett, who is 73, complained that for the most part, "people are more interested in watching Desperate Housewives than in reading a book."


The renovated and expanded Baylor Bookstore at Baylor University, Waco, Tex., will be dedicated officially this coming Friday, the University said. As part of the $2.7 million project, done jointly by the university and Follett, 4,000 square feet of retail space were added, the visibility of academic trade and reference books has been increased and the number of textbook and general book information counters grew.


Wendy Wasserstein, the Pulitzer Prize-winning feminist playwright and essayist, died yesterday at 55 after a long battle with cancer. Among her works, many of which have titles that would help carry most any text, are The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig, The Mammary Plays, Bachelor Girls and Shiksa Goddess. Her first novel, Elements of Style (Knopf, $23.95, 1400042313), is scheduled to be published on April 18.


In a kind of addendum to the fact-checking issue, today's Wall Street Journal notes that fact checking is "routine," of course, for textbooks and most children's nonfiction. One freelance fact checker told the paper that some publishers pay for his services by the hour, others pay a flat fee per book. In either case, he rarely earns more than $500-$600 per title. "In terms of the cost of publishing," he said. "It's not that expensive." [Editors' note: These facts not checked.]


Consumer spending rose 0.9% in December, helped by increased sales of durable goods like cars, computers and appliances, while pretax personal rose 0.4%, according to the Commerce Department. The spending gain came at the expense of savings, which represented -0.7% of disposable income. The negative savings rate was not good news. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, "The last time the savings rate plummeted to negative levels was 1933, during the Depression when people exhausted their savings to cover basic expenses." Moody's's chief economist said that consumers "will remain sturdy albeit increasingly cautious spenders."


The 2006 Fresh Voices Awards Writer's Marketing Association have been announced. See the winners and finalists in a wide range of categories here online.


Effective May 1, Simon & Schuster will handle worldwide trade book sales and distribution to bookstores, mass merchants, grocery stores, drugstores, warehouse clubs and wholesalers for World Almanac Group. S&S has already begun selling the summer list for World Almanac, whose titles include The World Almanac and Book of Facts, The World Almanac Book of Records and The World Almanac for Kids. World Almanac had been distributed by St. Martin's Press.


Bookworld Companies has signed on four rep groups, mainly to "provide more personal contact with more booksellers," according to Randall McKenzie, v-p of sales. The groups are R&R Book Co., covering the Mid-Atlantic states; Wybel Marketing Group, for the Midwest; Print and Sound Associates, for the Southeast; and Nullmeyer, for Southern California. Distributor Bookworld has 144 publisher clients.

GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

Book Sales Rise 6.5% to $9.1 Billion

Net sales in the book industry for 2005 rose 6.5% to $9.1 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the Association of American Publishers based on reports from 74 publishers.

The largest category gain came courtesy of J.K. Rowling: children's/YA hardcover sales were up 59.6% to $760.5 million. (Luckily for comparison's sake, there was no new Harry Potter title in 2004.) Other fast-growing categories were e-books, up 44.8% to $13.5 million; audiobooks, up 29% to $183.3 million; children's/YA paperbacks, up 10.6% to $436.8 million; and adult trade paperbacks, up 9.5% to $1.1 billion.

The single-largest category was higher education, which had sales of $3.2 billion, up 5.3%.

2005 was not a good year for university presses. The category with the steepest decline in sales was u.p. hardcovers, off 32.2%, to $99.4 million, and u.p. papberbacks dropped 5.5% to $250.9 million.

In returns tabulations, e-books stood out for having zero returns.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barkley Makes Publicity Shots

Today on the Today Show, model Emme talks about her new book, Morning Has Broken: A Couple's Journey Through Depression (NAL Hardcover, $24.95, 0451218078).


This morning Charles Barkley goes one on one with Imus about his book Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?: Race, Power, Fame, Identity, and Why Everyone Should Read My Book (Riverhead, $14, 1594482055), a series of interviews with public figures on the subject of race in the U.S. Barkley will also appear on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight.


Today Nicholas A. Basbanes, author of Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World (HarperCollins, $29.95, 0060593237), tries to stir listeners of Diane Rehm.


Today the Leonard Lopate Show devotes less than 60 minutes to Mike Wallace, co-author with Paul Gates of Between You and Me: A Memoir (Hyperion, $26.95, 1401300294).


Today on Talk of the Nation, Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis presents his account of colliding ideologies in his new book, The Cold War (Penguin Press, $27.95, 1594200629).

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

New titles on sale Tuesday, February 7:

Sea Change by Robert B. Parker (Putnam Adult, $24.95, 0399152679) is the fifth Jesse Stone novel. The former L.A. cop works as chief of police in a Massachusetts town, where a woman's murder aboard a sailboat leads to a wealthy underworld of depraved sexuality, drugs and more.


Lovers & Players by Jackie Collins (St. Martin's, $24.95, 0312341776) begins as billionaire Red Diamond gathers his sons from across the globe to discuss their inheritance. What follows is an amalgam of sex, murder, drugs, revenge, deception and a plethora of plot lines.


Fight Back: Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style by G. Gordon Liddy (St. Martin's , $24.95, 0312199457) is a comprehensive guide for personal safety and institutional defense against today's terrorist realities--from the unusual perspective of the talk show host, novelist, actor and convicted Watergate plumber.

Deeper Understanding

Winter Institute Continued: Independent Retailing

Independent retailers from other industries served up their stories and bits of advice to attendees at the ABA's Winter Institute last week.

Jeff Leopold, whose Standard 5 & 10 Ace variety store in San Francisco, Calif., sells hardware, cards, gifts, stationery, health and beauty, told the lunch crowd that "although the number of independent hardware stores are dropping, sales for independent hardware stores are growing. In our business, we're able to grow the store. We're working harder at it."

Service, Leopold continued, has been "the No. 1 way to fight the competition" so he has hired people who can "smile and carry on conversations with customers. We want people who can engage customers and sweep them off their feet." He requires employees to undergo 16 hours of extra training a year beyond their initial training. Products and displays also set the store apart and "chains are slow in responding to new products and displays," so he looks for "new products every day. I want to make sure our merchandising is fresh and innovative. I want different products in endcaps every two weeks at least."

Leopold also has an incentive program--the most successful it has tried--tied to the average transaction sale. "We say if the average transaction goes up 5%, an hourly fulltime employee will get five extra hours of pay per month," he said.


Randy Kemner, owner of The Wine Country, a wine retailer in Signal Hill, Calif., noted that even though wine consumption has undergone a revolution in the U.S. in the past 30 years and the wine business here is at "an all-time high," competition has grown, too. "You can buy wine at the local Sav-On, at 7 Eleven, the pharmacy, online," he said. "Costco is now the leading seller of Bordeaux and Champagne." He prefers to call his offerings "specialty" products and theirs "chain products. We have to offer products you can't get in chains."

Kemner also emphasized the importance of the look of a store and tries to make his "gorgeous, presentable and attractive." He called himself an "avid enemy of fluorescent lighting."

He, too, stressed customer service. "We always greet people with a smile," he said, adding that one study found it is 30 times more costly to develop a new customer than keep a current one. "Don't piss them off!" he advised.


Dora Herrera said that Yuca's, her family's taco stand in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, between Hollywood and downtown, unintentionally has fit in with several major recent trends in American dining: adventurous dining or "trying new cuisines"; traditional, which often involves comfort food; and carefree, best defined as "eat anything at any time." As for the trend toward health consciousness, well, Yuca's still cooks using lard.

Yuca's successes over the past 30 years have broken just about all the guidelines and rules of business schools, business books--and even some of the panels at the Winter Institute. Herrera's parents started Yuca's with no business plan and no advertising. "They just started cooking," she said, and her brothers flagged down cars with the offer that if customers didn't like what they bought, it would be free. If they liked it, they would pay double.

The turning point came when the Los Angeles Times published a feature on the store, based on many interviews with her parents, who didn't speak English. (Herrera did a wonderful parody of them nodding pleasantly as the reporter talked and talked and occasionally asked questions.) The stand still gets a lot of publicity, but usually without trying to get it. In that vein, Yuca's won a James Beard America's Classics award last year: "We got a call, but we had no idea of what it was," Herrera laughed. As for constantly reinventing itself, the stand has had "the exact same menu for 30 years." One of the few translatable efforts the store has made was cross promoting with other businesses, including Skylight Books and local libraries. "A big part of our success is that we love our food and we love our people," she said.

Herrera brought the house down when she summed up: "I'm actually a fraud. I don't have a clue of what you need to do."


Dave Hanson, owner of Jax Bicycles, five bicycle shops in Long Beach and Orange County, also emphasized service. His goal is for employees "to say hello [to customers] in five feet or five seconds," no matter what they're doing. In the tradition of Southwest Airlines, he said, "We try to make [customers] laugh or smile."

Hanson trains staff members not to accept "just looking" as an answer when they ask if they can help. "We treat each customer as a guest. Imagine if someone 'just looked' [while visiting] your home." Obviously, he continued, customers "are looking for something."

He also tries to teach his staff leadership and wants to mold the staff-customer relationship into one of "the customers being clients under the trusted care of an advisor." As of March 1, he is ending discounting and is training staff to "graciously decline discount requests." The store's price tags don't read "best offer," he said.

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