Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 6, 2006

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

Quotation of the Day

'Group Therapy' Over Tattered Cover

"We're having group therapy with our merchants, talking about the success of the Tattered Cover and what we can learn from Joyce Meskis. The Tattered Cover is what all our merchants aspire to be."--Christina Brickley, Cherry Creek North's marketing director, to the Denver Business Journal, about the June closing of the Tattered Cover's flagship Cherry Creek store and its move to the former Lowenstein Theater.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!


Borders: From the Midwest to the Mideast

Next, the moon?

In its second major international franchising deal, Borders will expand into the United Arab Emirates and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Al Maya Group, a UAE corporation that operates supermarkets and franchises for Champion, Steve Madden and British Home Stores, among others. The first Borders in the area will open in Dubai at Deira City Centre, which Borders described as "the premier shopping center in the GCC."

The Dubai Borders will stock titles in English and Arabic. Borders will provide training and marketing support for the superstores.

Rick Vanzura, president of Borders Group international and Paperchase worldwide, called international expansion "a key part of our company's overall growth strategy."

Borders has a franchise agreement in Malaysia with Berjaya Group, which opened its first Borders store last year in Kuala Lumpur. At 60,000 square feet of space, it is the largest Borders in the world.

Notes: Waterstone Wants Waterstone's--Yet Again

Tim Waterstone is making another move to lead the eponymous British bookstore chain he founded in 1982. According to the Sunday Telegraph, Waterstone has backers to make a £250 million offer to buy Waterstone's either from HMV, which currently owns it, or Permira, a private equity group that has made a bid for HMV.

Waterstone sold the company to WH Smith in 1993, then bought it back in 1998 when he was chairman of HMV. He retired from HMV in 2001.

Waterstone's has been "taken down-market in recent years," the paper quoted Waterstone as saying.


For one of the coolest examples of Web technology in action, check out how used bookstore Barter Books uses online the image of an authors mural in its store in Alnwick in northern England.


Laurent de Brunhoff, the author and illustrator of most of the Babar books, is receiving a lifetime achievement award this Thursday from Child magazine. The award will be presented at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in New York and is open to the public. The latest book by Brunhoff, now 80, is Babar's World Tour.


This Friday, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, Pa., celebrates its expansion and reopening with an evening appearance by singer-songwriter Ellis Paul, the first in the store's 2006 Folk Music Concert Series.

Midtown Scholar, which bills itself as "the largest academic used bookstore between New York and Chicago," has doubled in size and replaced its utilitarian feel with a warmer ambiance. It will now host a variety of events, including author talks and book clubs, on Fridays and Saturdays.


Pic-A-Book, the Spartanburg, S.C., bookstore that has been run by the Hughes family for 34 years, is closing in the near future, the Spartanburg Herald Journal reported.

"Customers have stopped coming, and online shopping has turned the tide against us," co-owner John Hughes Jr. told the paper. "When the gas shortage hit, that was what finally did us in."

In addition, over the years several of the store's operations--gift cards, the coffee shop and sandwiches--were affected by the opening of Hallmark shop, a series of coffee shops and a sandwich shop nearby. The city has also talked with several chains about opening in the area.

The family's book roots go deep. In 1927, co-owner Jane Hughes's father, Maynard Hughes, began City News Agency, a newspaper and magazine jobber and then opened several Pic-A-Book retail shops. The others were closed many years ago to focus on the Spartanburg branch.


Effective March 1, Amy Miller has sold SoBo Books, South Berwick, Me., to Phil Hughes, owner of the Black Bean Café in nearby Rollinsford, N.H., according to the Portsmouth Herald News. Miller said she needs more time for her two young children. Hughes said he plans to continue to offer books and coffee but expand "food choices."

Media and Movies

Movie Tie-in: Curious George

In January, Houghton Mifflin published an array of tie-in titles that, in addition to the classic works, should sate any curiosity about Curious George the movie, which opens this Friday, February 10:

  • Curious George the Movie: George's Big Adventure, Deluxe Movie Storybook ($9.99, 0618605851). For ages 4-8, includes a poster.
  • Curious George the Movie: Sticker Fun Book ($6.99, 061860586X). For ages 4-8, features scenes to decorate and matching games.
  • Curious George the Movie: Meet Curious George: A Picture Reader ($3.99, 0618605908). For ages 4-8, beginning readers. Simple pictures stand in for some words.
  • Curious George the Movie: Touch and Feel Book ($5.99, 0618605878). For ages 3-8, an interactive board book.
  • Curious George the Movie: A Junior Novel ($4.99, 0618605916). For ages 7-10. With a color insert with scenes from the film.
  • Curious George the Movie: Curious George's Big Adventures ($3.99, 0618634495). Ages 4-8. A storybook with pages of stickers.
  • In DVD: Curious George Rides a Bike and More Tales of Mischief ($14.95, 0439696879). Includes two extra stories, a Spanish version of Curious George and a read-along option.

And don't forget last fall's The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden (Houghton Mifflin, $17, 0618339248), the picture book-format account of how the creators of Curious George, both German Jews, were able to escape the Nazis. The Reys' Brazilian citizenship (a story in itself) helped them obtain the visas they needed in 1940.

Media Heat: Lovers, Players & Politics

Today on the Early Show, former Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clark does some PR for her new PR book, Lipstick on a Pig: Winning in the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game (Free Press, $26, 0743271165). Clark also sits in the spotlight tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


This morning the Today Show talks with Karenna Gore Schiff whose new book is Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America (Miramax-Weinstein, $25.95, 1401352189).


Today on the View: Jackie Collins, whose new book is Lovers & Players (St. Martin's, $24.95, 0312341776).


On WNYC today, Leonard Lopate chats about illegal eavesdropping in the U.S. with Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping (Random House, $24.95, 1400060346).


Tonight the Charlie Rose Show offers an appreciation of the late Wendy Wasserstein by four friends and colleagues.

Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


Borrowed Time by Robert Goddard (Delta, $12, 0385339224). "While on a solitary hike at a turning point in his life Robert Timariot briefly encounters a beautiful woman on a deserted hill in the north of England. Hours later she is murdered and his life is forever altered. His obsession to seek the truth is the thread of this brilliant, elaborate puzzle. Goddard is a master of suspense."--Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo.


The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (Atlantic, $24, 0871139294). "Set in a town at the base of the Himalayas, this rich novel by a gifted Indian writer explores the themes of family, colonialism, and emotional and physical estrangement. You won't soon forget it."--Margaret Ogle, Allegory Books and Music, Gleneden Beach, Ore.

Physical: An American Checkup by James McManus (FSG, $24, 0374232024). "McManus' take on the current state of health care in the U.S. is a presentation of Boomer meets mortality (and, even worse, colonoscopy). It made me laugh while nervously scheduling some long-avoided appointments."--Joyce Gray, Mitchell Books, Fort Wayne, Ind.

For Children Up to Age 8

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick, $16.99, 0763625892). "I loved this extraordinary book about a china rabbit, and his adventures. The melody and rhythm of life's lessons about friendship and love are captured in this timeless story by DiCamillo and illustrated by Ibatoulline, whose artwork is incredible. I think we have a new classic."--Joci Tilsen, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, Minn.

Carl's Sleepy Afternoon by Alexandra Day (FSG, $12.95, 0374310882). "It's been several years since the last Carl book, but the ultimate babysitter/helper dog is back in Alexandra Day's exquisitely illustrated Carl's Sleepy Afternoon. Mom may think Carl's enjoying a siesta, but his sleepy afternoon is anything but!"--Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]

Deeper Understanding

Sidelines Sales: Finding the Balance

[Editors' Note: The following is the second part of a survey of recent sidelines sales at bookstores around the country. The first part appeared in our January 26 issue.]

Liz  Steinzig, sidelines buyer for the Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., where sidelines average 25%-30% of sales, had a lengthy list of bestselling sidelines, including:

  • Scarves and purses from Cocoon House, a Minneapolis, Minn., accessories company;
  • Piggy banks, cow banks, dog and cat eyeglass holders by ceramics company 2 Kewt;
  • Buddha Boards--a board that can be painted on with water, but once the water dries, the paint goes away (from Buddha Board in Vancouver, B.C., Canada);
  • Quotable cards and magnets;
  • Mountain Meadows bath products;
  • Honey House's Bee Bar Lotion, which is "small and compact and sits by register," Steinzig said. "People pick one up on their way out";
  • Hues 'n Brews "Cattitude" tea pots.

The biggest new trend for Changing Hands is jewelry. Bracelets with quotations on them made by World End Imports and cloth-covered and crocheted beads from Benjamin International are two of the most popular gem lines. 

Steinzig predicted that peacock feathers and items in those color families will be big this year. Naturals and beiges are also supposed to be "in." Orange is no longer the new black. Dragonflies will continue to be fly high. Butterflies and bugs will join them.

Revenge of the Beanies

Sidelines (in particular Ty Beanie Babies and audiobook rentals) have historically been so strong at Books Plus in Mission, Kan., that when Steve Wilson took over the store in November, books averaged just 20% of overall sales.
Wilson, who had previously owned a bookstore that suffered from a "very bad location," has worked deliberately to reduce the role of sidelines at the bookstore. He recently opened the store's second floor to the public, devoting the space to hardcover books, adding 10,000 books to the inventory. He also has another 9,000 books in storage on the third floor and has a growing business online. The result is that book sales are now in the 60%-63% range. (The sales breakdown for January: Ty products: 17%; audiobook rentals: 12%; vintage comics: 3.5%; all other non-book items: 6.7%; books: 60.8%.)

Wilson said that he is considering stocking video games, but his major concern right now is doing whatever it takes "just to get more customers in the door." He has increased the store's emphasis on PR and advertising, including a free audiobook rental for customers on their birthdays, coupons for customers who sign up for the new store newsletter and a program for book trade-ins. (He also orders for some local schools, which recently resulted in sales of 21 copies of The Kite Runner and 125 copies of Lord of the Flies.) His efforts, he said, are resulting in "great word-of-mouth from customers."

Not All Fun and Games

Changing Hands's Steinzig noted several of the advantages of sidelines: "We always get a better margin on sidelines than books. We can double it and add 10%. Almost everyone buys something extra, a card, a little tschotschke. People buying just a book are the exception to the rule."

For Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookstore, Houston, Tex., managing sidelines is in some ways more challenging than managing books. "We've weeded out the things we don't do well with, and we've worked hard at buying better," she said. "We're at the point now where we can take advantage of some stock offers on sidelines. Waiving the freight cost is a big thing. Puzzles and games tend to be very heavy." She noted that she is striving to develop a better system for buying sidelines, which is different from buying books. "You can say to a company, 'Send me this many on September 1, this many of October 1, this many of November 1.' You can always cancel an order, but if you haven't ordered a hot item in advance, you won't get it for Christmas."

Like Books Plus, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops has worked to keep sidelines from becoming too much of a good thing. Two years ago, sidelines were "taking over the shelves," Catherine Wallerg said. The company made an effort to reduce the inventory a bit, from about 18% of sales to 14%-15%. Another challenge Wallerg is working to resolve: which sidelines to include on the store's Web site. "We don't want a list of the sidelines we carry, because we don't always restock everything," she said. "We may just move onto the next thing. We've just done a major Web site revision and are slowly deciding what to put back."

The bottom line for Changing Hands owner Gayle Shanks is that sidelines play a prominent role in the mix of products in the store, averaging 25%-30% of sales, up to 35% during the holidays. "Any store that doesn't include gifts in their mix is making a big mistake," she said. "Gifts enhance the experience that people have when they walk into a bookstore. They're interesting, smell good, look nice and can help create a one-stop shopping experience, certainly during the holidays. That's what we're trying to do--keep people buying everything we can inside our stores."--Maria Heidkamp

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