A boost from the late Easter this year overcame rising fuel costs, resulting in strong retail sales for April, though some caution remained about future prospects. The 25 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters showed an 8.9% sales gain for April at stores open more than a year, which was higher than the 8.2% analysts had predicted. It was the best performance since March 2010. The Wall Street Journal
reported that "combined March and April results rose 5.3%, the strongest result since November, Thomson Reuters analyst Jharonne Martis said, adding that about three-fifths of the retailers exceeded Wall Street estimates."
The New York Times
noted that Accenture's Chris Donnelly was positive but cautious: "It was expected to be a big jump--if you look at analyst expectations, and even the companies' own expectations, and frankly, some companies didn't jump as much as they were expected to do.... Everyone's pretty happy that April turned out so well, but looking forward, there's still a lot of concern."
E-commerce sales were up 19.2%. SpendingPulse attributed the highest increase since July 2007 in part to rising gas prices. "When the national average price of gasoline exceeds $3.20 a gallon, that's when we start to see indications of behavior change," said Michael McNamara, v-p for research and analysis at SpendingPulse. "People pump fewer gallons, and drive less, and that tends to have impact on retail because people cut back on Saturday driving.... Almost in conjunction with the lower pumping numbers, we've seen acceleration of the e-commerce growth."
Tomorrow is the 10th annual Free Comic Book Day
, when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comics to everyone who enters their stores.
Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience
, San Francisco, Calif., told USA Today
, "Free Comic Book Day is the greatest day of the year, without a doubt. To see so many smiling faces coming in and picking up comics and being happy, it's an awesome thing."
Hibbs added that "80 to 90%" of the faces he sees on Free Comic Book Day are not his regulars, but "what happens, though, is it creates a positive image of comics and our comic shops in their minds. So the next time they're looking for a comic, they're much more likely to come back here than go someplace else."
Books-A-Million will not be taking over the inventory of the closed Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Fredericksburg, Va., as originally announced. The Free Lance-Star
reported that while Books-A-Million is still going to move into the Village at Towne Centre location, it was not able to negotiate a deal with Gordon Brothers, the liquidation company that purchased the store’s inventory when Joseph-Beth was put up for bankruptcy auction last month.
"Unfortunately, they could not come to an agreement," said Joe Bell, spokesman for Cafaro Company, which owns the mall. "Therefore, Gordon Brothers has opted to conduct a liquidation sale, something we just learned about." When the remaining inventory is sold, Cafaro, "which has a pending agreement with Books-A-Million, will turn over Joseph-Beth's space to Books-A-Million for minor renovations," the Free Lance-Star
In a letter to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, ABA CEO Oren Teicher thanked her on behalf of ABA's member bookstores in the state for last week's House defeat of an online sales tax incentive for Amazon.com. "The hard truth, however, is that more needs to be done," Teicher wrote. "Our member booksellers are still working at an unfair competitive disadvantage to any number of remote, online retailers that, like Amazon.com, have broad networks of online affiliates acting as sales agents in the state."
He called on the governor to support efforts in the state to "level the playing field for all Main Street retailers by clarifying existing South Carolina sales tax laws and requiring companies with broad networks of online affiliates to collect and remit sales tax to the state."
Teicher concluded: "While Amazon.com might boast about the 1,200 jobs it would bring to the state, continued sales tax inequity in South Carolina will only erode the very in-state business environment that creates and sustains many more thousands of jobs. While online sales grow, propelled in part by consumers' incorrect belief that Internet purchases are tax-free, many Main Street businesses, which are obeying the law, have been forced to lay off workers or, even worse, to close their doors."
Neil Gaiman received an apology from the Minnesota politician who called him a "pencil-necked little weasel" earlier this week (Shelf Awareness
, May 5, 2011). The New York Times
reported that Rep. Matt Dean told Minnesota Public Radio his mother made him apologize to Gaiman: "She was very angry this morning and always taught me not to be a name caller. And I shouldn't have done it, and I apologize."
--- DIESEL, A Bookstore
, Oakland, Calif., recently hosted a community discussion during which customers were invited to participate in a "dialogue about the worth, and the future, of independent bookstores." Participants also included booksellers, a journalist, a librarian and a book distributor, Bookselling This Week
"The customer support was strong and heartfelt," said co-owner John Evans. "Nearly everyone spoke, engaging with passion, thoughtfulness, and articulateness, the issues of the day. The meeting lasted about two hours, with hands up the whole time and could’ve gone longer.... It was one of those special, magical events independent bookstores somehow catalyze, where everyone is so intelligently and fully present and listening to each other."
--- Jeremiah's Vanishing New York
reported on the imminent demise of Atlantic Book Shop, "the second incarnation of 12th Street Books, which you may recall left Manhattan in the summer of 2008 when its lease was not renewed so that neighbor Strip House, a steakhouse chain restaurant, could expand. It was a favorite stop of mine, and I was upset to see it go, but it happily reopened as Atlantic Book Shop in the fall of that year in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn."
While no closing date has been set, store manager Jed Hershon told Gothamist
: "We'll see how the sale goes, but I doubt we'll make it. I'm probably going to end up selling on the street with the record guy in front of Trader Joe's for a few weeks." Hershon's dream would be to get Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz involved: "What I think he should do is take a city building here in Brooklyn and give it to us and four or five other small booksellers. Together we'd turn it into Brooklyn's book destination! I need to get over to Marty's office and talk to him." Gothamist
later provided an update in the form of a statement from Markowitz's office: "It’s unfortunate any time Brooklyn--the literary epicenter of New York City and home to the renowned Brooklyn Book Festival--loses one of its indie book stores or any of its 'mom and pop' businesses. We welcome Mr. Hershon contacting our office to discuss his ideas and to see if we can assist in any way."
--- Bookselling This Week
featured a q&a with author Laurie Halse Anderson, who spoke with ABFFE President Chris Finan about her role as this year's honorary chair of the ABC Children's Group Silent Auction at BEA, as well as "the challenges to her books and the effects these have had on her, on kids, and on other writers."
Anderson said her role as auction chair "combines several of my passions: children's literature, freedom of expression, independent booksellers, and art. Does it get any better than that? No, it doesn't! When my books have been censored, I've been supported by all aspects of the publishing community. I want to make sure that other authors and illustrators (and teachers and librarians!) who have to deal with censorship attempts feel that same level of support and care."
The owners of Books & More, Madison, S.Dak., have tentatively set August 1 as the closing date for their bookshop, the Daily Leader
reported. Co-owner Terri Bourne cited economic reasons for the
decision. "It's really rather sad that we've had to do this," she said.
"We've always viewed Madison as a really nice town to operate in. Part
of the difficulty has come from an overall change in shopping habits. A
lot of retail outlets in downtown areas are struggling in the current
At last week's PEN World Voices panel, Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me ), Peter Lerangis (Smiler's Bones) and Gioconda Belli (The Country Under My Skin) engaged in a
lively discussion of the influences on their writing processes. You can see a
video of the conversation here.
Filmmaker and author John Sayles is hitting the road in a rented Toyota Prius for a DIY book tour promoting his new novel A Moment in the Sun
, the Philadelphia Inquirer
looking forward to it," he said. "A reading is like theater, an
immediate connection with people. And I love the idea of doing only
libraries and independent bookstores. Maggie [Renzi] and I like to take
long road trips. We'll have five to eight hours of driving a day, more
Oprah Winfrey recommended 16 Books to Watch for in May
For NPR's Three Books series, Rae Meadows, author of Mothers and Daughters
, shared her choices for books about moms who make your mothering seem perfect
, noting that "motherhood is complicated, at times baffling. These three books about mothers with daughters made me feel I was not alone in my bewilderment, and perhaps I was even doing better than I thought."
Flavorwire offered a peek inside famous writers' homes
---The Family Corleone
, an "all-new prequel" to the late Mario Puzo's bestseller The Godfather,
will be published by Grand Central in June 2012. Jacket Copy
reported that the task of bringing the story, based on an unproduced
screenplay written by Puzo, to life was given to author Ed Falco, who
"grew up Catholic in Brooklyn; his writing has dealt with violence; the
Virginia Tech shooter, who killed 32 people in 2007, was one of his
students. And on the more frivolous side, he is the uncle of actress
Edie Falco, who starred in the modern-day mafia hit The Sopranos
." Falco's previous work includes novels St. John of the Five Boroughs
, Wolf Point
and a story collection, Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha
--all from Unbridled Books--as well as and his most recent book, Burning Man: Stories
For your weekend viewing pleasure: Jean Paul Sartre meets Star Wars
. The classic sci-fi movie gets a "French existentialist twist."
Book trailer of the day: The Meowmorphosis
by Franz Kafka and Cook Coleridge (Quirk Classics). Opening line: "One
morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that
he had been changed into an adorable kitten." Oh the horror.
will join forces to create individual mobile applications for
Smashword’s Premium Catalog of more than 30,000 original e-books for a
variety of platforms, including Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 and
WebOS. Through the partnership, ScrollMotion will create, promote,
merchandise and distribute Smashwords e-books as mobile apps across
multiple application marketplaces such as Apple's App Store, the Android
Market and the HP App Catalog.
Lauren Flower has joined HarperCollins
Children's Books as director of integrated marketing. She had spent eight years
at Random House Children's Books New Media, where she was most recently senior
manager, new media marketing.