Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Simon & Schuster: Launch a Reading Star With Ready to Read Campaign

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

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Quotation of the Day

Erotica: Hot 'New' Category

"There doesn't need to be that period of wooing, the developing of emotions. If the heroine sees a guy she wants to sleep with, she's just going to go after him."--Kensington editor-in-chief John Scognamiglio as quoted by USA Today in a story about the increasing popularity of erotica, particularly in romance novels but also literary fiction, chick lit, paranormals and thrillers.

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


Notes: Lost Sales Found; Borders Rewards

Monday's airing in Ireland of the Lost episode with a reference to The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien boosted demand for the Irish author's work significantly, Reuters reported.

When the same episode of the hit TV show aired in the U.S., an estimated 10,000 copies of the book, which was published only after the author's death, were sold in several days. Chad Post of the Center for Book Culture, which publishes O'Brien's works in the U.S., called the Lost bump "amazing. In three weeks we sold 15,000 copies, the same number as we'd sold in the last six years."


Has parking gotten this bad?

Cars continue to plow into bookstores. The latest example: on Saturday a car hit by another car was pushed almost completely into the front of Edward McKay Used Books and More, Fayetteville, N.C., according to the Fayetteville Observer. No one was hurt, but the store is closing and will be used as a warehouse for the company's other stores. Edward McKay hopes to reopen in Fayetteville in another location.


Effective yesterday, Borders started a free loyalty program called Borders Rewards that allows customers in the U.S. to accrue credit on purchases. Five percent of most purchases will be credited to a "holiday savings" account, which can be redeemed between November 15 and January 15. And Members who spend $50 or more in a month at any of the various Borders stores in the U.S., including Borders Express, Borders Outlet, Borders airport or Waldenbooks, may save 10% on most purchases on a day of their choice, a "personal shopping day." Members will also receive promotional offers and discounts weekly.

For many years, Borders's Waldenbooks division offered its Preferred Reader Program--members paid to join and received a discount on purchases and other benefits--but as of October 2004, Walden stopped accepting new members for the program and thereafter did not renew memberships that lapsed.

Last year Borders instituted a pilot loyalty program and factored results from that experiment into Borders Rewards. As Vin Altruda, president of Borders Group U.S., said in a statement, "We listened to what our customers told us they wanted from a loyalty program, and we designed something that responds to their needs."


Books-A-Million, whose more than 200 stores are primarily in the South, Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area, is expanding into new territory. This year it plans to open a store in Kansas City, Kan., in a destination shopping center called the Legends at Village West, at I-435 and State Avenue. The store will be BAM's first in Kansas.

The Legends has 750,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment businesses "designed to draw out-of-state visitors." Village West includes a minor-league baseball park and hotels. Amy Kraft, marketing director of the Legends, said that "one of the most frequent requests we receive from the public is the need for a major bookstore in Wyandotte County."

In other company news, this Saturday Books-A-Million is closing one of its hometown stores, the Birmingham News reported. The store was one of the last tenants in the Eastwood Mall, Birmingham, Ala., which is closing and will likely be replaced by a Wal-Mart Supercenter.


Barnes & Noble plans to open a new store in Sugar Land, Tex., near Houston, in October. When the store, located in the First Colony Mall at 16535 Southwest Freeway, opens, B&N will close its existing store at 2545 Town Center Boulevard.

Florida Bookstore for Sale: Email

Just the Facts; No Emotional Truth

  • What: Nice piece on a new book
  • Where: Today's New York Times
  • What: Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present (Millennial Edition)
  • Volumes: Five
  • Pages: More than 5,000
  • Weight: 29 pounds
  • Price: $825
  • ISBN: 0521817919
  • Cost of production: $1 million
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Authorizer: U.S. Census Bureau
  • Years Since Last Edition: 31
  • Lead editors: Richard Sutch and Susan Carter, economic historians and professors at the University of California at Riverside, who are married to each other.
  • Point: A million facts about the U.S., to be sliced, diced and interpreted any way a reader might want.

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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ed and Johnny; Jack and Tony

Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show features a Readers' Review of Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (Knopf, 0375413006).


Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • U.S. ambassador to Italy during the Carter administration Richard N. Gardner, who talks about his memoir, Mission Italy: On the Front Lines of the Cold War (Rowman & Littlefield, $29.95, 0742539989).
  • Fergus Bordewich, author of Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America's First Civil Rights Movement (Amistad, $14.95, 0060524316), just out in paperback.


On Larry King Live tonight: here's Ed McMahon, author of Here's Johnny!: My Memories of Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show, and 46 Years of Friendship (Rutledge Hill Press, $24.99, 1401602363).


Last night the Charlie Rose Show featured Chris Patten, chancellor of Oxford University, the last governor of Hong Kong and author of Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain and Europe in a New Century (Times Books, $26, 080507788X).


Yesterday Morning Edition talked with Jack Klugman about his Odd Couple friendship with Tony Randall as chronicled in Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship (Goodhill Press, $24.95, 0976830302).

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Deeper Understanding

Oscar Wilde Bookshop: 'A Good Passing of the Torch'

The recent sale of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop (Shelf Awareness, February 2) was prompted by an age-old issue in New York City--real estate. "Our lease was up for renewal, and it sparked a flurry of conversation between the former owner and me," said Kim Brinster, the longtime manager who bought the store from Deacon Maccubbin, the Lambda Rising owner who himself had bought Oscar Wilde three years ago to save it from closing. "It seemed like the right time to make the change."

Another impetus behind the sale: for seven years before Maccubbin bought the store, Brinster had sole responsibility for ordering books and sidelines and other day-to-day tasks. After that, some of those things were done centrally. "Deacon has a great organization, and it works well for him," Brinster commented. "But given the New York market and how quickly things come and go, it's important to have real-time control." Besides, she continued, "I guess I'm a control freak and wanted all the control."

As the new owner of the world's oldest gay and lesbian bookstore, Brinster recognizes that "the history of the store is an important part of why we have customers," as she put it in a conversation with Shelf Awareness. Although other neighborhoods are more popular from time to time, "the heart of gay and lesbian New York is the Village," she continued. "We're several doors down from the Stonewall Bar, which, of course, is on everyone's historic trail. Seventy percent of our customer base consists of tourists."
The tourists who visit Oscar Wilde tend to be international--from as many as 10 countries on any given day--and come year-round, though "January and February are not gangbusters for us," Brinster said. At times, there has been talk of moving the store, but, as she put it, "To go away from this site is to lose that base. We need to remember what we have been."

All kinds of traditions continue at the store, which has between 700 and 800 square feet of space. ("It was big in its day," Brinster said.) The store is not computerized. "In some stores, computers are helpful," she said. But in this small store, the staff knows where books are and "can help the customers find the books they want and encourage them to consider other books that might interest them. I want my staff to be out there touching the books."

Brinster said she believes the store's diminutive size has been an asset. In a larger space, "we couldn't sustain the business with the high real estate costs in New York. It's hard to turn over that many books. We don't try to carry everything that's in print. Some stores may be able to say they carry 14,000 titles, but if only 2,000 of those are of interest to the customers, you end up sitting on a lot of inventory."

Brinster also has an unusual attitude about competition. "As far as I'm concerned, we don't have competition," she said. "We're not competing with the Internet. We're not competing with Barnes & Noble. We don't have the resources to spend on a fabulous Web site or a 20,000-sq.-ft. store."

And with nearby stores like Three Lives & Co.--in her mind "the premiere general bookstore in the city"--Oscar Wilde has "more camaraderie than competition," she said. "We have a decent number of independent bookstores in this neighborhood, and we often refer customers to them, depending on what they're looking for."

If anything, "We compete with ourselves," Brinster continued. "We keep up with our monthly newsletter. We stay on top of the latest and greatest titles as well as our steady backlist. Our goal is helping people find what they want. Customer service is the most important thing to me. The store is a living organism, and we're constantly fine-tuning what we do."

Sometimes people comment to Brinster that "there is no need for gay and lesbian literature anymore in this 'post-gay' world." She said this makes her think about an Oscar Wilde customer who comes to the store faithfully once a week and buys every time she does. "She is extremely well-read, reads across the board, mystery, romance, trash, everything, but she finds something every time she comes in here," Brinster said. "People are thrilled to be in an environment that is all about them and their life experiences. The need for a store like this remains strong. Sometimes we get people who are just coming out. Sometimes family members of people who are coming out. Even in this 'post-gay, integrated world,' people need us."

In its early days, the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, founded in 1967, functioned as a community center as well as a bookstore. These days, Brinster said, New York has a wonderful large gay and lesbian center. "But we remain a premiere gay and lesbian bookstore," she said. "Each owner of the store has helped morph the store and has played an integral part in adding to those traditions. I think Deacon recognized my passion for the store and wanted to allow me to continue my journey. This is where I want to stay for the rest of my working life. It was a good passing of the torch."--Maria Heidkamp

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