Amazon has contributed $3 million to the More Jobs Not Taxes Committee, according to a filing Friday with California's Secretary of State. The San Francisco Bay Citizen reported that the committee, which was established less than a month after a state law taxing online purchases took effect, bills itself as a "growing coalition of taxpayer groups, consumers, small businesses, and online companies." Thus far, however, its funding has come from Amazon.
Committee spokesman Ned Wigglesworth said Amazon's contribution "will go toward gathering signatures to put an initiative repealing the tax on the June 2012 ballot." At least 504,760 valid signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State by September 27.
The Los Angeles Times reported that petition workers "are swarming popular commercial hubs including Larchmont Village in Los Angeles, Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena and the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego as well as Ralphs, Trader Joe's, Target and other major retailers--many of which have lost sales to Amazon."
Amazon hired California political campaign consultant Goddard Claussen West, "which brought on National Petition Management, a signature-harvesting firm. Its signature gatherers are independent contractors who typically earn $1 to $2 per name, though some are getting as much as $3, according to Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association," the Los Angeles Times wrote.
Harry Potter & the Deathly Scammers. ZDNet reported that fans looking for a shortcut to J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website "are being exploited by scammers selling fake accounts for early access." Scammers ask for "personal details to register additional accounts, while some fake accounts are being sold on eBay for £60 ($100)."
Early access to the site, which officially opens in October, was awarded to a limited number of fans who completed a search for "the Magical Quill" (Shelf Awareness, August 1, 2011). The site has issued warnings about the online cons: "Access to Pottermore is, and always will be, completely free so please don't be tempted by people selling Pottermore accounts online."
Other reports indicate that scammers are manipulating search engines to lure fans to sites with "malware and malicious content," and people have been "duped into filling in surveys which result in, not only no goods being offered at the end, but are also a waste of time," ZDNet wrote.
Congratulations to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose retrospective of work by the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen drew huge crowds--nearly 600,000 people saw the show since it opened May 4--as well as all kinds of attention for the exhibition catalogue. The museum sold more than 100,000 copies of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton with contributions from Susannah Frankel and Tim Blanks at the show alone. (Distributed by Yale University Press, the $45 tome has more than 150,000 copies in print.) Elsewhere, the book has shown similar sales swagger: it has spent many weeks in the top 100 at Amazon and has been #1 in the online retailer's Arts and Photography category for much of the time since pub date. The book even warranted a mention in yesterday's New York Times Book Review's Inside the List column, a rare achievement for a museum exhibition catalogue.
After being extended by a week and after galleries remained open until midnight this past weekend--an unprecedented if fashionably late gesture--the exhibition closed yesterday. Still, for those still wanting to view McQueen's fashion creations, the book shines on.
Cool idea of the day: in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September, Avon Books is teaming up with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to help teach women about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and spread the "K.I.S.S. and Teal" message ("know the important signs and symptoms"). Avon has made a $25,000 donation to and will donate 25 cents from the sale of every Avon book and e-book with the "K.I.S.S. and Teal" logo sold between August 30 and next February 28, up to another $25,000. The money will go to programs that support ovarian cancer patients and their families.
The books included in the donation program are the following September titles: Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue by Stephanie Laurens, The Seduction of Scandal by Cathy Maxwell, The Deed by Lynsay Sands, A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare, In the Arms of a Marquess by Katharine Ashe, One Night in London by Caroline Linden and Star Crossed Seduction by Jenny Brown.
Some Avon authors will also be available to talk about ovarian cancer awareness and the K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign.
Radio station WLBY in Ann Arbor, Mich., interviewed Nicola Rooney, owner of Nicola's Books, about the demise of Borders, a "townie" with "roots firmly planted in the town where it was conceived by two brothers in 1971."
Among other things, Rooney talked about why she would not be interested in opening another branch downtown: "I wouldn't want to do it myself. I would be quite happy to talk to somebody and give advice to somebody else who was thinking about doing it. I would have thought that a bookstore in the downtown area, if properly managed, ought to be viable at a 5,000- to 8,000-square-foot size. I would have thought that there was enough foot traffic downtown that a bookstore could survive, but I don't think that I would want to do it. One of the things I learned when I had both book stores was the reason why my store has been able to survive is that people do know me and my staff and so there are certain customers that when they come in, they want to talk to Bill [Cusumano]. There are certain customers that when they come in they want to talk to Jessie (Martin.) There are certain customers that want to talk to me and if I'm not there enough, then they feel kind of short changed. If I were to open another store, it wouldn't really be a Nicola's. It might be run and owned and managed by me, but there would have to be somebody else who was the key figure who had the personality of that particular store."
In a post headlined "The State of the Bookstore," Tom Holbrook of RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., shared a recent e-mail exchange he had with a customer who expressed concern about the diminished number of new books on display.
Holbrook noted that he thought the exchange "encapsulates pretty well many of the frustrations plaguing the bookselling world right now, and the pain and turmoil that comes from an entire industry being turned upside down. Add to that a recession that won't seem to end and things might seem bleak. My customers aren't happy, the publishers aren't happy, and neither am I. But I do believe that things are getting better. RiverRun is slowly getting over this perfect storm of bad economy, bad weather, bad management, and changing industry. It's your support that keeps us going, and each day the store is recovering a little more thanks to you. Please keep coming back, we really appreciate your loyalty."
This month Melville House is introducing its HybridBook program, which offers ancillary digital materials to purchasers of print editions through a QR code printed inside each book. Called Melville House Illuminations, these additions include essays, maps, illustrations and other primary source material.
"We've been telling the prognosticators of doom and gloom that print and digital are going to co-exist," said publisher Dennis Johnson, "and with the HybridBook program we've put our money where our mouth is."
The HybridBook program launches August 16 with the release of five novellas, each titled The Duel, by five different writers—Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, Giacomo Casanova, Heinrich von Kleist and Alexander Kuprin. The publisher has also received its first entry in the Ultimate Duel Book Trailer Contest. Since the trailer was made by The Glossary, a professional company, Melville House has amended its contest rules and will award two prizes, one for amateur and one for professional submissions.
"I never saw any of them again--except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them." Everybody loves a great opening line, but Stylist drew attention to the "best 100 closing lines from books."
Was Albert Camus killed by the KGB? An Italian newspaper alleges the car crash that took Camus's life in 1960 may not have been an accident, but an act of murder because of the Nobel laureate's anti-Soviet stance, the Guardian reported.
Book trailer of the day: One Grave at a Time by Jeaniene Frost (Avon), which appears at the end of the month.