Ottakar's, the U.K. bookstore chain that may be bought HMV, owner of
Waterstone's, had a dismal beginning of the year: sales in the eight
weeks ended March 25 were down 3.8% and sales at stores open at least a
year dropped 8.1%. Comp-store sales for the full fiscal year that ended
January 28 were down almost 3%. The company blamed competition from
discounters and the Internet.
said that Ottakar's indicated it would be "moving into online bookselling in parallel with its stores."
Forbes.com reported a rumor that W.H. Smith "may consider" a bid for
Ottakar's as Smith tries to move from a "generalist strategy and
refocus on tradition high-performance product categories such as books."
Following George Mason University's upset victory over the
University of Connecticut and entry into the NCAA Tournament's Final
Four, George Mason's bookstore has some hot new products:
According to the San Jose Mercury News
lined up at the bookstore for hours in advance of the first shipment of
Final Four T-shirts. "Last week, we probably made about $150,000 on
Sweet 16 shirts," store manager Tim Randolph said. "We'll make more
than that this week. We have 10,000 shirts coming in and we'll sell
The message about the medium in today's Wall Street Journal
that Sylvia Browne is, like the title of one of her 13 bestsellers, a
phenomenon. The psychic is so popular that unusually in adult
publishing, she has two publishers, Dutton and Hay House. Jules
Herbert, a Barnes & Noble buyer, calls her that chain's "leading
Montel Williams, who has Browne as a guest every Wednesday on his
syndicated TV show, explains her appeal this way: "We're in a time of
incredible national depression. People are looking for answers and
something different." B&N's Herbert adds that many of her readers
are "fascinated by life's mysteries and feel that organized religion
doesn't offer all the answers."
Of course, some people debunk Browne's abilities. She responds: "You are only as good as your last reading."
Here's a contest many of us could win in a walk.
Biblio.com is creating the first Collegiate Book Collecting Championship
which will honor winners of the three dozen colleges and universities
that for some time have held separate book collecting contests for
their students. The contests are intended to encourage young book
collectors to become booksellers, librarians and "accomplished
The three top winners of Biblio.com's contest will receive cash and the
company will make donations to their libraries in their names. Next
year Bilbio.com will expand the prize to include students whose
institutions do not already have such contests.
Biblio said that "the principal criteria for judging will be the
intelligence and originality of the collection and the potential for
the entrant to develop a fine private library or book collection in the
future. The creativity, thoughtfulness, and dedication evident in the
collection are the primary criteria. The monetary value of the
collection will not be a factor in the judging."
In 2003, the FBI conducted surveillance of some antiwar demonstrators
who met at Breakdown Books in Denver, Colo., a store that has since
shut down, according to the AP via the Jackson Hole Star Tribune
The information was uncovered in a suit by the Colorado ACLU, which
wondered if the FBI too readily equated public dissent with political
An FBI spokesman said, "Our interest is not in the First Amendment
activities the group is involved in. It's only when those individuals
that may be in that meeting who may be involved in planning, or are
actively involved in, violent criminal activity."
According to the AP, one FBI document "says a two-hour surveillance of the
bookstore showed that at least 40 people 'appeared to be involved' in
the Revolutionary Anti-War Response demonstration planned later that
day in Colorado Springs. It does not say what led to that conclusion,
but it says some of the group 'wore all black clothing, including sweat
shirts or jackets with hoods. It says FBI agents saw several pink and
black flags and banners but doesn't list what the banners said."
In New York, the suspicious people would not
be wearing black.
The New York Times
the popularity among American students of Indian editions of U.S.
textbooks. The books, which are licensed and supposed to be sold only
in India, cost as little as 10% of their U.S. equivalents and are often
sold by middlemen on the Internet. Students here may buy them legally,
but sales are illegal. The AAP and the Publishers Association in the
U.K. have asked the Indian government to crack down on the middlemen.
Pearson Education has filed suit against several distributors; it
estimates "damage to the industry might be in the tens of million of
dollars." Tom Frey of the University Bookstore at Purdue said he
doesn't think the problem will end until publishers deal with the high
cost of textbooks here.
In another textbook story, a Georgia state bill that is expected to be
signed by the governor will make the Bible a textbook in high schools
that offer elective classes in the the Bible (those classes are also specified in the bill), the Times
reported. Some states offer classes in the Bible, but Georgia would be the first state to make the Bible the core text.
Together with a development company, Pacific Lutheran University,
Tacoma, Wash., is putting up an offcampus building called Garfield
Commons, that, among other businesses, will house the campus bookstore,
in part to help create foot traffic in the area, the Tacoma News Tribune
"We want this to be a community asset," Mark Mulder, director of
auxiliary services, told the paper. "We want this to be a catalyst for
continued development in the district."
Barnes & Noble College will begin managing the campus bookstore at
Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan., after the end of the
semester, the Joplin Globe
reported. Follett has been operating the store and was, with Nebraska Bookstore, among the bidders to lease the store.
In this week of the debut of the paperback edition of The Da Vinci Code
and the appearance of The Jesus Papers
, among many other "religion books," comes a refreshing oddity: The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
by Bobby Henderson (Villard, $13.95, 0812976568), which went on sale yesterday.
Henderson, who likes to call himself the Prophet of the Church of the Spaghetti Monster
aims to spoof school boards that require intelligent design be taught
with the theory of evolution. In an e-mail to "followers," he described
the book this way: "Remember that ours is a small boutique religion,
but we have BIG ideas (some, arguably a bit al dente) and we must share
this rich booty of ideas with others. Within the pages of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
you will find FSM history, helpful propaganda, scientific evidence of
His existence (including the 100% verifiable fact that no one has sued
any school boards about us), as well as pictures and illustrations that
surely test the limits of copyright law. But as pioneers we're not
afraid of a little controversy."
By the way, for a Reuters roundup of recent religion books, click here