Happy Columbus Day!
Because of the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, our next issue will appear on Tuesday, October 15. See you then!
Because of the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, our next issue will appear on Tuesday, October 15. See you then!
"[I]n the run up to the holiday season I think it's vitally important that we don't underestimate by one iota the importance of the localism movement. It is driving customers into your stores, and independent booksellers have been at the forefront of Local First/Shop Local, pioneering early victories that formed the foundation of today's success. We hope these programs are just one more way for you to increase your store's sales and community presence, knowing that the more bookstores that participate, the greater our national profile becomes."
Retailers posted disappointing sales gains in September thanks to economic and political uncertainty and a back-to-school period that "ended on a sour note, raising some concerns about the key holiday season," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, Thomson Reuters said that sales at stores open at least a year increased 1.6%, compared to analysts' expectations for a 3.1% gain and a 5.5% increase last year. The National Retail Federation expects sales in November and December to increase 3.9% from last year.
"The consumer is very pensive," David Bassuk of AlixPartners told UPI. "They're cautiously looking around, they're holding back on spending and they're really uneasy about what is going on in Washington. When a consumer feels this way, the retail community needs to be much more aggressive to get them to spend."
The Barnes & Noble store in Merced, Calif., could close by the end of January, the Sun-Star reported.
"The current lease expires at the end of January 2014, and we have made numerous attempts to engage in a dialogue with the landlord to extend the lease, without a response," said David Deason, B&N v-p of development. "We've been pleased to have served our Merced customers over the last 10 years.”
Frank Quintero, Merced's economic development director, said he knew negotiations over the lease were in the works, but did not think B&N's fate in Merced was sealed.
Tree of Life Bookstores, Marion, Ind., has consolidated its operations in a larger facility and is planning a grand opening October 24.The company had previously operated from four locations in Marion, but now its bookstore, corporate offices and distribution center are unified, with the exception of the IWU Bookstore in Barnes Student Center at Indiana Wesleyan University, which remains in place. A coffee shop, the Abbey Coffee Co. is also connected to the bookstore.
The new space is "set in a renovated strip mall previously owned by K-Mart and Hobby Lobby, will not only be bigger but will also offer more to Marion residents and Indiana Wesleyan University students," the Sojourn reported.
"There aren't really any bookstores in Marion that sell new, retail books," said Tree of Life director of marketing Patrick Eckhardt, noting that the new shop will focus primarily on books, whereas the old one specialized in small gifts and "knick knacks."
"We want to have a fully fleshed-out bookstore," he added. "We want to feel like a bookstore. Missionally speaking... if someone's not a Christian, are they ever going to come into a Christian bookstore? No. There is a possibility, however, for a non-Christian to walk into a mainstream bookstore that happens to have a 'really healthy Christian section.' "
Amazon has closed a deal to create a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center in Ruskin, Fla., with construction slated to begin immediately, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Earlier this summer, Governor Rick Scott, who had previously rejected a sales tax deal with Amazon, reversed his decision.
In July, Hillsborough County commissioners voted to waive half of the county portion of Amazon's property tax bill (or about $6.4 million) for the first seven years after it built the center, the Times wrote. A month earlier they had "approved $1.1 million to be paid out in installments over four years in exchange for the company creating 375 'well-paying' jobs. Those are defined as paying 15% more than the average state wage, or $47,581." No opening date for the center, which will be located at Interstate 75 and State Road 674, has been set.
Prize-winning novelists Allan Gurganus and Andre Dubus III (holding each other's books) following what owner and general manager Michael Barnard called an "intelligent and funny conversation" (and their first meeting) at Rakestraw Books in Danville, Calif.
Antigone Books, Tucson, Ariz., will celebrate its 40th anniversary October 19, when the staff hosts "a day of discounts, games, and cake, as they reflect on the store's success and look forward to its future," Bookselling This Week reported.
"We've been really, really lucky," said co-owner Trudy Mills, who bought the store almost 30 years ago. She added that the community is a vital element in the bookstore's continued success. BTW noted that the city is home to an extensive Buddhist community, "and as a result--despite the owners knowing little about Buddhist culture--Antigone has developed a strong section on Buddhism and hosts a Buddhist book group."
"That was totally built from the community," said Mills. "That's what's so great about being an independent store. You can just look around, and your neighbors will tell you what they want."
Last June, the staff at Eight Cousins bookstore, Falmouth, Mass., saw a 2012 video created by the local lifeguard & beach patrol corps and were inspired to film Find Your People, which is "about what books do to make life better. Costumes were intended to reflect favorite characters in children’s books. All the work was done outside of store time and payroll. It took about 90 days from brainstorm to production to editing to release. Production cost came in at $19," wrote Eight Cousins owner Carol Chittenden."
Chittenden returned from the NEIBA conference this week to find a phone message from Luann Stauss, owner of the Laurel Bookstore, Oakland, Calif., who "considers Find Your People a challenge, which she accepts, with plans to up her game. So California, bring it on! Let's see your high kicks, your savvy script, your bouncing book energy! Anyone else? We’d love, love, love to see what’s happening, whom you find as collaborators, how you can harness it to support literacy, books, authors, illustrators, readers--and booksellers. Bookety, bookety, bookety."
Next month, McDonald's plans to distribute an estimated 20 million children's books, featuring nutritional messages, in the fast food chain's Happy Meals. In a piece headlined "Catcher in the Fry? McDonald's Happy Meals with a Side of Books," NPR reported the four titles "were all written specifically for McDonald's and include characters like a voracious goat who struggles to eat right and a diminutive dinosaur who grows tall with good nutrition."
The initiative is "part of a broader book strategy that will combine the fun of the Happy Meal, new partners and technology to inspire more family reading time," said Ubong Ituen, v-p of marketing for McDonald's USA. Reading Is Fundamental is partnering with McDonald's to distribute the Happy Meal titles to kids without access to books.
The company will also partner with DK Publishing to release a new interactive digital book each month through the end of 2014 on its website HappyMeals.com.
From the Facebook page of Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore.:
A famous actor, who has been seen in a popular sci-if tv show and stumps for low-cost travel deals, was dining at a famous local winery this evening with a famous Portland chef who wrote a book (last name rhymes with Haley). The event manager at this winery wanted to get a copy of this chef's book to give to the actor, but knew the bookstore was closed. BUT--she knew a restaurant owner who knows the bookstore owner. The restaurant owner texted the bookstore owner (who was having a drink at her favorite watering hole) and asked if she had the book. You know the end--bookstore was unlocked, cookbook acquired (a signed copy no less!), and handed to delivery lady who passed it on. Whew! I love small town bookselling!
From the Facebook page of Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.:
So, I was standing outside the store tonight when a father and daughter walked out after buying two books. The dad looked in his bag and said to his daughter, "I think they charged me half price. This should have been $60. They only charged me $30."
"Daughter: "Should we go back in?'
Father: "I don't know."
They kind of stood there, then began walking away, hesitantly. Then, before I said anything, they turned and walked back into the store. And they paid for the other book.
There are still people out there who will do the right thing. A lot of people wouldn't have walked back into the store, but I just saw two people who did, and it made my week.
Norman Mailer: A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon (Simon & Schuster), from Mailer's confidant and chosen biographer.
Today on Fresh Air: Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Scribner, $21.50, 9780743236720).
Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Mark Nepo, author of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred (Atria, $16, 9781451674682).
Sunday on CNN's Christiane Amanpour: Malala Yousafzai, author of I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (Little, Brown, $26, 9780316322409).
Monday on Good Morning America: Clinton Kelly, author of Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget (Gallery, $26, 9781476715520).
Monday on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Andre Dubois III, author of Dirty Love (Norton, $25.95, 9780393064650).
Monday on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show: Chris Matthews, author of Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked (Simon & Schuster, $29.95, 9781451695991).
Nicole Kidman will star in and produce an adaptation of The Silent Wife, based on the novel by A.S.A. Harrison, Deadline.com reported. Mazur/Kaplan partners Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan (owner of Books & Books) have teamed with Kidman and Per Saari's Blossom Films to option the psychological thriller and produce. Deadline.com added that the "book-centric" Mazur/Kaplan made Nim's Island, are currently developing The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society and are adapting Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) is in talks to direct The Mountain Between Us, based on the novel by Charles Martin, for Fox and Chernin Entertainment. Deadline.com reported that the project, "originally adapted by J. Mills Goodloe, had Scott Frank come aboard and I hear they are trying to get that busy writer for the next pass."
Alexander Payne (Sideways) is teaming with Fox Searchlight and Conde Nast Entertainment on The Judge's Will, a film adaptation of the late Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's final published story, which appeared in the New Yorker last March. Deadline.com reported that CNE will produce with Ad Hominem Enterprises, the company that Payne runs with Jim Burke and Jim Taylor.
Five finalists have been named for the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, which is given annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. The winner will be announced November 5. This year's shortlisted Giller titles are:
Going Home Again by Dennis Bock
Hellgoing by Lynn
Cataract City by Craig Davidson
Caught by Lisa Moore
The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta
From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Dark Lies the Island: Stories by Kevin Barry (Graywolf Press, $24, 9781555976514). "Barry's collection of stories crackles with intelligence, wicked humor, and the woes of modern life. Populated by misfits, hapless husbands, and characters whose worst enemies are themselves, the 13 stories that make up this collection are compulsively readable and, like all great fiction, seem effortless. Barry loves the cadence and sound of human speech, and his ear for dialogue and narrative is astounding. The stories brim with humor and lines so quotable they demand to be read again. Barry puts a beating heart into each of these stories, a collection that is a must for fans of Irvine Welsh and V.S. Pritchett." --Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.
The Fountain of St. James Court: Or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund (Morrow, $26.99, 9780061579325). "This is a fascinating tale of two women artists--writer Kathryn Callaghan in this century and painter Elizabeth Vigee-Le Brun who lived during the French Revolution. Vigee-Le Brun was a real-life portraitist who included Marie Antoinette among her subjects. Callaghan is 70 and brings the wisdom of her age to the story. Naslund offers a very perceptive look at two women as they progress through their art and their lives. A great read!" --Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.
Three Graves Full: A Novel by Jamie Mason (Gallery Books, $16, 9781451685046). "Three Graves Full gives us a fresh, entertaining twist on the murder mystery genre. A coward can snap if pushed too far, which is why Jason Getty has a body buried in his backyard. This is stressing him out so much that he has to hire a landscaping crew to deal with his lawn--and they are the ones who find a different body in his flowerbed, not the one he buried. The police investigation turns up a third body, and from there on this tightly plotted, suspense-filled tale twists and turns like the country roads of its setting. A great read!" --Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, Mich.
For Ages 9 to 12
The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root by Christopher Pennell, illustrated by Rebecca Bond (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780547792637). "Carly Bean Bitters is an oddity--she can only sleep during the day. Add a village of talking musical rats, a bookish boy named Green, trees with whistling roots, an ancient legacy of magic, a moon child, Granny Pitcher, and a gruesome griddlebeast, and you have one of the most enchanting adventures in recent Middle Grade memory. This charming story featuring whimsical pen-and-ink illustrations is a perfect read-aloud, a heartwarming account of finding friends in the most unlikely places." --Susan Savory, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, Mass.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
Indu Sundaresan was raised in India and came to the U.S. for graduate school in economics and operations research. Soon after graduating, she began writing fiction and is the author of the Taj trilogy (The Twentieth Wife, The Feast of Roses, Shadow Princess), set in 17th-century India; The Splendor of Silence, set in India in 1942; and a collection of contemporary Indian short stories titled In the Convent of Little Flowers. The first of the Taj trilogy is currently being filmed for the Indian television channel Epic. Her sixth book, The Mountain of Light (Washington Square Press, October 8, 2013), is about the Kohinoor diamond, its last Indian owners and how it was secreted out of India to England and Queen Victoria.
On your nightstand now:
Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India by Lawrence James. I've dipped into this part of Indian history in the writing of my own novels at various places. In the Taj trilogy, the first ships from the English East India Company arrive on Indian shores. In The Splendor of Silence, it's five years before the end of the Raj and just before independence. In my latest book, The Mountain of Light, the British have already conquered large chunks of India--four years after the novel ends, in 1858, the East India Company is dissolved and India becomes a British colony; the British Raj officially begins then.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Anything by Enid Blyton; she created worlds I was unfamiliar with--the descriptions of high teas under an oak on the front lawn, and midnight feasts in boarding schools, were scrumptious. I wanted to be there.
Your top five authors:
Josephine Tey, Jane Austen, Ian McEwan, Chitra Divakaruni, Amy Tan.
Book you've faked reading:
Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Rather, I've begun this book many times, read a few pages, and never finished it. One day, when I have a nice, big piece of time, I will.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Charlotte (Jane Eyre) and Emily (Wuthering Heights) were the more well-known sisters. Anne was the quiet one, even in their lifetimes, but she wrote a powerhouse of a novel which has everything--a mystery, a history, an enigmatic woman, a passionate young man, the wild, wild moors with their mood-influencing winds and storms.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman, both for the cover and the title. The inside's just as good as the outside.
Books that changed your life:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read them both when I was in eighth grade, something like that--they set me thinking. There was a lot about America's history I didn't know until then.
Favorite line from a book:
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." --From 1984 by George Orwell. The novel was required reading in a high school literature class; analyzing it, picking it apart, made it that much more effective for me. That first line was odd; drew the reader in, but when you're done reading, you realize that it's only the starting point for a mass of oddities. Orwell had a frightening prescience of our brave new world.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Writers Between the Covers: The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads by Shannon McKenna Schmidt, Joni Rendon (Plume, $15 paperback, 9780452298460, October 29, 2013)
Ian Fleming was a sadomasochist. F. Scott Fitzgerald was worried about his measurement; Hemingway allayed his fears. Edith Wharton--Miss Propriety herself--carried on, while married, a long-term affair with Morton Fullerton. Did Dickens have a thing for his sister-in-law? Read Writers Between the Covers and these and other delicious tidbits will all be made clear.
Following their tribute to "literary landmarks" in Novel Destinations, Shannon McKenna Schmidt (a Shelf Awareness contributing writer) and Joni Rendon compiled a very different compendium of information about authors--gossipy and surprising, filled with all kinds of salacious stories about the writers we know and love (or think we know, at any rate). The authors have great fun with the titles of their chapters on various authors: "All War, No Peace" (Tolstoy), "Beautiful and Damned" (the Fitzgeralds), "The Alpha Mailer" (Norman) and so on.
Among the intriguing stories is that of Agatha Christie, who married a dashing aviator when she was 21. Four years later, after the First World War, they set up housekeeping in a manor house she named "Styles," after the success of her debut novel. All was well until, a decade later, her husband blindsided her with the news he was leaving her for another woman. They argued, he left to keep an assignation with his lover and Agatha disappeared. Police organized what was called the "Great Sunday Hunt" and all available means were deployed to find the missing author. A pond was dragged, airplanes were used, clairvoyants consulted--still no Agatha. She was busy enjoying herself at a spa in another part of England, using the name of her husband's mistress. Doctors diagnosed amnesia when she finally surfaced 11 days later, but she would never speak of the incident, in person or in print. She gave her husband the divorce he was pleading for, though she kept his now-famous last name, and later married Sir Max Mallowan, with whom she spent 40 happy years--all's well that ends well.
Not all the stories end so tidily; in fact, few of them do. Much of the drama recounted in these pages was fueled by alcohol, sometimes drugs, bad tempers, confused gender roles--all the things that drive people to wild behavior. Sexual adventurism is an equal opportunity pastime, and the authors have a deft hand at portraying both men and women at their moral nadir--and, oh, how much fun it is to read about. --Valerie Ryan
Shelf Talker: Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon bring us the love lives of literary figures, sparing no detail--and no author.
How big is a community? How big is your imagination? Last weekend, I was briefly part of the New England Independent Booksellers Association fall conference community, a ritual gathering of the book clan at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.
Flash forward: On the long drive home after the conference, I kept thinking about two moments that bookended my NEIBA experience. The first was at the opening brunch on Sunday, when author Scott Turow, the keynote speaker, chronicled the misadventures that caused him to arrive at the hotel around 4 a.m. after what we have all come to recognize as the routine flight from hell that is Chicago's O'Hare airport to, well, anywhere.
Karl Krueger, Penny McConnel, Liza Bernard, Steve Bercu
Steve Bercu, ABA president and co-owner of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., was on the same flight, having made a harrowing connection in the Windy City. As Turow spun their entertaining tale of high altitude woe, Bercu was sitting at my table, along with a small, if representative, selection of our wonderful, bookish extended family: Norwich Bookstore co-owners Penny McConnel and Liza Bernard, as well as Penguin sales rep Karl Krueger. You can do the math--author, indie booksellers, sales rep, editor; Chicago, New England, Texas, upstate New York = community.
The second key moment involved transition. It occurred at the start of Tuesday's Author Breakfast when Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music in Millerton and Rhinebeck, N.Y., got things started by mentioning, to hearty applause and cheers, that she is NEIBA's new president. Oblong was founded by her father, Dick Hermans, in 1975. "I was 13 when I first came to NEIBA," she said. "Ever since then, I've been a big NEIBA nerd."
Community and transitions. Between these two moments were hours and hours of great conversations and upbeat reports from booksellers. Evidence of the level of attendance and enthusiasm at NEIBA could be found in the fact that the Publishers Pick-Nic Lunch Monday had to be moved to a larger venue just to accommodate the crowd.
That's NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer way off in the distance, serving as timekeeper for the well-attended Publishers Pick-Nic "speed dating" roundtables
In an interview yesterday, NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer recalled how great it had been to encounter so many first-time attendees at the conference this year, including several babies (aka future booksellers). "I kept running into new people," he said. "I was really pleased with that." This was nicely balanced by the presence at the Author Awards dinner of a distinguished group of retired New England sales reps, who were all acknowledged individually during the ceremony.
"I really see our job as building a community of booksellers," Fischer said. "In fact, the mission of NEIBA, written into the charter, is 'to further the success of professional independent booksellers in New England and to foster a vital and supportive bookselling community.' "
One of the education sessions addressed the theme directly. "Building Bookstore Communities" was moderated by Random House reps Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, and featured Lynne Reed, co-owner of Misty Valley Books, Chester, Vt.; and Dawn Rennert, co-owner of the Concord Bookshop, Concord Mass.
"People shouldn't only think about going to your bookstore to buy a book," said Kindness.
"Community means relationships," Rennert observed, using the concept of a Venn Diagram to explain how all of the elements--personal, local, national, online and more--interconnect. "We're kind of where everything overlaps." She noted that a popular outreach effort for Concord Bookshop is an ongoing, ever-changing community display in one of the store's four windows. Local organizations build the displays (according to certain guidelines) and books are often added to complement a particular theme. These and other efforts "don't always lead to direct sales, but it's leading to relationship-building and community-building."
Dawn Rennert, Michael Kindness, Ann Kingman and Lynne Reed
Kingman noted that while community is often defined as a place, "my definition of community is when people are talking to each other." She cited the comments section at Books on the Nightstand, where discussion often evolves among the commenters themselves, so she and Michael can step back. She also has noticed that in many bookstores, a core group of loyal patrons attend every author event, but may not ever interact with other audience members. "What would happen if you could get those people talking to each other, with you at the center?" she asked.
Each year Reed's store hosts a "New Voices" weekend event that gives debut authors and local readers the opportunity to move past the usual walls between them and create a small community of their own. "For the last five years, we've asked community members to introduce the authors," she added. "We feel a responsibility to our small community."
Perhaps the most heartening words from a business standpoint came from Kingman: "It is possible to build community and make money from that. I don't think they're mutually exclusive."
Community and transitions and optimism... and babies. Oh my! More from NEIBA next week. --Robert Gray, contributing editor
The following were the most popular book club books during September based on votes from more than 80,000 book club readers from more than 35,000 book clubs registered at Bookmovement.com:
1. The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman (Scribner)
2. And the Mountains Echoed: A Novel by (Riverhead)
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Broadway Books)
4. Beautiful Ruins: A Novel (P.S.) by Jess Walter (Harper Perennial)
5. The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom (Touchstone)
6. Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow)
7. Me Before You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes (Viking)
8. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton)
10. Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple (Little, Brown)
Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain (St. Martin's)
For an account of Bookmovement's first road trip with an author--for Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain--click here; the effort helped boost the onetime rising start onto the bestseller list.
[Many thanks to Bookmovement.com!]