Happy Fourth of July!
Because of Independence Day tomorrow, this is our last issue until Monday, July 7. Enjoy the holiday!
Because of Independence Day tomorrow, this is our last issue until Monday, July 7. Enjoy the holiday!
An open letter, signed by a number of bestselling authors, is calling on Amazon "to resolve its dispute with Hachette without hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers." Drafted by Douglas Preston, the letter has been signed by David Baldacci, Lee Child, Amanda Foreman, John Grisham, James Patterson, Anita Shreve, Scott Turow, Anne Applebaum, Clive Cussler, Richard North Patterson and Simon Winchester, the Bookseller reported.
"As writers--some but not all published by Hachette--we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want," the letter states. "It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation. Moreover, by inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery, Amazon is contradicting its own written promise to be 'Earth's most customer-centric company.' "
The signees "respectfully" call upon their readers to e-mail Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "and tell him what you think. He says he genuinely welcomes hearing from his customers and claims to read all e-mails from this account. We hope that, writers and readers together, we will be able to change his mind."
The Wall Street Journal noted that an Amazon spokeswomen said the company's "focus for years has been to build a bookstore that benefits authors and readers alike. We take seriously and regret the impact it has when, however infrequently, a terms dispute with a publisher affects authors. We look forward to resolving this issue with Hachette as soon as possible."
Yesterday, the European and International Booksellers Federation issued a statement announcing its "strong support for the decision" by the Börsenverein, the German publishers, wholesalers and booksellers association, to file an official complaint against Amazon with the Bundeskartellamt, the German Federal Antitrust Office.
"While acknowledging the existence of different laws regarding competition in the member states of the European Union and internationally, the European and International Booksellers Federation has always strongly supported the position that consumers must have wide access to a rich and varied network of retailers," the statement said.
Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association and v-p for international affairs at EIBF, commented: "Increasingly, the international book industry is being held hostage by a company far more interested in selling flat screen TVs, diapers and groceries. It is clear that Amazon is prepared to sacrifice a diverse publishing ecosystem to achieve retail dominance. That's not good for authors, readers, or our society, no matter what country you live in."
In response to last week's passage of anti-Amazon legislation in France, the Abbey Bookshop in Paris has crafted a Pledge of Independents to "recruit readers, writers and bookshops worldwide in the defense of diversity and fair practices in the book trade." The pledge will be launched tonight during a celebration for the Abbey Bookshop's 25th anniversary in Paris.
The Pledge of Independents reads: "In an effort to preserve the free and widest circulation of information and ideas, as well as the diversity, vitality and integrity of an increasingly uncompetitive and dehumanized book-trade, I pledge to buy my books mostly from independent bookshops, and above all without resorting to Amazon or its affiliates."
"Amazon's prices come with a social, cultural and fiscal cost. Now is the right time to act," the bookstore noted, adding that updates and information will be available on Abbey's website and Facebook page.
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas--except for news of the 2014 American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition, held June 26–July 1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. More than 13,000 attendees sweltered in 105+ temperatures, along with more than 5,600 exhibitors--down slightly from last year's 20,000 attendees in Chicago. (No one we spoke with is eager to return to Sin City anytime soon.) Here are some highlights....
ALA's Annual Poetry Blast
At ALA's Annual Poetry Blast, held on Sunday afternoon, Marilyn Nelson read selections from her memoir through poems, How I Discovered Poetry. Seven other poets read from their works: Joan Bransfield Graham (The Poem that Will Not End), Nikki Grimes (Words with Wings), Kenn Nesbitt (My Hippo Has the Hiccups), Kari Anne Holt (Rhyme Schemer), Emily Jiang (Summoning the Phoenix), Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming) and Alan Katz (Oops!: Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking).
|Lemony Snicket Prize jurors, with Snicket and Copel.
The First Lemony Snicket Prize
Laurence Copel (seated on the right), winner of the inaugural Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity for her work in Jude's Grove Free Library, located in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, sat with the award's sponsor, Lemony Snicket, aka Daniel Handler (seated on the left), at Sunday night's Newbery-Caldecott Banquet.
The honoree received a $3,000 check, $1,000 travel expenses, a certificate and "an odd object from Handler's private collection"--a plate designed by none other than Mo Willems. Copel moved from New York City to New Orleans in 2010 and opened a library in her home using her own money and some small donations. Here she is surrounded by the committee members who selected Copel for the prize (l.-r.): Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library; Snicket; Nanette Perez, from ALA's Intellectual Freedom office; Eric Suess, chair of the committee, and director at Marshall Public Library in Pocatello, Idaho; Copel's son, Kazumi Yamazoli; winner Laurence Copel; Julius C. Jefferson Jr., Library of Congress; and Barbara Jones, also from ALA's Intellectual Freedom office.
Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the CSK Awards
"It's 107 degrees outside, and this is the hottest ticket in town," joked Andrea Davis Pinkney Saturday evening at the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Awards.
The 2014 award winners discussed creativity and culture. When Pinkney asked Rita Williams-Garcia, winner of the 2014 Author Award for her book P.S. Be Eleven, if she ever thought she'd be sitting here, hearing accolades for her work, Williams-Garcia replied, "Yes I did. It was all in the plan." She knew that magazine writers were paid by the word, so she'd write every morning, count the words and say, " 'Yes!' I become joyful whenever I see a whole lot of ink."
Nikki Grimes and Rita Williams-Garcia
Nikki Grimes, whose Words with Wings won a 2014 Author Honor, initially had plans to write "the great American novel" (for adults). Grimes said, "I was going to write one children's book then return to adult books. That was 30 years ago."
Kadir Nelson, Illustrator Honor winner for his Nelson Mandela, said that when he paints, he thinks about how his subjects feel, and how he wants to feel when he looks at the painting. "I paint people who are proud and strong because that's how I want to feel when I look at it," he explained. "I also want to feel relaxed, so part of that is stalling." Bryan Collier said, referring to the absent father in Knock, Knock by Daniel Beaty, for which he took top prize in the Illustrator category, "In picture books, we don't often talk about loss. I try to get out of my own way, to let it happen. And it does, if you do."
"When you say 'Virginia Hamilton,' the word that comes to mind is 'integrity,' " said Patricia McKissack, who, together with her husband, Frederick, won the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. "She was so honest in her writing. She never wrote down to children." McKissack spoke of her relationship with Hamilton, who was a student in McKissack's classroom. "She was good, and she knew it," said McKissack of Hamilton. "She was my friend, she was my mentor, and she was my colleague." She added, lightheartedly, "It's a lifetime achievement award, but it ain't over.
|(l.-r.) Winner Claudia Bedrick; Dr. Maureen White, chair of the 2014 Batchelder Committee; and two of the jurors, Linda Pavonetti and Doris Gebel.|
Other Award News
Books in translation "give us a view extending far beyond our own experiences and culture," said Claudia Beddrick (l.) in her acceptance of the 2014 Batchelder Award on Monday morning for Mister Orange by Truus Matti, translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson. She met Truus Matti while she was researching her novel about a boy who met Mondrian while he was living in New York City during World War II. "I sensed that, like all of our books at Enchanted Lion, it was subversive and bold with a high value placed on the imagination and individuality."
At the Association of Library Service to Children membership meeting on Monday morning, ALSC president Starr Latronica announced that the 2015 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture, to be delivered by Brian Selznick (previously announced in January at the ALA Midwinter conference), will be hosted by the Washington, D.C., Public Library in spring 2015 (precise date to come).
Latronica also said that at the ALSC Board of Directors meeting on Friday, it was decided that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, previously given every two years, will now be awarded annually.
On Monday afternoon, Kirby Heyborne, the voice of Scowler by Daniel Kraus, which won the 2014 Odyssey Award for best audiobook, demonstrated "the strange things he can do with his mouth," as his producer and director for Listening Library, Kelly Gildea, put it. Heyborne then got his audience up and dancing to his original song, "Ain't Nobody Change the World Like a Librarian." --Jennifer M. Brown
Employees of Book Culture, which last week fired five employees after a union vote, "walked off the job" and rallied outside the stores' two locations on the Upper West Side in New York City yesterday.
According to DNAinfo.com they and union representatives held signs reading, "Rehire the Fired Five" and "Rehire the unlawfully fired now!"
Book Culture said that four of the five employees were members of management and shouldn't have voted in the union election, in which the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union overwhelming won. Employees and union officials said that the five were managers in name only.
Book Culture co-owner Chris Doeblin told DNAinfo that he would let the National Labor Review Board decide the legality of the firings. Those participating in the strike shouldn't fear losing their jobs for picketing, he added. "They have that right," Doeblin said. "If they want to strike, they can strike, and if they want to work, they can work."
Doeblin told the Daily News that four of the five workers were managers and one was fired for a reason unrelated to the union votes. "Our position is these individuals that were fired were managers," Doeblin said. "We gave them a directive, they didn't follow that directive. Our managers are obligated to support management."
Jon and Diana Sebaly, owners of Leelanau Books, Leland, Mich., have added Lil' Leland Cafe within their bookshop in partnership with Sarah Landry Ryder of the Redheads café in Lake Leelanau.
Ryder approached the Sebalys when they were rethinking their existing café and suggested a coffee bar and possible partnership. "We really wanted to create a third place for folks to gather for meetings, book clubs or just for coffee," said Jon. "It is our intention to provide that space for the community and to sell some books along the way."
"We were considering expanding our cafe services at the bookstore," added Diana Sebaly. "So, when Sarah inquired, it seemed like a perfect fit and great timing. We are excited to offer our customers a terrific cup of coffee and delicious edibles coming from the Redheads' kitchen."
The Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau has launched a redesigned website and logo, reflecting the post-merger selection of speakers, with an emphasis on video content and a blog that features news items from its roster. The new logo combines the speech bubble previously used by the Random House Speakers Bureau and the signature Penguin orange.
The cross-divisional team is led by executive director Tiffany Tomlin, who has been with the Penguin Speakers Bureau since it launched in 2006. "Our goal for the new website is to create a modern, visually-driven site that is easy to navigate and represents our speaking talent in an engaging and comprehensive manner," she said. "With our fully integrated team and new look, our future is looking bright. We are set up to grow our roster of talented speakers and support our authors to inspire ever-broader audiences through their personal appearances."
|Photo: Malin Fezehai|
Walter Dean Myers, beloved and deeply respected children's book author, died July 1. He was 76. In a career spanning over 45 years, he wrote more than 100 books, including two Newbery Honor Books, three National Book Award finalists and six Coretta Scott King Award/Honor-winning books. Among his many honors were the inaugural Michael L. Printz Award (for Monster), the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. In 2012, he was appointed the third National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and served a two-year term.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of erudite and beloved author Walter Dean Myers," said Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books. "Walter's many award-winning books do not shy away from the sometimes gritty truth of growing up. He wrote books for the reader he once was, books he wanted to read when he was a teen. He wrote with heart and he spoke to teens in a language they understood. For these reasons, and more, his work will live on for a long, long time."
Miriam Altshuler, his literary agent, described him as "a compassionate, wonderful and brilliant man. He wrote about children who needed a voice and their stories told. His work will live on for generations to come. It was an honor to work with him for so many years."
Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said Myers "changed the face of children's literature by representing the diversity of the children of our nation in his award-winning books. He was a deeply authentic person and writer who urged other authors, editors and publishers not only to make sure every child could find him or herself in a book, but also to tell compelling and challenging stories that would inspire children to reach their full potential. My favorite quote from Walter is a clarion call to embrace the power of books to inform and transform our lives--he said, 'Once I began to read, I began to exist.' He will be missed by us all."
In a 2011 Shelf Awareness interview about We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart--on which he collaborated with his son, artist Christopher Myers--he observed that "what you do with literature is you define yourself, and you define your place. How I know who I am is how I define the world around me.... So we're constantly defining ourselves and discussing it. I see it as a continuum." And in a March op-ed piece for the New York Times headlined "Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books?" Myers wrote, "There is work to be done."
Matt Richell, CEO of Hachette Australia and chairman of Hachette New Zealand, died yesterday in a surfing accident in Sydney. He was 40. Tim Hely Hutchinson, group CEO of Hachette U.K., made the announcement "with great sorrow, and in shock," adding, "Our thoughts and most heartfelt condolences are with Matt's wife, Hannah, his family, his colleagues and many friends in publishing and more widely."
The Books Inc. store on Market Street in the Castro in San Francisco underwent a sleek facelift last month, completed in time for Pride Week. Manager Ken White (with Huntly Gordon, who is on the right) said the change came in part because "the neighborhood is undergoing a fresh wave of gentrification, with Twitter's world headquarters now settled about six blocks up the road and lots of new development coming in. We want a way to get noticed by people just moving in, so they say to themselves: hey, there's a good bookstore in my new neighborhood where I can hang out.... It's a signal to the community we are still here and we're investing to stay here." Books Inc. co-owner Michael Tucker added that the 20-year-old store's original storefront was "very cool, but the center changed hands eight years ago and the new owner took down the awnings, painted the whole thing yellow and put up silver lettering for all the store names that was only visible once a year at the vernal equinox when the sun hit them just right."
BookPeople, Austin, Tex., has introduced the Modern First Library initiative, which will be "featuring a broad range of books, new and old, that we think belong on the shelves of the very youngest readers.... After all, a child's first library offers his or her first glimpses of the world outside the family's immediate sphere, and we think that view needs to reflect a reality that's broad, inclusive, and complex, just like the world we all live in."
Noting that "there is an impassioned discussion ongoing in the children's book world about the importance of diversity in the books children read, and the under-publication of books to fill this need," Bookpeople said the Modern First Library program "developed out of a brainstorming session with Austin author Chris Barton about how bookstores and authors could partner to help parents and readers find some of the wonderful books out there that celebrate kids and families from all kinds of backgrounds."
Tantor Media, which relocated to Connecticut from California a decade ago, has moved to a new state-of-the-art location in a 15,000-square-foot building at 6 Business Park Road in Old Saybrook. The move will accommodate an increase in audiobook, print and e-book publishing, as well as audiobook production services. The company also maintains a 14,000-square-foot on-demand production facility in the same office park. Founded in 2000 by Kevin and Laura Colebank, Tantor now employs more than 80 people.
The Actress: A Novel by Amy Sohn (Simon & Schuster).
Today on Sirius XM's Stand Up with Pete Dominick: Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, two of the authors of March: Book One (Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 9781603093002).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jay Barbree, author of Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight (Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 9781250040718).
Tomorrow on a repeat of NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life: A Novel (Norton, $23.95, 9780393060058).
Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi, authors of By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest Is Changing the World (Oxford University Press, $27.95, 9780199921782).
Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.
Saturday, July 5
12 p.m. Book TV interviews authors and visits literary sites in Jackson, Miss. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)
5 p.m. James Oakes, author of The Scorpion's Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War (Norton, $23.95, 9780393239935).
7:45 p.m. Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames, authors of Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy--and What We Can Do About It (McGraw-Hill, $28, 9780071823708), at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)
8:45 p.m. BookTV tours Simon & Schuster and interviews executives. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:30 p.m.)
10 p.m. Matt Kibbe, author of Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto (Morrow, $23.99, 9780062308252). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)
11 p.m. A panel on the life of Michael Hastings, author of The Last Magazine: A Novel (Blue Rider, $26.95, 9780399169946).
Sunday, July 6
12 p.m. Live In Depth q&a with author Reza Aslan. E-mail questions from this page. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)
7 p.m. Bill Courtney, co-author of Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love (Weinstein, $26, 9781602862241).
8 p.m. Marion Barry, Jr., co-author of Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr. (Strebor, $25, 9781593095055).
10 p.m. David Ignatius, author of The Director: A Novel (Norton, $26.95, 9780393078145), and Valerie Plame, co-author of Blowback (Blue Rider, $26.95, 9780399158209), discuss the real stories that inspired their novels.
The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its summer Okra Picks, a selection of fresh titles chosen by Southern indie booksellers each season as the upcoming Southern titles they are most looking forward to handselling:
The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax (Berkley)
Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (Pamela Dorman Books)
The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons (Grand Central)
Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman (Harper)
Palmetto Moon: A Lowcountry Novel by Kim Boykin (Berkley)
Poems of the American South by David Biespiel (Everyman's Library)
Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech (Morrow)
The Southern Foodie's Guide to the Pig: A Culinary Tour of Fifty of the South's Best Restaurants and the Recipes that Made Them Famous by Chris Chamberlain (Thomas Nelson)
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House)
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good: The New Mitford Novel by Jan Karon (Putnam) Adult
The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region by Marcie Cohen Ferris (University of North Carolina Press)
Beautiful at All Seasons: Southern Gardening and Beyond with Elizabeth Lawrence by Elizabeth Lawrence (Duke University Press)
Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made by Tom Wilkinson (Bloomsbury, $30 hardcover, 9781620406298, July 22, 2014)
British academic Tom Wilkinson's first book is a rich, thoughtful and insightful inquiry into why buildings should be built first and foremost for people. His prose is smart, witty and opinionated: Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is a "Benzedrine-fuelled doorstop"; Rem Koolhaas is an "erstwhile enfant terrible." Wilkinson wears his considerable learning to the side, like a beret. Even the buildings he picks are fresh and suggestive; one may never have existed while another isn't even a building, it's a footbridge.
Bricks and Mortals meanders, "pinballing through time and space," from one structure and theme--power, morality, business, colonialism, entertainment, health--to another. The goal is to demonstrate how "architecture shapes people's lives and vice versa." If we can understand how buildings affect us and we affect them, then maybe we can become aware of the possibility of change.
First, he starts with the origin of dwellings themselves. Holding Gustav Mahler's simple wooden hut in the mountains as an example of the places so many legends have gone to find inspiration (like Twain, Woolf and Heidegger), Wilkinson discusses man's desire for simplicity and primitivism.
Wilkinson's 10 chosen structures from around the world tell us much about his perspective. He presents them chronologically, starting with the biblical Tower of Babel and moving on to Nero's Golden House in Rome, Beijing's Garden of Perfect Brightness and Richard Wagner's Festspielhaus (Festival Theater) in Germany.
One of his best and most stimulating dissections deals with E.1027, a huge white villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, overlooking the French Riviera like a whale somehow beached on the mountainside. "A love poem, a present," it was designed and built by Eileen Gray for her partner, architecture critic Jean Badovici. Through this massive house, Wilkinson reveals "the secret sex life of buildings, their capacity to enflame and arouse"--as in the case of the great modern architect Le Corbusier, who painted murals in and on E.1027 and decades later drowned in the water below it, a possible suicide. Wilkinson's take on Henry Ford's immense Highland Park Car Factory, built by Albert Kahn, brilliantly demonstrates how Fordism, mass production, de-humanization and consumerism all come together to serve architecture. As he easily jumps from architecture to popular culture to philosophy to history, Wilkinson's stimulating critical inquiries reveal an engaged social conscience. Outstanding. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher
Shelf Talker: This insightful, accessible book shows that architecture concerns much more than bricks and steel and answers the question of whether bad people can make good buildings.
'Having a great time! Wish you were here!" That's the summer postcard I would have sent out last week from the "All About the Books" event held in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Library and Home, Hyde Park, N.Y. The New England Independent Booksellers Association and New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association teamed up to host the gathering, with Bookazine underwriting, as it has since All About the Books launched in 2009.
"Hyde Park was an experiment in including NAIBA members and more New York-based authors and I'm glad we did it," said NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer. "As we have done all along, we try to create a balance of fiction and nonfiction, male, female, large publishers and smaller, indie publishers, two children's book authors--one picture book and one YA. Somehow it all works. It isn't anything you can make happen, but when it does it's an amazing two hours."
Mary Beth Thomas, v-p of sales at HarperCollins, agreed: "This is the second event I've gone to and I just see them as a great opportunity to hear from a variety of authors, most of whom I'm not that familiar with, and to learn about their upcoming books. They each have their own way of handling a 5-10 minute presentation, but all the ones I've heard have been funny, or inspiring or scary, or in some cases all three! It's a great way to generate enthusiasm among the booksellers in a more intimate setting than the regional and national shows. Also a great opportunity to connect with booksellers. The venue was lovely as well."
The morning program featured authors Peter Ackerman (The Lonely Typewriter, David R. Godine), Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven, Knopf), Justin Martin (Rebel Souls, Da Capo), Cammie McGovern (Say What You Will, HarperCollins Children's), Brian Morton (Florence Gordon, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Brent Ridge & Josh Kilmer-Purcell (The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook, Rodale), Bill Roorbach (The Remedy for Love, Algonquin), Joanna Scott (De Potter's Grand Tour, FSG), Gail Sheehy (Daring: My Passages, Morrow) and Annie Weatherwax (All We Had, Scribner).
The time limit sparked entertaining, concentrated storytelling, with the writers talking about their new books and expressing a little indie bookseller love. For example: "First, I want to thank all of you," said Mandel, noting that her first three novels had been Indie Next picks. Morton observed: "I want to take a moment to talk about what you do.... It's been so inspiring over the years to see indie bookstores not only survive but thrive." Citing the critical importance of locavore and shop local movements to their world, cookbook authors Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell said they are "always so encouraged when we go to your bookstores because we see that that's what is making you successful also." And Scott noted: "You keep the blood flowing in our literary culture."
Perhaps the loudest applause was for Sheehy, who said she was "thrilled to be here today as a foot soldier in the war of independence against Amazon."
The afternoon education session, "Increasing Sales on Your Website," featured NEIBA president Suzanna Hermans, co-owner Oblong Books & Music stores in Millerton and Rhinebeck, N.Y.; Andrew Getman of Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.; and Neil Strandberg of the American Booksellers Association.
With the surge of social media options, store websites have sometimes taken a back seat, but, Strandberg said, "You need an online presence and I think a homepage is still a useful thing to have. That you cannot be found digitally just does not make sense anymore."
"You have some concept of who you are as a personality, so your website has to represent the story you're telling," Getman observed. Displaying a bookshop site that was highlight its Amazon/Hachette-themed display, he said: "She has this fabulous display, but what's wrong with this picture is you can't click it. You can't buy locally.... Make it a destination people don't get flustered by."
|Neil Strandberg, Steve Fischer, Suzanna Hermans & Andrew Getman
Hermans discussed Oblong's "custom content" on its website, including autographed books and the Oblong Insider subscription service for YA titles: "We make sure we have a pre-order link on our website a month before an event," which also allows visiting authors to link to it in advance. "Custom content is really important to me," she added. "That's where the money is.... It's a little bit of a time suck, but it's worth it."
"Are there genres or types of books you are less competitive with?" asked Strandberg, suggesting bookstore websites "present things you won't find on the Amazon homepage. If you've got something that's unique to you, you're more likely to generate sales that a large retailer wouldn't."
Some of the advice was basic, yet often overlooked: Place all social media links at the top of the homepage and use "buy buttons" rather than click-throughs for featured titles. "You don't have to put everything on the website," Getman cautioned, adding that social media platforms are ideal places to showcase event photos and other "ephemerals" that might draw visitors back to the online store.
And then it was over, this very good day for books.
"It was wonderful to host both NEIBA and NAIBA groups in the Hudson Valley," said Hermans. "As a store that spans both territories, it was great to get everyone together in the same room to share ideas. I hope we can collaborate again in the future." --Robert Gray, contributing editor