Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 27, 2006
Quotation of the Day
Notes: SCBA Bookstore Tours; Amazon Drop; Sony Reader 'Soon'
The association's next bookstore tour, its fifth--another inspired by Larry Portzline's bookstore tourism campaign--takes place Saturday, August 19, and heads to the beach. The tourists will travel from Malibu to Long Beach and visit Under the Bridge Bookstore & Gallery and William's Bookstore, both in San Pedro; Diesel, A Bookstore, Malibu; Village Books, Pacific Palisades; and Hennessey & Ingalls, Santa Monica.
The final accounting of Wall Street's reaction to Amazon.com's second quarter earnings report was not pretty. Yesterday Amazon stock fell $7.33 or 22% and closed at $26.26, its largest point drop in six years and its lowest level in nearly 3 1/2 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. In one day, the company lost $3.1 billion in market value.
E-books-vaporware? Sony Electronics has notified interested parties that the Sony Reader, originally scheduled to be released this spring or summer, is "coming this fall, in time for the holidays."
The Reader will hold some 80 e-books. Among titles available at launch: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, At Risk by Patricia Cornwell and Digging to America by Anne Tyler. Readers will be sold on Sony's Web site, at Sony stores and at several hundred Borders stores.
The rechargeable battery allows "up to 7,500 continuous pages on a single charge (when not providing audio)."
By the holiday season, Borders will open a 23,000-sq.-ft. store in the Grand Central Mall in Vienna, W.Va., according to the Marietta Times. The Waldenbooks store in the mall will close when the new Borders opens.
The Lulu Blooker Prize, given to blooks--that is, "books based on Web sites such as blogs and webcomics"--is upping the ante next year. The overall prize for 2007 will be $10,000, up from $2,000 this year. And the two category winners will receive $2,500 apiece, instead of $1,000 each.
The judges panel has been increased, too, and will include Arianna Huffington, author, columnist and editor of the HuffingtonPost.com; Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia, the overall Lulu Blooker winner this year; Rohit Gupta, blogger, journalist, author and "sidewalk philosopher"; Nick Cohen, author, blogger and columnist for the Observer and the New Statesman. The chair of the judges will be Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org.
Nominations for the 2007 Blooker are due by January 15. See the award's Web site for more information. The awards are sponsored by Lulu, a POD printer.
Bookwormzonline Aims to Unearth and List All Indies
In less than a month, the site has entries for nearly 400 bookstores in 42 states. "We rely on people around the country to supply information and make comments," Williams said. So far, the contributors consist mainly of bookstore fans, although some booksellers have offered information about their stores. There are no fees; the site is open to anyone. Once a listing is posted, it can be edited only with permission of Bookwormzonline. Booksellers are encouraged to list their stores; if their stores are already listed and the booksellers want to add or correct information, they should contact Williams at email@example.com. Booksellers she's heard from are "excited" about the service, Williams said.
The listings are coordinated with Google's map service, which can offer directions to the store. For now the listing is confined to the U.S. because it is coordinated with zip codes. Williams hopes to expand the service to Canada, and perhaps farther afield. For now, users can search only by zip code, but within weeks, Williams said, users should be able to search by town and state, too.
The inspiration for the site came, Williams continued, from Larry Portzline, the founder of bookstore tourism, who on his blog described delocator.net, a site that lists independent coffee shops and cafes as alternatives to Starbucks. Portzline suggested such a listing might benefit independent bookstores.
Since May, Williams has worked at the largest of the regional libraries in the Charlotte, N.C., public library system. Earlier she had "a job in the corporate world" involving advertising. She also maintains a blog, ALifeinBooks.com. For her, the new site is a labor of literary love. "Books and reading have always been a part of my life," she said. "And I'd like to share that with others."
Media and Movies
This Weekend on Book TV: Colonel Debriefs Reporter-Critic
Saturday, July 29
6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 2000, James Bradley talks about his book, written with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers (Bantam, $7.99, 0553589083), which chronicles the battle of Iwo Jima and the lives of the six men who raised the U.S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi.
8 p.m. History on Book TV. James Nelson, author of Benedict Arnold's Navy: The Ragtag Fleet that Lost the Battle of Lake Champlain but Won the American Revolution (International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, $24.95, 0071468064), tries to portray Arnold as more than the most famous traitor in U.S. history.
9 p.m. After Words. Col. Jeffrey McCausland (U.S. Army-retired) interviews Thomas Ricks, the Washington Post's Pentagon correspondent and author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Penguin, $27.95, 159420103X). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)
Sunday, July 30
7 p.m. Public Lives. Speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Anthony Arthur discusses his new biography, Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair (Random House, $27.95, 1400061512), about the author of The Jungle, socialist, onetime Democratic candidate for governor of California and historical novelist.
Media Heat: T.C. Boyle Talk Talks
Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Ann Fessler, author of The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade (Penguin Press, $24.95, 1594200947).
This morning on Good Morning America, Maura Moynihan discusses her new book, Covergirl (Regan Books, $25.95, 0060756578).
Today on KCRW's Bookworm: T.C. Boyle, whose latest book is Talk Talk (Viking, $25.95, 0670037702). This is how the show describes its talk with Boyle: "When T. C. Boyle sits down to write a thriller, none of the usual rules apply. He starts with a young deaf woman, a computer animator and an identity thief and creates a novel about communication. We explore some of the buried connections that take him beyond the thriller form into an exploration of the things that keep human identity intact."
Scheduled for tonight on the Charlie Rose Show:
- Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future (Norton, $25.95, 0393062112).
- Senator Byron Dorgan (D.-N.D.), author of Take This Job and Ship It: How Corporate Greed and Brain-Dead Politics Are Selling Out America (Thomas Dunne, $24.95, 031235522X).
Robert Gray's Bookstore Siteseeing: Unexpected Ruins
I will mourn this bookstore's passing, and I understand Mayo's fatalism about the chaotic used book industry. A funeral is a time for eulogy rather than autopsy. On the other hand, exploring ways to be competitive and creative online is the essence of our site-seeing journey here, and there is a lesson in this loss.
I lived in Rutland from 1973 until 1997, so I knew the bookshop well. Tuttle Antiquarian Books wasn't a particularly welcoming place, though I tolerated its laissez-faire attitude toward customer service. I didn't mind being left alone to explore room upon musty room of book-laden shelves, and I will be in their debt forever because I discovered the wonders of Asian literature and art in that quaint Vermont bookshop.
Charles Tuttle, who died in 1993, was serving as an American soldier in Tokyo after World War II when he fell in love with Japanese culture. He made it his life's mission to introduce this world to American readers. In addition to their extensive used book inventory, Tuttle Antiquarian Books displayed and sold an array of new titles from Tuttle Publishing, which still exists as an imprint of Periplus Publishing Group.
One of many books I bought new there was Zen Art for Meditation by Stewart Holmes and Chimyo Horioka (1973). As I write these words, that copy is on my desk, open to page 25 and a reproduction of "Bare Willows and Distant Mountains." On the facing page, a commentary begins, "How remote from the everyday world this landscape seems!"
I felt the same way about Tuttle Antiquarian Books, and yet it was in those isolated Vermont rooms that I discovered an even more remote world. Call it a low-tech precursor to the global village.
I haven't visited the bookshop for more than a decade, so its demise is like the sudden death of a long-neglected uncle. I feel a little guilty, but in this case it is balanced (yin and yang, a concept I first learned reading Tuttle publications) with a dose of frustration.
According to the Herald, Mayo, who began working at Tuttle in 1957 and became co-owner five years ago, felt that "consumer buying and selling habits had changed to the point where Tuttle couldn't compete with eBay, Amazon and everyone else in between." (Many booksellers, large as well as small, utilize ebay and Amazon to enhance their used book sales, but this factor was not addressed in the article.) Mayo added that "it's impossible to compete with someone who can sell their books from their living room."
That the current owner of Tuttle Antiquarian Books viewed the Internet as an enemy rather than a tool is worth considering, especially in light of Charles Tuttle's undeniable pedigree as a publishing industry visionary.
For years, I thought the reason there was so little interaction between staff and customers at Tuttle Antiquarian Books must be because their business was conducted primarily through mail order. I imagined them nurturing worldwide customer relationships--the 84 Charing Cross Road effect. I would have assumed that a mailing list like Tuttle's, built decade upon decade, positioned them to make a profitable transition to the Web.
I would have been wrong.
Tuttle's Web page is now its headstone.
What if, instead of being gradually swept aside by the "long tail" of Internet used book dealers selling out of their living rooms, Tuttle Antiquarian Books (and many other bookshops, for that matter) had approached the Web with the same innovative vision that Charles Tuttle exhibited when he found himself seduced by Japanese culture in postwar Tokyo?
Many years ago, I met the Mr. Tuttle on a golf course and I thanked him personally for the new world he had given me.
I'm still grateful, but a little sadder.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)