Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 16, 2006


Simon & Schuster: Launch a Reading Star With Ready to Read Campaign

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Letters

Beware of Orders 'Too Good to Be True'

Carin Siegfried, the Baker & Taylor rep for New England and upstate New York, writes:

In the last month or so, I know of three stores hit by those perennial scam artists who call using the TDD operator or e-mail, asking for large quantities of expensive books, using a stolen credit card that initially goes through but later is charged back. These scam artists have gotten smarter, no longer ordering hundreds of bibles but instead ordering 20-30 copies each of three or four different textbook titles. They refuse to give out their phone numbers, and their name does not match the name on the card (which of course one can't determine over the phone or Internet without a call to the credit card company).

Fortunately the three stores caught the scam before shipping out the books, but one had paid for next-day delivery from our West Coast warehouse on some very heavy books and was out a small fortune on freight costs. Two of the booksellers are fairly new store owners, so they hadn't read articles on this topic.

Perhaps you could alert Shelf Awareness readers to this problem and remind people to be on the lookout and know that if it sounds too good to be true, you should be wary.

[Editors' Note: Done!]


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart


News

Notes: 2X Half Price; Next on YouTube; Dear Promotion

Half Price Books, which buys and sells new and used books, magazines, comics, records, CDs, DVDs and collectible items, is opening two more stores today, in Palatine and Bloomingdale, Ill., its second and third stores in the Chicago area and its 87th and 88th stores nationwide.

The 9,600-sq.-ft. Palatine store is in Park Place Shopping Center; the 12,700-sq.-ft. Bloomingdale store is in Bloomingdale Court Shopping Center.

"Our stores are unique in that we offer a different inventory than other major retail bookstores," president and CEO Sharon Anderson Wright said in a statement. "There will be something different every time you come in, and since consumers can sell their books directly to us, many items aren't available in other bookstores."

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A fake genetics company called Nextgencode, featured in videos on YouTube and other Web sites, aims to promote Michael Crichton's next book, Next (HarperCollins, $27.95, 0060872985), which appears November 28, according to today's Wall Street Journal. Viewers who "follow the videos' directions and go to the Nextgencode Web site" and then click on "new book reveals trade secrets" discover a picture of Next.

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Sandra Dear has been promoted to v-p of group company, custom and proprietary sales at Penguin. She was formerly v-p of merchandising, warehouse clubs. Before joining Penguin a year ago, Dear worked at AMS for 10 years and was a buyer at Penney.

Barbara O'Shea, president of non trade sales at Penguin Group, said that since arriving at Penguin, Dear "has increased our business in just about every account where we sell custom product and she has already brought new customers to the table." She will continue to use the backlist of Penguin Group and its U.K. and Australian sister companies "to produce unique product in a wide variety of new formats."
 


Florida Bookstore for Sale: Email bookstore4sale2023@gmail.com


Traditional Stores Make Online Inroads

As more people become comfortable buying online, "the dominance of the two e-commerce giants [Amazon and eBay] is being chipped away by a new breed of online shopper drawn to familiar names and lower prices, better Internet-search technology and an explosion in the number of merchants competing on the Web," today's Wall Street Journal reported in a front-page feature. The main beneficiaries are bricks-and-mortar stores with online ordering services. The "new breed of customers," the paper continued, "care more about low prices and are likelier to recognize and trust the names of stores they know well, such as Gap or Wal-Mart, over online merchants like Amazon or eBay."

Amazon has responded in part by introducing Amazon Prime last year, which lowers shipping costs over time, and adding digital downloading services.

According to statistics and studies quoted by the Journal:
  • Consumers will spend $132 billion online this year, up 19% from $111 billion last year (JupiterResearch)
  • The share of online spending that goes to Web-only retailers is 52% this year, down from 55% last year and 60% in 2004 (Majestic Research Corp.)
  • Some 41% of Internet shoppers in the U.S. made their first online purchase in the past four years (Forrester Research)
For more on online bookselling, see Robert Gray's column below.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan


Diamond Book Distributors Launches Kids Group

Diamond Book Distributors has made the following appointments:

Janna Morishima has been named director of the newly formed Diamond Kids Group. She begins on December 11 and will be based in New York City. She was formerly Scholastic Publishing's editor at large and was responsible for such graphic novel lines as Bone, the Baby-Sitters Club and R.L. Stine adaptations. She will coordinate the company's sales of children's books to customers worldwide including bookstores, libraries, online retailers, mass merchants, book clubs and book fairs. Morishima will also work with the company's publishers to develop new properties for children.

Josh Hayes has been promoted to associate director of sales and marketing. His responsibilities include worldwide sales reporting and inventory management, handling the toys/games/merchandising program for bookstores and strategic planning with manga publishers. He formerly was a sales manager selling to Borders Group and earlier was a buyer at Waldenbooks.

Donnie Lewis has been named customer service manager. Lewis was formerly assistant manager of data processing at Diamond Comic Distributors, DBD's parent company. Lewis will be responsible for customer service and coordinating with distribution centers in Memphis, Tenn., Torrance, Calif., and Plattsburgh, N.Y.

DBD v-p, sales and marketing, Kuo-Yu Liang noted that sales in 2006 have exceeded projections, and the year "is shaping up to be one of DBD's best years ever, and 2007 looks even more promising as the market for graphic novels continues to expand."


Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


AAP September Sales: Up Fall

Net sales of books rose 6.2% to $999.5 million in September and year-to-date sales were down 1.8% to $7.002 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers. The figures represent sales reported by 78 publishers.

Among the best-performing categories:
  • Adult paperback, up 26.8%, to $172.3 million
  • Children's/YA paperback, up 10.9%, to $53.8 million
  • Higher education, up 10.1%, $244.9 million
Among the weaker categories:
  • Adult mass market, down 8.1%, to $79 million
  • Children's/YA hardcover, down 4.6%, to $100.6 million
  • Adult hardcover, down 1.4%, to $192.5 million


Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: The NBA Ceremony

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 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 Web site.

Saturday, November 18

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In this segment first aired in 1993, Tom Wheeler, president and CEO of Shiloh Group, a telecommunications development and investment company, talked about his book Take Command!: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War (Currency, 0385495196).

9 p.m. After Words. Martin Walker, senior fellow at Woodrow Wilson Center and editor emeritus for United Press International, interviews John O'Sullivan, veteran journalist, former special adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, editor at large for the National Review, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World (Regnery, $27.95, 1596980168), an exploration of the roles played by President Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Thatcher in the fall of the Soviet Union. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

10 p.m. General Assignment. The 2006 National Book Awards ceremony, held last night. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

Sunday, November 19

12 a.m. Public Lives. During an event held at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., David Cannadine discussed Mellon: An American Life (Knopf, $35, 0679450327), his biography of financier Andrew Mellon, who served as Secretary of the Treasury and ambassador to Great Britain and founded the National Gallery of Art.

 


Media Heat: Diets and Dictionaries

Today on the Early Show: Jeff Foxworthy delivers laughs with Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary II: More Words You Thought You Knew the Meaning Of (Villard, $16.95, 1400065682). He will also be on the View and Fox & Friends.

Also on the Early Show: Fred Brock, author of Health Care on Less Than You Think: The New York Times Guide to Getting Affordable Coverage (Times Books, $15, 0805079807).

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Today on Good Morning America: Dr. Michael Roizen, co-author of You on a Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management (Free Press, $25, 0743292545). Caveat emptor: after a recent appearance on Oprah by co-author Mehmet Oz, this book is in thin supply.

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Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Jay Allison, host and curator of NPR's series "This I Believe" and editor of the new book, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women (Holt, $23, 0805080872).

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Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Clifford Chase, author of Winkie (Grove, $16.95, 0802118305). As the show describes the segment: "After all this fiddle about souls and truth, finally a nice straightforward novel about a teddy bear who comes to life and is accused of terrorism. Chase talks about memory and childhood, as we explore the role toys play as they pass from generation to generation, and the way America was transformed as it moved from the racism of the fifties to the terrorism of today."

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Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Muhammad Yunus, winner last month of the Nobel Peace Prize and author of Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (PublicAffairs, $15, 1586481983).



Books & Authors

Awards: National Book Award Winners

The winners of this year's National Book Awards, announced last night in New York City (the show airs this weekend on Book TV):
  • Fiction: Richard Powers for The Echo Maker (FSG)
  • Nonfiction: Timothy Egan for The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Young People's Literature: M.T. Anderson for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party (Candlewick)
  • Poetry: Nathaniel Mackey for Splay Anthem (New Directions)


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: A Conversation with Len Vlahos, Part 2

Yesterday we spoke with Len Vlahos, director of Booksense.com, about the present, and future, role of bookstore Web sites, as well as the relative merits of Booksense.com Web sites in particular. This time we ask him about the dark side.

Robert Gray: What are the disadvantages in using Booksense.com?

Len Vlahos: There are no disadvantages! Just kidding.
 
The product is templated, so of course the look and feel is somewhat restrictive in that booksellers must work within the framework of the template. We did add a new template at BEA this year, so we now have two main families of templates (each with multiple color choices and backgrounds). Here's an example of each: Fountain Bookstore and Village Books.

That said, there is a non-templated solution we refer to as a "self-authored site" or SAS. In this case a bookseller develops, maintains and hosts the front-end and integrates our back-end tools--database, search engine, shopping cart, etc. Here are a few examples of stores using an SAS solution: Cody's Books, Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Elliott Bay Book Co.

In addition to being templated, another current shortcoming is that we don't yet handle non-book product (DVD, music, toys, used books, apparel, etc.) in any significant way. However, in preparing for the ISBN-13, we're well positioned to add non-book modules in the future. It's on our development to-do list, but we don't yet have an ETA.
 
RG: Some bookstores have been loyal BookSense.com stores for a long time. Others have been with you for a period and then left. Still others opted from the outset to use alternatives to build and sustain their Web sites. Having observed these patterns and talked to your clients for some time now, do you have a sense of why booksellers stay with you, leave or never join in the first place?
 
LV: I think the booksellers who STAY with us do so for a few reasons:
 
a. The product is very good for the price. It provides a way for booksellers to promote their stores, promote their events and allow their customers to search for and buy books. This is all available at below-market cost. If a bookseller were to try to build a comparable system on their own, it would be much more expensive. (As noted earlier, having a presence online--BookSense.com or otherwise--is becoming a reality and requirement of 21st century retailing.)
 
b. We're continually improving and upgrading the product in response to user requests. We spend a lot of time talking with, and, more important, listening to our users. Most of the innovation and technical change in the BookSense.com product has been the direct result of bookseller feedback. We hold a users group meeting at BEA every year, and we convene the BookSense.com Users Council (a group of volunteer booksellers providing advice and feedback) at least once a year.
 
c. Our customer service is excellent. Our team is very quick and thorough in responding to member questions and concerns.

Most often members LEAVE the program because they perceive the cost to be high: BookSense.com costs $225 a month ($245 if you're uploading your inventory), and we know that's not an insignificant sum, particularly for smaller-volume stores. Some of those stores come to the program with an expectation that they're going to pay for their Web site directly through online sales. When that happens, it's the exception, not the rule. We try help our members understand that the Web site is at least as much a marketing tool as it is a sales tool, and not to enter this arena with unrealistic expectations. In addition, we know that a lot of transactions that may start online (with a book search or event list), are completed in the bricks-and-mortar store.
 
As to why booksellers NEVER join at all, there are probably a few reasons. First, you need to be an ABA member, a storefront retailer and a participant in the Book Sense marketing program. I also think the notion of having to manage a Web site can seem overwhelming. There are only so many hours in the day and we definitely appreciate how many of those hours are quickly filled with the myriad tasks facing booksellers. (A lot of us, myself included, are former booksellers.) What we've tried to do with BookSense.com is make the management of a site as simple as possible, hopefully shrinking the demand on a bookseller's time, but that message is not always easy to communicate.
 
RG: Many booksellers who tell me they became disenchanted with the service cite the monthly fees versus online sales as a prime reason for leaving. Were their expectations unreasonable? What can or should an indie expect from a BookSense.com site as far as selling titles online is concerned? And if they aren't selling books, what do you tell them to convince them to stay with the plan?
 
LV: I think I've answered the money/sales questions, but would like to make two other quick points here:
 
a. ABA doesn't try to "convince" members to stay with the program if it's clearly not to the benefit of the member. We're a not-for-profit association, and our mission is to promote and protect the interests of our independent bookstore members. If BookSense.com isn't working as a solution, we advise our members to drop it, and have, on occasion steered them toward other solutions.
 
b. That said, it's hard to evaluate the success or failure of a Web site (as either a marketing or sales tool) if that site hasn't been properly promoted, so we do encourage our members to market their Web sites adequately. Often I find myself in a great bookstore with a great Web site (BookSense.com or otherwise) and see no evidence that a Web site exists. We've been preaching this message at our educational sessions, and I think it's starting to take root; I'm hearing of more stores including the store's URL on store signs, window posters, etc.

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In Part 3, we'll discuss the Booksense.com search engine and Len Vlahos will share examples of some of his favorite bookstore variations on the Booksense.com theme.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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