The Tours Must Go On
Call it a freakeffect. Thanks again to Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics,
we continue to hear from booksellers about the efficacy of author tours
and appearances. Today two more observations about which kinds of
authors make for the best tour candidates, the long-term effect of an
appearance and how important authors' interaction with booksellers can
Valerie Ryan, owner, Cannon Beach Book Co., Cannon Beach, Ore., writes:
We here at the edge of the world are not exactly in the loop when it
comes to author signings. My store is not set up for readings, but we
find that if we run an ad in the local paper, put a sign in the window
and put the author right in the middle of the store with a card table
and a pen, WE SELL BOOKS, even in a town of 1,200 souls. Of course, we
pick our spots and do more of this in the summer when we have
hot-and-cold running people.
I used to be a media escort and my observation is as follows: fiction
authors are a dream. They are used to living the solitary life and love
to stay in the best hotel around, have somebody drive them, take them
someplace wonderful for lunch, dinner, etc. They are pleasant and
grateful and unfailingly pleasant about the whole affair.
Nonfiction authors, on the other hand, are not primarily authors. They
are usually gurus in some field and have been prevailed upon to put all
their expertise on paper. They HATE the process. They can't be out of
cell-phone range, are impatient, don't want to talk to the unwashed
multitudes and are bored with the whole thing. Of course, these
observations are not universally true, but darn near!
Christy Hart, campus auxiliary manager/bookstore manager, St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, St. Louis, Mo., writes:
An author appearance does go well beyond that short period of time in
the store! Years of working in independents and excellent
training with Nancy Olson [owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music,
Raleigh, N.C.] are my testimony!
Authors should always remember to be kind to the bookstore staff! We
are the ones placing the books in the hands of the readers. Booksellers
are a bit reluctant to help a book along if the author was rude! Word
travels fast among us about the authors and how they behave!
And what makes a great book even more attractive to readers? A
bookseller who talked with the author and tells the customer, "I read
the book. I met the author and she was wonderful. You will love her
Bookselling Notes: GAO Report on Texts; Ottakars Bid
Textbook prices have risen at twice the rate of inflation, in large
part because the typical college textbook has added colorful
supplements and software, according to the long-awaited General
Accountability Office study of textbook prices that is being released
Text prices have increased 186% since 1986, about 6% a year, well above
the consumer price rise of 72% in the same period, the report said. The
average student spends nearly $900 on texts and supplies, about a
quarter of tuition and fees at a typical public four-year college and
74% of the average community college tuition.
Parts of the report, commissioned by Rep. David Wu (D.-Ore.), were
disseminated yesterday by the state Public Interest Research Groups that have
been attacking textbook prices for several years. The AAP disputed some
of the report's findings, saying that it believes the average students
spends about $600 a year on books and materials, about 6% of full
The report makes no judgment on textbook prices although a slew of
general and campus newspapers are highlighting the report's finding
that prices have risen faster than inflation in the past two decades.
Rep. Wu told the Associated Press that the report found a moderation in
text pricing in the past few years and said there are "a range of things"
that can be done without congressional involvement.
The National Association of College Stores should issue its response and analysis today.
The chairman, managing director and other directors of Ottakars, which
has 130 shops in the U.K., are trying to buy out the company, according
to wire service reports. In early morning trading in London, shares
rose 14%. The company has had a difficult year, in part because of
disappointing Harry Potter sales.
Varsity Plays Costly Real-World Offense
Varsity Group, which began in business in 1997 as an online textbook
seller, continues to run new plays. In May, the company, which has a
substantial business acting as the exclusive online bookstore for
private schools, including some engaging in distance education, bought
Campus Outfitters, which contracts to provide uniforms to private elhi
schools both online and in bricks-and-mortar stores in eight states.
As a result, net sales in the quarter ended June 30 rose 57.4% to $1.7
million, but the company had a net loss of $815,000 compared to a net
gain of $519,000 in the same period a year earlier. For the year to date--the six
months ended June 30--net sales rose 39.2% to $4.1 million and the net
loss was $1.3 million compared to a net gain of $169,000 in the same period a year earlier.
The company attributed part of the loss to higher operating costs
"associated with building and maintaining a brick-and-mortar retail
network." In addition, sales and marketing expenses increased by about
$500,000 in the quarter and $800,000 in the six-month period, part of
which was attributable to the Campus Outfitters acquisition. The rest
of the increase in sales and marketing expenses came from the cost of
doing used book buybacks at more of the company's client schools and an
increase in sales and marketing staff.
Media Heat: Stephen J. Cannell
Today Imus in the Morning gets the lowdown from Stephen J. Cannell
, author of Cold Hit: A Shane Scully Novel
(St. Martin's, $24.95, 0312347308), the latest in the series starring the L.A. homicide detective.
Among the guests yesterday on Leonard Lopate:
- Jay Neugeboren whose new short story collection, News From the American Diaspora and Other Tales of Exile
(University of Texas Press, $16, 0292706618), deals with American Jews in various states of exile and expatriation.
- Telecom journalist Leslie Cauley, author of End of the Line: The Rise and Fall of AT&T (Free Press, $26, 0743250257)
Tomorrow's Diane Rehm Show features a Readers' Review of the 1988 novel Fair and Tender Ladies
by Lee Smith
(Ballantine, $6.99, 034536208X)
Hooks for Books: Through August 31
Tuesday, August 23
Beginning of the astrological zodiac of Virgo, the virgin, lasting
until September 22, anniversary of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti
in 1927, and of the first man-powered flight in 1977 by Bryan Allen in
the Gossamer Condor. Birthday of Edgar Lee Masters (b. 1869), Nelson
DeMille (b. 1943) and Gene Kelly (b. 1912).
Wednesday, August 24
Anniversary of the day in 79 A.D. when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, 1814 when
the British forces invaded Washington, D.C., and burned the Capitol,
the White House and other buildings. Birthday of Max Beerbohm (b.
1872), Jean Rhys (b. 1890), Jorge Luis Borges (b. 1899), A.S. Byatt
(b.1936), Stephen Fry (b. 1957) and Oscar Hijuelos (b. 1951).
Thursday, August 25
Kiss-and-Make-Up Day and the beginning of Be Kind to Humankind Week.
Anniversary of the day Paris was liberated from the Nazis in 1944.
Birthday of Bret Harte (b. 1836), Leonard Bernstein (b. 1918), Martin
Amis (b. 1949) and Wayne Shorter (b. 1933). (See the new Shorter
biography, Footprints by Michelle Mercer (Tarcher, $24.95, 158542353X).)
Friday, August 26
Women's Equality Day. Anniversary of the eruption of Krakatoa on the
Indonesian island of Java in 1883, heard 3,000 miles away and creating
120-ft.-high tidal waves. Birthday of Guillaume Apollinaire (b. 1880),
Christopher Isherwood (b. 1904) and Julio Cortazar (b. 1914).
Saturday, August 27
International Sing Out Day. The anniversary of the first performance of a play in the North American colonies, called Ye Bare and Ye Cubb
by Phillip Alexander Bruce, in 1655, and of the digging of the first
commercial oil well in 1859 in Titusville, Pa. Birthday of Mother
Teresa (b. 1920), Lyndon Baines Johnson (b. 1908), Theodore Dreiser (b.
1871) and Jeanette Winterson (b. 1959).
Sunday, August 28
Catholic Feast of St. Augustine and anniversary of the March on
Washington by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1963, during which he
made his famous "I have a dream" speech. Birthday of the creator of the
Peterson's Nature Guides, Roger Tory Peterson (b. 1908), Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe (b. 1749), Roberson Davies (b. 1913), Janet Frame
(b. 1924) and Rita Dove (b. 1952).
Monday, August 29
Birthday of Ingrid Bergman (b. 1915), John Locke (b. 1704), Oliver Wendell Holmes (b. 1809) and Sen. John McCain (b. 1936).
Tuesday, August 30
Huey P. Long Day in Louisiana. Birthday of Mary Shelley (b. 1797) and R. Crumb (b. 1943).
Wednesday, August 31
National Love Litigating Lawyers Day. Anniversary of the founding of
Solidarity in Poland in 1980. Birthday of Maria Montessori (b. 1870), New Yorker editor William Shawn (b. 1907) and William Saroyan (b. 1908).--Edward Nawotka [email@example.com]
Our Apologies to Keith Ablow
The author of Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson (St. Martin's,
$23.95, 0312352050) is Keith Ablow, not Steve Ablow, an alias supplied
by the Early Show that we did not detect.
Keith Ablow, a psychologist who has written a series starring an FBI forensic psychologist, appears on the Early Show today.