Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 26, 2005
Quotation of the Day
Win Some, Lose Some
"Nice store," says one of the pair.
The other responds: "Yeah, but it's no Barnes & Noble."
Bookselling Notes: Library Suit; Paperless Co-op
The FBI is not using the well-known section 215 of the Patriot Act, which encompasses bookstores, too; rather it is using a subpoena called a national security letter. ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said the case "shows that our supposed hysteria over the Patriot Act wasn't so hysterical after all."
Doing away with a major irritant for booksellers, HarperCollins has begun to offer a "paperless" co-op process, Bookselling This Week reported. Under the "Co-op Direct" program, retailers have several options for getting co-op credit. With the paperless option, they can send a single form to Harper and at the end of each month, e-mail a spreadsheet showing what titles have been advertised. (Booksellers are supposed to keep receipts on file for three years.) The ABA's David Walker, director of special projects, called the program "a big timesaver for booksellers, and we hope it will serve as a model for other publishers."
In a first, the National Association of College Stores and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association are jointly sponsoring a college bookstore shop talk session Friday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at Colgate Bookstore in Hamilton, N.Y. The group will discuss general book department issues, Web sites, university support, community involvement, digital textbook matters and more.
While shop talks have been held regularly in various regions and in central New York state, this is the first one involving NAIBA geared to college stores, Rob Stahl, general book manager of Colgate Bookstore, told Shelf Awareness. He hopes 15-20 stores will participate, including college booksellers and general booksellers in college towns. For more information and to RSVP, contact Stahl at email@example.com.
In a nice pas de deux, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops and the Milwaukee Ballet are holding storytelling hours at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 10, in all five Schwartz stores. Dancers will share books and stories; children are encouraged to wear dance attire.
Andrew Laties, who runs a bookstore he founded at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Mass., and owned the Children's Bookstore in Chicago for 10 years, writes that his Rebel Bookseller (Vox Pop, $14.95, 0975276344) is stocked at Ingram and available at, of all places, Amazon.com. SCB Distributors will have bookstore distribution set soon. (He has 150 opening orders from bookstores.) Part of his tour for the book includes three "bookstore invention" classes at the Vox Pop store in Brooklyn, N.Y., to be held next month--and at any other stores that want to host. For more information, check out his blog at www.rebelbookseller.com.
The Arizona Web Devil noted that the newly renovated ASU Bookstore at Arizona State University, Tempe, has added a Starbucks, magazine area and computer products section. Borders was taken as a model; "the coffee-magazine-book combination that the remodel created brought to life the idea" store management had wanted to create.
It might be only a throwaway line, but in a followup to yesterday's story about HMV planning to bid for Ottakar's, Bloomberg quoted a London stock market analyst as saying that Barnes & Noble, which has no stores outside the U.S., "might also consider bidding." Today other reports from the U.K. have added Borders, which owns Books etc. and has some superstores in the U.K., to the list of possible contenders to buy Ottakar's. Neither company has expressed any public interest in Ottakar's.
The Millbrook Voice Ledger in New York profiled the Recycled Reading Book Exchange, opened in June by Lori Huff and Sherri Datres. With 13,000 used titles, the store has a snack bar and is very clean. "We didn't want people to feel like inferior citizens for wanting to buy inexpensive books," Huff told the paper. "And I'm allergic to dust."
One of the more unusual books-and-other-product retail combinations has apparently melted, the Pioneer Press reported. Just Thinking Books and Ice Cream in Hastings, Minn., is closing today. Owner Pat Dymacek added ice cream to the stock when she bought the store two and a half years ago. Impending lease renewal led her to throw in the towel. She blamed an influx of big-box retailers (which have included Wal-Mart, Cub Foods and Target) to the town and her own business inexperience (for example, the lack of a Web site) for the decision.
Media and Movies
No Fairy-Tale Beginning for Brothers Grimm
Books & Authors
A Contest That Really Will Launch
The winning bookseller, chosen by Quirk Books's independent judging organization, will win a "zero-gravity" flight, the closest anyone can come to flying in space without a rocket. A zero-g jet aircraft flies to the edge of the earth's atmosphere in a parabolic flight pattern at which point passengers feel weightlessness and can spin and tumble like astronauts in space. The flight lasts several hours; a couple days of training is needed. Any bookstore employee or employee of any retail outlet selling books may enter the contest before October 1 at www.quirkbooks.com/bookbuyergiveaway/html.
Consumers will get a chance to rocket to the heights, too: on October 1, Quirk and Space Adventures are launching a consumer sweepstakes for a sub-orbital flight for two; the pair will leave Earth's atmosphere. The contest goes until June 2006. Registration and information is at www.quirkbooks.com.
Attainment: New Books in Early September
Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich (Metropolitan, $24, 0805076069) appears September 6. The author of Nickel and Dimed goes back undercover to explore the world of the white-collar unemployed.
Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell (Hyperion, $24.95, 0786868198) shines September 6. Four simple words: Sex, and, the, City.
Lost Gold of the Republic: The Remarkable Quest for the Greatest Shipwreck Treasure of the Civil War Era by Priit J. Vesilind (Shipwreck Heritage Press, 1933034068, $24.50) rises September 6. The Republic, a Confederate paddlewheeler, was overwhelmed by a hurricane off the Carolina coast in 1865. The ship was carrying a tremendous amount of gold which, after its discovery in 2003, was estimated to be worth over $75 million. The full story of the wreck, discovery, and reclamation is told here, in book form, for the first time since the PBS National Geographic special entitled Civil War Gold.
Annie Duke: How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker by Annie Duke (Hudson Street Press, $24.95, 1594630127) antes up September 8. The top-ranked female poker player offers a sneak peek at the World Series of Poker from an insider's perspective, talks about her journey to the card table and analyzes winning hands.
Talking Back: To Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels by Andrea Mitchell (Viking, $25.95, 0670034037), a memoir by the longtime NBC correspondent, has its say September 9.
Powell's and University: Used Books Team
Staff at the University Book Store had discussed buying and selling used general books "for years," Mark Mouser, general book manager, told Shelf Awareness. But several factors "pushed the issue to the forefront." They included the major market changes in the past five years, particularly the spread of new-book sales to many non-bookstore sites and Amazon.com's listing of used books with new books. The store finally decided to take the plunge "in order to offer our customers more choice in selection and pricing."
While the store knows the used textbook business very well, used general books are "a whole different animal," as Mouser put it. For one, with text buybacks, condition doesn't matter. "It can be the rattiest copy, but if a book is on the list, it's bought," he continued. "This change may be tricky for some of our customers."
Like Powell's, University Book Store wants to mix new and used titles together. Until it builds up "critical mass," however, University will display the titles in small fixtures within categories, so that, for example, in the history section there will be a fixture of used history books.
The store will start off selling used books in the main store and after a year consider selling them at its two largest branches, in Bellevue and Mill Creek, too. It will also begin buying used books regularly in the main store, probably three times a week and seven days a week by appointment, but expand that in six months. It plans to buy at some of the other stores, including the Bellevue, Mill Creek and Tacoma branches, a couple days a month on a set schedule "so customers will know when we'll be there."
The store's buying and selling policies for used books will likely be similar to Powell's, Mouser said. Most will be priced at 50% off the retail price and the store will pay about 25%--with 20% more for credit.
The store will put the used books into its inventory control system, which is requiring some extra work, and in a few months hopes to list titles on its Web site and list with abebooks.com, too. University Book Store is one of the first college stores to buy and sell used general books.
For Powell's, working with University Book Store grew easily out of a longtime relationship between the two stores, both member of the Independent Booksellers Consortium. Powell's has done "satellite buying" expeditions, usually lasting 10 days, in the last year in Eugene, Ore., Austin, Tex., and last September in Seattle. During the Seattle trip, with University Book Store's help, Powell's set up across the street from the store's main branch. "While we were there, Mark and a couple other University booksellers hung around, watched the operation and soaked it up," Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz told Shelf Awareness. "When we talked with them about coming back this year, it evolved" into the current program.
Right after Labor Day, Mouser and four other University Book Store people will go to Portland and train for two days in several Powell's stores. During the Seattle buy, 8-10 Powell's employees will rotate through Seattle, with four working fulltime any given day. University Book Store staff, including everyone in the general books department, will spend some time assisting. (In Seattle, Powell's is buying for itself and will sell the books nationwide.) Asked about costs or payments, Sontz said, "We worked out an agreement based on what we each are offering. They're offering space; we're offering training."
Noting that readers are becoming more comfortable buying and selling used books and losing the "misconception that used bookstores are old, smelly and dusty," Sontz called the expansion of used book sales in new-book bookstores "a wonderful trend. There is no scarcity of books. Many more people can be involved in this business, and Powell's Books can play a major role in that. We would be thrilled to do this kind of project with other stores."