Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 26, 2007
Quotation of the Day
Notes: Musical Chairs; Bay Books Shuts; Potter's Pull
"We were finding people staying for hours and hours and not necessarily buying books," said Juliana Wood, a Borders district marketing manager. "We obviously hope browsing turns to purchasing, but that's a chance you take when you offer people a really comfortable setting." Chainwide Borders has reduced "soft seating" by 30%, the Sun said.
For its part, although Barnes & Noble has cut back on comfy seating at its Power Plant store in the Inner Harbor, as a whole, the company is sitting tight on the matter. B&N CEO Mitchell Klipper told the Sun: "We have more chairs now than ever. It's a question junior analysts say. They say people sit and read and they don't buy. Let them read all they want. We encourage them to stay a while. They will show up at the register eventually."
The ABA's Meg Smith agreed. "This is anecdotal, but my guess is there is more seating now than ever at our stores. It's no secret seating makes shopping more comfortable."
Kathy Harig, owner of Mystery Loves Company bookshops in Fells Point and Oxford, Md., said that although her stores are known for comfortable atmosphere, bookshelves have a priority over furniture. "I did notice at Bibelot they spent an inordinate amount of money on sofas. People ended up reading and not purchasing. My husband actually read an entire book at Barnes & Noble. And no, he didn't buy the book."
Bay Books, Monterey, Calif., has closed, the Monterey Herald reported. Owned for the past four years by Joti and Homajeet Sidhu, the store had struggled for at least a year, according to other retailers. The closing leaves the Works in Pacific Grove as the only independent, general-interest bookstore in the area.
In response to Bay Books's closing, the Works has added new John Steinbeck and local history books, in addition to used books, according to co-owner Robert Marcum.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and seven other Potter books, including the $65 deluxe edition (ranked at #3), take eight of the top 14 spots on USA Today's Top 50 list this week.
No spoilers, please! To "help shield her community against the virulent spoilers," Downers Grove, Ill., resident Emily Temple-Wood, 13, made warning pins to sell at the release of HP7. The Naperville Sun reported that the pin options were "I'm not finished, no spoilers please!" or "I'm finished, let's discuss."
Staff members at Anderson's Bookshop loved the idea, and the pins went on sale the week before the book's release. "We couldn't keep them in stock," said children's department manager Kathleen March. "By Saturday, a woman came by for her book and asked about the pins, and we didn't have any left. She was so disappointed, because she was leaving for a business trip and had wanted to wear the pin on the plane."
Coblentz is joining Harry N. Abrams as director of marketing, effective
August 13. She has been associate marketing director at Broadway Books.
Justin Nisbit joins Abrams as director of digital initiatives in the marketing department, also effective August 13. He has been web manager at Workman Publishing.
Abrams's v-p of sales Mary Wowk is now responsible for marketing, too.
Follett Higher Education Group recently reorganized the intellectual
properties department's trade and computer products areas, reassigning
some duties, letting go four people and creating "a new senior level
role overseeing the trade and computer products business." In an
announcement, the company
said that "increasing sales in these areas is critical for [the
Under the reorganization, Ed Rodham has become interim senior director; all trade buying and planning has been combined under Ida Van Boven, director, trade books; and computer products buying and planning has been combined under Joe Hocking.
Four people lost jobs in the reorganization:
- Ilisa Good, national bargain book buyer, who had been with the company two years.
- Ken Kiernan, national professional reference buyer, law and medical. He had been with Follett for seven years.
- Colleen Sherburne, director of sourcing for books and computers, a 24-year veteran of the company.
- Connie Corzilius Spasser, writer, who had been with the company eight years.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: The Savior
Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Eugene Drucker, author of The Savior: A Novel (S&S, $23, 9781416543299/1416543295).
Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Jim Crace, author of The Pesthouse (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385520751/0385520751). As the show put it, "Jim Crace pulls the wool over the Bookworm's eyes as he describes the way he makes lies masquerade as truth in this post-apocalyptic tale of toxified America."
Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: historian Robert Dallek, author of Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power (HarperCollins, $32.50, 9780060722302/0060722304).
Toninght on the Colbert Report: speechwriter and political campaign strategist Robert Shrum, author of No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner (S&S, $28, 9780743296519/0743296516).
This Weekend on Book TV: The Real All Americans
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 website.
Saturday, July 28
12 p.m. Best of the Best from the University Presses. From this year's American Library Association conference in Washington, D.C., five librarians discuss their top picks among the books published recently by university presses.
6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 1990, Paul Taylor, author of How They Run: Electing a President in an Age of Mediaocracy, explored the increasing importance of media to the election process.
7 p.m. Former deputy undersecretary of defense Jed Babbin, who argues in his In the Words of Our Enemies (Regnery, $24.95, 9781596985230/1596985232) that demagogues, dictators and death squads are openly threatening the U.S. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:30 p.m.)
8 p.m. History on Book TV. In an event held at Prince Books, Norfolk, Va., Ed Offley, author of Scorpion Down: Sunk by the Soviets, Buried by the Pentagon--The Untold Story of the USS Scorpion (Perseus, $27.50, 9780465051854/0465051855), explores the sinking of the USS Scorpion, the submarine reported missing on May 27, 1968. He contends that the government hid the truth behind the sub's disappearance--an attack by the Soviets that might have led to war. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 p.m.)
9 p.m. After Words. Suzan Harjo interviews Sally Jenkins, author of The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed A Game, A People, A Nation (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385519878/0385519877). Jenkins recounts the history of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a boarding school for Native Americans that became noted for its innovative football team, which was coached by "Pop" Warner and featured Jim Thorpe as its star player. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)
10. p.m. History on Book TV. Vincent Bugliosi, author of Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Norton, $49.95, 9780393045253/0393045250), discusses his 1,600-page defense of the Warren Commission Report and challenges popular conspiracy theories, dismissing many of them as "silly." (Re-airs Sunday at 2:15 p.m.)
Sunday, July 29
10.a.m. James Reston, Jr., author of The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews (Harmony, $22, 9780307394200/0307394204), recounts the televised interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon that took place in 1977, three years after Nixon resigned as president.
11 a.m. Public Lives. Stephen Hayes, author of Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President (HarperCollins, $27.95, 9780060723460/0060723467), talks with radio host Jim Bohannon about his new biography of the vice president. In preparing the book, the author was given special access to Cheney, his family and his friends. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)
Books & Authors
Children's Reviews: Mind Your Manners; Do Unto Otters
Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners by Laurie Keller (Holt, $16.95, 9780805079968/0805079963, 40 pp., ages 5-8, September 2007)
This pair of books makes practicing manners painless, offering both everyday etiquette that anyone can use and a large dose of humor. The furry, top-hatted hero of Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf feels discouraged when he ventures to the Villain Villa Mail Center and discovers "Bills, bills, bills." He has clearly done a lot of damage (e.g., "to the homes of Pig #1 and Pig #2"). However, he perks up at the sight of an invitation to the library's Annual Storybook Tea, and his best friend, a crocodile, gives him a crash course on how to be a good guest. Youngsters will enjoy singing along with the jingle that B.B. Wolf creates as a reminder to be on his best behavior ("Sip your tea/ and never slurp,/ Say 'excuse me'/ if you burp") nearly as much as the tea party's clever guest list (Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Pigs and the Gingerbread Boy among them).
When the Otter family moves in next door, a wise owl counsels Mr. Rabbit to Do Unto Otters as he would have otters do unto him. This prompts Mr. Rabbit to think, "How would I like otters to treat me?" With the signature asides Keller originated in her The Scrambled States of America, the author-artist plays out various comical scenarios while teaching youngsters to mind their p's and q's. "They should know when to say 'please,' " says Mr. Rabbit, on the left of a spread, while on the right, a bee asks the mother Otter, "Would you like me to stop stinging you?" and she responds, "Yes, please." (When the bee later asks, "Would you like me to sting you now?" she responds, "No, thank you.") Even on a page of nine vignettes about other niceties, Keller inserts witty touches. The "Opening the door for someone" example depicts the child Otter offering a snake entry ("After you"). Who knew etiquette could be so entertaining?--Jennifer M. Brown
Wrong Edition Corrected
In our June 28 review of Before I Die by Jenny Downham (Random/Fickling), we cited the wrong edition. The trade hardcover price is $15.99, and the ISBN is/are 9780385751551/0385751559.
Robert Gray: Neil Strandberg on Spanish Language Books
The question I asked booksellers was a deceptively simple one: How does your bookstore currently serve--actively as well as reactively--the Spanish language book market in your community; and how has this market changed for you in recent years?
Neil Strandberg, manager of operations for the Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo., offered a frank response, which is worth considering with minimal intrusion from my editorial pencil:
"In answering your question," Neil wrote, "I have focused my attention less on those who can freely choose to read Spanish or English and more on those who are unlikely to read English or prefer to read Spanish. I believe this distinction carries through to the Tattered Cover's historical consideration of the Spanish-reading market: we've thought in terms of getting Spanish-only readers to the store, not increasing Spanish language sales to the bilingual, a whole other strategic proposition.
"The Tattered Cover carries Spanish language literature: fiction, nonfiction and children's books. You'll forgive me if I don't share specific data on sales or trends. The Tattered Cover never shares such information. That said, I can certainly report on our experience and I'll try to relate it to other things going on.
"First, it is the case that most of our sales are to libraries and schools (mostly the children's books) and to individual students of Spanish at the high school and college levels.
"The Tattered Cover stores do not experience what I would call a sizable population of Spanish as a first--or only--language customers, certainly not at all in proportion to the number of Spanish-speaking (first, second, only) people living in Denver.
"In the early-to-mid-1990s we attempted outreach into the Spanish language community, at one time hosting a breakfast of Denver's Hispanic community leadership and activists with the aim of learning how to reach this audience. At that time, I was on the periphery of these discussions and so can't report all the terms of conversation, resolutions, projects or programs. I can report, however, that these attempts did not result in the change we were hoping for.
"This all is what it is, I guess, but it also requires some level of consideration and analysis, though we have not elected to study the question and/or renew the steps we took more than a decade ago.
"As it has rolled around in my head over the years, the following pieces (and others, no doubt) have all played, and continue to play, a role:
"1. The Tattered Cover does not (and has not) had consistent, reliable Spanish speakers on staff available to help Spanish-only (or Spanish preferred) speakers and readers. It probably takes about two minutes for word to get out that it is difficult to get Spanish language help.
"2. I have no data to support this, but I will nonetheless argue that not only is there de facto ethnic segregation in Denver, but also our core customer demographic--by income, education and self-evident ethnicity--does not include Denver's Spanish-speaking population and our work of late has been to retain this core. It follows that our stores have not only been remote from immigrant neighborhoods (where Spanish-only and preferred readers are likely to live) but also in locales where Spanish-only readers are not likely to shop.
"3. A couple of years ago controversy erupted at the Denver Public Library when it was discovered by some conservative immigration reform and cultural conservative activists that DPL was stocking adult-themed (in their view) fotonovelas. The media coverage helped reveal that these fotonovelas are extremely popular with Spanish-speaking immigrants (Mexican, to be more precise). Google 'Denver Public Library' and 'fotonovela' for more info.
"Well, one might argue we should carry the fotonovelas instead of Garcia-Marquez or Clancy or Atkins, but we have carried the fotonovelas without success. Is this because nobody knew? Or knew but for any combination of the reasons I'm enumerating chose not to come?
"4. The NEA's Reading at Risk report (page 24 of my .pdf) makes two points: The population of Hispanic (and presumably the population of Spanish readers) has grown considerably at the same time as 'literary reading' (presumably some proportion in Spanish) within that population has declined. Does this mean there's more opportunity or that the work is increasingly steep?
"5. In-store foot traffic for ESL has declined, reducing exposure to the literature. Has ESL migrated to the Web? Kinko's? Organizations ordering through other channels? Immigrant retailers about which I'm ignorant?"
As Neil Strandberg's response indicates, the issue is complex, the surface only scratched in this brief series, as questions lead to questions.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)