Notes: Starbucks Grabs Doggy Tale; New York Writes E-tailers
Starbucks's next book selection, which will be featured in all the company's stores in the U.S., is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Harper, $23.95, 9780061537936/0061537934), USA Today reported. Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment, told the paper that the novel, narrated by a dog, is "an inspirational story told from such a unique perspective." [Editor's note: for a unique perspective on the book and Garth Stein, see publisher Jenn Risko's story below, "The Art of Meeting an Author in a Cafe."] The book will be published May 13.
Other Starbucks book selections in the past two years have included For One More Day by Mitch Albom, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and Beautiful Boy by David Sheff.
New York State has sent notices to the 500 largest online retailers in the state, "saying they have to register and begin collecting sales taxes by June 1," Newsday reported. "Companies must comply if they do $10,000 worth of business in the state and have agents within the state acting on their behalf. If they don't comply, the state can audit and assess them for past liabilities."
The new law requiring out-of-state e-tailers to collect sales tax was passed as part of the state's new budget.
Amazon.com, one of the main companies affected by the law, had no comment this week. In February, however, Amazon v-p Paul Misener called the measure a "tax increase" and questioned the constitutionality of the law. According to Newsday, "Many observers have speculated that the law will be challenged, pointing to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said out-of-state retailers could not be required to collect sales tax unless they had a brick-and-mortar presence in a state."
Proponents of such measures cite Amazon's affiliate program as a sufficient nexus to be required to collect sales tax on purchases in New York and other states with sales taxes.
After a mistrial and many delays, prosecutors have dismissed all charges against Gordon Lee, the Rome, Ga., comics shop owner who was charged with obscenity for giving a copy of Alternative Comics #2 to a minor during a street fair. The comic book included a depiction of Pablo Picasso nude in a non-sexual context.
Neil Gaiman announced the dismissal at New York Comic Con last week. Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which spent $100,000 helping to defend Lee, commented: "This is a victory for Gordon and a victory for comics. For more than three years, the comics world has stood behind Gordon's innocence and now we are vindicated."
Edith Wharton's home in Lenox, Mass., has received another stay of execution, today's New York Times reported. Faced with foreclosure because of financial problems (Shelf Awareness, April 2, 2008), the group that owns and runs the Mount, as the house is called, received another postponement in its deadline, this time to May 24, from a local bank. The foundation has raised $800,000 of the needed $3 million.
The Desert Sun profiled Holly Escobedo, who opened the Book Rack, La Quinta, Calif., 10 years ago. The store, which stocks used books and whose most popular categories are mysteries, suspense and romances, not only sells the titles but rents them. Customers can rent bestsellers for $3.50 a week or $4.50 for two weeks.
Ruebén Martinez, owner of Librería Martinez bookstore, Santa Ana,
Calif., and recipient of a $500,000 "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation
in 2004 for his efforts to promote reading among California's Latinos,
is now struggling to keep his bookstore open, according to the Orange County Register.
The Register noted that Martinez, "a barber by training . . . used to tell his customers about the importance of reading while he cut their hair--even sending them home with books and magazines. Out of that grew his bookstore, which specializes in Latino authors and bilingual children's books."
"My accountant says, 'You can't go on like this, you're losing money,'" said Martinez, who will meet soon with other business owners and advisors to formulate a plan for remaining open. "We're behind on everything. We're just behind. . . . It's just that times are hard right now. I just don't have any answers right now. I do want to continue. I do."
NPR featured an interview with Martinez in 2004.
Bookselling competition down the street or out at the mall is one thing, but what happens when your competitor arrives at the docks? The Jamaica Gleaner reported that "book merchants in Montego Bay are concerned with the significant decrease in sales since the MV Logos II book ship docked at the Montego Freeport on April 16.
"It has been like a ghost town in here since the book ship arrived and we have noticed a significant decline in our sales ever since," said Marion Brooks, branch manager of Sangster's Book Stores.
Anthony Chambers, managing director of Chambers Book Store, added, "They are operating a business like the rest of us who have to pay taxes, and if they are not paying any tax while they are here, then I don't think that they should just come in and eat away our profits while they are here."
"Delicious books for foodies, travel fans" were featured by the Detroit Free Press, which advised readers to "stir in the magic ingredient of travel and you will have an endless supply of food for thought."
Young Chinese readers have mixed feelings about buying books online, according to the Xinhua News Agency. While some praise the saving of time and money, others remain hesitant.
"I am not comfortable with online buying, as the brief descriptions on websites don't give me a comprehensive view of the books," said 27-year-old Zhao Zheng, who reportedly spends half of his salary on books. "I have to visit bookstores and browse part of the story before making a final decision."