Notes: Houghton Holds on Acquisitions; e-Random House
In an unusual sign of the times, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has begun
"a temporary freeze" on acquiring new books in its trade and reference
division. A spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that nonetheless "there are still things being considered by the acquisition committee" and wouldn't say how long the freeze would last.
The division publishes about 400 titles a year. The Journal estimated that a three-month hiatus on acquisitions would lead to 50 fewer titles eventually.
Random House, which already has more than 8,200 new and backlist titles available as e-books, is adding another 6,000 backlist titles to its e-book collection during the "coming months." The titles will be made available simultaneously to all Random's digital retailers and distributors and be downloadable to all reading devices and platforms that feature digital book content supported by accounts. For the first time, the company will offer its entire current electronic catalogue, as well as future titles, in the e-Pub format.
In a statement, Random chairman and CEO Markus Dohle said that he believes physical books will continue to be "the dominant reading format for many years" but noted that "more people everyday are enjoying reading in the electronic format."
Random House's v-p for digital operations, Matt Shatz, told the Huffington Post that e-book sales have increased by "triple digit percentages in 2008, thanks in part to Amazon.com's Kindle reader." Still, e-books are estimated to account for 1% or less of book sales.
The new Borders in New Orleans, La., which is the first chain bookstore to return to the city, has had a soft opening and will have its grand opening the weekend of December 6.
Some in the city have welcomed the opening as a sign of progress following Hurricane Katrina. A few have noted ironies in the location of the new Borders: a former funeral home. A "paranormal investigator" offered to check out the place for spirits, although the developer turned him down, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The arrival of Borders has also spurred some competitors to strategize. According to the Gambit Weekly, two weeks ago, Octavia Books co-owner Tom Lowenburg hosted a potluck dinner with other retailers to focus on how to educate the public about the importance of buying local. Among other measures, some in the group will do a repeat of last Saturday's New Orleans Unchained event on December 6.
The Harvard Crimson interviews Frank Kramer, who recently sold Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass. The man whom author Anne Bernay calls "an institution" talks about his life as a bookseller, from joining the family business at age 20 after his father died unexpectedly to various changes he made in the store over the years to adapt to changing markets such as offering paperbacks and used textbooks.
Bright idea of the day: Beginning next month, Powell's Books will begin drawing power from what it calls "one of the largest solar electric installations in the state of Oregon," 540 panels atop the 60,000-sq.-ft. building that's home to the bookseller's warehouse and Powells.com. Powell's solar system, which should pay for itself in five years, will replace about a quarter of the building's electricity usage.
In a statement, owner Michael Powell said that the project "made perfect sense for our business financially, and it supports our values as a company. We are continually looking for ways for our business to lessen its impact on the environment."
---Noting that "the beauty of this store lies in the fact that you do not know what you will find each time you walk in," the Tartan, Carnegie Mellon's student newspaper, profiled Caliban Book Shop, Pittsburgh, Pa.
A pair of trailers for the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, due in theaters next July, have been released.
The 21st annual Independent & Small Press Book Fair takes place on Saturday, December 6, and Sunday, December 7, at the New York Center for Independent Publishing at 20 W. 44th Street in New York City. More than 100 presses will exhibit. Programming includes a session on the future of independent publishing, a literary trivia smackdown, how-to advice on memoirs and finding a literary agent, a read-a-thon, conversations with authors and publishers and more.
Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Center at 212-764-7021 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to nycip.org/bookfair.
Sam Scinta, publisher of Fulcrum Publishing, whose headquarters has been in Golden, Colo., for 25 years, is opening a satellite office in Onalaska, Wis., where he hopes "to replicate what we have been able to do at Fulcrum for so long, namely delivering the best nonfiction and fiction books while telling the world about a region, in this case the Upper Midwest. . . . This expansion gives us a chance to reach out to the best authors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and the Dakotas."
Scinta will head the office and is hoping to hire an assistant to act as coordinator with the main office and help with acquisitions.