Notes: RIchard W. Seaver; Stacey's Bookstore to Close
Very sad news: Richard W. Seaver, founder and president of Arcade Publishing, died suddenly on Monday. A memorial service will be announced soon. Arcade asked that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, N.Y. 10012
Stacey's Bookstore, the " iconic shop that called Market Street home for all of its 85 years and had carved out a niche for technical publications," will close in March, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. General manager Tom Allen said the bookshop's sales "had dropped 50% since March 2001. . . . But the final blow was the crumbling economy, which hit hard during the holidays. Stacey's sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 plummeted 15% from the same period in 2007."
"That in itself would not have spelled the end," said Allen. "But it came on top of several years of more gradual decline."
"I'm devastated," added customer Melissa Davis, who had vowed to shop at Stacey's more often in the wake of other indie closings in the Bay area. "If you lose an independent bookstore, you're losing an independent voice."
What's in a holiday sale name? The Yakima, Wash., Herald-Republic reported that one of the major promotions for Inklings Bookshop during the holiday season, its 12 Days of Christmas sale, "prompted lots of purchases, but it also irritated one of the store's customers who felt that he needed to chastise the store and owner Susan Richmond for what he felt was an inappropriate name for the pre-Christmas sale."
The customer wrote, "I'm all for you raking in the big bucks during the holiday season (all businesses must do this to some extent), but it really rankles me that it seems you don't seem to know when Christmas is. Call your pre-Christmas sale 12 Days Before Christmas, or something like that. Prepositions are occasionally important."
Richmond, in the spirit of both seasonal and grammatical propriety, offered her "formal recantation where I hereby annul, back off, backtrack, call back, countermand, disavow, disclaim, disown, renounce, repeal, rescind and otherwise unsay what I said before. The Twelve Days of Christmas at Inklings Bookshop shall be forevermore, only after Christmas, but do keep an eye out for next year's Christmas Countdown!"
"East Harlem is defying the odds, becoming a hotbed for book lovers," reported WNYC, noting that during "the past year and a half, one Latino-centric bookstore opened, and the neighborhood's cultural institutions, cafés and bars are hosting weekly literary events."
The home page for Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., features a video in which co-owner Vivien Jennings shares her thoughts on the bookshop's mission.
Jifeng Bookstore, which author Zhang Hong once described as a "small spiritual space in the material forest," will "stay open after successful rent negotiations," Shanghai Daily reported. "It had been feared that Jifeng might close when its 10-year contract expired at the end of last year and store officials had been negotiating with Shentong managers in order to keep the rent affordable."
Conversations With God author Neale Donald Walsch has admitted that a Christmas pageant essay he recently posted at his Belief.net blog was actually the work of Candy Chand, whose "Christmas Love" was published a decade ago in the spiritual magazine Clarity and reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul in 2000.
The New York Times reported that "except for a different first paragraph in which Mr. Walsch wrote that he could 'vividly remember' the incident, his Dec. 28 Beliefnet post followed, virtually verbatim, Ms. Chand's previously published writing." The blog post has been removed and, according to the Times, "Beliefnet said Mr. Walsch had withdrawn from the site's blogging roster."
In the Guardian, Robert McCrum suggested that an economically dismal year "can only be good news for secondhand book dealers. So my prediction for 2009 is that the devoted book reader will beat a path ever more urgently to those forgotten, out-of-the-way corners of musty tranquility of which the shopping class knows nothing. . . . Out with the new book, and in with the old: that's my statement for this week."
"Obama + Books = Good Reading," declared the Washington Post in its book roundup of "serious, funny and commemorative takes on the Obama candidacy over the past year."
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill headed a list compiled by Booktrust from "more than 2,000 end-of-year recommendations published in the British press ahead of Christmas," according to the Guardian. The novel was named "book of the year" 17 times, followed by the top nonfiction choice, Richard Holmes's The Age of Wonder (15), and Zoe Heller's The Believers (14).
A digital archive of documents, photographs and books from Ernest Hemingway's time in Cuba is now available to scholars. The Guardian reported that the materials "sat for decades in the dank, mouldy basement of Hemingway's home seven miles outside Havana. Among the gems are an unpublished epilogue to his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls and a screenplay for The Old Man and the Sea."