Two weeks after cutting 136 jobs at the corporate level (Shelf Awareness
, February 19, 2009), Borders Group has laid off 742 people at its 516 Borders superstores and 385 Waldenbooks specialty retail outlets, amounting to less than 3% of the company's total workforce. The majority of the positions were just under the store general manager level--usually one or two positions that have included sales managers, inventory managers, training supervisors and merchandise supervisors. The company said it was "reset[ing] its superstore management structure to correspond to sales volume on a store-by-store basis."
In a statement, CEO Ron Marshall said, "Every retailer operating today must manage their business prudently, including staffing stores to maintain strong customer service levels while also making sure that payroll investments align with the reality of sales."
As expected, general retail sales in February were generally disappointing, although Wal-Mart was a bright spot: sales at its stores open at least a year rose 5.1%. Same-store sales elsewhere ranged from drops of 1.6% at Kohl's, 3% at Costco and 4.1% at Target to falls of 15.4% at Nordstrom and 26% at Saks.
Because of Wal-Mart's size and performance, general retail overall had declines of 0.1% to 0.7%, according to several indices. Without Wal-Mart, general retail same-store sales fell about 4%.
"Flat is the new up," Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank Securities told the New York Times. "If you're only doing a zero percent increase, congratulations. You're a winner."
The Times added that while the numbers were bleak, "they were also slightly better than Wall Street was expecting, and a tentative indicator that economic deceleration may be slowing." Some, including Wal-Mart, credited lower gasoline prices with a boost in customer visits and spending. Still, no one is predicting an easy time in the coming months.
As part of its role as official bookseller during the National League of Cities' Green Cities Conference next month, Powell's Books is creating an e-book page on its website from which attendees can purchase e-books, the Salem News reported.
Ken Rosenfeld, NLC program director for the conference, told the paper: "In providing this e-book option, we are offering our conference participants the 'greenest' way to access some of the best books available. We think it's important to make this conference as green as possible and Powell's is helping us do that. Not only does this e-book option provide an additional choice for conference attendees, but it reduces pollution and it saves trees."
The New York Times has introduced three weekly bestseller lists for graphic novels. Categories are hardcover, softcover and manga. See the inaugural hot sellers here.
The San Francisco Chronicle offered a mournful account of one of the last readings at Stacey's, which is closing later this month. The author who spoke on Wednesday, her ninth reading at Stacey's: Cara Black, who coincidentally is today's Book Brahmin, below.
"You know, people don't think of the Financial District as a neighborhood, but it is," Ingrid Nystrom, Stacey's marketing manager, told the paper. Nystrom, who has run 50-100 author events a year during the past 11 years, added, "It will be a real loss to the neighborhood. We've had some people crying."
Congratulations to Tom Benton of Penguin, who has won Publishers Weekly's Rep of the Year Award. He will be honored at BEA and an article about him appears in PW's pre-BEA issue.
You are what you pretend to read? A Guardian feature, "Our guilty secrets: the books we only say we've read," noted that in a recent poll, George Orwell's 1984 topped
the list of the U.K.'s guilty reading secrets: "Asked if they had ever
claimed to read a book when they had not, 65% of respondents said yes
and 42% said they had falsely claimed to have read Orwell's classic in
order to impress. This is followed by Tolstoy's War and Peace (31%), James Joyce's Ulysses (25%) and the Bible (24%)."
The movie tie-in edition of Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup (originally published in 2005 as Q&A) cracked USA Today's top 150 bestseller list this week at 78. According to USA Today, "though 200,000 copies are in print, the paperback has not taken off as quickly as other awards-season titles, such as The Reader (No. 11) or Revolutionary Road
(No. 27)." Scribner publisher Susan Moldow told the paper that sales
have grown as "accolades (for the movie) poured in and the film's
Very sad news: Andy Zuckerman, son of Applewood Books publisher Phil Zuckerman, died of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in Laos, where he taught English. He had graduated from Marlboro College last year with a B.A. in Asian Studies/Development Studies. He was also interested in ecology, sustainable agriculture, bio-medicinal chemistry, psychology, Eastern religion and foreign languages.
A memorial service will be held this Saturday, March 7, at noon at the Old Town Hall, 16 South Road, Bedford, Mass. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Andy Zuckerman Memorial Collection, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, Mass. 01730.
A memorial service for Dr. Stanley Fisher, psychologist, author of Discovering the Power of Self-Hypnosis and husband of Newmarket Press president and publisher Esther Margolis, will be held Sunday, March 22, at noon in the Library of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, 20 West 44th Street in New York City.
The family has established the Dr. Stanley Fisher Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Bronx High School of Science, from which he graduated in 1944, to be awarded to a student who displays a commitment in pursuing anti-smoking or cancer prevention research. Donation checks can be made out to the Alumni Association of the Bronx High School of Science, marked "For Dr. Stanley Fisher Memorial Scholarship Fund," and mailed to the school at Jerome Avenue Station, P.O. Box 145, Bronx, N.Y. 10468-0145.
Sally Sampson Craft has been named the director of digital publishing, a new position, at InterVarsity Press. She was formerly senior e-commerce and communications manager and has worked at the company for more than 20 years in the marketing and sales and creative services departments.
In a statement, publisher Bob Fryling said the company "believes that a comprehensive digital publishing strategy is no longer a luxury but a necessity."