The Chicago Journal reported that Powell's Books "will shutter its South Loop location, at 828 S. Wabash, on September 1, making it the second bookstore in the neighborhood to announce closure in a matter of weeks." Prairie Avenue Bookshop recently declared it is closing (Shelf Awareness, July 28, 2009) next month.
"We've been in the South Loop since the 1970s and we love the South Loop, love the people," said owner Brad Jonas. "But the rents are getting high. Though it's a problem that's probably good for the neighborhood."
Last weekend's opening of Bertram and Oliver Booksellers, Amesbury, Mass., drew "an appreciative crowd," according to the Daily News, which noted that "curious shoppers have been stopping into the store for weeks leading up to the shop's opening, eager to find out what was moving into the high-profile downtown location."
"I can't tell you how many people popped in," said owner Joanne Wimberly. "And we're not talking about just a few people."
All of the challenging preparatory work has paid off. "I couldn't be happier," she said. "I've never worked so hard my whole life as I have these past weeks, but I've never been so happy. I'm surrounded by books."
Sadly we report that Dave Weich, who has worked at Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., for 11 years, most recently as director of marketing and development, is leaving the company.
In a message to friends, he noted that as one wonderful part of his job, he has interviewed more than 200 authors. "Every two weeks or so, for about 40 minutes, I had the opportunity to ask a smart, articulate stranger about whatever piqued my interest, and then transcribe and edit our conversation for Powells.com."
He also praised the book business. "If there's another industry populated by so many thoughtful, generous, and engaging people, it remains a well-kept secret. . . . I'd consider myself lucky to cross paths and hear from you again."
Weich may be reached at email@example.com and 503-310-3745.
Citing the example of a recent promotion in which James Patterson's The Angel Experiment was offered as a free e-book to help promote more recent work, the Associated Press observed that the bestselling author "is among the biggest brands added to the growing list of free e-book offerings. . . . In recent days, the top three Kindle sellers have been free books: Patterson's, Joseph Finder's Paranoia and Greg Keyes' The Briar King."
But will "free" become readers' price of choice?
"There's always going to be someone who wants free things. What we're trying to do is link free with paid," said Maja Thomas, senior vice-president of digital media at Hachette. "It's like priming the pump."
"What we like to do is make the first book in a series free, usually a series that has multiple books," said Scott Shannon, publisher of the Del Rey/Spectra imprint at Random House. "It's a huge hot-button topic we've been discussing within our division and at the corporate level. We have had phenomenal success with using free books to get people to buy others by an author. But in the long term, we have to guard the market. We have to make sure people understand that time and energy goes into writing a book."
"Consumers love free--free is a good price. But the opportunity they present to publishers is to experiment, and I stress experiment," said Ellie Hirschhorn, Simon & Schuster's chief digital officer.
Author Finder, an early supporter of free promotions, now wonders "if readers will get used to not paying."
"I get a lot of e-mails from people, saying, 'I hadn't even heard of you until I read your free book.' So no question, it does bring in free riders," Finder said. "But I'm also increasingly concerned. There are so many free e-books that basically you could stuff your Kindle or Sony Reader with free books and never have to buy anything."
Red Raven Books & Curiosities, Sandusky, Ohio, "is itself a curiosity: an independent used-book store that seems to be thriving," the Columbus Dispatch reported.
"That's the importance of being well-rooted in the community," said Ali Thompson, who owns the store with her husband, Tom, and also runs the Sandusky Farmers' Market. "We have some of the most loyal customers you could ask for."
At home with books. More than 10,000 volumes--"Gorgeous hardcover jackets. Crisp, mint condition pages. First edition copies."--fill Kevin Kinley's house in Walkersville, Md., which serves as warehouse and bookstore for First Place Books. The Frederick News-Post reported that Kinley sells 90% of his books through ABEbooks.com," though "visitors are welcome by appointment." He averages 900 sales per year at $100 each.
Niche book marketing in Kenya. "Naomi Ogutu reckons niche products have the potential to generate more earnings if they capture the hearts and minds of clients," according to Business Daily. She set up "the Nairobi Management Books Centre at Anniversary Towers a few months ago. Mrs. Ogutu and her husband are currently selling only management books targeting MBA students."
Ogutu's bookshop "has joined a growing trend where entrepreneurs are increasingly opting for specialized businesses, especially within the proximity of learning institutions. Next door is the Uppercase Law Bookshop, which stocks books on law."
The Independent featured "Indy Choice: Best of the new books."
Zachary Marcus, marketing director at Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vt., from 2002-2005, has returned to the company as its community connection coordinator. In his new position, Marcus will work on new approaches to author and community events; develop and expand the bookstore's community programs, book groups, kid’s programming, public and press relations; and generate new activities and programs. Marcus has worked in the book industry for many years, most recently operating his book consulting business, Maverick Media Projects.
"I am very pleased to have Zach's rare combination of strategic thinking ability and communication skills back with us,” said Chris Morrow, Northshire's owner and general manager. “He will be immensely valuable during these tumultuous times in the book business."