Yesterday, in a move the State
called a "stunning reversal," the South Carolina House passed a
measure 97-20 that would give Amazon a sales tax exemption for the next
five years. Lexington County lawmakers and business leaders "said Amazon
build three additional sites in South Carolina if it did not have to
collect sales taxes from state residents for five years. Two of the
other sites are in Spartanburg and Cayce," the State wrote.
Just last month the House had voted 71-47 against the same proposal, prompting
Amazon to abandon plans to build a distribution center in Lexington
County (Shelf Awareness, April 29, 2011).
House leaders indicated that Amazon had "upped the ante in its quest
to get a sales tax exemption approved by the Legislature," according to Fox Carolina News
House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham said Amazon "is pledging to create
at least 2,000 full-time jobs with health benefits and invest at least
$125 million. That's up from the 1,250 jobs and $90 million investment
The bill now goes to the
Senate, and WSPA-7
reported that Governor Nikki Haley reiterated that although she opposes the exemption she will not to veto it.
Representative Bingham said, "We can either accept absolutely nothing
and say, 'Well, because that's unfair we're not going to do anything
about it.' We can do that. Or we can accept the jobs and then rectify
this in four-and-a-half years when this exemption expires."
Despite the growing popularity of e-books, traditional printed book output last grew 3%, to 316,480 titles in 2010, according to Bowker's annual report on U.S. print book publishing, based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers.
The "non-traditional sector"--books marketed almost exclusively online and largely POD titles from reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and micro-niche publications--jumped 169%, to more than 2.7 million titles in 2010. Three companies are responsible for most of these titles, accounting for almost 87% of all titles published last year: BiblioBazaar, General Books and Kessinger Publishing.
In the traditional categories, science and technology were "the leading areas of growth" as consumers purchased information for business and careers. Computer titles rose 51%, science was up 37% and technology jumped 35%. Categories that fell the most--"subject to discretionary spending"--were literature, down 29%; poetry, off 15%; history, down 12%; and biography, off 12%. Fiction fell 3%, continuing a decline from its high point in 2007.
"These publication figures from both traditional and non-traditional publishers confirm that print production is alive and well, and can still be supported in this highly dynamic marketplace," said Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publishing services for Bowker.
Scott Lubeck has resigned as executive director of the Book Industry Study Group for personal reasons and is returning to Austin, Texas. He had joined BISG early last year (Shelf Awareness, January 6, 2010).
For the second time in two years, BISG has formed a search committee for a new executive director. In the meantime, deputy executive director Angela Bole will again act as executive director on an interim basis.
BISG chair Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks wished Lubeck well and thanked him "for his contributions, which have benefited BISG tremendously."
Lubeck said he "appreciated the opportunity to serve this important organization and to work with its Executive Committee, Board, membership and staff. It has truly been an honor. I intend to remain a vital part of this industry, and to remain active in BISG and a supporter of its many initiatives."
Amazon.com has launched a fifth publishing imprint, Thomas & Mercer, which will focus on mysteries and thrillers. Its first four titles, which will be available on the Kindle, in print and audio formats at amazon.com as well as at "national and independent booksellers." (We're not at all sure how that will work!) The imprint is named for the streets where Amazon's headquarters are in Seattle.
The first four Thomas & Mercer titles, to be released this fall, are Resuscitation by D.M. Annechino, Stirred by J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch, The Immortalists by Kyle Mills and Already Gone by John Rector.
One of the three judges for the Man Booker International prize, which was awarded yesterday to Philip Roth, has withdrawn from the panel in protest over Roth's win.
Carmen Callil, founder of the feminist publishing house Virago and author of Bad Faith, a history of Vichy France, told the Guardian that Roth "goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It's as though he's sitting on your face and you can't breathe."
She added, "I don't rate him as a writer at all. I made it clear that I wouldn't have put him on the longlist, so I was amazed when he stayed there. He was the only one I didn't admire--all the others were fine. Roth goes to the core of [the other judges'] beings. But he certainly doesn't go to the core of mine... Emperor's clothes: in 20 years' time will anyone read him?"
Callil will elaborate in a column in the Guardian Review on Saturday.
Judges chair Rick Gekoski, a rare book dealer and author, said that the panel's decision to honor Roth came "slowly and with a great deal of discussion and a considerable amount of argument. Three is a very dangerous number, a hard number to come to a decision. Two people came in very, very strongly supporting one writer, and one not." He said a compromise would have let to a winner none of the three would have been passionate about.
Gekoski defended Roth at length, saying in part, "In 1959 he writes Goodbye, Columbus and it's a masterpiece, magnificent. Fifty-one years later he's 78 years old and he writes Nemesis and it is so wonderful, such a terrific novel.... Tell me one other writer who 50 years apart writes masterpieces."
Congratulations to Penguin Classics, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary in a very au courant way: it's releasing several enhanced e-books that will allow the user, as the company put, "to experience, in a digital environment, the quality we have come to expect from Penguin."
The first title is John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: Amplified, just released, which includes an exclusive audio interview with James Earl Jones about his stage performances in Of Mice and Men; a video slideshow of Dust Bowl images by Dorothea Lange; the poem "To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785" by Robert Burns, the source of the novel's title; stills from the 1992 film adaptation starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich; Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel speech; a q&a with composer and librettist Carlisle Floyd on Of Mice and Men as an American classic opera; and an introduction and suggested further reading by Susan Shillinglaw, Professor of English at San Jose State University and Scholar-in-Residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.
Next month Penguin Classics will release an On the Road book app that has many pictures of Jack Kerouac and the era, a reading by Kerouac and an interactive map of his road trips.
On the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's Northwest Book Lovers website, Ursula K. Le Guin mused on how digital change is affecting her and the book world. On a personal level, she noted that although she writes, edits and reads on screen, she cannot read on screen for pleasure, in part because she likes to read lying down and hasn't found a suitable e-reader for that position. As a professional writer, she worries about e-contractual issues with publishers, but noted that many in the business are "riding the avalanche" together.
As a kind of cultural custodian, she said, "I welcome e-publication, so long as it works like an immense new-and-used bookstore network including bookstores selling both paper and e-books--and so long as it is fully and freely hooked up with the public libraries. The almost total failure of our schools to teach literature is causing a disastrous break in cultural continuity; many young people have read nothing written before 1990 or even 2000. E-publication offers vast availability and accessibility to older texts via our libraries."
At the same time, Susan Orlean, profiled in the New York Times, is publishing the essay "Animalish" as a Kindle Single, which will retail for $1.99. She told the paper that she didn't see the material as suitable for an essay in the New Yorker, where she is a staff writer.
Despite her bucolic life on a farm in upstate New York, Orlean is "a devotee of the new media, blogging and tweeting at an enthusiastic pace," the Times wrote. She commented: "It's especially funny because I used to think that I was kind of old fashioned. The subjects I write about, the spirit in which I write, seemed in a way rather traditional. And I thought, the new world is coming and this is the way I want to write and I'm not sure how I'll fit into the new world as it changes." Twitter is probably all the more interesting to her, she said, because she is not around people the way she would be if she lived in the city.
Something good is cooking at Bitter Creek Books, Vernal, Utah, now that the shop has added the Backdoor Grille, Vernal Express
reported. When owners Allan and Kathy Mashburn had to move their
bookstore from its location of 30 years, "We wanted to come downtown to
help support old town and bring some rejuvenation of life downtown, and
we hoped a bookstore would do that." As they renovated, they realized
there wasn't a good place nearby to get something to eat. "That’s when
we decided we should remodel the very back and open up a little soup and
sandwich shop, so that other people who may not want to go out of town
to get something to eat, they can just stay right here," Kathy said.
Algonquin's latest Booksellers Rock! profile is of Debra Linn of Books & Books who is one of two events and marketing directors for the company with stores in south Florida, the Cayman Islands and Westhampton Beach, N.Y., and who has "never met a double entendre she doesn't like."
Our favorite questions and answers involve two "damn events" at which she broke toes; a frequently asked customer question at events: "Do you sell the book?"; and the thing at Books & Books "you won't find at any other store: a table signed by three presidents (Carter, Clinton and W.), two First Ladies (Clinton and Laura Bush), two Secretaries of State (Clinton and Albright), Julie Andrews, Barbara Walters, Kurt Vonnegut- and Paul McCartney (!), among many others."
Book trailer of the day: An all-star cast turns out to wish a happy 10th birthday to Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs by Alan Katz, illustrated by David Catrow (Margaret K. McElderry/S&S). (No, Jorge Posada does not sing "Take Me Out of the Line-Up.")
"Immigration has been on my mind lately," wrote Emily St. John Mandel to introduce "Migrations: A Reading List"
at the Millions. "Migration in its various forms is at the heart of a
great many of my favorite plots in fiction," she observed. "But beyond
that it seems to me that migration, as an idea of motion, is
inextricable from good fiction. Your characters must change--they must
move, psychically at least, from point A to point B--and the plot must
Reggie Nadelson, author of the Artie Cohen mystery series, chose her top 10 jazz books for the Guardian,
noting that of "the books I've chosen, there are three where the
authors somehow achieve a kind of 'jazz prose,' this without forgetting
the narrative. Of the thousands of nonfiction books about jazz and jazz
musicians, I've picked those that seem to really illuminate their
subjects in an original way, and tell you something new about the music
and the musicians, something new about American culture."
To pass the time as you await the end of the world Saturday (Oh, haven't you heard?), NPR offered some reading recommendations in the form of "Three Extreme Tales of Tribulation for the Apocalypse."
"Ten novels that will disturb even the coldest of hearts"
were showcased by Flavorwire, which featured "books that expose the
darker side of humanity--a roundup of the most disturbing novels and
short stories through time, if you will."
Paul Hanson is leaving Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, Wash., to move north to Bellingham, Wash., where he will join the staff of Village Books. His tenure at Eagle Harbor ends on Thursday, June 2. He takes a long break, then reports to work at Village Books on Monday, June 6.
Hanson has worked at Eagle Harbor for 16 years and is a former president of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.
Village Books co-owner Chuck Robinson said of Hanson, "We've known him for years and have had the pleasure of watching him grow in this business. His passion for bookselling, his energy, and his thoughtful approach to all matters will be welcomed here, and we think he'll fit in well." Congratulations, Paul!