Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 7, 2006


Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

News

ABC's New No. 1: Kristen McLean

The Association of Booksellers for Children has named Kristen McLean its new executive director, succeeding Anne Irish, who will help McLean in the transition.

McLean is currently a marketing manager for Kingfisher Publications, one of Houghton Mifflin's three children's imprints, and has done graduate work in design at the Massachusetts College of Art. She earlier was a specialty book rep in New England, representing Houghton Mifflin and other publishers, and worked as merchandise manager and then general manager for Henry Bear's Park, a toy and children's book retailer with three stores in the Boston area. A Sarah Lawrence graduate, McLean also was a performing puppeteer and was executive director of the Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline, Mass.

McLean becomes executive director at the end of the month and will work from her home in New England. "Almost all of the business of ABC is conducted through the wonderful world of telecommunications," McLean told Shelf Awareness.

Because of her marketing background, McLean said she is especially interested in "keeping the organization vital and building membership." She also wants to look at "ways to support independent children's booksellers, to provide value to members, to raise the visibility of independents and to help explain why consumers should buy local." She noted that such concerns are central to many organizations working on behalf of independent retailers, adding, "These issues definitely need to be revisited constantly."

McLean will soon visit Irish, who will act as a consultant through BEA and help with ABC's auction and annual children's dinner at BEA.

Irish told Shelf Awareness that after being involved in ABC since its founding more than 20 years ago and as executive director since 2001, "I felt that I had taken ABC to a level where it was time for somebody with new blood to take it to the next level."

Among her accomplishments, she said:
  • Making ABC "a recognized association" within the bookselling community;
  • Coordinating with the ABA and CBC on children's programming at BEA;
  • Making the auction and dinner at BEA "a really big event";
  • Changing the catalogue's focus to frontlist;
  • Introducing the E.B. White Readaloud Award.

Irish said that with bookstore membership at 175, the association hopes to expand membership among general independents that have children's departments. She called children's bookselling "a very strong community" and said she hopes to continue working part-time at something connected with children's books.


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Notes: Latest Deception Confirmation; Henry Roth Centennial

It took a little longer to establish than the Million Little Pieces deception, but yesterday one of the people involved in the creation of J.T. Leroy confirmed to the New York Times that Leroy does not exist. (The same week that the Smoking Gun first outlined the problems of James Frey's account of his treatment, the Times said that the person posing in public as Leroy was actually Savannah Knoop.) Knoop's half-brother, Geoffrey Knoop, told the Times that his partner, Laura Albert, wrote Leroy's books and that he and Albert, who recently split up, orchestrated the deceptions. Knoop "came forward," the paper said, "out of concern for his son, family members and others affected by what he called an all-consuming web of deceit."

Leroy's work includes Sarah, Harold's End and, of all things, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.

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Barnes&Noble.com has begun charging sales tax for online purchases in most states, Bookselling This Week reported. The ABA has been part of the E-Fairness Coalition effort to make sure online retailers collect the same sales taxes bricks-and-mortar stores do.

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HarperCollins has posted online the full text of one of its books--Go It Alone!: The Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own by Bruce Judson, who teaches at the Yale School of Management--and is making it available for free, supported by advertising. First published in old-fashioned print in 2004, the book is on Judson's Web site, www.BruceJudson.com; the text is searchable. The site has a link to Amazon.com to buy the new paperback edition.

In a statement, Brian Murray, HarperCollins group president, said, "Our goal is to develop new digital products based on our books while creating new revenue streams for our authors."

HarperCollins president and CEO Jane Friedman added, "We hope this pilot will demonstrate a win-win for publishers, authors and search engines. The new era does not need to be a zero sum game."

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Today wouid have been the 100th birthday of the late Henry Roth, whose masterpiece was Call It Sleep (Picador, $15, 0312424124). The occasion will be celebrated this evening 5:30-9 p.m., at the main New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, with panels and live readings. Among the speakers: Morris Dickstein; Roth's son, Hugh Roth; Steve Kellman, author of a new Roth biography, Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth (Norton, $25.95, 039305779); and Daphne Merkin.


Temps Warner?: Lagardère to Buy Time Warner Book Group

As was widely reported around the world yesterday, Time Warner has agreed to sell its book operations to French media conglomerate Lagardère for $537.5 million--just a day before Carl Icahn and others are supposed to outline their plan for breaking up the company. Time Warner book operations, which include Little, Brown, Mysterious Press, Back Bay, Bulfinch, Sunset Books and Oxmoor House, and a major branch in the U.K, will become part of Hachette Livre, which will now be the world's third-largest publisher after Random House and Penguin. Time Warner also acts as a distributor for some publishers, including Disney and Microsoft. The timing was good for Time Warner, which nearly sold the book division three years ago to Bertelsmann for a mere $350 million; in the last two years the division has had record profits and sales of more than $500 million.

Lagardère, which has major publishing operations in France, Spain and the U.K., had wanted to bolster its English-language properties, which include the former Hodder Headline and Octopus Publishing Group. General and managing partner Arnaud Lagardère commented: "I welcome the people of the illustrious Time Warner Book Group. Their new home is dedicated to the values of the book publishing industry and, with [book publishing president and CEO] Arnaud Nourry as their leader, they will be in very good hands."

Lagardère is distinguished by a mix of properties in France that would likely unnerve U.S. antitrust authorities. It is a major book publisher and major book wholesaler--and operates Virgin bookstores under license. The company includes Hachette-Filipacchi, one of the largest magazine and newspaper publishers in the world, and has interests in aerospace, munitions and telecommunications gear. Hachette Distribution Services owns Curtis Circulation Co. in the U.S.

David Young is expected to continue as chairman and CEO of Time Warner Book Group and report to Nourry, according to Reuters.

Ursula Mackenzie, CEO and publisher of Time Warner Book Group in the U.K., told Reuters, "I can't say we've ever been held back by Time Warner, but we were effectively quite small, and I'm not sure it's easy to be small in our big corporate publishing world any more." Reportedly Time Warner's U.K. operations will not be merged with Hodder Headline.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Silver Spoon; Gold-Winner Bill Johnson

This morning on the Today Show:
  • Noah McCullough, author of The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia (Random House, $9.95, 1400064821).
  • Jackie Collins, whose new book is Lovers & Players (St. Martin's, $24.95, 0312341776).
  • Gloria Allred, author of Fight Back and Win: My Thirty Year Fight Against Injustice--And How You Can Win Your Own Battles (Regan, $25.95, 0060739282).
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Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:
  • Emilia Terragni, who edited The Silver Spoon (Phaidon, $39.95, 0714845310), about its surprising path to becoming one of the holiday season's bestselling--and hardest-to-get--titles.
  • Peter Guralnick, author of Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke (Little, Brown, $27.95, 0316377945).
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Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Tamara Draut, author of Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead (Doubleday, $22.95, 0385515057).

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Today HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel features Bill Johnson, his mother and Jennifer Woodlief, a former Sports Illustrated reporter--as well as a CIA case officer and assistant DA--and author of Ski to Die: The Bill Johnson Story (Emmis Books, $22.95, 1578602483). The book tells the painful story of Johnson, who in the 1984 Olympics became the first American to win the gold in the Men's Downhill but whose life since then has been tragic.


Deeper Understanding

Winter Institute Continued: Increasing Sales

Russ Lawrence, owner of Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont., and v-p/secretary of the ABA, began his Winter Institute session by saying that sales can be increased relatively simply: "Bring more customers into the store. Sell more to customers once they are in the store. And sell more outside the store." Quickly, he added, "Thank you for coming. Are there any questions?"

After the laughter subsided, Lawrence launched into a wide-ranging survey of effective ways to increase sales.

Booksellers should work on getting free publicity. "Keep your store newsworthy," he advised. For example, "in Missoula, Mont.," he said, "Russ Lawrence going to the Winter Institute is news. It could be in your town, too." He recommended booksellers regularly write letters to the editor on issues "near and dear to your heart." If the store makes a literacy donation, "issue a press release."

Reporters should be cultivated. "It's amazing how cheaply the media can be bought," he said. [Editors' note: It is amazing!] He suggested sending reporters ARCs of titles by authors who will appear at the store and inviting reporters to have drinks with authors after events. "If you make it easy for reporters," he said, "You will get better coverage."

Concerning publicity and advertising, he recommended that booksellers take advantage of coop money and negotiate with publishers about payments. "You can go to a publisher with a rate card and say, 'This is what your ad in our newsletter will cost.' " He emphasized that booksellers need to monitor ads. "Don't just do an ad and move on."

In ads and elsewhere, a store should project its personality, particularly in the logo and typeface a bookseller chooses.

Booksellers should share lists and do "cooperative signups" with "likeminded businesses" such as art galleries, he continued. Stores should keep data on customers and use them "as creatively and personally as you can. Whoever's closest to the customer wins."

Lawrence recommended sending thank-you notes to customers with a $5 coupon for use in the store.

Stores should have Web sites even if sales aren't high. "People may not buy online but they use independent store Web sites to search for books and look up events," he explained. "They will find out information and bring it into the store to buy there."

Like store advertising and newsletters, a Web site should reflect the store's personality and content should be changed regularly. Lawrence commended Powells.com for "providing wonderful content to bring people to the site again and again."

If stores have computer kiosks, staff should ask customers using them if they are finding what they want "just the way you would ask people in the store if they need help." Lawrence added that stores can lock such computers onto its own Web site.

He called e-mail a "powerful marketing tool." With e-mail, "you can reach out to customers." It's key, he continued, to "make the e-mail relevant to the recipient's life. Say 'Here's an author you will swoon over' or 'This is extremely relevant to our community.' " Booksellers shouldn't "bombard" customers with e-mail newsletters--a rough guideline is 24 a year. Again Lawrence recommended monitoring: in this case, to see what works in e-mail newsletters, click-through rates and what readers are clicking on.

Stores should act as a ticket outlet for community events, which are usually advertised and result in much extra publicity.

Besides author events, stores can put on events such as candidate forums. A Chapter One event celebrates I Love to Read Month (which happens to be February). For this, the bookstore and a nearby furniture store have combined forces. The furniture store puts several comfortable chairs in its front window with an explanatory sign and allows people to sit in the window and read uninterrupted for two hours.

Booksellers should not miss out on offsite sales such as writing conferences and conventions. "Some can be a bust, but some can be really, really productive," Lawrence commented.

In the same way, booksellers should work with librarians. "Meet with them at happy hour and pick up the tab," he said. "Treat public and school librarians well."

Lawrence has found it difficult to make corporate bulk sales, but "showing the flag" has been important. "We're not getting 25-copy sales for business books, but we're getting $150 sales on technical books," he said.

Lawrence offered several suggestions for making bookstores a more attractive experience for customers. "Does the music you play make you want to linger there?" he asked. "Or does it make you want to go next door and buy aspirin?" Besides taped music, Chapter One has unusual live music: Lawrence's wife's music group rehearses at the store several nights a week, playing classical and Celtic music. Such an approach works, he stressed, "if they're polishing performance pieces, not starting them."

Similarly booksellers should consider temperature. "Should it be a little cooler in the winter because customers are coming in with jackets on?" he asked.

The smell of the store is also important, he added, recommending cinnamon and coffee aromas. To help the aroma in Chapter One, Lawrence likes to toast a slice of cinnamon raisin bread every couple hours.

He also recommended something that Steve Bercu of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., does: have new employees, whose eyes are fresh, look at the store with a critical view.

Lawrence suggested booksellers group "unusual books together" and use shelf talkers and displays "as ways to start a conversation with customers." Like the store's Web site, displays should be "timely, topical and refreshed."

Booksellers should adopt sidelines "gently. Go in on a small level." Lawrence recommended that booksellers visit a regional gift show regularly "for the experience of seeing how much crap is out there for sale" as well as because "you will find a treasure at each one." With sidelines, "as sales start to die, mark them down and get rid of them."



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