The Borders Group moved closer to liquidation
yesterday when the committee of unsecured creditors objected to the potential sale of the company to Najafi Companies because Najafi could buy Borders and then liquidate it at a lower price than if Borders were sold directly to liquidators.
The objection raised confusion about the status of Najafi's offer. In a letter to staff, Borders president Mike Edwards spoke of Najafi's "withdrawal" of its bid. But Najafi said that its offer remains even though the unsecured creditors and some landlords object to it.
In a motion filed with the federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan, the unsecured creditors committee "expressed concern that the agreement could allow Najafi to buy the company at a low price and then liquidate Borders later without letting creditors benefit," the New York Times
reported. Borders is scheduled to confirm the terms of the court-supervised auction at a court hearing today.
The filing claimed the agreement "neither maximizes value for the benefit of unsecured creditors nor provides for the other benefits of a going concern," and recommended that Borders pursue the back-up plan: a bid proposed by a group of liquidator firms led by the Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco. The Times
noted that this rejection of Najafi Companies "does not necessarily consign Borders to liquidation. The company is scheduled to begin a court-supervised auction on July 19, and Najafi and other potential bidders, like the Gores Group, can still bid."
"While we regret Najafi's withdrawal as the stalking horse bidder, we remain hopeful that they or other potential bidders who are interested in operating Borders as a going concern will choose to participate in the auction process on July 19," wrote Borders president Edwards in a memo.
A spokesman for Najafi commented: "We regret to confirm that Direct Brand's proposed agreement to keep Borders operating is no longer supported by the deciding parties. However, we remain willing, ready and able to move forward should the deciding parties instead choose to work with us and our existing offer."
The American Booksellers Association has some choice words in response to Amazon's call for a voter referendum on California's new sales tax fairness law (Shelf Awareness
, July 12, 2011):
"Having long behaved as if tax laws don't apply to them, Amazon.com has now announced its intention to spend millions of dollars in an effort to get a tax-evasion referendum on the ballot in California," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher, speaking on behalf of ABA, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, all of which are members of the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. "California has made clear that it's not the role of government to pick favorites among retail businesses. The time has come for Amazon.com to collect and remit the required sales tax--just like every other California retailer. If Amazon.com is not prepared to do the right thing, we urge the state Board of Equalization to pursue all available means to compel Amazon.com to comply with the law, just as 164,000 California retailers do every day."
Indie booksellers nationwide are basking in the retail glow of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons
. The New York Times
reported the book, which was released Tuesday, "quickly emerged as their biggest book of the summer, selling rapidly despite its doorstopper appearance (1,016 pages) and hefty price ($35 undiscounted)."
"What’s been really interesting is the physical-digital split," said Scott Shannon, publisher of digital content for Random House. "These days, for a lot of our big titles, digital is outselling physical. That’s not what we’re seeing here, and it really speaks to George’s fan base."
"It's a wonderful phenomenon," said Cathy Langer of Tattered Cover Bookstore
, Denver, Colo. "The anticipation has been palpable. People are discovering him now who had never heard of him because of the TV series, so he has all kinds of new readers."
Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights
, Iowa City, called the book "sort of a Harry Potter for everybody."
"It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I realized how big of a deal this was going to be," said Annie Shapiro of Book Culture
, New York, N.Y. "I can barely keep the backlist in stock. For the last few weeks I was just ordering them in ridiculous quantities."
Amazon plans to introduce its highly anticipated tablet computer
before October, the Wall Street Journal
reported, citing "people familiar with the matter" who said the company will also release two updated versions of the Kindle in the third quarter of the year, including a touch-screen device and an improved, but cheaper, adaptation of the current Kindle.
's sources also revealed that the new Amazon tablet "will have a roughly nine-inch screen... and will run on Google Inc.'s Android operating system. The online retailer isn't designing the device itself, but is outsourcing production to an Asian manufacturer." The device will not, however, have a camera.
Yesterday Amazon lowered the price on its Kindle 3G with Special Offers
to $139 due to a sponsorship deal with AT&T. Amazon already absorbs the cost of AT&T's service for Kindle 3G owners, who do not have to deal with monthly fees, data plans or annual contracts. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offered "big thank you to AT&T for helping to make the new $139 price possible." Forbes
reported that "customers are likely to see AT&T ads replace the Kindle’s customary screensaver
, as well as ads featured along the bottom of pages."
Amazon "already prices the Kindle at near-break-even levels, so the fact that Amazon got AT&T to effectively underwrite
its latest price cut may help assuage concerns that the company’s already-thin margins will survive this latest move to keep its lead in this market segment," MarketWatch noted.
Not wanting to be left behind in the current e-reader evolution frenzy, Sony will introduce a line of upgraded digital book readers
in the U.S. as early August "with hardware and software improvements," just ahead of the company's first tablets, which are scheduled to go on sale later this year, Business Week
"Sony appears to be struggling to expand its e-reader business as fast as it had originally planned,” said Nobuo Kurahashi, analyst at Mizuho Financial Group.
--- Sometimes poetry just isn't inspiring enough
. The night before matches, French women’s soccer team coach Bruno Bini "reads poetry to his players and sings with them to lyrics he has written about cheering and spirit," the New York Times
"That's my way of life, of working," Bini said. "Literature and poetry and music are my instruments to convey my messages to the team."
Unfortunately, a little literary inspiration does not always go a long way at the Women's World Cup. Yesterday, the U.S. team defeated France 3-1 in a semi-final match.
---Fact & Fiction
bookstore, Missoula, Mont., is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Former owner Barbara Theroux, who sold her business to the University Center Bookstore three years ago, cited persistence as a key to opening and running an independent bookstore
"You have to do your homework. You keep going," she told the Missoulian
, adding, "It's time and patience to allow the concept of word of mouth. In the meantime, you hope that the money you have won't run out."
Theroux credits the city for most of the bookstore's success: "Missoula is pretty supportive of independent local businesses." When she put her shop on the market, University Center Bookstore general manager Bryan Thornton approached her with an offer. "We believed that a solid downtown near a university should have a local bookstore," he said. "The advantage of an independent bookstore is that it can better reflect a community. It adds a certain distinction."
noted that Theroux still works in the shop on Higgins Avenue with the same staff as before. "We'll continue doing what we do," she said. "It's consistency. It's maintaining a consistency of service."
---Cool idea of the day
: Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers
, Madison, Conn., is teaming up with Greg Nobile of Greg Nobile Presents for the first of what might develop into a monthly series of events, the Branford Patch
On June 21, Coady will interview
James B. Stewart, former page-one editor at the Wall Street Journal
and author of several books including his latest, Tangled Webs
. The event will be held at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) in old Saybrook, and benefit Branford's Read to Grow program.
The Branford Patch
noted that Coady "is invigorated and energized about the interview" as well as the partnership with GNP, which "is allowing her to bring her intimate conversations with renowned authors and celebrities out of the small space of the bookstore and onto a large stage for many to enjoy. "We’re booksellers, not producers," she said, adding that the interview is "good for the vitality of the community, good for economic development and it’s fun. Getting these authors is good for everyone. It’s good because more people should read."
Today is Bastille Day, and three independent bookstores are celebrating with contests tied to French Classics Made Easy
by Richard Grausman (Workman). Check out Changing Hands Celebrates French Classics
, Celebrate Bastille Day at Rakestraw Books
and Blue Willow Bookshop's "Crumbs in Our Pages
," s'il vous plaît. In addition, Workman is sponsoring a blogger Bastille Day Challenge
Beginning in early September, the University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center
will feature an exhibition titled "The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920–1925
," showcasing "how one artifact, in this case a door from a Greenwich Village bookshop in the 1920s, can serve as a starting point to reconstruct the history of a time and place."
The door from Frank Shay's bookshop on Christopher Street is covered with signatures of noteworthy visitors to the location, including Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis and Vachel Lindsay. When the shop closed in 1925, manager Juliette Koenig preserved the door, which the Ransom Center purchased in 1960 and added it to the collection of Christopher Morley.
Reading Is Fundamental's Be Book Smart Smart Car
visited Santa Monica, Calif., last Sunday, stopping by the Main Street farmers market as well as Every Picture Tells a Story
bookstore, where children's author Laura Numeroff was visiting, the Santa Monica Patch
Book trailer of the day: The Way
by Kristen Wolf (Crown).
Sarah Ketchersid has been promoted from senior editor to executive editor at Candlewick Press. In her 10 years with Candlewick, she has edited such noteworthy titles as Caldecott Honor book Interrupting Chicken
by David Ezra Stein and A Visitor for Bear
by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, which won the 2009 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Picture Books.