Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz


Notes: Graphic Arts Center 'In This For the Long Haul'

Graphic Arts Center Publishing, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on Friday, is "in this for the long haul," as v-p, associate publisher Doug Pfeiffer put it to Shelf Awareness yesterday. "Our principal owner is even looking to put more capital in the company because he is confident that we will come through this."

Graphic Arts Center "fully expects" to publish all titles on its 2006 list and will not downsize the staff. Pfeiffer indicated that the current difficulties came after a financing plan with GMAC fell through last year and the bank holding its major loan "kept tightening the reins and imposing more and more penalties."

By the way, some of the distribution information we obtained for yesterday's story about Graphic Arts Center Publishing was dated. The company no longer distributes Whitecap Books or Stoecklein Publishing, and Wolf Creek Books recently went out of business.


Galleys of Stephen King's upcoming novel, Lisey's Story, will be clearly marked as such, will not have a cover resembling the book's cover and have "Not for Sale" printed on it in large letters, according to Publishers Lunch. In addition, an accompanying letter from Scribner publisher Susan Moldow will make suggestions for how to dispose of the galley when finished--all "to take on the vexing issue of how to give 'an author's first line of supporters a chance to read a new work early and build the word of mouth on which we all depend,' without unduly fueling a pre-publication black market in the work."


The Contra Costa Times talks with Sandra Hudgens, who founded the used bookstore Books & Books in Antioch, Calif., in 1995. Among the interesting aspects of the store: on the top of the shelves in each section are collectibles, some donated by customers, related to the subjects below. Thus "above the comedy section a Looney Tunes monster truck sits, along with clowns and other appropriate figures. The religion section is looked over by nuns and a figurine of the Virgin Mary. In the military section, Uncle Sam, cannons and busts of Presidents Washington and Lincoln sit. Angels, crystals, and star/moon candelabra make their home over the psychic department, while a bust of J.S. Bach and piano and minstrel figures reside in the music area."


As of last November 63% of Internet users in China had shopped online, and 56% of those people had bought "reading material" online, according to the ACNielsen Consulting Group, as quoted by the People's Daily Online (!).

China's largest online bookseller, People's Daily said, is, whose sales in the first 11 months of 2005 were $33 million. Its growth rate has been more than 100% in each of the past six years.

For more about online bookselling in China, click here.


The title says it all: Libraries Take a Page from Business World. Among many examples of a new approach to serving customers cited in the Orange Register story via the Monterey Herald: the Cerritos (Calif.) Library has studied hospitality practices at the Ritz-Carlton, Trader Joe's and cruise lines, and for six months, the Newport Beach library has employed secret shoppers "to gauge librarian helpfulness."


Barnes & Noble and Court TV are teaming up to promote a new Court TV series in which true crime writers spend an hour delving into a case that has fascinated them. The initial cast of authors includes James Ellroy, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Michael Connelly and Lisa Scottoline. Called America's Crime Writers: Murder They Wrote, the series premiers "in the fourth quarter of 2006."

B&N will give Court TV "a presence" in some 575 stores, promoting the series and authors' books in end caps. B& will feature the series on its home page, in e-newsletters and e-mails and via inserts in packaging for orders going to customers.

Court TV, which is owned jointly by Time Warner and Liberty Media Corp., will promote on screen and off B&N's connection to the series. It will also promote the company as the place to learn more about the authors and their books--and buy them.


HarperCollins has chosen NewsStand, Inc., to digitize its books "in multiple formats for all its divisions" to create a "global digital warehouse." The arrangement is a part of the publisher's effort to make electronic versions of its material and enter nonprint markets while protecting copyright.

NewsStand is a major digitizing service and marketer for more than 200 daily newspapers and magazines in more than 120 countries. This is the company's first book publishing venture. Harper and NewsStand expect to finish digitizing more than 10,000 Harper books by the end of June.

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bonnie Fuller's Joys of Much Too Much

This morning Good Morning America doesn't ask for the earrings of Tyler Perry, author of Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Love and Life (Riverhead, $23.95, 1594489211).


This morning on the Today Show, Bonnie Fuller tells all about her new book, The Joys of Much Too Much: Go for the Big Life--The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You've Ever Wanted (Even If You're Afraid You Don't Have What It Takes) (Fireside, $24, 0743459474).

Also on the Today Show this morning: Gail Saltz, author of Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie (Broadway, $22.95, 0767922743).


Today NPR's Fresh Air serves up Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Penguin, $26.95, 1594200823).


Holding court today on the Diane Rehm Show: Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads: Coping with the Parents, Teachers, Coaches, and Counselors Who Can Rule--or Ruin--Your Child's Life (Crown, $25, 1400083001).


Today on the View: the well-behaved Cesar Millan, star of the National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer show and author of Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems (Crown, $24.95, 0307337332).


In a repeat of a recent show, tonight's Daily Show with Jon Stewart features Michael R. Gordon, co-author of Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (Pantheon, $27.95, 0375422625).

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

Appearing in paperback next Tuesday, April 18:

The Twelfth Card
by Jeffrey Deaver (Pocket Star, $9.99, 0734391564). The lastest in the highly popular Lincoln Rhyme series.

Marriage Most Scandalous by Johanna Lindsey (Pocket, $7.99, 1416505466). Back to merrie olde Regency England.

Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals: What to Keep on Hand, What to Buy Fresh for the Easiest-Ever 30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray (Clarkson Potter, $18.95, 1400082552). Fresh from the publishing oven by the Food Network star, whose previous cookbooks continue to find a hungry audience.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Deeper Understanding

Bookstore Roadtrip: NAIBAhood Gathering in Pa.

Sixteen people, including recent and prospective booksellers, engaged in a free-wheeling and wide-ranging discussion Sunday at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association's first NAIBAhood Gathering for Emerging Leaders, an outgrowth of similar meetings at BEA last year and the January Winter Institute. The group, organized by NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler, checked out the Bridge Street Bookshop, the Phoenixville, Pa., bookstore opened last summer by Suzanne Kelly (Shelf Awareness, July 1), then repaired across the street to the Steel City Coffee House.

Like any meeting where booksellers talk shop, the afternoon was energizing and fascinating and a consensus formed on most issues or questions. As ever, independent booksellers showed a wonderful willingness to share information and ideas. Some of the hours of conversation was geared to helping answer questions of several prospective booksellers, particularly concerning planning and financing.

Suzanne Kelly laughed at the notion of relying on financial projections that are made long before a store opens. "We all know they're pointless to do," she said, although they're necessary for banks. On the other hand, business plans help to define a store, its markets and goals, most booksellers agreed.

The group debated how much money new booksellers should have in reserve--months' or years' worth--but all warned new booksellers to be careful, for example, not to spend all their investment money on inventory and then have nothing for the till on opening day.

They also emphasized the importance of returning books in a timely way and said that regular events for which attendees pay can help financially. "If you have a $10 day but you know that in the evening people are coming in" and will pay for an event, it makes all the difference, according to Susan Weis, owner of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., which opened in 2004 (Shelf Awareness, September 28). Some booksellers expressed a reluctance to charge for events, but Angela Roach, who opened Voices & Visions in Philadelphia last summer (Shelf Awareness, June 29), noted that several free sitar and raba concerts in the store drew "two people." But when she suggested a $5 donation, a dozen people attended. Several booksellers noted that people value events more if the events have a value attached to them.

Several booksellers said that stores had to be run soundly and make money as a foundation for accomplishing all the great cultural and literary goals new booksellers aspire to.

Ron Rice of Bookazine emphasized that booksellers should establish good relationships with credit managers at publishers and wholesalers. Send them material and "make them a part of your store," he said. If booksellers have financial problems, they should talk about them with the credit departments. "Don't cut them off," he advised. If communication is maintained, the credit departments will have be "more apt to listen to you and work with you."

Among other topics covered at the gathering:

Rewards programs. These should advertise an amount rather than a discount. A $5 or $10 discount after purchases totaling $150 sounds more impressive to a customer than a 3.3% or 6.6% discount, for example. (Book Log makes keeping track of such purchases very easy.)

The Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., gives extra rewards to customers who pay for a special order upfront. As a result, the shelf of special order titles waiting to be picked up (and purchased) has shrunk dramatically.

Store branding. Staff at the Clinton Book Shop wear shirts with the store's logo, which includes a pair of dogs bookending a row of books, and the logo appears on store e-mail, its Web site, on T-shirts and sweat shirts for sale--even on the truck of owner A. Harvey Finkel.

Similarly breathe books has a variety of branded items, including bags and bookmarks as well as bumper stickers. (Owner Susan Weis also has a large card that she hands out to publishers, publicists, media and others to explain the store's focus and encourage authors to appear as part of its extensive events program, among other things.)

Public misconceptions/marketing opportunities. Many stores receive all kinds of odd questions from customers. Jessica Stockton, who is a bookseller at McNally-Robinson bookstore in New York City, writes the delightful blog Written Nerd (where an account of the meeting can be found) and is joining the board of NAIBA, said that people often ask to buy stamps. At Clinton Book Shop, so many people asked for "a good place to buy a newspaper," that the store now carries newspapers. Likewise, Angela Roach plans to begin carrying magazines at Voices & Visions because "so many people come in asking for them."

Ron Rice of Bookazine emphasized that importance of magazine and other sidelines for booksellers. "It's better for a customer to walk out the door with a copy of Vanity Fair than with nothing," he said. He also counseled booksellers not to be shy about selling. "It used to be that a lot of booksellers forgot they were retailers," he said.

Outside sales/special sales. Some of the established booksellers stressed to the newcomers the importance of selling outside the store. Suzanne Kelly outlined her new focus on educational sales. She will stage a teachers' night in May during National Teachers Week that will include gift bags with "hundreds of dollars of material," and her summer buying program will result in 10% of some sales going to schools. Moreover, she will discount 20% of all teachers' purchases, whether for school or personal use. Otherwise, Kelly said that the only book she had discounted was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. "No one asks for discounts," she said.

Dengler recommended booksellers work with the local Chamber of Commerce and offer services to conferences held in their areas.

Competition. Established stores had a range of policies about discounting, but most seemed to believe that big-box-style discounting was unnecessary. Interestingly most also said that they don't consider the chains and Internet crucial competition. Many of their customers don't like corporate approaches in a variety of aspects of life, including bookselling, they said. As for the Internet, they said a majority of customers and readers still like the tactile sense of the book and want to see and feel a book before buying it--and many continue to bring printouts of titles they found on the Web but want to buy in a store.

Staffing. Angela Roach at Voices & Visions noted an effective way of getting help for cash-strapped new businesses: through internships. Roach is currently interviewing several students from Drexel University in Philadelphia, which has extensive coop programs. One of the six-month internships would involve marketing and sales. The person would distribute flyers, update the Web site and arrange for Roach to visit corporations and schools. ("I can go see those people, but I don't have the time to do all the calling," Roach said.) Roach will take the intern on sales calls. Another of the internship positions is for displays. The person will change the window displays once a month, dress a kiosk and work on in-store displays.

Asked about how to groom a bookseller for greater responsibility, several booksellers recommended giving that person increasingly important duties, including allowing him or her to order books and ownership of a section or function.

Greeting customers
. Booksellers agreed it was important to speak with each customer who comes in the door. Some of the booksellers had given the matter much thought: Susan Weis emphasized that instead of asking, "Do you need any help?" which most people respond to with a "No," she says something along the lines of "If you need anything, I'm available," to avoid the negative vibes.

Odds and ends. Stores should consider opening house accounts for readers, several booksellers agreed. The accounts are very popular among customers and can be easy to administer.

Without naming names, booksellers rued that some of the New York City and metropolitan area bookstores were not as cooperative with other booksellers as they might be. Jessica Stockton noted that some Manhattan booksellers think book retailing in the Big Apple is different from anywhere else, but said that the stores share many of the same issues as their compatriots elsewhere.

Mentoring had been exceedingly important for the new booksellers as they planned their store. Many of them profusely thanked Dengler for putting established booksellers in touch with them or Rice for helping and providing advice and encouragement at crucial times. In that vein, Stockton said she was receiving all kinds of help from booksellers and at the several stores where she has worked--and someday hopes to open a store of her own in Brooklyn.

Asked about goals for their stores, booksellers who responded said with almost near unanimity that they want to be integral parts of their community and a cultural resource. Becky Scotland, owner of Seeds of Wisdom, West Grove, Pa., added a simple but striking goal for her children's bookstore: "We want to be the neat place to go for finding a birthday gift."


Last but not least, among the cool things Suzanne Kelly has put into effect in the host Bridge Street Bookshop, a bright, airy, completely renovated space in an 1870 building:

Shelf talkers written both by staff and customers, so that, as Kelly put it, "readers know what their neighbors are reading."

A display of books, with photos, by people who are not primarily writers. Called "Hey! I didn't know they wrote books too," the display featured titles by Bob Dylan, Spike Lee, the Fonz, Amber Tamblyn, John Lithgow and Paul McCartney, among others. Below a copy of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care was a picture of Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, with a note reading, "Umm no."

The Bestsellers

The IMBA Bestsellers for March

The following are the March bestsellers at Independent Mystery Booksellers Association member stores:


1. The Fallen by T. Jefferson Parker
1. Dark Light by Randy Wayne White
3. Sour Puss by Rita Mae Brown
4. Nightlife by Thomas Perry
5. The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais
6. The Old Wine Shades by Martha Grimes
7. Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowen
7. The Ethical Assassin by David Liss
9. Have Your Cake and Kill Him Too by Nancy Martin
10. The Cherry Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke

1. With No One as Witness by Elizabeth George
2. Death of the Party by Carolyn Hart
3. Owls Well That Ends Well by Donna Andrews
4. Cat's Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown
4. Murder in Greenwich Village by Lee Harris
6. For Better or Hearse by Laura Durham
7. Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart
7. Death in the Garden by Elizabeth Ironside
9. Bark M for Murder by J.A. Jance
9. Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs
9. Desert Shadows by Betty Webb

[Thanks to the IMBA!]

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