Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Borders Sales, Income Fall
Consolidated sales at Borders Group in the second quarter ended July 29 fell 4% to $856 million, and the company had a net loss of $18.4 million compared to net income of $1.3 million in the same period last year.
Like other booksellers reporting results this past week, Borders noted difficult comparisons with last July, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released. It also blamed the sales fall on "weakness in bestsellers."
"Our investments will peak in the third quarter as we continue to remodel stores, improve infrastructure and build our loyalty program, while at the same time we ramp-up inventory and make other investments to prepare for the holiday selling season," Borders's new CEO George Jones said in a statement. "Once these investments are behind us by the end of the third quarter, we expect to begin to benefit from them--as well as from improved sales trends in the fourth quarter--to end the year with positive momentum going into 2007."
Borders predicted a consolidated loss of 60 cents to 75 cents a share in the third quarter, well above analysts' consensus of 30 cents a share, according to Reuters.
Wall Street didn't like the news, bidding Borders shares down 6.5% in after-market trading.
Quoted by the news service, Jefferies analyst Timothy Allen said that Borders' expenses have tripled since last year and that the company is apparently trying not to carry over spending to the fourth quarter. Referring to Jones, he said, "He's making sure he has a clean slate to start with next year."
Results by Divisions
Sales at U.S. Borders superstores fell 3% to $600.1 million, and sales at U.S. superstores open at least a year fell 5.3%. Comp-store sales at remodeled stores were 2.6% higher than other stores. Café, gifts and stationery had the strongest sales at the remodeled stores. Net income for U.S. superstores was $8.7 million, compared to $14.7 million in the same period in 2005. Borders opened two superstores during the quarter and ended it with 476.
Total international sales rose 6% to $129.4 million. Sales at international stores open at least a year fell 3.4%, in part because of Harry Potter but also because of "continued weakness in the U.K.," which accounts for 60% of international sales. The international net loss was $14.2 million compared to a net loss of $5.2 million. Borders opened three stores abroad in the quarter, ending the period with 59 stores.
In the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail division, which includes Borders Express, sales fell 16.2% to $126.5 million. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 12.1% and the net loss was $1.7 million compared to net income of $500,000 a year ago. Borders closed 10 of the division's stores during the quarter and now has 655.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Cheechless Chong
This morning the Book Report, the new weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., will feature Valerie Martin, whose most recent book is The Unfinished Novel & Other Stories (Vintage, $13, 1400095506).
The show can be heard live at thebookreport.net; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.
Today on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight and CNBC's Squawk Box: Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.), co-author with Bruce Reed of The Plan: Big Ideas for America (PublicAffairs, $19.95, 1586484125).
Also on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight: Patrick J. Buchanan talks about his new book, State of Emergency: How Illegal Immigration Is Destroying America (Thomas Dunne, $24.95, 0312360037). He's also on Fox's News on the Record.
On this morning's Writer's Roundtable on World Talk Radio, Antoinette Kuritz talks with Lawrence Block about the latest in his John Keller series, Hit Parade (Morrow, $24.95, 0060840889), and with J.A. Jance about Dead Wrong (Morrow, $25.95, 0060540907).
Today on MSNBC's Hardball: William S. Cohen, whose new book is Dragon Fire (Forge, $24.95, 0765316196).
Today on CNN, Fox's Dayside and MSNBC: Peter L. Bergen, author of The Osama Bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader (Free Press, $15, 0743278925).
Today on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live: Tommy Chong, whose new book is The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $23.95, 1416915540).
Today on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360: Mike Tidwell, whose new book is The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities (Free Press, $24, 074329470X).
In a repeat of a July show, the View talks with Mitchell Fink, author of The Last Days of Dead Celebrities (Miramax, $24.95, 1401351980).
Tonight the Charlie Rose Show offers a repeat of a conversation with Doris Kearns Goodwin about her most recent book, Team of Rivals (S&S, $35, 0684824906).
Books & Authors
Book Brahmin: Pam Rosenthal
Pam Rosenthal's new book is The Slightest Provocation (NAL, $14, 0451219473), an erotic Regency historical romance due out early next month. In the book, she says, "I try to combine some period glitz with a romantic remarriage comedy, interwoven with a true episode from 1817, when the British Home Office set a provocateur upon the local parliamentary reform societies in the midlands, in order to discredit the movement. Oh, and I think it's pretty sexy too."
Rosenthal is also the author of a minor erotic classic, the 1995 comic SM novel Carrie's Story (written as Molly Weatherfield), which Playboy called No. 12 of its "25 sexiest novels ever written." In addition, she wrote The Bookseller's Daughter, inspired by historian Robert Darnton's The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France about how smuggled political and erotic books were sold "under the cloak" by enterprising booksellers in the late 18th century.
Last but not least, Rosenthal is married to Michael Rosenthal, longtime bookseller at Modern Times bookstore in San Francisco, Calif., who is retiring in September.
Here Rosenthal responds to a series of queries we occasionally ask people in the business:
On nightstand now:
A Manchester Marriage, short stories by Elizabeth Gaskell; Faust, Part I (though I have to admit it's for my book group); Duchess in Love, a romance novel by Eloisa James.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown.
Top five authors:
Proust, Colette, Philip Roth, Jane Austen, Grace Paley
Book you've "faked" reading:
To my shame and sorrow, late one night I skipped to the last page of Joseph Heller's Something Happened, which rendered the book unreadable to me. Take my advice and read it all the way through.
Book you are an "evangelist" for:
Love's Children by Judith Chernaik. A now out-of-print novel about the four women in Shelley's life--Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Harriet Shelley and Fanny Imlay. I read it because I'm fascinated by Claire, who had Byron's baby, probably slept with Shelley, lived a long, bohemian and independent life through the Victorian era but never became a Victorian (unlike her stepsister Mary Shelley). I suppose I'm largely an evangelist for Claire, who's usually, unjustly, dismissed as "annoying." But this beautiful, delicate, thoughtful novel of the imaginative and erotic lives of women in the romantic era gives each woman her due and evokes the sadness and bravery of trying to live far, far in advance of one's own time.
Book you've bought for the cover:
1984, in the '50s Signet paperback, when I was about 11. The woman on the cover with the Ava Gardner cheekbones, the blouse slashed to her waist, and the Anti-Sex League button just screamed SEX to me. And to my (future) husband, too, who bought it around that time as well. We had the cover of his copy framed--as the first erotic perception we shared, far before we ever met.
Book that changed your life:
Story of O dominated my erotic imagination for years (I guess after the 1984 cover stopped doing it for me). After 25 or so years of mulling over it, I wrote the erotic novels Carrie's Story and Safe Word, reworking O as a wiseass San Francisco bicycle messenger.
But I've also got to pay tribute to Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, by Faber and Mazlish--the wisest parenting book I know, even with its goofy '60s-sounding title.
Favorite line from a book:
Vladimir: That passed the time.
Estragon: It would have passed in any case.
--From Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.
Word of Mouth Helps Nutrition Book Eat Up Sales
That's the level of enthusiasm The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health has been generating since its initial publication in January 2005. Hardcover sales exceeded expectations, prompting the publisher to postpone the paperback edition by six months, to June 2006. "The hardcover was selling so well," said Watkins, "that we didn't really think it would be to our advantage to go into paperback in January." Indeed, during its 18-month run the hardcover amassed 75,000 copies in print in 12 printings.
To date the trade paperback edition has sold 25,000 copies of a 30,000-copy first printing. "We've sold a lot more of the paperback in two months than we sold of the hardcover in that same amount of time," said BenBella publisher Glenn Yeffeth, an indicator that the paperback is benefiting from the viral marketing efforts that aided the hardcover. "A lot of the groundwork that we've laid is continuing to grow," added Watkins.
That groundwork for the hardcover edition included grassroots efforts to reach the vegetarian and scientific communities, two of the strongest markets for the book. "It's the type of book that somebody gets excited about, buys multiple copies to give away, and goes on their blog or e-mails every single one of their friends about it," said Watkins.
Consumer outreach was conducted via the author's website, www.thechinastudy.com, and www.vegsource.com, the No. 1 food site in the U.S. and with whom Dr. Campbell already had a working relationship. Mass mailings of the book were sent to Dr. Campbell's colleagues, professors, and even celebrities. Aside from golfer Player, other famous names that have embraced the book include Marilu Henner and Heather Mills McCartney. The China Study also received coverage in the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
Another factor that proved helpful in boosting hardcover sales was author appearances. Audiences for Dr. Campbell's extensive lecture tour ranged from health care researchers to college groups to members of the Hare Krishna religious movement. "The message of The China Study is really far-reaching," noted Watkins, "and it touches so many people in so many different ways."
Bestseller status, as well as national mainstream media coverage, has thus far eluded The China Study, something that BenBella hopes will change in the coming months. (Strong sales in a variety of channels may account for this.) Dr. Campbell has an extensive lecture campaign lined up, beginning in September, and a public relations firm has been brought on board to generate additional exposure for the book. "We know there are more stones to be turned," said Watkins. "We've been overjoyed with the way the groundswell support for the book has gone, but we do think it's worthy of a large feature in a publication like Time or Newsweek."
When BenBella signed up The China Study, Yeffeth, who founded the Dallas, Tex., publisher in 2001 (the press is distributed by Independent Publishers Group), had what he believed was a great book on his hands. "But I didn't realize it would be this big," he said, and attributes the book's success not only to Dr. Campbell's credentials and contacts but to the subject matter. "This is not a vegetarian book; it's not a vegan book. It's a book of science about nutrition, and the results are the results," he stated, referring to the 20-year study on which the book is based and which advocates that a plant-based diet (as opposed to a meat-based diet) is best for long-term health.
BenBella has published two additional health titles this year, The Healing Kitchen by Ellen Michaud and The Healthy Obsession Program by Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., and among 2007's lineup are The Natural Way by Mary-Ann Shearer and The Total Cancer Wellness Guide. The company also publishes fiction and other types of nonfiction, including the Smart Pop series, a line of popular culture titles that benefits from viral marketing, most notably to online fan groups.
As for The China Study, it remains to be seen exactly how high sales will climb. "We're lighting a lot of kindling, but the big fire is the word of mouth," said Yeffeth. "That's the kind of thing that can last for a while. And we're kind of hoping it does."--Shannon McKenna