'Best Bookstores Aren't Trying to Be Something for Everyone'
"The best bookstores aren't trying to be something for everyone. They're already something for their neighbors."
"The best bookstores aren't trying to be something for everyone. They're already something for their neighbors."
Effective today, Penguin Random House is instituting its annual two-day transit program, under which all orders for PRH titles received in the company's order system from independent booksellers by 3 p.m. Monday-Friday ship no later than the following business day, "cooperative weather and transport conditions permitting," for arrival at bookstores within two days.
First instituted in 2011 by Random House as a two-month program, last year it was expanded to include Penguin titles and this year it's starting a month earlier than previous years and will last until March 3.
Penguin Random House Sales Group president Jaci Updike commented, "What we originally envisioned five years ago as a two-month sales-support effort, thanks to enormous enthusiasm and demand from our accounts, has evolved into an opportunity for our customers to take advantage of not just two, but five months of 'holiday' consumer promotions, including Columbus and Veterans Days, Martin Luther King's Birthday, Valentine's Day and President's Day, as well as, of course, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Day. Our goal with Two-Day Transit always has been to enable our booksellers to worry less about the status of their reorders and focus more on selling our titles, thanks to their timely arrival."
Penguin Random House titles ship from the company's Westminster, Md., and Crawfordsville, Ind., operations centers. Both facilities have weekend shifts to enable orders received on Fridays and Saturdays to be shipped Monday.
The Book Industry Study Group celebrated its 40th anniversary at a busy, well-attended annual meeting in New York City on Friday. Several past and present leaders of BISG spoke at length about the group's many accomplishments over the years in a range of related areas, particularly involving standards and metadata, that are crucial to the smooth functioning of the book business today. These include the development of EDI; bar code, metadata and shipping standards; BISAC subject codes; ONIX and more.
|John Ingram and Dominique Raccah|
The organization officially and unofficially honored many of its own. John Ingram, chairman of the Ingram Content Group, won the Award for Excellence, the first time the award has been given. Presenting the award, Sourcebooks founder and CEO Dominique Raccah noted that Ingram has led Ingram Content Group "in its successful transformation from a book wholesaler to an industry-leading, innovation-driven company, pioneering print on demand technologies, and a whole array of physical book distribution and digital products, all in service of helping publishers connect better with readers."
Ingram responded in part by saying that collaboration with groups like BISG "has been a big part of Ingram's transformation" and that the company is "committed to transforming and staying relevant to better our industry, to help our colleagues and friends find success, and to ultimately keep getting books in all forms into the hands of readers around the world."
Raccah herself also won the BISG Industry Innovation Award. Accepting the award, she said innovation consists of three things: it's "customer-centric"; it involves trying again and again, often failing; and it's about mindset. Noting that "our industry is often thought of as the hallmark of stuck," she pointed out that it's actually an industry that has "embraced change.... We've embraced a mindset that allows us to drive through and innovate... breaking the norms of what media transformation can and should look like."
Among other honorees were Tzviya Siegman of Wiley Information for Most Valuable Volunteer and George Kerscher of the DAISY Consortium and Benetech, and president of the International Digital Publishing Forum for Industry Champion.
The new executive director of BISG, Brian O'Leary, whose first official day is today, was on-hand. There appeared to be a consensus that his appointment was a happy turning point after what some called a "tumultuous" year in which executive director Mark Kuyper abruptly resigned in August after barely a year in office and most staff had left.
O'Leary said that he has been impressed by "the coherence and the credibility" of the strategic plan BISG is working on that will be introduced soon and whose goals are "member-facing, relevant, measureable and doable." He offered a "condensed version" of the previous mission statement, saying that BISG aims "to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry," and emphasized that BISG cannot be "everything to everybody" but has to find common areas of friction where solutions helps many across the supply chain.
Among the strategic plan's four objectives are information ("we want to be the information hub for the book industry supply chain"); membership ("we want to maintain a growing and diverse membership because that's a critical component to solving the problems") and avoiding solutions that favor one company or group; standards (always "a critical piece of the puzzle"); and research, which used to have more of an emphasis at BISG and which the organization wants to reemphasize.
Treasurer Maureen McMahon of Kaplan Publishing noted that during the year, BISG shifted to cash from accrual-based accounting, which caused "a little bit of chaos in our financial reporting" since the staff changed completely. Auditors also found significant problems in financial reporting, particularly tracking member dues. Those problems are being addressed with new software. BISG also plans to move from its current offices in midtown to "a more flexible workspace" that will save several thousand dollars a month.
Although it was a "tough year," Peter Balis of Wiley said called it "a productive year. We got a lot done." BISG's membership roll grew to 184 from 178. Among the accomplishments: advances were made in EPUB3; the Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing launched; a revised Guide to Identifiers was issued; more than 500 additional subject codes were added, the majority of which involved YA; BISG conducted a survey with the ALA of library patrons' views on digital content; and three ONIX workshops,led by Graham Bell of Editeur, were held in Nashville, Chicago and Boston. (See tomorrow's issue for coverage of a panel on transformation in the industry.) --John Mutter
This House of Books had its soft opening Saturday at 10 a.m. in downtown Billings, Mont. The Gazette reported that at 9 a.m., "workers in the new co-op bookstore at 224 N. Broadway were installing the front counter and setting up tables."
"It's been hectic trying to get everything done in time for the soft opening," said Gary Robson, general manager & CEO. "But we really wanted to make sure that we were open for a week and going before the High Plains BookFest hits.... But the bottom line is we're open, we've got stock on the shelves and we've got everything functioning. So we're here, and we've got customers."
The bookstore "picked a perfect day to open, with a large crowd enjoying the last Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market downtown," the Gazette noted, adding that an hour after opening, "the shop bustled with customers."
Robson said, "What really warms my heart is we've already had five people this morning walk in and say 'how can I be a part of this, how can I buy a share?' Being a community-owned bookstore under a co-op model means that anybody can own shares, and we have over 20 authors that are part of this so far.... It's about building a culture and a literary community in downtown Billings, and building a center for that. And that's why for me the most important thing about this whole business is the partnerships."
The Independent Publishers of New England's sixth annual Publishing Conference will be held October 21-22 at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth, N.H., featuring keynotes by Boston publisher David R. Godine; Independent Book Publishers Association CEO Angela Bole; and Tim Brookes and Maung Nyeu of Champlain Publishing Initiative and Endangered Alphabets. Space is limited, but IPNE noted there are still a few openings and sponsorships available.
"Each year, as the conference gets rolling, it's always thrilling to see connections made and people learning from each other," said publisher and IPNE president Charlotte Pierce. "We'll have independent (self-published) authors, small and mid-sized publishers, booksellers, bookstore managers, designers, illustrators, editors, students in publishing programs, publicists and printers. New England has many fine writers groups and organizations, but IPNE is the only regional organization of its kind focusing on the actual process of publishing."
Under the theme "Collaboration Is the New Competition," this year's conference is offering education panels on a variety of topics, including diversity, publicity, new media bookselling and editing. Other highlights include time for networking with speakers; informal roundtables on publishing topics suggested by those attending; a special hand book-binding session by Spirit Books artist Susan Kapusczinski Gaylord; exhibits & conference bookstore; and presentation of the 2016 IPNE Book Awards.
Bookseller Rick Lightstone of the American Book Center in Amsterdam, a "lovable storyteller, book lover and people connector who touched so many people's lives and was part of our ABC team for over 28 years," died September 23. The bookstore held an event to celebrate his life yesterday.
He "grew to describe himself as 'Rick Lightstone, Professional Bookseller.' His enthusiasm and love for books plus his ambition to bring the biggest stars of the book world to ABC never stopped," the bookstore noted, adding: "We invented a job around Rick's personality and skills, and he can't be replaced. We'll miss him terribly and are grateful to him, as are so many others unknown to us, for brightening our lives. He was a Light. And will shine on."
Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko (r.) reports on a remarkable event:
On Saturday, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., hosted Bruce Springsteen, to celebrate the publishing of his amazing memoir, Born to Run (Simon & Schuster). Two thousand fans came from all over the world, forming lines that snaked two city blocks and spilled into a local park. A legion of volunteers, including reps from other houses (Judy Hottensen, Grove Atlantic, Ruth Liebmann, PRH) and even other local bookstore employees, helped with the event. Bruce showed up early and tirelessly greeted fans for more than four hours. My daughter Lily and I helped return people's personal items in coat check right after they met The Boss. Many of them were shaking, teary-eyed, and so bliss-ninnied out that they could barely collect themselves to pick up their belongings or find the exit. Numerous volunteers offered the same, "I've never given more hugs to people I've never met before." We gave Bruce a standing ovation after taking the group photo with the volunteers, and we finally got a glimpse of the rock star he is when he gave us a drum roll with his hands and pointed to the sky before, well, running off. Upon returning home, I asked my husband, "How did we end up with another Bruce book?" He looks at me amazed, and says, "Jenny, you were given one after meeting Bruce and you never stopped clutching it to your heart." Elliott Bay folks, not only do I owe you my gratitude for an unforgettable day, but I owe you a check for the book this Jersey fan girl accidentally stole as well.
Congratulations to Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., which celebrated its 20th anniversary Saturday with a daylong, in-store party. On Facebook, the store posted: "Twenty years ago, Valerie Koehler bought a bookstore on Memorial Drive and renamed it Blue Willow Bookshop. We're delighted to celebrate our anniversary today, so please stop by to enjoy refreshments, goody bags, and, as always, many great books.
"And thanks to the customers, publishers, authors and community members who have become friends and part of the extended Blue Willow Family. Here's to many more wonderful years full of books, joy and reading!"
Effective January 1, Simon & Schuster will handle distribution in the U.S., Canada and open market territories of new and backlist publishing for NorthSouth Books, the U.S. branch of Swiss publishing company NordSüd Verlag.
With headquarters in New York City, NorthSouth Books has been operating in the U.S. since 1986. It is best known for publishing children's books from international and American authors and illustrators, including Kwame Alexander, Hans de Beer and Marcus Pfister.
Andrew Rushton, associate publisher of NorthSouth Books, commented: "We felt the time was right to enter into this new partnership with Simon & Schuster. We're convinced that this exciting relationship with one of the world's largest publishing groups will give us fresh impetus and help us move our business forward."
Michael Perlman, v-p, director, client sales and marketing, S&S, said that NorthSouth Books's "high-quality and beautifully illustrated children's books are truly innovative works from a top-notch selection of international artists and illustrators. We are thrilled by the opportunity to further expand their global outreach."
At Little, Brown:
Katharine Myers has been promoted to associate director of publicity. She joined the company in 2015.
Pamela Brown has been promoted to marketing director, Little, Brown and Mulholland Books. She joined the company four years ago as the marketing manager for Mulholland Books and Michael Connelly.
A Bike Like Sergio's, written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick).
Impyrium, the start of a fantasy trilogy by Henry H. Neff (HarperCollins).
NPR's Morning Edition: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, author of My Own Words (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501145247).
The View: Mindy Kaling, author of Why Not Me? (Three Rivers Press, $16, 9780804138161). She will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Good Morning America.
The Talk: Dolly Parton, author of Coat of Many Colors (Grosset & Dunlap, $17.99, 9780451532374).
Tonight Show: Mario Batali, author of Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA (Grand Central, $40, 9781455584710).
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Martha Stewart discusses Martha Stewart's Vegetables: Inspired Recipes and Tips for Choosing, Cooking, and Enjoying the Freshest Seasonal Flavors (Clarkson Potter, $29.50, 9780307954442).
Late Late Show with James Corden: Jamie Lee Curtis, author of This Is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From (Workman, $16.95, 9780761180111).
Live with Kelly: Lindsey Vonn, author of Strong Is the New Beautiful: Embrace Your Natural Beauty, Eat Clean, and Harness Your Power (Dey Street, $27.99, 9780062400581).
Fresh Air: Alexandra Horowitz, author of Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell (Scribner, $27, 9781476795997).
Diane Rehm: Billy Collins, author of The Rain in Portugal: Poems (Random House, $26, 9780679644064).
The View: Issa Rae, author of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (Atria/37 INK, $16, 9781476749075).
Ellen: Kelly Clarkson, author of River Rose and the Magical Lullaby (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780062427564). She will also appear on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Nightline: Trae Crowder, Corey Ryan Forrester and Drew Morgan, authors of The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin' Dixie Outta the Dark (Atria, $25, 9781501160387).
Sony's TriStar Pictures "has stepped up to make a worldwide rights deal to turn the Paulo Coelho novel The Alchemist into a feature film," Deadline reported, noting that the book "has been guided creatively for years by Cinema Gypsy's Laurence Fishburne, who will take it the rest of the way in partnership with fellow producer, PalmStar Media's Kevin Frakes, and TriStar president Hannah Minghella."
"I'm thrilled to be moving this project forward after all these years," Fishburne said.
"The Alchemist changed my life when I first read it almost 20 years ago," Frakes added. "It helped give me the courage to take chances and the confidence to chase my dream. In my first conversation with Hanna about The Alchemist, I realized she understood the impact this novel has and I knew I wanted to make this film with TriStar. I could not be more excited that we are starting the journey together."
Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd will join Mel Gibson and Sean Penn in The Professor and the Madman, based on Simon Winchester's bestselling novel The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Deadline reported that this is "a passion project for Gibson, who's been working to adapt the book for nearly two decades." Farhad Safinia is directing a script he wrote with John Boorman (Hope and Glory) and Todd Komarnicki (Sully).
The National Book Foundation has announced the 2015 "5 Under 35" honorees, recognizing five debut fiction writers under the age of 35 "whose work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape." They were selected by National Book Award winners and finalists, as well as by writers previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program. The five, who each receive $1,000, will be honored November 14. This year's picks are:
Brit Bennett, author of The Mothers (Riverhead), selected by Jacqueline Woodson
Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing (Knopf), selected by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Greg Jackson, author of Prodigals (FSG), selected by Lauren Groff
S. Li, author of Transoceanic Lights (Harvard Square Editions), selected by Karen Bender
Thomas Pierce, author of Hall of Small Mammals (Riverhead), selected by Amity Gaige
Aminah Mae Safi Won the $1,000 We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest, which celebrates "previously unpublished fiction by diverse writers of all backgrounds," for "Be Cool For Once," which will appear in the forthcoming WNDB YA anthology Lift Off, to be published by Crown Books for Young Readers in 2018.
"I was attracted to Safi's fresh, dynamic voice and the originality of her storytelling," said Phoebe Yeh, v-p/publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers. She acquired publication rights to the anthology that Lamar Giles, senior v-p of communications for WNDB, will edit. A slot had been reserved for the contest winner.
The anthology, featuring 12 stories, is in memory of Walter Dean Myers, inspired by his quote, "We need to bring our young people into the fullness of America's promise and to do that we must rediscover who they are and who we are and be prepared to make the journey with them whatever it takes. My conceit is that literature can be a small path along that journey."
Lift Off is the second collaboration from WNDB and Crown Books for Young Readers. The first collection is Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by WNDB founder and president Ellen Oh. It debuts January 3, 2017.
The Spy Who Couldn't Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI's Hunt for America's Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (New American Library, $27 hardcover, 304p., 9781592409006, November 1, 2016)
Like the FX show The Americans in a contemporary setting, or a John le Carré novel, The Spy Who Couldn't Spell is the dramatic nonfiction story of the pursuit, capture and conviction of United States spy Brian Patrick Regan. Based on his 2010 article in Wired, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee's first book is both an engaging thriller and a timely peek inside the machinations of the U.S.'s security bureaucracies. Regan was a master sergeant analyst with the semi-secret, multibillion-dollar-budgeted National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), where his high security clearance gave him access to the complete infrastructure of the U.S. satellite surveillance apparatus and to the top secret Intelink intranet database used by the country's intelligence agencies. In the late 1990s, he accumulated more than 20,000 pages of documents, CD-ROMs and videotapes with details of the entire U.S. air defense and surveillance systems, and then secreted them out of his restricted-access building in a gym bag with the intent to sell them to "Axis of Evil" countries--or whomever would pay. When a confidential informant intercepted a Regan packet on its way to the Libya consulate, FBI Special Agent Steve Carr was assigned what became the biggest case of his young career.
A longtime staff writer for Science, Bhattacharjee extensively researched court and other public documents, and conducted numerous interviews with Carr and Regan's colleagues and family. Dropping chapter teaser clues, leaving trails of red herrings and switching focus between the pursuer and the pursued, he builds his story of a paranoid belt-and-suspender amateur spy and the relentless, rigorous agent on his trail. No master spy with years of tradecraft experience, Regan was just a methodical hoarder with a vague plan and a cryptographic trail of spelling errors. He was also a six-foot-four, overweight man who grew up bullied for his dyslexia and his doltish communication skills. With a wife and four young kids, he was up to his eyeballs in credit card debt and angry about his government salary and meager pension. As he admitted after sentencing, "I didn't want anybody to get killed. I just needed the money. I thought I could get some cash to solve my problems."
Alongside news of WikiLeaks, Snowden disclosures, the Panama Papers, The Spy Who Couldn't Spell is as real as it gets. Cryptography, hard drive scrubbing, server spoor tracking, old-school surveillance tails and wiretaps, psychological profiling and high-definition courtroom drama: Bhattacharjee tells a story that would make a kickass movie. Once Regan's stolen documents were recovered, Carr discovered that their potential damage to United States defense was worse than anyone imagined: "an intelligence disaster on an unparalleled scale, potentially undermining the U.S. military for decades." Hardly just another season of The Americans. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.
Shelf Talker: With a gradual escalation of mystery and suspense, The Spy Who Couldn't Spell tells the fascinating story of a contemporary spy and the team that caught him.