Notes: Blockbuster Bust; B&N Opening and Closing
In a front-page story, today's Wall Street Journal seeks to interpret the fate of Jed Rubenfeld's debut novel, Interpretation of Murder,
for which Holt spent $500,000 on a marketing campaign intended to make
it a September blockbuster. Most everything went according to plan for
the work of historical fiction, which features Sigmund Freud, but while
sales have been respectable for a first novel, they haven't been at
blockbuster levels. The Journal says the main culprit was The
Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which came out at the same time
and was embraced even more enthusiastically by booksellers, including
Barnes & Noble, which made The Thirteenth Tale its first pick for
B&N Recommends, a program that aims to focus all the stores 40,000
employees on handselling one title.
Disappointed, the Journal noted that Holt nonetheless had a fortuitous little lift that displays the vagaries of publishing: "On Sept. 20, when the bad news about Mr. Rubenfeld's book was coming over the transom, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave a speech to the United Nations. He held up a copy of Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance and praised the book, which shot up the Amazon bestseller list, prompting the printing of an additional 50,000 copies to meet demand. Mr. Chomsky's publisher: Henry Holt & Co."
Next spring Barnes & Noble plans to open a bookstore in Newnan, Ga., near Atlanta, in the Forum at Ashley Park at 35 Ansley Dr. The store will stock the usual nearly 200,000 book, music, DVD and magazine titles.
The Barnes & Noble store in Hartsdale, N.Y., in Westchester County, will close early next year when its lease expires, the Journal News
reported. The store is among many retailers that have left the town's
Central Avenue business district, where real estate has become more
expensive and some believe condos will replace stores.
A local attorney who wants to see retail reinvigorated in the town said about his neighborhood: "For Edgemont people, Barnes & Noble is like our surrogate library. It's very disappointing for my kids that we won't be able to run over there." A town supervisor said he wants to see a bookstore return to the area--as well as a movie theater, following the closing of one last month.
Coincidentally on Friday, a car crashed through the front of the store, according to the paper. The driver and an employee were injured.
Books-A-Million has opened a 15,500-sq.-ft. store in Southaven, Miss., just south of Memphis, Tenn., according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
The store is in the Southaven Towne Center, a lifestyle center, and is
"the first major bookstore in DeSoto County," the paper said. Dennis
Sullivan, the store's assistant general manager, commented: "We
actively seek out locations that don't have" major bookstores.
The Chicago Defender
profiles the Afrocentric Bookstore in the Bronzeville section of
Chicago. Desiree Sanders founded the store 16 years ago. Its motto:
"seeing the world through an African point of view."
The paper wrote: "The sweet smell of lavender incense welcomes visitors to a vibrant display of African ethnic crafts and neatly stacked rows of books ranging from ancient Egypt and civil war histories to soul food cooking. Afrocentric Bookstore has all the ingredients to warrant second and third helpings: friendly and knowledgeable staff, a wide selection of books and a desire to help you find what you came looking for."
On the occasion of Coliseum Books announcing its second closing, the New York Times remembers legendary city bookstores that, as the paper of record put it, "live only in the mind." Among them:
- Scribner's on Fifth Avenue, which HarperCollins's Carl Lennertz called "a beautiful palace. It was like something in the New Yorker, what a New York bookstore should be."
- Books & Co., with its Wall of literature about which Harold Bloom said, "No clinkers in there."
- The Eighth Street Bookshop, where owner Eli Wilentz offered all kinds of books, saying, "If you can hold it together with staples, we'll sell it."