Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 27, 2006
Quotation of the Day
Notes: O.J.'s 'Blood Money'; Store News; ISBN-13 in 5 Weeks
We had hoped never to write again about O.J. Simpson and If I Did It,
but if we didn't, we'd miss apparent confirmation of one of the many questionable
aspects of a questionable project. Over the weekend, Simpson told the AP
that he participated
in the book and TV interview solely for personal profit, which
he called "blood money," and said that the book was not a
confession, which is how publisher Judith Regan had justified the work. The AP quoted him telling a
Florida radio station, "I made it clear from the first day I met the
writer that I wasn't involved. I said, 'I have nothing to confess.' "
A few copies of If I Did It are showing up for sale, but HarperCollins is working to keep them from being listed, saying that all titles are Harper property and will be considered stolen.
ISBN-13 countdown: in five weeks, the International Standard Book Number becomes a 13-digit number. For more information about the change, go to the Book Industry Study Group's Web site.
The Connecticut Post takes stock of the Extra Percs Caf in Shelton, an 800-sq.-ft. combination coffee shop/Christian bookstore that it calls like "a friend's cozy living space." The store was founded at the end of last year by Latrece Preston, who wanted to create something like "the sprawling Christian bookstores that are so abundant" in her native Orlando, Fla. The store's motto is "caffeine for the soul."
Extra Percs brews at 61 Howe Ave., Shelton, Conn. 06484; 203-922-1977.
The New Mexico Daily Lobo,
the student newspaper of the University of New Mexico, profiles
Libreria La Semilla, a bookstore connected to the Out Ch'Yonda art
center that specializes in "alternative literature," including books,
'zines and graphic novels on such topics as African-American history,
globalization, Mexican indigenous labor issues, cooking and more.
The store's staff is volunteer. "We get together every once and a while and decide what to do," Mimi Leland, who opened the store with Clayton Levine in September, told the paper. "Americans view anarchy as synonymous with chaos. In Europe, it is a very respectable political philosophy."
Libreria La Semilla is located at 929 Fourth St. S.W., Albuquerque, N.M. 87102.
The Sperryville Bookstore in Sperryville, Va., is closing, the Rappahannock News reported. Nancy and Greg Ostinato bought the store, which carries new and used books, three years ago and had tried to sell the business recently.
Just in the nick of time, the Book Nook, Jackson, Tenn., moved to a new spot in town: on Friday a fire severely damaged the store's old location, where owner Mary Nash had left some personal items, the Jackson Sun reported.
Borders: Online Player Again?; The Quarter; Original Voices
Here's an appropriate item for Cyber Monday: Borders Group may reverse or modify the decision it made five years ago to outsource online retailing to Amazon.com, a decision that caused much surprise at the time, given the strong growth in Web sales. [See separate stories below.]
Now, under new CEO George Jones, Borders is "reviewing options for its Internet relationship" with Amazon, Jones told Bloomberg in an item that appeared in the Detroit Free Press. Borders is developing a major strategic plan in which "the Internet will play a large role," the paper wrote. The plan will be unveiled early next year. [For more on the plan, see the following item.]
sales at Borders during the quarter ended October 28 rose 1.7% to
$851.6 million compared to the same period in 2005, and the consolidated
loss was $39.1 million compared to a loss of $14.1 million in the same
period a year earlier.
Sales at U.S. Borders superstores rose 1.8% to $583.2 million and sales at stores open at least a year dropped 0.7%. Comp-store sales at remodeled stores did 2.4% better than non-remodeled stores. Café, gifts and stationery performed best in the remodeled stores. The net loss for U.S. superstores was $9.4 million, compared to net income of $7.6 million a year ago. In the third quarter, the company opened 11 Borders superstores in the U.S. and ended with 487.
Total sales at Borders international stores rose 14.9% to $144.6 million in the quarter. Sales at international superstores open at least a year fell 0.3% in local currency. Continued weak sales in the U.K. (which represents about 65% of international superstore sales) were partially offset by stronger comp-store sales in Asia Pacific. The net loss of $10.4 million was the same as last year. During the quarter, Borders opened two more international superstores and now has 61.
In the Walden specialty retail division, which includes Borders Express, sales dropped 10.5% and sales at stores open at least a year dropped 5%. The net loss was $8.4 million, compared to $3.4 million a year ago. Borders closed seven Walden specialty retail stores and now has 652.
Borders is predicting that in the fourth quarter comp-store sales at U.S. superstores will range from "flat to an increase in the low single digits"; at Waldenbooks Specialty Retail stores sales will "decline in the low to mid single digits"; and at international stores, sales will "range from an increase in the low single digits to a decrease in the low single digits."
In a statement, Borders Group CEO George Jones said, "To drive shareholder value long-term, we are developing a strategic plan that has four key goals--differentiating Borders superstores from the competition in meaningful ways, including product merchandising and presentation; aggressively right-sizing the mall business; driving profitability in the International segment; and embracing innovation and technology."
Nominees have been chosen for the 11th annual Borders
Original Voices Awards, which honor "innovative and ambitious new books
and music from new and emerging talents, as well as works that
represent a new direction for established authors and musicians."
Borders corporate and store employees chose the nominees; a committee of corporate staff members will read and listen to each
finalist and choose winners, who will be announced in January.
Winners of the annual awards receive $5,000 each.
The Original Voices nominees in book categories are:
- The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (Knopf)
- Pride of Baghdad by Brian Vaughan (Vertigo)
- Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (Viking)
- The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue (Nan Talese)
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Algonquin)
Winkie by Clifford Chase (Grove Atlantic)
- From Baghdad with Love by Jay Kopelman (Globe Pequot)
- The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery (Ballantine)
- I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors by Bernice Eisenstein (Riverhead)
- Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent (Viking)
- A Strong West Wind by Gail Caldwell (Random House)
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin)
Children's Picture Books:
- Art by Patricia McDonnell (Little, Brown Young Readers)
- Chicken & Cat by Sara Varon (Scholastic)
- Dear Fish by Chris Gall (Little, Brown Young Readers)
- Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser (HarperCollins Juvenile)
- Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao (Little, Brown Young Readers)
True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Intermediate/Young Adult Books:
- Bass Ackwards & Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft (Little, Brown Young Readers)
- Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock (Houghton Mifflin)
- Endymion Spring by Mathew Skelton (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
- The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (David Fickling Books)
- Skinny by Ibi Kaslik (Walker)
- Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu (Atheneum)
Black Friday: Busy and Maybe Black
Because of huge discounts, mild weather in many parts of the country and seemingly more publicity than ever, Black Friday was a success by several measures: crowds stormed into stores before dawn, highlighted items ran out quickly, sales were high. But some observers emphasized that the discounts obviously were the main draw and wondered if customers would be drawn to products selling for less ridiculous prices.
Sales rose 6% to $8.96 billion on Friday compared to Black Friday a year ago, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. The service tracks sales at more than 45,000 mall stores.
In general retail, department stores continued to post strong gains, while discounters had difficulties, an abrupt reversal of fortune. For years, department stores have been sales laggards. Wal-Mart said November same-store sales so far, including Black Friday, were down 0.1%. Malls that opened at midnight did even better than malls that opened at the more "traditional" 6 a.m. on Friday. Sales of electronics buzzed especially strongly followed by furniture and home furnishings.
For all the crowding, the National Retail Federation estimated that 140 million people shopped at stores or online over the long weekend, down about 5 million from last year. But those 5 million fewer people apparently spent more this year, nearly 20% more, according to BIGresearch, as quoted by the Washington Post.
Today, Cyber Monday, is the next big milestone in the holiday season. The dynamic of shoppers returning to work but continuing shopping on their employers' computers may be overhyped: last year Cyber Monday was only the ninth busiest day of online shopping. Still, many online retailers, including B&N.com, are offering specials today.
As for Black Friday, a few bookstores quoted around the country had mixed news. At the
Frugal Frigate, Redlands, Calif., "people have been bustling in and out
for that classic literature we carry," staff member Rita Rogers told
the Redlands Daily Facts.
At a Barnes & Noble in Columbia, S.C., sales were solid on Friday but slow on Saturday, likely because of the Carolina-Clemson football game, assistant manager Julie Ellis told the State.
On Friday, a B&N in the Denver Pavilions mall in Denver, Colo., "had a steady stream of customers at midday, but wasn't jam-packed," according to the Denver Business Journal. Staff members told the paper business was "good."
Amusingly, Eric Garneau, co-owner of Stand-Up Comics in Calumet City, Ind., tried to explain why relatively few people were taking advantage of the store's 25% sale from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday. "I have a feeling that's because of the nature of our customers," he told the Northwest Indiana Times. "They are not morning people."
[Editors' note: Shelf Awareness will have regular coverage of bookstore sales throughout the season. Any booksellers interested in sharing information and stories about hot books, surprise sellers, disappointments, hot sidelines and more, should contact us.]
'Tis the Season for More Online Sales
Among the choice morsels from the story:
- Online sales will probably account for 6% of holiday sales.
- Some 47% of consumers will make at least one holiday purchase online.
- Free shipping and coupons-off deals are becoming standard during the holiday.
- Online retailers are ever more sophisticated about "bundling" products and depicting them in more flattering ways on Web sites.
- Some sellers are making it easier to defer delivery until just before a holiday.
Textbook Tort?: Students Sue School and Follett
In the class-action suit, which alleges breach of the contract between Follett and the college, violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and a civil conspiracy, the students argue that the few dollars per semester per student multiplied by "thousands of students at each of the company's more than 750 bookstores . . . adds up to millions."
A Follett spokesperson said that the company "believes this suit is without legal basis."
Before the fall semester began in August, plaintiffs Thomas Rebman and Danny Brandner say, the college bookstore illegally rounded up the prices of used books to the next 25-cent increment. "Used books that should have cost $88.69 and $85.31 were sold to them for $88.75 and $85.50, respectively," they argued.
When the pair sold the books back to the store, the store paid them less than 50% of the new retail price "as required by the contract." The suit uses as examples "the return of a college-algebra book that cost $118.25 new but was bought back by the store for $56.25, or less than half its new price." The student should have received $59.12, the suit alleged.
The school receives 10% of all bookstore revenues.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Winners, Bakers
Today on the Martha Stewart Show: Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking: From My Home to Yours (Houghton Mifflin, $40, 0618443363).
Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Stephen S. Hall, author of Size Matters: How Height Affects the Health, Happiness, and Success of Boys--and the Men They Become (Houghton Mifflin, $26, 0618470409).
Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show:
- Muhammad Yunus, winner last month of the Nobel Peace Prize and author of Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty (PublicAffairs, $15, 1586481983)
- Annie Leibovitz, whose new book is A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 (Random House, $75, 0375505091)
Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: recently re-elected Rep. Rahm Emanuel, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and co-author of The Plan: Big Ideas for America (PublicAffairs, $19.95, 1586484125).
Books & Authors
Book Sense: May We Recommend
The Sharing Knife Volume One: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (Eos, $25.95, 0061137588). "Bujold's latest fantasy novel takes place in a new setting, but it has all the elements her fans have come to expect--interesting characters, an unusual application of magic, and a plot full of conflicts. The only bad part is that this is the first of a two-book set, and I'll have to wait to learn how the story unfolds!"--Kate Reynolds, Colgate Bookstore, Hamilton, N.Y.
Fleeing Fundamentalism: A Minister's Wife Examines Faith by Carlene Cross (Algonquin, $23.95, 1565124987). "While attending Bible college, Carlene Cross met her future husband, who became a popular charismatic minister. But all was not well in the marriage, and she began to question her beliefs, the church community, and even her friends. Cross provides readers with insight into the U.S. fundamentalist movement, as she tells her story of leaving her faith to discover the joy, sorrow, and freedom of the secular world."--Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont. [Editors' Note: This title was reviewed in Shelf Awareness, October 19, 2006.]
Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand (M Press, $14.95, 1595820965). "Stories from a master of lapidary style and fey fiction. I'm reminded of John Fowles' touch of the mythical in The Magus, but Hand is no imitator--she wields her own magic."--Pauline Ziniker, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont.
For Kids 9 to 12
The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney (Greenwillow, $16.99, 0060766212). "The exciting adventures of apprentice Tom Ward, his master, and his mischievous friend Alice continue in this page-turning sequel. Tom and his master are once again in danger, not only from the monstrous Bane but also from the county Quisitor, who wants to burn them at the stake."--Rosalind Schumann, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.
The Last Dragon by Silvana de Mari (Miramax, $16.95, 0786836369). "The Last Dragon is a fantasy tale full of magic. Involving humans, elves, and dragons, it is written by a newcomer author, Silvana de Mari. This story of the last elf and the last dragon provides readers with a familiar storyline, but it introduces a note of irony that is sure to appeal to older middle readers."--Roberta Blanchard, Fairy Godmother, Washington, D.C.
[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]