Bookselling Notes: Bookstore Sales; New Orleans
As it celebrated its 20th anniversary last night,
Chapters: A Literary Bookstore in Washington, D.C., announced that it
will attempt to reorganize as a nonprofit. According to the Washington Post, owners Terri Merz and Steve Moyer plan to sell the store to Wordfest, a foundation they set up
four years ago to sponsor the D.C. International Poetry Festival. "In order to
pursue the purchase, Wordfest would need to raise about $80,000, which would be
applied to Chapters' current debts and future operating expenses," the paper wrote. "Merz said she
is hoping for $50 contributions from 1,600 people."
One industry observer indicated to the Post that the store's move two years ago to a location a block from a Barnes & Noble was a "most difficult" thing to do.
The store is noted for its literary selection and a sterling author events program.
Thank you, Harry Potter.
In July, bookstore sales rose 0.9% to $1.138 billion over July 2004, the first monthly gain since February, according to preliminary figures from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales were down 3.2% at $8.251 billion. By comparison, total retail sales for the year to date rose 5% to $2.1 trillion.
The July gain likely will be shortlived. General retail sales figures for August show a tough
retail climate--even before Hurricane Katrina hit. A sales decline of 2.1%,
largely because of gasoline price rises that seem tame compared to
early September's, was twice as high as forecasted.
Without commenting on the merits of individual cases, the Wall Street Journal
today noted that some companies, including Books-A-Million, are citing
Hurricane Katrina for earnings shortfalls. "The trick in the weeks
ahead will be divining those companies with businesses that truly are
being hurt by the damage to the New Orleans region, and those companies
only somewhat affected but dealing with troubles in their operations elsewhere."
Despite indications that the city's recovery may take years, the American Library Association has not given up the idea of holding its June annual conference in New Orleans as planned, according to a statement by president Michael Gorman.
"The single most important thing that ALA
can do for New Orleans is hold our
conference there if we can," he wrote. "If
we cannot hold the conference in New Orleans--and we should know this within the next two months--we
are considering other locations and will make a decision in good time."
Congratulations to our former colleague Edward Nawotka, who
has landed a gig writing a weekly column for Bloomberg.com. His first appeared
last week and covered books about the Flood while the second, which appeared
yesterday, took a tour of New Orleans's
rich literary heritage. The column will be syndicated. Edward can be reached at
The Miami Herald described what may be one of the most unusually located book signings: it takes place Thursday, October 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Heritage Books bookstore, owned by the Paradies Shops, in Delta's Terminal 2 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. The store is on the far side of security; only ticketed passengers are allowed.
The $26.99 book is The Diamond Cage by Brenda Bragdon Dooling and self-published with Xulon Press. Her synopsis: ''Spanning the entire twentieth century, this diverse family legacy is richly woven together by a faith-filled grandmother whose slave-born mother taught generations to come how to live free.''
The author has a lot of pull in her part of Florida.
Her son Keyon plays for the Orlando Magic, and her husband and two other sons
are skycaps at the airport.
A checkup in today's New York Times found a groundswell of anger from some expectant parents against the perennial bestseller What to Expect When You're Expecting,
which has more than 13 million copies in print since publication in
1984. The "publishing conundrum," as the Times put it: "It is the most popular and widely
trusted book in its category and yet is coming under such regular
criticism that its authors are revising some of its key tenets." In a
few cases, the changes concern mistakes, but most of the backlash has
to do with the book's emphasis on what can go wrong, in other words,
what to expect. . .
Interestingly in the two decades since
publication, more and more parents have become "hypereducated" and the
Internet has become both a forum for their complaints about the book
and a place for sites that allow immediate interaction and even more
detailed information about pregnancy.