Notes: Brent Backed; Graphic Novels Club; Canadian Cringe
The "going out of business" signs in the windows of Brent Books &
Cards during December may have been premature, according to Crain's Chicago Business,
which reported that owner Adam Brent's Christmas season took a turn for
the better when "a customer offered to become an investor and provide
enough money to pay back rent and turn the store around."
To illustrate the growth in popularity of comic books, the Kansas City Star focuses on one local high school's Graphic Novels Club, which has doubled membership in less than four years.
This semester, the club will host a speaker from a comic book store, attend a graphic novels convention, pick out more graphic novels for the school's library during a trip to Borders and give presentations on different graphic novel styles, authors and series.
Karen Lieffring, a senior, said: "There is so much variety in graphic novels. You have books with action, fighting robots to flowery romance ones that feature the girls with the big googly eyes. It's like any other section of the bookstore."
(Check out the last story in this issue for information about two somewhat similar reading groups geared for middle schoolers and younger students.)
The trend toward lower prices on books imported into Canada from the U.S. because of the weak U.S. dollar is dragging down prices on Canadian titles and reverberating through the Canadian book industry, the Globe and Mail reported. A case in point: Raincoast Books's decision to suspend its Canadian publishing program, close its Ontario warehouse and let 20 employees go.
Noting that companies like his--branches of international publishers--are "better able to withstand the coming storm" than independent Canadian publishers, Brad Martin, president and CEO of Random House Canada, told the paper: "Clearly Raincoast looked at the situation and decided it was time to batten down the hatches because it's going to be a gutted-out year." He predicted difficulty for most publishers, distributors and booksellers, particularly independents, in Canada in 2008.
He continued: "Pricing has come down 25 to 30 per cent minimum on books [imported from the U.S.], not necessarily on all formats, but certainly across the board. . . . If you're a bookstore that did $100,000 in U.S.-distributed books . . . in 2006, that's going to be $75,000 in '08; it may be less, it may be $60,000."
In addition, many Canadian titles are being priced $2-$4 less than they would otherwise.
One of the booksellers currently visiting the Beijing Book Fair (Shelf Awareness, December 17, 2007), Karl Pohrt, founder and owner of Shaman Drum, Ann Arbor, Mich., is delivering a speech on the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Booksellers in a Post Literate World. Here is a copy of the speech, courtesy of Three Percent, a blog about international literature at the University of Rochester. The speech is difficult to excerpt--just read the whole thing!
Now you film him.
The latest book chosen by Sharp Independent at HarperCollins--the partnership of the publisher and film producer created last October--to be made into a film is Now You See Him by Eli Gottlieb, a February Morrow title.
A Book Sense pick, Now You See Him "looks at the aftereffects of a murder committed by a celebrated writer that draws the probing lights of the national media to his hometown," as Harper described it.
Sharp called Now You See Him "a compulsively readable book, which, like Damage and The Secret History, moves with the speed of a thriller, while at the same time excavating the deepest secrets of the human heart."
In another closing-and-opening move, Barnes & Noble plans to open a new store in Hurst, Tex., near Fort Worth, this May. It will be located in the Shops at North East Mall at Loop 820 (Frontage Road) and Pipeline Road. The day before the new store opens, B&N will close its current store at Richland Centre in North Richland Hills.
"Worthy bookstores fill a vital, though often overlooked, role in life," noted Journal Newspapers
in its exploration of Washington bookshops Abraxus Books, Seattle;
Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park; Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds;
University Bookstore, Mill Creek and Pilchuck Books, Everett.
Customers offered their own assessments:
"Third Place Books is my favorite bookstore of all time," said Nancy Aguilar. "I love the ambiance of a warm and inviting gathering place for all types of groups and all types of people. There's always something interesting going on, whether it's a children's birthday party, a salsa band, or an engaging lecture. Hanging out at Third Place feels kind of like being with family. It's a place where I recognize old friends and meet new ones."
Erika Larimer said her "small book club has enjoyed meeting with the owner of the Edmonds Bookshop. She listens earnestly to our reading tastes and desires, then makes thoughtful recommendations accompanied by short book reviews. Some of the best reads I have are books she's recommended. Albeit a diminutive store, its shelves are packed with a variety sure to satisfy the full range of reading tastes."
Lisa D'Andrea lauded Pilchuck Books for its "great atmosphere, very similiar to bookstores in England. Books teeter in stacks everywhere, yet it is still easy to navigate. Its exterior facade is even painted green--the English would be proud."
Meanwhile, in New York, Huffington Post advised book lovers to "seek out one of the city's more distinctive neighborhood bookstores," including Crawford Doyle Booksellers, Three Lives & Company, Bank Street Bookstore, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Hue-Man Bookstore & Café, Alabaster Bookshop and Housing Works Used Book Cafe.---
Effective immediately, Independent Publishers Group's Trafalgar Square Publishing is distributing McRae Books in the U.S. McRae titles were previously sold in the U.S. mainly through co-editions.
With headquarters in Florence, Italy, McRae Books publishes illustrated books in history, art, religion, nature, science, technology, cookery, food and wine. Forthcoming titles include Brunch: Brilliant Ideas for Successful Entertaining by Rachel Lee (June); 365 Awesome Facts & Records About Everything by Gill Davis (June); and two titles from the Flavors of Italy series, Flavors of Liguria and Flavors of Umbria by Carla Bardi and Kate Singleton (both books appear in July).
This may not come directly under the purview of Shelf Awareness, but for us former Russian history nerds this is striking:
Yale University Press has received a $1.3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a digital documentary edition of Stalin's personal archive. The personal archive includes official internal Soviet communications, private notations, material from Stalin's library and more, much of it opened only recently. The project is an initiative of the Annals of Communism series, begun in 1992.
The Press intends to transcribe, translate and annotate the material and make it available online to scholars gradually. The whole project should be completed by 2012.