Movies based on books did very nicely at the dimmed Golden Globes yesterday. Among the winners: Antonement, best drama and best original score; No Country for Old Men, best screenplay (Ethan and Joel Coen) and best supporting actor (Javier Bardem); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, best director (Julian Schnabel) and best foreign language film; and Into the Wild, best original song.
Yet more on the sale of Mitchell's Book Corner on Nantucket Island, Mass., from the Inquirer and Mirror.
Under the deal, Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, bought the building housing the business for $3.2 million. Apparently she bought the bookstore, too--although it's unclear whether that was a separate transaction. Schmidt is leasing the space and business to Mary Jennings, a longtime employee at Mitchell's, and Lucretia Voigt, who has worked there since the summer as she has closed down her used bookstore, Brant Point Books.
Mitchell's Book Corner seller Mimi Beman said, "This wasn't a gift. [Jennings and Voigt have] to pay rent, and they have to run a profitable business."
A real estate agent involved in the deal told the paper that the mission of Schmidt and her family foundation "is trying to support vulnerable historic communities. There are probably a number of ways in which Nantucket is vulnerable. Right now we have a collision of the authentic Main Street we love and real estate values which make running authentic businesses perilous. . . . Mitchell's was a fairly obvious choice, given its strategic location, and psychological and sociological importance. Imagine Main Street without Mitchell's. It would be a vastly different place."
The AP reported that Signet Books "will be examining" novels written by Cassie Edwards in the wake of plagiarism charges by the romance novel blog, Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books, which "posted numerous excerpts from Edwards' novels and placed them alongside passages from reference books and magazines that were found by using the Google search."
Edwards has written more than 100 novels, and 10 million copies of her work are in print. The author admitted to the AP that "she indeed 'takes' material from other works, but said she didn't know she was supposed to credit her sources. She then asked her husband to get on the phone. Charles Edwards said the author only gets 'ideas' from other books and does not 'lift passages.'"
Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell, the blog’s co-authors, indicated that "while Edwards may not have infringed copyright law, they consider her actions unethical," as the New York Times put it.
Wendell added, "It's disappointing because, as a reader and a consumer, I assume it's something this person wrote. A good many historical romance novels contain authors' notes listing where you can go for more information. There are romance novelists who use footnotes."
Cool idea of the day: to celebrate an 11% gain in holiday sales and their "expertise in handselling online," Mystery Lovers Bookshop owners Richard Goldman and Mary Alice Gorman closed the Oakmont, Pa., store yesterday and took the longtime staff to see the Metropolitan Opera's Macbeth by Verdi in a Met at the Movies presentation. Gorman noted that while "this may seem strange to some, to a couple and staff who enjoy no meetings or manuals in management style, it makes much sense."
Bills aimed at lowering the costs of textbooks have been reintroduced in five state legislatures. For a syllabus of these efforts, go to Campus Marketplace.
In a related item, the Asheville Citizen-Times explores the efforts made by state schools to meet the University of North Carolina board of governors' January deadline for easing the textbook costs either by offering book rentals or guaranteeing to buy back books for introductory classes at a set price.
Incidentally last year we went into some detail about one of the school's plans, Appalachian State's textbook rental program, which began in the 1930s (Shelf Awareness, April 10, 2007).
Faye Williams, co-owner of Sisterspace and Books, which shut down in 2004, had planned to reopen the store in mid-December but suffered a stroke on December 4, which has postponed the opening indefinitely, according to the Washington Blade.
Although Williams was originally unable to speak or move much, she has greatly improved. A friend commented: "She's doing much better. She's walking and talking, giving orders, doing her thing." A fundraiser on her behalf may be held later this spring.
Noting that 2007 was the Seattle Mystery Bookshop's "best year ever" (sales rose 6.5%), owner J.B. Dickey objected to the Seattle Times's coverage of the closing of M Coy Books (Shelf Awareness, January 5, 2008).
In a letter to the paper, Dickey wrote in part, "The local media are quick to mark the demise of an independent bookshop and say once again how it is nearly impossible for a small independent to survive. Difficult, sure. But not impossible." After praising Michael Coy and outlining his store's particular problems--"his location in a high-rent area of downtown, his particular landlord, the fact that the shop is a general bookshop"--Dickey asked, "Why not do a story about how some independents are doing fine because of their customers who want to support small businesses? Isn't there a story in that?"
Books-A-Million will open a store in the near future in Richmond, Va., in West Broad Village, a mixed-use development. This is the company's 20th store in Virginia.
A man who for a decade operated as a fake bookseller and took publishers for $450,000, has been sentenced to 70 months in prison and has been ordered to make full restitution, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
Leroy Singleton of Durham, N.C., used 50 fake names and 35 fake bookstore addresses to order books, CDs and other merchandise, none of which he paid for. He sold most of the items at flea markets. He was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for mail fraud, pled guilty and was sentenced last week.
Some booksellers will wonder at the treatment the faux bookseller received from suppliers. As the paper wryly put it, Singleton "tapped into a common practice among book publishers--shipping products to bookstores even before credit applications are formally approved."
The Guardian's Sean Dodson offered his list of the top 10 bookshops in the world.
Baby boomers "aren't afraid to blaze their own trails," Dawne Botke-Coe, co-owner of the Triple Goddess Bookstore, Okemos, Mich., told USA Today in an article on religious alternatives.
"Their disenchantment with the system, both politically and religiously, is something they don't usually just suck up and ignore," Botke-Coe added. "They seek alternatives."
Book group name of the year: The Manila Bulletin showcased "Read or Die’s booklist for the year 2007"
Police officers in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, are translating classic works of literature into cop code, according to the Washington Post. Police supervisors apparently believe they can soften the image of the force with some literary instruction.
Initial efforts did not work because "officers couldn't get into the material. They were distracted. Bored." That's when supervisors devised a plan to translate great novels into police radio codes: "Juan Meléndez Mecalco, a regional chief with a literary flair, dived into Don Quixote and produced his own little police-style masterpiece. Many of the officers were still resistant. But for others, it was a spark. Suddenly, classrooms that had been deathly quiet came alive. The big surprise, though, was that officers started asking for more books--and they didn't mind if they weren't translated into police code."
Here's the police code version of the opening paragraph of 100 Years of Solitude: "Many alfas later, in front of a 44 squad, Coronel Aureliano Buendia had a 60 about that distant afternoon when his father 26ed him to 62 ice. Macondo was a residential 22 of twenty 94s made of mud and 9 cane built on the bank of a river of diaphanous waters that 26ed over a 22 of clean, white rocks as big as prehistoric eggs."
Have books lost their "chic" for realtors? According to a BBC piece on the decline in reading among the general public, even real estate agents are unimpressed by personal libraries.
"If you try and sell your house, estate agents will tell you to get rid of the books, they are viewed as tired and middle aged," said Professor John Sutherland, who has chaired the Booker prize judging panel.
Jennifer Haller has been appointed v-p and associate publisher of Harcourt Children's Books, an imprint of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group. She was most recently v-p of sales and marketing for Harcourt Children's Books. Before that, she was national accounts manager at Houghton Mifflin and worked at Candlewick Press.