Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 29, 2005


Atria Books: Astrid Sees All by Natalie Standiford

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Walker Books Us: Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham

Scholastic Press: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

News

Bookselling Notes: Cody's III Opens; Settle Dies

Congratulations: the grand opening of Cody's Books's San Francisco store takes place today, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Through October 6, the store will hold giveaways, raffles and spotlight Bay Area publishers.

Since this is San Francisco, the opening celebration will include "a salute from Bay Area authors in the Jessica Mitford Memorial Kazoo Band," according to the San Francisco Examiner.

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S&S has launched SimonSays Podcast, joining publishers who are hoping that podcasts will help sell books. USA Today listened into the e-phenomenon, noting that Holtzbrinck's podcasts have drawn 40,000 visitors and 10,000 downloads since starting last month.

Holtzbrinck marketing director Jeff Gomez commented: "It's really about readers getting in touch with books. Their interest may start with new technology, but we hope that, in the end, they go to a bookstore, buy a hardback or a paperback, and curl up with a book."

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Mary Lee Settle, who won the National Book Award for Blood Tie in 1978 and wrote the the Beulah Quintet, the five-book saga, died Tuesday at the age of 87. She had suffered from lung cancer.

The founder of the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1980, Settle was at work on an "imagined biography" of Thomas Jefferson in his youth, according to today's New York Times.

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Ann Beattie has won the Rea Award for the short story. The $30,000 prize goes to those making "a significant contribution to the discipline of the short story as an art form." The judges were Sherman Alexie, Ron Carlson and Tess Gallagher.

Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gaiman, Rendell, Doctorow

Good Morning America talks with Karen Siff Exkorn, author of The Autism Sourcebook: Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping, and Healing (Regan, $27.95, 0060799889).

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This morning the Today Show doles out a portion of Nicholas Perricone, whose The Perricone Promise: Look Younger, Live Longer in Three Easy Steps (Warner, $15.95, 0446695912) is now out in paperback.

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Today KCRW's Bookworm talks with Colm Tóibín, author of The Master (Scribner, $14, 0743250419). The show sees it this way: "The winner of this year's Los Angeles Times award for fiction reveals the difficulties of writing about the life of Henry James. It is impossible to imitate the Master's complex style--that goes without saying. But how to handle the discretions of James' hidden sexual desires, how to give shape to the invisible presences in James' world?"

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Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Ruth Rendell talks up her latest mystery, 13 Steps Down (Crown, $25, 1400098424).
  • Neil Gaiman on his new movie, Mirror Mask, and novel, Anansi Boys (Morrow, $26.95, 006051518X).
  • Anthony Shadid, author of Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War (Holt, $26, 0805076026).
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On Fresh Air yesterday:

  • A regular contributor to NPR's This American Life, David Rakoff has a new collection of essays, Now, Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never-ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems (Doubleday, $22.95, 0385510365).
  • E.L. Doctorow, author of The March (Random House, $25.95, 0375506713).

GLOW: Beacon Press: Boyz n the Void: a mixtape to my brother by G'Ra Asim


Book TV: Dr. Sherwin Nuland in Depth

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on history and political books as well as the publishing industry. The following are highlights of this coming weekend's programming. For more information and a full schedule, go to Book TV's Web site.

Saturday, October 1

7 p.m. Encore Booksnotes. In a program first aired in 1992, David Savage, a Los Angeles Times reporter who covers the Supreme Court, talked about his book Turning Right: The Making of the Rehnquist Supreme Court (Wiley, $19.95, 0471595535).

8 p.m. After Words. Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, discusses her career and her new memoir, Talking Back . . . to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels (Viking, $25.95, 0670034037). She is interviewed by Robert Lichter, professor of communications at George Mason University and president of the Center for Media & Public Affairs. (Re-airs on Sunday at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.)

Sunday, October 2

12 Noon. In Depth: Dr. Sherwin Nuland, clinical professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, winner of the 1994 National Book Award for How We Die (Vintage, $14, 0679742441), chairman of the board of managers of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, a member of the editorial board of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine and a contributing editor to the American Scholar and the New Republic. Viewers may join the live, three-hour discussion by calling in with a question or sending an e-mail to booktv@c-span.org. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

10 p.m. Public Lives. Ann Blackman, author of Wild Rose: Rose O'Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy (Random House, $25.95, 1400061180), talks about the Confederate spy who was married to a State Department official and created an intelligence community in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War.

Book Industry Charitable Foundation: Double your donation!


Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

The following titles go on sale on October 4:

Blue Smoke
by Nora Roberts (Putnam, $25.95, 039913063). The latest Roberts features arson investigator Catarina "Reena" Hale, who finds a man of interest just as anonymous calls threaten to use fire to destroy all she loves.

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The Colorado Kid by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, $5.99, 0843955848) is an original mass market title, part of the Hard Case Crime series, a livre noir featuring a novice newspaperwoman who learns about a 25-year-old unsolved murder on a Maine island.

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Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past
by Emeril Lagasse (Morrow, $29.95, 0060740469) includes a history of and recipes from the Delmonico Restaurant and Bar in New Orleans, founded in 1895. May it reopen soon!

Beaming Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books



Deeper Understanding

Used Books Booming Online: The BISG Study Preview

Yesterday's Book Industry Study Group's annual meeting and conference had more information than we can handle in one issue so today we'll focus on the hottest presentation of the day: the preview of BISG's study of the used book market, which will be published next month. (More BISG coverage tomorrow.)

Among the highlights of the study, presented by Jeff Hayes, group director of InfoTrends Research Group, which conducted the study, and based on statistics from the major players and surveys of people in the industry and consumers:

  • Used books are becoming mainstream.
  • The substantial growth in used book sales is occurring online.
  • Used textbooks are still a big-ticket item, representing a quarter of the overall text market, and retain a place in college stores, but competition is growing.
  • Used trade books sell in huge numbers, but prices are low and they're still a small part of the overall trade market.
  • Sales of used books are growing in categories beyond their traditionally strong ones.
  • Consumers are coming to believe that in "a fairly short time" they will be able to find used copies of books that have just been published.
  • More and more inventory of used books is coming to the market and more and more transactions will take place online.

The Stats

Used book sales in 2004 rose 11.1% to $2.2 billion. Almost all the growth in used books comes from online retailers: they had sales of $609 million, up 33.3%. By contrast, at stores, sales rose 4.6% to $1.57 million, mostly because of price increases. When college stores are excluded, sales of used books at bricks-and-mortar stores are going down.

Measured by dollars sales, the educational market swamped the noneducational market because the value of used textbooks is so much greater than that of used trade books. Educational used books sales totaled $1.6 billion and represented 28% of the overall new and used educational book market. Used general book sales amounted to $589 million and are still a very small part, about 2.8%, of the total noneducational book market.

Measured by unit sales, noneducational titles swamped educational. Some 111.2 million used books were sold in 2004, up 11%. Of that amount, 72.6 million were noneducational titles and 38.6 million were educational books.

The average sales price of a used book in 2004 was $19.98. The average price of a used educational book was $42.31 while the average non-educational used book cost $8.12. Online retailers were able to get higher prices than their bricks-and-mortar brethren.

Consumer attitudes toward used books are improving. Hayes characterized consumer satisfaction with used books as "high," adding that it will "ratchet up."

The Online Players

Online booksellers have fundamentally altered the market, automating the buying process, adding respectability to buying and selling used books and aggressively moving inventory in, all of which is helping the market continue to grow. Sales at online stores are expanding from textbooks and collectibles to professional and trade. Sales in all major categories grew in double digits last year; the fastest-growing categories were fiction, at 54.5%, and educational, at 51.8%.

The online booksellers include three types:

  • retailers who sell new and used titles in stores and online, like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Powell's.
  • marketplaces, like Abebooks, Alibris, Amazon, Biblio and eBay, which let stores and consumers sell books.
  • online specialists, usually individuals working from home, sometimes ex-bookstore owners, who tend to sell part time, sell fewer than 1,000 volumes a year and have sales on average of $10,000.

Bookstore Bounces

The study estimates that there are about 4,200 used bookstores, all but 5% with single locations and with a strong focus by category and types of customers. The stores have $100,000 a year in median annual sales and sell 5,000 books a year. Already 44% of their business is online, and this will continue to rise. Used bookstores sell few new books; but new bookstores sell about 20% used.

Of 6,100 independent stores (including 2,800 religion bookstores) specializing in new books, 65% sell used books. These stores have $250,000 in median sales and sell 15,000 books a year, 19% of which are used. About a quarter of these stores sell used books online, and most of those are partners with the "marketplace" online sites, including Abebooks, Alibris, Amazon, Biblio and B&N.com. More and more new bookstores will sell used books online. While used booksellers and online specialists sell many collectible titles, new bookstores don't sell many of them.

College bookstores dominate the used textbook market, but are facing increasing competition from the Internet as students are researching online for prices both to buy and to sell textbooks.

Chain bookstores, with 2,281 outlets, are the only category not selling used books.

The 117,000 libraries are increasingly dealing with used books, sometimes as a way of disbursing old titles and rounding out their collections. Many of them have opened stores on the premises, often with friends of the library groups, and tend to sell children's and adult trade titles at "very low prices."

The study estimates that there are 7,000 thrift shops and resale stores, and that 45,000 yard sales occur every week at which books are sold for a quarter to $5. Flea markets are another venue for used book sales as well as Goodwill, which amazingly has an online auction site for buying and selling books.

One amusing effect of the growth of online used book sales and the increasing sophistication of the reader-bookseller is the complaint that a lot of "good stuff" is bypassing yard sales and going to eBay.

A Few General Trends

At new bookstores, 48.3% of used titles for sale are still in print, while 29.9% of titles offered by used bookstores are still in print, but these numbers are going up. Increasingly Hayes said, "new books are becoming available as used books more quickly."

Only "a very small portion" of consumers buy only used books. Four out of 10 books purchased by students are used, while for non students the ratio is two out of 10. Students are willing to pay as much as 45%-50% of the new book price for a used book while nonstudents pay 30%-40% of a new book price.

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