Hail to the Chiefs
In honor of Presidents Day, we will take a long break this weekend. We'll see you again on Tuesday, February 19.
In honor of Presidents Day, we will take a long break this weekend. We'll see you again on Tuesday, February 19.
"We're not selling anything you have to have. If you are here, it is because you have decided to spend some of your valuable recreation time with us."--Borders CEO George Jones in a Detroit Free Press story on the company's new concept superstores.
Amazon.com intends to fight a New York State proposal requiring it and some other online retailers to collect taxes on sales to customers in the state, Bookselling This Week noted. A representative of Amazon called the effort "a radical departure" from other states' sales tax laws.
The ABA reaffirmed its support of the measure, and New York State Tax Commissioner Robert Megna said that eight out of 10 top e-tailers in the country already collect and remit sales tax. "This is not something new and not something difficult for anyone the size of Amazon.com," he stated.
The Miami-Dade Airport and Tourism Committee has approved a bid for Areas USA to run a bookstore/cafe in the airport's North Terminal, the Miami Herald reported. Areas USA has partnered with Books & Books and Downtown Book Center, both local booksellers.
A site in the South Terminal goes to HSMHost and Miami's Master Concessionaire.
For a take on the Oscars, the Toronto Star recommends the bestseller lists at Book Soup, the Los Angeles bookstore that is "a popular industry hangout" and whose blog "keeps track of what high-powered Hollywood is reading."
More than 250,000 people have signed up for the interactive webinar that Oprah is conducting with Eckhart Tolle, author of her next book club pick, A New Earth. The 10-week webinar, with each session focusing on chapter themes, begins on Monday, March 3, and runs through Monday, May 5. (Readers may register at oprah.com/anewearth.)
Since Oprah announced her selection January 30, A New Earth has become the bestselling nonfiction trade paperback in the country, Penguin reported. Plume shipped 776,000 copies initially, and after two weeks on sale, has 3.6 million copies of the book in print.
In a Valentine's Day promotion meant to "bring awareness to the A.S. Bookstore," two students at Chico State University, Chico, Calif., kissed each other through an iPod shuffle for 46 minutes and won iPod nanos, according to the Orion. The chico and chica's iPod kiss set a new national record.
All well and fine, but in our day, there wouldn't have been anything between us . . .
On the store's first birthday, BTW profiles Bookworm's Attic, Huntington, W.Va., owned by Sara Loftus, a former urban planner who said she wanted to make "a real difference" in the community. The 1,000-sq.-ft. store stocks some 6,000 new and used titles, and Loftus said she is interested in helping create an independent business alliance.
Congratulations to Richard Howorth, founder and owner of Square Books, Oxford, Miss., former ABA president and current Oxford mayor, who will receive the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community at the Authors Guild Dinner on May 5, BTW reported.
"Richard Howorth, through Square Books, has developed a lively literary community that serves readers and authors well," Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken wrote to BTW. "Richard founded and operates the kind of spirited, independent bookstore that all authors wish they had in their hometowns. We're delighted to honor him."
"Some books are worth sacrificing a tree to make; others are not, and that is the distinction that the electronic book offers," Ben Macintyre wrote in a London Times article, "E-books will never be our friends."
"The books of all time will remain on paper," Macintyre continued, "but those of the hour will increasingly be digital: the airport novel, the reference book, the celebrity memoir. A personal library will no longer be the repository of unread paperbacks, but a genuine index to individuality, as it was in the days when books were rare and precious."
The early returns are in, and Barack Obama is projected to be the winner . . . in the book world anyway. USA Today reported Obama's The Audacity of Hope "is one of the few political books that has hit USA Today's Best-Selling Books list this year."
Will that change as the campaigns heat up and "a barrage of political books" hit the shelves later this year? American Booksellers Association president Russ Lawrence suggested that voters and readers seem to be "suffering from some form of political combat fatigue, post-Bush stress disorder and are ready to turn down the volume."
Books, which is located on Carmine Street in New York City's West
Village, features an awning that lets customers know what their in for
before they cross the threshold: "Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain
The Villager recently profiled the bookstore that "sells publishers' overstock and the shop owner's lucky finds on everything from how to get around Sri Lanka and why marijuana should be legalized to psychedelic art. And true to the awning's claim, the prices are cheap."
"I don't think I really cater to anyone,” said owner Jim Drougas. "We kind of cultivate the public, especially the tourist who doesn't really get it. . . . We do reach a good portion of book fanatics, though, and there are enough of them out there."
The term "second chance" has double meaning for James Morel, owner of Second Time Books, Mount Laurel, N.J. According to the Burlington County Times, Morel made the transition from selling new books to used books. "I couldn't compete with the big boys, but I can compete with used books," he said "Ninety percent of my stock is not duplicated in chain stores."
Lambda Rising Bookstore is closing its Baltimore location in the near future. Lambda has stores in Washington, D.C., and Rehoboth Beach, Del. It closed its Norfolk, Va., store in June 2007.
Lambda owner Deacon Maccubbin blamed the Internet and chain stores for declining sales over the past 10 years at the Baltimore store. According to Maccubbin, support for specialty bookstores like Lambda Raising, which caters to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, has been waning.
"I'm afraid the glbt community in Baltimore just has not been supporting the store as they used to." His advancing age and health issues have prevented him from spending more time in the Baltimore location, which, he said, may have helped to turn things around.
"The Washington store has covered the losses in Baltimore for some time now, but the downward trend in the past 12 months has been sufficient to convince me that it would be unwise to continue," Maccubbin said, adding that he was very proud of the Baltimore store, which has been in business for over 22 years.
The store originally occupied 300 square feet in a local glbt community center. By 1989, Lambda Raising had expanded to 1,200 square feet and was the hub of many glbt cultural activities in downtown Baltimore.
On the brighter side, in early March, long-time Lambda Raising Baltimore store manager Michael Lemmon plans to open Saratoga Coffee Bar (222 E. Saratoga St.), a cafe that will sell books, in a recently re-developed retail and residential building in the heart of downtown. To start with, the cafe will have a few hundred titles. Lemmon, who was with Lambda Raising for 15 years, hopes Lambda's long-time customers will come in for a coffee--and a book.--Susan L. Weis
"What's in a name"? mused the heroine in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. For a bookseller opening up shop, it's an important part of defining the business--and sometimes proves to be a challenge. "I was pulling my hair out," said Wyn Morris about naming his Lexington, Ky., bookstore, which will open in April. He finally settled on what might seem an obvious choice--Morris Book Shop--but there's more to this moniker than meets the eye.
A store with the same name operated in Lexington from 1935 until 1978. Morris came across a photograph of the original Morris Book Shop while perusing the historical tome Women in Lexington. Although the namesake owner was no relation, it turns out there was a serendipitous connection. The store's last proprietor was Joseph Houlihan, a relative of Morris' former colleague and newly-hired store manager, Hap Houlihan. This bit of kismet, as well as the historical connection, appealed to Morris, a lifelong Lexington resident. "In a town this size," he noted, "we have a portion of the population who remember the store well."
Morris' introduction to bookselling came after he graduated from the University of Kentucky and began working at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, where his responsibilities included everything from buying and inventory control to marketing and handselling. What began as a temporary stint turned into "a decade-long crash course in every element of bookselling," said Morris. After leaving Joseph-Beth, he spent six years as sales manager at the University Press of Kentucky. But while working on the other side of the business, he never lost his affinity for bookselling. "I've always felt that I had a real knack for it," Morris said. "There were years at Joseph-Beth where I was as happy as I'd ever been in a job. I really developed this passion for it."
Owning a bookstore might well have remained "just something I talked about after having a few beers," Morris said, if not for a pivotal event. In 2006, he lost his father and stepmother, who were aboard a Comair flight that crashed on takeoff at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport. "It's the kind of thing that sets your head spinning in a lot of different ways," Morris said. "One of the ways it affected me is realizing that anything can happen at any time, and enough talking about what I'd like to do someday and let's do it." To solidify his decision, Morris took part in Paz & Associates' workshop "Opening a Bookstore: The Business Essentials" last March and found it "energizing and convincing."
In January, Morris attended the ABA's Winter Institute in Louisville, where one of the themes was buy local, something that "really hit home," he said. After experiencing an outpouring of support following the Comair crash, "I decided I need to be a more viable member of this community, and the bookstore is not just my passion it's a good place to do that from."
The 1,700-sq.-ft. general interest bookstore is located in a shopping center with a food co-op, a restaurant, a comic shop with which Morris is planning to work, and other businesses, along with a weekly farmers' market in the spring and summer. Although the store's shelves have yet to be stocked, it's certain that "we will concentrate on Kentucky titles," said Morris. This includes both works about the state and the Lexington area as well as books by authors who reside in Kentucky like Wendell Berry, Eric Reese and Gwyn Hyman Rubio. The store will also carry a selection of mysteries and thrillers (a genre for which Morris has a particular fondness), among them books by Kentucky natives Sue Grafton and Lynn Hightower and those by scribes farther afield such as Irish crime writer Ken Bruen.
Sidelines will be part of the mix, mainly bookmarks, book lights, lap desks, journals and other writing- and book-themed items, with the occasional exception. "My four-year-old will be upset if I don't have Ugly Dolls," Morris said. "And this is Kentucky, so if someone decides they want country hams, I'll put those in the front window."
Whether they're seeking a page-turner or a country ham, aiding shoppers is something Morris is looking forward to doing once again. "I'm one of the few people I know who left retail and missed the customers," he remarked. In two months, he'll be welcoming those customers at the new Morris Book Shop, followed by a grand opening celebration in early May. "We're building a store, and we'll see where it takes us," said Morris. "It's an adventure."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt
Morris may be reached at email@example.com or 859-276-0494.
On CBS Sunday Morning: Nina Disesa, author of Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top (Ballantine, $25, 9780345496980/0345496981).
On Monday on the Diane Rehm Show: Robert S. Bennett, author of In the Ring: The Trials of a Washington Lawyer (Crown, $27.50, 9780307394439/0307394433). He also appears on Tuesday morning on the Today Show.
Last week more than 50 people trekked to the Explorers Club in New York City to help launch Quest for Kaitiakitanga: The Ancient Maori Secret from New Zealand that Could Save the Earth (Menasha Ridge Press). Author Richard Bangs spoke about his New Zealand adventures, shared memories of Sir Edmund Hillary and previewed the second episode of his PBS series, Adventures With Purpose: Quest for Kaitiakitanga. From left: Annie Dundas, regional manager, Tourism New Zealand; Bangs; Vanessa Mutu, public relations manager, Tourism New Zealand; and Howard Cohen, marketing and publicity director for Menasha Ridge Press (naturally the only one holding a copy of the book).
Charles Baxter is the author of eight previous works of fiction, including Believers, The Feast of Love (nominated for the National Book Award and now a motion picture), Saul and Patsy and Through the Safety Net. His new book, The Soul Thief, is being published by Pantheon this month. He lives in Minneapolis.
On your nightstand now:
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois.
Your top five authors:
Tolstoy, Chekhov, Shakespeare, Katherine Anne Porter, William Maxwell.
Book you've faked reading:
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, the unabridged version.
Book you are an evangelist for:
So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I'm an author. I never pay attention to covers now except when they're mine. When I was 15 or 16, I bought a drugstore paperback called A Cold Wind in August about a stripper, whose representation on the cover was quite enticing to me at the time. I hid the book from my parents.
Book that changed your life:
The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb (when I was in 10th grade).
Favorite line from a book:
There are too many such lines. They all rattle around in my head. Here's a line from my reading, from last night: "Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim."--Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter.
Book you have re-read:
I re-read many books (I'm a teacher). Most recently: Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Marquise of O by Heinrich von Kleist.
Rock on: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $14.95 Paperback, 9781565125094, February 2008)
Dan Kennedy had been crazy for rock 'n' roll since he was four years old, and no sooner could he sing along to "Stairway to Heaven" than he had settled on Led Zeppelin as his favorite band. So when the record label that represents Led Zeppelin years later offered Kennedy a position in its marketing department, was he going to decline? No way! He was so there, he was on it, he was golden. Wasn't this opportunity the dream job for Kennedy? Wouldn't the gig be totally awesome?
Chapter titles like "The Donnas Sing Songs about Sex in Cars" telegraph Kennedy's initial mad love for the zaniness of his new job in this mordantly funny look at the inner workings of today's music industry. Intoxicated by the proximity to the careers of rock 'n' roll gods, Kennedy delivers riotous anecdotes about his out-of-control office and tops himself again and again with zingers like, "God, this must be what women feel when they're dating a songwriter."
Though this romance had to be too hot not to cool down, Kennedy kept his sense of humor after the thrill was gone. When the appeal of a group the company has recently signed to a contract escapes him by a mile, he cagily avoids condemning their talent outright but wryly notes, "First of all, I don't understand the band called Darkness." If the new talents he was called upon to promote fell woefully short and are good for a chuckle, his co-workers provide classic material for screwball comedy: instead of being terminally hip and related to rock royalty, as Kennedy had dreamed, they were petty tyrants, delusional wackos and arrogant wunderkinds with PowerPoint presentations that nobody understands. It's all too beautiful.
As things begin to go south, Kennedy's chapter titles of "Hellhounds in God's Country" and "How to Plan a Bloodbath" forecast extremely stormy weather. Sardonic and snarky, Kennedy makes his stories of devolving energy among the troops and the coming wipeout hilarious. Out of the 100 one-liners that made me laugh out loud, my fave is: "Yes, we see that you've got the newest BlackBerry. Now. Put. It. Down." Others who have endured corporate meetings that border on waterboarding may nominate "Eyes glaze over. Terminology ricochets off the walls." as their Number One selection. Told with so much verve and sass, these boisterous tales of toxic office life offer some serious new competition for David Sedaris.--John McFarland