Innovative author Alain Robbe-Grillet died Monday; he was 85. The Guardian called him "the most prominent of France's 'new novelists,' a group that emerged in the mid-1950s and whose experimental works tossed aside traditional literary conventions like plot and character development, narrative and chronology, chapters and punctuation."
The Book Table, Oak Park, Ill., a discount new and used bookstore that opened in 2003, is expanding into a 5,600-sq.-ft. space next door, bringing the store's size to nearly 9,000 square feet. Renovations begin in April, and the new, expanded store should open by July.
At the Book Table every book is discounted 20%-75%. The store stocks publishers' returns, remainders, review copies, used books and discounts new books. The store was founded by Jason Smith and Rachel Weaver, who are husband and wife.
"I was always sure that Oak Park could use another bookstore," Smith said in a statement. "When I worked for Bookseller's Row on Lincoln Avenue, it was great to have three or four bookstores within a block. As long as every store is a little different, it works well. It's funny to us because out-of-towners will come in the store and ask us how we are still in business with a Borders down the street. They're always shocked when we tell them that we came in years after the Borders."
The Book Table is located at 1045 Lake St., Oak Park, Ill. 60301; 708-386-9800; booktable.net.
The new Bellevue University Bookstore, Bellevue, Neb., has expanded by 7,000 square feet and "holds about twice as much merchandise as the old store and has an art classroom in the back," Campus Marketplace reported. "The majority of the additional space is a large back room reserved for shipping books to online students all over the country."
Candida's World of Books, the four-year-old, 1,000-sq.-ft. travel and international bookstore in Washington, D.C., is closing at the end of the month, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Owner Candida Mannozzi blamed online books sales and "constant construction" around the store. "The finances weren't working out," Mannozzi told the Journal. "We became strangled with the construction going on next door. The sidewalk was impassable . . . instead of being able to grow the business, I was out there fighting on a daily basis for trucks to be moved or sidewalks to be passable. People are resorting to online; if you don't have the foot traffic, you're going to get hit."
Cindy Russell, owner of CityBooks, Seattle, Wash., was profiled for KPLU's "Meaning of Work" radio series, which noted that as Russell learned the business "she found what worked was to really get to know the people who came in."
"I've learned so much about the human spirit since I've been here." she said.
"We came in quietly, we'll go out quietly," Jay Dantry, owner of Jay's Book Stall, Pittsburgh, Pa., told the Tribune-Review regarding his bookstore's approaching closure after half a century in business. The article noted that among the bookshop's many famous patrons "was a Pitt student named Michael Chabon, who came in begging for a job. At first there were no openings, but Dantry eventually found work for Chabon, who went on to become a best-selling novelist."
According to Chabon, "the thing Jay did for me as a writer was to appear to take my literary aspirations entirely seriously. He used to tease me about a lot of things--my clothes, my hair, my friends, the circles under my eyes, but he never teased me about my crappy short stories and poems. He really seemed to think I was going to be a writer when I grew up."
Chabon added that Dantry "has been a steady, strong, tireless force for good, championing books and authors he cared about, and because of his hospitality, his store has long served as a nexus for people in all the arts to come together and hang out and get to know each other. He has proved all kinds of points about the power and the value and the endurance of books and writing simply by virtue of staying open all these years in the face of brutal changes in the ways books are marketed and sold."
Bookstore as economic indicator. Juanita Ervin, owner of Trade-A-Book, Santa Clara, Calif., "knew two months ago that the economy was about to give other retailers a pummeling," according to the San Jose Mercury News. The secret to Ervin's prognostication skills? Her shop had "suddenly had become a popular place to buy used hardbacks as holiday gifts."
"Normally our Christmas season is so light, that's when employees take vacation," said Ervin. "But this time we had to bring employees in."
Oprah has the e-book magic touch, too. The AP reported that "more than 1 million copies of Suze Orman's Women & Money were downloaded after the announcement last week on Winfrey's television show that the e-book edition would be available for free on her [website] for a period of 33 hours."
Tim Toone's quest to acquire a first edition of every version of J.K. Rowling's works may earn him as much as £40,000 (US$78,061) on February 28, when his collection of 553 books goes up for auction. The Edinburgh Evening News reported that Toone owns copies "in 63 languages, as well as Braille, Latin and ancient Greek versions of the books."
"No one has ever amassed such a collection. It's almost obsessive," said Roddy Newlands of Bloomsbury Auctions.
Only 18% of college students have purchased an electronic textbook, according to early results of the latest Student Watch survey conducted by the National Association of College Stores. Some 14,000 students participated in the survey. More information about students' attitudes toward electronic course material will be discussed during the NACS convention and CAMEX show in San Antonio, Tex., at the end of the month. The full report will be available in April.
Colleen Lindsay has joined FinePrint Literary Management as an agent. She has worked in the industry for 20 years, starting as a bookseller at defunct Central Park Books, San Mateo, Calif., and then as events coordinator and marketing manager at Stacey's Bookstore, San Francisco, Calif. Since then she has also worked as director of publicity at Del Rey Books. In her new life as a literary agent, she will focus on fantasy and science fiction, horror, paranormal romance, YA fiction and nonfiction, pop culture, graphic novels, LGBT books and quirky commercial fiction.