Notes: Random Buys Monacelli; Follett Buys Varsity; Dutton's
Random House has bought the Monacelli Press, the arts book publisher established in 1994 that specializes in books on architecture, the fine arts, interior design, landscape architecture, photography and graphic design.
Monacelli will continue to be headed by publisher and founder Gianfranco Monacelli and maintain its editorial identity. Its staff will move to the Random House building in New York City. Sales and distribution of Monacelli Press, currently handled by Penguin, will be assumed by Random House, effective July 1.
"Since my first days as a bookseller at Rizzoli on Fifth Avenue, when I was given the task of alphabetizing the Modern Library, I have always looked at Random House and its imprints as the most exceptional in the industry," Monacelli said in a statement. "Over the years, as I became familiar with its wonderful and varied catalogs, I came to know the people behind them and appreciate the overall culture identified with the company. In my view there is no better family to join than the house of Random."
Varsity Group, which in the late 1990s aimed to become the dominant online textbook retailer a la Amazon.com, is being bought by Follett Corp., which manages more than 750 college bookstores, is a major textbook distributor and provides library materials and technology to schools. Follett is offering 20 cents a share or about $3.8 million for Varsity.
Varsity's business model has changed several times, and it now acts as the online bookstore, school supply and school uniform supplier for various colleges and schools.
More on the unfortunate closing of Dutton's Brentwood.
The store has $550,000 in debt, mainly from the closed store in Beverly Hills, according to the Los Angeles Times. In an odd offer of help, billionaire landlord Charles T. Munger and his wife, Nancy, have said they will allow Dutton's to close rent free and will cover the store's debt--so long as the store leaves. Dutton said that Munger made it clear that "he thought of me as an old-fashioned businessman who was out of touch with reality."
Although the building has been been given landmark designation, the Mungers may still renovate or even demolish it. The Mungers' original redevelopment proposal, announced a year ago, included smaller space in which Dutton's could relocate, while a more recent proposal includes space for, as the Times wrote, "an independent bookstore, with an emphasis on children's books, that would be staffed, [Munger] hopes, by former Dutton's employees."
Dutton's Brentwood has 40 employees and 5,000 square feet of space.
Congratulations to Bookbug, the children's bookstore that opened yesterday in Kalamazoo, Mich. The owners are Nicole Butz, Joanna Parzakonis and Parzakonis's husband, Derek Molitor. "Behind the scenes" is Butz's husband, "four kids, several cats and a dog."
Bookbug is located at 3019 Oakland Dr., Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008; 269-385-2847; bookbugkids.com.
The ABA and New England Independent Booksellers Association are hosting a day of education, Thursday, May 1, in Portsmouth, N.H. The program includes an ABA Bookseller Forum and lunch; an ABA Bookselling at the Tipping Point seminar on how booksellers can became an integral part of buy local, independent business and sustainability movements; a NEIBA peer review program seminar about how to be involved as a peer--or advisor--and how to set up a peer visit; and an open house at RiverRun Bookstore. (For more about RiverRun, see last Note below.)
Attendance is limited to 50. RSVP to NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other NEIBA news, we're very happy to hear from Steve Fischer that Nan Sorensen, assistant executive director of NEIBA, who had heart bypass surgery last week, is home, sounding "good, comfortable and resting."
Reading all night update. Last week's "Cool idea of the Day" (Shelf Awareness, February 19, 2008) became a successful, if bleary-eyed, all-nighter Saturday as SecondRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., hosted Great Expectations: A Reading Marathon.
"It's been a really long, but fun, 24 hours," said Michele Filgate, the events coordinator for RiverRun Bookstore.
Seacoastonline reported that more than 15 participants read from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday, but only Portsmouth High School senior Rose Neilson made it through "without a wink of sleep, earning her a gift certificate. She was most of the way through the 800-page Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a novel by Susanna Clarke."
"We'd like to do this again next year," Filgate said. "I think this shows that reading is a popular thing at any age."