Back from the brink.
Good Yarns Bookshop, Hastings on Hudson, N.Y., which was in the process of closing (Shelf Awareness, February 23, 2008), is being bought by manager Bill Tester.
Current co-owner Chris Kerr wrote that most of the store's inventory and some of its fixtures had been sold, when three days before the end, "Bill stepped in and said he wanted the rest." Tester is negotiating with the landlord, who has expressed support, and aims to remodel the store, rename it and convert it into a combination bookstore and learning center. "What a roller coaster ride," Kerr said.
At the AAP annual meeting on Wednesday in New York City, George Jones, president and CEO of Borders Group, will be interviewed by David Young, head of Hachette Book Group, on the subject of Retailers: New Dimensions. Originally Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio had been scheduled to speak. For a full schedule and more information, go to publishers.org.
March is Small Press Month, sponsored by PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, the New York Center for Independent Publishing and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.
The sponsors offer 31 ways booksellers and publishers can celebrate Small Press Month, now in its 12th year. For more information, click here.
Titlepage.tv, the new online author conversation program hosted by Daniel Menaker, former Random House executive editor and fiction editor at the New Yorker, makes it debut today. Menaker will lead a group of authors in discussions that are modeled in part after Apostrophes, the popular French book discussion TV show, Charlie Rose and others.
Today's New York Times reports on "one of the first tests of editorial independence" for the Far Eastern Economic Review, a Hong Kong monthly that became part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire in December, when he took over Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Times, "The Review’s editor, Hugh Restall, has acknowledged getting 'cold feet' about publishing a review of a book [Rupert’s Adventures in China: How Murdoch Lost a Fortune and Found a Wife by Bruce Dover] that is critical of Mr. Murdoch’s business forays into China in the 1990s."
Michael Moorcock will be honored as the next Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America during its Nebula Award Weekend in Austin, Tex., April 25-27.
The SFWA wrote: "Named one of the 50 greatest postwar British writers by the Times of London, Moorcock is best-known for his stories featuring the albino swordsman Elric of Melniboné. Other popular characters created by the prolific Moorcock include Jerry Cornelius and Hawkmoon, characters that, like Elric, are linked by their stories in what has come to be known as the Eternal Champion cycle."
The next Lonely Planet Window in a Box bookstore contest focuses on China and the Olympics. The display should be up for at least two weeks during April; bookstores need to send a picture of the display. Any interested store can obtain a starter kit that includes a T-shirt, poster, red paper fans and Chinese food takeout boxes that say "Lonely Planet Knows China" on them. Instead of a Gold Medal, the store with the most creative and fun display receives a prize of $500. For more information, write ChinaContest@lonelyplanet.com.
Misha Defonseca, author of Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, has admitted that her bestselling book, published in 1997, "was an elaborate fantasy she kept repeating, even as the book was translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France," according to the Associated Press.
Defonseca, 71, "wrote in her book that Nazis seized her parents when she was a child, forcing her to wander the forests and villages of Europe alone for four years. She claimed she found herself trapped in the Warsaw ghetto and was adopted by a pack of wolves that protected her." In a statement, Defonseca said "she never fled her home in Brussels during the war to find her parents." The AP reported that there had been increasing pressure on the author recently to defend the accuracy of her book.
The Boston Globe explored the legal tangles that have been going on for more than a decade between Defonseca and her publisher, Jane Daniel.
In reaction to the announcement that Odyssey Bookshop, Novato, Calif., is preparing to close its bricks-and-mortar operations and opt for a rare books website, the Marin Independent Journal reported that "the independents that are still hanging in say they are around because of customer loyalty, niche markets and rapport with the community. But some admit they are barely holding on."
"None of the independents are doing well except the larger independents such as Book Passage," said Sharon Jones, owner of Habitat Books, Sausalito. "The only way I keep going is the following I am trying to build. The ones making it are not single-entity small stores."
"I would certainly understand why bookstores would close if they were just bookstores," noted Gary Kleiman, owner of BookBeat, Fairfax, who supplements his book business with a cafe and live entertainment in the evening.
Michael Whyte, owner of Whyte's Booksmith, San Anselmo, told the Independent Journal "he benefits from customers who choose to shop locally because they don't want to lose the kinds of downtown businesses that enrich the quality of the neighborhood. In our 28 years on San Anselmo Avenue, we've grown to feel truly an integral part of what makes our town a special place. Our staff works hard to do that by offering depth and breadth of selection, making trips to big boxes along the freeway unnecessary."
The Boston Globe reported an industry trend in which "at least 10 publishers have started their own lines of short, nonfiction books, on subjects ranging from scientists to presidents to mythology." While tracing the recent lineage of this form to the Penguin Lives series, edited by James Atlas, the Globe also noted that the "nonfiction sketch dates back at least to Plutarch and has been upheld over time by John Aubrey in the 17th century and Lytton Strachey in the early 20th century."
Who's reading these books? According to Atlas, who edits the Eminent Lives series at HarperCollins, "I imagine a highly educated, reading public, readers of the New York Review of Books, readers of the New Yorker, readers of the New York Times Book Review. There is an audience I know empirically exists out there of several hundred thousand readers who have a dedication to the idea of being educated, in the highest sense."
Grove/Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin said, "It's not a gigantic commitment to read one of those books. . . . You can educate yourself about something in a short period of time."
Patrick Scanlin, a bookseller at Park Row Books, Clinton, N.Y., told the Utica Observer-Dispatch that "a loyal customer base and specialized services have helped the store survive" despite increased competition from big box retailers nearby. "The more New Hartford develops, it takes away business here. It’s unfortunate,” he added, cautioning that smaller downtown shops need support to stay in business. "It is up to the community."
"For lots of people, a vacation in a new town is incomplete until they've checked out the best area bookstore," wrote Evelyn Theiss in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, describing her trip to Ohai, Calif., and a stop at Bart's Books, "said to be the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the United States. . . . With its wood awnings and painted-green shelves, it looks
not unlike book-vendor stands you find along the Seine in
Paris. It's nestled under a 420-year-old coastal oak
tree, on a quiet block that's a few hundred feet from
the town's main thoroughfare. This indoor/outdoor bookshop offers some of its stock 24
hours a day--and not just online. Bart's is the only
bookshop I've heard of that sells on the honor system."
Bestselling suspense author Lisa Scottoline recounted some of her book tour memories for the Philadelphia Inquirer, including the always unnerving empty chair syndrome as well as the booksellers-posing-as-audience strategy.