Notes: Random's Olson to Step Down; Store Changes
Peter Olson, CEO of Random House for 10 years, will resign in the next few weeks, the New York Times reported. Apparently Olson "has come under mounting pressure in recent months as Bertelsmann's financial results have been damaged by lower profits at Random House and steep losses in its American book clubs, which he also oversees."
Sales at the company fell 5.6% last year, "hurt by the eroding dollar and weak consumer spending," and operating profit fell 4.9%. While the house published such bestsellers as Playing for Pizza by John Grisham, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, Giving by Bill Clinton and Women & Money by Suze Orman, it had no blockbusters like The Da Vinci Code.
If this reason is the key one, it's ironic because Olson was well-known in the business for firing executives who didn't meet their numbers.
Citing "a sluggish economy and increased costs," the Bookland branch in Rockland, Me., that opened two and a half years ago (Shelf Awareness, July 18, 2005), is closing. The Bookland store in Brunswick, about 50 miles away, is remaining open.
Brunswick Bookland was one of the Bookland of Maine stores bought by some employees following the former parent company's 2000 bankruptcy. It opened the 18,000-sq.-ft. branch in Rockland after being approached by the developer of the Breakwater Marketplace Building, which had been renovated.
Portland, Ore., is a "day-tripper's paradise," according to the San Jose Mercury News.
A "whirlwind six-hour visit" must begin, of course, at Powell's City of
Books, "a dangerous place to visit if you're flying home, because
you're sure to exceed your luggage limit with all the books you'll buy.
The store's unfathomable layout, with color-coded rooms on multiple
levels ('The Purple Room: Where past meets present') made no sense to
me, but getting lost in the stacks of the Rose Room, the Pearl Room and
the Gold Room was part of the fun."
Brad Stephenson, owner of B.D.S. Books, Fargo, N.D., told In-Forum.com that the store's new space "is terrific. It's brighter. The aisles are wider. It's cleaner."
When asked why he bought a used bookstore in Fargo years ago, Stephenson replied that the city "needed a good used bookstore. Somebody had to take that massive pile of inventory [the previous owner] had and straighten it out. He had been there since 1982. That somebody had to be crazy. I was, so I did."
Wonder what all the other kids are reading these days? The Washington Post reported that the Renaissance Learning report, What Kids Are Reading, "calculated the books most read by more than 3 million schoolchildren last year." You can see the complete list at the Post, but the number one titles by category include:
- Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (first grade)
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (second grade)
- Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (third grade)
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (fourth grade)
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (fifth grade)
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (sixth grade)
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (seventh and eighth grades)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (ninth through twelfth grade)
For potential bulls and bears, US News & World Report featured a list of "Must-Read Books for Novice Investors."