Discounters and warehouse clubs had strong, better-than-expected sales in May as consumers seemed to spend federal rebate checks on basics and ever more people tried to stretch their dollars. "The rebate checks were going to be a wild card this month, but it certainly looks like they kicked in," Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, told the New York Times.
Retail Metrics estimated that sales at U.S. retailers' stores open at least a year rose 2.8% in May, twice what was expected, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Sales at Wal-Mart stores open at least a year rose 3.9%; Sam's Club was up 3.6%; Costco rose 5%; and BJ's Wholesale Club was up 6.8%.
By contrast, department stores and clothing stores were off. Same-store sales at Saks fell 8.7%, Penney was down 4.4% Kohl's was off 7.2%, the Gap fell 14%.
The AP polled booksellers about books by and about Senator Barack Obama. Early returns:
- Political books will be big again this election cycle. "We anticipate strong customer interest in titles regarding the issues, candidates and election process," Bob Wietrak, v-p of merchandising at Barnes & Noble, said.
- Because Obama is such a good storyteller, books by him may continue to outsell books about him. As Carla Cohen, co-owner of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., put it, "He tells his own story so eloquently I can't imagine a book about him selling so well."
- Still, as Priscilla Painton, editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, said, "There are two reasons why more Obama books might get traction: First, there's a market for a professional journalist telling the story drawing on all kinds of sources, not just Obama's version. But you also have to remember that lots of folks are only now waking up to the idea that he could be president, and so there's a second wave of buyers out there ready to read about him."
The Concord Monitor offers a heartfelt tribute to Jim Mitchell, the co-owner of MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, N.H., who died suddenly two days ago.
Richard and Marlene Garrison, owners of the Dragon's
Horde, Danville, Ill., will reopen their bookstore at a new location
with a new name just 10 weeks after the business was destroyed by fire.
reported that the shop, formerly called Danville Book World, "will open
on Monday, just down the block from the site of the former store."
have really missed the people," Richard said. "I hope to fill up the
shelves of the store quickly, but I am really looking forward to the
return of my regular customers. . . . I was contacted by a lot of
people who told me the store fills a need in the community."
Amazon Bookstore Cooperative, Minneapolis, Minn., which had been looking for a buyer since last winter (Shelf Awareness, February 13, 2008), "will close its doors at the end of the month, after nearly 38 years in business," according to MinnPost.com.
very difficult for an independent bookstore to stay open today," said
Barb Wieser, the staff-owned cooperative's most senior employee.
"Between the Internet and the onslaught of the chains, and now the
worsening economy, it's just too hard. There are no large independents
in the Twin Cities."
The Martha's Vineyard Times
offered a compelling memorial for Sun Porch Books, Oak Bluffs, Mass.,
mourning "the loss of yet another independent bookstore . . . it is the
most wonderful thing to be advised, to have one's tastes recognized and
provided for. . . . The good news is that, having no big-box book
emporium here, we are indeed fortunate to have two other independent
bookstores close at hand, and we must treasure them. We can't depend
upon the traveler stopping in to browse to keep them afloat. We must
buy local. Buy your books where you live."
Gotcha! Police arrested the man who allegedly stole nearly $1,000 from Empire Books, Huntington, W.Va. Monday afternoon (Shelf Awareness, June 5, 2008). WSAZ-TV
reported that "34-year old Shannon Lee Johnson of Catlettsburg, Ky.,
has been charged with robbery, and breaking & entering."
Comedian Adam Sandler answered USA Today
readers' questions, including this one from Donna Meaux, Rayne, La.:
"Do you have a book recommendation for my book club?" Sandler's answer?
"QB VII by Leon Uris, or any of the MadLibs collection."
Barnes & Noble is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its B&N Classics series--300 titles and total sales of more than 10 million--with two promotions through July 7. A "buy two, get one free" offer is available both in B&N stores and at B&N.com. In addition, B&N.com is offering three library collections at a discount: the B&N Classics Library, a 200-volume set, is going for $869.95, and the Great Novels and Tales of Adventure series, six and eight books respectively, are available for $29.95.
Congratulations to the Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif., which just won the "Best Author Appearances" category from SF Weekly in its annual "Best of the Bay" issue.