Notes: Thomas Disch, R.I.P.; NAIBA Offers a Ride
Sadly we have to report that science fiction author, critic and poet Thomas M. Disch committed suicide on Friday in New York City. He was 68. Locus Magazine has a long obituary, and Daily Kos offers an extensive appreciation.
Cool idea of the day: for its fall conference in Cherry Hill, N.J., Sunday and Monday, September 21 and 22, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is arranging for a bus to take booksellers from Brooklyn and Manhattan to the show on Saturday evening. The bus will make a return trip late Monday afternoon.
Readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution were tipped off to the charms of Wichita, Kan., In a travel piece that highlighted "a fabulous bookstore, Watermark Bookstore and Cafe, where you can see the handiwork of authors and illustrators drawn on the wall in the basement."
Vald Svekis has cited "challenges" as the reason for further delays in opening his new bookstore in the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Building, Boca Raton, Fla., more than seven years after the closure of his Liberties Fine Books shop, according to the Boca Raton News.
Beth Hendrick, associate marketing manager for Mizner Park, said the "opening of the bookstore--originally.slated for the last quarter of this year--has been put off until the first quarter of 2009," adding that "the bookstore area of the redeveloped building has been turned over to Svekis." (See Shelf Awareness, July 9, 2007, for more details.)
A BBC News report on the U.K.'s Independent Booksellers' Week (July 1-8) highlighted Goldsboro Books, London, which focuses on "specially-bound signed books and in spotting new talent." One current favorite is Canadian Sean Dixon, author most recently of The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal and "a passionate advocate for independents--and independence in retailing."
"Large bookstores divide into sections like Fiction, History, Mystery, Politics," said Dixon. "They can't afford to get whimsical. If they did, their patrons would be stuck wandering around the labyrinth for hours, trying to decide whether they'll find James Frey's latest in Fiction, Non-fiction, Sincerity, Tall Tales, Truthiness."
Suggesting that "Nairobi is seeing the emergence of a new reading culture," Business Daily Africa profiled Salim and Naazleen Alibhai, co-owners of Book Villa, which "became a popular haunt for book lovers when it started library services three years ago. For a flat annual fee members get to read as many books as they want all year round. . . . If members want to keep a book they buy it at a discount."
"Many people wanted to read but couldn’t afford the books and to encourage more readers we at first lent books at a small fee,” said Salim of the reason for altering their business approach, which now also includes a "members’ lounge where patrons can relax and read while having a cup of coffee or a soft drink accompanied by delicious home-made snacks and meals, prepared by Naazleen."