Notes: Predicting Holiday Sales; Moving a B&N OP Dept.
Holiday sales forecast? Be optimistic, but be prepared.
"We're more influenced by what happened last year and how things are trending at our stores than the overall economy,” Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books and Paper Dreams, Bellingham, Wash., told the Bellingham Herald in a piece asking local retailers to look into the crystal ball and anticipate holiday sales later this year.
Robinson observed that without a Harry Potter-style "dominant book" in 2008, booksellers will seek to increase sales by promoting a wider array of products. "How sales do will be more determined on how we handle promotions," he said.
Today's New York Times reports on the relocation of "a small rare- and out-of-print-book department" from the now-closed Barnes & Noble bookstore in Chelsea to one of the chain's larger stores on Broadway and 66th St. The department, which features "fiction first editions as well as arts and design books," followed Karen Catalanotti, "a Barnes & Noble manager who set it up in Chelsea and has moved with it, now running the Upper West Side store."
Baghdad's Renaissance bookshop is one of many that have literally risen from the ashes one year after being destroyed by a car bomb. The Washington Post profiled the family of Nabil al-Hayawi, whose "frail bookseller's voice quivered as he recalled the car bombing that killed his son and his brother and razed his family's bookshop on Baghdad's storied Mutanabi Street."
Although violence has driven out millions of Iraqis, draining the country of its middle class and skilled professionals, the Post reported "the Hayawis represent the promise of the country's future. . . . the rebuilt bookshop remains, an engine for fresh ideas and intellectual growth. Every day on Mutanabi Street, a Hayawi sells books, educating a new contingent of lawyers, doctors and computer programmers."
"Iraq is my soul," Nabil said. "I go and come back. But I will never leave."
"It is our livelihood. It is our heritage," added his younger brother, Bediyah al-Hayawi. "It is our history. This is our country. How could we not be committed to it?"
"I was happy that I discovered the people still reading," Nabil said. "I feel joy because I love this world. I also feel pain, for what has become of us and of Mutanabi Street, which was once a center for civilization."
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a debut novel by the late Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, Annie Barrows, will be released July 29. But it has already generated enough pre-release interest that the Wall Street Journal considered it newsworthy, reporting that "a debut novel with several strikes against it may become one of the summer's surprise hits. One of its co-authors died earlier this year when it was being edited. It's written in letters, a form that largely went out of fashion 200 years ago. And it has a long, quirky, even cutesy title."
WSJ also noted that the book, which is IndieBound's top pick for August, "has built such a strong pre-publication buzz among booksellers that the Dial Press is shipping well over 100,000 copies, a high number for a first novel."
Also garnering publicity in an unexpected venue was Stephenie Meyer, whose fourth book in the bestselling Twilight Saga series, Breaking Dawn, will hit bookstores August 2. In an essay titled, "A Virginal Goth Girl," New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote, "Every so often I discover that the whole world seems obsessed with a pop-culture phenomenon that I've missed out on completely. This would be O.K. if I'd been spending my time on more important matters, but unfortunately I;m not all that deep."
"Dead writers are hot this summer," the Sunday Times reported in an article about ongoing battles among agents over literary estates and the rights to publish modern classics: "No point wasting one's time with new authors. They're unpredictable, demanding. They require lunch. No, what any literary agent worth his salt needs in 2008 is a classic author with form: famous, prolific and deceased within the past 70 years."
"The amazing thing is, people never used to take this seriously," said Marcella Edwards of the London agency PFD. "I think estates are the most important part of the agenting business. They are the jewel in the crown for us. People talk about them being 'backlist.' They are not--they are absolutely 'frontlist' authors."
Included was a wish list of "literary estates every agent wants," including J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming, T.S. Eliot, Roald Dahl, Graham Greene, Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis.