Notes: Bookstores Bought, Closed, Remodeled
Stoughton Book Shop, Stoughton, Mass., which had been in danger of closing, now has new owners, thanks to a last-minute plot twist. According to Wicked Local, "For more than two years, Seth Mitchell kept the Stoughton Book Shop open 'on a shoestring,' but last week, he decided it was time to move on. Faced with his lease running out, Mitchell either needed to vacate or sell the Washington Street shop by Aug. 1."
Joe and Anna Napolitano of Quincy, Mass., came to the rescue and are the bookstore's new owners.
"I’m really happy to see it continue on," said Mitchell, who will retain space next door to sell textbooks and rare books. "I never made money. That was never my concern. I tend to buy more than I can sell. Now I'm losing a bit more than I make."
Russo's Books, Bakersfield, Calif., will close its downtown bookstore after 12 years in business. The Bakersfield Californian reported that the company will continue to operate Russo's Marketplace and Russo's East Hills Mall.
"The economy is slow and there just wasn't enough business to continue operating all three, especially when two of them were just three and a half miles apart," said owner Michael Russo.
The Californian noted that the closure "was announced just as the company was preparing to kick off a campaign to urge shoppers to buy from local, independent retailers."
As Russo observed, "This is a good example of what can happen when people don't support their local merchants. I don't think anybody wants Bakersfield to turn into a bedroom community with cookie cutter chains.”
Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan., is closed this week for remodeling. "We moved in this store in 1996, and we'd never done a major remodel," marketing manager Beth Golay told the Wichita Eagle. "It was just time."
Renovations include new tiling and a new counter in the cafe and new carpeting in the bookstore as well as "a different look" for the walls. "Any time you have books, it's a cozy environment," Golay added. "We just want to have an even more welcoming atmosphere. Nice and warm, but a fresh look."
Alibris has tweaked its website to make it easier for students to buy new and used textbooks, the company said. The changes were made on the marketplace's U.S., U.K. and Borders Marketplace sites (it operates the last one in conjunction with Borders) and include searches of up to 25 ISBNs at a time; best-price bundles; textbook tips; and information about specific schools that include recommended books, shopping tips and answers to educational questions.
Certain words are "the keys to the kingdom of fiction," the Guardian reported, noting that "the Villa Gillet has been asking writers who attend the International Forum on the Novel to select a word which underpins their work. . . . keywords selected by visiting authors have been compiled into a dictionary, the Lexique Nomade, published by Christian Bourgois." Aspiring novelists may want to consider memorizing the list, which includes:
- Furniture--Jonathan Lethem
- Hedonism--Adam Thirlwell
- Identities--Nuruddin Farah
- Novel/life--James Meek
Harry Potter by the £? The Guardian's book blogger Nicholas Clee wrote that supermaket chain "Asda's decision to sell Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the absurd price of £1 may end up doing a great deal more damage to JK Rowling than the unauthorised Harry Potter compendium . . . Discounting of the Harry Potter novels has always been taken to the extreme, but had previously remained within the realms of commercial feasibility. Asda has brought it to the level of the remainder bin."
He cites payback as at least part of this story: "Frustrated at not being able to secure advantageous terms, Asda last year accused Rowling's publisher, Bloomsbury, of 'blatant profiteering.' Bloomsbury reacted by cutting off Asda's supply of the Deathly Hallows hardback, issuing the counter-allegation that the supermarket had not paid its bills. Asda settled. The supermarket's £1 offer might be seen as a two-fingered revenge, although its principal motivation is probably its rivalry with Tesco, which has taken hefty shares of the markets in the past few HP novels. Asda says that it enjoyed 79% of the sales of Deathly Hallows during the week of the offer."
Robert Downey Jr. is apparently more inspired by acting than writing these days. The Associated Press
reported that Downey "has postponed plans to write a memoir and has
returned his advance to publisher HarperCollins." The book was
"originally scheduled to come out this year. HarperCollins had billed
it as a 'candid look at the highs and lows of his life and career' when
the publisher announced the project two years ago."