Notes: New Bookstore Owners; Herding Bookseller Cats
Earlier this week, we reported on the grand opening of Chestnut Street Books, Stillwater, Minn. (Shelf Awareness, July 21, 2008), managed by Cecilia Loome, daughter of noted antiquarian bookseller Thomas Loome. The Lake Elmo Leader
decided to give equal time to Christopher Hagen and Andrew Poole, who
are the new owners of Chestnut Street Books as well as Loome
According to the Leader, "When Thomas Loome sought to retire from a career as a bookseller last winter, he thought long and hard about who might continue his mission. His replacement couldn't be just anyone. They would need a strong work ethic, a love of the written word, and the knowledge to serve a diverse set of readers, ranging from enthusiasts of rare books, to academicians, to theologians--many from locales across the globe. Fortunately, Loome needed not search far to find two qualified candidates."
"One of our primary goals is we want this to be a good place to work," Hagen said. "We try to give people here as much responsibility as we can, to do their own thing."
"We've use the term 'guild' to describe it,” Poole added. "We do head it and we do tell people what to do because its necessary at times, but for the most part these people have their territories and they take ownership of it."
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is co-sponsoring a program that will bring reporters to bookstores to discuss how the Internet is changing journalism.
According to ABFFE, "The reporters will explore the changing nature of the news business. Has the Internet improved journalism or provided a new forum for disinformation? Are bloggers really journalists? Should they receive the same legal protections that have been traditionally reserved for reporters working for the newspapers, radio and television?"
This is the third program of its kind ABFFE has organized with the MLRC Institute: in 2006 and again this year the organizations have sponsored appearances of reporters in bookstores to talk about the importance of confidential sources. In the first year, 17 bookstores participated; this year 16 participated.
Booksellers interested in participating should e-mail ABFFE president Chris Finan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-587-4025, ext. 15.
BBC News reported that "two schemes have found different ways for independent bookshops to club together to buy their books on better terms."
The approximately 55 members of Leading Edge Books, "a sort of book club for bookshops . . . pay a monthly fee, which is currently £40 but is likely to rise soon, and in return they are offered a selection of books at greater discounts than they can negotiate through wholesalers or directly with publishers."
The Independent Booksellers' Group "has about 125 members, and twice a year they get together and choose a selection of new books that they want." While there is no subscription fee, members must commit to at least 10 copies each of the books chosen, half of which may be returned if unsold.
"Getting independents to do anything together has always been compared to herding cats because we're all fiercely independent," said Tim Walker, the owner of Walker's Book who launched IBG with wholesaler Bertrams in 2006, "but I think there's a realisation that actually we need to work together. It allows us to compete--doesn't allow us to beat the competition on price but at least it allows us to compete."
J.K. Rowling does have one regret about her Harry Potter series: "I started writing Harry six months before [my mother] died," Rowling said on a recent BBC Scotland program--Scotland's Hidden Epidemic: The truth about MS--where she discussed the lack of research funding for multiple sclerosis, which killed her mother in 1990. "That's obviously a real regret, because I never told her I was even writing it. She never knew anything about Harry Potter at all."
"Which classic are you ashamed to admit you have never read?" The Telegraph asked authors to confess at the Ways With Words festival.
"Like many megalomaniacs, [Radovan] Karadzic fancied himself a poet," the New Yorker magazine's Book Bench blog observed, noting that in the 1970s, the recently captured former Bosnian Serb leader accused of war crimes "took a few poetry classes at Columbia University while studying psychiatry."
In his book Sarajevo Blues, poet Semezdin Mehmedinovic recalled watching Karadzic on the news, where he "spouted such blatant lies that, in a rage, I found a book of his children's poetry--There Are Miracles, There Are No Miracles--and began ripping it apart."
Of Karadzic's brutal legacy, Mehmedinovic concludes: "It is not only my world that has been deconstructed but language as well. A library, for example, is no longer a building filled with books but a burnt out ruin. These days, if I ever find myself in a library and wander over into the children's section, my heart freezes."
Megan Weireter has been promoted to account and custom sales director at Harvard Common Press, where she will continue to manage key special markets accounts while expanding the company's efforts in custom publishing. She was formerly special sales manager. She started at the press six years ago as a publicity intern while obtaining a graduate degree in writing and publishing from Emerson College.
In a statement, Harvard Common Press publisher Bruce Shaw said, "We've been tiptoeing into the custom business for the past couple of years, and now we are dedicated to making it a significant part of our publishing program. Because we focus on only two categories of books--cooking and parenting--we have the content, knowledge, and resources to succeed in this area. Megan's relationships with marquee retail accounts, manufacturers and other corporations make her uniquely suited to lead our development of a custom program."