From a letter to customers from Jeff Mayersohn, new owner of the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass.:
"Why would a high-tech type like myself enter the book business in the digital age? Simply, because I truly love books. I no more believe that books will be replaced by digital formats than I think that museums will be rendered obsolete by digital renditions of great works of art. And despite rumors to the contrary, bookselling can indeed be profitable. But independent bookselling is more than a business; it's a mission. A great independent bookstore serves as a community center for the exchange of ideas and as a bastion against the homogenization and 'dumbing down' of culture. It enhances all our lives."
It has been anything but politics as usual this campaign season for Tricia Lightweis, owner of The Booksmith bookstore, Seneca, S.C. Upstatetoday.com reported that Lightweis, who has owned the bookshop through five presidential election cycles, "has never encountered the kind of vitriol and temper tantrums unleashed on her and her employees that she has seen this year."
"I'm disappointed that we are here again, revisiting censorship and threatened economic harm," she said. "You can put your thumb right on when it started. It was the week of the Democratic National Convention. Since then there have been at least 30 people who don't want to see anything that goes against their opinion."
She added that the books at the center of contention seem to be Barack Obama's Change We Can Believe In and Joe Quint's 72 Things Younger Than John McCain.
"Where were these people when I had 60 copies of the (Kenneth) Starr report (on Bill Clinton) for sale right next to a cigar aficionado display?" she asked. "Where were they when I had two full displays of Sarah Palin's book just five days after McCain named her to his ticket?"
Lightweis told upstatetoday.com that "many of her 18 employees have been verbally assaulted and said the outrageous behavior displayed by some customers has cost her money in insidious ways such as time spent arguing or apologizing to other customers who have had to witness an outburst.
"I realize this is an important election, perhaps more important than most," she said, "but to arrogantly make the assumption that my choice of books reflects my political personality . . . When I come into this store, I'm a capitalist, and I'll compete with the best capitalists in the country. There has to be balance. I don't buy books for a cause. I buy books for a customer base."
Sign of the times?
No. 10 on the bestseller list for much of September at the Book Works, Del Mar, Calif., as reported to the San Diego Union-Tribune, was Mr. Grumpy by Roger Hargreaves. Jet Hopster, publicity manager of the Book Works, commented: "We like to think our customers found a wonderful way to express their frustrations and worries about the economic crisis. The ultimate example of the importance of art."
While there may be some debate regarding the Man Booker Prize's effect on sales in U.S., the results in Mumbai were immediate and thorough. The Times of India reported that "as news of Aravind Adiga's Booker win for The White Tiger flashed across the wires, readers rushing to bookstores to pick up their copies had to contend with a 'Sold Out' sign."
"We knew this book would win the Booker,'' said P. M. Shenvi, manager of the Strand Book Stall. "It seems that the book is out of print, but we've asked the publishers to send the copies as soon as possible.''
"Which book won the first ever Booker prize in 1969?" Test your Booker knowledge with the Guardian's pop quiz.
Lightning Source is printing two University of Nebraska Press titles by Nobel literature prize laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio: Onitsha, originally published by Nebraska in 1997, and The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts, a 2003 book. In a statement, press marketing manager Rhonda Winchell said: "Three days after the Nobel Prize was announced we had books on the way to distributors in Europe and the U.S."
NPR's Day to Day featured a list of "The Best Foreign Books You've Never Heard Of," as recommended by David Kipen, director of Literature and National Reading Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts.
The inspiration for the list was summed up in the introduction: "French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. If most Americans have never heard of this accomplished author of more than 30 novels, essays and story collections, perhaps it's because there is so little emphasis on international books in the U.S. publishing world."
Your assignment: Discuss the best books that never existed. The Guardian suggested a speculative reading group discussion of "books that writers have only dreamed about," including:
- The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- The Necronomicon
- World According to Bensenhaver
- The Blind Assassin
Can you think of any additional titles?
MBI Distribution has been renamed Quayside Distribution Services. MBI and MBI Publishing, which includes Motorbooks, Voyageur Press, Zenith Press and Crestline, were bought in August 2007 by Quayside Publishing Group.
Among publishers that QDS distributes: Haynes Publishing, Tweety Jill Publications, Veloce Publishing, Whitehorse Press, the Crowood Press, Wolfgang Publications, Green Umbrella Publishing, Iconografix, Peter Morgan Media and the Good Life Press.