Notes: Anastasia's Success Keys; Main Street Holiday Shopping
"Anastasia’s Books just had its best September in years," wrote Kansas City Star columnist Barb Shelly of the Raytown, Mo., used bookstore. "The superbly named co-owner, Anastasia Hope, doesn’t know how to explain the good fortune."
"We’re still trying to figure it out," said Hope, but Shelly offered her own two-part theory:
"Part One is that we have had our fill of excesses. Bigger is no longer better and the quest for the next new thing has given way to a search for equilibrium. Part Two is that times are hard and people are seeking escape. Where better to find both stability and oblivion than a small bookstore. . . ."
"Until recently, a business like Anastasia’s seemed almost hopelessly out of date in a world that rewarded change, growth, expansion and risk," Shelly continued. "Now, the methods Hope and [husband Michael] Tatham have embraced over 10 years seem as practical as a small car. Follow your passions. Know your customers. Don't get greedy. Even help your competitors--you're all in this together."
With the advice that "now more than ever, it's important to hearken back to business fundamentals," ABA CEO Avin Domnitz wrote in a letter to booksellers that "a basic business tenet--especially when credit is tight--is that 'cash is king.' The key to being in control of your business is to be in control of cash. Think in terms of cash even more than profitability."
Domnitz, who regularly leads financial seminars for ABA members, offered a range of advice on "proactive planning and analysis" stores can do now, and offered links to BTW's series on bookselling in tough times--whose latest installment focuses on staffing--and worksheets and other information from ABA educational seminars.
Think Main Street this holiday season. Bookselling This Week reported that the "Sustainable Business Network of the Greater Lehigh Valley (SBN) in southeast Pennsylvania plans to launch a Main Street, Not Wall Street campaign to highlight to consumers the advantages of spending their dollars at local independent businesses."
"There is a limited number of dollars out there, and we're trying to let consumers know how they can make the most impact with their money," said Stephanie Anderson of Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, Pa. "It's deceptively simple, what you can do [for your community] with a slight change of habits."
Anderson added that "people have lost faith with the economy. No one understands exactly how it all happened. The local economy is a lot easier to understand. If small businesses make money, pay their bills, they stay open. If they don't, they close. I think people are coming back to local economies because it's just more comfortable."
The damaged economy has claimed one bookstore before it even had a chance to get going. According to the Rockford, Mich., Independent, a "planned bookstore in downtown Rockford is not going to happen as a result of the recent volatility in the financial market."
Amanda Hall "was trying to get a business loan," said Tom Cronkright, owner of the building where Page One Bookstore and Café was to be located. "When the credit market started to tighten she got caught up in it. She was absolutely disappointed. It's one of those things where you look back but you can't control what happened."
The Chicago International Remainder and Overstock Book Exposition (CIROBE) takes place next week, October 24-26, in Chicago, Ill.
"Our exhibitors are really strong, including a lot of new ones," Chelsea Nash, show coordinator, told Bargain Book News. "Twenty-five percent of those displaying this year were not here last year. Several large vendors including Kudzu, Paragon and Publications International are lost, but we seem to have made it up in a lot of smaller exhibitors."
BBN reported that "the economy is affecting trade show attendance and a lot of people are making decisions later than earlier to attend."
There used to be a hard number a month out," said show owner Marshall Smith, "but not anymore--more registrations appear at the end."
"Last year we had about as many register at the door as preregistered," Nash added. "We are also seeing few people per company (attendees), which could be a cost saving measure, but we are not seeing any pattern really."
From the very funny, but "not a book trailer," department at Boing Boing: "John Hodgman's new book More Information than You Require hits the streets on October 21, but by no means is today's episode of Boing Boing tv any sort of, oh, how do the marketing people say it--it's not a book trailer, and it is by no means a promotional vehicle for said book."
And just so there's no promotional misunderstanding, the article also ends with this proviso: "(Serious face: this episode isn't an ad, we're just ridiculously hardcore fans of Hodgman. Watch our trufan-trailer here, then, seriously, go buy the book)."
Cyberpunk chic? Author William Gibson "has lent his name to some very cool bags and jackets (and sneakers)," according to Boing Boing. "The products are a joint effort of two Japanese firms, bag company Porter, and Buzz Rickson, remakers of vintage military clothing."
Journalist Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorra--a nonfiction book about the Naples Mafia that has sold more than 1.2 million copies and been adapted into a play and film--plans to leave Italy because of threats on his life, according to Reuters (via the New York Times).
Woman of Letters: , an exhibition on view until March 22, 2009 at New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage, is "a solemn show," according to and Suite FrancaiseBloomberg. Items on display include the author's manuscript for Suite Francaise--a "handwritten draft, crammed with tiny blue script on unlined notebook paper"--as well as "photographs that capture y's wide smile and empathetic eyes" and "correspondence, clippings and video interviews."