Notes: Preparing for a Lean Christmas; New Bookstore
Marketing leaders at some 100 general retailers expect sales at their stores open at least a year to fall on average 2.7% in November and December compared to the same period last year, according to a BDO Seidman survey quoted by the Wall Street Journal. Some 88% of those executives say their companies plan to offer more discounts and promotions than last year.
The American Booksellers Association continues to aim to help member stores prepare for a challenging season. Bookselling This Week's Bookselling in Tough Times series focuses this week on merchandising.
And the ABA has "fast-tracked" an IndieBound holiday marketing program that includes new designs for material--posters, bookmarks, postcards and more--that promote "the lasting value of the book as a great gift," which the board calls "the best approach for independent bookstores this holiday season."
How does a bookstore thrive for two decades? "A love for books,
along with careful planning and also spur-of-the-moment decisions,"
according to the Kalamazoo, Mich., Gazette,
which interviewed Kazoo Books' owner Gloria Tiller, who believed in
1988 "her bookstore would be a haven for women, so she stocked it
primarily with romance novels."
"I thought I would have this quaint shop where women would come and talk about and buy romance novels," she said. "My first customer to come in was a man looking for a mystery novel. That's when I knew I had to adapt if I wanted to stay alive." That ongoing adaptation process by Gloria and her husband, Jim, eventually included expansion and the addition of a second store, Kazoo Books II.
"We're just like the big-box stores but with a heck of a lot more knowledge and customer service," Gloria said. "Our employees are amazing. Just the other day, a customer came in looking for a book and didn't know the name. He described it in a few words, and sure enough one of our employees knew exactly what book it was and took him to it. You can't get that online or at a big chain store."
The new Powells.com site is up. Read all about it and see it here.---
The Greensboro, N.C., News-Record celebrated the opening of the Glenwood Community Book Shop with the news that "Alan Brilliant, a veteran of the publishing business who trained under the legendary owner of New York City's Gotham Book Mart and Gallery, had everything ready the other day at his small Grove Street storefront south of the coliseum."
The paper also offered an
elegy to the region's glory days of bookselling: "They were just shops,
after all. Nothing indispensable in what they sold, nothing a body
can't survive without. Printed pages sewn together, glued to a spine,
cloaked in a jacket, arranged a certain way on a shelf. But in the city
that gave the world O. Henry--and more than its share of major poets
and novelists ever since--Greensboro's independent bookstores are like
We reported earlier this month on the occasionally discomforting mix of bookstores and politics (Shelf Awareness, October 16, 2008) as the presidential campaign heats up. Now the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has added to the discussion with its report on an election year that "tests local residents' civility."
According to the article, Linda Burg, owner of the Little Read Book, Wauwatosa, Wis., "can't recall, in all her years as a bookseller, a more contentious political climate" in her bookstore. "In the weeks building up to the November election, Burg has witnessed perfectly reasonable people losing their cool in defense of their candidates. Voices are elevated. Tensions are high."
"Conversations have gotten very steamed," she said, adding that she has encouraged her staff to refrain from talking politics with patrons. "I don't think there's a middle ground in this election at all. I've been here for 23 years, and I don't remember an election like this one."
"Independent book stores put a special focus on children" was the Daily Herald's headline for a piece showcasing Chicago-area indie bookstores that "make children a big focus, hosting reading events and impressive collections for every interest. They also include places where you can spend some time reading with the kids on a cold day."
"Yet more Bastards with Bookshops" were featured by Bookride (via Boing Boing), including "the Birmingham [England] dealer, who on being asked for a discount for books would tear them in half in front of the customer. What particularly irked him was the phrase 'What can you do on this?' A red mist would descend and he would reply 'I'll show you what I can do on this . . .' and tore up the book."
A new Indigo store in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is one of the Canadian bookstore chain's new stores that emphasizes home decor, gourmet and gift items and has a children's "store within the store," the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported. The store is called Indigo Books. Gifts. Life.
CEO Heather Reisman said that the overall layout is, as the paper put it, "based on what consumers have asked for over time. Part of that involves organizing book category sections with relevant gift selections."
In the children's store, Reisman said, "In addition to books, this has quality toys, very carefully selected, but a rich selection--the kind parents are looking for. Developmental, but fun." In addition, "There are things children can do while they are there. They can play, they can dress up . . . there's crafts, story-telling. It's a whole world for kids. This is something we've been working on for a number of years."
On Friday's show, Oprah, who besides books likes to recommend various products, chose as her "favorite new gadget" the Amazon Kindle. She received one this summer as a gift and said it changed her life.
As part of the show on Friday, everyone in the audience received a free Kindle and Amazon offered viewers a $50 discount on the Kindle as well as 10% off the price of Oprah's latest book pick, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos appeared on the show and said he is reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy and a book on the history of cryogenic engineering, according to Wired.
At one point, Oprah said, "I have no stake in the Kindle."
Kevin Callahan has been promoted to associate director of marketing for Harper. He joined the department in April 2007.