Notes: Borders Edges Lower; Shift in Political Titles
Shares of Borders Group fell below $1 for a time on Friday and closed at $1.11, down 19%, as investors anticipate that Borders's quarterly results tomorrow will resemble the major sales drops reported by Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million (see below) last week.
Publishers contacted by the Wall Street Journal said they're continuing to ship books to Borders and that the company is paying its bills. HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told the Journal that HarperCollins is being "prudent" about volume in general. "We are very aware that consumers aren't spending as they once did," he said. "We've reduced the quantities of our printings and are relying more on just-in-time resupply."
Several news organizations surveyed the changing landscape for political and presidential books.
During the Bush Administration, "current events and political titles," including anti-Bush books and titles about September 11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Muslim world, have been popular, the Guardian said. Now "Obama has signalled--in his appointments and policy platforms--that passing an economic stimulus package, kick-starting recovery, bipartisanship, health care, and resurrecting America's relationship with countries around the world will be at the forefront of his agenda"--and popular titles will reflect these themes.
For its part, AFP wrote that "the literati are back in charge of Washington as sales of books by, related to or merely mentioned by Barack Obama rocket ahead of the author-politician's entry into the White House."
Mark Laframboise of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., said, "John McCain books are dead now. And we can't sell an Iraq war book now to save our souls."
Warm idea of the day: Osondu Booksellers, Waynesville, N.C., will donate the proceeds of a Black Friday appearance by Wayne Caldwell, author of Cataloochee (Random House), to the Share the Warmth fund, which helps financially strapped people in Haywood County pay for heat.
The historic inn in Boonsboro, Md., that burned to the ground earlier this year while being renovated by author Nora Roberts and her husband, Bruce Wilder (Shelf Awareness, February 23, 2008), is being rebuilt and should open early next February, according to the newsletter of Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe, which the couple own and Wilder runs.
Inn BoonsBoro has a literary theme. Already Gifts Inn BoonsBoro, the inn's gift store, has opened nearby and features regional arts and crafts as well as scents that match the different scents that will be used in each room in the inn.
Calling this year's holiday retail season a time for "survival of the fittest," the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer polled small businesses to find out how they are preparing for next month, since "businesses with only one location make up 96% of U.S. retail companies, and this year could be a make-or-break holiday season for many of them."
John Valentine, co-owner of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, told the News & Observer that clearance books, used books and remaindered books are selling well, adding, "Everybody wants a bargain, and it's even more true now. A book is a book in a lot of people's eyes. They know they want to give their mother-in-law a book, and they can peel the $5.99 sticker off, and there's a $12.95 list price in there."
As part of a movement to restore downtown Pekin, Ill., "to former glory," a group called Pekin Main Street is looking "to lure back local business," according to the Peoria Journal Star, which added that "some entrepreneurs are taking a chance on downtown despite its problems, hoping their gamble will pay off for themselves and the ailing district."
One of these is Stewart Hamm, owner of Illinois Prairie Book Sellers, who said, "The reason we came down here was to hopefully start a renaissance downtown. . . . It's a daily struggle. Nobody's looking to get rich. We're just looking to survive. . . . Knowing my customers by name and knowing what they like. That's our big advantage."
The CU Independent featured a guide to indie bookstores in the Boulder area. University of Colorado student Melissa Herzog praised the Boulder Bookstore, saying, "They have a lot of popular, mainstream titles, and also a lot of random things you wouldn't find elsewhere."
Added manager Erica Terpening: "We are as big as a chain but we still operate as an independent bookstore." Other bookshops showcased were Red Letter Books and Trident Booksellers and Café.
Great moments in literary do-it-yourself annals? The Guardian featured Mark Crick performing "Hanging Wallpaper with Ernest Hemingway" and "Boarding an Attic with Edgar Allan Poe," from his book, Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Book of DIY.