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Helping indie bookstores survive on thin ice
But all that's changing now. As competition from Amazon.com stiffens and the long-looming specter of e-books materializes into a stark new reality, indie bookstores are broadening their outreach in an effort to establish themselves as community nerve centers.
From LA Observed: Owners Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods say they can no longer compete with Amazon - and a sour economy hasn't helped. The decision to close comes just as the Borders' store in Westwood is in the process of shutting down. That leaves Westwood without any bookstore, chain or independent. I also believe it's the last mystery bookstore in L.A. From an email being sent out:
We simply cannot compete with the Amazons of the world and the impact of the economy. We love the bookstore and mysteries and the relationships we've formed with authors and publishers and agents and publicists. But, we do have retirement to think about (not in the near future!), and family and, well, all of those things that require money. So, it is with considerable sadness that we announce that The Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles, will--after many years (and as apparently the last-standing bookstore in Westwood, other than UCLA's student store)--be closing. Last day is Jan. 31.
In better days, the Borders bookstore in Westwood hosted book signings for photographer Annie Leibovitz, actor-turned-producer Henry Winkler and musician Sir Paul McCartney. But now, the countdown to its closing is on. Friday is the last day. Story from L.A. Times Books.
In related news, two top Borders executives resigned today; story from Galley Cat.
Book and media retailer Borders announced today that it will hold off on paying some publishers in order to buy time and reorganize its debt amid a year of weak sales in its brick and mortar stores in the era of digital distribution.
The company has seen declining sales in books, movies and music since electronic book readers have emerged and most consumers have started to use digital distribution marketplaces like iTunes. Borders’ revenue was down 17.5 percent in tis most recent quarter when compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to their most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its loss has also doubled to $74.4 million, up from a loss of $37.7 million in the same quarter a year earlier.
From the Hudson Reporter (NJ):
The owner of Unique Books, Bayonne’s only bookstore, is about to close his doors for good in about a week. Open since 2003, the store has struggled to make a profit.
Janes said the causes leading him to end a lifelong dream were not only the common ones that people cite for bookstores closing. He said rising rent (about $600 more), customers not buying enough books, and owing book distributors money all played a role.
Janes was also critical of the current business climate in Bayonne, which has declined considerably on Broadway, which he sees as a product of Bayonne’s attitude towards small businesses.
“I have a friend with a bookstore in Ridgewood who pulls in a quarter of a million dollars in a year in a town smaller than this one because his town supports him,” Janes said. “This town does not support small businesses; they’re forever building on [Route 440] and nobody shops on Broadway. City officials need to promote shopping on Broadway and provide for more free parking.”
Seven minute story on NPR about bookstores.
Excerpt: There was a time, not so long ago, when chain bookstores had a pretty bad reputation. Barnes & Noble and Borders were seen as predators eager to destroy local booksellers — and neighborhood bookstores were weathering threats from all sides. Megastores like Costco started selling bestsellers and encroaching on local shops. Then came a little company called Amazon, and the rise of online book buying. The indies were struggling to make ends meet, and many had to close their doors.
But these days, independent bookstore owners Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo of Greenlight Books in Brooklyn argue that the struggling local bookstore is a thing of the past.
"That was the only story people — especially in media — could wrap their heads around," Bagnulo says. " 'Oh isn't it sad that all the independent bookstores are dying and they are being destroyed by chains!'"
Now, the tables have turned. In the era of online buying and the e-book, both currently dominated by Amazon, the big chains are in trouble — and new technologies may provide independent bookstores with a lifeline.
Blog post by publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin
I’m expecting that what brick-and-mortar booksellers will experience in the first six months of 2011 will be the most difficult time they’ve ever seen, with challenges escalating beyond what most of them are now imagining or budgeting for. If I were programming a show for six months from now for the book industry, I’d plan for that to be Topic A.
Tragic story out of Salt Lake City. Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of bookseller Sherry Black who was killed in the shop she ran with her husband, B&W Billiards and Books, 3466 S. 700 East.
"She was physically beaten and stabbed more than once," Keller said. "Her wounds did cause a considerable amount of blood loss at the crime scene."
The Deseret News has learned about a transaction in which Black purchased rare, stolen LDS books from a Juggalo gang member with a history of making threats. The incident occurred in February of 2009.
Lorin Nielsen, 20, was arrested and charged with stealing books from the Bluffdale home of his father, who is a polygamous church president. Nielsen pleaded guilty in April 2009 to theft, a third-degree felony, and theft by deception, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
In March 2009, Nielsen's father told detectives he had noticed some rare LDS books missing from his home library, according to police reports. He reviewed security camera footage and saw his son removing the books on Feb. 20, when he had been at the home for a funeral. The home also functions as a church meeting place.
When the father showed the video to his son, Nielsen admitted taking the books and said he sold them at Black's B&W Billiards and Books store, police reports state.
Article in the Travel section of the NYT
ON a balmy fall evening in the Mission District of San Francisco, hundreds of people spilled onto Valencia Street, where they chatted happily for a few minutes before pouring back into bookstores, cafes and theaters. It was a giddy, animated crowd, but most of all bookish — a collection of fans and believers, here to listen to the written word.