Book Stores

A Ray of Hope in Tunisia...Previously Banned Books for Sale

From The Irish Times:

LOOKING OUT the window of her bookshop on Avenue Bouguiba, where two dozen curious faces are pressed against the pane to catch a glimpse at her latest display, Selma Jabbes is a picture of quiet satisfaction.

The crowds outside the Al Kitab bookshop are staring at a selection of newly arrived titles under the heading Livres interdits , a selection of books banned under the regime of deposed president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and now freely available for the first time.

Most concern Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi, political repression, Islamism and corruption in the regime.

Al Kitab is still awaiting delivery of its first order of banned books from Europe; those in the window were donated by readers and put on display “to give an idea of how we suffered here”, says Jabbes, a softly-spoken woman greeted by name by many of her customers.

Under Ben Ali’s rule, booksellers required a visa from the interior ministry for every work they wanted to import, and the process could take several months. The list of sensitive subject matter was long and ever-changing, but virtually every foreign title that touched on the president or his entourage, or which denigrated his policies, was strictly prohibited.

Exchanging Real Books for Unwanted Kindles

If you happen to be in the Portland, OR area and have an unwanted/unused Kindle, take it to Microcosm Publishing book and zine store and leave with an equivalent value in printed books....

Details here

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Helping indie bookstores survive on thin ice

Helping indie bookstores survive on thin ice
But all that's changing now. As competition from 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.


L. A.'s Mystery Books to Close; Can't Compete with Amazon

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.


Borders on the Brink of Bankruptcy

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.

Can Book Retailer Borders Survive Without Its Own eReader?

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.

Full article


Bayonne Bookstore Blues

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.”


End Of Days For Bookstores? Not If They Can Help It

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.

Listen or read transcript of full piece


In the stacks

A great photo of a Boston area book store that made it's rounds on Boing Boing yesterday!

Picture at Bookfinder

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A hot Christmas may be followed by a chilling Spring

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.

Full article



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