Book Stores

Bargain Hunting for Books, and Feeling Sheepish About It

Article in the New York Times:

Book publishers and booksellers are full of foreboding — even more than usual for an industry that’s been anticipating its demise since the advent of television. The holiday season that just ended is likely to have been one of the worst in decades. Publishers have been cutting back and laying off. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced that it wouldn’t be acquiring any new manuscripts, a move akin to a butcher shop proclaiming it had stopped ordering fresh meat.

Bookstores, both new and secondhand, are faltering as well. Olsson’s, the leading independent chain in Washington, went bankrupt and shut down in September. Robin’s, which says it is the oldest bookstore in Philadelphia, will close next month. The once-mighty Borders chain is on the rocks. Powell’s, the huge store in Portland, Ore., said sales were so weak it was encouraging its staff to take unpaid sabbaticals.

Full article here.

Book Advice: 25 Cents

The first Saturday in December, University Book Store in Seattle, WA opened its first "Holiday Advice Booth," the brainchild of Stesha Brandon, the store's events manager. Modeled after Lucy's psychiatrist booth in "Peanuts," book advice was offered for 25 cents, with the money raised going to the store's Scholarship Endowment Fund, which helps financial-aid students purchase course materials and textbooks.

It was staffed in one-hour shifts from 10 to 6; advisors included Brad Craft, the store's used-books buyer, Nancy Pearl, the World's Librarian, two sales reps--Dan Christaens from Norton and David Glenn from Random House--and me (author of this article, Marilyn Dahl). Stesha was our runner (and supplier of homemade baked goods). We had a blast.

Sounds like a lot of fun; read the entire article at Shelf-Awareness.

Maybe library friends shops could do something similar? Of course, there's only one Nancy Pearl, but those friends have done a lot of reading over the years...

Penn Libraries Receive Gotham Book Mart Collection

Penn Libraries Receive Gotham Book Mart Collection: When the Gotham Book Mart closed its doors last year, the disposition of its precious contents was in question. But thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Gotham Book Mart Collection has a new home at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. A landmark cultural institution in New York City, the Gotham Book Mart was the epitome of all that is engaging and inspiring about an independent bookstore. It was an oasis where poets, writers, and lovers of literature could gather for readings, discuss and discover authors and their works, and while away hours poring over the store's eclectic and often unique inventory.

Indie Booksellers Migrate To Drupal to Increase Internet Sales

The American Booksellers Association is encouraging its membership to increase sales by going live on a new Drupal platform (à la LISNews).

The three stores with live beta-test Drupal sites are Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California; Literary Bookpost in Salisbury, North Carolina; and RiverRead Books in Binghamton, New York.

A demo store is set up at Cascade o' Books--"not a real bookstore"--where "booksellers can see how easy it is to change the color scheme and layout by choosing a theme using the drop down menu on the homepage," said Ricky Leung, director of ABA's E-Commerce Solution. Anyone can test out themes and the shopping cart.

Bookstore Stimulus Package; a government bailout isn’t in the cards.

Here’s a letter that Roy Blount Jr., a wonderful author (all football fans should read his Steelers classic About Three Bricks Shy …) and president of the Authors Guild, recently sent to Guild members:

I’ve been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren’t known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don’t lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn’t in the cards.

We don’t want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let’s mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that’s just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; more from the NYTimes.

Rowling's Beedle the Bard book flies off shelves

JK Rowling's The Tale of Beedle the Bard is on course to become the fastest-selling book of 2008 in the UK.

The Harry Potter author's collection of fairytales has shifted close to 370,000 copies in its first week on sale.

The book's nearest rival, Guinness World Records 2008, had 73,236 over-the-counter sales in the same period.

Name Powell's Squirrel and Win!

After a squirrel appeared this summer on Powell's Books (Portland, OR) reusable bags and then scurried around and appeared elsewhere in and about the store--on mugs, T-shirts, etc.--the staff became tired of referring to the anonymous critter as "the squirrel."

So now the store is staging a naming contest: as Dave Weich of Powells.com put it on his blog, "Winner gets a $100 Powell's card, a featured book shelf at Powells.com, and bragging rights into the future." The contest is mentioned on the website as well as in the latest stories about Fup, the late store cat whose fans hail from around the world. Already 238 people have submitted a name for Fup's distant cousin.

Books Make The Very Best Gifts

OK, you've determined you're going to try to buy books from your local independent booksellers...but now the question is...what are you going to buy?

The New York Times has a list of Notable Books from 2008 , and a list of list of Notable Books for Children from 2008.

You've got the list, you've bought the book(s), what now? Maybe some greeting cards that recycle into bookmarks to go along with it? Ah, the perfect combo. Mention birdie sent you, and you'll get free shipping on your order through the month of December.

Buy Local This Season...and Throughout the Year

From Shelf Awareness: "We're trying to remind people to think twice and support their local, independent retailers or they may not be there next year," Chris Morrow, general manager of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., told the Rutland Herald. Morrow is one of the founders of Local First Vermont, "a non-profit organization committed to preserving the character and prosperity of Vermont's economy, community networks and natural landscape."

"The message is simple: support your locally owned independent business," said Morrow. "Where you spend your money has a tremendous impact on what happens in our community. Decisions are made locally by people who are on your volunteer boards, running your Little League--it's not corporate headquarters somewhere closing a store so x number of people lose their jobs and there's a big vacant building. Since the economic collapse, people are seeing how important it is to build local resilience."

"People are getting the message," added Steve Eddy, owner of Book King, Rutland, "but I'm so enthusiastic about it, I explain it to them whether they want to hear it or not."

Amazon is easy, it's tempting, I know, I've succumbed on more than one occasion...but it's better for your community to buy from your local retailers and don't forget to support your local vendors too!!

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Indie Bookshops are... Just Like Your Local Pub

Independent bookstores are the sober equivalent of your local bar: Not only does everyone know your name, they know what you like. Furthermore, they benefit the publishing business: “Independent stores are where innovation lies,” says Kent Carroll of Europa Editions. “They can still make best sellers. The chains didn’t come onboard until after the fact.”

Here is New York Magazine's listing of fourteen great NYC bookstores.

Tell us about a favorite store near you and why you like them... Remember to buy local during the holidays and support a business in your community.

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