Book Stores

We can't ride on books and music and video forever

Popular blogger Steve Yegge talked about his former employer, Amazon.com, in a recent keynote at O'Reilly's OSCON: "What word comes to mind when you think of Amazon.com? Books. I worked at Amazon for seven years and it pains me to hear that but, yes, books. Books. And it's because Bezos said, 'Well, I'm going to make the Earth's biggest bookstore.' So that's what we think of. Now Jeff is a brilliant, brilliant man and he did an amazing job of branding it as 'books,' and then one day a couple of years later, he told us in an all hands—and this wasn't secret, but it's important for us to know—he said, 'We can't ride on books and music and video forever.' Why? Because they're all digitizable. Who buys a CD in China right now? They have to move into hard lines. They have to move into clothes and auctions and all this other stuff. They have to move into services. They have to, right? Because in the fullness of time—and Bezos is quite the visionary—he thinks no one is going to buy books anymore. And if your brand is tied to something that's dying then the brand is no good anymore." Watch a video of the keynote, and get some more background on its circumstances in Yegge's blog entry, "How To Make a Funny Talk Title Without Using The Word 'Weasel.'"

Book return system being questioned

Worried about their industry's carbon footprint, publishers in Britain are considering tossing the sale-or-return system by which they have traditionally supplied bookstores with books and going to a practice of firm sale, at least with older titles.

"Can we really justify sending books all over the country, only to send them back on the same journey to be destroyed?" Victoria Barnsley, CEO of HarperCollins UK, recently asked in the trade journal The Bookseller.

Her counterpart at Hachette UK, Tim Hely Hutchinson, agrees. "It's pretty silly to send backlist shuttling back and forth - it's a waste of time, money and resources."

Romance Is (Frequently) In the Air

A continuation of our story on romance readers, here's one from California that also has a happy ending...courtesy of Shelf-Awareness:

Some birthday gifts have a more lasting effect than others. In 1987, Toni Bruner received 600 romance novels from a friend, effectively doubling her collection and leading her to open New & Recycled Romances, Costa Mesa.

"So here we are, 20 years later," Bruner told the Daily Pilot, "still in the happy ending business. And we're getting busier and busier, because so many small bookstores are closing."

Amazon.com Launches Galley Program & Self-Pub Division

Never hesitant to try something that will bring about a boom in their business, Amazon.com is offering customers access to two new programs: previewing publishers galleys and the opportunity to publish their own works.

Publishers Weekly reports (but I wasn't able to find anything on the Amazon.com site): Through Project Vine, readers with a history of posting accurate and helpful book reviews are being invited to receive advance copies for review purposes. And, through CreateSpace, a division of the company that already provides CD- and DVD-on-demand services, Amazon has added book publishing options.

Probe urged into Australian book store 'blackmail'

Australian publishers are reeling after being told one of the country's biggest book store chains will not stock their books unless they pay thousands of dollars within weeks.

The publishers are calling it blackmail and have called for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate.

The Highs and the Lows of Rankings on Amazon

The NYTimes Takes A Look at the Amazon.com sales rankings. When Amazon created the system 10 years ago, it could hardly have known how greatly its list would change the dynamics of the publishing business (much the way the company itself did) or how hard writers and industry executives would work to game the system. Today the Amazon rankings list and, to a lesser extent, a similar list on the Barnes & Noble Web site is the subject of great microanalysis and some mystery.

Is the Comfy Bookstore A Thing of the Past?

The Baltimore Sun reports: Just a decade ago, the trend in the bookstore industry was to fit nooks and crannies with big chairs for browsing, which, it was hoped, would spur buying. The idea was to recast the bookstore as a community place or an extension of the home.

But now the availability of so-called "soft" seating - overstuffed chairs and sofas - is on the decline at some bookstores, done in by various complications: homeless squatters, overly enthusiastic young lovers, food trash left behind.

Something to Crunch on From Amazon.com

Amazon.com is experimenting with selling and delivering fresh produce and other grocery items to customers on Mercer Island, near its Seattle, WA headquarters, according to the AP and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Offerings do not include books.

Harry and the Strange Logic of Book Discounters

The tangled web of Harry Potter, author J.K. Rowling, Harry's British & US publishers, on-line bookstores (Amazon), bookstore chains (Barnes & Noble, Borders), non-bookstore chains (Wal-Mart, Costco), independent bookstores and all those Harry Potter fans/readers is examined in Saturday's New York Times.

Couple Plans Wedding, But There'll BeThree on the Honeymoon (Bride, Groom & Harry)

One Oregon couple's wedding night will be especially magical. Courtney Lanahan and Shawn Gordon of Clackamas are heading straight from their wedding reception Friday to a Barnes & Noble to get the final Harry Potter book.

How do we know all this??? WaPo has the story of the nuptials and the groom's little treat for the bride, an elementary school teacher. Wonder if they'll name their first kid Hermione?

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