Books-A-Million, Inc. Announces Second Quarter Loss

28 August 2015

From MarketWatch:

Books-A-Million, Inc. today announced financial results for the 13-week and 26-week periods ended August 1, 2015. Revenue for the 13-week period ended August 1, 2015, decreased 0.4% to $107.9 million, compared with revenue of $108.3 million in the year earlier period. Comparable store sales for the second quarter decreased 0.3% compared with the 13-week period in the prior year. Net loss attributable to Books-A-Million for the second quarter was $5.8 million, or $0.41 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $3.0 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, in the year earlier period.

For the 26-week period ended August 1, 2015, revenue decreased 1.1% to $209.7 million from revenue of $212.1 million in the year earlier period. Comparable store sales declined 0.6% compared with the same period in the prior year. For the 26-week period ended August 1, 2015, net loss attributable to Books-A-Million was $11.1 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $8.6 million, or $0.59 per diluted share, in the year earlier period.

Commenting on the results, Terrance G. Finley, Chief Executive Officer and President, said, “While we benefitted late in the quarter from the phenomenal success of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman and E.L. James’ Grey, we were not able to fully offset the significant prior year media driven sales of John Green’s Fault In Our Stars, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and Todd Burpo’s Heaven Is For Real. Again, this quarter we saw strong performances in our cafés and in our general merchandise departments.”

Link to the rest at MarketWatch

Target will replace Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills

27 August 2015

From The Daily News:

Barnes & Noble out. Target in.

A new Target store is slated to take over the space currently occupied by Barnes & Noble at 7000 Austin St., in Forest Hills, the Daily News has learned.

. . . .

Muss said that Barnes & Noble, which had operated at the location since 1995, opted not to renew its lease at the property, which was nearing its expiration.

The book brand, whose financials have remained relatively stable over the past two years despite competition from Amazon and other online book retailers, also recently confirmed plans to close its location near St. John’s University in Fresh Meadows.

. . . .

And its last remaining Queens location in Bayside is also closing, meaning that there will be zero Barnes & Noble stores in Queens for the meantime.

Link to the rest at The Daily News

Changes at Barnes & Noble may indicate a privilege problem

26 August 2015

From USA Today:

On a few recent trips to my local Barnes & Noble, I noticed something odd.

The comfy chairs the store used to have were gone. At first I didn’t think much of it – or at least not until I needed a place to sit and read my prospective purchase.

When I asked various store associates about the lack of seating, I was met with responses that were surprising, unsettling and worth exploring more closely.

. . . .

The employees – albeit not overtly — said Barnes & Noble chose to get rid of its big, cozy chairs to prevent the homeless from loitering in its stores. While they never used the term “homeless,” the employees instead referred to these loiterers as “undesirables,” or even “smelly people.”

So I wanted to take a deeper look into whether book giant was, in fact, actively keeping the poor and underprivileged out of its stores.

Link to the rest at USA Today and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

PG suspects that “privilege” will someday be a 20-teens joke the way Fabio, Jerry Springer, The Spice Girls and Power Rangers are 90’s jokes.



Japanese chain buys up 90% of Murakami essay stock

25 August 2015

From The Bookseller:

Japanese bookshop chain Kinokuniya is buying up 90,000 of the first 100,000 copies printed of Haruki Murakami’s “Novelist as a Vocation” to force people to buy the essay from a bricks-and-mortar store.

. . . .

A spokesperson for the retailer said: “The reality of the industry today is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for brick-and-mortar bookstores to purchase copies of high-profile new books.

“To rival online book retailers, bookstores across the country now need to join hands in efforts to reinvigorate the conventional book distribution market.”

The buyup by the company means there will only be 5,000 copies for online book retailers.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Tourists offered chance to run a bookshop on holiday

22 August 2015

From The Guardian:

For all those who agree with Neil Gaiman’s maxim in American Gods that “a town isn’t a town without a bookstore”, and who yearn to spend their days amongst the pristine spines and glossy covers of a small bookshop, what might be the perfect holiday retreat has just been listed on AirBnB: the opportunity to become a bookseller for a week or two.

For the sum of £150 a week, guests at The Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town, will be expected to sell books for 40 hours a week while living in the flat above the shop. Given training in bookselling from Wigtown’s community of booksellers, they will also have the opportunity to put their “own stamp” on the store while they’re there. “The bookshop residency’s aim is to celebrate bookshops, encourage education in running independent bookshops and welcome people around the world to Scotland’s national book town,” says the AirBnB listing.

The Open Book is leased by the Wigtown book festival from a local family. Organisers have been letting paying volunteers run the shop for a week or two at a time since the start of the year, but opened the experience up to the world at large this week when they launched what they are calling “the first ever bookshop holiday experience” on AirBnB.

“I wouldn’t call it a working holiday,” said Adrian Turpin, director of the Wigtown book festival. “It’s a particular kind of holiday [for people] who don’t feel that running a bookshop is work. It’s not about cheap labour – it’s about offering people an experience … It’s one of those great fantasies.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Death of a bookstore: Reading in the time of Kindle

21 August 2015

From The Hindustan Times:

When Ajitvikram Singh closes Fact & Fiction, Delhi’s best independent book store next month, he will be remembered, most of all, for trying to sustain a business with high taste. In his shop, you did not meet the entire book market but handpicked works of literary fiction, history and popular culture. Singh’s intimacy with books is real; his interaction with customers is polite enough but aristocratic. Unless you are a regular, you get no discount.

“Readers need to decide whether they want to go to a bookshop or a wholesaler,” says Singh who, like anyone interested in the survival of book stores in the times of online book shopping and e-readers like Kindle, is still trying to crack the model that will keep indie stores running. (Spell & Bound, another standalone bookstore in SDA Market, is also shutting shop next month.)

“Corporate publishing houses, more than the internet, have changed the game. They pushed up the price of books. Also, their attention only on the big sellers affected sales and production values. Penguin, for example, seems only interested in pushing Amitava Ghosh.”

Add to that, the changing culture of reading and you are looking at the beginning of the end of the world – from a bookseller’s point of view. “What is the Google experience fundamentally about?” asks Singh. “It’s about getting something for nothing, for free. You can’t make bookshops about discounts rather than books.”

. . . .

Theatreperson Sudhanva Deshpande, who runs May Day says that in an age when everything is easily available on the internet, a bookstore has to provide a reason for it to be on customers’ agenda. “When people come to our store, they know we don’t keep what the average store does. We also keep second-hand books.” he says. His effort  to bring in the off-mainstream culture of the city has also kept the shop formless and in the thrum of the city’s conversations. And his favourite bookshop? “Fact & Fiction’s one of them.”

Link to the rest at The Hindustan Times and thanks to Dave for the tip.

London’s latest Waterstones proves that ebooks have far from cornered the market

17 August 2015

From The Independent:

Those who believe that rumours of the book’s demise have been greatly exaggerated have received a substantial boost last week when with the announcement by Waterstones announced that it is to open a three-storey flagship store in central London.

The UK’s only remaining specialist national book chain will open the 7,000 square foot shop on London’s . . . Tottenham Court Road in October. Its doors will be open in time for “Super Thursday” – 8 October – when publishers begin their assault on the Christmas market, and this year a staggering 503 new titles will be vying for readers’ attention.

News of the opening sent an “encouraging signal out to the book community”, said Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association. He was “delighted” by the news, as the book retail sector had been badly affected over the past nine years “by the power and dominance of Amazon”, online physical book sales and ebooks.

. . . .

Waterstones managing director James Daunt, who built the eponymous Daunt Books chain, dubbed Amazon a “ruthless, money-making devil” in 2011. A year later he signed a deal to sell its Kindle ebook reader, but Waterstones has struggled to sell the devices and has reduced the amount of space given over to them in its stores.

. . . .

Rising rents and rates – coupled with increasing competition from online retailers of physical and digital books – have cast a shadow over high-street book shops. But Philip Downer, former chief executive of Borders, which went bust in 2009, believes the future is bright.

Link to the rest at The Independent

Family Christian Stays Open, $127 Million in Debt Erased

13 August 2015

From Gleanings:

The nation’s largest Christian retail chain will remain open after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the troubled company today.

After six months of wrangling in bankruptcy court, Grand Rapids-based Family Christian Stores will be sold debt-free to FCS Acquisitions for between $52.4 and $55.7 million, according to MLive.

The move will cost creditors millions of dollars but will keep more than 200 bookstores open as venues for publishers and vendors to sell products in the future.

. . . .

Family Christian—which will be renamed FCO, LLC—was able to shed more than $127 million in debt.

On Friday, Family Christian Stores’ creditors, many of them Christian publishers and vendors, voted 162 to 7 in favor of the sale. According to court records, Family Christian owed about $108 million to the creditors who approved of the sale. It owed about $97,000 to the creditors who opposed the sale.

. . . .

“For the short term they will be healthy. And if they can adapt to the retail challenges ahead they may be successful,” Christian literary agent Steve Laube told CT in an email. “Unfortunately, their financial ‘health’ came at the expense of a number of publishers, suppliers, and authors.”

Because of the sale, Family Christian’s suppliers will have to cope with being paid cents on the dollar for products they had shipped to the retailer.

Link to the rest at Gleanings and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Saying Goodbye to a Secret Bookstore

10 August 2015

From The New Yorker:

I suppose it’s O.K. to give away the address now. The books are gone, packed up in dozens of cardboard boxes and hauled away. When you ring the buzzer for apartment No. 7, nothing happens any longer, and won’t, probably, until someone else moves in. The old feeling you’d get, that you had sprung a trapdoor, discovered a secret passage, won’t come anymore.

Michael Seidenberg’s one-of-a-kind bookshop, Brazenhead Books, closed last month. For seven years, it operated out of an apartment at 235 East Eighty-fourth Street. Of course no bookstore or other business had any business being there, in that rent-stabilized apartment, so it was, strictly speaking, illegal, and because it was illegal it had to be secret. The secret was known to a small number of discreet patrons and shared strictly by word of mouth. (At first, Michael saw customers by appointment only.) Inside, the windows were blacked out and covered with shelves. On bookcases, in every room, volumes of all sizes in serried ranks rose two deep from floor to ceiling. More were stacked on desks and tables and grew in unsteady columns from the floor. There was a stereo (covered in books), a few chairs, and a large desk in the front room (likewise all but submerged), on which Michael kept a half dozen or so bottles of wine and spirits, a tower of plastic cups, and a bucket of ice.

Walking in, you might find a handful of patrons lounging on chairs with drinks in their hands, or browsing amiably, making conversation, generally about books, but often ranging widely into art, politics, personal life stories, and the history of New York. In the same way that children imagine adults living in perfect freedom, enjoying all the cookies and television they want and staying up till all hours, Michael’s shop was what a bookish child might dream up as a fantasy home for himself, a place far from any responsibilities, where he would never run out of stories.

. . . .

The story of Brazenhead goes like this: in the nineteen-seventies, Michael ran a bookstore in Brooklyn. That was the first Brazenhead Books. The novelist Jonathan Lethem, as Patricia Marx reported in Talk of the Town, in 2008, worked there when he was fourteen years old. (He was paid with books.) Michael eventually moved his shop to the Upper East Side, only to lose his lease several years later when the rent quadrupled. Lacking options, he moved the books into his own apartment, but there were too many—so many that he and his wife moved out to make room for them all. After that, he plied his trade occasionally, and more or less thanklessly, at book fairs and on city streets. Otherwise, in the apartment on East Eighty-fourth Street, the books gathered dust. It was not until 2007 that his friend George Bisacca, a longtime conservator of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, helped Michael turn the apartment into the place I came to know. The Times, writing about Brazenhead in the fall of 2011, was near the mark in calling it a “literary speakeasy.”

. . . .

When the notice of eviction came down, in the summer of 2014, the whole dynamic changed. All at once, Brazenhead was on borrowed time. No one knew how much. Patrons began to be looser with the address. There was a rumor that someone’s posting of the address online—a big no-no—had attracted crowds finally too large to ignore, and that this was what had occasioned the eviction notice.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker and thanks to Dave for the tip.

St. Mark’s Bookshop Looking for Investors to Keep Business Afloat

6 August 2015

From DNAInfo:

A neighborhood bookseller “Needs Help to Survive,” its owners said in an email sent Wednesday morning.

St. Mark’s Bookshop, now located at 136 Third St., put out a call for investors in an email sent to its mailing list at around 10:15 a.m.

“To continue in our mission we need people who value our work and goals to help us,” wrote co-owner Bob Contant.

The 37-year-old independent bookstore moved to East Third Street in July 2014 after its $17,500 rent at East Ninth Street — a reduced rate it received from its landlord in 2011 — proved to be too much to keep the shop going in the long run.

. . . .

“Unfortunately, we were undercapitalized for the cost of the move,” he said. “We were forced out of our old space before our new one was ready, and the cost of going into storage plus construction overruns left little money with which to buy inventory.”

As a result, the bookstore is currently understocked, Contant wrote. McCoy estimated that the shop had room to triple its stock.

However, an investor approached the owners about “funding a rebirth of the bookstore” and “restructuring the business with an eye to long term viability,” Contant wrote. The investor was looking for others to join him in an investment team.

Link to the rest at DNAInfo

PG doesn’t like to see any small business have financial difficulties, however, struggling bookstores at the heart of Big Publishing is sadly ironic.

PG is old enough to remember when living and business space in Manhattan, while never cheap, was affordable for someone (individual or business) starting out.

Unfortunately, due to the success and growth of businesses that are much more profitable than publishing and bookselling, Manhattan (and lots of Brooklyn, which used to be a dark planet for true Manhattanites) is becoming too expensive for bookstores to survive. And PG isn’t sure how anyone without family money can afford to start at the bottom in publishing these days.

As long as PG is talking about New York, he remembers the bad old days before Mayor Giuliani started cleaning the place up.

One morning, while visiting a college friend who was a junior advertising executive and lived in a not terrible/not great area of Manhattan, PG and his friend walked out the door to find a body lying on the sidewalk.

The body was accompanied by a bored-looking policeman waiting for the morgue to come pick it up. Locals were using the sidewalk, glancing at the dead man, then coolly stepping over him on their way to more important places.

PG hopes New York doesn’t go back to those days.

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