Bookstores

Barnes & Noble forced out of The Bronx

22 October 2014

From Welcome2TheBronx:

Imagine a borough of over 1.4 million people without a single book store.

We keep hearing our Borough President mentioning The “New” Bronx when he talks about all the developments going on in our borough —  something which many find rather offensive.  When the Mall at Bay Plaza opened back in August, he used it yet again.  Since the mall opened, several businesses have been forced out by rising rents at the malls developed and run by Prestige Properties and now our last bookstore has fallen victim to this “New Bronx” mantra.

Welcome2TheBronx first heard about this from Amelia Zaino, a 24 year old graduate student at Lehman College studying Geographic Information Studies who lives in Co-op City. Zaino posted about it in the Facebook Group Bronx Movers & Shakers(after reading about it in the Co-op City Times) and immediately started a petition, along with her friend Jessica Cruz, addressed to Prestige Properties to keep Barnes and Noble in place at Bay Plaza.

. . . .

In a statement issued to Welcome2TheBronx, Barnes and Noble’s VP for Development, David Dearson said, “Our lease is expiring and we worked diligently to extend the lease. The property owner informed us that they had other users who were willing to pay in excess of what Barnes & Noble was paying for the leased space. We operated our Bronx store and were happy to serve the community for 15 years. We’ll look to re-open as soon as an opportunity presents itself.”

Link to the rest at Welcome2TheBronx

Thriving in an Amazon world

21 October 2014

From Fortune:

Don’t tell Sharon Anderson Wright that bookstores are a dying industry. The 56-year-old CEO of Half Price Books took a disorganized collection of stores co-founded by her mom—they started by selling used paperbacks and hardcovers out of a dingy former laundromat—and transformed the operation into a chain that is defying a seemingly inexorable tide. While bookstores are shuttered around the country and industry revenue has decreased an average of 3.2% a year over the past five years, Half Price Books is growing. It opens about five stores a year, with revenues rising from $50 million in 1995 to $240 million in 2013. The company is able to resist the Amazon.com tsunami by diversifying its offerings and preserving an in-store experience, while keeping its real estate costs low and remaining debt-free as it expands beyond its 120 retail locations in 16 states. And today the stores still honor their founding promise: They’ll buy virtually anything that is printed (or recorded), excepting newspapers. That’s a proposition that keeps customers returning—in any era.

I was born in Tulsa, the youngest of three girls. When I was 5, we moved to Texas, and my dad became a cuckoo-clock salesman. In 1968 my mom [Pat Anderson] decided to get her psychology degree. Ken Gjemere [pronounced jim-ree] was a buyer for Zales, which my dad sold to, and our families hung out together.

Ken was a World War II vet who was awarded the Silver Star for valor. He became an environmentalist and a staunch peace activist during the Vietnam War years. I always called him our fearless leader. My mom was a protesting hippie type, and they both loved books and recycling.

. . . .

They found a 2,000-square-foot location on Lovers Lane in Dallas. It was a ratty old laundromat. The monthly rent was $174. We cleaned it up, built our own shelves, and painted it. We’d load the trucks, unstop the toilet, everything.

As a teenager, I read Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Heinlein—anything science fiction and strange. I was 13, and my job was to sort out the books and shelve them. I became kind of an anthropologist, watching what people read, what they sold and bought.

There weren’t many bookstores at all back then. Ours was an original concept. Pat and Ken wanted to make sure there were affordable reading options for everyone in a comfortable, inviting place to shop. By buying all the items people brought in, they weren’t censoring anyone. We’d pay cash for anything printed or recorded except yesterday’s newspaper, which meant we had current offerings to sell. It was different from other used bookstores, where you traded for books, or high-end antiquarian stores, which intimidated people. We did so well, we opened our second location eight months later in a former meat-storage place.

. . . .

In 1976, after I graduated from high school, I became the manager of our store in Richardson, Texas. My dog Dylan and I were the only ones there most of the time. I’d hide the money in a coffee can behind a section somewhere when I needed to go out to get something to eat. In our music section, we bought 45s, eight-track-tape cassettes, Beatles records. Now we have iPads as well as high-end vinyl. It’s come full circle.

. . . .

From 1979 to 1981, I worked four days a week as a bookseller in the flagship store and took classes at Richland Junior College. I never got a better offer, and eventually it was obvious I was the one who would stick around. I became Dallas district manager, then general manager in 1990, and started shadowing my mom.

We spent almost every day together. She was a smoker and had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She lost patience in her last couple of years. We knew she wasn’t long for this world. The day she died, Ken was partially retired, and I became president and CEO. I was scared to death. It was 1995, and I was 37. My mom was 40 when she opened the first store in 1972.

. . . .

I’ve always operated with consensus. People did what they needed to do, and I learned what I needed to learn. We only did what we could afford to pay for, so we always operated on a cash basis. I had my first kid at 40, then the second one at 43. They’re my priority, so I’m often answering emails at 1 to 2 a.m.

Today we have our own publishing arm, and we produce our own stationery, calendars, and CD wallets to sell. Our wholesale division sells to museums, independent bookstores, and Barnes & Noble. We have five to six buyers traveling the country, buying remainders that we can sell at half price. If we buy too much, we sell the extras to Barnes & Noble or others. All of us in the book world feed off each other. There’s competition, but it’s all with great people.

The book industry has changed dramatically because of Amazon, e-readers, and tablets. Stores can’t ignore the fact that you can get just about any book you want while you’re in your pajamas, and it has had an effect on everyone. But there are still a lot of people who like to browse bookstores and be surprised by what they find. People like to handle paper. It’s the permanency of it. We did a survey, and our customers buy 37 books a year. With the recession, we closed three stores, but we’re still profitable.

. . . .

Borders was in too high-priced real estate and was stuck with new books you get little money for. Barnes & Noble is facing that too, and spent a lot of money on the Nook. We’re the tortoise that’s slow and steady. We just opened in St. Louis, and are looking at Atlanta, Denver, and Nashville. If we can afford it, we’ll do it.

. . . .

The main location is the only retail location where we own the building and land itself. So this is the only place where we truly have control over our neighbors. We wanted to make the neighborhood better, so we purchased the land across the street. We have Half Price Books and Whole Foods here, and I wanted REI, a like-minded company, to be across the street. So I went to REI in Seattle and convinced them to come. Now I’m trying to handpick other stores that will appeal to our customers, rather than take the first tenant who comes along.

Link to the rest at Fortune and thanks to C.G. for the tip.

Man spends evening locked in Waterstones after staff shut up shop

17 October 2014

From The Telegraph:

Being locked in a bookshop over night with thousands of novels at your disposal might sound like a bibliophile’s dream.

But the reality is not so romantic, if one tourist’s experience in the Trafalgar Square branch of Waterstones in London is anything to go by.

David Willis, from Dallas, Texas, wrote on Twitter on Thursday night that he had been locked inside the shop after spending 15 minutes upstairs.

At 10.11pm, Mr Willis posted a picture showing a shuttered door and a rack containing pictures of Kevin Pietersen’s autobiograpy, along with a message claiming he had been trapped inside for the past hour.

He wrote: “This is me locked inside a Waterstones bookstore in London. I was upstairs for 15 minutes and came down to all the lights out and door locked. Been here over an hour now. Supposedly someone is on their way. #nofilter #london”

. . . .

Other Twitter users were quick to offer Mr Willis help with some telling him to call police, some offering him food, and others giving book recommendations to help him pass the time.

. . . .

And web developer Tim Archer said: “@DWill_ @Waterstones tell them you’ll be randomly moving the books until you are released, that should speed them up a bit.”

. . . .

Waterstones recently reported a rise in book sales again after years of decline due to competition from online retailers and the growth of e-books. The firm was unavailable for comment.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

ABA, NAIBA Urge Veto of Bill Punishing New Jersey Indie Bookstores

17 October 2014

From The American Booksellers Association:

The American Booksellers Association and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) are urging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to veto a bill that discriminates against independent bookstores that mistakenly disclose customer information to the police and other third parties. In a letter sent last week, ABA CEO Oren Teicher and NAIBA Executive Director Eileen Dengler expressed support for legislation that protects the privacy of bookstore records but opposed Assembly Bill 1396, which authorizes customers to file civil suits against any bookstore that discloses customer information in the absence of a court order. A court can impose a fine of up to $1,000.

In their letter, Teicher and Dengler said that small stores are very aware of the importance of protecting reader records and noted that independent bookstores vigorously fought on behalf of customers’ privacy rights in several high profile cases.

. . . .

“Independent booksellers are committed to protecting reader privacy, but legislation should recognize the operational challenges facing small businesses, especially when it comes to the matter of paying fines,” said Teicher. “Bricks-and-mortar stores depend heavily on young and sometimes inexperienced staff members who may make mistakes. They should not be punished in the same way as large Internet companies that can direct all inquiries to in-house lawyers who have experience with these requests.”

Teicher and Dengler’s letter stressed that “reader privacy is a core belief of independent booksellers, [and] they have made a concerted effort to educate bookstore staff about the importance of protecting privacy.”

Link to the rest at The American Booksellers Association

Amazon to open retail store in NYC

10 October 2014

From Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

Could this be Amazon’s Miracle on 34th Street?

Online retail giant Amazon will take on Macy’s and other Herald Square retailers with a physical store of its own for the holidays in New York, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the plans.

The Manhattan location would function as a “mini-warehouse” for same-day delivery in New York, product returns and pickups of online orders, according to the report.

Amazon has shaken up the retail world by offering lower prices than many brick-and-mortar stores and offering comparison app tools that brought forth the trend of “showroom buying” — folks going to a physical store to see the item, then going home and ordering it online to save money.

The E-tailer, now with a line of its own tech products — several Kindle e-readers and tablets, a TV set-top box and new smartphone — would be able to put its homegrown goods in front of more eyeballs and tout its growing offering of same-day delivery. That service is available in 12 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Phoenix.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group, says New York attracts many foreign tourists who shop on Amazon back home, but find many products only sold here.

****

“There’s still a segment of the population that’s touchy-feely,” says Bajarin. “They want to see the product up close, and have it shown to them.”

By opening in New York during the holidays, Amazon “gets high traffic, and the kind of feedback it needs to see if it wants to expand.”

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, says Amazon wouldn’t just stock its own products. “Even the Apple Store carries non-Apple products,” he says. “They’ll showcase Amazon, but also show off the breadth of Amazon’s catalog.”

According to the Journal, the address for the store is 7 West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building and a block east from busy Herald Square, home to the flagship Macy’s, and site of the classic 1947 Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street, about a Santa Claus put on trial for believing that he is indeed Kris Kringle.

Read the rest here.

From guest blogger Randall, who has been unhappy with Santa since the forth grade.

Can pop-up bookshops change the way we buy books?

8 October 2014

 

What’s a distinguished, old publishing house like Faber doing hosting gigs in its own pop-up shop?

From John Walsh at The Independent.

You’re familiar with pop-up restaurants? And pop-up fashion outlets from Comme des Garçons, and pop-up Marmite emporia and pop-up Halloween shops? Well, here’s a new one: pop-up publishing. From tomorrow for three months, Londoners passing through Cecil Court, in the heart of Soho’s second-hand book trade, will find a new arrival: a temporary “pop-up shop” devoted to the productions of just one publisher, Faber & Faber.

****

Is the shop a branding exercise? “It’s an attempt by a publisher to engage directly with its readers,” said Brackstone, cautiously, “an opportunity to express ourselves in the high street. We want people to walk into a shop in the heart of traditional bookselling London, and go, ‘Wow, these 80 music books, stretching from The Beastie Boys to Beck, are all published by one company.’ It’s a way to say we don’t just make books, we also create experiences.”

Brackstone concedes that publishing is in a trough. “It’s no secret that the last three-to-five years have been a bit of a bloodbath. Simply judging print runs has become difficult. Where, five years ago, we could expect bookshops to buy in 5,000 copies of a book, today it might be 500 copies. E-book sales are approaching 40 per cent of total book sales. In the US it’s over 50 per cent. So if we can identify the likely audience for our music list, and build a community who follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and get to know them, we can judge much better what kind of experience we can offer.”

If the pop-up initiative seems a gamble, Faber Social have chosen the right partner. The Cecil Court shop is owned by Natalie Galustian, a rare-book dealer with a fondness for risk. After 10 years in the book trade, she opened her shop in 2010 offering just one large item: a collection of vintage poker and other gambling books. “There were 400 of them,” she says. “I’d been putting the collection together for years, and I was determined to sell them as a single entity. After three months, they were all bought by [Hollywood actress and poker ace] Jennifer Tilly, who spotted them in the window on her way to the Empire Casino in Leicester Square, to play in the world series of Poker Europe.”

Galustian’s shop has often featured themed collections – Caribbean literature, Prohibition-era cocktail books, French erotica – and has a downstairs gallery for art and photography exhibitions. The idea for the pop-up started, she says, “at the London Book Fair, when I was complaining to some friends about business being a bit slow, and Lee said why didn’t the Independent Alliance [a loose confederacy of independent publishers that includes Granta, Faber and Canongate] use it to sell their new titles. A few months later, he reminded me of the conversation, and it took off from there.”
****
Will Faber’s little shop start a trend? “I don’t think we’re seeing the start of a seismic shift in how the publishing ecosystem works,” says Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association. “The basic model of how publishers work, through wholesalers and retailers, isn’t going to change dramatically anytime soon. It’s true that, in the Netherlands and Germany and Japan, there have been publishers who own every bit of the supply chain, including bookshops – but they invariably offer shelf space to other publishers and stock their rivals’ books. You can’t read too much into this pop-up idea. It’s a really great tactical way of drawing attention to the brand… but no more than that.”

Read the rest here.

From Guest blogger Randall, who’s had nothing in the last twenty-four hours but some scotch and a bag of Funyons while he finishes his next book.

Sometimes it just feels right-

5 October 2014

A Kickstarter success story – Napa Bookmine.

Bookmine

 

View the the store here.

Julia

 

 

Indie Bookstores Aren’t Dead — They’re Making A Comeback

4 October 2014

From Kevin O’Kelly at The Huffington Post

“The Death of the Independent Bookstore?”; “Is the Bookstore Dead?”; “Why Bookstores are Doomed”: those headlines are from Slate (2006), Jewish Journal (2011), and Business Insider (2013). For years, journalists have made these types of predictions about the death of independent bookstores: if the chains didn’t crush them, Amazon would. If Amazon didn’t, they would die anyway because people just weren’t reading.

****

But around the time of that lament, a sea change occurred. Bookshops continued to close, but others began to open. In 2009, the number of independent bookstores in the nation stabilized at around 1,400, and then slowly began to grow. As of last May, the number of indie bookshops in the U.S. was 1,664.
Why the turnaround? Part of the reason was the long, slow implosion of one of indie bookselling’s biggest competitors: Borders went heavily into CDs and DVDs only to find itself competing with iTunes, and then outsourced its online bookselling to Amazon.

The company’s last profitable year was 2006. It filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
Other factors, such as the buy-local movement and an increase in reading among adult Americans, have helped as well. But the biggest reason independent bookstores are still around is that the store closures of the previous decade alerted people to what they were in danger of losing. Author Ann Patchett wrote that when the last two bookstores in her hometown of Nashville closed, “The Nashville Public Library organized community forums for concerned citizens to come together and discuss how we might get a bookstore again.” When I first read that passage two years ago, I was struck by the public reaction. A community wouldn’t respond like this to the loss of just any business.

****

As a veteran bookseller, Evans was eminently established and experienced when the funeral bells began to toll for the independents. But when David Sandberg and Dina Mardell bought Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., in 2013, the conventional wisdom was still against the indies.
If you ask Sandberg why he and his partner decided to buy Porter Square Books when it went on the market, he’ll admit it was on impulse.

“We bought it without a particular rationale. We thought [running a bookstore] would be a great thing to do, even though we had never thought about it before. We just did it.”

But he doesn’t regret the decision. “We love owning a bookstore,” he says.

It’s obvious to Sandberg that the store provides people with more than just a way to buy a book: “The previous owners and their staff created a community. And the customers appreciate the expertise of the people who work here. They like knowing someone is going to help them, and that’s hard to do in an online environment.”

As for the business end? “The store’s never had a year when sales have gone down.”

Read the rest of this warm and fuzzy tale here.

From Guest blogger Randall.

Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise Again

30 September 2014

From Slate:

The recent news of the opening of an independent bookstore on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was greeted with surprise and delight, since a neighborhood once flush with such stores had become a retail book desert. The opening coincides with the relocation of the Bank Street Bookstore near Columbia University, leading the New York Times to declare, “Print is not dead yet — at least not on the Upper West Side.”

Two stores don’t constitute a trend, but they do point to a quiet revival of independent bookselling in the United States. They also underscore the shifting sands of physical bookselling, where the biggest losers are not—as was once assumed—the independent booksellers, but rather the large book chains.
Only a few years ago, observers projected that the rise of chain stores and Amazon would lead to the vast shrinkage of independent bookstores.

. . . .

The short answer is that by listing their shares as public companies, both Borders and Barnes & Noble were drawn into a negative vortex that destroyed the former and has crippled the latter. Not only did they become public companies, but they positioned themselves as high-growth companies, focused on innovation and disruption. That forced them to compete with the growth company par excellence in their space: Amazon. It also forced them to pursue high sales volume at the expense of inventories. Those strategies, as it turned out, were precisely wrong for the actual business they were in: selling books to a selective audience. Which is precisely what independent bookstores are good at.

. . . .

Barnes & Noble opened more superstores as well, but it also decided to challenge Amazon by developing the Nook at a cost of more than $1 billion.

The results were disastrous. Barnes & Noble bled money; it just announced earnings with yet another quarter of losses and declining revenue. Amazon dominated because it could spend far more money on technology than the chains, and because its core competency was in the disruptive technologies of e-readers, distribution, and inventory management. Amazon was never seen primarily as a retailer, and hence it could carry massive inventories that were a drag on its earnings and then spend billions on research and development because investors accepted Amazon’s narrative that it was a disruptive technology company redefining how everything is sold, not just books.

. . . .

Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

. . . .

Amazon’s sales have been strongest in mass-market fiction. No independent bookstore could thrive on mass-market softcover sales.  Instead, they do well with hardcovers, illustrated children’s books, cookbooks, and the like. And while indies cannot compete with Amazon’s inventory, Amazon evidently cannot supplant indies as shopping and social experiences.
The independent stores will never be more than a niche business of modest sales and very modest profitability. But the same is true for many small businesses, which makes them no less vital.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Larry for the tip.

Local book industry concerned at proposed shake-up

30 September 2014

From Dynamic Business:

One of the more controversial proposals in the recent draft review of competition policy was its recommendation to lift parallel import restrictions on books, with the review warning this amounted to an implicit tax on Australian consumers.

The restriction prohibits the importation into Australia of a product by anyone other than the licensed Australian manufacturer or distributor, cutting off an important alternative source of supply.

Removing the restriction would see more books on offer for cheaper prices. The draft review, led by Professor Ian Harper, warned the continuance of parallel import restrictions would be similar to having a tariff in place because local industry remains shielded from international competition.

Australian consumers are also increasingly able to circumvent the restriction anyway. They can buy e-books or simply go online and have books shipped overseas from warehouses directly to their front door.

. . . .

He said the restrictions placed onerous limitations on the ability of bookstore owners to import products requested by customers. He said the restrictions also meant that the price of books was higher, forcing everyday Australians to pay more for their books.

“You could come into a bookshop, hold a book up and show it to them and say ‘I’d like a copy of this’. I would say, ‘I don’t have it. I’m not allowed to have it’,” Mr Strong said. “I don’t think the publishers understand it. I think they are just panicking. Embracing change helps business.”

“Lifting import restrictions is obviously better because you have access to more books and access to cheaper books.”

Link to the rest at Dynamic Business and thanks to Hugh for the tip.

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