Opening a New Indie Bookstore Is 'Bold,' Not 'Crazy'
"I prefer 'bold' to 'crazy'.... The key for this new, second location is that we are blending a book store with a new community space, the Under One Roof social innovation hub. So part of our business going forward is based on partnerships with social-mission organizations and developing new, creative projects that expand what an independent bookstore is about.
"Octopus has always been about connecting to community--so independents have to take their business forward in new, creative ways that build their community--online and in the real world."
-- David Robbins of Octopus Books , Ottawa, Ontario, who is opening a second location. He was responding to the Ottawa Citizen's question: "Isn't it crazy to open a bookstore in 2012?"
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NewCo News: B&N-Microsoft Followup
Not surprisingly, NewCo, the partnership between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft announced Monday morning, has received lots of press. Among noteworthy points that came out after the initial announcement:
Besides the $300 million investment in the new joint venture, Microsoft is guaranteeing to pay another $305 million . As TechCrunch noted about B&N's 8K filing with the SEC Monday: "Microsoft will be paying the Barnes & Noble subsidiary $180 million in connection with revenue sharing on the Nook app that B&N will make for the Windows 8 platform. This is nonrefundable, the filing notes. Microsoft is also paying $125 million (equal to $25 million over five years) 'for purposes of assisting NewCo in acquiring local digital reading content and technology development.' This, too, looks to be nonrefundable."
The partnership is not exclusive, meaning B&N can create alliances with other companies.
In its financial reporting, B&N will begin to break out Nook results from the rest of the business.
B&N CEO William Lynch told the New York Times that the digital business will remain closely linked to B&N's bricks-and-mortar stores. (The company has 691 trade stores and 641 college stores.) "We're not changing the base number of the stores materially," he said. "We're looking to play a little offense with the bookstores." In a possible hint to opening stores, Lynch noted, as the Times described it, that there are "many cities with high-income residents that no longer have a bookstore after the liquidation of Borders last year."
Many observers said that beyond helping the partners compete with Amazon, Apple and Google, the move is part of an international push by B&N, which does not have an international presence, in marked contrast to Amazon.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Lynch as saying, "We're going to use the proceeds for an aggressive expansion program to take the Nook international."
And if anyone had doubts about the view of investors who want B&N to spin off its digital operations, B&N closed Monday up 52%, to $20.75, its highest price since 2010. Yesterday B&N closed down slightly, at $19.49.
In an interview with Fortune, Lynch was asked whether he considered the share price jump "a vindication of the resources " B&N has invested in Nook. "Vindication is a strong word," he replied. "We understood when we were making these investments that the growth area was going to be in the sale of digital content. We knew that if we built a technology platform with reading technologies, application software, cloud management--and then really the most valuable part is a vast digital content repository that we've built with our relationships with now hundreds of thousands of publishers--that was going to be something extremely valuable as the world's top content goes digital."
BISG Survey: Tablet Preference 'Accelerating Rapidly'
Dedicated e-reading devices continue to lose ground to tablets in the battle for e-book readers, according to the Book Industry Study Group's Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey, conducted by Bowker Market Research.
Over a six-month period, the study found that consumers' "first choice" preference for dedicated e-readers declined from 72% to 58%, with tablet devices becoming the preferred reading device for more than 24% of e-book buyers, up from less than 13% in August 2011. Apple's iPad rose by just over 1%, while non-Apple tablets--primarily from Amazon and Barnes & Noble--increased substantially, from 5% to 14%.
Nearly 30% of respondents reported an increase in dollars spent on books in all formats after they began acquiring e-books, while nearly 50% reported an overall increase in the volume of titles purchased in any format. More than 62% reported an increase in dollars spent on e-books, and more than 72% said they increased the volume of e-titles they are purchasing.
The study also found that more than 27% of Casual Buyers (those who purchase one or two books a month) now exclusively purchase e-books rather than print, compared to 30% of Power Buyers (who acquire e-books at least weekly). Casual Buyers are slightly more likely to play games (37% vs. 35%) or watch video content (23% vs. 21%) on their devices, but only half of Casual Buyers use a tablet regularly, compared to 83% of Power Buyers.
Chantal Restivo-Alessi has been appointed chief digital officer at HarperCollins, replacing Charlie Redmayne, who left the company late last year to become CEO of Pottermore.
Restivo-Alessi will report to HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray, and sit on the company's executive committee. She joins the publisher from ING Bank in London, where she was head of media corporate finance. Leslie Hulse, senior v-p, digital business development, will report to her.
Gibson's Bookstore Planning Big Move
Gibson's Bookstore , Concord, N.H., will be moving from its 27 South Main St. location "to fill the entire first floor" as the major tenant of a new building at 43-45 South Main St., "where construction is scheduled to begin this summer following the demolition of the New Hampshire Bindery and an adjacent building," the Monitor reported, adding that the five-floor, nearly 70,000-square-foot building should be ready by next year.
Developer Steve Duprey said he is "particularly excited" to have the bookseller as a tenant in his new building and called owner Michael Herrmann's expansion plans "a huge commitment to replacing what was lost when Borders was closed. It is a remarkable commitment to the downtown, instead of a mall. And for an independent bookseller to do that, it's just a great move for this community. It will help anchor downtown."
Herrmann cited the demise of Borders bookstore last year and the "immediate and big jump" in sales at his store as the spark for his initial consideration of possible expansion. According to the Monitor, Gibson's Bookstore will lease nearly 14,000 square feet (12,000 "usable space") in the new building, with 2,000 square feet occupied by a café.
"We think about 10,000 square feet is the kind of robust independent bookstore that a city the size of Concord can support, and we hope people will support it, " said Herrmann, noting that the additional space will result in expanded hours, a larger children's section and other improvements. "This whole end of the street is becoming so much of an arts district. We're still going to be square in the middle of that."
Image of the Day: Culinary Mystery Writers
Cool Idea for May Day: Gather! Strike! Sing!
Skylight Books , Los Angeles, Calif., celebrated May Day and "the importance of International Workers' Day" by "participating in the calls for action put out by the Occupy movement and others, through a full day of activities." The bookstore's participation included serving as "a rallying place--and also by going on strike (but in a nice, everyone-is-in-on-it way)," according to the bookstore's website, which extended an invitation to "Gather! Strike! Sing!"
Skylight served as "your labor hall for the day," hosting a number of activities, including an Occupy Meetup and a "strike"--Skylight closed from 2-5 p.m. "to provide time for all its staff to participate in the downtown convergence" and the May 1st Rally for Immigrants Rights. In the evening, "labor troubadour" Ross Altman performed.
Grand Opening: Face in a Book
Face in a Book bookstore, El Dorado Hills, Calif., will host its grand opening this weekend. The Sacramento Writing Examiner reported that owner Tina Ferguson "planned a store to attract buyers and hold their attention.... The feeling is more one of visiting a friend’s casually labeled library."
"I want people to know that we're here for them in the community," she said. "We want this to be their neighborhood store where they can find a new discovery of books. And if we don't have it here, we'll order it for you."
Cash Mob of the Day: Idle Time Books
Grand Valley Books: Sometimes 'the Days Have Wings'
Media Heat: Dan Rather on NPR's Diane Rehm Show
Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Julie Andrews, co-author of The Very Fairy Princess (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780316040501).
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TV: Corrections Pilot Canceled; Eyes of the Dragon
HBO has decided not to go forward with the pilot based on Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections . Deadline.com reported that the Noah Baumbach/Scott Rudin project "boasted one of most star-studded casts ever assembled on television: Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans and Greta Gerwig."
Kipling & Gaiman: Variations on a Jungle Book Theme
Awards: The Believer; Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor
Book Brahmin: Naveen Kishore
Naveen Kishore is a lighting designer, photographer and the publisher of Seagull Books .
On your nightstand now:
A combo. IQ84 by Haruki Marukami. Dorothy Sayers's Five Red Herrings and loads of delightful manuscripts, from Marc Auge to Dominique Edde. Oh, and Beckett's Letters, the first two volumes.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Books. Or rather, authors as favorites. Four at any given moment. So: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas; Alice in Wonderland, of course; and loads of Dickens, in particular Hard Times; and Chekhov's Three Sisters.
Your top five authors:
Changes over time. Right now, this moment: Ivan Vladislavic, Inka Parei, Urs Widmer, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Alexander Kluge. Totally engrossed in the authors I publish. Plus one: Murakami! Oh, and yes, Thomas Bernhard. Always.
Book you've faked reading:
Not applicable I'm afraid. No faking-shaking! I persist with the books I take up. Even the boring ones.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Recently? Viktor Halfwit by Thomas Bernhard. And since two's company; Ivan Vladislavic's The Loss Library. Three? Most of Ursula le Guin. Past?... Most of Conrad.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Too many to list here! All desperately successful though. Never been disappointed. Discover loads of new writers that way. All of Seagull's own.
Book that changed your life:
The Oxford Book of Death by D.J. Enright. Also the most thumbed. Most quoted in print and in one's head. Yup, the OBD.
Favorite line from a book:
"Burn, baby, burn."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Sculpting in Time by Tarkovsky. In fact, frequently. That and Brecht's Poems.
What do you love about books in translation?
The "edginess" of literature different from mine. The "getting-under-the-skin" quality. The sense of dislocation and being "torn asunder." And the intuitive recognition of humor across cultures!
What do you think is the future of the printed book?
Children's Review: Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu (Dial Books, $16.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-5, 9780803735651, June 28, 2012)
As with her marvelous Bunny Days, Tao Nyeu uses a limited palette of lime green, cornflower blue and cantaloupe to convey a light mood and a hint of nostalgia as she explores the many shades of friendship.
Squid, with his green polka dots, four pairs of arms and telltale arrow-like green tentacles, sports a wool hat with a pom-pom. His best friend is blue-spotted Octopus (also with four pairs of arms, but no arrow-like tentacles), wearing a plaid cap. A quartet of brief tales charts the mostly ups and a few downs in their friendship. In the first story, "The Quarrel," Squid knits Octopus eight socks, only to hear Octopus insist that he wears mittens--but they reach a peaceful compromise after seeking out (and ignoring) the advice of Wise Old Turtle. Each has his talents: while Squid knits, Octopus paints, sculpts and photographs. As one of their friends points out, Lobster serves as Octopus's muse.
After a dream in which he starred as "Super Squid," the fellow wakes up feeling ordinary--until Octopus reminds Squid of all the good things he does for his friends and makes him feel "super from head to tentacle." In a cutaway view (Squid's dream of having "X-ray vision") of the inside of a submarine, older readers will appreciate a few salty puns, such as a raccoon and platypus playing "go fish," and a white bear looking very much like the Wonder Bear and caretaker in Bunny Days reading Moby-Dick to some white rabbits.
Youngsters will enjoy knowing the true function of "The Hat" that "float[s] down from above," even as Octopus and his fellow sea creatures hazard erroneous guesses (hat, flowerpot and soup bowl, among them; our favorite: a fish calling a spur a "can opener" and "pizza cutter"). Fun side conversations at Yum Yum's soup stand come to fruition a few pages later. The closer, "The Fortune Cookie," affirms the duo's friendship, through good fortune and bad. Eagle-eyed fans will note Mr. and Mrs. Goat inside the submarine. There's plenty to pore over in these pages, and much fodder for discussion in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms about how to be a good friend. --Jennifer M. Brown
Shelf Talker: With a limited palette that looks good enough to eat and two eight-tentacled pals, Tao Nyeu portrays a boundless friendship.
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