Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor (Day) of (Link & Catchup) Love

Happy Labor Day, all you bookish types! I'm sure anyone who works in an office is far away from a work computer at the moment -- more power to you. For us retail types, it's a work day -- we're taking bets on whether the bookstore will be dead because all the New Yorkers are on vacation, or jumping because all the tourists are on vacation here. With gas prices and the Euro being what they are, my bet's on a sales uptick, but it's anybody's guess --we'll see at the end of the day.

It's also my first official day back from my August hiatus -- and I'm surprisingly eager to jump back into the swing of things. You can read about the progress of my bookstore plans on my other blog by tomorrow or so, but today I want to fill you in on some of what's caught my eye over the past month elsewhere in the world of books.

* 7/29 A venerable Brooklyn bookstore is moving - but not closing!

* 7/30 Danny Fingeroth has a pretty legit list of his top 10 graphic novels in the Guardian

* 8/4 The exciting Wordsmiths Books in Decatur, Georgia announced that they needed customers' help to save the bookstore. As they put it with refreshing honesty, "
We are not fighting declining sales, nor are we fighting customer apathy, or even a lagging book market. We are fighting only the debt created by starting in the wrong location."

* 8/17 The Wordsmiths campaign ended: in two weeks, the store "r
eceived help from 18 states, Canada and a handful of people in the U.K. ... We have raised enough capital to cover necessary operating expenses and give us a clear sight into the Fall." WOW! Read more of the story (including dissenting opinions on the cause) on the Wordsmiths blog.

* 8/6 Bookstore customer buddy Matthew Price, a talented and widely published book critic, steps into the blogosphere with PriceWrites.

* 8/15 Chelsea Green Publishers announces that it will rush to pub Obama's Challenge in time for the Democratic convention -- by granting exclusive early distribution rights to Amazon.com. Brick and mortar bookstores are outraged: independents express their disappointment, Barnes & Noble cancels its order of the book, and ABA president Gayle Shenks writes an open letter lamenting this choice on the part of Chelsea Green (which typically has a reputation of supporting local, sustainable business as well as progressive causes). Despite the publisher's open letter explaining their choice (which I've heard called condescending), nobody seems to be backing down. Kassia at BookSquare talks about the many reasons this was a mistake on the part of the publisher.

(My two cents: I understand that Chelsea Green wanted to get the book printed instantly with Print On Demand, and that Amazon.com owns POD provider BookSurge and has a history of demanding exclusivity. I wonder why Chelsea Green didn't either use LightningSource, the non-proprietary POD option from Ingram, or publish the book as an e-book, or even a free online version? This could have gotten the timely press they were seeking, and wouldn't have destroyed their reputation with the brick and mortar stores. As it is, I think few consumers ended up hearing about this book, and lots of bookstores have turned their backs on Chelsea Green.)

* 8/19 The Summer 2008 NYC ELNO (Emerging Leaders Night Out): Indie Bound Edition was a roaring success! We gathered at Flatbush Farm, we noshed, we drank, we took home free books, we learned about IndieBound with free materials and Paige Poe and her cohorts to guide us through the website, and we networked like there was no tomorrow. I was happy to get to chat with Stephanie Anderson (aka Bookavore) about our bookstore experiences and aspirations, and meet Vox Pop founder Sander Hicks at long last, as well as spending time with my nearest and dearest book buddies. Sarah Rettger from the ABA wrote up the event here in Bookselling This Week. The festivities ended at 9, but our after-party went on long afterward, enjoying Cuban music and too many glasses of prosecco and beer. Good times.


* 8/25 The Emerging Leaders Council visits Ingram Book Group in Nashville, gets a tour of their amazing warehouse and POD operations -- I admit I was impressed (I had the factory music from Loony Toons in my head the whole time: conveyors, headsets, bustling!) We also had a productive meeting with VP Dan Sheehan, with results that will be announced in good time. And Sweet Pea, Emily, Jenn L., Jenn N., Megan, Caroline and I got our honky tonk fix with some pool and country music at a bar called Losers. Ah, an Emerging Leader's work is never done...

Somehow, though, I also managed to find some time to enjoy Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park, lounge around in my backyard hammock, canoodle with the ALP, and generally act like a lazy, contented slob.

That more or less covers the month. Keep an eye out for Handsells, links, event reports, guest posts and giveaways in the next weeks -- we're back in action, baby!