Showing posts from July, 2006

Guest Blogger: Response to Dave about ABA and Book Sense

At my request, HarperCollins VP for Independent Retailing Carl Lennertz has agreed to guest blog today. The opinions expressed here are his. Register your agreement, disagreement or further thoughts on this subject in the comments. Let's continue the conversation. Response to Dave about ABA and Book Sense Dave makes some thoughtful, reasoned comments about his concerns about ABA and Book Sense . Full disclosure: I worked at ABA for 4 years on the Book Sense project. I’m not going to go point for point on the ABA issues; my brief was solely Book Sense. All I want to say is that I bet the hardware, video and music stores wish they had such a strong association, especially the past 10 years, and that the ABA has been a very strong voice in Washington, DC for the independents. As for the value of education, the Thursday before BEA starts has been the single most important day of the year for booksellers to share ideas the past 25 years. Every innovation in the business has been introdu

Comment: Check in Tomorrow...

In response to my request, Carl Lennertz of HarperCollins and the blog Publishing Insider (whom I know to be a longtime advocate of BookSense) has written a response to guest blogger Dave's comments from July 14. Look for his comments here tomorrow, along with your chance to jump into the conversation about the American Booksellers Association. Things may heat up again around here, so don't miss it!

Comment: Summer Vacation

Man, I couldn't even get on Blogger yesterday to tell everyone that I couldn't post. Sorry -- I blame the Internet. Or my ancient computer. But here I am today to tell you that I'm taking a break. I'm going to be out of town quite a bit in the next two weeks, and I'm feeling that late-July exhaustion. I need to step away from the computer for a little while, let some ideas percolate, spend some time with books and family, refresh and recharge for the energy surge of the fall. I may be able to offer you the words of a guest blogger in the meantime: Carl Lennertz of the blog Publishing Insider has agreed to write a post in defense of Booksense, so we can continue the ABA conversation from another angle. If his busy schedule allows it, you should see that post here sometime later this week. And I'll be back on August 7, fresh with news about bookstore visits, plans for the future, and that ever-interesting question "what did you read on the plane?"

Reviews #28 and #29: The Chattering Classes

Book Review #28: Conversations with Mr. Prain by Joan Taylor Melville House (June 2006) Book Review #29: The Best of Slate: A 10th Anniversary Anthology Edited by David Plotz, Introduction by Jacob Weisberg, Foreword by Michael Kinsley Atlas Books (June 2006) In typical fashion, I've managed to find a theme in the two totally disparate books I've read most recently: they're both about people who love to talk. In the first, a fictional twosome from opposite sides of the track exemplify talk as battle of wills (and method of foreplay); in the second, members of the digital intelligentsia spout opinions about every issue of the last ten years, making for a lot of conversation for the folks at home. (And for once, both books are actually already available in bookstores.) CONVERSATIONS WITH MR. PRAIN was actually the first book I received through the auspices of Fresh Eyes Now, Robert Gray's project for linking authors with booksellers. His strength is that he knows what we

Link-Mad Monday, July 17: Community, Baby!

The theme of today's link madness is community, in all its forms: neighborhood community, internet community, bookstore community, etc. As you may have noticed, this is one of my primary passions and one of the reasons I'm such a nerd about this independent bookstore thing. I think people coming together voluntarily, or being thrown together because of propinquity or common interests, or forming coalitions, or learning each others' names, or supporting each others projects, or learning from each other... well, it's just so darn cool. Yesterday I went to my first-ever political rally: the gathering sponsored by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to protest the crazy development project for the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards (remember, the reason they tore down the Underberg...) The New York Times has this article about the event. For a more exciting, if much more partisan view (with pictures), here's the website of Develop Don't Destroy . The main contentions of the pro

Guest Blogger: My Gripe With The ABA

In response to my challenge, bookstore owner Dave in New Jersey has agreed to guest blog today. The opinions expressed here are his. Register your agreement, disagreement or further thoughts on this subject in the comments. Let's get a conversation going. My Gripe With The ABA WHAT IS THE ABA? The American Booksellers' Assocaition, Inc. (the ABA) describes itself on its website as "a not-for-profit organization devoted to meeting the needs of its core members of independently owned bookstores with retail storefront locations through (a) advocacy, (b) education, (c) research, and (d) information dissemination". That sounds pretty darned good! This description is consistent with virtually all of the marketing and communication the ABA presents to the independent bookseller community. The bold/italics are mine. I use them to point out why I joined the ABA in February 2005, just a couple of months after opening my store. The ABA's by-laws (a binding legal document) s

Comment: Check in tomorrow...

Time got away from me yesterday and I didn't get a chance to post the book reviews I had planned. But I'm going to put them off for another couple of days in order to feature a guest blogger for tomorrow's post. Dave from New Jersey has written "My Gripe with the ABA," a summary of his opinions of the American Booksellers Association, and I will post it here in hopes of creating a dialogue. Be sure to check in tomorrow, and register your opinions in the comments!

Link-Mad Monday, July 10: Food for Thought

A lot of random stuff has caught my attention this week. Hope there's something here to pique your interest as well. - Publishers Weekly has this article about a brilliant idea: t-shirts as literary inside jokes (and a great fundraiser). Lou Bank, described as a "book marketing professional", has come up the Novel-Tees, project, a line of t-shirts advertising fictional businesses like Championship Vinyl, the record store from Nick Hornby's HIGH FIDELITY, and Mama's Restaurant from Andrew Vachss' series of Burke mysteries. The proceeds go to, a political lobby dedicated to fighting child abuse (a subject I know is dear to lawyer Vachss' heart). They're being sold in bookstores as well as from the website. The ALP and I were discussing the other day the fact that the best superhero t-shirts are the ones that just say "Daily Planet" or "Wayne Enterprises" -- they're like a souvenir right out of the fictional

Comment: Shelving 101, or, Organic Organization (with helpful vocabulary words)

I've got a lot of wonky book stuff on my mind lately: statistical trends that show the growth of independent bookstores, attractive and productive ways of doing websites, methods of forming alliances with other local institutions, and not least, figuring out the specifics of writing a bookstore business plan (more on that soon...). But the wonky bookselling topic of today is the eternal conundrum of bookstore shelf organization. We've been working on redoing some displays in the store, and I've been thinking about my own bookstore: how one would develop an organizational system from scratch. Bookseller Chick has also been addressing this lately from the perspective of the beleaguered bookseller answering the author demanding "Where are my books?", with data from her readers about how they go about finding books; check out her enlightening discussion in the June 27, 28, and 29 posts for more aspects of this issue. You've got books. Your customers want books.

Link-Mad Monday, July 3rd Edition: Few, but proud

Hooray for finishing projects and holiday weekends! I spent the weekend in Great Gatsby mode, drinking on the porch and the beach and the lawn with smart lovely people at a house party in Connecticut, and got to pass along two of my favorite light/smart reads of late, TOLSTOY LIED and ACTION PHILOSOPHERS , the first compilation of the comic book about yeah, famous philosophers kicking butt. I haven't been doing as much blog reading as usual of late, so the links today will be few, but there are a few major happenings to report. Aubrey's Episode Soldier is exceeding expectations, with thoughtful and well-written posts on life in Moab and love of books. Her Summer Reading Series and Wednesday Poetry posts both look very promising, and I loved her love-note to my own favorite poet Elizabeth Bishop. Speaking of bookseller blogs, I came across this great list on a blog called Using Books. It looks like Jeff Sharman, the owner, hasn't posted here in a while, but his list is an ex