Showing posts from March, 2008

Link-Mad Monday: Small Stores, Comics, and Anne

Lots of fascinating book news in the world today... of which the below is but a tiny, arbitrarily selected portion. AM New York has an article on a new Brooklyn bookstore I have not yet visited: Babbo's Books , a few blocks away from me in south Park Slope. Despite the article's incredulity about an indie bookstore opening and staying open, the shop seems to be doing well on a small scale, and proprietor Leonora Stein has ideas for making it better. A field trip seems in order! In the indie-bookstore-makes-good category, a coalition led by ABA president Russ Lawrence of Chapter One Books has been influential in keeping Wal-Mart out of their Hamilton, Montana community . After watching the documentary The High Cost of Low Price I'm even more impressed by their efforts, especially since they admit not everyone in town was convinced Wal-Mart was a bad thing. But check out the Wal-Mart exec's explanation of the pullback for classic villain-retreating-while-proclaiming

Friday Ambitions and Relaxations

It's been brought to my attention recently that I've been remiss in updating the ol' blogroll with some of the blogs I actually regularly read, and some of the bookstore blogs that I'm just discovering. So I have gotten at last off my tush and added some of my favorites-- read 'em (at right) and weep. Book Soup has the best (obscene but true) tagline. Word has the best Brooklyn stuff, natch. Bookavore is a fellow Emerging Leaders type, a true book nerd -- her description of how she became a bookseller made me want to be her new best friend. Wordsmiths has the best ongoing narrative (home town store makes good, moves into the bank building, graphic novels go in the vault!) -- and awesome event photos; they're my newest model for how I want to run my bookstore blog. there is no gap is the thoughtful stuff you'd expect from Shaman Drum's Karl Pohrt. Archimedes Forgets is the off-hours (but still awfully booky) project of the ABA's lovely Sarah R

Link Love (aka Shameless Plug)

Carolyn Bennett, my coworker at BookStream (at least for the rest of this week) and fellow (anonymous) blogger, is a big fan of "link love" -- the affectionate exchange of linkage between bloggers who read each other, in order to increase traffic for all. "Comment love" is another aspect of this, one I admit I'm a bit weak on -- though I read (and skim) tons of lit blogs, I'm often very lazy about posting comments, which is probably why this blog is not so commenty itself. But I'm resolving to be better. And how better to start off than with a link to a new website/blog I helped create: ! If you ever clicked on this URL before, you may recall a fairly staid page with contact information and company description. Now, however, you've not only got yer contact info and yer special title offers and yer bookseller terms -- standard company stuff -- BUT you've also got archived back issues of The BookStream Current , and book recommend

Link-Mad Monday: Bad News, Good News, Other

The Litblog Co-Op is no more. The site's still there, but the membership has been quietly disbanded, and there will be no more "Read This!" picks. Dan explains why at The Reading Experience, and Levi shares his thoughts at LitKicks. I'm a little sad about it, but I can't say I'm surprised -- I was one of several former members who had to drop out because life just got too busy, and the project didn't seem to have quite the momentum or organization it needed to keep going. Luckily, though, nearly all former LBCers still have their own litblogs going strong, so there are plenty of places to find great book news, reviews, recommendations and hidden gems in the blogosphere. Here's one thing that may be going away that I'm NOT sad about: Bruce Ratner's terrible Atlantic Yards project, according to the New York Times and the Brooklyn Paper . The slowing economy (he says) is putting the kibosh on the project, though I suspect the public outcry

A comic moment

I've had graphic novels even more on the brain than usual since last weekend's SPLAT! symposium at the New York Center for Independent Publishing . Not only did I get to speak on a panel with some of my book industry heroes -- Rocketship owner Alex Cox, Diamond rep John Shableski, PW Comics Week editor Calvin Reid, Jim Killen, the graphic novels buyer for Barnes & Noble, and freelancer/friend/fellow geek Evan Narcisse -- I also got to listen to Scott McCloud wax poetic with guys from the superhero and manga worlds, AND sit in on Brian Wood 's session on place in graphic novels (where he talked about, among other things, using Park Slope in his Local series). Favorite quote from Scott McCloud: "For years it was like we were beating a dead horse with this comics thing, just beating it and insisting 'no, there's life in that horse!' And then one day the horse opened its eyes and got up! And then SEVEN THOUSAND HORSES came running over the hill!&qu

Fair and Balanced Link Monday

For every story like this : "A Thirsty Mind bookstore/wine bar in Lakeway, Texas -- an affluent suburb of Austin -- is closing March 28. The store was opened in November 2004, and co-owner Pam Headrick said that while Thirsty Mind broke even each month, it would've taken another year for the store to become profitable. "With the economy as bad as it is, we just didn't have the luxury to put more money into the business," she said....Headrick said that opening a combination bookstore and wine bar posed unique challenges....there were the ‘regulars.’ “Some customers would come in each afternoon for a drink,” said Headrick. “This meant that almost every afternoon I was hosting a party. There days you just don't feel like it.” ... there's a story like this (thanks to Shelf Awareness for the link): "Come May — give or take a few weeks — Skylight Books will open a second space right next door in the 1934 building at the corner of Vermont and Melbourne av

A little Friday good spirits

I went for a bit of walk in Brooklyn this morning, and man, it's a beautiful day. After a sleepless night of wondering what's next, it's good to let the spirit of spring-coming maneuver me into hopeful, happy frame of mind. And y'all are helping. Thanks for the comments on my Wednesday post about publishing and the environment -- you've reminded me of some things I already knew, and strengthened my resolve to learn more. Greg Albers reminded me (and all of us) about the Green Press Inititative , a great source for learning and advocating about what can be done to make publishing greener. P.J. Grath, bookseller at Northport, hand-sold me on Cradle to Cradle , one of the core texts for thinking about the environmental life and impact of products. (And look ! It's spring in Northport, too!) Kristiana mentioned the wastefulness of paper publisher catalogs, which was a big topic of discussion at the ABA publisher forums -- many publishers are considering going

Comment: Books and the Environment, or, Can we be proud of what we sell?

This is the tip of the iceberg of a huge conversation, but I just want to get it started. This week at the ABA publisher forums, the first evening was a session where publishers answered questions compiled from a number of booksellers. One of the biggest was, of course, what publishers are doing to make their industry more green. I admit to being a tad disappointed by their answers up there on the dais -- most of them had to do with making their offices more green, like not using water bottles and not printing out emails. That's good, but obviously the question really refers to the huge impact of the massive amounts of paper used to create their product: books. I jumped up and made an impassioned (and okay, slightly drunken) plea that publishers start talking about whether we can be proud of where books come from, in terms of both the environmental impact and the labor impact. If books are being made from paper from trees cut down in the Amazon and printed and bound in sweatshop

Turning a page: BookStream to Bookstore

Aren't we lucky, us book people, to have such a good built-in metaphor for change? The act of reading involves this moment of physical action where to move the story forward you have to cover up and leave behind what came before. It's not a renunciation or a rejection -- just a way to get to the next chapter. Yes, I'm leaving BookStream, after all too short a stay on that particular page. I'm sending out the announcement today, and I'll be finished at the end of this month. I wasn't expecting to win the Power Up! competition, nor all of the new opportunities that would come with it. But win I did, and come they did, and now I have to pursue and follow up on these opportunities or risk missing my chance to do the one thing that's been my goal all along: open an independent bookstore in Brooklyn. And I just can't do that in the free time I have now. Something's gotta give. As I described it to the ALP, I feel like I've been expanding and exp

Action Items for Booksellers & Others

I've been all about itemized to-do lists lately (whether I ever get to cross off every item is another matter). Here's my suggested list for you this week. Action Item #1: Send a letter (or two) about e-fairness. Okay, folks, I've been remiss in not focusing on this before, but here it is. and other online retailers, surprising as it is, are not required to collect sales tax on items sold (or else it's not enforced). Obviously, this creates a bit of a disadvantage for brick-and-mortar stores -- especially those of us in states like New York, who have to add a hefty 8.625% on to every purchase. It's not like we're making more money -- we're just collecting it to pass along to the state -- but from a customer's perspective, they just have to pay more when they buy from a physical store than from an online store, which can disincline some folks to buy local. And that also means that online sales aren't supporting infrastructure, arts inititat


Whew, this week sets a new standard for busy-ness. Debriefing and follow-up work on TitleWave is consuming at BookStream; there's a full slate of events at the bookstore; and biggest of all, Tuesday through Thursday I'll be taking part in the ABA Focus Group Meetings here in New York. The funniest part: the meetings will be taking place for three straight days at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge Hotel. So I'll be spending two nights in a hotel that's 15 minutes walk from my house. Ah well -- kind of a treat at that. So that's where I'll be this week. Hope y'all have a good one -- I'll try to pipe up on Friday.