Tag Archives: bookstores

Publishers Modernizing Classics’ Cover Art to Entice YA Readers

Thanks to Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, young adult fiction is more popular than it’s been in quite some time. To lure some of these teen readers into the classics, publishers are re-designing the covers of classic books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

According to this article by The New York Times, it’s a mindfreak that seems to be working. The new covers are brighter, handwritten, and more youthful. Some are even directly inspired by the Twilight series, with a black background and single red rose.

Many publishers are doing it, and most can since many of the novels are in the public domain — meaning anyone and everyone has free access to them.

According to the article, a number of businesses are selling classic novels now more than ever. It’s a plus for bookstores and even teachers who are happy to see young people reading older books. But of course, there are some bookstores that aren’t seeing much of a change in sales — even teens who prefer the originals.

“If kids want to read ‘Emma,’ they want to buy it in the adult section, not the teen section,” [Elaine Petrocelli, who owns the bookstore Book Passage] said.

“Kids don’t want to feel like they’re being manipulated.” […] For classics like that and “Pride and Prejudice,” [15-year-old Tess Jagger-Wells] said she preferred her hardcover editions with their flowery covers to the more modern versions.

“It’s fun to have the originals in your house to look at and show people,” she said. “It kind of goes with the feeling of the classic as something that’s treasured, something that you want to keep. The new covers make the books look like cheap romance novels.”

Personally, I prefer the old-fashioned covers because I think that’s part of what makes a classic classic. But I’m also past the YA fiction age. What do you guys think?

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Libraries Removing Fifty Shades of Grey from Shelves

Libraries and bookstores across the country are having a tough time keep E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy on the shelves. More and more women –and now men– are flocking to pick up the erotica bestseller that’s taking the nation by storm. But some library shelves are missing the books by choice.

Because of the explicitly sexy content of the books, a number of libraries have removed the books from stock. According to The New York Times, the public library in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin didn’t order the books because of a “no-erotica” police. Meanwhile, officials at the Brevard County Public Library in east Florida decided the content was inappropriate and pulled the books, as Julie Bosman explains.

“We view this as pornographic material,” Don Walker, a spokesman for the Brevard County government, said in an interview on Friday. “I have not read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ but I’ve read reviews of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ From what I understand, it’s a lot about male dominance and female submissiveness.”

He’s right about the storyline. The books tell the story of a virginal college student who enters into a dominant-submissive relationship with an attractive millionaire businessman. The Brevard County Public Library carries other erotica novels, but Walker says it’s because they’re part of the “societal mainstream.”

I have a few bones to pick with Mr. Walker. First of all, despite his awareness of the story’s content, it’s not the same as reading the book. What right does he have to pull the books because of their unsuitable content when he hasn’t even read the content himself? I also wonder what constitutes a book becoming part of the “societal mainstream.” With the widespread popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, I think it’s safe to say the books are now part of the “societal mainstream,” no?

What do you guys think?

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Amazon’s Next Big Thing: A Store?

Amazon is likely the largest and most successful retailer that doesn’t exist in a physical sense…until now…maybe.

According to this article by the Huffington Post, Amazon is planning to open its first store. The store would be located in its city of origin — Seattle, Washington — and could open in the next few months.

There have been rumors about Amazon opening a store for years, but now the popular book-selling and Kindle-creating web site could really use the help. As the article mentions, Amazon is facing fierce competition from Barnes and Noble, with its Nook and its decision not to sell Amazon-published book in any of its stores. Not to mention, not having an Amazon “brick and mortar” store makes it difficult to repair Kindles — unlike, say, the Apple Store, with its ability to easily repair iPads.

No specific design plan has been announced yet. But with the popularity of the site, I could see the store opening and quickly becoming a nationwide phenomenon that will likely spread at a rapid rate.

What do you think?

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Take Your Child to a Library Day

It started with Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Then schools became more PC, and it became Take Your Child to Work Day. Not too long ago, someone created Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and now there’s Take Your Child to the Library Day.

This past weekend, a number of libraries nationwide held the first annual event, which offered story hours, scavenger hunts, craft projects, and guest authors. According to this article by The Norwich Bulletin, a library in Connecticut came up with the idea back in December, and emailed a few other local libraries on its Listserv. The idea quickly spread to the Midwest and as far north as Canada.

About 130 libraries in 15 states and Canada participated in the free event to spark interest in public libraries and raise awareness about reading.

Honestly, I think this is a great idea. But the real beauty of it is that going to the library is always free. We shouldn’t have to hold events to get people to visit.

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Showdown: Barnes and Noble vs. Amazon

Now that Amazon has a growing book publishing industry, authors will have to choose between selling their books on Amazon or in Barnes and Noble and other bookstores across the country. One thing’s for sure; they can’t have it both ways.

Last week, Barnes and Noble released a statement, saying it would not sell Amazon-published books in its stores. According to this article by The New York Times, the decision is the latest punch in the battle between B&N and Amazon. B&N’s chief merchandising officer, Jaime Carey explains the reasoning behind the decision.

“Our decision is based on Amazon’s continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain e-books to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It’s clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest.”

Yikes; it’s clear that the tension between the two biggest booksellers in the country has been growing for quite some time.

Barnes and Noble will still sell Amazon-published books on its web site, but not all of them.

This move by Barnes and Noble may be smarter than it seems. Choosing not to sell Amazon’s books might seem like the company is limiting itself. On the other hand, a good number of authors will inevitably choose not to have Amazon publish their books if it means Barnes and Noble won’t sell them. That being said, it will be interesting to see how many books Amazon winds up publishing in 2012.

*Sidenote: Amazon’s latest publishing move is a book by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus.

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Book Sales Soar During Holiday Season

This holiday season, there were two factors that had bookstore owners concerned: the popularity of e-books and a poor economy. Most expected abysmal sales of print books.

But according to this article by the New York Times, they were wrong. Book sales are up this year from last year. In most cases, stores have seen a 10-30% rise in sales, and that includes independent bookstores and Barnes and Noble.

The closing of Borders likely had something to do with it. Or as I like to think, maybe people are better appreciating physical books now that e-books are taking over. But while November and December sales are up, bookstore owners are concerned about what the dull post-holiday season will bring, as this one explains in the article.

Sales are up 15 percent from last year at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., the store’s owner, Lanora Hurley, said, speculating that she may have been helped by the closing of a Borders store about seven miles away.

“We’re just going gangbusters and having a great time,” Ms. Hurley said, adding cautiously that she was concerned that it would not last. “I have to say, I’m worried about January. Everybody’s going to open their electronic device for Christmas.”

Hurley has a point. As much as people purchase books this year, they’re also purchasing e-readers. But I think this is all working toward a better future for the book industry. It certainly proves that the industry is alive and well. And apparently entering a new age.

It seems that this year’s holiday bestsellers aren’t fiction books. Nonfiction is leading the way with the Steve Jobs biography, memoirs by the likes of Diane Keaton and Gabrielle Giffords, and political books.

Of course, this is a somewhat natural holiday shopping spike. But could it also mean the Renaissance of the book?

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Author Attempts to Defy Odds, Opens Small Bookstore

In a time where Amazon and Barnes and Noble rule, the little guys are being shut down. That’s all well and good until it left Nashville, Tennessee without a bookstore. But now a local author is attempting to defy the odds by opening her own bookstore — one she says she doesn’t even want.

According to this article by The New York Times, Ann Patchett — the bestselling author of State of Wonder — is opening her own bookstore, called Parnassus. She couldn’t believe that this cultural city, which is also the home of Vanderbilt University, faced becoming a city with only a campus bookstore.

Between money she earned from her own book sales, the help of her business partner and publishing veteran, Karen Hayes, and six months of hard work, Patchett opened the store earlier this month.

Opening an independent bookstore in this day and age is hard, and Patchett knows it. But it’s also not impossible as Julie Bosman explains.

But she is aspiring to join a small band of bookstore owners who have found patches of old-fashioned success in recent years, competing where Amazon cannot: by being small and sleek, with personal service, intimate author events and a carefully chosen rotation of books.

In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Greenlight Bookstore opened in 2009 and reported sales of more than $1 million in its first year. The Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee was founded two years ago and has been profitable both years, its owner said.

For the sake of books and their industry, I hope that Patchett’s store succeeds. This may not be what she expected to do with her book earnings, but the people of Nashville will surely appreciate it.

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First Came Smartphones, Now Come Smart Books

As if smartphones don’t already do enough thinking for you, now they will be equipped to assist with your reading.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, Atria will begin publishing books with smart chips inside. They will be compatible with NFC-enabled (Near Field Communication) smartphones to provide additional materials for the book.

Right now, the concept is mostly functioning as a marketing tool. Shoppers can use their phones at the bookstore to see what else the books have to offer. The ability to interactively connect with the book lures in the buyer, instantly sparking further interest in the material.

So if books that might otherwise be overlooked start to use this technology, they might do better in sales than anticipated. Though the author of the article brings up a few good points.

I guess this makes me old-fashioned: the way I decide to buy a book in a bookstore is to pick it up and look inside. Would it be possible for a book with a smart chip that adds enhanced content, rather than marketing? How could it be packaged if the book is sitting there on the shelf, easy to flip through?

The first smart book Atria is publishing is The Impulse Economy: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy by Gary Schwartz.

What do you think? If a book were a “smart book,” would you be more inclined to buy it?

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Books-A-Million to Take Over Borders Storefronts

In the past, the ongoing bookstore battle always featured the same two players: Borders and Barnes and Noble. Now that Borders has closed its doors, a new storefront will be filling in: Books-A-Million.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, the Alabama-based chain is set to replace 14 of the Borders storefronts throughout the country, including those located in Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota.

In all honesty, it doesn’t sound as though Books-A-Million will be all that different from what Borders did and what Barnes and Noble is still doing. According to this article by the Rapid City Journal, it will still be the home to a number of books, a line of e-books for the Nook, and it will have a coffee shop inside, called Joe Muggs.

It’s good to hear that the Border storefronts won’t go to waste completely. But I do wonder how Books-A-Million will be able to withstand the economic hardship that Borders suffered. If it’s the same thing as Borders was, how does it stand to profit? I’m also curious to know if more Books-A-Million stores will open down the road, if it does well.

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Historic Flood Trashes Books

This photo was taken by Star Gazette reporter/photographer — and my friend — Jason Whong. Historic flooding in New York’s Southern Tier region left destruction everywhere. One of the hardest hit villages was Owego, where this photo was taken outside the Riverow Bookshop. Tons of books were destroyed by the flood, and it breaks my heart to see valuable materials like books turned to waste and debris.

Here are some other sad bookstore photos. This should not reflect in any way that Riverow Bookshop, above, is closing.

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