better way to continue celebrating our 4 x 4 Blogiversary Celebration by
introducing our readers to the incomparable Pat Wroclawski, Bookseller
Extraordinaire to the 4th Power.
Pat left the world way too soon in March of 2005 but her Spirit lives on in the
countless individuals she touched – readers, writers, parents, teachers, me.
many times I finish a novel, or page through a picture book, or wonder at a
biography and think, “Oh, how Pat would have loved this book!”
knew of Pat long before I – boldly –
introduced myself to her. She’d managed
the Chestnut Court Book Shop in Winnetka for 15 years, then headed the Children’s
Department at Kroch’s and Brentano’s flagship store in Chicago before returning
to the renamed Bookstall at Chestnut Court as a consultant. (FYI: Kroch’s and Brentano’s was the largest
bookstore in Chicago and at one time the largest privately-owned bookstore chain
in the U.S. It closed in 1995.)
I’d heard about Pat proved true and then some.
never-ending knowledge of children’s literature.
impeccable taste in books.
love of reading.
respect for and interest in writers and illustrators.
passion for All Things Children's Book glowed from within.
Bookstall’s Children’s Book Section became an invaluable resource for me as I
traveled my Writer’s Plotline. The best
of the best lined the section’s shelves.
course Pat herself proved the best resource of all.
cheered me on as I made my way, introducing me to esteemed authors and
illustrators, to books I should know, to opportunities that helped me grow as a
writer, and to the Association of Booksellers for Children, which Pat helped
found, now a part of ABA re-named the ABC Children’s Group and a most vital piece
of the Children’s Book World.
I shall always remain grateful for how warmly Pat welcomed and embraced my fellow
She personally decorated the store’s windows and
greeted each and every guest.
she was there in the audience of Northern Illinois University’s March 1999
Children’s Literature Conference keeping me strong in my first-time-ever speaking presentation to 500 educators and librarians
Pat’s smile undid my buckling knees.
well as mentor, teacher, advocate, friend.
somehow made time too to help found in 1989 yet another important children’s
book organization, Winnetka’s and Northfield’s Alliance for Early Childhood -
community collaboration that promotes the healthy growth and development of
children from birth age to eight by providing resources, programs, and support for
the parents and professionals who teach and care for them.”
years Pat wrote the organization’s monthly column “At Home with Books.” In the
Fall, 2005 issue, her daughter Margaret Wroclawski Griffen shared with readers
what her mother taught her about children’s books.
“Everything I Know About Children’s Books I Learned From My Mother,” this beautiful tribute keeps Pat’s Spirit alive.
The Margaret Wroclawski Memorial Collection now holds some
100 titles at the Winnetka/Northfield Public Library.
the books they hand their readers, booksellers change lives too.
extraordinary ones, like my Pat Wroclawski.
forget to celebrate our 4th Blogiversary by entering our 4 x4
give-away! You can win one of 4 $25 gift
certificates to Anderson’s Bookshop! All
you need do is share the name of your favorite
independent bookstore, and maybe even bookseller.
HERE for details.
In her first guest post, author/illustrator Christy Hale shared ideas for how to plan a successful book launch. In her follow-up post, Hale shares tips for planning storytelling and activities for bookstore appearances. Hale is the author and illustrator of, most recently, Dreaming Up, which was named a 2012 ALA Notable Book by the American Library Association and one of the Horn Book Magazine‘s Best Books of 2012.
1. Consider the audience when planning your program. Bookstores host different types of author events. If possible attend other programs at bookstores where you will appear so you can scope out the typical crowd. The time of the event may be a good indicator of the age level likely to attend. At Kepler’s Story Time Sundays, I have read to toddlers and preschoolers with a few older school age children scattered in the mix. A mid-week morning time program at BookSmart in a shopping mall in San Jose drew in moms and caregivers with toddlers and preschoolers. An afternoon program at Linden Tree in Los Altos brought school age children. An early evening program at Reach and Teach in San Mateo was geared toward whole families. My evening launch party at Books Inc. in Palo Alto was mostly attended by adults.
2. Plan age-appropriate readings and activities. Attention span and developmental abilities vary from one age group to another.
- 2-3 year olds have an attention span of 3-4 minutes. They like repetition and imitation. They understand actions and objects.
- 4-5 years olds have an attention span of 5-10 minutes. They love fantasy and have great imagination.
- 6-8 year olds have an attention span of 15-20 minutes. They are concrete and literal minded. They can understand chronological sequence.
- 9-12 year olds have an attention span of 30-45 minutes. They like to be challenged and can learn abstract concepts.Try these ideas when reading aloud:
- Practice reading ahead of time and look for themes in your story. Make a list of questions to ask your audience (Who has seen a _____? Who likes_______?) Find areas of the story that allow for active participation.
- Be expressive! Ham it up and act it out. Enthusiasm is contagious.
- If you have a long story, feel free to skip some parts to adapt to the attention span of your group.
- Invite children to add sounds effects at select points in the story (animal noises, wind blowing, car motor, and so forth). In Elizabeti’s School, Lee & Low author Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen asks children to count to five in Swahili along with her, “Moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano.”
- Model actions for kids to follow (Look right. Look left. Look up. Look down. Look all around.).
- Ask kids to join in repeating phrases.
- Employ props; bring show and tell. I bring a kanga from Tanzania when I read Elizabeti’s Doll.
- Use visual aids that allow for kid participation, like felt boards, large sketchpads.
3. Consider the physical space allotted for your reading and activity. Will attendees sit in chairs? On a rug? Are there tables for activities? Can attendees spread out on the floor?
4. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
- Plan activities that involve supplies the bookstore might have on hand (like glue sticks, colored crayons, pencils, and markers) OR provide your own supplies.
- Avoid activities that require water for clean up.
- Design your own activity handouts that can also serve as further promotion.
- Consider open-ended activities that allow children and adults to participate at their own developmental levels.
Here are some examples of bookstore activities I’ve designed that have been a big hit:
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building
- BUILD YOUR DREAMS SLOTTED BUILDING CARDS. (downloadable PDF) Materials: scissors, colored pencils, and some big dreams.
- MINI DOMES. Materials: toothpicks and gumdrops.
The East-West House: Noguchi’s Childhood in Japan
- DESIGN YOUR OWN DREAM HOUSE (downloadable PDF) Materials: printouts of PDF, pencils, and imagination. Great lesson for older kids.
- EAST-WEST KIDS COLLAGE (downloadable PDF) Materials: printouts of PDF, recycled patterned business envelopes, scissors, glue sticks, and colored markers.
How to Plan A Successful Book Launch, Part I
Filed under: Activities
, guest blogger
, Publishing 101
Tagged: author advice
, event planning
, illustrator advice
, Reading Aloud
E-book growth may be slowing
, but that doesn't appear to be making a dent in the viability of large chain bookstores.
Barnes & Noble reportedly plans to close a third of its stores over the next decade
(link is to CNET, I work there proudly). That amounts to 20 stores closing a year over the next 10 years.
I've written in the past about how I found it likely that chain bookstores would go the way of record stores into obsolescence,
even as smaller, independent bookstores still plug on into the new era. This development is a reminder that it won't take 100% e-book adoption to threaten the viability of brick and mortar stores.
And these closures could further speed the adoption of e-books as people lose their bookstores and are forced to find their books elsewhere.
The publishing landscape is going to continue to shift very dramatically over the next decade. What do you make of this news? Are you ready for the new era?Art: The Bibliophilist's Haunt or Creech's Bookshop by William Fettes Douglas
Tony DiTerlizzi designed this delightful window for his local bookstore, Essentials
in Northampton, Massachusetts. Visit DiTerlizzi's website
to follow the creative process behind the artwork.
I've hosted a LOT of bookstore events over the years, and while most authors do fine, there is still a lot of angst about the reading portion of the event. Authors can be shy-boots or nervous-nellies who are amazing at strutting their stuff on the page, but are afraid to read aloud in front of people.
Deep breathing helps, as does finding friendly faces in the audience and trying to talk to them, as does practicing at home. But there is also something technical you can do beforehand to make sure you are totally prepared and ready to bring the awesome.
One of the biggest problems when reading aloud is that when people are nervous and confused, they rush. If you are rushing, mumbling or fumbling, you will lose your audience. This EXCELLENT advice on slowing down was given to me by the very sensible Bella Stander, founder of Book Promotion 101. (For the record, Bella herself got this advice from her son's bar mitzvah coach. So it is not only useful, but approved by G-d!)
* Decide the section(s) you want to read ahead of time. 90% of authors seem to be seeing their books for the first time when they are asked to read. Confusion reigns - what should I read? Where should I start? What who where wha???! Remember, your goal here is to get people to buy the book, not just read it aloud to them - short and sweet is better than long and disjointed, and it's GREAT to end the section with a cliffhanger "and then what happens?" moment.
* Type this selection (or cut and paste) into a clean document. This will also give you the opportunity to edit anything you don't want to include - like if there are references to something that the audience won't understand at this point, or story spoilers. You don't want to have to interrupt your own reading to explain what so-and-so meant by such-and-such, and the audience won't know or care that you skipped a bit.
* Make the font BIG - 18 point type or so, and give each paragraph its own page. The big font and space means you'll be able to see very clearly, you'll be able to look at the audience more and keep your notes further from your face, and you'll be forced to slow down to at least go to a new page between paragraphs.
* Now take these pages and put them in plastic sleeves in a loose-leaf binder, and read from THAT. The binder and plastic sleeves mean the notes won't get mixed up and you won't have to fumble for the section you want, and it will be ready for you at a moment's notice... and use anti-glare plastic in case there's a spotlight on you at a podium.
Personally, I love it when people read a few SHORT selections, as I tend to drift off/get bored after a few minutes of straight reading. Luckily, your nifty new Reading Binder can include a variety of selections from the book. Also, if there are fans who know your work well in the audience, you might consider not just reading from the new book, but also giving a sneak peek at whatever you are working on next -- no spoilers of course, but teases can be great fun.
Now go make that binder - don't forget to breathe - and happy eventing!
Shelf Awareness wrote about some of the new ticketed events a small bookstore chain is doing:
As part of a "total reinvention" of the stores' events programs, Copperfield's Books, which has eight locations in Sonoma and Napa counties in Northern California, is launching several new themed series, all of which make us wish even more that we lived in the area.
The most striking is the Debut Dinner series, which this season consists of three dinners, each for a different first novelist, that will be held at local restaurants. Readers pay between $65 and $75, have a three-course meal with wine, speak with the author and receive a copy of the book. The first dinner features Amanda Coplin, author of The Orchardist.
What really caught my eye is they are going to have a mystery series next year called Dinners to Die For.
Read more about the events here.
My friend and critique group partner, Carolyn DeCristofano, had a great signing event at Westwinds Bookshop for her amazing book, A Black Hole is Not a Hole (which has gotten FOUR starred reviews, by the way
).Carolyn has a way of making science easy and fun. The audience was eager to volunteer for her fun activities that helped explain black holes.
|Carolyn (right) and I|
|Critique group pals (l to r) me, Carolyn, Wiesy MacMillan, Valerie Kerzner|
|Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury, MA|
My preteen son and I ventured into New York during spring break to ride the Staten Island Ferry and visit a couple of favorite bookstores. He loves Kinokuniya, the big, ultra-busy Japanese store across Sixth Avenue from Bryant Park. He chose a cool pen and some art supplies from the many cool pens and art supplies on the lowest level, and later used the pen to impress a seven-year-old girl on the train ride home. "You write cursive!" she exclaimed.
I wanted to visit a small shop I knew of only through social media; the store and I may even have exchanged tweets. Along with many others, I have promoted buying books at independent bookstores, and I'd been curious about this one since it opened. It's a well-lit, appealing spot with what looks like carefully selected inventory.
We were the only customers at the time of our visit. A bookseller behind the counter glanced up from the computer as we entered and we exchanged hellos.
"I follow y'all on Twitter," I said excitedly.
"Oh," said the bookseller.
After a few seconds, I understood that our conversation was over.
Feeling vaguely embarrassed, I began to look around.
Someone else was working on a computer in the back of the place. I wondered if the two store folks, separated by 300 feet or so, were emailing each other instead of talking back and forth. Maybe I should have logged into Twitter on my phone to speak to them.
ST: U are friendly on Twitter! Why not here?
Employee#1: I'm not the Twitter person.
Employee#2: Comeoutoftherain,makeyourselfathome,iloveyou. Please retweet.
I bought several books, but left feeling disappointed—and duped. Social media got me there, but I'm not rushing back any time soon.
Blog: the pageturn
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, Picture Books
, Charles Benoit
, Hennepin County Library
, Katherine Hannigan
, Michael Hall
, Wild Rumpus
, Add a tag
A bookstore cat
Let’s be honest. The bookstore cat is cliché. Don’t get me wrong. I love cats, and I love cats in bookstores. There’s a reason why they are cliché. Bookstore cats are well-behaved (mostly) and safe (again, mostly) in exactly the way that a bookstore mongoose or bookstore badger is not. Still, I pine for variety now and again. And that brings us to my favorite local children’s bookstore, Wild Rumpus.
Wild Rumpus is nestled in Linden Hills. Linden Hills is nestled in Minneapolis. And within Wild Rumpus is nestled… other things. There’s a whole lot of nestling going on. It’s like a Russian doll thing, in indie bookstore form. Those other things include Mo the Dove, Amelia and Skeeter (a pair of chinchillas), Spike the Wise Lizard (which sounds like a Toad the Wet Sprocket cover band if you ask me), parakeets, chickens (that roam the store freely), and yes, even a cat or two (of the stylish Manx variety).
A chicken climbs a display for PERFECT SQUARE and MY HEART IS LIKE A ZOO, both by local author/illustrator Michael Hall
In addition to housing this menagerie, Wild Rumpus sells books. Really good books. I get the majority of my children’s and YA books from my excellent local library system. But when I absolutely positively can’t wait for my hold to come in, I go to Wild Rumpus. When I do, I also have to watch my wallet because of the temptation to bring the entire contents of their shelves home with me.
Wild Rumpus offers a weekly story time on Mondays and book clubs for all ages. Their ARRG! (that’s Advanced Reader Review Group) recently read YOU by Charles Benoit, one of my favorite books of 2010. I’m a librarian by training and inclination, so I sometimes get nervous when bookstores offer traditional library programs like book clubs and story times. But when the bookstore staff loves children’s literature–as the Wild Rumpus’ staff so clearly does–it’s hard to take offense. Hungry readers benefit libraries and booksellers alike.
I know I’m preaching to the choir when it comes to you Twin Cities readers, so this is for the rest of you. If your travels take you to Minneapolis, let your wild rumpus begin!
p.s. Katherine Hannigan, author of TRUE (…SORT OF) and
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Little Johnny Brown could not touch the ground, but he will go to Beijing and try to get published.
The time has come for Becky and I to head off on our Summer travels. The weather is so darn hot here in Zhejiang province that we have decided to head north and look for cooler climes, and some book deals. Our first stop is Beijing where are very happy to be meeting with some publishers to see if any are interested in publishing all of our Moo-Cow Fan Club work to date (all 16 issues of the magazines and the two books). While there I’ve also decided to pitch my two new picture book ideas to them. The image above is a concept illustration from one called Little Johnny Brown Could Not Touch the Ground.
Regardless of how the pitches go, I’m very excited to get an inside look at the way the publishing industry here works (we’re getting some tours too). As with everything in China, it is growing extremely fast as anyone who has been to a mega-bookstore in a major city here can tell. You walk into one of these stores and it’s like someone’s made a high-rise by stacking a Barnes and Noble, Borders and Books-A-Million on top of each other. SO - MANY- BOOKS!
Here is a Airport sized bookstore in Nanjing. Photo Credit: John Meckley
The major problem with the industry here is not that people are not reading (there are more literate Chinese people now then ever before in history) it’s the seemingly futile struggle against piracy. Downloading whatever you want for free is just how everyone gets pretty much everything in China. Even official government organizations will just download software, movies, books, etc. The biggest web company in China, Baidu, actually offers a place for people to download books that have been uploaded by users. There have been a lot of recent moves against this kind of thing lately, even Han Han, China’s biggest and most influential blogger and writer, has gotten involved, but it will be a long time before piracy is not the norm here for all entertainment industries.
Luckily for us, all over the world kids books are something to be physically held and read by the child, so I’m not so worried about all of that.
The kids are alright. Photo Credit: Stian
So, our first stop is Beijing and then it’s off to Inner Mongolia! I’ll keep you updated and share some pictures throughout our journey.
Over twenty years ago, I walked into the most amazing bookstore. It was enormous, easily three times the size of any bookstore I'd been in before. Books were everywhere, piled high from floor to ceiling. I didn't know there could be so many books in the same place. This was before big box stores. Before the store turned into a big corporation. It was just a neighborhood bookstore back then, but the biggest and most exciting I'd ever seen.
Over the years, I visited that store many times. I watched it move to a larger space, and become even bigger, and if possible, more exciting. I listened to authors, browsed foreign newspapers, read comic strip collections over by the coffee bar and so much more. I found all kinds of books I didn't know existed, including a series about a wizard named Harry. And a few years after that, I waited in line at midnight to buy the 4th book in the series.
Say what you will about Borders. Yes, it was a big corporation. Yes, it took business away from the small, local bookstores I support so avidly. Yes, it grew too quickly and probably sacrificed some quality along the way. But, despite that, it got people excited about books. And it never ceased to amaze me that the public could support the existence of such a large place... just dedicated to books.
Well, that time has come and gone. Borders is being forced to liquidate, after all hopes of salvation from bankruptcy have fallen apart. 11,000 employees are losing their jobs and nearly 400 bookstores are closing. And that's bad news for all of us in the book business.
I'll miss that exciting store that always made me smile. How about you? What are your thoughts about the end of this major chapter in the book industry?
Slate says it wasn't the Internet that killed Borders. But it is deader than a doornail, no matter what did it in.
Borders was the first bigbox chain bookstore to open near me. I loved it. I was totally blown away by all the books. And the big, cushy chairs. Back in those days, Borders would bring in entertainment, musical groups on a Friday night, say. Independent bookstores had already become scarce around here, so Borders was filling a need.
What cooled me on Borders was the sameness. The policy of using national buyers and carrying the same thing in every store meant that whether I was in a Borders in Connecticut or Delaware or New York or, later, Vermont, I always saw the same books, presented in the same way. And since Barnes & Noble does the same, and it was opening stores in the same areas Borders was, I'm just talking the same, same, same in every store wherever I was.
When you go into a privately owned, independent bookstore, you can almost feel you know something about the people who run the place, because they have chosen the books on display. They didn't just open a case that was sent to them and put the merchandise on the shelf. What might save Barnes & Noble (assuming it needs saving) is to follow a similar policy. Give up using national or regional buyers so that only a few books get a lot of display space and allow the local store managers to do their own purchasing. Shoppers will always be able to get the bestsellers for less at Amazon, so give them something different in the stores, something that surprises them and that they want right then.
Here are some tips to attract people to your book signing.
Stages on Pages
On Thursday, November 10th, Books of Wonder is delighted to present 7 authors who have written new books for teens that feature young people involved in one way or another with the performing arts. Joining us will be debut author SHELLA CHARI to share Vanished, the story of 11-year-old Neela, who's determined to protect an antique Indian stringed instrument that's a family heirloom which she dreams of playing for delighted crowds someday; author BARBRA DEE will present her new novelTrauma Queen, about Marigold, a teen girl who's constantly embarrassed by her infamous stage actor mom; debut author SOPHIE FLACK will take us into the exclusive world of the Manhattan Ballet Company as we follow one aspiring dancer persuing her dreams in Bunheads; SARA LEWIS HOLMES will present Operation Yes, about a sixth grade class on an army base with a new teacher who uses improvisational theater to teach and inspire them and how they come together to help their teacher when her brother goes missing while se
My favorite local bookstore, Wild Rumpus is participating in Take Your Child to a bookstore day. If you live in the Twin Cities, you must check this place out, they have cats and chickens that roam the store while you shop!
Tomorrow (Dec.3rd) is the 2nd annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, have you heard about it? It's purpose is to not only support independent booksellers, but to give children the opportunity to spend time in a bookstore around the holidays. It's so easy to shop online, something I am very guilty of! But the experience of browsing through the shelves and hand selecting titles is so special.
I honestly wish that we didn't even need to have a specific day to reinforce the importance of this kind of experience, every day should be bookstore day! But it's nice to have a yearly reminder, especially around the holidays.
Will you be taking the child/children in your life to a bookstore tomorrow? If you are interested, this website
has a list of the participating bookstores through out the country.
My friend Carole Horne, general manager of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA, told me a story about this man who came into her bookstore last summer to browse. He thumbed his way through their “recommended” section, then came up to the cashier seemingly empty-handed. Nope. He put a five dollar bill on the counter and said that he was going on a trip and would download his books but had spent a lot of time browsing and felt like he owed the shop some money.
The story is a mixed bag, but there is a measure of good in it. The guy recognized the intrinsic worth of the local bookstore. This time he forewent its paper products that would weight down his luggage. But he did value the expertise of independent bookstore buyers, the taste of those who curated that special section of books worth his attention, the opportunity to look into familiar books to see if they appealed and browse unknown ones to find a treasure. And at least it translated into some value for the store as well.
A worse story. This week I was picking up a book and a calendar (yes, I still write down my appointments in little white squares) at nearby Brookline Booksmith and noticed a shopper jotting down titles on a list next to people’s names. Wanna bet that list is going home to a computer and amazon.com?
The WORST story. Quite simply, the Amazon app. For those of you who haven't heard or read about it, Amazon has created an app called, “Price Check.” People go into stores, enable the app’s location feature, scan products using their phones and are immediately offered 5 percent off 3 identical Amazon purchases for up to 5 dollars. In other words, the app is turning brick-and-mortar stores into unwilling showrooms where consumers can check out the product, and leaf through a few pages before they click a button to save five bucks (plus, don’t forget, the sales tax!)
Right now, Price Check (or as I see it, the Death Star) is only using consumers as its foot soldiers to do reconnaissance on products like electronics, toys, music, sporting goods, and DVDS. Then, with a click, it sucks up this market. How long before books, the product that defined Amazon, will follow? Then how long before all our favorite bookstores will no longer exist?
People in all parts of the book business know something about death by a thousand cuts. But writers—especially kids’ book writers, especially nonfiction kids’ book writers—know that losing local bookstores is more like the Sword of Damocles. The pricelessness of booksellers has been written about so often, I’ll just print the keywords and you can fill in the blanks: know their stock standards, take chances, word of mouth, hand sell, actually read, actually care.
Let's not lose all those beautiful keywords for five bucks and some sales tax.
Come on everybody, it’s the Christmas buying season. There will
There were two dueling posts in the Internetosphere about Amazon and independent bookstores yesterday that took vastly different approaches to the value of bookstores and Amazon to literary and reading life.
First, in a provocative broadside against bookstores called "Don't Support Your Local Bookseller
," Slate's Farhad Manjoo tackles what he sees as misplaced nostalgia for bookstore culture, the economic efficiency of Amazon, and argues that selling boatloads of books (which Amazon does) is more important to literature culture than setting up folding chairs for book readings:
It’s not just that bookstores are difficult to use. They’re economically inefficient, too... I’m always astonished by how much they want me to pay for books. At many local stores, most titles—even new releases—usually go for list price, which means $35 for hardcovers and $9 to $15 for paperbacks. That’s not slightly more than Amazon charges—at Amazon, you can usually save a staggering 30 to 50 percent. In other words, for the price you’d pay for one book at your indie, you could buy two.
I get that some people like bookstores, and they’re willing to pay extra to shop there... And that’s fine: In the same way that I sometimes wander into Whole Foods for the luxurious experience of buying fancy food, I don’t begrudge bookstore devotees spending extra to get an experience they fancy.
What rankles me, though, is the hectoring attitude of bookstore cultists like [Richard] Russo, especially when they argue that readers who spurn indies are abandoning some kind of “local” literary culture. There is little that’s “local” about most local bookstores... Sure, every local bookstore promotes local authors, but its bread and butter is the same stuff that Amazon sells—mass-manufactured goods whose intellectual property was produced by one of the major publishing houses in Manhattan. It doesn’t make a difference whether you buy Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs at City Lights, Powell’s, Politics & Prose, or Amazon—it’s the same book everywhere.
In the other corner you have Bookavore, the manager of indie bookseller Word Brooklyn
, who has... well, pretty mild-mannered words for Amazon and a list of ways she feels they could be a bit less evil
I don’t want to make lists of the reasons why Amazon sucks because I feel like I’m handing them a blueprint for rehabilitation.Many people want so, so badly to like Amazon, and many people already do. (See: comments sections on any article talking about Amazon.) Any effort they made towards making the world a better place would be embraced wholeheartedly by consumers and publishers, who mostly, when it comes right down to it, just want things to be con
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Not one, but two new blog editors! Alice Northover joined the OUPblog in January 2012 as our New York-based Editor-in-Chief. Social Media Manager here at Oxford University Press, you can also find her tweeting @OUPAcademic and Facebooking as Oxford Academic. Prior to joining Oxford, she worked in book publicity, annoyed colleagues about social media, argued semantics, and fantasized about running away to Paris and living as a late 1950s “intello.” Now she can be found wandering aimlessly around New York, obsessing about her cat, and still arguing semantics. And now on to a quick self-interview for you blog readers… –Herself
What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading Is That a Fish in Your Ear? : Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos, which I picked up entirely because I saw the book trailer a few months ago. I’m a bit of a word nerd, which only got worse when I studied French and made a brief attempt at becoming a translator. When you come across a word that stumps you, just stealing that word into English feels incredibly satisfying.
Which word do you have to look up in the dictionary repeatedly?
I can’t remember. Why do you think I have to look it up so much? I’m fairly certain it begins with “p.”
What weird things do you have in your desk drawer?
I haven’t built up a drawer full of weird objects yet, but I do have band aids (“plasters” to our UK readers), lavender hand cream, nail clippers, and some heel inserts. I have two pairs of shoes in my filing cabinet and no files.
What do you look at on the Internet when you think no one’s watching?
I have an irresistible urge to look at slideshows of celebrity dresses after awards ceremonies. I’m very ashamed of this habit.
What’s your favorite bookstore?
A tough decision in New York — we have so many great bookstores. I’ve loved St. Mark’s Bookshop in the Village since my days at NYU. It’s small, friendly, and “curated” as people like to say when justifying the existence of independent bookstores. I’m also very fond of Book Culture on the Upper West Side, my go-to place for esoteric academic titles on Persian military garb or Byzantine political history.
If your friend were visiting NYC, what is the one thing they should do while they are here?
Go for a walk along the High Line, an old elevated freight rail line that has been converted into a public park. Walking among wildflowers while three stories up between (and sometimes under) buildings gives you an entirely different perspective on the city. And it seems crazy, but New Yorkers walk differently on the High Line. They stroll.
Which book-to-movie adaptation did you actually like?
I enjoyed the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish films (haven’t seen the American one yet). One quibble: The second book has a killer closing line; why didn’
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It's difficult to overstate how big of a deal it is to bookselling culture that the Department of Justice is reportedly planning to sue five publishers and Apple for colluding over e-book prices
In order to understand why
this is a big deal, here's a brief recap of what led us here (this summary is described in greater detail in my post Why Some E-Books Cost More Than the Hardcover
).Wholesale vs. Agency
At the time Amazon kicked off the modern e-book market with the introduction of the Kindle, e-books were sold according to the traditional wholesale model. Essentially, publishers set a cover price and they got half, the bookseller got half. If a book was listed at $25, publishers got $12.50 on an e-book sale, the bookseller got $12.50.
Problem was from publishers' perspective, Amazon was selling some e-books at $9.99 and taking a loss on those sales, all the while locking readers into their proprietary format. Not only did this devalue what consumers felt a book "should" cost, publishers were worried that competitors wouldn't be able to enter the e-book space because they wouldn't be able to compete with Amazon's prices. No competitors would mean a virtual monopoly for Amazon, and publishers were presumably concerned about Amazon's ability to then dictate terms.
Along comes Apple and the iPad. Steve Jobs talked the publishers into the agency model - publishers set their own prices and they get 70% of the proceeds.
The irony is that the agency model actually meant publishers received less money per copy sold. Napkin math for wholesale: $25 cover price, they got $12.50. Agency: Price that e-book at $14.99 and they get $10.50.
Publishers then turned around and imposed that agency deal on Amazon, which is the subject of the DOJ investigation. The end result: There really is more competition in the e-book world, but prices are higher than they likely would be if Amazon and others were able to discount as they saw fit.Competing on Price
I don't presume to know what the end result of the current discussions will be and it appears that there are a range of possible outcomes. But if it ends up meaning the end of the agency model this will have massive, massive repercussions across the book business.
Up until now, conscious or not, consumers have grown accustomed to the idea that e-books cost what they cost. The decision of what e-reader to buy or which app to read on has largely been driven by user experience preferences.
Do you like the feel of the nook? The ease of the Kindle app? The pretty iBooks page animation? Those are the decisions people have been basing their decisions on - the reading and buying experience.
But if the agency model is dismantled in whole or in part and Amazon and others can go back to pricing as they see fit, suddenly price
is going to be at the forefront of consumer choice.
It doesn't take a genius to see that Amazon and their deep pockets are going to have a big advantage in that environment.Who wins?
The irony of returning to the wholesale model is that publishers may actually make more money per e-book copy sold even as prices go down for consumers.
This sounds like a win win for publishers, but it ignores the big losers: traditional bookstores, wh
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I'm not a big fan of bookstores.
Let me clarify: I'm not a big fan of big chain bookstores.* Small bookshops, especially those with live cats (we have two indie shops with feline "employees" in Lawrence), are great. Used bookstores are heaven. I've blogged about them before.
One staple of the big chain store is the remainder table.
Last week, as part of spring break, we spent a short stint in Kansas City. I took the boys to a bookstore (plenty to look at and they were pumped). I picked up a $2 book on a remainder table and read the bio of the author. Her short fiction credits included The New Yorker, Zoetrope...big names. The cover even heralded "New York Times Bestselling Author".
On a remainder table. For $2.
I dream of a world with no remainder tables. An unexpected bonus of the e-book, I suppose.
*I do feel bad for all those folks who lost their jobs with Borders.*
**But I have a friend, a rabid book lover, who thumbs his nose at the other big chain bookstore in Lawrence but he loves Borders. Really? I can't really understand.