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January 1, 2016 - present day
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Jules Verne's Gravestone
Famed science fiction author Jules Verne died from diabetes at the age of 77 on March 24th 1905 in Amiens, France, where he was buried in the Cimetière de la Madeleine. Two years after his death a sculpture entitled “Towards Immortality and Eternal Youth” was erected atop his marker. Designed by sculptor Albert Roze, and using the actual death mask of the writer, the statue depicts the shrouded figure of Jules Verne breaking his own tombstone and emerging from the grave. 

Amazon Books to Open in New York City?
The New York Post is reporting that Amazon plans to open an Amazon Books outlet in Hudson Yards, the major retail/commercial/residential development being built near the Javits Center in New York City. Sources told the Post that although a final lease hasn't been signed, "the deal is happening." The development is scheduled to open in late 2018 or early 2019. The first Amazon Books opened last November in Seattle, Wash. A second is scheduled to open in San Diego, Calif., this summer, while a third is planned for Tigard, Oregon, near Portland.
fistsmall BLUE Oh, come on, will it get to where every time you see a Starbucks, there'll be one of these "pretend bookstores?" Will they compound all the damage they've already done to bookselling and publishing, by spreading Amazon Books outlets around until nobody remembers what a quality independent bookstore is any more? I hope that they go the way of Borders Books and leave independents stronger. -

E-book Sales Decline
   Limitations of e-reading devices and “digital fatigue” are cited as causes of decline in sales of the format. Various sources have reported a decline in e-book sales for traditional publishers in 2015 compared to 2014. To gain some insight into the trend, the Codex Group devoted a recent survey of book buyers’s shopping preferences to looking more deeply into the question. Preliminary figures from the Association of American Publishers found that
sales of e-books for trade publishers fell 14% in 2015 compared to 2014 and accounted for 20% of overall trade book revenue, down from 23% in 2014
   The reading devices that first ignited the e-book category—dedicated e-readers such as Nook and Kindle—still remain the most important factor affecting e-book reading and sales. Only 34% of book buyer households own e-book readers. The challenge going forward is that dedicated e-reader ownership has been stagnant for the past three years, and the devices are increasingly being retired. The Codex survey also found that though book buyers stated they spent almost five hours of daily personal time on screens, 25% of book buyers, including 37% of those 18–24 years old, want to spend less time on their digital devices.
Since consumers almost always have the option to read books in physical formats, they are indicating a preference to return to print. In the April survey, 19% of 18-to-24-year-olds said they are reading fewer e-books than when they started reading that format. Overall, 14% of book buyers said they are now reading fewer e-books than when they started reading books in the format, and 59% percent of those who said they are reading fewer e-books cited a preference for print as the main reason for switching back to physical books. Unless the e-reader device market is recharged with lower-price, higher-quality options, it is expected that consumers tiring of their digital-device experience will have further digital fatigue, leading to continued e-book sales erosion.

The annual PEN Literary Gala
   Actress Sarah Jessica Parker introduced Rowling, recipient of the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award. The Harry Potter author, in her award speech, condemned the views of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump—then made clear that her condemnation did not equate to silencing. "I consider him offensive and bigoted, but he has my full support to come to my country," she said, in reference to a petition to ban Trump from the U.K.
"His freedom of speech protects my freedom to call him a bigot." Following Rowling, PEN executive director Suzanne Nossel called the attendees into action to protect free speech worldwide, and Naji's younger brother, Mohamed, accepted the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award on his behalf, to another standing ovation. “We at PEN are a noisy, obstreperous lot,” Solomon said in his remarks. “Silence is not so golden around here.”

ABA Sees Membership Grow for 7th Straight Year
   Since 2010, independent bookstores have been coming back. And 2016 is no exception. With BookExpo America set to open in Chicago this week, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher reported to the AP a 63-store increase in membership from last year. With the uptick, ABA now has 1,775 ABA members with 2,311 outlets. This year's jump in membership marks the seventh straight year that the ABA has swelled its ranks. While the 2016 numbers represent a jump in membership, of nearly 4%, the ABA still has a way to go before it recovers from its previous heights. The organization had 2,300 members as recently as 2002, and 3,300 in 1998. For Teicher, though, there are bright spots. He has been particularly encouraged by the number of stores that have recently transitioned to new ownership, like Bennington Bookstore in Bennington, Vt., and Women & Children First in Chicago. Still, Teicher saw plenty of cause for optimism. In addition to the increase in ABA membership, indie sales from the roughly 580 stores reporting were up 5% year-over-year in the first four months of 2016.

Len Riggio, Barnes & Noble Founder, Announces Retirement
   After building Barnes & Noble from a single college bookstore into the largest book chain in the country, Len Riggio is retiring. Riggio, the founder and chairman of B&N, who's been heading the company since its inception in 1965, said he has "done everything I have wanted to do in business" and that he is now looking to focus on his "philanthropic and social" interests. Riggio, who will step down in September, will stay on at B&N as a board member.
   Riggio got into bookselling to help pay for his college tuition, taking a job at the NYU Bookstore. But B&N, which remains the largest bricks and mortar bookseller in the country, has faced immense pressure since the rise of e-books and the migration of bookselling online. Barnes & Noble.com has struggled and the launch of the Nook, at first a success, has resulted in deep losses in recent years and the company has been drastically downsizing that part of the business.
fistsmall BLUE Personally, I never had a soft spot for B&N - "corporate scum that they are" - and I never tired of spreading the rumor that the brothers Riggio kept growing B&N by constantly laundering money and other mob activity.  If you haven't heard that before, feel free to pass it on. I used to have a great cartoon on the wall of my office in our bookstore that was from New Yorker magazine, it showed the two Riggio brothers dressed as threatening looking mobsters. 
Great Quotes on Reading & Books

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.
   - Maya Angelou    

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.
    - Marcel Proust

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
   - Haruki Murakami    

The books I loved in childhood - the first loves - I’ve read so often that I’ve internalized them in some really essential way: they are more inside me now than out.
   - Donna Tartt    

I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.
   Kurt Vonnegut Literature.
And if our book consumption remains as low as it has been, at least let us admit that it is because reading is a less exciting pastime than going to the dogs, the pictures or the pub, and not because books, whether bought or borrowed, are too expensive.
   - George Orwell    

We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.
   - Henry Miller    

Books have to be read (worse luck it takes so long a time). It is the only way of discovering what they contain. A few savage tribes eat them, but reading is the only method of assimilation revealed to the West.
   - EM Forster    

Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.
   - Vladimir Nabokov

Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy – which many believe goes hand in hand with it – will be dead as well.
   - Margaret Atwood    

The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.
   - Gustave Flaubert    

Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it.
   - Jeanette Winterson

When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, ‘Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.’
   - Virginia Woolf    

Perhaps the greatest reading pleasure has an element of self-annihilation. To be so engrossed that you barely know you exist.
   - Ian McEwan    

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for?
   - Franz Kafka

When you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.
   - Zadie Smith    

Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.
   - Prince    

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
   - Harper Lee    

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.
   - JK Rowling    

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
   - Joyce Carol Oates    

A book is really like a lover. It arranges itself in your life in a way that is beautiful.
   - Maurice Sendak

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.
   - F Scott Fitzgerald    

I used books as alternate worlds for a long time. I still do. I have dozens of reasons for why I love reading: one of them is that finding yourself wanting to hang out in the world created by a writer is one of the coolest feelings ever, although it can be damn uncomfortable.     I remember as a teen reading Stephen King novels. While I can’t understand why I was so enamored of his books when I was sixteen and seventeen, I can still remember the sensation of being so frightened that I had no choice but to finish the book I was reading at 3am because, otherwise, I would not be able to get to sleep. I needed to get to the end of the book in order to feel resolution. I remember when reading Salem’s Lot that my dad stuck his head in my bedroom door at around midnight to find out if I intended to go to sleep on a school night. I explained to him that I was too frightened to sleep, and book lover that he was, my father seemed to understand perfectly.
   - fingerlakeswanderer    

I’ve always read in order to experience another reality. I remember reading Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor and feeling frozen through and through. Same with some of the sequences in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Berniere.    

Someone once accused me of living more in my head than in the real world. Not so. I do love to disappear into a novel though.
   - Sara Richards    

I read to lose myself and find myself at the same time.
   - Imani Mosley 

Follett Corp. Buys Baker & Taylor
for non-book world nerds − this involves one of the largest corporations that runs college bookstores across the country, buying up the second largest book wholesaler in the country. According to a release form Follett, the combined company will have sales of $3.6 billion. Follett, with annual revenue of $2.6 billion, is a provider of technology, services and print and digital content to PreK-12 libraries, schools and higher education institutions and is one of the country’s largest operators of college stores, while B&T has focused on distributing books, video and music products to public libraries and institutions.

Richard Russo and Readers' 'New Best Friend'
Yesterday at the Celebration of Bookselling, Richard Russo, winner of the 2016 Indie Champion Award, thanked booksellers with these comments: "When I published my first novel 30 years ago, the relationship between writers and publishers and independent bookstores was vital. Nobody knew me or my books, and if it wasn't for independent booksellers handselling Mohawk and The Risk Pool, many readers still wouldn't. Of course, this was long before Internet search engines, before Google and Amazon and Apple. Back then, it was the big box stores that had you guys in their cross hairs, and things didn't look good. The conventional wisdom was that you wouldn't make it. And yet here you are. Here we are. Okay, we haven't taken over world, which continues to change before our eyes, but then we never intended to. We did survive though, both the big box stores and the Internet retailers. How? Well, for one thing, search engines haven't replaced handselling. The technology itself and the terminology is revealing. You search for something that you already know the existence of. You search for your car keys. Their existence isn't in doubt, just their precise location. An engine is a mechanical thing, efficient and helpful but thoughtless. Booksellers are human beings, and they alert readers to what's new, emerging writers, like Richard Russo 30 years ago, whose existence most readers did not even suspect. By which I mean to say that the relationship between writers, publishers, independent booksellers and readers is even more vital today than it was 30 years ago.
Amazon, Google, Apple--they all sell a lot of books, but they're not in the book business. They are in the business of business. They're not book people. That doesn't mean that they're bad, but they are different from us because we are book people. It's not just what we sell, it's who we are. The noisier the culture gets, the more we crave quiet, stillness. Because beneath the noise and the sheer philosophy of life, there is still a conversation going on, the conversation of the democracy. And that conversation is still taking place in the form of books, books written and read. And it's because it's still important that we strain to hear that conversation. We need to know who's saying what and what things ring true and authentic. When we press books upon one another--authors on their publishers, publishers on booksellers, booksellers on readers--we are doing what we've always done and always for the same reason. You'll like this, we tell each other. This is worth your while. This will cheer you up. This will break your heart. This will help you understand. Here, right here, is your new best friend, this book. "

Partners Book Distributing, Partners/West Closing
   After more than 30 years of business, Partners Book Distributing, Holt, Mich., and Partners/West, Renton, Washinton, are closing. "As much as we love what we do, the numbers are no longer working. We would like to thank all of the customers we have had over the years for keeping us going this long." For many years and as recently as the 1990s, regional book wholesalers were a significant part of the business, and Partners is one of just a few regional book wholesalers still in existence.
   Booksellers were upset about the news. Allison Hill, president and CEO of Vroman's, Pasadena, California, and Book Soup in West Hollywood, said she is "heartbroken" over the news. "Gloria, Vicky, and Jim and the rest of their team are extraordinary. They made us feel like they were our store partners and our friends, and they had a significant impact on Vroman's business over the years." At the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah, co-owner Anne Holman said, "I've been crying all day. It's terrible. They were one of the little guys and they were there for us for any and everything, and I feel like I've lost a member of the family." Brian Juenemann, executive director and marketing director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, commented: "True to their name, they were real partners to us and they worked to remain true partners with our booksellers. They worked with local authors and helped with events, and the authors felt that they had their own distributor working for them."
small BLUE This company was a class act that really worked with bookstores to give them a lot of information about the new books they were carrying. Vicky did most all of the book ordering for our bookstores, and I only sat in once in a while, but their reps were always very helpful and we came away from each order feeling good about buying from them. They had their own style and weren't afraid to show some personality ... something that I always value in any company. You would never mistake them for the national, and very corporate, giant wholesalers like Baker & Taylor or Ingram.

Author James Patterson will donate another $1.75 million to school libraries this year, in the second installment of his School Library Campaign. The program was launched in 2015 in partnership with Scholastic Reading Club, which administers funding applications to its network of 62,000 schools and 800,000 teachers, and will match each dollar with "Bonus Points" that teachers at every school receiving an award can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms. Last year, Patterson pledged $1.75 million in grants to school libraries. Of the nearly 28,000 entries received, 467 schools were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

It's a GOOD DAY to be Bernie
I'm sure there's no other candidate who's mind would go to doves and stopping war because of this small bird, combine that with 70 and 80% of the vote in three more states and I'm even more proud of him. 


small BLUE
I have a flash from the past.
   On March 14, 1987,
29 YEARS AGO TODAY, my beautiful wife and I opened our very first bookstore, Mansion Book Merchants, in a hidden space in Davis. It was a labor of love and It started 22 years of working with some of the finest people/friends/employees I've ever met, selling great books to our outstanding customers. HUGE thanks to everyone who was a part of the best jobs we have ever had. Remember, we're just one big LOTTO win away from opening our next bookstore.

cranes in a bookstore

"Due to our name still being misunderstood, even after six years," the
Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, N.C., is changing its name to Novels & Novelties Bookstore, the store announced on its website. "But everything else will be the same--great customer service, wonderful recommendations, cool under-the-radar title choices, and interesting gift options. Same staff, same place, same local community bookstore, just a new name."
   A too powerful Rand brand seems to have prompted the change. As the Hendersonville Lightning put it, "perhaps" the problem arose because the store "shared its name with the well-known 1943 Ayn Rand novel that signifies the triumph of individualism over co

George RR Martin denies being dead after George Martin dies.
   Following panic from Game of Thrones fans in the wake of Beatles producer George Martin’s death, author insists his own passing has been exaggerated. Fantasy author George RR Martin was moved to reassure his fans on Wednesday that rumors buzzing around the web that he had died “have been greatly exaggerated”. His invocation of Mark Twain’s famous quote followed news that the Beatles producer George Martin had actually passed on that had panicked come hasty readers.

The 10 Most Literate Countries in the World (Nope, the U.S. Isn't No. 1)
An analysis of literacy behaviors and standardized test results for 61 nations reveals some surprises.
   In late February when President Barack Obama selected Carla Hayden, the head of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, to run the Library of Congress, he lauded her commitment to boosting the community’s use of the facility and providing patrons with greater access to computers. Hayden’s focus might also get a thumbs-up from the authors of a new study that ranks 61 countries from most to least literate.
   Indeed, the study led by John W. Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, examined several factors, including Internet and library resources, newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, years of schooling, and literacy scores on standardized tests. According to those criteria, Finland—which is known for its high-performing education system—is the world's most literate nation.

Second Amazon bookstore
Amazon is opening its second bookstore in San Diego this summer. Amazon opened Amazon Books in November in Seattle, Washington. Signage at the San Diego store's site reads in part, "Coming this summer--Amazon Books."

You just have to love our next president.


small BLUE

I HAVE HOPE THIS YEAR ... it comes from a democratic socialist named Bernie.

   Instead of another election where the best choice on the ballot is the lesser-of-two-evils, this year I have a candidate who I have known for decades, and is someone I trust, believe in, and agree with when he speaks of what has to change in our very dysfunctional system.
   Hillary personifies to me the present day Democratic political establishment to the max. She is political in all ways possible, and I'm not sure that she has any true core beliefs that guide her beyond those benefiting her own political advantage. She has been coldly calculating connections and collecting political chits for decades as she positioned herself for her big run for president. Certainly, it would be great to have the first woman president , but voting for a candidate because of their sex is no way to elect a president. Also, electing someone because they have been around a long time, working the system, is not any stronger a reason
With hope and change, Obama took her out last time. Now, I'm ready for my man Bernie to gain the White House this time.
   So, I say, FEEL THE BERN. I'm just so happy to have a chance to vote for someone I believe in and am excited about. That is, unless not enough people make an effort to help Bernie change things up, and Hillary ends up as the don't-change-things-too-much Democratic candidate. Then I'll be stuck voting against Trump-Cruz-Rubio, with a vote for a centralist like Hillary ... which is sure to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I won't be a happy camper, stuck having to vote for the queen of the Democratic establishment to avoid something childish and repulsive like T-C-R.
   Just think about what Bernie's revolution could mean for the country's future. If you've read your Thomas Jefferson, you know we are way overdue for change.
   I'm going to be voting for Bernie with a big smile on my face.   -

After Eight Year Slump, 2015 Bookstore Sales Rise
   Bookstores sales rose 2.5% in 2015, marking the first time since 2007 that sales in the sector were up. According to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, total bookstore sales in 2015 hit $11.17 billion, up from $10.89 billion in 2014.
   The numbers come after continued signs about the category strengthening. Sales from bookstores were strong throughout 2015, with December sales having risen 8.7%, to $1.42 billion. That bricks and mortar locations are performing so well will not be a surprise to anyone following the sales trend of books for the year, which showed print sales on the rise and e-book sales on the decline.

Amy Tan to be honored by naming of new species - of leech Chtonobdella tanae named after the Joy Luck Club author because of her longstanding support for the American Museum of Natural History, joining a host of wildlife, asteroids and dinosaurs named after authors.


James Patterson donates £10,000 to flood-hit UK bookshops
Bestselling writer James Patterson gave £5,000 each to the Book Case in Hebden Bridge and the New Bookshop in Cockermouth.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Reading. - the late, great David Bowie

                                        (from the August 1998 issue of Vanity Fair - Proust Questionnaire)


David Bowie: Book Lover's Lament
"I'm a real self-educated kind of guy. I read voraciously. Every book I ever bought, I have. I can't throw it away. It's physically impossible to leave my hand! Some of them are in warehouses. I've got a library that I keep the ones I really really like. I look around my library some nights and I do these terrible things to myself--I count up the books and think, how long I might have to live and think, 'F@#%k, I can't read two-thirds of these books.' It overwhelms me with sadness."
                              David Bowie, quoted in the Daily Beast in a 2002 interview with Bob Guccione, Jr.


black oak
Black Oak Books to Close
   Gary Cornell, who brought Black Oak Books in Berkeley back from the brink of closing in the mid-Aughts, said today that he will shutter the new and used bookstore by the end of January. Cornell first bought the store in 2007 or 2008, he said, from the previous owners who were struggling to adapt to the internet age of book selling and had racked up debt with the IRS. “When they got into trouble, I wanted to rescue it,” Cornell said. “But at some point, you have to say enough is enough.”
   He initially operated the store at its existing location on Shattuck Avenue but said it didn’t generate enough sales to make the rent his landlord wanted. Cornell purchased a building on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, hoping the area would turn into the next Temescal, and moved the store there in 2009. Although sales did increase slightly after the store moved and went up marginally this past year, Cornell said the bookstore never generated enough foot traffic to cover costs. Though he said he didn't take a salary or expect to have the store pay for its rent, he was still having to subsidize the business to keep it open. “Bookstores are low margin businesses. You need a lot of sales, you need a lot of foot traffic,” Cornell said. “We just weren’t getting it.”

Print Book Sales Up Again in 2015
   Unit sales of print books rose 2.8% in 2015 over the previous year, following a 2.4% increase in 2014.
Unit sales of print books from outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan increased 2.8% in 2015 over 2014, marking the second consecutive year that print units posted annual gains. In 2014, unit sales increased 2.4% over 2013; in 2015 unit sales were up 5.3% over 2013. Total units sold topped 652 million in 2015 at outlets that report to BookScan, which captures about 80% of print unit sales in the U.S.
(from Publishers Weekly)

small BLUE  Let's see, how does that compare to all those bogus Print is Dead headlines? As a bookseller of many years, I'm smiling. -

Bestselling Books of 2015

Nielsen BookScan Adult

1. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - unit sales: 1,599,189
2. Grey by E.L. James - 1,406,868
3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - 1,345,721
4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - 1,013,616
5. The Martian (trade edition) by Andy Weir - 673,041
6. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham - 576,362
7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - 563,293
8. See Me by Nicholas Sparks - 445,531
9. Gray Mountain by John Grisham - 365,392
10. The Nightingale by Kristin - 331,384
11. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King - 322,298
12. The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz - 305,929
13 .The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 296,641

Nielsen BookScan Adult

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - 1,143,422
2. Killing Reagan by O’Reilly/Dugard - Sales: 851,980
3. American Sniper (trade edition) by Chris Kyle - 851,457
4. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond - 569,925
5. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young - Sales: 545,217
6. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - 532,082
7. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath - 528,506
8. Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford - 492,684
9. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough - 443,801
10. American Sniper (mass market edition) by Chris Kyle - 354,536

      former BLOG & news items
Blog Archive 3 - Jan. 27, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015
Blog Archive 2
- Feb. 12, 2014 to Jan. 2, 2015 
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- Nov. 23, 2011 to Dec. 10, 2013

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