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Amusing Trivia
   “I never thought anything so powerful could come out of that little toad,” Joan Baez once said after hearing Dylan play her “With God on Our Side,” according to Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu.

indies first
bags of INDIE FIRSTAuthor Sherman Alexie celebrating "Indies First" at Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle, Wash. on November 30, "Small Business Saturday." Alexie inspired the initiative by challenging writers across the country to act as booksellers on the day designated for shopping small businesses.

Amazon and the "Absence of Serendipity"
   "Which brings me to Amazon. I do indeed like it if I know what it is that I want to buy. Various bits and pieces of electronics have been purchased over the years. But I find it an intensely irritating way to buy a book. Cheap, yes, convenient, most assuredly, but intensely irritating. For I'm almost never going out to buy a book that I know that I want to read. I am, rather, browsing to try and find one that I do want to read.... And try as I might I cannot gain that same experience from Amazon, the recommendation engine (at least the level of my knowledge about the actual use of computers) doesn't manage to replicate that experience."
--from Tim Worstall in his Forbes magazine column headlined "The Absence of Serendipity, or, Why I Hate Shopping at Amazon."


A Few Catch-Up Items

James Patterson Plans to Give Indies $1 Million
   Author James Patterson plans to give a total of $1 million to independent bookstores in the next year. His main criteria are the stores be "viable" and have a children's section.

    Here he answers questions about the program that we put to him this week.

Why are you giving $1 million to independent bookstores?
   I've become very concerned about the reading habit in America. I think e-books are a terrific development, but I don't think we as a society are really thinking through the implications of our changing retail landscape. I fundamentally believe our way of life is at risk if bookstores disappear. This effort to help independents will hopefully be something of a shot in the arm for the book business. We need to do more than talk about this juncture. We need to do something about it.

You've said these grants could be of many sizes. Do you imagine that you will be helping many stores with smaller gifts rather than helping a few stores with larger gifts?
   We're going to help as many stores as possible, and to do so as fairly as possible. I'd also like to prioritize stores that sell--or mean to sell--children's books. Because, of course, that's so often where the reading habit is forged, and where lives can really be saved.

Will you seek the help of any organizations (like the American Booksellers Association) or people to help make decisions and to help in the process?
   I'm a huge fan of the ABA. I do hope they help with the effort, and I'm sure more connections will help on a store-by-store basis. With this program, I'm looking to create something that I could possibly repeat in future years if it moves the needle, changes our habits.

ould you comment on the excited reception many booksellers have already given to your plan?
   It's very heartening. The more attention to the issue, the better. I feel it's a very reasonable goal to reinvigorate books and reading in our lives. It just needs to be treated as the critical issue it is, or it will continue to be ignored.

What else besides this program--in a more general way--do you think would help independent bookstores?
   This is a must: parents have to take responsibility for their whole family's reading. They can't rely on teachers to instill the habit in kids. Parents have to make an activity out of visiting the bookstore, introducing everyone to how powerful it is to be in that environment. We have to teach our children that reading is the key to a successful life, but we also have to teach them that supporting the local booksellers, bolstering the kinds of businesses we want to see in our own communities, is everyone's responsibility. If we don't teach our children to be good citizens, good neighbors, good readers and thinkers, then I fear for the future of our country, and our children.

(info from Shelf Awareness)

Bay Books in San Ramon, California is for Sale
   Bay Books, which sells new, used and rare books, is for sale. The 4,380-square-foot store was founded in 1988 and is located in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco a block from the freeway.

(info from Shelf Awareness)

Google Book-Scanning Lawsuit Dismissed
   Google won dismissal of a long-running lawsuit by the Authors Guild, which had accused the company of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.
   U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan "accepted Google's argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books, and making 'snippets' of text available online, constituted 'fair use' under U.S. copyright law." If it survives an appeal, the decision would let Google continue to expand its digital library. "In my view, Google Books provide significant public benefits," Chin wrote in his decision. "Indeed, all society benefits."
   Paul Aiken, Authors Guild executive director, said, "We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision today. This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use defense. We plan to appeal the decision."

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This is fair use? Copy all these books, without publisher or author approval, then put some of the content up on your website and charge advertisers BIG MONEY to place ads beside them. The digital free-for-all continues, all with the argument that if we can do it — we must do it — until the authors can't make a living. Bullshit.John

Fifty Shades’ Book Has Herpes
Two professors in Belgium performed toxicology and bacterial screenings on the ten most popular books at the Antwerp library. The infamous erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey tested positive for the herpes virus. The professors say the concentrations of the virus weren't high enough to create a public health risk or to contract it by touching the book. In addition, all ten books contained traces of cocaine. Not enough that people would get high, but enough that they might test positive for the drug.

This sounded like a most interesting library.John

Amazon and USPS Strike Deal for Sunday Delivery
On Monday, November 11, Amazon.com announced that it had struck a deal with the United States Postal Service that will enable the online retailers to offer Amazon Prime customers Sunday delivery. The Sunday service is already open to Prime customers in New York City and Los Angeles. Ironically, Amazon made the announcement on a day that USPS was closed.
   USPS noted that under the program it will for the first time deliver packages at regular rates on a Sunday, whereas previously, consumers had to pay an extra fee for delivery on that day. Sunday delivery is expected to branch out to the rest of the country next year. Much of the media coverage of the new agreement focused on whether the partnership with Amazon would help the cash-strapped agency with its turnaround efforts.
   While many business pundits hailed the move as a win-win for both parties, ABA CEO Oren Teicher took issue with the USPS playing favorites with one retailer.
   “We find it disconcerting that a quasi-government agency would enter into a special business arrangement with one private corporation in a field with many competitors,” said Teicher. “The postal service’s role is not to pick favorites among competitors but to provide equal access for all retailers looking to take advantage of its delivery infrastructure. Considering that state governments already subsidize online retailers like Amazon.com by allowing them to sell into the state without collecting and remitting sales tax — thereby placing Main Street retailers at an unfair disadvantage — news of an arrangement like this, at the start of the holiday season no less, simply adds insult to injury. Moreover, allowing a private corporation to purchase the services of a government agency without a thoroughly transparent and open process sets a very dangerous precedent. We hope Congress will take a good hard look at this.”

(info from the ABA's Bookselling This Week)

BLUE  The Evil Empire moves on to governmental control.John

The following is such an Evil Use of Language:

"Everything will be Better with Fewer People Helping Customers"

Follett Lays Off 10% of College Store Staff
   Follett Higher Education Group, which operates more than 800 college stores across the country, laid off approximately 600 employees, or about 10% of its store staff.
In a company-wide memo reproduced on thelayoff.com, Bob Scholl, senior v-p, retail operations, of the Follett Higher Education Group, said that the "important Follett initiative" was taken in part to "improve the experience of our customers" and "deliver the hassle-free shopping experience that our customers expect." With the firings, he explained, "we are adjusting our store staffing model to put more hours on the sales floor whenever students are shopping most. This involves shifting our ratio of full-time hourly and part-time store positions, and following scheduling practices to ensure our stores are always staffed at the busiest times. This shift gives us more scheduling flexibility each day, week and year. The result will be more customer-facing labor hours in our campus stores, generating more selling opportunities with increased customer satisfaction."
He acknowledged that being let go "will impact the associates in positions we are converting." The company is encouraging those former full-time employees to apply for part-time work and is offering cash severance and outplacement assistance and counseling.
Scholl called the layoffs "part of Follett's much broader and comprehensive transformation, which is reflected in the fact that we've invested more than $200 million in technology, distribution, digital content and ecommerce over the last three years alone. These investments are creating more efficiency at the store level, allowing us to deliver even more hours of store service and support when students and faculty expect it."
   On thelayoff.com, current and former Follett employees said that the severance agreements include a clause prohibiting them from making negative comments about Follett on social media and, in some cases, required employees to attest that their firing was voluntary--meaning that they would be unable to obtain unemployment benefits.

(info from Publishers Weekly)


Neil Gaiman: 8 Good Writing Practices (from an interesting article in the Guardian)

1. Write.
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
5. Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right.
When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7. Laugh at your own jokes.
8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But its definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Oh, Maurice
It was so great to see Maurice Sendak as a guest on The Colbert Report months ago. Not surprising, when Sendak got the call about appearing on the show, he'd never heard of Colbert. But then he enjoyed being on the show so much that he asked to be a regular guest. He wanted to be Colbert's movie critic, with one stipulation: He would only review movies he hadn't seen. Colbert loved the idea. (Unfortunately Sendak's health declined before they could make it so.)

Indies: 'Final Plank in the Bridge' Between Writer & Reader
"Every decade, it seems, has featured a major challenge to the independent bookseller. We manage by being very selective. The craft of bookselling lies, not so much in reacting to the marketplace as in developing it by representing, on our shelves, a point of view that sets us apart. As independent booksellers, we build the final plank in the bridge that connects the writer to the reader....
"There has been a resurgence of the independent bookstore in diverse communities throughout the United States. A new generation of booksellers is establishing new bookstores or is taking over currently existing stores. The independent bookstore has become important not just for the curatorial practices described previously but also for the central role it plays as a communal gathering spot."

Paul Yamazaki, principal book buyer at City Lights, San Francisco, in an interview with the Hindu.

Griffin & Sabine to Become a Movie

   Renegade Films has acquired the rights to the bestselling epistolary novels, Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, written and illustrated by Nick Bantock. This is the first time the series, the first book of which was originally published by Chronicle in 1991, has been optioned for a film project. The series will be adapted into a film that travels through the three novels: Griffin & Sabine, Sabine's Notebook and The Golden Mean. Renegade Films is in the process of confirming a screenwriter, director and cast, with production slated to begin in 2014.

Tattered Cover's Downtown Store to Consolidate to One Floor
The Tattered Cover Book Store location in Lower Downtown Denver, Colo., is consolidating into the first floor and will no longer use the second floor, the Denver Business Journal reported. The first floor has 12,666 square feet of space; the second floor has 15,109. The store has been in the location, in the Morey Mercantile Building, since 1994.

MacArthur Genius Awards include two authors
   Congratulations to authors Karen Russell and Donald Antrim, who were among the 24 recipients of this year's MacArthur Fellow grants. They will each receive $625,000 over five years to use however the geniuses want.
   Karen Russell has published two story collections, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, as well as the novel Swamplandia!.
   Donald Antrim has written several novels, including The Verificationist and The Hundred Brothers. His first work of nonfiction was The Afterlife: A Memoir.


flyingSurvey: Travelers Prefer to Fly with Print Books

E-reading devices are touted for their convenience when on the road, but a recent survey by London's Heathrow Airport found that airline travelers still prefer to have a print book in their hands, Good E-Reader reported.
   Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 71% "would rather pack their suitcases full of books than opt for a lightweight e-reader" and 67% said they "prefer to stick with print because they enjoy the feel of a real book in their hands," Good E-Reader wrote, adding that 67% said they turn to friends and family for their reading recommendations, followed by librarians and booksellers.
   "There's no doubt that the popularity of e-books has boomed in recent years, but when it comes to relaxing on holiday it seems you just can't beat a good book," said Heathrow retail director Muriel Zingraff-Shariff.


An Old Favorite Bookstore of Mine in Vermont
bear pond books
Happy 40th Birthday, Bear Pond Books!
   Congratulations to Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., which is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Saturday, August 3, with "plenty of prizes, discounts and, of course, cake." During the four decades, Bear Pond Books has experienced "a flood, a move, a change of ownership," all while continuing to provide Montpelier "with a great book experience." The store was bought by Robert Kasow and Claire Benedict in 2006. They also own nearby Rivendell Books, which has a branch in Montpelier that opened in 2011. - John

Europe & Amazon

   British bookshops are pleading with the government to stand up for them against Amazon after France pledged (£7.7m) of funding to help its booksellers fight back against the "destroyer of bookshops".
   Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, said Britain's bookshops, closing down at a rate of more than one a week, consider Amazon "the main threat to their business". He warned that if Amazon continues its "relentless expansion" even more bookshops will be driven out of business, and publishers and agents will also be forced to shut up shop, he said.
   Godfray, whose association represents almost 1,000 British booksellers, called for government action as France's culture minister Aurélie Filippetti accused Amazon of undercutting traditional rivals to create a "virtual monopoly".
   "Everyone has had enough of Amazon, which by dumping practices, slashes prices to get a foothold in markets only to raise them as soon as they have established a virtual monopoly," she said in a speech to booksellers in Bordeaux. "The book and reading sector is facing competition from certain sites using very possible means to enter the French and European book market... it is destroying bookshops."
   Filippetti, who is also a published novelist, said she was considering banning Amazon from being able to offer free postage and may end the system allowing 5% discounting on books.

(info from The Guardian)

This is an old, and very interesting item that I saved from Shelf Awareness, from sometime last year.

Pete Townshend: Acquisitions Editor Was 'Best Job I Ever Had'
"Are you kidding? That was the best job I ever had. I had lunch with the old chairman, Matthew Evans, this week, and we both went dewy-eyed about the old days. He's in the House of Lords trying to stay awake, and I'm pounding stages like an aging clown. I loved the way the Faber editorial committee was driven as much by gossip and rumor as ideas. It was fun. Not what you expect in such an esteemed publishing house."
   — The Who's Pete Townshend, author of Who I Am: A Memoir, in a New York Times interview where he recalled working as an acquisitions editor at Faber & Faber.

Such a great line!
For the book Woke Up Lonely, an endorsement from Marie Claire:

"It's as if a Paul Thomas Anderson movie (The Master, There Will Be Blood) married a David Foster Wallace novel and had a baby. Which is to say, this story is weird, thrilling, and inimitable."

Indie Bookseller's Advice: 'Never Forget the Wonks & the Weirdos'
"Never forget the wonks, and the weirdos, and the people who will be delighted by this book that they never could even have imagined could exist and they will find on your shelf."
   — Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson in NYC, the best piece of advice she ever received from her mother, Holly, founder of the McNally Robinson indie bookstore chain in Canada.

Amazon and Taxes ... Jesus, they have NO SHAME!
Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate income tax bill," Reuters reported, noting that during the past six years, Amazon has paid approximately $9 million in income tax on more than $23 billion of sales to British clients.


A Dozen Interesting Literary Facts for Today

1. The original title of Fahrenheit 451 was The Fireman.
Ray Bradbury and his publishers thought The Fireman was a boring title, so they called a local fire station and asked what temperature paper burned at. The firemen put Bradbury on hold while they burned a book, then reported back the temperature, and the rest is history.

2. Ray Bradbury also wrote the 1956 screenplay for Moby Dick.

3. Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time, with over 500 million copies sold.

4. Edgar Allan Poe originally wanted a parrot to repeat the word "nevermore."

5. Charles Dickens believed in the supernatural, and he belonged to something called The Ghost Club.

6. John Steinbeck's original manuscript for Of Mice and Men was eaten by a dog.
Steinbeck's puppy, Toby, was left alone one evening and effectively ate some really important homework. Steinbeck wrote of the incident to his agent and said, "I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically."

7. Gabriel García Márquez refuses to allow One Hundred Years of Solitude to be made into a film. It's odd because most of his works have been made into films. Marquez stated that the reason is, “They would cast someone like Robert Redford and most of us do not have relatives who look like Robert Redford.”

8. To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee's only novel, even though it won a Pulitzer Prize and spent 88 weeks on the best seller list. She currently lives in Monroeville, Alabama, and is allegedly working on her memoirs.

9. The manuscript for Hemingway's A Moveable Feast sat in a hotel basement for years.
In 1928, Ernest Hemingway stored two trunks that contained notebooks from the years he lived in Paris. Then in 1956, Hemingway retrieved the trunks and got to work transcribing them into his memoirs. The final product was published three years after Hemingway's death.

10. The band U2 borrowed a chapter title in Lord of the Flies to name one of their songs.
Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies is titled "Shadows and Tall Trees," which U2 used as the final track on their debut album, Boy.

11. The Monster in Frankenstein has no name, but Mary Shelley once referred to him as "Adam."
Many people mistakenly think that the Monster is named Frankenstein, when in fact he's never given a name in the novel. 

12. The original title for Where the Wild Things Are was Where the Wild Horses Are, and it would've featured horses.
The reason for the change was that Maurice Sendak couldn't draw horses. So, when his editor asked what he could draw, his reply was "things." Things are exactly what ended up in the book.

Tax Day wisdom from Mark Twain: "The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin."

Well, I have taken a plunge into another website — I am now also listing the books I've read on LibraryThing. They do a pretty good job of listing them with other information that's quite interesting. It's great fun to be surrounded by book information and to list more and more of the books that you've read all through your life. I just started yesterday and I haven't put up reviews or rated most of the books, but there are more than 400 titles ... so far. (May 6 update - 2,200 titles ... so far) It's addictive. - John 


Twenty-six years ago today, on March 14, 1987, we opened the doors of our very first bookstore. We had wild hopes and yet a little part of our minds wondered if we would be able to make it. Hopes won out wildly over those nagging little fears and our bookstore was open for 22 years. It was a wonderful run and we are so thankful to the many people who helped us and supported us for all those years. These people believed in what we were trying to do — to bring the best books together with the people who would love them and to do it with a style all our own. Today, with all the changes in the book trade, I appreciate each of our different bookstores more than ever. Thanks to all. - John



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Over the next decade, Barnes & Noble will likely close a third of its 689 general retail stores, or about 20 a year, Mitchell Klipper, CEO of B&N's retail group, told the Wall Street Journal. Slimmed down to 450 to 500 stores, the retail stores represent "a good business model," he said, emphasizing that today only about 20 B&N trade stores--3% of the total--lose money. B&N also operates some 674 college stores, which are run separately from the general retail stores. - John 

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Huell Howser's smile has gone away ... after 67 years
   Someone has died that always brought a smile to my face. He could also elicit a heavy groan and cause me to say, "Oh Huel." But, he was one of a kind, and the world is just not as happy a place without his overpowering enthusiasm and humor. Howser received his first name from a portmanteau of his parents' names, Harold and Jewell.
   Corny, dopey, a hick, square-shouldered, naive, a happy gay man, say what you may — he loved California and all the people he and his single cameraman came across. His style kept me watching  him for all these years. It's incredible to think about just how many times we have all heard him say, "That's amazing." 
                         Thanks Huell. -



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Today we saw a double rainbow over Emeryville, but mostly I just wanted to be able to type the date. - 12/12/12
- John

The Strange Story of a Drunk in a Bookstore

mr booksBookshop B&E Suspect Caught Read-Handed

An intoxicated British man was arrested last week after he broke into Mr. Books Bookshop in Tonbridge, Kent, but became distracted by a copy of Fly Fishing by J.R. Hartley. The Daily Mail reported that after stealing some £1 coins, Charles Crittenden settled down to read the book and eventually called police to confess his crime.

"My initial feeling was of shock and sheer horror and I was worried about what damage had been done," said shop owner Mark Richardson. Richardson added that the suspect "actually said to the police he was sitting in my shop reading Fly Fishing by J.R. Hartley. I think they thought he was taking the mickey at first but there is actually a copy right by the phone. I even think in a strange sort of way that might have brought him to his senses."

CEO of Barnes & Noble Doesn't Even Read Physical Books Anymore
Bloomberg's Nicole Lapin interviewed Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch to talk about what e-books he has on his Nook. She also asked him what "book books" he's reading.

"I don't really read physical books that much anymore," responded Lynch as he stood in a Barnes & Noble retail store with books all around him. "I like to read digitally."

I just feel sorry for the man — when he misses so much of the reading experience with his head stuck in a Nook and not a real book. - John

River Reader Bookstore Closes
River Reader bookstore, Guerneville, California, closed last week after 17 years in business, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. Susan Ryan, who has owned the store for the past five years, said that during the past year, "I sold half as many books as I needed to break even, and it has been that way for the last few years.... I think it is the economy, this community is struggling, and people buying books online. She added that she will miss her life as a bookseller: "This is my passion, I love this, I love being part of the community," Ryan said.

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Our trip north, took us to our dear friends Keith and Karen's houseboat.
dock house water
   Keith took us on a tour of Portland, a tour that included a visit to the famous/infamous Voodoo Doughnuts. I had a Bacon Maple Bar and the Dirty Old Bastard (raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting and Oreo's and peanut butter) yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

 . voodoo
After that I required some down time — what a meal. That's it for now. -

Rainy Day Books to Close
   Rainy Day Books, Tillamook , Oregon, will close December 30 after 26 years in business, the Coast River Business Journal reported, adding that the "iconic bookstore... is a calling card for tourists and visitors, some of whom stop there annually on their pilgrimages to the beach." Despite having many devoted customers, owner Karen Spicer cited familiar reasons for the decision, including changes in the industry like the rise of Amazon and e-books, a gradual but steady sales decline and troubled economy."It's time to do something else," she said. "It's sad. I never imagined books would go out of fashion. Independent bookstores are like the canary in the coal mine. When we're gone it will mean something drastic has happened, something is lost, and it will be too late to bring it back."


How do you say that author's name?

— here's a site where the actual author tells how to say it.

Amazon Confirms It Makes No Profit On Kindles
“We sell the hardware at our cost, so it is break-even on the hardware,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, told the BBC.nThis marketing strategy reminds many of Gillette in the early 1900s, who give away the razor and sold the blades.

Ferlinghetti Declines Hungarian PEN Club Prize
Poet and co-founder of City Lights Books, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, has declined the €50,000 (US$64,683) Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize from the Hungarian PEN Club after he "discovered that a sizable portion of the prize money had been provided by the Hungarian government, which has been widely accused of officially and unofficially stifling free speech," New Directions reported on its blog. In a letter to Hungarian PEN Club's president Geza Szocs, Ferlinghetti wrote there was "no possibility of my accepting the prize in a ceremony in the United States or elsewhere. I am sorry it has come to this, and I am grateful to those in Hungary who may have had the purest motives in offering me the Prize."Calling him "a bastion of the New Directions list for over sixty years," Ferlinghetti's publisher said "we are proud of his decision and stand by him in his fight for free speech."

Writer Junot Diaz has received one of this year's 23 MacArthur Foundation "genius" awards (formally John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships) which garners him $100,000 a year for five years.

Ferlinghetti on how City Lights bookstore came to be
   "I was coming up from my painting studio, and I drove up Columbus Avenue. It was a route I wouldn't normally take, and I saw a guy (Peter Martin) putting up a sign where City Lights is now. I said, 'What are you doing?' and he said, 'I'm starting a paperback bookstore, but I don't have any money. I've got $500.' I said, 'I have $500.' The whole thing took about five minutes. We shook hands, and the store opened in June 1953 as City Lights Pocket Bookshop."

Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton came out today, and in it Rushdie discusses living under the fatwa issued following the 1989 publication of The Satanic Verses. He has also written a Thank You letter to independent booksellers for their support during that trying period.
The full letter reads:

"In February 1989, my novel The Satanic Verses was published in the United States a few days after the Khomeini fatwa; in the eye of the storm, in other words. What happened in the months that followed was something I will never forget. American writers gathered together in a show of almost complete unity to defend freedom of speech. Thousands of ordinary Americans wore “I am Salman Rushdie” buttons to express their solidarity. The independent booksellers of America put the book in windows, mounted special displays, and courageously stood up for freedom against censorship, refusing to allow the choices of American readers to be limited by the threats of an angry despotic cleric far away. The bravery of independent booksellers influenced other stores to follow their lead, and in the end a key battle for free expression was won—not by politicians who, as usual, arrived cautiously and tardily at the battlefield, but by the determination of ordinary people that it not be lost. I have never ceased to be grateful for what the independent booksellers of America did in 1989 and, now that I have finally been able to tell the full story of that battle, I’m glad to be able to honor your courage and give you all your due, both in the pages of my book and in what I will say about it when it is published. This is just to thank you personally. It was a privilege to be defended by you, and I have been trying, and will continue to try, to be worthy of that defense."

news Shelf Awareness reported on the auction of nearly 300,000 titles from
Larry McMurtry's bookstore Booked Up used and rare bookstore in Archer City, Texas. Earlier in the week, McMurtry had described the event as "cleaning house; I'm downsizing." Post-auction, McMurtry will close three of his four locations, leaving only Booked Up No. 1 open, with 150,000 titles. The Express-News noted that he seemed unsentimental about the departing volumes: " 'Bye, bye, go, go,' he said, flicking his hands, as if shooing away hundreds of thousands of books."

Forbes's Highest-Paid Authors List
James Patterson  $94 million
Stephen King  $39 mil
Janet Evanovich  $33 mil
John Grisham  $26 mil
Jeff Kinney  $25 mil
Bill O'Reilly  $24 mil
Nora Roberts  $23 mil
Danielle Steel  $23 mil
Suzanne Collins  $20 mil
Dean Koontz  $19 mil
J.K. Rowling  $17 mil
George R.R. Martin $15 mil
Stephenie Meyer  $14 mil
Ken Follett  $14 mil
Rick Riordan  $13 mil

Builders Booksource to "RESIZE"
   For George Kiskaddon, owner of Builders Booksource in Berkeley, California, one way to ensure the store’s future and improve the bottom line is to downsize — or “resize,” as he called it. The 2,700-square-foot store is being remodeled to about 1,400 square feet, which will force Kiskaddon to be more selective in what he carries. The store mainly caters to builders and engineers, whose needs and priorities in terms of books have changed due to the economy. “It will be a nice relief from the high rent. It’s definitely going to be cozier, but it won’t take away from the store. We’ll have just as much business in a smaller space,” Kiskaddon said. The store’s freestanding shelving units are on wheels, which will allow Builders to open up the space to continue its series of events and workshops. “It’s going to be beautiful,” said Kiskaddon, adding that this move is one of many things that will allow Builders to maintain its current success. “We’re optimistic. We celebrated our 30th anniversary in April, and we’re figuring on quite a few more,” he said.

What Causes “Old Book Smell?
   “A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness” is how an international team of chemists describes the unique odor of old books in a study. Poetic, sure, but what causes it?
   Books are made up almost entirely of organic materials: paper, ink, glue, fibers. All these materials react to light, heat, moisture, and even each other over the years, and release a number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While the blend of compounds released by any one book is dependent on the exact things that went into making it, there’s only so much variation in materials. The researchers tested 72 books and found some 15 compounds that came up again and again. They were reliable markers for degradation. These include acetic acid, benzaldehyde, butanol, furfural, octanal, methoxyphenyloxime, and other chemicals with funny-sounding names. A book’s smell is also influenced by its environment and materials it encounters over the course of its life (which is why some books have hints of cigarette smoke, others smell a little like coffee, and still others, cat dander).
You can’t judge books by their covers, but the researchers think you can learn a lot from their odor. They’re developing a method for determining the condition and age of books and other paper documents by using special “sniffing” equipment to analyze the blend of VOCs. They hope that this study of “degradomics” can help libraries, museums, and archives assess and monitor the health of their collections and store and care for them accordingly.

(info from Mental Floss)


Phoenix Books' Burlington Store Celebrates Grand Opening
     The new branch of Phoenix Books, in Burlington, Vt., celebrated its grand opening over the weekend with a variety of events, including an appearance by former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin, who discussed her new book, The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family. Phoenix owners Renee Reiner and Michael DeSanto decided to open the store after the Borders in Burlington closed last year.

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   A film adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's modern classic
The Confederacy of Dunces may finally be underway. And what seems most interesting—Zach Galifianakis may star as Reilly." - John

Write a book report, avoid jail: Judge orders man freed if he commits to literature
   Once again, the Bay Area has proven its credentials as the most progressive area in America, this time with a judge's ruling that an allegedly violent criminal be set free, provided that he "read and complete book reports."
   The decision, which came in the case of Otis Mobley Jr., was handed down in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who joined the court in January, according to her office.
   Mobley, who is 23, will be released later this week pending his trial for attempting to sell a grenade launcher to an undercover federal agent in March. The Oakland-area incident ended in a gunfight; Mobley and two associates were arrested.
   Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore ruled that Mobley should be released to his grandmother. Gonzalez Rogers upheld that decision on Monday, with the
stipulation that he read " at least one hour every day, and...write reports on those books for at least 30 minutes every day."

Competitive: '10.5 Ways Local Bookstores Beat Amazon'
The Boston Globe's Christie Matheson offered reasons why you’ll get a lot more than books if you buy from local stores":

 1. They entertain your kids.
 2. They stock literary treasures.
 3. They bring celebrities to town.
 4. They educate you.
 5. They have real people on hand to help you.
 6. They offer great book groups.
 7. They can help you write.
 8. They keep you in the know.
 9. They reward loyalty.
10. They support your community.
10.5. They sell online, too.

In a speech during Liberty Media's annual investor meeting yesterday, Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said the company "expects the size of the print book market to decrease by a third by 2015, while the e-book market grows by 700%."


pure EVILfrom the clever people of Diesel

Home Depot To Stop Selling Books
   The nationwide retailer has announced it will no longer be selling books. A Home Depot official stated that, after considering “over a year of intense analytical information both internally and with our book suppliers,” as well as “customer insight surveys,” the home improvement superstore is going to discontinue the “book subclass” in order to “better optimize the space in the front end of the store.”
The move is part of a wider strategy of “front end transformation.”
   The news from Home Depot comes at a time of mounting fear among publishers that, as bricks-and-mortar sales slow, big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target might abandon bookselling.

Reading Study Results
   Fewer people are reading - but at least they're reading more, and in more formats than ever. That is, according to the results of a series of telephone surveys carried out by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which were published yesterday.
   The report showed that as of February 2012, 21% of Americans had read an e-book, and that owners of e-readers read an average of eight books a year more than people without the devices (24 vs 16). The surveys of 2,986 respondents, carried out in English and Spanish at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, also showed that the average (calculated by mean) American reads 17 books a year. However, 19% of respondents aged 16 and over said that they hadn't read a single book in any format, over the previous 12 months - the highest since such surveys on American reading habits began in 1978. If this figure is accurate, that means more than 50 million Americans don't read books at all.
   Technology ownership had shifted significantly since previous surveys. In November 2010, 6% of Americans reported owning an e-reader; the figure is now 19%, with females aged 30-49 years old the most represented group. Amazon's Kindle is by the most popular device, owned by 62% of e-book readers; Barnes and Noble's Nook has 22% of the market. When tablets are also factored in, the survey suggests that 28% of Americans aged 18 or older own a portable device that can be used as an e-book reader, not counting cell phones or computers.
   However, it remains to be seen how much more the e-reader market can grow, without a major shift in attitude: 85% of respondents who don't currently own such a device said they had no interest in ever owning an e-reader. Santa Claus, take note. Perhaps most interestingly, e-book readers are still voracious consumers of print books too; 58% of e-book owners said that they were reading a print book the previous day. And 5% of respondents reported reading 50 or more books over the past year. That's down from 13% in 1978, but still: who are these people and how do they find the time?

See the graph below for why respondents prefer one medium over another. How many books do you think you read last year?

pew graph

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Do you need some great music in your life?
Have you enjoyed the music of Robert and Leonard before in your life?
Get these two CDs and your life will improve.

OLD IDEAS by Leonard Cohen
   We have both loved listening to these two CDs and enjoyed them immensely. It been several years since Cohen has had a new CD and the wait was certainly worth it. Got a chance to even hear this CD on a really good stereo that let his deep, hypnotic voice fill the room. Leonard Cohen can almost become a religious experience—I feel that there is a connection there far beyond some old guy singing away—it's primal and moving. And, it's got a good beat, and he is very funny at times.

great CDs

CHIMES OF FREEDOM: The Songs of Bob Dylan
   Let me start by saying that tribute albums are generally my least favorite animal in the musical zoo. Chimes of Freedom is a major exception to this preference...this is a wonderful album. Most of these performers are long-time favorites, but there are many people singing who were new to both of us, and we want to know more, they're sooooo good. Having listened to Bob for many decades (man, I sound ready for the dirt nap) it was transcending to hear those familiar songs being taken down, changed around, and being performed as if they were "owned" by these singers. The way many of them where biting off the words, it was hard to fathom that they hadn't written the songs themselves. I was amazed that hearing a new and different version of a familiar Dylan song could be so much fun—time and time again, over 4 CDs and 75 songs by 75 different performers, it truly worked. That has been part of the excitement of a new Dylan album or performance, the way he played with, and changed up his own songs. There have been so many different versions by Bob over the years, that to have so many new, stellar interpretations by someone fresh, was a trip to a good place.
   I will get back to you on my favorite cuts another day, but remember, there's golden sounds out there on little plastic discs. -


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sea ranch sky  and surf
It's THAT DAY, the one that rolls around every year. This year it's more of a milestone—25 years ago, today, we opened the doors of our very first bookstore, Mansion Book Merchants, in a subterranean space in Davis, California. We had been working for months to create something out of nothing, and it took a whole lot of work, sweat, sawdust, and connections to bring it off. To kick it all off, we had to quit our jobs at WaldenBooks and set off to do something with a different style, and a different soul from the corporate model. We knew so many things that we wanted to do differently—our way. Yet, at the same time, we brought with us many of the skills we had picked up in other bookstore jobs.
   In the beginning, Vicky and I had another partner, Karl, and a great employee in Megan. We didn't know if our new venture would last even six months. We never dreamed that it would keep going for more than 22 years. Looking back on it now, I wouldn't give up those years of experiences for anything. We have always told anyone who would listen, it was the best job either of us ever had.
   After being forced by our huge debts to finally close the doors of our last bookstore, Raven's Tale, up in Placerville, we still talk to each other about doing something—winning the Lotto and opening another bookstore. Yes, we're hopeless bookstore lovers.
   If you have shopped at any of our bookstores over the years, thanks for your support, you made it all possible. If you worked for us in any of our locations, thanks for your efforts, and we hope you enjoyed yourself, and learned a thing here or there.
   If you find yourself thinking about taking the leap into starting your own business, starting your own dream...don't put it off because you want to play it safe, and avoid the risks. Get out there and create something new. Hell, you could find yourself in 20 years, looking back on some pretty fantastic memories, instead of always wondering...what could have been? Only you can create something your way, something unique.
   Just so that you're in the know, that's an ocean photo of the surf off of Sea Ranch, that I took a few weeks ago. These are enough of my words for this very unique day in my life.

   Thanks for reading. -


davy jones
Davy Jones of The Monkees has died at 66. I am still sorting out my strange attachment to the group and why I was so moved by this loss.
check it out
read more

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In the February 13 & 20 issue of The New Yorker magazine, there was an incredible article, titled The Plagiarist's Tale,  on wild plagiarism by the author of Assassin of Secrets. Quentin Rowan, whose penname is Q.R. Markham. He knew NO bounds. His favorite writing spot was a very large table, one that allowed him to gather round ALL the books, and other sources, that he "used" in "his" work. It would be amusing, if it weren't so very sad. At one point, the article is naming a long list of sources that he copied from, and it even contained liner notes written by Pete Hamill, for my favorite Bob Dylan album, "Blood on the Tracks." Find this article, it's just unbelievable!
   Yet, with the state of our culture, a free-for-all of "creating" by using other people's art, music and words, I must admit—I'm a believer. -

charlie at 200
It's been 200 years for Charles John Huffam Dickens since his birth on February 7, 1812
check it out The Charles Dickens Museum in London

The young Queen Victoria found Oliver Twist "excessively interesting." When Dickens dies, she ordered him buried in the Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey.

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Think of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, "We don't want any of THOSE apples."
   Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million have announced that they won’t be carrying any Amazon-published titles. Publishers Weekly asked a number of independent booksellers whether they’d be stocking Amazon-published books, and answers ranged from “No” to “Hell, no.”
This isn’t the first time a bookselling giant has muscled into the publishing side of things. Barnes & Noble acquired a publishing company named Sterling Publishing in 2003. Sterling has been around since 1949 and was a quality publisher of nonfiction titles, especially in how-tos, self-helps, and reference topics. Shortly after the purchase, both Borders and Costco announced that they would no longer be carrying Sterling titles.

UPDATE: Barnes & Noble now has Sterling up for sale, so they can be more devoted to the Nook. -

After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print, and will only be available online.
   Those coolly authoritative, gold-lettered reference books that were once sold door-to-door by a fleet of traveling salesmen and displayed as proud fixtures in American homes will be discontinued. In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age—and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia—EB will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds, and cost $1,395.
   “It’s a rite of passage in this new era,” Jorge Cauz, the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., a company based in Chicago, said in an interview. “Some people will feel sad about it and nostalgic about it. But we have a better tool now. The Web site is continuously updated, it’s much more expansive and it has multimedia.”
   Sales of The Britannica, the oldest continuously published encyclopedia in the English language, peaked in 1990, with 120,000 sets were sold. Only 8,000 sets of the 2010 edition have been sold.


IT'S A SHAME - converting bricks & mortar into showrooms for online sellers
   A recent survey conducted by the Codex Group, a book market research and consulting company, showed that 24% of the people who bought books from an online retailer said they had looked at the same book in a brick and mortar bookstore before making that purchase. In the case of customers purchasing from amazon.com, that number jumped to 39%.                                         


TRIVIA time - just so you'll know

Ship's Bell Story
   Mariners have used a unique bell code to tell time at sea for hundreds of years. The code is based on the crew's typical workday routine while the vessel is under way. A ship at sea requires constant attention throughout the day's twenty-four hours. The day is therefore divided into six four-hour periods, each called a "watch." Similarly, the crew is segmented into three divisions. Division members then stand their individually assigned duties on two watches per day, with eight hours off duty between watches. To rotate each division's watch times, the Evening Watch is periodically divided into two watches. These are called Dog Watches because they "dog" the watch schedule for all divisions ahead by one watch period.

First Watch 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Mid-Watch (also Black Watch) 12 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Morning Watch 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Forenoon Watch 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Afternoon Watch 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Evening Watch 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The watch officer struck the ship's bell every half hour to apprise the crew of the time. A single bell denoted the end of the first half hour and one bell was added each half-hour. Eight bells therefore signaled the end of each four-hour watch.

(info from a Thomas Moser catalog)

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