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2016

12.31.16
small BLUE Another year of reading has come to an end, and it's time for me to give more of my opinion. Here are my favorite books and films that I experienced for the first time this year. I found myself rereading eighteen new and old favorites, as well as a fifteen of ARCs (advance readers copies) among the over one hundred books I read in 2016. I must send my thanks to all those generous publishers that sent me so many (good and bad) advance readers this last year. I will have more to say about these books soon.

  
FICTION
Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
Half Wild: Stories by Robin MacArthur
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Dome of the Hidden Pavilion by James Tate
My Struggle: V5 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
England and Other Stories by Graham Swift
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Zero K by Don DeLillo
For a Little While by Rick Bass
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
The Blue Guitar by John Banville
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams

  
EXTRA SHORTS - here are three more great short story collections ... I can't leave them unmentioned

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane
Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes by Per Petterson

  
NONFICTION

Guantánamo Diaries by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
Give War and Peace a Chance by Andrew Kaufman
Reading for My Life by John Leonard
Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders
The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
Am I Alone Here: Notes on Living to Read, Reading to Live by Peter Orner
Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memoir by Terry Gilliam

  
FILM - sad to say that I could only choose from the few (eleven!) movies we saw all year long

Hell or High Water
Manchester by the Sea - I'm adding this as we just saw it towards the end of the year
Revenant
Nocturnal Animals
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12.6.16
newsman
Two Book People Died in Oakland Warehouse Fire
   Counterpoint Press Staffer Died in Oakland Warehouse Fire Nick Gomez-Hall More very sad news about the Oakland, Calif., warehouse fire on Friday night: besides
Johnny Igaz, the music buyer at Green Apple Books on the Park, the fire claimed the life of another book person. Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, who worked at Counterpoint Press in Berkeley, was among the first victims to be identified.  According to Berkeleyside, he was an administrative assistant at the press, which called him "a talented artist who'd just started doing book design." The site quoted an involved person as saying: "Everyone on staff here in Berkeley, and in Portland and New York, is simply heartbroken."
___

New Portland City Council Member Closing Her Bookstore
   Chloe Eudaly, the bookstore owner who won an upset victory in Portland, Oregon's City Council election on November 8, is closing her store, Reading Frenzy, at least temporarily, Willamette Week reported, because Portland prohibits commissioners from "having an outside job or owning a business."
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10.26.16
scream 
The 'Scream Room'
   "Visitors to a bookshop in Cairo are being invited into a dark, soundproof room to scream at the top of their lungs in an effort to relieve their frustrations and escape from the stresses of daily life," Reuters reported. The new "scream room" in Cairo's The World's Door bookshop "is equipped with a full drum kit allowing customers to let go of their worries through deafening screams." Owner AbdelRahman Saad, who offers each visitor 10 free minutes inside the private scream room, "believes it is the first room of its kind in the Middle East."
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10.25.16
newsman
Book Passage to Open Third Store, in Sausalito
   Book Passage, which has stores in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., is opening a third store, in Sausalito, that will have about 1,800 square feet of space and be slightly larger than the Book Passage in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Owners Elaine and Bill Petrocelli plan to have a soft opening in about a month and a grand opening early next year.
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10.21.16
newsman
Molly Parent, Stephen Sparks Buying Point Reyes Books in California
   Molly Parent and Stephen Sparks The new owners of Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, California, are Molly Parent and Stephen Sparks, experienced booksellers who met seven years ago while working at Green Apple Books in San Francisco. On January 1, they take the reins from Steve Costa and Kate Levinson, owners of the store for the last 14 years, who wrote to friends and customers, "We couldn't be happier and feel certain you will be, too, as you get to know them and see their thoughtful and knowledgeable selection of books and events unfold in the coming months... We received 27 letters of interest from around the country! Stephen and Molly were our top choice based on their deep experience in the bookselling and literacy worlds and because they are beloved in the Bay Area book community. They're both in their 30s, and they represent the next generation of creative, energetic entrepreneurial booksellers. We're really pleased to have such capable and likeable stewards for Point Reyes Books."

(info from Shelf Awareness)
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10.19.16
newsman
Mark Haddon: Amazon Is a 'Merciless Commercial Engine'
   "Much as we love Amazon, we like bookshops much more, don't we? So we did an edition that is only available in physical, bricks-and-mortar bookshops. It was a way of saying: go and buy from a bookshop. Go into a real bookshop and buy it off some real people.... [Amazon is] a merciless commercial engine. Also because of the way it treats its staff. The way it treats its competitors." --Mark Haddon, author most recently of The Pier Falls
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10.14.16
 newsman
  "I always tell people at readings that if they're not buying books at independent bookstores, they're going to get really sh*tty seats in heaven."
          --Anne Lamott
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10.11.16
modern times 
Modern Times, Revolution Books - two leftist bookstores are closing.
   In San Francisco, California,
Modern Times Bookstore Collective will close on November 15 after 45 years of "serving the beloved community," the store announced. "As those closest to us know, we have tried every possible avenue of support to sustain the store since its displacement from Valencia Street in 2011. Though we have persevered out of love and duty and a willingness to continue to fulfill our mission, we are the first to admit the store is not operating at the level we would like and we can no longer serve our customer's needs as well as those of our workers." The store is working to continue its "community-serving programs from Spanish Book Club and Queer Open Mic to our books to prisons mailings." A previously planned retirement party for longtime collective member and bookseller Ruth Mahaney on October 22 will serve as Modern Times's closing party. In a story about the closing, El Tecolote called Modern Times "the latest casualty" in a process of "gentrification and rising rents" in the Mission District that has made it "nearly impossible for small shops and collectives to survive." El Tecolote added that Modern Times "always took pride in being more than a place to buy books. They operated as a community space where residents exchanged the kinds of revolutionary ideas and struggles that are becoming harder and harder to come by as San Francisco loses its poets, activists and artists to displacement."

Founded 40 years ago,
Revolution Books in Honolulu, Hawaii, is closing October 20 although it "isn't disappearing entirely," according to Hawaii Public Radio. Store general manager and co-founder Carolyn Hadfield said financial pressures, accelerated by news that its building is to be torn down, forced the decision for the all-volunteer store, which has "evolved with the Revolutionary Communist Party, even though we're not a part of it... And as that has changed, we have changed as well, and really broadened our scope to have a lot more book readings, a lot more book engagement." In March 2015, Revolution Books raised more than $10,000 through an IndieGoGo campaign.
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10.6.16
newsman
Happy Holidays: James Patterson Giving Bookseller Bonuses Again
   For the second year in a row, James Patterson will give "holiday bonuses" ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 (for a total of $250,000) to independent booksellers, Bookselling This Week reported. He is partnering with the American Booksellers Association for the Holiday Bonus Program. James Patterson outside Oblong Books, Millerton, N.Y. "Booksellers can change lives simply by recommending the right book, and these bonuses are my humble acknowledgement of the important work they do," Patterson said. "I saw firsthand what these bonuses did to help bookstores and their employees last year, and I hope they make even more of a difference this holiday season." Oren Teicher, CEO of the ABA, said, "We are once again extremely grateful to James Patterson for his ongoing commitment to literacy and to independent booksellers nationwide, who throughout the year are promoting the essential value of reading and books by working to connect authors and readers of all ages. The return of James Patterson's Holiday Bonus Program for a second year is a wonderful way to acknowledge those booksellers, who are dedicated to improving people's lives through the power of reading. On behalf of all ABA members, we extend our sincere thanks to James Patterson for his unwavering support." Anyone, from bookstore customers to booksellers to industry professionals, can nominate a bookstore employee. The nomination form, which is open through November 1, consists of one question: "Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?" Patterson will select the bookstore employees to receive bonuses, and the full list of winners will be announced in December. The 87 booksellers who received bonuses from Patterson in 2015 are not eligible to receive a bonus this year.

(info from Shelf Awareness)
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10.4.16
newsman
What Is 'Weird' Worth to Small Businesses?
   Although "Keep Austin Weird" was coined 15 years ago by librarian Red Wassenich, it was quickly " adopted when Steve Bercu, owner of the Austin, Texas, bookstore BookPeople, needed a slogan to rally objection to a planned Borders store a few blocks away. Bercu convinced John Kunz, the owner of nearby Waterloo Records, to join the keep-it-local cause. They printed 5,000 bumper stickers urging citizens to KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD and flanked the message with their business logos. The stickers flew off the shelves. And the Borders bookstore was never built in downtown Austin," wrote Elizabeth Devitt and Juli Berwald in a recent Slate piece headlined "Weird's Worth." "WEIRD resonated really well here. The point was to support local businesses. Everyone got it immediately," said Bercu, who estimates he's given away more than 300,000 stickers. In California, Bookshop Santa Cruz's Neal Coonerty adopted the idea after talking with Bercu and printed KEEP SANTA CRUZ WEIRD stickers. "We don't want to become just another gentrified suburb of Silicon Valley," he said. "The main street of our downtown is more than just an exchange of goods, it's where the community expresses itself with street artists, political tabling, and one-of-a-kind parades. We want to make sure it stays that way." Weird campaigns "have spread to communities in more than a dozen states," Devitt and Berwald wrote. "What do they all have in common? The cities have fewer than one million people, but most are growing. Many are state capitals or county seats and most have a vibrant arts scene. They all seem to have a strong sense of what makes them unique, and a grassroots urge to stay that way."

(info from Shelf Awareness)
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9.21.16
newsman
Robert A. Caro is Most Distinguished
   The National Book Foundation announced that their 2016 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters along with $10,000) will go to Robert A. Caro, the award-winning author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson biographies.
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9.19.16
newsman
Print Remains Most Popular Format
   Pew Study (conducted in March & April) shows: 65% of adult Americans have read a print book in the last year / 28% an e-book
                                                                         73% had read a book (whether printed or digital)
                                                                         40% read ONLY print books / 6% read ONLY e-books
                                                                         14% had listened to an audiobook
                                                                         15% of e-book readers prefer a tablet / 13% cell phones / 8% use dedicated e-readers
                                                                         more women have read a book (77%) than men (68%). 
                                                                         Americans read an average of 12 books last year
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9.14.16
atticusAs it's not unusual that I'm enjoying a brew while I write, I'm inclined to share the source of the good taste currently in my mouth. It's a brew I found at the Nugget Market in Woodland, by the Strand Brewing Company, ATTICUS India Pale Ale. I'm normally pretty sick to death of the over-abundant number of IPAs, but this one caught my eye by being named Atticus. Another thing that caught my eye was the chatter on the back of the label.

"the brewery is nestled in and amongst the sleepy beach towns of southern santa monica bay, to the north, shadowed only by the snow-capped peaks of angeles national forest
, jumbo jets in miniature descend over the towering monoliths of downtown on their final approach into LAX to the south, the green foothills of palos verdes peninsula plunge dramatically into rocky shoreline, west, and miles out, the mass of santa catalina island rises from the sea floor, breaching the surface of the deep blue pacific.

the pacific - we play in its waters, we sleep on its sands, we sit barefoot and watch the rest of the world from our beachfront vantage point."

It's not Shakespeare, but it does aspire to more than your average Bud blather. As to the taste, it was better than most IPAs, and they claim to brew in small batches and unfiltered. I'd go there again.
_____


9.11.16
newsman
Sharon Olds wins $100,000 Wallace Stevens poetry award
The American poet, who has also won the TS Eliot prize and the Pulitzer, is credited for her ‘outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry’
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8.31.16
newsman
TV: The Luminaries
BBC will adapt Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries as a six-part drama series, which will also be written by the author. Filming of the hour-long episodes, produced by Working Title Television for BBC Two, begins in 2017 in New Zealand. "Learning to write for television has been a bit like learning a new musical instrument: The melody is more or less the same, but absolutely everything else is different," Catton said. "I'm having enormous fun, learning every day, and just so excited to see the world of the novel created in the flesh."
_____

8.26.16
newsman
Four-Eyed Frog Books Now Community-Owned
   Four-Eyed Frog Books, Gualala, Calif., is now owned by 23 community members, Bookselling This Week reported, adding that "the Frog, as it's referred to by locals, was opened in 2003 by Joel Crockett, who decided earlier this year to put the store up for sale and relocate to Southern California." 
   Last spring, Crockett hosted a community meeting to share "honest information about what owning and operating an independent bookshop entails, as well as details about the Frog's sales and financial history," BTW noted. Karen Dotson, one of the shareholders and the secretary for the new community-owned corporation, said, "The idea of a community-owned bookstore was born from that meeting."
   Though the store has officially changed ownership, Crockett has invested as a shareholder and will serve as a consultant. "As the founder of the bookstore, I couldn't be more pleased that Four-Eyed Frog Books is in a strong position to continue growing with a devoted and talented team in one of the finest communities one could ever be a part of," he said.
_____

8.17.16
truman
Auctioning Off Truman Capote’s Ashes
   “This is probably what he would have wanted done.” Thirty-two years after Truman Capote’s death, Julien's Auctions announced that Capote’s ashes will be sold in late September as part of an auction marketed (in questionable taste) as a rare “peek inside the lives of some of Hollywood’s most private stars.” “I am sure people are going to think this is disrespectful,” Darren Julien, admitted, an hour after the official announcement was made. “But this is a fact: Truman Capote loved the element of shock. He loved publicity. And I’m sure he’s looking down laughing, and saying, ‘That’s something I would have done.’
   He was a larger-than-life character.” Just how did he come to be auctioning off the ashes—which Capote left to his good friend Joanne Carson, the late wife of former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, who died last year? “Basically, the estate didn’t know what to do with them,” Julien explained. And yes, before figuring out a conservative estimate of what they might go for—$4,000 to $6,000—the auction house did mull over the ethical implications of selling off Capote’s remains to the highest bidder. “We contemplated doing it, but because they are Truman Capote’s,” Julien said, “this is probably what he would have wanted done. I’ve never heard of ashes being sold before, but between us and Christie’s and some other auction houses, we’ve sold some crazy other things. But I think this will be at the top of the list.”
_____

8.16.16
newsman
Barnes & Noble Ousts CEO, Ron Boire
Amid struggles to find profitability, Barnes & Noble, the country's largest physical book retailer, has fired its CEO, Ron Boire. The former head of Sears Canada, who was hired in July 2015, was described as "not a good fit for the organization" in a brief statement issued by B&N's board of directors. As a result of Boire's abrupt departure, Len Riggio, B&N's founder and chairman, is postponing his retirement. Riggio announced earlier this year his intention to step down in September. Now, he will now stay on at the company indefinitely while it searches for Boire's replacement.

_____

8.12.16
newsman
PEN/Nabokov Award Revived for International Writers
    Yesterday, PEN America announced the revival of the former PEN/Nabokov Award as the $50,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, which will honor "an international writer whose work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship."
    The winner will be selected by a panel of five internationally recognized writers who will serve as judges. The award, which is not open to public nominations, honors a writer born or residing outside the U.S. for an outstanding body of work over a sustained career. It will be conferred for the first time in 2017, with the inaugural recipient to be named in February at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York. This decision marks a renewed partnership between PEN America and the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, who together created the $20,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for Fiction in 2000 and offered it biennially through 2008.
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8.8.16
newsman
Antitrust Unit Raids Amazon Japan
   Japan's Fair Trade Commission has raided the offices of Amazon Japan "on suspicion of pressuring retailers to offer products [on Amazon] on more favorable conditions than on rival sites," Reuters reported, quoting the Nikkei business daily. There was no indication when the raid took place. The Wall Street Journal said that a spokesperson for the Fair Trade Commission confirmed the Nikkei report, adding, "Provisions in the country's antimonopoly act prohibit a company from unreasonably restraining trade of other companies with which it has a business relationship."
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8.4.16
newsman
The Professor and the Madman to Become a Movie
  After nearly two decades, Mel Gibson is ready to bring the bestseller The Professor and the Madman to the big screen and has enlisted Sean Penn in the effort, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which wrote that Gibson, who acquired the film rights to Simon Winchester's bestselling book in 1998, "is poised to star opposite Penn, who is in negotiations, in the true story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary." Farhad Safinia, who will direct, wrote the screenplay. 
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8.4.16
newsman
Forbes's Top-Earning Authors
   The world's highest paid authors banked a combined $269 million over the last 12 months. Earnings are tabulated from June 2015 to June 2016

1. James Patterson ($95 million)
2. Jeff Kinney ($19.5 million)
3. J.K. Rowling ($19 million)
4. John Grisham ($18 million)
5. Stephen King ($15 million) 5. Danielle Steel ($15 million) 5. Nora Roberts ($15 million)
8. E.L. James ($14 million)
9. Veronica Roth ($10 million) 9. John Green ($10 million) 9. Paula Hawkins ($10 million)
12. George R.R. Martin ($9.5 million) 12. Rick Riordan ($9.5 million) 12. Dan Brown ($9.5 million)
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8.1.16
BERNIE
  
My Bernie action figure is in the house after I ordered it back in May ... it's here just in time to keep Bernie in my life. You can pose his arms, and because a dear friend sent Vicky another Bernie, we have a matched set. It was all about online crowdsourcing, and they have raised around $250,000 so far. The company FCTY, is thinking of doing an Elizabeth Warren or Trump figure now. (Update: FCTY sent out 27,000 Bernie figures and Warren won the next figure vote in a major way) All I could think of was how much abuse those poor Trump dolls would be in for by the angry voters of America, once his bid for office crashes and burns and burns and burns.

bernie
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7.27.16
newsman
Man Booker Longlist
   The 13-book longlist for the £50,000 (about $65,682) Man Booker Prize, announced today, consists of:

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (U.S.)
The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian)
Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy (U.K.)
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (U.K.)
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (U.K.)
The North Water by Ian McGuire (U.K.)
Hystopia by David Means (U.S.)
The Many by Wyl Menmuir (U.K.)
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (U.S.)
Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves (U.S.)
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (U.S.)
All That Man Is by David Szalay (Canada-U.K.)
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Canada)

The Man Booker Prize shortlist will be unveiled September 13 and the winner will be announced on October 25.
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7.25.16
In Novel Coincidence, Hemingway Wins Hemingway Look-Alike Contest
hem
   “I like to fish, I like to drink a little bit, I like women and I just like having a good fun time,” says Dave Hemingway (no relation to Ernest). The 36th Annual Ernest "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest ended in a way that can only be described as novel. For the first time ever, the winning "Papa" wannabe was actually a real Hemingway. Dave Hemingway of Macon, North Carolina, beat out 139 competitors to win the contest in Key West, Florida, on Saturday night, according to the Florida Sun Sentinel. 
   The look-alike contest is a part of the annual Hemingway Days festival that celebrates the author’s legacy, including his time in Key West during the 1930s. The event is held at Sloppy Joe's Bar, where the author frequently drank, according to the Sun Sentinel.
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7.21.16
newsman
Hastings Entertainment Going Out of Business - another big-box book chain fades from the scene
   Hastings Entertainment, which filed for bankruptcy in June and has some 125 superstores in medium and small-sized markets that sell new and used books in the multimedia media mix, is being liquidated and all stores will close by October 31, according to the Amarillo Globe-News. The chain was founded in 1968 with headquarters in Amarillo, Texas.
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7.12.16
read  It's worth getting older if your loved ones give you a great poster.
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7.6.16
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. 

verne
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7.5.16
newsman
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. -
John
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7.1.16
newsman
First Female Librarian of Congress
   For the first time in history, a woman has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new librarian of Congress. Carla Hayden will be the 14th individual to hold the post, as well as the first African-American  in the institution’s 214-year history. Hayden was confirmed by the Senate on a 74-18 vote after she was nominated by President Obama in February. Hayden served as head of Baltimore’s library system for many years.
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6.17.16
newsman
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.
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5.9.16
newsman
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.
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4.27.16
newsman
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. 
John
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4.18.16
newsman
Follett Corporation Buys Baker & Taylor
   For 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.
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4.13.16
newsman
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. "
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3.30.16
newsman
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.
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.
John
__

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.

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3.14.16
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
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3.13.16
newsman
  
"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
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3.10.6
newsman
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.
___

lit
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.
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3.5.16
You just have to love our next president.


bern
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2.27.16

small BLUE

I HAVE HOPE THIS YEAR ... it comes from a democratic socialist named Bernie.
bern
   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.   -
John
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1.23.16
 amy
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.

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1.11.16
newsman
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.
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1.10.16
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Reading. - the late, great David Bowie

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

david
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.

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1.7.16
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.
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1.4.16
newsman
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. -
John
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1.1.16
newsman
Bestselling Books of 2015

Nielsen BookScan Adult
Fiction

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
Nonfiction

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
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