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Indie bookstores off the critical list – who would know?
May 19, 2015 | 10:25 am

downloadAn article in The Daily Beast, "Indie Bookstores Are Finally Not Dying," draws attention to the by-now-just-a-wee-bit-well-known fact that indie bookstores as a whole are not doing so very badly in the post-disruption post-Amazon era, and as it happens are in some cases doing quite well. This isn't to pooh-pooh the sufferings of those worthy bookshops that are struggling in current trading conditions, but it is to discredit the grand Big Five/Luddite narrative of brave little bookshops and their stalwart publisher allies struggling against the Amazon behemoth. The article, covering bookstores in the context of the first Independent Bookstore Day, still...

Uppsala English Bookshop hosts H.P. Lovecraft evening
March 21, 2015 | 2:25 pm

The English Bookshop in Uppsala, in business for 20 years now in Sweden's historic northeastern city, held a special commemorative lecture and reading on March 18th, to mark the death on March 15th, 1937 of H.P. Lovecraft. The talk, "H.P. Lovecraft & the Western European Witch-Cult," was delivered by Jens Heimdahl, Swedish Lovecraft translator and enthusiast - complete with tea and cakes accompaniment. "We are an exclusively English language bookshop with a direct import of UK and US titles every week," explains the bookshop. "The Uppsala English Bookshop is not a book realtor service created for the internet, but a real...

Whither Foyles?
February 18, 2015 | 12:25 pm

IMG_20150129_124943 Foyles, the famous London independent bookstore, has announced trading results that show it dipping into a loss for the 2014 financial year - albeit on increased turnover. Which prompts the question of how such an independent is faring in today's book trade, and what its direction should be - although whether Foyles is a true barometer of the UK independent sector or a story all in itself is another matter. W & G Foyle Ltd. commenced operation in 1903, when two brothers who had failed the UK civil service exam took out an ad to sell their textbooks. (Somehow, in the...

Minimum wage hike puts San Francisco bookstore Borderlands Books out of business
February 4, 2015 | 6:52 am

BorderlandsBooks1Is the real danger to bookstores minimum wage hikes? News broke the other day that a beloved San Francisco bookstore, Borderlands Books, will be closing because it will no longer be able to operate at a profit. It was barely hanging on, but the recent minimum wage hike to $15 an hour would drive it into the red. In an explanation on its web site, Borderlands writes: Many businesses can make adjustments to allow for increased wages.  The cafe side of Borderlands, for example, should have no difficulty at all.  Viability is simply a matter...

Daunt Books runs flyer promo for Recommendations
January 30, 2015 | 2:25 pm

IMG_20150129_084130 Daunt Books, the highly regarded UK bookstore chain which began with a travel focus and has since branched out into general book selling - as well as producing the savior of Waterstones, James Daunt - has a rather attractive version of the Amazon Recommendations engine: In print, naturally, for print books. Themed printed flyers. The flyers, keyed to a particular highly popular/visible title, take up the same theme or category and show other recommendations. The examples on show are for young adult readers, but there are plenty of others for different age groups from kids' literature to adult fiction. And of...

Tesco bails on Blinkbox, bids bye to Blinkbox Books
January 27, 2015 | 6:25 pm

blinkboxTesco has followed through on widespread predictions, and followed the sale of its Blinkbox video service and telecoms provider platform with the disposal of its other Blinkbox-branded online media ventures, including Blinkbox books. Tesco has sold its streaming music service, Blinkbox Music, to Australian streaming platform Guvera, as detailed in an announcement, which states that: "The acquisition of blinkbox Music will help significantly accelerate the growth of Guvera’s business.  Leveraging blinkbox Music’s deep technical, product, marketing and content expertise will allow Guvera to expand into Western Europe faster." The Bookseller, meanwhile, quoted a Tesco spokesperson saying that the Blinkbox Books service would...

UK indie bookseller sector not dead yet apparently
January 17, 2015 | 2:49 pm

Despite the best efforts of UK business rates and rent setters, and Big Publishing, British independent booksellers appear not to have been killed off yet, but are in fact thriving, at least if a piece in The Bookseller, reporting the results of its own survey, is anything to go by. The Bookseller's Independents Christmas Trading Survey may not have the largest sample size on record, at just 57 respondents, but with a total of just 987 still in business as of early 2014, according to the Booksellers Association, it is fairly representative. And it indicated that almost 80 percent of the respondents saw...

Textbook publisher Follett threatens price-comparison browser plug-in
January 6, 2015 | 1:23 pm

A textbook price-comparison browser extension developed by textbook price finding site Texts.com has come under fire from textbook publisher Follett. This extension, “Occupy the Bookstore,” sits in a user’s browser and pops up less-expensive alternative purchasing sites when the user is visiting some online textbook store. Follett asked Texts.com to remove the extension because it draws sales away from stores Follet supplies. Texts.com has no intention of dropping the extension. They believe Follet does not have a case, because the price-comparison plug-in does not actually interact with the stores’ web sites; it interacts with data on the customer’s browser...

James Patterson gives third round of grants to bookstores
December 16, 2014 | 6:25 pm

James PattersonJames Patterson is at it again. The best-selling author sent another round of donations to independent books stores around the country. This time, he doled out $473,000 to 81 shops in a third round of donations, according to the Associated Press. Patterson has donated more than $1 million since he launched the program a year ago. Initially, Patterson had intended this third round to be the last, but that may not be the case. According to the AP, he will offer more in 2015 along with an “ambitious plan to help school libraries.” The grants were awarded to shops based on proposals....

One of Budapest’s loveliest bookshops: Rózsavölgyi és Társa
December 11, 2014 | 1:00 pm

IMG_20141202_182020 One of Budapest's most fascinating and attractive specialist bookshops, as well as the storefront for one of Hungary's largest music publishers, is Rózsavölgyi és Társa, just off the tourist thoroughfare of Váci utca and a major feature of the Rózsavölgyi House, itself an architectural monument. As the pictures indicate, this is mostly a music bookshop, with possibly the largest selection of sheet music available anywhere in the city. It also sells musical instruments and accessories of all kinds for performing and student musicians, as well as a huge selection of classical CDs and DVDs. However, for visitors and others, it has a big...

Taiwan brings back the bookstore
December 2, 2014 | 2:26 pm

According to a recent report in CNN, Taiwanese bookstore chain Eslite is leading a renaissance of the bricks-and-mortar bookshop on the island, by focusing above all on the social experience of browsing and reading together. The chain facilitates this not only by a totally browser-friendly posture, but also by staying open 24 hours a day in some cases, and with cafes, gift shops, cultural events, and generally every means to make the stores social and cultural hubs as well as book marts. The chain is reportedly turning a healthy profit, fueled substantially by book sales. Barnes & Noble should take...

What would make an Amazon competitor competitive?
October 21, 2014 | 2:25 pm

competitionAs all and sundry go round and round about Amazon/Hachette and the end of author royalties as we know it, I stopped to consider. I believe the eBook marketplace is healthier with competition, even if Amazon is right now a pretty darned good company to do business with. I do not consider B&N, Kobo or Apple to be the ideal competition, although together, they may not be too bad. So, I asked myself, with both my reader and author hats on, what it would take to be a contender in the eBook marketplace. As a reader This was tough because Amazon does...