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The National Book Critics Circle Award winners

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Toni Morrison

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

The Essential Ellen Willis by Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr

The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Story Prize
Elizabeth McCracken wins for Thunderstruck

   Another day in the East Bay, and I found myself in another bookstore. Today it was the Books Inc. down on 4th Street in Berkeley ... which will be closing at the end of February and reopening in March on Shattuck Avenue, in the old Black Oak Books space. So, there I was looking for some more fiction and I came away with The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland ... which shows great promise.
   The following is a glimpse into how my mind works. The title caught my eye, I check out the blurbs and back cover, where I learn that the storyline is a flash to the past, the main character works for a newspaper and creates a written transcript using tapes and phone calls from reporters on the phone. But the sample that got my wallet out was the following:

   She walks to the window, where the sudden opening of the blinds startles the pigeon.
   "Jump," she says. She struggles to raise the window so that the bird can hear her better. Stuck. She bangs it with her hand. Finally it opens and she leans out. "Jump! You're a bird. Go on."
   He puts his claw down in defiance and looks at her with pigeon eyes.
   "It's not lice, is it, pigeon? A case of OCD, maybe?"

And I was sold.

I had a little time for book browsing in the rich stacks of Moe's Books, and I came away with a couple of good finds. First, I didn't even know it was out, but I'm now the proud owner of a quality book from Counterpoint Press - Our Only World, a collection of ten essays by the always thought-provoking Wendell Berry. I find myself already half way through the Berry essays, and I love the way this man's mind works, even when I don't at first agree with him, his writing is so kind and intelligent that I love to go along with him for the ride. He has lot to say, is very opinionated, but he's always a gentleman and will takes you through the logical steps of his thought process.  
   Up second, was an unknown find by Percival Everett, Virgil Russell. Its covers haven't been opened yet, and it remains an unknown element in my traveling library.


Literary Cups Again at Chipotle
Eight months after author Jonathan Safran Foer turned his mid-burrito boredom into a series of stories for Chipotle cups and to-go bags (by the likes of himself, Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis, and George Saunders), he’s at it again. The fast-casual burrito chain on Tuesday announced a new slate of authors for its beverage cups and packaging. Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Julia Alvarez (In the Time of Butterflies), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) are among the new additions.

(info from VF Daily)

Amazon Shuts Down Associates Program in Vermont
Amazon has shut down its Associates program in Vermont in response to the state's "click-through advertising" law, which hasn't even gone into effect and was passed in 2011 to pressure Congress to enact the Marketplace Fairness Act, Vermont Public Radio reported.

Using a familiar tactic, the online retailer sent an e-mail to members saying the action is "a direct result of Vermont's state tax collection legislation.... Amazon strongly supports federal legislation creating a simplified framework to uniformly resolve interstate sales tax issues. We are working with states, retailers, and bipartisan supporters in Congress to get legislation passed that would allow us to reopen our Associates program in Vermont."

State Senator Tim Ashe, chairman of the Senate Finance committee, told VPR that the law "does not go into effect until 15 other states adopt a similar provision, which would be triggered by a determination by the [Attorney General]. I do not believe that has happened, and Amazon appears to be just trying to bully their way forward. Which is typical for a company like them."

In a statement, state tax commissioner Mary Peterson said, "We regret Amazon's precipitous action, and rest assured, we will work to protect our Vermont-based bricks and mortar and online merchants. Given Congress' continued inaction, and Amazon's tactics, the governor will be asking the legislature to amend our click through law to take effect one year after twenty-five states adopt click through laws. We will continue to work in collaboration with other states for enactment of Marketplace Fairness that will protect our Main Street businesses."

(info from Shelf Awareness)

For Books, Print Is Back
Unit sales of print books sold through outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan rose 2.4% in 2014, with total units topping 635 million. BookScan estimates that it captures approximately 80% of print-unit sales made in the U.S. Still, the 2014 figures are further evidence that print books are selling better than they have since sales of e-books exploded in 2010 and Borders closed its doors in 2011. Total print-unit sales bottomed out in 2012, falling to 590 million, but in the two years since then, units have risen 7.6%

(info from Publisher's Weekly)

French economist
Thomas Piketty, the best-selling author of Capital in the 21st Century, has turned down France's top award, the Legion D'Honneur.
"I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honorable", Mr Piketty said. His book examines income inequality in society and became a surprise hit, topping the bestseller list in the US. But Mr Piketty, who was once close to the Socialist Party but has criticized the government of Francois Hollande, said he was unable to accept the award. "I have just learned that I was nominated for the Legion D'Honneur. I refuse this nomination because I do not think it is the government's role to decide who is honorable," he told the news agency AFP.
"They would do better to concentrate on reviving [economic] growth in France and Europe."

‘Amazon-free’ Christmas campaign diverts reported £5m worth of sales from online retailer
Disenchanted shoppers have taken over £5m worth of business away from Amazon this Christmas in protest at the internet retailer’s business practices, the anti-Amazon group Amazon Anonymous has claimed.

“We eagerly await a reply from Amazon. The longer they avoid us, the bigger this protest is going to get.
If Amazon can afford to sponsor Downton Abbey, they can afford to pay their workers a living wage.”

The campaigners launched their call for an “Amazon-free” Christmas on 18 November, with 41,509 people now signed up, having pledged to spend a total of £5.53m elsewhere. “Christmas is Amazon’s busiest time of year – it’s also our best chance to disrupt their business,” they urge online. “They don’t pay their workers a living wage. They dodge their tax. They take money away from our local shops. So this year, let’s take our money away from them.”

Set up last Christmas by a group of three disgruntled Amazon customers, Amazon Anonymous has now collected more than 130,000 signatures to a petition calling on the retailer to pay workers the living wage. This year it is also targeting the retailer over its tax practices. Amazon came under fire this summer from the chair of the Commons’ public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, over its payment of £4.2m in tax last year, on sales worth £4.3bn.

“Everyone signed up seems to have really enjoyed the Amazon-free challenge so far – lots of people [are] saying they have actually found it relatively easy to find alternative retailers for their gifts, others say they have been badgering their whole family to join them,” said Hay. “I think this may well be the first of many ‘Amazon-free’ Christmas challenges.”

How E-books May Disrupt Your Sleep
Planning to read in bed tonight? It may be better to read an actual book instead of an e-book reader. A small study has found that reading light-emitting electronic devices before bedtime is a recipe for poor sleep.

Researchers randomly assigned 12 healthy young adults to one of two activities: reading a light-emitting e-book in a dimly lit room for about four hours before bedtime on five consecutive evenings, or reading a printed book for the same amount of time. All participants did both tasks. The researchers took blood samples to measure melatonin levels, and electronically tracked how long it took to fall asleep and how much time was spent in each sleep stage.

Compared with a printed book, a light-emitting e-book decreased sleepiness, reduced REM sleep (often called dream sleep), and substantially suppressed the normal bedtime rise of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep and wake cycle. The e-book users took longer to fall asleep and felt sleepier in the morning.

How Amazon Became Santa’s Sweatshop
Why the Supreme Court’s decision that Amazon doesn’t have to compensate workers for the time it takes to search them is a slap in the face to blue-collar Americans everywhere.

The Supreme Court just handed a big holiday present to low-wage workers across America in the form of a giant f*ck you. It’s a reminder that while on some cases the court—like politics in general—may seem divided by red and blue, when it comes to decisions that affect big business in America, it’s all about the green. Forget the bullpucky about the “War on Christmas.” There’s a real “War on the Working Class” under way, and the Supreme Court just made it worse. So much for happy holidays.

(info from The Daily Beast)


pencilFIST small BLUE No SS for Nazis
It MUST be a new Congress, as the House has passed a bill unanimously. It must have been a DARING, politically-dangerous and risky vote for so many of them - the bill was named the NO SOCIAL SECURITY FOR NAZIS ACT. This all stemmed from an investigation led by the Associated Press, that revealed dozens of World War II criminals had gotten millions of dollars in Social Security benefits over the years. Oh, how will the Senate vote, and what other unanimous votes are coming? - John

Insights from THE GREAT BEZOS
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos thinks Bezos thinks $30 is too expensive for a book, since most books are competing for your attention with content that's free or less expensive. He went on to say "you're really competing against 'Candy Crush."

Now I will speak for what THE GREAT BEZOS really means.
    "Come on, it only logically follows that everything should be FREE."
    "Cars are just another way to get somewhere, in competition with walking, thus FREE."

    "Oh, but certainly we must all acknowledge that anything from the great Amazon is well worth whatever I want to charge you."
    "You're free to go."


I'm just catching you up with several stories all at once.

Amazon-Free Challenge' Gains Momentum in U.K.
   Amazon Anonymous, which has protested Amazon's treatment of workers in the U.K. and the amount of taxes it pays, said that more than 11,000 people have signed a pledge to "enjoy an
'Amazon-Free' Christmas.
" The pledge was the key part of the campaign launched last month urging people not to shop with the online retailer December 1-25. Campaigners told the Guardian that due to the boycott, Amazon "is now set to miss out on sales worth more than £2.5 million [$3.9 million]."
   "We are staggered by the response and support we've received from the public and soon-to-be ex-Amazon customers, as well as smaller retailers who are often undercut by Amazon's aggressive business model," said Bex Hay, co-founder of Amazon Anonymous. "I didn't expect it would be this big after just two weeks. I think we can double the current figure over the next few weeks as we get closer to Christmas.... We are sending a strong message to Amazon, during their busiest time of the year, that if they don't make a proper contribution to our society, we won't give them our money."

small BLUE
I'm smiling.


Harper's Magazine Is Minority Owner of New Book Culture Store
Book Culture, which has opened its third store, on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side in New York City, is partnering with John "Rick" MacArthur, publisher of Harper's magazine.


Penguin Holiday Hotline: Gift Book Recommendations
To help anyone unsure of finding the right book for someone on their holiday list, Penguin has created the Penguin Hotline, which is being staffed by more than 300 employees at the publisher. On the Hotline's website, consumers fill out a form that asks about the age, reading habits and general interests of the person receiving the gift book. The request will be answered by a Penguin employee who will recommend books from Penguin and a range of publishers. The inspiration for the Hotline came, Madeline McIntosh, president of the Penguin Publishing Group said, from the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, which advises consumers on cooking turkeys. "I always thought it was genius in offering a real service to consumers who clearly didn't know what to do," she said.


Amazon Wins Auction for .book Domain
Amazon.com has won the right to operate the .book top-level domain name in a private auction, Amazon’s winning bid will give it the right to sell Internet domain names that end in the suffix .book. Amazon is reported to have made a winning bid of about $10 million. Amazon won the right to operate the .book suffix in an auction that at one point included Google and R. R. Bowker.

Kind of like the Koch brothers buying up politics with big money. Nice that powers that be, just sell off an entire suffix like .book to whoever the highest bidder is, because there's obviously nobody else on the planet who would be interested having a site that ended that way. I've said it before, and I'm sure to say it again, JESUS! - John

Oh, why not, even more on Amazon news

Amazon Robots Walk the Earth in 10 Updated Warehouses
Timed to try to grab headlines on Cyber Monday, Amazon unveiled that some 15,000 Kiva robots are now operating in 10 warehouses in the U.S. Amazon is also using large robotic arms, a new vision system for unloading trailers and improved computer systems in the updated warehouses, which Reuters said are in California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Washington.

The dreams of nothing human ever touching all of your new crap from Amazon - is just a few years away. I'm also thinking that these robots won't complain about inhuman and dangerous conditions in those same warehouses, or want to be part of the most dangerous condition possible - to be part of a union.  - John

(info from Shelf Awareness)

Craig Johnson's Longmire Will Return to TV (aka Netflix)
"Longmire fans' dedication to saving the show has paid off," Deadline.com reported noted in reporting that after weeks of negotiations, Netlflix has closed a deal for a 10-episode fourth season of the series, based on Craig Johnson's novels, to premiere in 2015.

The development comes less than three months after A&E canceled the series, which "triggered one of the biggest outpourings of fan support ever for an axed TV series." Cast members, led by Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff, have all made their deals for Season 4.

"When Warner Horizon Television came to us with the idea for a new season of Longmire, we were intrigued because the series is so unique, and consistently great," said Cindy Holland, Netflix v-p of original content. "We are thrilled to help continue Walt Longmire's story for his large and passionate following."

(info from Shelf Awareness)

In accepting the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, Ursula K. Le Guin said she was sharing the award "with all the writers excluded from literature for so long--my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful awards go to the so-called realists. I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom--poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality."

She added:
"Books are not just commodities. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable--so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art and very often in our art, the art of words."


There were several Amazon jokes and observations: early in the evening, host Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, quoted several fictional missives from people unable to attend, including,
"Jeff Bezos says allow me to offer my support and enthusiasm for all the publishers. Just kidding. You're going down. I'm going to slaughter you all. Wahaha." Later, he added, "If you're a publishing house not interested in making a profit, please see Jeff Bezos after the show."

In his comments, National Foundation Chair David Steinberger of Perseus said,
"First I have to thank Amazon because thanking them is now one of the terms of my new vendor agreement with them."

In a more serious remark about Amazon, Le Guin said
, "We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa."

(info from Shelf Awareness)

small BLUE While reading an old New Yorker (April 28, 2014) I came across this joke from an article titled HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? by Michael Kinsley, and it really struck me as funny. I share. -

Ronald Reagan goes in for his annual physical and the doctor says, Mr. President, I have bad news and worse news.
Reagan says, Lay it on me, Doc.
The doctor says, The bad news is that you have cancer.
Reagan: And the worse news? Doctor: You have Alzheimer's.
Reagan: Well, at least I don't have cancer.


Isabel Allende to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
Isabel Allende is one of 19 people named by President Barack Obama to receive the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is presented to "individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Allende was praised as "a highly acclaimed author of 21 books that have sold 65 million copies in 35 languages. She has been recognized with numerous awards internationally. She received the prestigious National Literary Award in Chile, her country of origin, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters."

(info from Shelf Awareness)


Books Inc. Relocating Berkeley Store
Books Inc. is moving its Fourth Street store in Berkeley to the former Black Oak Books location at 1491 Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley, with plans to open in early 2015. Berkeleyside reported that owner Michael Tucker has signed a five-year lease, with an option for a five-year extension. Books Inc. also operates four stores in San Francisco, and one each in Alameda, Burlingame, Mountain View, Palo Alto and at San Francisco airport.


Amazon: Sales Growth Slows, Loss of $437 Million
Amazon's third-quarter results, announced yesterday, continued the trend of the past several years: slowing if still monumental sales growth, and rising losses, both beyond analysts' expectations. This time the loss was its largest quarterly loss in 14 years--nearly half a billion dollars. And the company's predictions for fourth quarter sales disappointed analysts, leading to another drop in Amazon's share price.

In the third quarter ended September 30, net sales at Amazon rose 20.4%, to $20.58 billion, while the net loss increased more than tenfold, to $437 million, or 95 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $41 million, or 9 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Both figures were below analysts' estimates of a sales gain of 21.6%, to $20.8 billion, and a net loss of 74 cents a share. The company also predicted that in the fourth quarter, sales will be between $27.3 billion and $30.3 billion, up only 7%-18% compared to the fourth quarter of 2013 and below analysts' estimates of a gain of 21%, to $30.89 billion.

pencilFIST small BLUE
So, let the losses grow, the hell with a profit. Will those people holding Amazon stock ever care, even when the stock price doesn't produce? I guess it's another case of some misplaced faith in something that is, in fact, a pure evil.

Is Amazon still something new, sexy, trendy, and the sign of the future? Or, is it just another slick business that operates as cruelly as Wal-Mart, one that squeezes ever dime out of the people who supply the goods they sell, treats their employees and temps like dogs, and makes something as great as browsing actual shelve full of books into a series of boring keyboard strokes and clicks?

As the former owner of an independent bookstore, I'M JUST ASKING.
Thanks, John.


small BLUE
tshirtThis is the back of my last T-shirt from our bookstores and it is starting to fray away. It's faded, has holes from where I wore my frog pin, has no shape, it's just not looking crisp and clean. So I just had to take a picture...so that it will live on. I have always loved our motto, it's just perfectly trippy. -

pencilFIST small BLUE Barnes & Noble...That's Just Wrong
So, I found myself at the Barnes & Noble in Emeryville, CA
—I wasn't kidnapped and forced to go, but we were on Bay Street and went in to look around—and starting with being greeted by two large displays of stupid Kindles, it was a seriously creepy visit. In one of the nonbook areas—there are several of theses ever-growing sections, even after they shrunk the whole store
—they had something for sale that I've never seen on sale in a store before, certainly never in a bookstore, but it seems right in a B&N.

For around $300, you could buy a damn drone. Yes, for those curious enough to invade other people's privacy—other than those living on their own expansive estates—all you had to do was visit a big-box "bookstore" and get your very own drone with HD video and spy away. Jesus, our society continues to erase anything resembling privacy.

On another front, I was impressed/depressed that they are so committed to saving so much money on toilet paper. There it was, paper less than a single ply, all of three inches wide, in a dispenser that does its very best not to dispense...a true money saver. Yes, today's word is priorities. Remember: "need" a drone, B&N has you covered—need a restroom, go anywhere else—need a good book, head to an independent bookstore. - John  


TV Hit 'Longmire' Got Canceled: Fans Too Old
Detective Show Is Latest Victim of Industry's Focus on Young Viewers, Content Ownership
When a television show is consistently popular, its reward usually isn't getting canceled. But that is what happened to "Longmire" on the A&E cable channel, which was unceremoniously dumped after three seasons late last month. Now the show's producer, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Television, is scrambling to find a new home for the crime drama.

small BLUE Both Vicky and I loved this series, which was based on author Craig Johnson's mystery books about Walt Longmire...what can they mean when a couple of "spring chickens" like us (aged 60 and 65), are such big fans. Too old?? - John



Oakland's Laurel Book Store Relocating
After a year of searching for a new location, Laurel Book Store, Oakland, Calif., will be moving into a ground floor space at 14th and Broadway. There are entrances on Broadway and Frank Ogawa Plaza, huge, light-filled windows and enough space to do just what I think we're capable of. It's steps from the 12th Street BART entrance and on the B Line


small BLUE
This is a VERY COOL website!!
Better Places to Buy Books: a directory of independent bookstores

It's one very clean, uncluttered and simple website. You just choose a state, and it will list the address, phone number, and a link to the website of every independent bookstore know to exist there. By all means, check it out.

     The following is the story from Shelf Awareness that tipped me off about this effort.

"After visiting more than 2,000 independent bookstores--at least virtually--the Amazon annihilation, Orwell misquotes and all, doesn't seem quite so inescapable," Kate Brittain wrote in the Morning News, chronicling her online American bookstore journey, during which she undertook the challenge of creating the Better Places to Buy Books database, featuring information and links to more than 2,000 independent bookstores in the U.S.

"One thing that became apparent, as I clicked through a few thousand bookstore websites, was the diversity of their dispositions," Brittain wrote. "Through some amalgamation of the places where they reside and the people who run them, they are fitted to their communities in a way Amazon will never be.... I began my search in a nervous mood. But as I entered name after name into the database, wandering virtually into every store I could discover between our shining seas, I ceased, slowly, to worry. A conviction took hold in my heart: that whatever the outcome of this corporate kerfuffle, the bookstores--and so, too, what they support: books and writers and their communities--will survive this perilous moment.

"Unfortunately, the numbers and the news reports don't allow for my dismissal of doom. They say this is the end of book culture as we know it--or: How could anyone fight Goliath? What I think is, if we give up now on the Black Bears of America, then we are doomed. But if we choose to believe in them, to support them, then how can they possibly disappear?"

Cool Idea of the Day: Taxi/Bookstore
The Wall Street Journal has a long profile of the Iranian husband-and-wife team Mehdi Yazdany and Sarvenaz Heraner, whose wonderful creation is "a mobile reading room and taxi service, complete with chauffeur-librarian." They call the mobile bookstore "Ketabraneh," which translates as Books on Wheels.

For the past five years, the pair, who met working in a bookstore, have driven around Tehran like any other taxi, but their cab has "more than 40 titles, 130 volumes in all [that] are stacked behind the back, shelved on racks over the passenger window, cluttering the dashboard, crammed into side pockets and stuffed in the trunk. When you pay the fare, you can buy a book."

Titles are a mix of translated international bestsellers and Iranian classics and include Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Charles Bukowski's Pulp and works by Iranians such as Nader Ebrahimi, Zoya Pirzad and Sohrab Sepehri. They sell 30 books a day on average, and sometimes give books for free to poor riders.

They also play a collection of "Eastern and Western classical music designed to create a peaceful mood and compete with Tehran's noisy traffic."

(story from Shelf Awareness)


green apple
Green Apple's Second Store - the new Green Apple Books on the Park
Green Apple Books invited customers and publishing friends to help unpack the inventory over the weekend, in what turned into a three-day party. The new store is less than a block from Golden Gate Park, in the Sunset section of San Francisco. Green Apple's original store is thriving in its long-time location almost directly across the park, in the Richmond neighborhood.

UPDATE: Colbert's Anti-Amazon Campaign Makes Debut Novel a Bestseller
You may have heard about a significant and ongoing publishing fight between Amazon and New York publisher Hachette. Basically, Amazon wants a better deal than anyone else gets, and what they're demanding would be devastating for publishers and, ultimately, for many authors. Hachette has balked, so Amazon - in retaliation - jiggered with its web site to make it harder for customers to order Hachette titles.

Among the publisher's titles that were affected were books written by Stephen Colbert, and he did not take kindly to it, lambasting Amazon on his Colbert Report. He also solicited a book recommendation from author Sherman Alexie, who touted a dystopian debut novel called
California, written by little-known author Edan Lepucki and also published by Hachette. Colbert took the further step of encouraging his viewers to buy the book online from Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, instead of from Amazon and subsequently set a goal of making the book a bestseller and having folks purchase California from anywhere but Amazon.

Well, it worked. California debuted last week on the national Indie Bound and The New York Times bestseller lists - an extraordinary accomplishment for a debut novel with an initially modest print run and publicity budget. And in a piece of related news, a national survey of over 5,000 readers found that close to 40% were aware of the Amazon-Hachette conflict, and that about half of those people had cut back on their Amazon book purchases as a result.

(info from Shelf Awareness)

The Pledge of Independents, an Amazon boycott campaign launched earlier this month by the Abbey Bookshop in Paris, is spreading, as three more booksellers have signed up, two in the U.S. and one in Scotland. They are all asking customers and authors to promise not to buy books from Amazon or affiliates and to favor indies instead. The additional booksellers are Word Power Books in Edinburgh, the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, NJ, and the Book Tavern, Augusta, GA.

"Almost all our customers, most of whom are French, say they have been boycotting Amazon anyway, and many are prepared to go on record to say so," said Abbey founder Brian Spence. "That is very satisfying for a bookseller to hear."

(info from Shelf Awareness)

Amazon Acts Like a Thug and People React
The Amazon-Hachette dispute is having an impact on readers' attitudes about Amazon, according to the most recent Book Preview poll conducted by Codex Group. Of 5,286 book buyers polled by between July 11 and July 19, 39.4% were aware of the dispute, and
19.2% of those aware of the dispute were buying fewer books from Amazon.

Those purchasing fewer books from Amazon reported buying more from other retailers. The top five alternatives in order of popularity were: Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, B&N.com, used bookstores and Costco.

Peter Hildick-Smith, president of Codex, called the results "very surprising," saying, "It's the first time we've seen people react to something about Amazon in a way that wasn't positive." The results showed, he continued, that the dispute has "gotten a wider stage because of Stephen Colbert, James Patterson and others."

cool bookstore
Last week, Pioneer Book in Provo, Utah, unveiled its stunning new façade. Artist Alicyn White and her team took less than a week to transform the storefront into this giant bookshelf, based on an idea from bookstore owner Rick Horsley and manager Travis Patten. Patten selected the titles to be featured on the façade: "They are books I've read that have a broad appeal, or should have," he told the Daily Herald. "I saw this idea on a library in Kansas City. The idea is also on a bookstore in the Ukraine." Pioneer Book reopened last November after a three-year absence and sells both new and used books.

(info from Shelf Awareness)

DIESEL to Close Malibu Location
The bookstore will close its Malibu, Calif., location this fall. The Malibu Times reported the store has marked down its inventory and the latest co-owner John Evans "believes they'll be open is September 21," though the lease runs through January. Evans and partner Alison Reid had put the business up for sale last December, but there were no serious offers.

Author Declines Amazon-Sponsored U.K. Award
Children's author
Allan Ahlberg has declined the inaugural Booktrust Best Book Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award because it is sponsored by Amazon, the Bookseller reported. Ahlberg cited Amazon's tax avoidance in the U.K., writing in a letter to the Bookseller, "Tax, fairly applied to us all, is a good thing. It pays for schools, hospitals--libraries! When companies like Amazon cheat--paying 0.1% on billions, pretending it is earning money not in the U.K., but in Luxembourg--that's a bad thing. We should surely, at the very least, say that it is bad and on no account give them any support or, by association, respectability." As a result, "the idea that my 'lifetime achievement'... should have the Amazon tag attached to it is unacceptable."

(info from Shelf Awareness)

David Sedaris: 'I'd Rather Go to an Actual Shop'
"Maybe I'm out of touch, but I'd rather go to an actual shop--preferably a small one--than to a harshly lit superstore, or, worse still, a website. I don't want to buy my books and my toilet paper and my clothing all under the same roof. I want beauty in my life. I want charm. I want contact with actual people. It is, for me, a large part of what makes life worth living."

- David Sedaris in an interview with Mary Laura Philpott, editor of the Musing blog at Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

Amazon vs. Hachette: Colbert, Connelly & More

Last night, in the second segment of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, whose publisher is Hachette, took some hilarious shots at Amazon, which he said he used to like because "it's the only place you can get all your shopping done in your underwear--at least since they closed Circuit City." But now, "I am not just mad at Amazon. I'm mad Prime."

He outlined the dispute, taking the usual Colbert-centric view: "They are deterring customers from buying books by Stephen Colbert. And as any longtime viewer of this show knows, that's me."

Colbert noted that "Amazon has taken the preorder buttons off [J.K. Rowling's] new Hachette book,
The Silkworm. A vicious tactic by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Or should I say Lord Bezomort?" At that point, on the screen a picture of Bezos's face morphed into Lord Voldemort. "And this, this has pushed me past my tipping point. I think. Because I'm still waiting for my copy of Hachette author Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point."

Colbert then announced that he had "a little package" for Amazon from him, Rowling and "Explaino the Clown," as he referred to Gladwell. Reaching under the package, he said, "I think you're really going to like it. Oh, wait a second. Here it is." His right hand rose through the packing material, middle finger aimed squarely at the camera. Then he said, "Customers who will enjoy this also bought this," at which point his other hand rose in the same gesture.

Next, he introduced "fellow Amazon victim" Sherman Alexie, who started off by saying, "I'm just happy to be here. If Amazon was in charge of the travel, it would have taken me two to five weeks to get here."

Alexie said in part that Amazon wants "a monopoly. They control 50% of the book market and they want more."

When Colbert asked what "we as the victims"--the authors--can do to fight back, Alexie answered: "Number one, you don't shop there for anything."

Noting that first-time Hachette authors are especially hurt by the lack of preorders, Alexie recommended Edan Lepucki's debut novel,
California, which will be published by Little, Brown on July 8. "To prove that I can sell more books than Amazon," Colbert urged viewers to go to colbertnation.com and buy the book through a link to Powell's Books. Viewers can also download a sheet of stickers proclaiming, "I didn't buy it on Amazon."

As of this morning, California is Powell's bestselling title.


Another major author affected by the Amazon-Hachette dispute is Michael Connelly. Although his latest Lincoln Lawyer novel is available, a lot of his backlist is in the 2-4 week availability category and there is no ordering button for his fall Bosch book,
The Burning Room. But in a weird circumstance, Amazon Studios is producing an exclusive TV series based on the Bosch novels that consists of a pilot and nine episodes. Amazon quoted Connelly as saying, "The right people and partnerships came together at the right time: Amazon and its creative team; ditto Fabrik Entertainment, Henrik Bastin, Eric Overmyer and of course, Titus Welliver." Timing is everything.

(info from Shelf Awareness)

new logo
Penguin Random House has introduced its new brand identity that, as the company said, "underscores the importance of the written word to the company's culture and work" and that will most often be used in a pairing with one of Penguin Random House's 250 publishing divisions, imprints and brands around the world.

(info from Shelf Awareness)


Chipotle Cups Will Feature Stories by Jonathan Safran Foer, Toni Morrison, & Other Authors
Jonathan Safran Foer was sitting at a Chipotle one day, when he realized that he had nothing to do while noshing on his burrito. He had neglected to bring a book or magazine. Suddenly, he had an idea: What if there were something truly good to read on his Chipotle cup? Or the bag? So he decided to write the Chipolte CEO an e-mail. “I said, ‘I bet a shitload of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn’t have that negative experience, they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text,’ ” So I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on it? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.’”
Soon, bags and cups in Chipotle’s stores will be adorned with original text by Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Lewis. Foer says ,” Chipotle refrained from meddling in the editorial process for the duration of the initiative, which the burrito chain has branded Cultivating Thought. “I selected the writers, and insofar as there was any editing, I did it,” Foer said. “I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles. I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.”

Fowler Wins 2014 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award
Karen Joy Fowler has won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her novel,
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The award comes with a $15,000 prize. Fowler will be honored at the 34th annual PEN/Faulkner award ceremony on May 10 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., along with the four finalists, who each received $5,000.

We hosted Karen for many different events in our bookstores over the years. We got to know her when we all lived in Davis, and she quickly joined with us (aka The Rabble), and thousands of others from Davis, as a voice speaking out for reason in those seemingly endless city council meetings that centered on a big developer bringing in a Borders to a town with ten bookstores already. The Davis Borders store (which disappeared when the whole chain went away) only fit the developer's economy and not the community's.

small BLUE I am so happy that she has won a major award like the PEN/Faulkner Award. Karen has a great sense of humor and it's wonderful that she has gotten more recognition for her talent. -

check out
Karen's website


'Simply Because She Loved to Read': New York Public Library Inherits $6 Million
Lotte Fields, who died last summer, bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library "simply because she loved to read," the New York Times reported, adding that library president Tony Marx said the library was "astounded" by the bequest and "deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading." At her request, the funds will be evenly divided between the branch library system and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. "One of her great joys was spending the weekend reading with her husband," said Fields's executor, Irwin Cantor. "Her donation shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers."


George Packer on Amazon's Secrecy and Isolation
In a post on the
New Yorker's website, George Packer discusses the perils of Amazon's penchant for secrecy, a company-wide approach he encountered when working on "Cheap Words: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?" his 12,000-word story in the current issue. (See our synopsis here.)

"I was naïve about tech companies until I started reporting on them," Packer writes. "They turn out to be at least as closed as companies in other industries. This seems backwards--aren't they filled with hardcore libertarians who want an end to privacy as we've known it, a more open and connected world? Apparently for everyone except themselves. And perhaps a sector that monetizes information is more likely to become obsessed with protecting it than if the product were oil or cars. But even in this atmosphere, Amazon is reflexively, absurdly secretive--only giving the absolute minimum information required by law or P.R. In response to a host of fact-checking questions, many of the company's answers were along the lines of 'We don't break out that number externally,' 'We do not share Kindle sales figures,' and 'As a general practice, we don't discuss our business practices with publishers or other suppliers.' "

Packer argues that "a culture of secrecy is bound to end up harming the institution itself, especially when it's firmly under the control of one leader, as Amazon is under Jeff Bezos. Without some permeability to the outside world, groupthink takes over, bad habits become entrenched, and a company, like a government, is slow to recognize problems that are apparent to everyone else. I saw this happening with American officials in Iraq, holed up in the Embassy in the middle of the Green Zone and beguiled by their own data points while the country outside spiraled down in flames."

Furthermore, "Amazon is up to its neck in the world of culture, where nothing good can be done without a little light and air. The fact that Bezos visited his newspaper [the Washington Post] last month with more stealth than George W. Bush flying into Baghdad--a visit that was so well hidden even from people at the famously wide-open Post that I managed to break the story in these pages--struck me as particularly bizarre. Why not just show up? Because secrecy is in Amazon's marrow. I'm certain that, sooner or later, this is going to create problems for Bezos's newspaper, and I'm fairly sure that one reason for the failure of Amazon's trade-publishing arm has to do with its isolation from the larger publishing world. If editors can't gossip, speak to reporters, and pick up intel, they're less likely to spot new talent and incubate ideas. They're also less likely to be trusted by writers. Book culture and non-disclosure agreements are inimical."

(thanks to Shelf Awareness)


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