Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tuesday Tidbits

Starbucks, which has conquered almost every corner in America, is now bringing authors to its headquarters to do readings. It’s part of a trend documented today by the New York Times. While some bookstores are leery, I think it’s a great way to get those who are too busy or indifferent to think about books.

Pamela Mazzola and Nancy Oakes, the authors of the spectacular cookbook, Boulevard, did a lot of speaking at companies on their book tour. One visit was to Google on the San Francisco peninsula. The company bought about 500 cookbooks and the authors spent the day signing and talking to people about food. Sales beat out a day at Costco, where just a handful of people bought books.

Bookstores do a great job of selling books because those working there can recommend books to customers. The hand-selling can go on for weeks. These mega-events at companies are usually just one-shot deals; the sales made that day end that day. But the best way to permeate this cluttered culture is to be ubiquitous: in bookstores, at work, on the radio, in the newspaper.

The finalists for the Gerald Loeb awards in business journalism have been announced and it is interesting to see that the nominated books are actually books that have sold well

The finalists in the business book category are:
-- James B. Stewart for DisneyWar published by Simon and Schuster

-- Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner for Freakonomics published by William Morrow (Harper Collins)

-- Thomas L. Friedman for The World is Flat published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Maybe this book can explain why Cody’s on Telegraph is closing, Kepler’s can barely manage to stay open and a Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books is struggling with sales. (via California Authors)

Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption by Laura J, m.d. Miller

Over the past half-century, bookselling, like many retail industries, has evolved from an arena dominated by independent bookstores to one in which chain stores have significant market share. And as in other areas of retail, this transformation has often been a less-than-smooth process. This has been especially pronounced in bookselling, argues Laura J. Miller, because more than most other consumer goods, books are the focus of passionate debate. What drives that debate? And why do so many people believe that bookselling should be immune to questions of profit?”

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