Seagram’s advert, “Life”, April 14th 1947

Things You May Have Missed Last Week (№12)

Well, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, n’est pas? Last week’s “Things You May Have Missed Last Week” was all about how the UK shops are struggling and how Chapters USA might not last too long. This week? Yup: same damned thing, only seven days older.

Seagram’s advert, “Life”, April 14th 1947
Seagram’s advert, “Life”, April 14th 1947

Oddly, topics of concern these days seem to be more easily blocked into common areas more so than they were about four months ago. Perhaps it’s just me becoming more aware of them, or perhaps I’m becoming more able to see how to find the common threads within them, but when I started doing this weekly round-​​up, each headlined section would only refer to one article. These days there’s upwards of five or six articles covering the topic in various different ways, or various different aspects of them. Granted, some of the topics are marginally more complicated than last year’s were, but not enough to warrant this degree of increased linkage.

Ah well… off we go.

Don’t miss the thing at the bottom about the FREE BOOK GIVE-​​AWAY, by the way.


USA Marketplace Undergoing Anarchic Process of Change

Borders is having more of the supply pipe being turned off, what with Diamond Book Distributors stopping any deliveries. When the graphic novels start being re-​​stocked is dependent on Diamond and Borders sorting things out. As part of that, Borders is closing one of its warehouses mid-​​July, which will get 310 employees off the payroll.

Granted, even if they do that, there’s still possibility it won’t be enough. People are openly discussing the realization of the “Worst-​​Case Scenario”: Borders, USA goes completely tits-​​up. In THIS ARTICLE, posted last Monday, it’s pointed out quite intelligently that the only ones to benefit may be the retailers in direct competition with Borders, namely Barnes & Noble and Amazon, not the independent shops. As Jim Milliot points out, the already struggling indies “have taken note of B&N’s call for a level playing field and will be watching to see how aggressive B&N may be in ensuring that all booksellers get equal treatment.” For the sake of the local shops, I hope B&N continues to be that which it claims to be: friend of the small chain and single-​​location book seller.

It’s not all ‘doom-​​and-​​gloom’ across America, however. Look on the bright-​​side: according to NPR, hardback books are actually still thriving! No, really! HEAD HERE and learn how the expensive copies are still being bought by the general market!

Okay, maybe it was only a brief ray of sunshine. Because yet another of the USA’s belovèd book shops – The Mystery Bookstore – will be closing soon. HEAD HERE for those details.


Great Britain Market Full of Rapid Developments; Some 'Good', Some 'Not so Good'

Last Thursday morning, Macmillian Distribution put British Bookshops and Stationers, Limited on hold for any future deliveries of st0ck. The next day, everybody stopped supplying the the Sussex-​​based, 51-​​location chain, but clearly hadn’t been notified that S.J. Appell, F.J. Gray, and S.C.E. Mackellar were appointed Joint Administrators of British Bookshops sometime Thursday. No word yet from their parent company Endless about the ultimate fate of either British Bookshops or its sibling discount bookshop The Works, but one might not hold one’s breath on that being clarified. Much crying into bears needs to be done before then.

Elsewhere in the high street, a representative for the HMV Group said that, despite Waterstone’s confirming on January 5th that it will close 20 stores during this year, this is only as part of cost-​​cutting measures across the wider HMV Group which will see a total of 60 stores close. To follow all of that, learn how there’s a bright-​​side, and try and get some further details, HEAD HERE.

What with all that, what in blazes are these ex-​​publishing people doing starting hteir own book shop in Clapham? Are they completely mad?!?! Read THIS ARTICLE to find out the answer. It’s always possible that they’ve been paying attention to the reports LIKE THIS ONE that things in Bookland are supposed to grow ten-​​fold by 2016? It’s said that that smartest thing to do is what everyone else isn’t doing (which is one of the reasons why Atomic Fez exists, actually), but if everyone isn’t buying their children hippopotamuses as gifts…


Google Books Does an Odd and Very Mysterious Corporate Buy-Up

What’s the deal with Google buying the e-​​book technologies production company? This seems odd, doesn’t it? I mean, if they’re just going to shove scans of books at people, or allow retailers to sell their books through the Google Books site… why…

According to THIS ARTICLE on PCWorld.com, they could be doing just about anything, including merely getting a piece of the eCash from the eBooks eRevolution. On the other hand, if iReaderReview.com is right in THIS ARTICLE, then it’ll be a piece of equipment possibly serving-​​up adverts as part of the book to off-​​set the price (either of the device, the books, or both).

Meanwhile, Quill & Quire explains in THIS ARTICLE that Google is playing nice with Canadian booksellers, however. (NOTE: this post has subscription-​​based access, so all I know is the summary):

Then again, maybe it’s not Google that’s hell-​​bent on revitalizing/​destroying publishing, and it’s really Amazon publishers should continue to fear? To be fair, it could be neither… or both, I suppose.


It's That Lot Again! [runs to roof] Svenskjävlar!!

Last year we got rapidly fed-​​up with over-​​exposure of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson and his “Millennium Trilogy” of novels. Now we’re back to 2008 – the previous time we were reminded that Sweden exists beyond the Nobel Prizes – when we first learned about Fredrik Colting and the ‘un-​​authorized sequel’ to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, written under the nom de plume “John David California”.

Thankfully, the damned thing is finally settled. The result is that 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye will not be published in North America after all. Which, given the world-​​wide markets that exist beyond the confines of the cloisters of publishing (read THIS POST for my take on that one), everyone will be hitting Amazon.co.uk for their new copies.


eBooks Are Supposed to Be Easy to Use, Aren't They?

In the midst of ePUB3 having some very interesting things being revealed, a few people have pointed out this thing: the “Book Saver Book Scanner” made by Rhode Island-​​based ION Audio. However, the damned thing isn’t as automated or easy-​​to-​​use as claimed. the company says you can scan 200 pages in about 15 minutes. Rubbish! Engaget deems it a ‘crap gadget’, explaining in THIS ARTICLE, based on actual hands-​​on experience at CES earlier this month, that you have to lift the top half of the entire thing up in order to manually turn the page, then you replace the glass-​​bottomed framework over the book again. This seems actually tougher to accomplish than photocopying an entire book, even if you ripped the pages out of the binding and ran the sheets through a document feeder before then submitting them to any of the always craptastic OCR software packages. I’ve done some work with this sort of process to get old books back into print, and if there is an easy way to do it, this ain’t it. Head over to their article and click one of the pictures below their text to get a better idea of how ungainly the thing is; it beggars description.

Meanwhile, the question of “What exactly does DRM actually succeed in doing; no really, what does it accomplish?” reared its head again. It’s a fair question. Does it prevent people systematically spreading intellectual property willie-​​nilly, or does it only prevent people doing the same thing with a file that they would normally do with a paperback: lending it to their friend? Read the intelligent coverage of the subject by Mike Shatzkin by reading THIS POST. It’s all well and good to be in favour or against its use, but one’s reasons better match with the reality of the matter.

Meanwhile, whether they use DRM or not, Rich Adin says that’s only part of the trouble when it comes to on-​​line retailing of books. In THIS ARTICLE he takes a look at the Kobo Store and asks the same question I muttered myself when first buying a book through there: how come you can only buy them one-​​at-​​a-​​time instead of doing a transaction that covers a multiple quantity? His post at TeleRead starts out with him wondering about Key Porter, which is also worth a read.


Living Life in a Tastier Way, Every Day!

Meanwhile, people gotta eat! So, here to help with that is Warren Ellis’s Red Sausage Fusilli recipe (in which the fusilli screams for mercy); as well as his guaranteed to please Baked Game Chips, the making of which involves a mandolin. Warren Ellis: more that just a pretty face! Oh yes…!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Terror and the Tortoiseshell (Hardcover) by John Travis

The Terror and the Tortoiseshell

by John Travis

Giveaway ends January 212011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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