Readersforum's Blog

April 5, 2012

Barnes and Noble, with its head in a book, does nothing about its ties to illegal rainforest destruction

After the recent scandal tying several US companies to evidence of illegal logging in Indonesia many companies are distancing themselves from those bad habits.

Danone, the makers of Dannon yogurt, are not only part of a healthy breakfast- they are also creating a zero deforestation policy for their company. With plans to phase out supplies of paper and packaging products from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Danone is taking the right steps to make a stand against illegal logging and destructive in Indonesia.

And Xerox recently confirmed it will be reinforcing a policy banning any purchases from APP.

However, one company still seems to have their nose in a book.  Those of us who love a good read would all agree that our books shouldn’t come at the expense of ancient and endangered rainforests, home to endangered species. But Barnes & Noble is sourcing a wide variety of their own published books from Asia Pulp & Paper mills as shown by US customs data. We even sent a B&N book, “Nursery Rhyme Treasury” to a specialist laboratory who came back with us and confirmed the book was made from rainforest fiber.

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February 7, 2012

Blurb Rules

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:54 am

  By Daniel Menaker

 

A guide to the art and artifice of writing blurbs for books.

 

1.  Use “I should have known” at the start of any quote you decide to give.  As in “I should have known Meghan Askew would write the best vampire-leprechaun novel of the decade.” Or “I should have known that I should have known that ‘Maura’s Tears’ would sweep me away into a maelstrom of [whatever].”

 

2. To keep yourself somewhat closer to being honest, use “of the decade” only for books published in years ending in 1. Or 2, at a stretch.

 

3.  Use “thrilling,” even if the book is about nucleopeptides that mimic topoisomerase. “Thrillingly” is OK, too.

 

4. Ditto “prodigious” except for books about child prodigies.

 

5.  Come up with a clever variation of “I couldn’t put it down.” Some ideas: “I should have known that you wouldn’t be able to put it down, and neither would your aunt.” “It’s so thrilling, you’ll be afraid to pick it up. And when you do, you won’t be able to put it down.” “Go ahead–try it! Go ahead. I dare you. Try to put it down. Oh, you’re sure you can? You are? Well, let’s see it, then. What’s stopping you? Go ahead. There’s the table, and there’s nothing else on it–plenty of room. No one’s looking. You’re alone. So go ahead, by all means. See? I thought so!”

 

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January 23, 2012

Columnist: Books-A-Million gives the slip to gays, minorities

By Erin McCann

I’m an avid reader.

I can recall frequent day trips to Borders on weekends, where I’d curl up in a chair and immerse myself in a bound yet diametrically unlimited world of prose.

Borders maintained a diverse selection for all groups of people. They had subsections for Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, transgendered, gay and lesbian patrons — you name it, they had it.

Unfortunately, while brick-and-mortar bookstores such as Barnes and Noble began to boost their online sales and trim their in-store media collections, Borders failed to adapt to the changing world of technology and instead increased their in-store merchandise and building renovations, all while outsourcing their online sales to Amazon.

This business blunder ultimately resulted in the liquidation of the beloved Borders chain.

Books-A-Million — perhaps more accurately dubbed Bibles-A-Billion — the Alabama-based book retailer, jumped at the chance to acquire former Borders locations. In fall 2011, they opened up shop at the former Borders storefront in Bangor.

Eager to relive my Borders days, I made the trip — a trip I will never make again.

Nearly a quarter of the entire store was reserved for religious books — Bibles, Christian fiction, Christian living, Christian children’s books. The beat goes on.

Craving the literature section, I was guided by an affable employee who boasted the store’s extensive literary merit. I managed a smile and a breath of relief, until I realized their literature section proved to be more of a marketing haven for cheesy romance novels and overpraised mystery thrillers rather than Sinclair or Proust.

I then inquired as to where I could find the gay and lesbian section, to which my guide replied, “Oh, we don’t have one.”

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December 24, 2011

The great ebook price swindle

Barnes and Noble: many ebook prices jumped between 30 and 50%. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Publishers are facing an uncertain time in the digital world – but increasing the prices of their ebooks is a retrograde step.

By Dan Gillmor

I want to offer a word of thanks to the American book publishing industry, or at least the traditional big companies that have dominated it in recent decades. They’ve helped me rediscover my local library and the used book stores in neighboring communities.

They’ve achieved this by exhibiting the qualities that come so naturally to corporate media giants: greed and arrogance – in this case, as applied to the way they’ve dealt with the digital world.

To understand what they’ve done, you need to understand a bit about how books are sold in America. Publishers have two major distribution methods. One is traditional wholesaling: sell the book to a middleman, who typically adds a mark-up to customers, but sometimes discounts a book below cost as a “loss leader” to attract more business for items that aren’t discounted in this way.

The other model is called the “agency” system. In this case, publishers set the price and the bookstore merely handles the sale to the ultimate customer, for a set fee or percentage of the transaction.

The “big six” US publishers all sell their physical books via the wholesale model. After years of wholesaling digital editions as well, they moved to the agency model for ebooks, with Random House becoming the final publisher to switch early last year. The publishers had been increasingly angry about Amazon’s selling of new bestsellers at the loss-leading price of $10 (actually, $9.99), worrying that the giant online company was setting customer expectations at a too-low price point and undermining the sales of physical books.

Apple played a role in this switch, by essentially telling the publishers it wanted the agency model for its own online bookstore, which services the iPad and iPhone. And Apple co-operated in what was the inevitable result for e-books everywhere: higher prices to consumers.

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August 17, 2011

What Will Publishing Look Like in 2021?

Posted by Anne R. Allen
In the comment thread of my post on What Readers Won’t Miss from Corporate Publishers When They’re Gone, “Ghostly Girl” asked the above question. It sure is a hot topic..
What will happen in the next ten years? Will corporate publishers stumble along into dodoland? Will bookstores become a faded memory? Will all writers become entrepreneurial self-publishers? Will everybody who’s got a novel in him/her get fifteen Warhol fame-minutes on a bloated, crap-laden Amazon.com?
Things do look dire for corporate book publishing and brick-and-mortar retail sales at the moment. Early in the week we heard the Borders chain has finally shuffled off its mortal coil, and on Thursday, Publisher’s Lunch reported book sales suffered another huge monthly drop—especially for adult hardcover and mass market paperbacks.
This has made the future of publishing a hot topic of discussion everywhere I go. On Wednesday night, a friend in my critique group asked what the Barnes and Noble of the future might look like. Most said “Barnes and Who?” or “What’s a bookstore?”
But I disagreed. I predicted Barnes and Noble will survive—in a rather different configuration—maybe a combination of a much-expanded Starbucks café and an Apple-like outlet, displaying a variety of Nookish products, X-boxy things, coffee-related paraphernalia—and one book.
Written by Snooki.
Turns out I might be something of a clairvoyant. In that same Thursday issue of Publisher’s Lunch there was also news of a big-money auction of a hot new literary property, shorthanded as, “Pippa Middleton’s Pilates Coach.”
So. Maybe publishing isn’t so moribund after all. At least some Big Six guys are still partying like it’s 2009.
I had to look into it. Pippa Middleton’s Pilates Coach sounded like a brilliant satire of our shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture—maybe some uproarious comedy about fictional idiots spending millions to learn Pilates from the coach, “who’s coaching the girl, who’s related to the girl, who danced with the son of the Prince of Wales.” (Paraphrasing the classic song from 1927.)
But a quick Google showed the celebrity-crazed idiots aren’t fictional. And the book is not meant to be funny. And it’s coming soon to a Barnes and Noble near you.
                                                       …read more

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