Monthly Archives: August 2010

Should Borders Sell “Refurbished” Books?

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

In response to our post yesterday about Borders Books’ foray into the teddy bear market, one reader,

We apologize for forcing you to look at this nightmarish bear again.

Erick Pettersen, had a rather brilliant and hilarious suggestion for another way Borders might draw new customers: selling “refurbished” books.  Here’s what Pettersen said:

Those people with e-readers bought e-readers for three reasons: convenience of carrying their library in one device, to save bookshelf space, and because they have the money. Borders should offer to buy all of those people’s left over books sitting on their shelves at higher prices than they’re valued at according to top used book stores and used book websites. Then, they turn around, and create a new customer base of those people who normally couldn’t afford a $20.00 book by selling “refurbished” books that are “Slightly used” or “Just like new” at prices slightly higher than the used book store down the road. Borders has the space to house more used books than most of those used book stores and they have the technology to catalog those books to make it easier for people to do their used book shopping their.

This might be a nightmare for small used booksellers, but it’s pretty damn funny, though also perhaps a lucrative idea for the big stores: should they get into the used book game?  What do you think?

Borders Reduces E-reader to $99

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

The $99 price point on e-readers has officially been reached!  Beware the crowds on the street rushing to Borders to adopt the habit of digital reading.

The Borders group reduced the price of the two e-readers it sells–the Kobo and Aluratek e-readers–to $129 and $99 respectively.  No doubt Borders hopes to make up for its late entry into the e-reader market by undercutting competitors on price, and in fact Borders has, with this move, undercut all its major competitors.  According to the press release, “The price reduction of Borders’ best-selling eReaders further emphasizes the company’s commitment to delivering even more choice and value to customers.”

The $99 Aluratek reader is currently available online-only, but will be hitting stores this week; the Kobo reader is currently available both online and in stores.

And discounting e-readers sure beats selling teddy bears.

Freedom Video-Reviewed by Ron Charles

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

Click this picture to see the video

Ron Charles the video reviewer is back, this time with official Washington Post sponsorship.  Today, he takes on the most buzzed book ever, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which officially comes out today.  The world is changed. Click here to see the video.

Note the cameo by an assortment of Beanie Baby birds, and Charles’ clever use of editing technology to illustrate his points.  Especially moving is the scene that takes place in 1834, back when the whole world was sepia (it was–really–look at the pictures…).  This video is a masterpiece worthy of David Pogue, the NYT tech critic who perfected the art of the silly product review.  We’re looking forward to more of these videos from Mr. Charles.

Catchy Concepts in Kids’ Books

Diane Roback -- August 31st, 2010

Hollywood loves the pithy pitch. “Stranded alien phones home.” Kung Fu Panda. And the famous “Jaws on paws.” There’s something compelling about a concept that can be summed up succinctly and cleverly. And especially for children’s books, visually as well. So today we give a tip of the hat to some of our favorite high-concept titles and jackets for the fall season.

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Any other suggestions?

Staples to Sell Amazon Kindle

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

Amazon is taking another step offline, making its Kindle e-reader available in Staples stores this Fall, reports Reuters. The device is already available in select Target stores.

Staples will sell all three current models of the e-reader, the $130 WiFi-only model, as well as the more expensive 3G and large-screen DX.  So, assuming they can keep them in stock, you can avoid that pesky wait-time as Amazon ships the device from far-away warehouses.

Here is PW’s review of the new Kindle 3, in case you missed it.

So do Kindles count as office supplies now?

VQR Offices Closed, Winter Issue Canceled, Due to Investigation Over Editor’s Suicide

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

The controversy over the suicide of Virginia Quarterly Review managing editor Kevin Morrissey, 52, has escalated, reports the New York Times, with the University of Virginia, which publishes the literary journal, closing down the journal’s office and canceling the Winter issue while an internal investigation is conduced.

Morrissey’s family had made accusations, after the suicide, that Morrissey was the victim of workplace bullying by VQR editor Ted Genoways that might have contributed to his decision to take his own life;  Genoways denies the accusations.  A statement released on Aug. 19 announced that the University would investigate.

Here’s more info from the NYT:

Three of the five remaining staff members of the Review, based in Charlottesville, have removed their names from the masthead, said Carol Wood, a spokeswoman for the University of Virginia.

“The staff has been through a lot, and they needed to step away and take some time,” she said. “We thought it might be best for all involved on the staff to take a break and step back and wait for the conclusion of the internal review.”

VQR is among the most highly regarded literary magazines in the US, known especially for lengthy nonfiction pieces featuring original reporting on current events.  The journal also curates a well-regarded poetry book series through the University of Georgia Press.

The PW Morning Report: Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 31st, 2010

It’s Franzenday!  Franzenday!

Borders to Close SF Store: It’s not just Barnes & Noble that’s closing big stores–Borders is closing its South Beach, SF store. From TechnoCraft.

B&N to Close Lincoln Center Store: And here are some details on that B&N closure from the Daily News.

People Regret B&N Closure: the Times reports on the closure and New Yorkers’ regrets over losing a favorite hangout.

Mockingjay Dissected: Slate takes a close look.

Poetry Bomb: Publishing Perspectives reports on a Chilean artist who bombed Berlin with poetry!

More on Apple’s Media Event: MacRumors reports on what it thinks Apple will unveil tomorrow, and it’s not looking good for book news.

The Value of Negative Reviews

Rose Fox -- August 30th, 2010

Sarah Rees Brennan waxes eloquent (at some length) on being a writer who reviews and is reviewed.

Like any other person who reads a ton of books, I hate many, many books. Oh, how I hate them. I have performed dramatic readings of the books I hate. I have little hate summaries. I have hate impressions. I can act out, scene by hateful scene, some of these books. I can perform silent hate charades.

And in the past, I have reviewed a couple of books I hate. And then I would always feel crappy afterwards.

And I would wonder why. After all, I hated them! It was a public service to warn people off them!

This is why. One is that I am sort of terrible at reviewing things I hate. I am not reasonable about it. I do not add ‘Oh, but despite my loathing for the subject matter, the prose was excellent’ or ‘Still, the idea of a dragon in love with a tree is an intriguing one.’ And I feel that, especially since hate reviews are the most popular ones, because people love to see people hating on stuff, nobody is sure why but it is fascinating! – I feel it’s important to be able to write a hate review as close to objectively as you can, explaining why and wherefore, and not only getting your cruel mock on.

I get my cruel mock on. I’m not fair. And generally, I wish to be fair.

In the comments to Rees Brennan’s post, a pseudonymous commenter who self-identifies as a professional reviewer says, “I just don’t take anyone seriously who doesn’t occasionally pan a book, and I don’t bother with all-positive review sites. If someone only has something nice to say, then what they say is pretty meaningless, because I have no idea if they’re unable to admit not-liking something or if they don’t have critical faculties to decide whether the prose sucks (maybe they like sucky prose fine, some people do) or whatever.”

Continue reading

Can Bears Save Books?

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 30th, 2010

Good grief!

Borders is taking a strong stance to save brick-and-mortar bookstores from the rising tides of e-books and online retailing: the chain will begin aggressively selling teddy bears to offset declining print book sales.

What?

Yup.  According to Bloomberg, Borders has struck a deal with Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., and will sell that company’s build-your-own-stuffed-animal kids and other related products in a special section of Borders stores.   Borders CEO Michael Edwards told Bloomberg, “As more books are bought online or in digital format than bought at retail, it creates really the ultimate strategic challenge in terms of redefining the bookstore…We are totally rethinking it.”

What do you think of this rethinking?

Predictions for Apple’s Wednesday Event

Craig Morgan Teicher -- August 30th, 2010

from Wired

Apple’s got a knack for building buzz–it’s media events–of which there have been quite a lot this year already–generate much excitement among not the media but savvy consumers.  This Wednesday, September 1, Apple is holding what has typically been its annual music event, where the company updates its iPod line for the holidays and rolls out new features to iTunes (note the guitar in the front of the Yerba Buena center in San Francisco, where the event will be held).

Here are some predictions from Pocket Lint about what Apple will announce at the event, including a new iPod touch with a camera and fancier display and a new version of Apple’s TV set top box.  Not necessarily a huge event for publishing–unless Apple decides to unveil what could be the bombshell product of the season: a new, smaller iPad.

An iPad not much bigger than a Kindle (and not too much more expensive) could really shake things up and could leave consumers trying to get into e-reading with a touch decision.

If you want this blogger’s opinion, Apple won’t unveil a new iPad this week (I hope I’m wrong), but it will soon.  We’ll keep you posted.