Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Closing the Book on Last Week's Globe

I'm cutting the cord....

"Independent bookstore business grows for 7th straight year" by Hillel Italie Associated Press  May 09, 2016

NEW YORK — Independent bookselling remains on a roll.

The American Booksellers Association has grown for the seventh consecutive year, the trade group’s chief executive, Oren Teicher, said in a recent interview. Core membership increased to 1,775, up by 63 over the previous year and by more than 300 since 2009.

And with many stores opening additional outlets, the number of individual locations rose to 2,311, compared with 2,227 at this time in 2015 and just 1,651 in 2009.

With membership once exceeding 3,000, independent sellers had been shutting down for decades, largely because of competition from Amazon.com and from the superstore chains Barnes & Noble and Borders. But Borders has gone out of business, and Barnes & Noble is struggling.

Independent booksellers also have benefited from the leveling of e-book sales and resilience of paper editions.

‘‘I am thrilled and delighted to be able to tell you that our trend has continued and we had another really strong year,’’ Teicher said.

Optimism has become self-fulfilling. A decade ago, longtime store owners struggled to find successors because independent bookselling seemed so risky. Now, transitions happen routinely.

Teicher did mention a couple of potential ‘‘clouds’’ in the future. With the economy recovering, real estate prices in many areas are going up, and booksellers could face punishing increases in rent when their leases run out.

Teicher also cited the initiatives nationwide to raise the minimum wage to as high as $15. Many booksellers are political liberals who favor the increases in principle, but in practice they will end up paying more. Teicher said a significant hike in salaries could mean the difference between a store making money or at best breaking even.

‘‘We’re in a low-margin business, and that upward pressure on wages is a big deal,’’ said Teicher, adding that a traditional solution for retailers is complicated for bookstores.

Where is the hypocri$y $ection, please?

‘‘Someone might tell you, ‘Well, you know, do what the supermarket does and charge a quarter more for milk. Pass on the increases to the consumer.’ But as long as publishers continue to print the suggested retail price on the product, it’s hard to put a surcharge on it. It puts us in a peculiar position.’’

Should have opened an airline.


"Airlines have earned record profits. The bag fees have remained; they brought in $3.8 billion last year, according to government figures, and it could be a hellish summer at the nation’s airports."

Did you see who was in the cockpit?

"The chairman of a powerful House committee is demanding to know how IRS chief John Koskinen has found the money to hire up to 700 enforcement staff when he told Congress a short time ago his agency was more or less broke. Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, reminded the IRS commissioner in a letter that he told lawmakers in February that he ‘‘urgently needed’’ a billion-dollar budget increase next year to boost the agency’s enforcement staff. ‘‘Now, less than three months later, without that increase, you have announced plans to increase enforcement activities,’’ Chaffetz wrote. ‘‘The inescapable conclusion is that your testimony to Congress was inaccurate, reflecting either an attempt to exaggerate IRS’s budget needs or a management failure in understanding the needs of your organization.’’ Chaffetz’s May 6 letter is the latest attack by House Republicans on Koskinen’s management of the IRS since Congress launched a lengthy probe of the agency’s treatment of conservative groups. Chaffetz demanded that the IRS produce a full accounting of where he found the money that will pay for up to 700 new hires this year, the hiring plans themselves, and the paper trail showing how officials determined in February that they had to continue an exception-only hiring freeze that took effect in 2011. Koskinen said in a memo that the money for enforcement hires will be freed up by retirements, attrition, and budget ‘‘efficiencies.’’

Glad someone is getting to the bottom of things.


Teacher speculated on a variety of options: ‘‘Increase efficiencies’’ in the supply chain, win tax breaks to offset wage hikes, remove price stickers from books, and secure deeper discounts from publishers. 

I can't afford to buy a book as it is, and reading the Globe seems to be plenty. 

And maybe, he said, publishers will raise the cost.

‘‘It would not surprise me if there’s some upward pressure on prices,’’ Teicher said.

Hey, at least the wealthy and corporate concerns can buy up all the copies put out by that cla$$.

Publishers have advocated higher e-book prices as a way of helping printed books and physical stores remain viable, a stance that has led to fierce clashes with Amazon.com and an antitrust suit filed in 2012 by the federal government that led to multimillion dollar settlements. Understandably, they are at most noncommittal about making traditional books more expensive.

I was just told seven years of guns-blazing growth! 


‘‘The truth is how much books cost is not specific to the minimum wage,’’ said Heather Fain, senior vice president at Hachette Book Group. ‘‘It’s something we talk about all the time, especially in relation to print versus electronic prices.’’ 

As if I were to find any semblance of that in the Globe!

The latest ABA numbers arrive on the eve of BookExpo America, the industry’s annual trade show, which takes place this week in Chicago after being in New York since 2009.

Oh, this is a book show promotion piece. Okay.

For the third straight year, BookExpo will be immediately followed by the fan-oriented BookCon.

Featured authors at Chicago’s McCormick Place will include Veronica Roth, Sebastian Junger, and Dav Pilkey of ‘‘Captain Underpants’’ fame, while panel discussions will range from the role of public libraries in the book industry to marketing through Facebook and other social media.

BookExpo America once routinely changed locations, but major publishers have grown used to the New York setting and the savings of not having to travel. Brien McDonald, the event director for BookExpo and BookCon, said BookExpo’s floor space at McCormick Place will be 126,284 square feet, a drop of nearly 20 percent from last year. (BookCon, meanwhile, is expanding from 41,756 square feet in 2015 to 61,496 square feet.)

Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and others based in Manhattan are sending fewer people than in previous years, and none of the featured authors approach the star power of such past convention speakers as Bill Clinton, former secretary of state Colin Powell, and Barbra Streisand.

‘‘We will have a smaller contingent and a smaller booth, which is a reflection of looking at the show and what’s important about it,’’ Fain said. ‘‘You want to have a place to meet with the booksellers and you want to have a way to elevate the titles you’re focused on. But you don’t have to have a lot of people to do it.’’


And that is also the end of today's chapters.