Haven’t talked much about the book industry in the past month (here was my last update on the subject at the end of July, so here’s a brief, but interesting update. With the (untimely?) demise of Borders, Books-A-Million (BAM) is now the United States’ second-largest book retailer. And now that the first quarter 2011 report is available (here’s a good summary of it), it’s clear that BAM isn’t in terribly good shape.
BAM currently has about 200 stores, and it’s opening six new ones. It’s also still trying to acquire 14 more in bankruptcy court from Borders. So that’s all to the good, but its overall and same-store sales are down. BAM blames that on customers’ transition to ebooks. And BAM has no ebook division of note (they make up 0% of overall sales because of rounding). Uh-oh. Plus, let’s face it, BAM is tiny, making up just 2% of the total book retail market, as compared with 11% for Borders and 17% for B&N. I should also note that books make up just 76% of BAM’s sales, with the rest made up of games, toys, coffee, and — oddly — yogurt, which they apparently sell at 30 Yogurt Mountain stores they own.
I also found it interesting that the demographics of typical BAM customers are different from that of Borders and B&N (less household affluence and education). This piece mentions that BAM also has much more of a focus on Christian books and merchandise, which is the second time I’ve read that, though I can’t say that it’s leaped out at me whenever I’ve been in a BAM.
I don’t have a convenient BAM location near me, though I often hit one up in the DC area when I’m there visiting or doing research, and I’ve always enjoyed their large remainder selection. I hope they do well and continue to survive, but I’m concerned that they’re following down Borders’ path. Declining store sales, no ebook division, etc. Should be interesting to see where they end up a year or two from now.
As I write this Friday night, the rain from Hurricane Irene has begun here in North Carolina, and we narrowly survived our “brush with death” earlier in the week from the rare East Coast earthquake (I barely noticed that anything had happened, to be honest), so in honor of this week of natural disasters, I thought I’d post about something nice.
Well, I think it’s nice anyway.
I like to think of my blog as being rated something like PG-13. We can talk about “adult” subjects here, but not in a graphic way, and the link I’m about to point you toward isn’t really graphic or lascivious — unless you have a particularly low threshold for lasciviousness — but I feel obligated to warn you that it contains a number of photos of topless women. Oh, I know what you’re thinking: visits to the Bookworm’s Lair must have fallen off and he’s just trying to boost his numbers. Not really. Honest. These aren’t just any topless women, you see. These are topless women reading various pulp fiction books in public places in New York City. Let that sink in for a second. So, these particular topless women fit right in with my reading and other interests. God bless ‘em. If this is what it takes to inspire more people to read, than so be it.
Without further ado, I present to you The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society. If only there was a local chapter….
Part X of my ongoing love affair with well-designed private libraries. I’ve posted about creative design of bookshelves on a couple occasions previously: here and here). In keeping with that theme, here’s a link to a great article showcasing twenty private libraries owned by celebrities.
Diligent readers — okay, only diligent readers possessing an eidetic memory) will note that I’ve posted about Karl Lagerfeld’s library before, but most of the rest were new to me. I really like some of these, though a few appear to be cases where the owner has never actually read any of the books, and were clearly designed by a book or art consultant, which kind of bugs me (Oprah Winfrey’s library, ironically, appears to fall into this category). Jimmy Stewart’s looks just like every old lady’s library I’ve ever been in, and Mark Twain’s looks like a fin-de-siecle whorehouse, but I like most of the rest. Sadly, Nigella Lawson’s library looks pretty much just like my own, with nicer bookshelves. Alas. I feel your pain, Nigella. The crown jewel of the article is, of course, William Randolph Hearst’s library. An additional photo of his private library is available here.
No, I haven’t forgotten about the blog! The travails of a doctoral student (final bit of research, cranking out the dissertation wordcount, etc.) have merely conspired to prevent me from updating the blog as frequently as I’d like. As always, I am always delighted to discuss older reviews and other posts, as well as respond to any queries my readers have. It’s always amusing to see the variety of search engine queries that bring visitors to my blog. My reading and reviewing interests are so varied that I suspect many visitors find my blog’s content to be somewhat…eccentric (perhaps too much so for their taste), though I’m always surprised at the random assortment of posts that attract the most interest (or at least visitors). I do continue to read voraciously, even if I haven’t been writing about books as much as I’d like, I continue to follow the chaos of today’s book industry (authorship to publishing to retail to fandom), and I have been enjoying my new Kindle immensely. Though I was initially highly resistant to the very idea of eBooks, I have since come around. They certainly have their place, and, if anything, have only increased my interest in books (if that’s even possible).
In any case, I have a number of reviews and other posts planned for the coming weeks. Books I plan to review include:
* Wordsmith by Michael R. Collings
* A couple of the Transhuman Space role-playing game books
* The Generation Starship in Science Fiction: A Critical History, 1934-2001 by Simone Caroti
* The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson
* Draugr by Arthur Slade
* Bullied by Christopher Smith
* Of Mice and Murderers by John G. Stockmyer
* Active Reader by Mark Leslie
* No Rest for the Wicked by Rebecca Knight
* Hatchet Force Journal #1 edited by Jack Badelaire
* I, Spy? by Kate Johnson
* The Dogs of Rome by Conor Fitzgerald
* The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing by Joe Konrath
* At least one or two of the Fu Manchu novels by Sax Rohmer
If anyone is particularly interested in any of these titles, feel free to let me know and I will move them up in my review queue.
I had originally intended to do my second annual one horror book review per day in October in celebration of the Halloween season, but I’m not sure if I will now, as I’ve just been asked to unexpectedly teach a course this semester (I had thought I would be having a “leisurely” semester of finishing the dissertation and going on the academic job market, but now I will be teaching a new course too). We’ll see as we get into September how the Halloween book review plan goes.