August2010 by wanghonghx



It seems like this summer is flying by!!! I hope you are all enjoying any vacation time you might be taking or at least
spending some relaxing days at the beach.

The following information for this month’s newsletter is not a rant. This is not a “poor woe is me” moment either.
The information in this month’s newsletter is important to everyone who has ever wanted to smell a book, hold a book,
read a book or just plain look at a book on a shelf. Your independent bookseller in your neighborhood or ten states
away is an important part of this process.

So, without further adieu, let’s just say that for independent booksellers, this summer have had some heat and
fireworks also from a most interesting, unexpected and thoroughly welcomed area - the publishing/bookselling world
versus the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, Amazon. While Amazon is not alone as a thorn in the independent bookselling
world’s side, Amazon has finally flexed one muscle too many and tentative baby steps are being taken to pull out that
thorn by some publishing houses. I say tentative because Amazon is one BIG gorilla with a lot of muscle and no
sense of humor. As an independent bookseller who routinely hears from customers, “No thanks, I can get it cheaper
on Amazon”, (and I don’t dispute that - 98% of the time it may be true), I maintain a casual interest in where Amazon
is taking the bookselling world. Okay, I lied – maybe more than a casual interest. In several articles I have read over
the last couple of months, most notably the July 14th issue of The Nation, it seems that Amazon has finally pushed the
publishing world to their limit on just how much abuse they will take at the hands of Amazon to get “their books out

 The publishing world has always maintained that the independent bookseller can” make or break” a book. “ The
Help” by Kathryn Stockett is a prime example. However, this statement seemed to be an empty platitude when you
would routinely see either Amazon or Wal Mart or some other big box store place a hot new title on sale BEFORE the
street date we are obligated to adhere to and at deep discounts that we can NOT even receive.     Independent
booksellers maintain due diligence regarding these actions and we contact our publishers’ representatives and /or the
publishers to let our concerns be known. More often than not, we are told there is just not any action that can be

The most personal affront I have suffered was the recent release of “ The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” by
Stephanie Meyer. Hachette is very proud of the “Twilight” series and pushes hard to independent booksellers
regarding the sales of those books. When the novelette was due to be released, we were encouraged to buy the book
in a come-out set of 12 books. Which for the most part we did banking on the Stephanie Myers name. I have to
state here I have an incredibly positive relationship with my Hachette representative Marty. He is a straight shooter
and has given me incredible advice and insight regarding bookselling and what would benefit The Family Book Shop.
I was beyond dismayed when the same day that I was putting out a 12-book display and anticipating sales, to find that
the author had offered the book as a free download on her website!!!! When booksellers all over the country, myself
included, called Hachette to rant, their response was that they understood, but the author did this and they had no
control over it. And moreover, Hachette tried to ameliorate the situation by stating that she only did this free
download offer for three days!!!!! Three days in the new release of a book is a lifetime to an independent bookseller.
I was fortunate – I did sell all my copies and more thanks very much to my loyal customers, but other independent
booksellers around the country were severely hurt by the author’s actions.

Though this situation is not atypical of the kind of frustrations independent booksellers routinely suffer at the hands of
Amazon, Wal Mart, and other big box stores which will remain nameless here, this action by the author and the
ensuing fallout from independent booksellers, was the straw the broke the camel’s back for publishing houses. And
the first to receive back the sting of the publishing house’s wrath is looking to be Amazon.
The Nation article, in a nutshell, finally brought to light just how much pressure to bear Amazon had over the
publishing houses. Amazon’s initial formula for success was straightforward, “Give the customers what they want,
low prices, vast selection and extreme convenience”. As we all know, this formula worked beyond anyone’s, except
Amazon’s founder, dreams. As Amazon grew, they decided to abandon that “touchy-feely” mentality and start
flexing the muscle. This did not affect those millions of customers who log on and get their books shipped to them
from the convenience of home. But, it did strike at the heart of the publishing industry. Amazon used their
astronomical growth to start setting the terms to the publishing houses. And the publishing houses agreed readily to
those terms to get their books out there and sold. And as Amazon squeezed harder and harder, the publishing houses
might have grumbled a bit, but always acquiesced in that quest for sales numbers.        Until recently. Finally,
someone actually took a good hard look at what it is exactly that Amazon accomplishes for the book buying public that
publishing houses rely on. The picture was nowhere near as rosy as their glasses had been. There have been minor
skirmishes fought with Amazon which publishing houses have lost. The outlook seems to be more and more of those
skirmishes with a battle or two thrown in.

 As independent bookstore’s doors close across the country at an alarming rate, the loss of that depth of knowledge and
commitment to BOOKS has and will continue to make the biggest impact on the publishing houses’ bottom lines.
Because if there is no independent bookseller to recommend their book, Amazon for darn sure is not going to.
Authors and other literary representatives are now starting to realize that fact and support and state the obvious
regarding the importance of the independent bookseller.

For example:

 Ex-Amazon editor James Marcus underscores the Amazon experience versus the bookstore experience –
“Personalization strikes me as a missed blessing. While it (Amazon) gives people what they want – or what they think
they want – it also engineers spontaneity out of the picture. The happy accident, the freakish discovery, ceases to
exist. And that’s a problem”.

Kate DiCamillo, author of The Tale of Desperaux, The Magician’s Elephant and other young reader’s books, said it
best in a recent speech she gave while accepting the “Most Engaging Author” award at BEA this past summer:
“When I was in second grade, I fell in love with Abraham Lincoln………. That year for my birthday, my mother gave
me a hardcover biography of Lincoln called “Meet Abraham Lincoln by Barbara Cary. It was written at my reading
level. There were wonderful illustrations, and I was smitten with the man anew. Where had my mother found that
book? At Porter’s Stationery and Gifts in Eustis, Florida. Eustis was the next town over from Clermont, thirty miles
away. At Porter’s they had looked for a book about Lincoln that was at my reading level and they had special-ordered
it for my mother, for me. Also, they had told my mother that there was another book I might like. It was called “The
Cricket in Times Square”. And so, in addition to a book about a poor, lonely boy who went on to become president of
the United States, I also received the story of a small cricket who loves music, a cricket who sings so beautifully that
people stop to listen. Who was the bookseller who thought – Here is an almost eight year old girl who loves Abraham
Lincoln. What other books will she love? Oh, yes. This book about a cricket.”? There was nothing logical about that
decision. It was a leap of faith. Those two books changed me. …… A bookseller put those books in my mother’s
hands, and my mother put them into mine. Sometimes we forget that this simple physical gesture can change lives. I
want to remind you that it does. I want to thank you because it did.”

With that all said, this month’s recommendations and readings from the bookstore staff are as diverse as Kate
DiCamillo‘s received recommendations were.

Amanda still maintains her title as queen of the paranormal romance/urban fantasy genre. She is reading Waterbound
by Christine Feehan. Amanda states Feehan does it again! This is a spinoff of the Drake Sisters series. First in a
new series that takes place in the same town. The female lead is a high functioning autistic and Feehan does an
amazing job describing life inside the head of someone with autism while telling her usual great story.
The Demon Rider’s Book club is reading Waterbound and Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jo Frost.
Mel is not reading anything this month because she has not received the book club book from Amanda yet.
Hmmm….but she does recommend the Hollow Series by Kim Harrison.
Stacy recommends the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. She is not reading any new books this month
because she is totally wrapped into True Blood on HBO and rereading her Sookie books to keep abreast of this
season’s twists and turns.

Kelli is reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This is book one in a new series by a new author in
our young adult fantasy section. Kelli stated that the book started slowly but has picked up nicely!!! Recommended
for ages 14 and up, the book deals with telepathic individuals and was reviewed as a penetrating look at what it takes
to be a man in a society gone horribly wrong. And she is waiting impatiently for Mockinjay by Suzanne Collins due
out August 24th.

For some reason every book I have picked up this past month has something to do with apes (and not of the 800 lb.
Amazon variety). I have bounced between The Monkey Bible by Mark Laxer and Lucy by Laurence Gonzalez. The
Monkey Bible is reviewed as a think piece regarding science, religion, mythology and what it means to be human.
Publication is set for September, 2010. Lucy is a biotech thriller in the vein of Michael Chrichton about a young girl
named Lucy - part human, part ape. I finally settled on and am thoroughly riveted to The Ape House by Sara Gruen
also due for publication in September, 2010. This book reinforces Sara Gruen’s reputation as a great storyteller. The
story line involves a newspaper reporter, bonobo language lab, kidnapping, domestic terrorism and reality TV. I
can’t read through the pages fast enough to find out what happens next.

The Good Grades Reward is still available at the store for our readers up through 8th grade. Each report card will be
rewarded with 50 cents for each A and B for a maximum of $3.00 good toward anything in the store.

And I am proud to report that Cameron, my 3 month old grandson, has his Volusia County Library Card and attends
reading group three times a week. We are currently reading together on every visit I have with him. So far his
favorite book is anything with a lot of color that makes grandma do funny noises.

A reminder: August 21st at 11:30 a.m. through 3:00 p.m., we are having sister authors, Melinda Driscoll and Terri
Sassone, appear at the store for signing and showing their books. The book subjects are the circus and music and I
think a good time can be had for all who bring their children by and visit with these ladies. Refreshments will be
available. What I like about these books is that they are catering to educating youngsters in a fun way and are
inexpensive as a bonus.

This month’s “shop local” nudge is DaVinci’s. It is a quaint bar/art gallery/live music venue located at 112 Georgia
Avenue, Deland. I have not personally been there, but all the staff are regulars and thoroughly enjoy it. Make sure
to stop into Florida Victorian located next door to DaVinci’s for some eclectic antiques. DaVinci’s has unique beer and
wine selections that change regularly. They also have live music Friday and Saturday nights that is usually free to the
public. Try it out and say hello to Josh, Madison, and Robbie. Become a fan on Facebook at…

That’s all the news for this month.


“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” Abraham Lincoln

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