Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week

Since 1982, the last week of September has been designated by the American Library Association as Banned Books Week - Celebrating the Freedom to Read.

From the ALA website:

Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

As the Intellectual Freedom Manual (ALA, 7th edition) states:

“Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”

Even though books are often challenged for the best intentions -- to protect others from difficult or objectionable ideas -- the censorship of books is always dangerous in a democracy. As John Stuart Mill states in In Liberty:
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

A book is considered to have been challenged when someone makes an attempt to have it removed from a public or school library, a curriculum or to otherwise limit access to the book in any way. The book is not considered to have been banned unless the challenge is successful and access to the book is restricted in some way.

In the 21st century the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling top the list of those books challenged and/or banned. Other familiar titles include Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, A Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. See the complete list of the top 100 challenged/banned books since 2000.

Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard, LLC

I have had a million topics over the last week or so to write about but somehow just never seemed to be able to put anything on paper, or should that be on-screen.

There are dozens of pieces to the puzzle known as Paragraphs and right now it seems like they will never fit together. Any of you who have put together jigsaw puzzles may understand the feeling - first, you pick out the straight edge pieces and assemble the border, then you continue to lay out as many of the pieces as will fit on your table, maybe even sorting them by color. Up to this point the process has been made up of short term, definable goals but now with all 1500 nearly identical pieces spread out everywhere the vision of a completed puzzle seems nearly impossible to imagine. How are all these little pieces ever going to fit into the whole and where does one begin?

Well, that is the position I feel like I am in. The border is completed and all the details are laid out, posted to some computer file, jotted down on a card somewhere, filed in a folder, or just rattling around in my brain and waiting to be put in place. But instead of being able to begin assembling the pieces it seems I just keep finding additional pieces and I can't see where they will ever all fit together!

One section of the puzzle which seems to be coming together - like when you are able to find all the copyright pieces and connect them to the border in the lower right hand corner - is the legal formation of a company.

After mulling things over and over and over I finally just made a decision and chose the Limited Liability Company to be the business structure for Paragraphs. For all those marketing types I am a testament to the power of TV advertising - since Robert Shapiro and the ads for LegalZoom.com began to penetrate my brain and I thought, why not? Well here I am a week later and I have a professional-looking leather-bound portfolio with Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard, LLC, embossed in gold on the spine, complete with a State of Texas certificate recognizing the company's existence, a company seal, and all the other necessary legal documents. They also prepared the applications for a Federal ID number and State of Texas Sales Tax Certificate. I was hesitant about using an on-line company, but for the limited purpose of getting the necessary papers on file, with the correct federal and state agencies, where an attorney would be helpful but not required, this service can save a lot of time and headaches for a reasonable cost.

Friday, September 26, 2008

If You Want To Know Why We Are In This Mess

With the news of bank failures, investment firm takeovers and government bailouts or rescue plans Shelf Awareness provided a list of books which bookstore owners and librarians are recommending to readers who want to understand how things could get this bad and are looking for ideas on how the mess can be cleaned up. While there are many who say they didn't recognize the signs which warned of the financial markets impending implosion, many of these authors anticipated the current crisis and their books offer a different perspective.

To understand what happened:
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein (Picador, $16, 9780312427993/0312427999), which appeared in paperback in June. Glen Robbe of the Stanford Bookstore called this title "prescient" claims the hardcover book trailer is "so compelling that you can't not want to read the book after seeing it."

I.O.U.S.A.: One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt. by Addison Wiggin and Kate Incontrera (Wiley, $19.95, 9780470222775/0470222778), which has a pub date of September 29. Carol Hill, owner of Book Mine, Leadville, Colo., said that this book is "very readable, with the obvious advantage that it also provides a picture of where we are today. As the blurb on the back notes, it is 'defiantly nonpartisan,' including interviews with Warren Buffet, Alice Rivlin, Robert Rubin, Ron Paul, Paul Volker, Alan Greenspan and Paul O'Neill among others."

Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips (Viking, $25.95, 9780670019076/0670019070), which appeared in April. By the author of American Theocracy and American Dynasty, Bad Money notes that 20% of the economy is based on finance and if it is in trouble, it will have a major effect on the rest of the economy. Oh yes.

The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do About It by Robert Shiller (Princeton University Press, $16.95, 780691139296/0691139296) is an August title. Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten of 800-CEO-READ, commented: "Shiller's work on housing values is well-known and originally established in Irrational Exuberance. This book describes pretty clearly the mortgage crisis we are in and offers some solutions to get out."

For information on the names we wish we could ignore or had never heard:

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan (Penguin, $17, 9780143114161/0143114166), published in paperback earlier this month. Robbe of the Stanford Bookstore said that the paperback edition with its new epilogue includes "more information" from the former Fed chairman and "has some important things to say."

Essays on the Great Depression by Ben Bernanke (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691118208/0691118205), published in 2004, offers "insight into what the current Fed chairman is thinking" and "reading his perspective on the last event of this magnitude may help understand what he does in this one," Covert and Sattersten noted.

And it is good, I suppose, to realize we've been here before:

The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind (Portfolio, $16,9781591840534/1591840538), first published in 2003. In a review, Jack Covert of 800-CEO-BOOK wrote with foresight that Enron's failure could happen again "when you have hubris at the CEO level, sales peoples' compensation based on short term success, upper level people totally focused on growth to satisfy short term Wall Street success, an accounting system that supports this concept, and finally an accounting firm that doesn't do a good job of oversight. Add to this a deregulated industry and watch what happens."

It's not all about Wall Street:

The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker by Steven Greenhouse (Knopf, $25.95, 9781400044894/1400044898), an April book. Aaron Curtis, quartermaster of the buying office at Books & Books in Florida, said the book, which includes suggestions and examples for improving the lot of working-class America, is "not Wall Street specific but very relevant."

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder (Bantam, $35, 9780553805093/0553805096), appears on Monday. A former insurance industry analyst and managing director at Morgan Stanley, Schroeder had full access to Buffett.
The complete list on Shelf Awareness

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Political Labels According to LBJ

In yesterday's Britannica Blog, Robert McHenry discusses a quote from then Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson that appeared in the 1958 Winter Issue of the Texas Quarterly. As we are nearing the end of what has been a historic Presidential campaign and yet at the same time in many ways a campaign that has failed to rise to what many hoped would be a new level of issue-oriented political contest, I think LBJ's words are still relevant.

I am a free man, an American, a United States Senator, and a Democrat, in that order.

I am also a liberal, a conservative, a Texan, a taxpayer, a rancher, a businessman, a consumer, a parent, a voter, and not as young as I used to be nor as old as I expect to be – and I am all these things in no fixed order.

I am unaware of any descriptive word in the second paragraph which qualifies, modifies, amends, or is related by hyphenation to the terms listed in the first paragraph. In consequence, I am not able – nor even the least interested in trying – to define my political philosophy by the choice of a one-word or two-word label. This may be against the tide, but, if so, the choice is deliberate.

At the heart of my own beliefs is a rebellion against this very process of classifying, labeling, and filing Americans under headings: regional, economic, occupational, religious, racial, or otherwise. I bridle at the very casualness with which we have come to ask each other, “What is your political philosophy?”…

It is a part of my own philosophy to regard individuality of political philosophy as a cornerstone of American freedom and, more specifically, as a right expressly implied in our nation’s basic law and indispensable to the proper functioning of our system.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

They Are So Cute, But They Are Not Pets

The following is from The Texas Observer - A Tiger's Tale by Melissa del Bosque. Sometimes I really wonder about the things we as humans do to the animals that share the planet with us. This article was very disturbing to me.

You might think it’s illegal to buy or sell an endangered tiger cub in Texas, but it isn’t. For $500, you can buy an orange Bengal tiger and tie it up in your yard, no questions asked (a white tiger will cost you $5,000). It’s all perfectly legal in Texas.

When state and federal authorities seize exotic animals along the border, they often call Jerry Stones, facilities director at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. Because of its proximity to the border, the Brownsville zoo has become a kind of repository for seized animals and plants. With the animal trade booming, Stones has been receiving a lot of calls lately from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Customs asking him to please take an animal off their hands.

“It never stops,” says Stones, sitting behind his desk in a cramped office. He’s a self-described Nebraska farm boy from a “big” town of 6,000 people. He fell in love with the zoo business in his early 20s. In 1970 he left his job at the Omaha zoo to help run the brand new Gladys Porter Zoo, built and stocked with animals by Gladys Porter, an heiress to the J.C. Penney fortune. The 31-acre zoological and botanical park in downtown Brownsville has received everything from seized eastern gray kangaroos to rednecked wallabies to African lions (it currently has two). And six tigers. The influx of tigers has become overwhelming.

“I am about tigered out,” Stones says. “We have more than reached our tiger limit here at the Gladys Porter Zoo.” But he did find room for a certain set of six tiger cubs recently seized in McAllen.

Stones takes me to see a bobcat named Bodie recently brought to the zoo by South Padre Island Animal Control. The bobcat was purchased as a cub by a private owner, who had it declawed, neutered, and its canines filed down. When we arrive at the medical facility, Thomas deMaar, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, is checking on Bodie. “Basically this cat is a living pelt that can no longer defend itself,” deMaar says.

The bobcat’s owner used to drive around with the animal in the front seat of his Lamborghini. Then the bobcat reached sexual maturity. It ran away five times. Each time the local animal control officers had to track it down. “Finally, they called us and begged us to take it,” deMaar says, shaking his head. Stones and deMaar want the pet owner to provide some money for the bobcat’s care. So far, they’ve had no luck. Says deMaar grimly, “We are more of an unsubsidized humane shelter than an actual zoo.”

Back at the Gladys Porter Zoo, Jerry Stones does his best to convince the public that buying an adorable tiger cub is a bad idea. Unfortunately for Stones, the idea still hasn’t caught on. So Stones is back on the phone trying to find homes for seized and abandoned tigers and lions. “I’m not advocating that these animals be put down,” he says. “But they are living a life of hell—it’s not a good life. They are being put out in five-acre pens and shot in canned hunts or being left tied up their entire lives. It’s no way to treat a living creature.”
Read the complete story here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Tale Out Of Luck

HE CALLED HIMSELF, among other aliases, Wes James. Hunkered down now beside a fire of compact yet functional design, he made it a point to actually think of his name as Wes. The crucial thing here was to keep branding the current alias into his mind, as surely as he aimed to use his running iron, now heating in the coals, to do some quick branding of its own

The South Padre International Music Fest will feature Willie Nelson as one of the numerous entertainers on the Island during the weekend of October 31.

And, thinking about Willie, he has written his first fictional work which will be published by Hachette Book Group, Inc.

You can read an excerpt here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now I Understand

For a lot of bibliophiles the idea of owning a corner bookshop is a dream that occasionally flits across the back of ones mind, as witnessed by the popularity of the movie I've Got Mail. My theory is that everyone who loves books could imagine themselves in the role of Meg Ryan.

But, as I began preparing for this adventure, I heard a familiar refrain from many booksellers, "I don't have time to read, anymore." I thought, can that really be true. When one is surrounded by books, galleys, reviews and everything new in the literary world how could one not have time to take advantage of all these treasures.

The truth is, I have fallen victim to the same problem. Where I used to read a couple of books a week while probably working my way through a serious more difficult read at the same time, now I have a stack of books I would like to at least skim and a list of books that sound like good candidates for curling up with, but I never seem to be able to get to any of them.

Instead of reading books, I have been reduced to reading about books. Interesting, yes, but just not the same. And then there is the ubiquitous computer and internet.

To be able to live this daydream, I needed to figure out a way to sell enough books and sidelines to support myself. Yet there are times when I reviewed the mission statement, vision and plans for Paragraphs and felt they read more like something prepared for a non-profit or civic organization. But this is the nature of being a neighborhood bookshop as opposed to a B&N or Half-Price Books.

The part that I hadn't considered, being a relative recluse, is that having a community business means coming out of ones cocoon and socializing, listening, talking, and just plain interacting with others. And in today's world that means spending an awful lot of time behind a computer screen. Answering emails, commenting on blogs and participating in online discussions has replaced huge chunks of my solitary reading time

The web has created an entirely new model for marketing. The advent of social media almost requires one, if she wants to be recognized, respected, and ultimately have another spend money in her physical shop or online store, to establish an on-line identity. As I review the stories of successful booksellers, many have a full-time internet guru specifically in charge of social networking.

Gone are the days of a single website, even with an attached e-commerce capability. Now one needs to consider Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and blogging platforms, not to mention Del-ici-ous, Stumble, Technorati and Digg.

And what has just occurred to me is that if it takes the bookseller this much time to interact with others via this cornucopia of networks, when do the people I am communicating with, have the time to read?

So unless it is a hobby, I think the days of the curmudgeonly gentleman sitting in the back of a dusty book-filled shop wearing a tweed blazer and smoking his pipe while contemplating the words of a literary giant, have passed into history.

Correction Made

Thank you Ann, for pointing out the error in my post about the Indiebound Community.

The store which opened on South Padre Island and which is mentioned in the post should have been Tuesday Morning not Linens and Things.

Sorry about that, I am beginning to feel the effects of some sleep deprivation as life becomes increasingly interesting.

Indiebound Community Launched Today

The online community is a vibrant gathering place for supporters of indie retail businesses. Those who register for the community can share information about indie retailers (including locations and specialties), comment on community issues, offer book recommendations, and exchange personal communication. Visitors are encouraged to add stores to the national indie retailer map, to become fans of stores, and to connect with like-minded indie enthusiasts.
"The mission of the IndieBound.org Community is to help people across the U.S. share and find great independently owned businesses," said ABA Chief Marketing Officer Meg Smith. "By connecting indie-conscious people with local businesses, we're working to strengthen the health of Main Streets. Thriving local economies make for sustainable communities and happy residents." Smith stressed that the community site is "a work in progress. We're planning on rolling out new features and new content on a regular basis over the next six to 12 months."
I blogged about this earlier and threw the idea out on the SPI Forum to mixed reviews, although I was pleased to see there does exist a modicum of interest in starting some kind of an Independent Business movement.

I was pleasantly surprised. Some time ago, I suggested my preference upon the arrival of a Tuesday Morning, while welcome, for an independent specialty shop that would offer a variety of housewares and gift items selected specifically for our community and which would add to the overall image and character of the Island. Most of the response on the SPI Forum was in favor of franchise, brand-name, retail establishments. The general consensus seemed to be a desire for recognized businesses where the merchandise or service provided is standardized and the consumer knows what to expect because the corporate ownership allows for less variety between stores. I must admit to a sense of discouragment at this attitude since I had felt the residents of South Padre Island would be more eclectic in their attitudes.

In all fairness, part of what may have influenced the attitude which I observed in response to my plea for the indie retailer, is the general lack of availability of many goods and services on the Island, and so even if the provider is a franchise, the ability to find what one needs without leaving the Island is certainly attractive.

The part of the Indiebound community which makes it different than most programs rolled out by the ABA, is its focus on all community independent businesses, not just bookstores. And this is consistent with the idea of booksellers as an integral part of a community. What it provides to South Padre Island businesses is access to another national demographic, which may not have been reached by the town's more conventional advertising without any additional expense. Furthermore, the concept is driven by personal recommendations from consumers - so if a business does not provide quality goods or services, they will probably not have many fans or positive comments.
Users who have created accounts can do a number of things:
  • Post comments on retail stores, whether it be a review of each store, a personal experience there, some recommendations -- anything that can help other people learn more about that store;
  • Edit existing stores to add more information -- store hours, pictures of the store, etc.;
  • Add interest tags both to their own accounts and to stores ... tags like "Southern literature" or "vegan" help connect users and stores, and help everyone discover new things;
  • Become fans of stores they know and love -- so that other people can find stores through their user profile;
  • Add new stores -- great indie retailers they're familiar with; and
  • Add other users as friends, and leave notes for other users.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Free Expression Threatened by "Libel Tourism"

From the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression:
On Wednesday, September 10, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) joined 18 groups in issuing a statement urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to support the Freedom of Speech Protection Act of 2008 (S. 2977), legislation that provides that foreign libel judgments cannot be enforced in the U.S. if the speech is not actionable under U.S. law. The groups are concerned about the growing threat posed by libel suits that are filed in foreign countries in an effort to intimidate American writers and publishers.

As a recent example of libel tourism, ABFFE cited the lawsuit filed by Saudi billionaire Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz against Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American expert on terrorism, over statements in her book, Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It (Bonus Books).

Although the book was never published in England and only 23 copies have been sold there via online booksellers, Bin Mafouz brought suit in an English court. Under British law, the burden of proof in the first instance is on the defendant to prove the truth of any allegedly libelous statement. Faced with the prospect of enormous legal costs to meet this burden, and objecting as a matter of principle to having to litigate in England without having published her work there, Ehrenfeld refused to defend the suit. The English court entered a default judgment, enjoined further distribution of the book in the U.K., and awarded substantial damages and legal fees.


One Book, One Denver

I have not followed Denver politics very closely over the last few years but from a distance I have been impressed with the direction Mayor Hickenlooper has taken the city.

One of my favorite projects of the Mayor's is his citywide book club known as One Book, One Denver. I realize this is not a unique program, but in fact has been implemented in many cities across the country as a means to encourage reading and to promote literacy, but that doesn't lessen my approval of "Hick" in his advocacy for literature in the public forum.

One Book, One Denver was created to build community and encourage people to read. Denver citizens, young and old, are invited to join others in the shared experience of reading the same book and participating in fun activities in September and October.

As an email, announcing the 2008 selection states:
Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone all over our city were reading and talking to one another? One Book One Denver aims to ignite that kind of enthusiasm for books and conversation by inviting all of us in Denver and the metro area to read the same book, and then discuss the book with friends, family and neighbors.
2008 is the fifth year of One Book, One Denver and the Mayor has just announced The Thin Man by American author Dashiell Hammett as this year's selection.

I think this could be a great idea for South Padre Island, and we could advertise it throughout the valley, inviting people from Brownsville, Harlingen, McCallen, as well as the smaller communities to take part. Our neighboring schools and libraries could also be included, encouraging a sense of inclusiveness among our neighbors.

Following is a list of free events offered by the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, as a part of One Book, One Denver, to give you an idea of what is possible.

One Book, Many Films
Enjoy free film screenings of classic and modern hardboiled detective and film noir movies!

The Thin Man Radio Dramas
Join in as an audience member for tapings of an old-fashioned radio drama or download the podcast!

Three Thin Discussions
Join us for exciting discussions about topics from the book, from some of Denver's most engaging experts!

Writing Workshop
Interested in writing a novel, but having a difficult time getting started? This workshop is for you!

Power Read
Join a community read along of The Thin Man... We will start at the beginning and leave no page unturned!

Brown Bag Lunch with Library of Congress Historian John Cole
Bring your lunch and join a discussion about our national Library!

One Book, One Denver Final Celebration
Join Mayor John Hickenlooper for a celebration of this year's One Book, One Denver selection!
Teen Fiction Contest
Are you a young author? We want to see your skills!

Book Club in a Bag
8 copies of The Thin Man, 8 reading guides, 1 tote bag and your book club!

The Thin Man at the Kirkland
Enjoy discounted tickets to the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

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September 11 --1992 and 2001

Ever since September 11, 2001 the very phrase "9/11" has invoked feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and the advent of war.

To me, although I also experience all of the above, September 11, brings thoughts of a beautiful, fall, Friday night spent with friends and family, and one of the happiest days of my life.

Yes, 16 years ago today, Griff and I were married in Denver at a full nuptial mass held in the Church of the Risen Christ and then partied into the early morning hours at the Museum of Western Art located in downtown Denver, across from the historic Brown Palace Hotel, where we spent our wedding night.

The reason we selected 9/11 (besides it being a date that the church and priest were available) was so Griff, who is a 1st responder, an instructor-trainer, a first aid and 1st responder instructor, and I am not sure what else in the 1st responder, emergency medical field, could easily remember the date.

Needless to say, remembering the date of our anniversary is no longer a problem. It has been an interesting 16 years to say the least, but my life has been more fulfilled by having the opportunity to share it with Griff.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2008 Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (Atlantic)
Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant, The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher, The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

The winning novel will be chosen Tuesday, October 14 in Guildhall, London

The Man Booker Prize

To get free excerpts from the finalists for viewing on a mobile platform, enter mpb.gospoken.com into your mobile web browser.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

A Bookstore Quote

From Shelf Awareness:
"I am keen to preserve what is good in life, and that is often at odds with what is most profitable in life. Leaving aside the price arguments about supermarkets, bookshops have, or should have, a special place in our culture. We need books, and books are best browsed in the energetic peace of a small store where the owner loves reading, just like we do. . . . Books are for everyone. Culture is for everyone. There is no need to apologise. No need to explain. The small bookshop where you are always welcome is an essential part of life."--Jeanette Winterson in the London Times.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Getting Back to Business

The last two weeks were full of emotional highs and lows as I followed the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the news and on the political blogs. As I posted earlier, I was proud of Denver and how this city handled acting as host to the DNC and being here and able to soak in the experience was pretty incredible.

But, alas, now I can concentrate on the final stages in preparing to move to the Island. The time has come to get back to making lists because my mind is having trouble staying focused and the paperwork on my desk is growing exponentially each day. I really do not know what happens to the days -- they seem to just slip away, then it is a week that has gone by without my realizing it.

Today, I returned a contract to the SPI Chamber for an advertisement in the 2009 Visitor Guide, since I hope I will be open by the time it is published, although I am not sure how I will list a phone number and all the other important stats that usually are displayed. I'll need to think of a clever way to say that I am not providing any information while inviting the reader to stop by to find out what Paragraphs is all about.

Even more exciting, I am enrolling in what is known as the First Steps program with Baker and Taylor (a book distributor). I have identified a number of categories of books, music, and DVDs (thanks to everyone who responded to the survey) and in return B&T will send me a list of titles based on their sales reports and knowledge of bookstore inventories. Then the fun will begin as I get to go through approximately 6,500 entries on a spreadsheet and decide which of the suggested books I want to order, which books I don't want and finally I will have the opportunity to add to this list those books I have been keeping track of for the last year.

I have been feeling an awful lot like the proverbial kid in the candy store as the boxes of publisher catalogs announcing the new fall releases arrived on my doorstep. For a person who cannot enter a bookstore without coming out with an armful of potential new experiences waiting to be shared with new friends and characters, these catalogs are a veritable treasure trove of possibilities. Deciding on which of the many fascinating books to carry is going to be the hardest part of this bookselling business.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Boomerang Billy - Sodus Point , NY

As Griff begins to realize that his wife is serious about moving to SPI and opening a bookstore he has started to discuss my plans, and hopefully his, with more of the residents of Alton and Sodus Point NY.

Even though we have been wintering on the Island for a number of years, most of our NY neighbors were still a little confused about where he disappeared to for the winter. But as word spread, we were again reminded of what a small world we actually live in.

Boomerang Billy, the legendary character of the Island was originally from Sodus Point NY and while Griff knows his brother, they never made the connection between Griff's winter destination and South Padre Island until just recently. So I am really excited because he has a wealth of information about John McMahon (Boomerang) which he is willing to share but what I am really thrilled about is the boomerang which he has given me to display in Paragraphs.

I am honored to be able to provide this little bit of historical information to what is already well known about our sandbar.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The True Cost of a Book

imageThe Wall Street Journal had an interesting discussion in The Juggle section about how people meet their book needs. When dealing with hectic schedules while trying to meet the obligations of work, home, and family the readers related their feelings about the value of public libraries, when and where they buy books, and the relative importance of books in their lives. Below are a few of their comments.
I’ve found that I don’t really save all that much money by cutting out book buying. The problem is that if I don’t have a book to read, I’ll start looking around for other types of entertainment that are usually more expensive. A book costs between 8 and 30 dollars, and generally will keep me entertained for 5 to 15 hours, depending on the length. By contrast, a movie is $12 and only keeps me entertained for two and a
half hours (rentals are a little cheaper, but still not as cost-effective as a book). (emphasis mine)
Books are like baking soda in my house - we always keep a supply on hand.

Yeah, I could choose to rise and go to bed with the sun, hand dip my water from a well, and read only the Bible. I’ve chosen to pay for a few luxuries instead.

So no one here shops at an independent bookstore? Browsing in local bookstores as a child and in college made special memories and we seek out shops when we travel now. Their owners may reccomend something we’ve never heard of and the shops
have a sense of place that B&n or Borders lack.

Our house is also overflowing with books.Yeah, it is in need of culling every once in a while. But it is part of who we are as a family.

Hasn’t anyone read the studies directly linking books in the home and academic success? Both our kids benefited from this “literacy-rich” environment and achieve well above their peers who do not read for pleasure. We love the library and visit regularly, especially for audiobooks. But books at home are a must. And my daughter’s perfect critical reading score on the SAT was a bonus ;-)

What an interesting topis - guilty as charged on books - I spend 100-200 a month on them and rarely do I re-read. I do donate those that aren’t “keepers” but I tend to keep them. The decorate my living room walls. I like having them around. My only rule is that I don’t buy entertainment reads in hardcover.

For people who love buying books, I encourage you to share that love with children. I think buying books for kids is money well spent. My grandmother has frequented the same local bookstore going on 20 years now and always gave her grandchildren several well-chosen (with the help of the store-owner), hardcover books for Christmas. She made them extra special by writing a message inside each book about why she thought we would enjoy it. Many of the books exposed me to ideas and cultures I would have otherwise known nothing about. I now have a large collection of beautiful children’s and young adult books that I cherish and can’t wait to share with my own children some day!

I love libraries but rarely can make it these days due to my schedule. Therefore, though I am frugal in other areas, I buy books without guilt. If there is one thing I’d like my consumer dollars to support, it’s writers! I do wish there was an independent bookstore near me rather than B&N (I work in midtown Manhattan).
Via ABA Omnibus
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How To Sell a Book

How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down

Product #: 7084
Price: $19.95
160 pages
5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
50 color photos
Pub Date: May 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9790470-8-4
First Edition
A GREEN BOOK: Text printed on reycled paper with 100% post-consumer content

Get selected to be a Vice-Presidential candidate when no one has heard of you!!

From Shelf Awareness:
Senator John McCain's announcement Friday that he had picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate caused a bit of an earthquake at Epicenter Press, the Kenmore, Wash., house that has the only biography of the Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah: How a Small Town Girl Turned Alaska's Political Establishment on Its Ear by Kaylene Johnson.

Epicenter was founded 20 years ago by Sturgis and Lael Morgan, who were both Alaska journalists. The press specializes in general nonfiction titles about the state as well as books about sled dog racing and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. According to the Seattle Times, Sturgis decided to publish a biography of Governor Palin after meeting her at a fundraiser in 2006. "No matter what you think about her politics, she's an interesting and an unusual politician," he told the paper.

To write the book, Sturgis recruited Kaylene Johnson, who lives near Wasilla, the town where Palin was mayor and still lives. Johnson has contributed to a variety of publications and written several books.

Johnson told the Associated Press (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) that while working on the biography of the Governor, she met with Palin twice and corresponded via e-mail. After the book was published, she asked Palin for her reaction, but the Governor said she hadn't read the book because it was "too strange" to read about herself.

On Friday morning, Kent Sturgis, president and co-founder of Epicenter, wrote, "The incoming phone traffic at our little office, mostly from media looking for the author, kept our two lines tied up for six hours, unable to make outgoing calls because of volume. Thank goodness for cell phones!"

By 10 a.m. that day, Epicenter sold the last 3,000 hardcover copies it had of Sarah, originally published in April. Epicenter is distributed by Graphic Arts Center Publishing, which itself is handled by Ingram Publisher Services. By the end of Friday, IPS had orders for 40,000 more copies. On Friday, Epicenter arranged with Ingram's Lightning Source POD operation to print a trade paperback edition of Sarah. By Friday evening, Lightning Source received the necessary files from Epicenter and began printing books. As of last night, some 30,000 copies had been printed and are shipping today. The Lightning Source staff reportedly worked overtime over the Labor Day weekend to make this happen.

The new edition, with a slightly different subtitle, is called Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down and is priced at $15.95 (9780980082562/0980082560). The hardcover was 159 pages.

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