February 21, 2013

Len Riggio, Smarter Than Me

by Alan Beatts

Yesterday I mentioned that Barnes and Noble announced that they were closing about a third of their stores over the next ten years and I speculated that it would neither take that long nor stop at a third.  I also suggested that, if I were the founder of the company, Len Riggio,  I'd spin off the Nook ebook reader section as a separate company and then dump the physical bookstore part of the business.

Well, seems like Mr. Riggio is ahead of me.  I did a little bit of digging and found that the first part already happened.

It seems that, as part of the deal last year in which Microsoft invested a ton of money in the Nook side of B&N's business, a subsidiary of B&N was created which incorporates both the Nook and ebook part of the business as well as all the college bookstores.  It's called Nook Media LLC and it's a subsidiary of B&N -- _not_ a separate company -- for now.  The October press release announcing Nook Media said in part,
"As previously announced, there is no set timetable for Barnes & Noble's review of strategic options for its investment in NOOK Media LLC. There can be no assurance that the review will result in a strategic separation or the creation of a stand-alone public company. Barnes & Noble does not intend to comment further regarding the review unless and until a decision is made."

In other words, "We haven't decided.  We might.  And we're not going to talk about it anymore."

February 20, 2013

The Last Man Standing

by Alan Beatts

Leonard Riggio, the driving force behind Barnes and Noble for the past 40 years, is a very smart businessman.  I think he's smart in a hugely cut-throat sort of way, but smart all the same.  He is certainly seeing the writing on the wall when it comes to sales of physical books.  Barnes and Noble recently announced that they will be closing around a third of their stores in the next decade.  Their stated aim is to drop the number of stores from the current 689 to somewhere around 450-500.

It's possible, I suppose, that it will actually play out that way over the next decade.  But I doubt it.  My suspicion is that, in a little bit, we're going to hear that plan has been "adjusted in the face of changing consumer habits" and is going to go much faster.  A number of sources, including The Atlantic and Knowledge@Wharton have recently run articles detailing some of the problems B&N faces.  Nook sales are down (12.6%), store sales are down (10.9%), and Amazon continues to take business away from them.

February 05, 2013

Little, Fast Mammals

by Alan Beatts

Last month I shared some pretty grim figures about the rate that print book sales are decreasing.  I also pointed out that, if sales continue to drop at that rate, by 2015 print sales will have dropped by 44% overall since 2009.  Sales shrinking to that degree will make it very hard for bookstores to stay open. However I also suggested that it could be an opportunity for smaller bookstores as well as specialty and used bookshops.

This month I'm going to go into detail about how those sorts of stores can continue to survive, and even grow, despite the contraction of the printed book business.

January Bestsellers

1) A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
2) Impulse by Steven Gould
3) Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
4) Tenth of December by George Saunders
5) Tiger by the Tail by John Ringo and Ryan Sear
6) Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire
7) Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
8) Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
9) Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
10) Blood and Bone by Ian Cameron Esslemont

1) Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander
2) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
3) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
4) Snuff by Terry Pratchett
5) Throne of Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
6) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
7) Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
8) Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
9) Feed by Mira Grant
10) Soulless by Gail Carriger

Trade Paperbacks
1) Nexus by Ramez Naam
2) Turing and Burroughs by Rudy Rucker
3) Redshirts by John Scalzi
4) World War Z by Max Brooks
5) The Departure by Neal Asher

January News Roundup

* Overheard in the store: "Mixing random liquids together does NOT count as Science."
"If the end result is tasty, then yes, it does!"

* Sometimes I really love the Internet. The White House has officially rejected a petition to build the Death Star:https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/isnt-petition-response-youre-looking  and then the Empire responded: http://hypervocal.com/news/2013/star-wars-responds-death-star/

* Call for local writers! Can you write a short science fiction, fantasy, or horror play? San Francisco Theater Pub wants you!  Details here: sftheaterpub.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/call-for-writers/

* Jim Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, Charles Stross & Patrick Rothfuss do something awesome for charity (& to show how sexist book covers can be): http://www.jimchines.com/2013/01/group-cover-pose-reveal/

* Marvelous video on why the Moon landing couldn't have been faked: http://gizmodo.com/5977205/why-the-moon-landings-could-have-never-ever-been-faked-the-definitive-proof?utm_source=gizmodo.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation

* Artist Dan Bransfield sketched this patron at Borderlands Cafe: http://danbran.com/2013/01/13/borderlands-cafe/

* Happy 5th Anniversary, io9.com ! Also, Annalee Newitz explains what an io9 IS: http://io9.com/5977774/what-is-an-io9-and-where-did-it-come-from

* Don't miss Naked Dudes Reading Lovecraft at Stage Werks Theatre 2/13 @ 8 pm! Cost is $20.  (I'm thinking this one is 18+.) http://www.stagewerx.org/shows.html#dudes

* Pssssst! Hey, you there. . .wanna buy a castle? http://www.businessinsider.com/castle-homes-for-sale-2013-1?op=1

February Upcoming Events

Cory Doctorow, HOMELAND (Tor, Hardcover, $17.99) Friday, February 8th at 7:00 pm

Brandon Sanderson, MEMORY OF LIGHT (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99) Saturday, February 9th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, with special guests Sophie Littlefield and Matt Richtel, Saturday, February 9th at 7:00 pm

Marie Brennan. A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS: A MEMOIR BY LADY TRENT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, February 10th at 3:00 pm

Peter Brett, THE DAYLIGHT WAR (Del Rey, Hardcover, $28.00) Sunday, February 17th at 3:00 pm

Editor John Joseph Adams with special guest Seanan McGuire, THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99 and Trade Paperback, $14.99) Saturday, February 23rd at 3:00 pm

Dan Wells, FRAGMENTS (Balzer & Bray, Hardcover, $17.99) Sunday, March 10th at 3:00 pm

We're also delighted to announce that we'll be hosting John Scalzi in May!  Stay tuned for more awesome upcoming events.

Details after the break

February 02, 2013

Lonely Red Artic Herrings Rising

What the staff is reading:

Alan: "ARCTIC RISING by Tobias Buckell.  It's a nice near future techno-thriller revolving around global warming.  Reminds me of some of John Barnes' work."

Cary: "LONELY WEREWOLF GIRL by Martin Millar.  Very cool."

Claud: "UNNATURAL DEATH, THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT THE BELLONA CLUB, STRONG POISON, FIVE RED HERRINGS, and HAVE HIS CARCASE, by Dorothy L. Sayers (all rereads); ILARIO, by Mary Gentle (weirdest Mary Sue *ever*); I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU, by Dan Wells; THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, by Shirley Jackson (reread); HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CAT IS PLOTTING TO KILL YOU, by Matthew Inman; DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?, by Philip K. Dick; CLEAN, by Alex Hughes; WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL?, by Jeanette Winterson; HERE I COME AND OTHER STORIES, by Alex Jennings; and JOHN DIES AT THE END, by David Wong.

Heather: "Embarrassed to say I am still reading RED COUNTRY by Joe Abercrombie.  (Haven't had to take Muni much lately so not as much reading time.)"

Jude: "On a whim I read Julia Child's MY LIFE IN FRANCE, which was adorable.  Then I finished LONELY WEREWOLF GIRL by Martin Millar (reread) and then powered through CURSE OF THE WOLF GIRL, the sequel, in a day.  Why isn't Martin Millar hugely famous?  I don't understand!"

Naamen: " LADY LAZARUS by Michelle Lang."