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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

“In a recession, what people want is a happy ending.

“At a time when booksellers are struggling to lure readers, sales of romance novels are outstripping most other categories of books and giving some buoyancy to an otherwise sluggish market.

Harlequin Enterprises, the queen of the romance world, reported that fourth-quarter earnings were up 32 percent over the same period a year earlier, and Donna Hayes, Harlequin’s chief executive, said that sales in the first quarter of this year remained very strong. While sales of adult fiction overall were basically flat last year, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, the romance category was up 7 percent after holding fairly steady for the previous four years.” (more @ NY Times)

Related: That Old Flame

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“What’s the right price for an e-book? No more than $10, says a group of Amazon Kindle e-book owners — and they have found a novel way to make themselves heard.

“Some 250 Kindle readers are using Amazon’s own book-tagging system to mark e-books priced more than $10 with the tag ‘9 99 boycott‘. Their argument: A Kindle book is more restricted in its use than a paper book and therefore should not cost as much. . . .

“The protesters are the latest in a long line of consumers to rebel against restrictive copy-protection technologies. Music lovers have been circumventing copy protection for decades, leading some labels to begin removing digital rights management (DRM) technology entirely. Film studios and consumers have clashed over copy protection in DVDs. Even iPhone apps are not immune from DRM-busting pirates.” (more @ Wired)

Related: Pirates Board Apple’s iPhone App Store

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PD*27902069“A German pastor who sought to teach children the Easter message by fashioning bibilical scenes out of specially adapted Playmobil figures has been ordered by the toy maker to dismantle his creations.

“Rev Markus Bomhard, 38, an evangelical preacher from Eschborn, Hesse, glued breasts on to his ‘Eve’ character and even recreated the Passion in plastic, depicting the Crucifixion by using a hairdryer to melt and mould the Christ figure’s hands to a cross.

“But the montage attracted the wrath of Germany’s favourite toy company, which produces the Klicky figures used by the pastor, after a series of pictures were published on the internet.” (more @ Daily Telegraph UK)

Meanwhile . . .

In Great Britain, “A nightclub leaflet showing the late Pope John Paul II holding a bottle of beer and dancing with a blonde woman has been banned.

“The Advertising Standards Authority branded the flyer offensive and ordered it to be removed [sic] a complaint by the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) on behalf of angry Poles and Catholics. . . .

“It was distributed to promote a night called Berserk at Club Fire nightclub in Ipswich.” (more @ Daily Telegraph UK)

[Update: (4/9/09) I’ve decided to leave empty the now-broken link where the image of the lecherous Pope leaflet appeared in my post. When the Daily Telegraph updated the article yesterday they apparently deleted the image, no doubt at the request of some “higher authority.” Commentary enough, I think, on the power of  “angry Poles and Catholics.”]

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bookfairArguably the most important annual book fair in the United States will be held this coming weekend, April 3-5, at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Avenue, at 67th Street) in New York City. General information (hours, entrance fees, etc) about the 49th annual event, organized by Sanford L. Smith and Associates and sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America can be found here.

The list of international exhibitors can be found here.

The annual New York fair is well worth the admission price even for those uninterested in writing large checks – as an exhibition of incunabula, rare and unusual books, periodicals and literary ephemera, the New York event is unrivaled in the United States, and probably the rest of the world as well.

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“Over the last four decades, Powell’s Books has swelled into the largest bookstore in North America — a capacious monument to reading that occupies a full square block of this often-drizzly city [Portland, Oregon]. But this year, growth has given way to anxiety.

“Michael Powell, the store’s owner, recently dropped plans for a $5 million expansion. An architect had already prepared the drawings. His bankers had signaled that financing was available. But the project no longer looked prudent, Mr. Powell concluded — not with sales down nearly 5 percent, stock markets extinguishing savings, home prices plunging and jobs disappearing.

“‘It’s going to take a period of time to recover,’ Mr. Powell said. ‘Whether it’s 2 years or 10 years I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going to be quick. People are nervous.'” (more @ NY Times)

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fromage-frais“The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-miligram Containers of Fromage Frais, published by Icon Group International, has been crowned the winner of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. The Bookseller received just over 5,000 votes on its online poll, with the study into the future of the diary product packaging securing a 32% share of the total vote since the shortlist was announced on 20th February.” (more @ Bookseller.com)

“The Diagram Prize began in 1978 as a way for Bruce Robertson, co-founder of the Diagram Group, an information and graphics company, to combat his ennui at the Frankfurt Book Fair. That was a bumper year for odd titles — nominees included ‘100 Years of British Retail Catering’ and ’50 New Poodle Grooming Styles’ — but the runaway winner was ‘Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Nude Mice.'” (more @ NY Times)

RelatedThe 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais

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“In the early to mid-19th century . . . the Upper West Side of Manhattan was open countryside, with large estates, white picket fences and wagons trundling along a rutted road already known as Broadway.

“Photographic evidence of that era is scant, as most studios offering the newfangled daguerreotypes were located several miles away at the island’s populated lower end and focused, literally, on that area. But one rural scene, recently discovered in New England, is going up for sale at Sotheby’s on Monday. It’s believed to date to 1848. . . .

“As the Sotheby’s picture predates the laying out of Gotham’s numbered cross streets, the exact location is unknown, but a notation on the back, signed by ‘L.B.,’ identifies it as on ‘the main road … called a continuation of Broadway.’ . . .

“Sotheby’s estimates the presale value of the daguerreotype at $50,000 to $70,000.” (more @ NPR)

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On the same day the New York Times reported that the city’s yellow cab industry is being spared from the worst effects of the recession by allowing riders to pay by credit card, the MTA announced major fare hikes for public transportation commuters:

“After a fiery hearing Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted 12 to 1 to approve subway, bus and commuter train fare hikes from 25% to 30% and impose severe service cuts, including elimination of two subway lines and 21 local bus routes. . . .

“Starting May 31, the monthly MetroCard, now $81, will cost $103 and a weekly MetroCard, now $25, will cost $31. The one-way bus and subway fare will rise from $2 to $2.50, a whopping 25% increase.

“Commuter train fares rise June 1, while MTA bridge and tunnel tolls jump July 11. Service cuts also include longer gaps between trains and the closure of a few stations overnight.” (more @ The Daily News)

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Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for The New Yorker magazine, on New York’s two new baseball stadiums, “the first time that two major-league stadiums have opened in the same city at the same time”:

“A stadium is a stage set as sure as anything on Broadway, and it determines the tone of the dramas within. Citi Field suggests a team that wants to be liked, even to the point of claiming some history that isn’t its own. Yankee Stadium, however, reflects an organization that is in the business of being admired, and is built to serve as a backdrop for the image of the Yankees, at once connected to the city and rising grandly above it.” (more @ The New Yorker)

RelatedTwo New Baseball Palaces, One Stoic, One Scrappy

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“There’s now a rumored-price tag on George W. Bush‘s forthcoming memoirs, ‘Decision Points:’ a $7 million advance from publisher Crown. How does that stack up to other Deciders?

“It’s $5 million less than Bill Clinton‘s advance for My Life$1 million less than Hillary Clinton got for Living History, and $2 million less than the advance for the memoirs of Tony Friggin’ Blair, the British prime minister who answered to some queen, and to George W. Bush. BURN.” (via Gawker)

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bozo“Alan W. Livingston, an entertainment executive who had significant roles in bringing Bozo, the Beatles and ‘Bonanza‘ to American audiences, died Friday at home in Beverly Hills. He was 91. . . .

“In 1963, Mr. Livingston was president of Capitol Records, which had declined three different times to release singles by a British band, then little known in the United States, called the Beatles. After another Capitol executive turned down a fourth opportunity, this one to release the song ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ a telephone call placed to Mr. Livingston probably changed rock ‘n roll history. . . .

“Capitol released the single and the next year brought the Beatles to the United States, unleashing the tsunami of adoration that came to be known as Beatlemania.” (more @ NY Times)

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superman“A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman has sold for $317,200 in an Internet auction. . . .

The winning bid for the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, whose cover features Superman lifting a car, was submitted Friday evening by John Dolmayan, drummer for the rock band System of a Down . . .

“Only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 are known to exist.” (more @ LA Times)

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viewmaster_red_with_reelFirst introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, “the iconic [View-Master] reels of tourist attractions, often packaged with a clunky plastic viewer and first sold to promote 3-D photography, are ending their 70-year run after years of diminishing sales. . . .

“Scenic discs are no longer a good fit for the Fisher-Price division of toy maker Mattel Inc., a spokeswoman said, and the company stopped making them in December. Fisher-Price, based in East Aurora, N.Y., will keep making better-selling reels of Shrek, Dora the Explorer and other animated characters, spokeswoman Juliette Reashor said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.” (more @ MSN)

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The full episode of last night’s The Daily Show featuring Jon Stewart‘s “interview” of CNBC’s Jim Cramer can be viewed here.

Related

UpdateRoubini: CNBC’s Jim Cramer A “Buffoon”

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niffenegger“Six years after the publication of her blockbuster best-selling novel, ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ Audrey Niffenegger has sold a new manuscript for close to $5 million, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. It is an especially significant sum at a time of retrenchment and economic uncertainty in the publishing world.

“After a fiercely contested auction, Scribner, a unit of Simon & Schuster, bought the rights to publish the new novel, ‘Her Fearful Symmetry,’ in the United States this fall. The book is a supernatural story about twins who inherit an apartment near a London cemetery and become embroiled in the lives of the building’s other residents and the ghost of their aunt, who left them the flat. . . .

“‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ is set to go on sale at the end of September, and will coincide with the British publication by Jonathan Cape this fall. The film adaptation of ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ directed by Robert Schwentke and starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, is scheduled for a February release.” (more @ NY Times)

RelatedCape confirms Niffenegger deal

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header1Mastro Auctions, responsible for the sale of over $250 million in sales since its inception in 1996, has ceased operations. 

“The suburban Chicago company’s assets have been taken over by a newly formed sports and Americana auction house, headed by former Mastro President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Allen, Vice President Ron Oser and Logistics and Auction Manager Mark Theotikos. The new company will be called Legendary Auctions. 

“Long-time collector/dealer Bill Mastro, who started Mastro Auctions in 1996 and served as Chairman and CEO, is leaving the hobby, according to a press release issued Tuesday night on behalf of Legendary Auctions. 

“‘Circumstances make it clear to me that the business needs to move in a different direction at this time,’ Mastro stated in the release. ‘Legendary Auctions is a positive step that allows everyone to be taken care of, especially our customers who have been so loyal. I am looking forward to taking some time off for now, and wish Legendary Auctions only the best as they move forward.'” (more @ Sports Collectors Daily)

Legendary Auction‘s Press Release announcing the acquisition of Mastro Auctions can be found here.

RelatedIs the Sports Collectibles Industry (or Mastro Auctions) on the Ropes?

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cheers“For nearly 35 years, or almost half of his life, [Eddie] Doyle has been the smiling face behind the bar at Cheers – the Beacon Hill pub that inspired the TV show with the same name in the early 1980s. As one of Boston’s last fabled bartenders, he served drinks and advice for five decades. . . .

“But a few weeks ago he was told by Tom Kershaw, owner of the Cheers bar, that the recession had hit his industry and he was being laid off.  . . . As word spread of his layoff, many people, such as former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn, said that the city has lost an institution.

“‘He’s as important as George Washington to this city; he’s that well known,’ said Flynn. ‘The Cheers bar was internationally famous, but before it was internationally famous I think Eddie really brought them that notoriety and that attention. They say it’s a bar where everybody knows your name but it’s really a bar where everybody knows Eddie Doyle.'” (more @ Boston Globe)

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306abboxlibraryBrooklyn, New York perfume merchant CB I Hate Perfume has just introduced “In the Library,” “a perfume inspired by the proprietor Christopher Brosius’s love of books and his inability to pass a secondhand bookshop without stopping in.

“According to the shop’s description, the perfume is supposed to evoke a first-edition English novel via ‘Russian and Moroccan leather bindings, worn cloth, and a hint of wood polish.'” (more @ The Book Bench)

[Makes me want to curl up with a good book . . . or a woman who smells like a good book!]

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shakespearebooksIn The Guardian, Jeanette Winterson, after a recent visit, recounts a bit of the history of Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ renowned Left Bank bookstore, first opened in 1913 and since 1962 owned by George Whitman. No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to this venerable literary institution which always recalls for me New York’s recently closed literary landmark, Gotham Book Mart 

“Way back, in 1913, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l’Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.

“Hemingway was a regular at the shop, and writes about it in his memoir A Moveable Feast. . . . It was Hemingway, as a major in the US army, who at the liberation of Paris in 1945 drove his tank straight to the shuttered Shakespeare and Company and personally liberated Sylvia Beach. ‘No one that I ever knew was nicer to me,’ he said later, rich, famous and with a Nobel prize.

“But after the war, Beach was older and tired. She didn’t reopen the shop that had been forced into closure by the occupation. It was George Whitman who took over the spirit of what she had made, but not the name – until 1962, when Beach attended a reading by Lawrence Durrell at the bookstore and they all agreed that it should be renamed Shakespeare and Company.

“George took in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Henry Miller ate from the stewpot, but was too grand to sleep in the tiny writers’ room. Anaïs Nin left her will under George’s bed. There are signed photos from Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy, signed copies of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.” (via Books, Inq.)

A New York Times article offering a brief history of Gotham Book Mart can be found here:

PHOTO: A December 1948 party at for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of bright lights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart)

RelatedThe Gotham Book Mart’s Final Chapter?

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digestReader’s Digest Association Inc., the closely held magazine publisher, hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to explore restructuring options including a possible bankruptcy filing, a person familiar with the situation said.” (via Bloomberg)

[While I have never been a reader of the Digest, and have always scoffed at their library of “condensed books,” Reader’s Digest was my father’s magazine of choice — my father-in-law still swears by it — as well as a ubiquitous presence in every doctor’s and dentist’s waiting room visited during my childhood.]

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