Friday, March 21, 2008

Book Stores and Buyers

Big news in the book world. Borders is in financial trouble and may be up for sale. One potential buyer? Barnes and Noble. Why should this matter to writers? Check out Kristin Nelson's blog (see sidebar) for an in depth explanation. The short of it is, right now one of the steps a potential publisher takes in deciding to buy your book is to check it with the buyers from B&N and Borders. If they say they don't think they can sell it, you don't get published. So there would be one fewer buyer to say 'yes' to carrying your masterpiece.

Why is Borders in trouble? I have my suspicions. The Borders here in town are rather sterile in look and feel. The lights are too bright, the people who work there are not particularly friendly and the openness of the store makes the place feel empty. There are no comfy chairs to curl up in. Their 'rewards' program sucks in comparison to B&N's. And they almost never have the book I'm looking for.

At the same time, independent book stores are going under at an alarming rate. Which is sad. But when I think of one of the local independents who went out of business, Chinook, I think it could have been for many of the same reasons I listed above. The people who worked there rarely came out from behind the counter just to see if they could help. The shop was cozier than Borders but still no welcoming chairs. Their selection was limited. And I've heard people say, "But they'd special order anything you wanted." True, but if I have to wait for it, I can get a better deal on Amazon or at B&N. Sorry, but that's the hard economical truth. And their employees were willing to buy the shop when the owners wanted to retire, but they said no.

So what's the answer? Maybe the independents should band together. Form a coalition to build bargaining power. Then they could offer discounts as well. Offer the best of what the biggies do and find a way to stand out. When a friend near San Francisco talked about opening a book store, we suggested partnering with a winery to offer wine and cheese instead of the ever present coffee shop. The shop pet is always fun, especially with a cool name. The Book Sleuth in Old Colorado City has a black cat name Moriarity. Community involvement is good. A literacy program or sponsoring a writer's group can get you noticed.

Look at The Tattered Cover. Three locations in Denver and they have a signing with big name authors almost every day of the year. And there's a friendly feeling when you walk in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Separated At Birth?

Proof that maybe Russell Crowe and Alan Doyle ARE related. Russell sitting in with the band at Shamrockfest 2008.

Also check out the big finale with Carbon Leaf joining them to sing Molly Malone.

Now if I can just find a video of the show where Bela Fleck did Captain Kidd with the group.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm Baaack

Wow, what a change of scene. When I left Phoenix on Saturday afternoon, it was in the mid-80s even though it was overcast. Snow and rain the whole day on Sunday. But it was a good day to unpack and unwind and un-snit the cat.

The week was great. Miss Elizabeth was a trip. Her vocabulary is huge, although she mispronounces just enough to be cute. And her imagination has taken off. We played a lot of pretend. "I'm Annaliese and you're Erika," she'd tell me. (Barbie Princess and the Pauper for those of you who are confused.) She also does groovy claw hands as the Wicked Witch or the White Witch (we also watched Narnia a couple times). Three is a fun age.

Kelly, my nephew and Elizabeth's dad, and I played WII--I whupped his butt at bowling and boxing and beat his initial scores on the crossbow game (who knew that they had rapid-fire, automatic crossbows?) and went to see Vantage Point (good flick).

Amy, Kelly's wife and Elizabeth's mom, and I went to a place called Beads Galore. I got a few things for me and some 'thank you' beads for DB for covering for me while I was gone. And as bribes to teach me what she's learned so far.

Most of the time, though was just hanging out. Which I tend to like best on vacation. We caught up and watched DVDs and, mainly, played with Elizabeth.

Now it's back to work--work-work and writing-work. Yes, I was a almost a total slacker. I read a couple books. And I made note of a woman I saw at the play area at the mall. Interesting. There's a short story there. Eventually.