Wednesday, June 24, 2015

News Tidbits From The World of Books

I've been a fan of Kenneth Branagh for years, ever since I read his autobiography and learned that he was born two days and two and a half hours before I was. He's taken a number of Shakespeare's plays and turned them into successful films, and though they're now divorced, he was once married to Emma Thompson, my favorite British actress.

 Kenneth Branagh "is in discussions" to direct an adaptation of Agatha
Christie's Murder on the Orient Express
for 20th Century Fox, the Wrap reported, noting that Ridley Scott of
Scott Free and Simon Kinberg of Genre Films are producing with Mark
Gordon. The novel was previously adapted as a 1974 movie starring Albert
Finney as Poirot, and there was also a 2001 TV version that aired on

This is a well written eulogy for a bookstore that close in Paris recently, written by the brilliant Robert Gray of Shelf Awareness. It makes some cogent points about what a loss this is to any society.

A bookshop closed this week.

This is how France 24 reported the end: "La Hune, the iconic Parisian
which was the focal point for intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre,
Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus for more than 60 years, closed for
the last time on Sunday after a long struggle to make ends meet."
Calling La Hune "one of the French capital's most loved bookshops, famed
for its vast collections of French and international literature,
history, art and design," France 24 also noted that it was "founded by a
group of resistance fighters in 1949" and had been "originally located
between the famed Cafe de Flore and the equally frequented Les
Deux Magots in Paris's sixth arrondissement, [where it] became a
landmark meeting place for France's intelligentsia."

The challenges La Hune faced in recent years were variations on a
familiar theme: Olivier Place, director of La Hune's previous owner
Librairies Flammarion, which sold the bookseller to Gallimard three
years ago, said sales had fallen precipitously. The bookstore also fell
prey to ever-increasing rents in the fashionable
Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighborhood. In 2012, La Hune "was forced
to move from its emblematic address on 170 Boulevard Saint-Germain to
the nearby 18 Rue de l'Abbaye to make way for a Louis Vuitton store,"
France 24 wrote.

A bookshop closed this week.

"I walked through La Hune one last time, sniffing the books and looking
at the posters, and found myself far more distraught than I expected to
Adam Gopnik recently wrote in the New Yorker. "I felt a deep sense of
loss, more than mere regret, and ever since I have been trying to decide
why I felt this way and whether the feeling was mine alone or might have
resonance elsewhere."

Acknowledging that bookstores worldwide "open and they close, following
the path of bright young people as migratory birds follow the sun,"
Gopnick observed that in Paris, "good bookstores have opened in, or
migrated to, the popular quartiers of the 15th and 19th arrondissements,
just as a few independent bookstores in this city have migrated to the
sunnier climes of Brooklyn."

In conversations with his Parisian friends about La Hune, he "found they
shared my sense of something that it would be indecent to call grief but
inadequate to call sadness. At a minor level, once a bookstore is gone
we lose the particular opportunities for adjacency it offers, determined
by something other than an algorithm. It is rarely the book you came to
seek, but the book next to that book, which changes your mind and

A bookshop closed this week.

"If we try to protect small merchants, or mourn their disappearance, the
last thing we are being is nostalgic," Gopnick concludes. "Books are not
just other luxury items to be shopped for. They are the levers of our
consciousness. Every time a bookstore closes, an argument ends. That's
not good." Robert Gray on Shelf Awareness
Kudos to Todd Hulbert for finding a way to save Finally Found Bookstore, which was the former Baker Street Books in Black Diamond. His struggles have been heartbreaking, all the more so because I so rarely am able to get to Auburn to visit the new store. Now that it is a non profit Literacy Center, I sincerely hope that things will be looking up for WLO.
Finally Found Books Becoming Nonprofit

Finally Found Books, Auburn, Wash.,which has struggled financially since opening in 2013, has formed a
nonprofit called the Washington Literary Organization that aims to buy the store as well as
promote literacy, support schools, educators and libraries, and help the
less fortunate receive books. Owner Todd Hulbert considers it "a viable
model that other struggling bookstores can follow."

In January, Hulbert put the store up for sale
it "a very difficult and personally emotional decision." But he found no
buyers and told the Auburn Reporter: "We started to see revenues go down
the previous year, and things didn't get any better in February, March
or April. I finally said, 'It's either time to shut it up, or we can
look at forming a nonprofit.' "

Hulbert emphasized the advantages of a nonprofit: it can engage in
tax-deductible fundraising, apply for grants, offer tax deductions for
book donations, use volunteer staff, work with schools and libraries
directly and network with other nonprofits.

Already, Hulbert told the paper, volunteers have taken on
responsibilities "in the business and [to] support existing and upcoming
literary programs" and a 13-member board has been formed.

The Washington Literary Organization's initial goal is to raise $10,000
for interim funding to form the nonprofit and offset the store's
operating expenses while doing the secondary fundraising of $250,000.
One-third of the secondary funding raised will be used as operating
capital for the store while the other two-thirds will be used to
purchase Finally Found Books's furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory
and goodwill.

Hulbert plans to stay on as interim store manager until a replacement is
funded and trained, serve on the WLO board if elected, volunteer in the
store several hours a week and be on call to consult.

The Reporter said, too, that various Finally Found Books programs will
also be "beefed up," including training and internships that have
included developmentally disabled interns; more gift certificates for
teachers; more book and gift certificate donations to such causes and
organizations as shut-in seniors, PTA auctions, fundraisers, Friends of
the Library, the Veteran's Administration and churches.

New programs will include the collection and distribution of some
100,000 books in the first year for schools, libraries and other
organizations and 200,000 in the second year; Traveling Story Time,
which will offer readings at preschools and other children's gathering
places; in-house events such as tutoring, reading hours and sign
language classes; and providing meeting space for literary events.

In 2014, Finally Found Books had net revenues of $140,307.21, and in the
first quarter of this year, net revenues were $32,364.93. The store's
annual fixed expenses are about $70,000, and the proposed beginning
annual payroll expenses are about $40,000. Other discretionary expenses
include advertising, purchase of new books and inventory, professional
trade groups and conferences, etc.

In early 2012, Hulbert bought Baker Street Books
Diamond, Wash., closed it to install new shelving, reconfigure the store
and absorb some 100,000 volumes he had in storage. In July, he reopened
the store as Finally Found Books. In September 2013, Finally Found Books
sales were too low in Black Diamond. The store sells new and used
My husband, son and I are all taking our annual pilgrimage to Powells next week, where we'll be staying at the Mark Spencer Hotel by night and shopping by day at the BEST indie bookstore in the world! AMEN to that!
Congratulations to Powell's Books, Portland,
Ore., named "the best independent bookshop
in the world" by the Guardian, with help from its readers. The entry

"This legendary Portland shop is the world's largest used book
store--the jewel in the crown of what is claimed to be the largest
independent chain of bookstores on the planet. Powell's even provides a
map for customers. 'It is amazing! It is a whole city block with several
floors of books. Unlike ordinary bookstores, Powell's has a huge
selection of every book imaginable. I took my retired English teacher
father there and he went crazy. It also has a cafe and a selection of
antique computers. It is an absolute paradise for bibliophiles!' said
John R. Ewing Jr."

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