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How The Book Business is Coping with Coronavirus

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Credit: Publisher’s Weekly

Coronavirus is upending nearly every industry on Earth.

The book industry isn’t immune. It’s been crazy to see such a sudden shift in consumer behavior (mandated or self-imposed) over just the past few weeks here in the USA and through news reports around the world. I’m very thankful for my Kindle, and I made sure to grab a new book from my local indie bookstore before it was forced to shut down this week.

Jim Millot over at Publisher’s Weekly wrote this fascinating article on how the publishing industry, which isĀ notoriously slow to change and adapt, has been forced to adjust. Especially around live events and their love/hate relationship with Amazon who is (rightfully) focusing on inventory of basic necessity items for customers.

There is also a major toll on brick & mortar book sellers, especially the 800 lb. gorilla Barnes&Noble who were already teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

I’m not sure what will happen with this situation, but it has made one thing very apparent to me.

Books are one of the single most well-engineered pieces of information and entertainment. No wifi, electricity, or connectivity needed. It’s no wonder they are still going strong after centuries.

 

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Hachette employees stage walk-out over Woody Allen Memoir

Credit: NPR.org

Hachette Book Group employees working for Grand Central Publishing and Little,Brown staged a walk-out on Thursday afternoon after discovering that their parent company was publishing Woody Allen’s memoir Apropos of Nothing.

The controversial memoir was passed over by numerous major publishers, and Hachette group accepted and published it quietly while also publishing Catch and Kill, a book by journalist Ronan Farrow that included allegations of abuse by Allen. Farrow is the son of Allen’s ex-wife, actress Mia Farrow.

This is certainly bad form on a publisher, and doubly so not giving any notification to Farrow or the Catch and Kill team given the sensitive subject matter they were working on. The HBG group employees are walking out in solidarity with Farrow and the book’s team.

What are your thoughts on publishers making money off of controversial memoirs? This isn’t the first time a big publisher has caused a stir by publishing non-fiction centering on a celebrity with a less-than-stellar reputation.

UPDATE: HBG has officially stated they will not be publishing Woody Allen’s memoir.

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Barnes & Noble To Be Like Indie Bookstores

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Credit: Bloomberg.com

I’ve written previously about the painfully slow demise of Barnes & Noble, and their continued attempts at transformation. It seems pretty obvious, at least when I step into my local stores, that they need to down-size and stop selling toys & games. A book store should focus on selling books. Or is that insanity?

Their new CEO and cut-throat hedge fund owners seem to think this is the right move as well, and in a new article over at Bloomberg it appears that B&N will be turning another corner and trying to mimic independent bookstores. The same type of stores they spent many years putting out of business. Oh, the irony…

I’m torn over this.

I dislike Barnes & Noble, but I dislike Amazon more, for a variety of reasons. That, and at some point B&N stopped instructing their employees to aggressively engage customers about add-ons during every purchase. This was also a good move, because while I’ll never begrudge someone for doing their job, it was just obnoxious trying to buy a $5 paperback and getting the “hard sell” at the register.

I can only imagine my local Barnes and Noble will relocate from the massive shopping mall it currently inhabits, in an attempt to reduce square footage. This would be a good thing as well. I’d prefer to see a more intimate store with some character, and more importantly the flexibility to shelve interesting titles. An emphasis on customer service would be nice too.

Oh and please, PLEASE just finally kill off the Nook. Please. It’s getting sad at this point.