Borders Fatal Mistake - And How It Could Have Been Avoided

Much has been said about the reasons for the demise of Borders, but Raymond Rose's article in last week's Publishers Weekly really hit the nail on the head for me. He writes,

"My sorrow isn't for the death of this company but for its employees. They're the real victims here. In my store, we had an amazing group. There was the elementary school teacher who worked every weekend and made the most magical children's recommendations; the young woman who could guide both newbies and skilled knitters alike through the needlecraft books; the tattooed graduate student who could talk your ear off about Thomas Hobbes... or Batman, your choice; and the spitfire supervisor who could hunt down the perfect mystery novel. That's just five people in my store. Imagine the number of original, talented people in the other 600-plus stores that have closed or will close later this year...


The Simple Brilliance of Liter of Light

Millions of people live in shantytowns across the world, many in corrugated-iron-roofed shacks with no windows. This leaves the residents with the choice of living in complete darkness or running expensive electric bulbs (if electricity is even available to them).

Liter of Light has a solution which is so mind-bogglingly simple that it is pure brilliance:


Time Lapse Video of a New Bookstore From Empty to Open

Every week seems to bring news of more bookstores closing, not least this week with the news that Borders will definitely be going into liquidation and many of its remaining stores will close. So here to brighten your Friday is a happy little time-lapse video of a new bookstore going from empty to open in less than 80 seconds.


The Watsons by Jane Austen Sells for $1.6 million!

Update: 7/16
Austen's manuscript ended up selling for £990,000 (US$1.6 million)! It was purchased by Oxford University's Bodleian Library.

Original Post: 7/13/2011
The Watsons, an unfinished manuscript by Jane Austen is to be auctioned by Sotheby's tomorrow and is expected to sell for over $330,000. Apparently, Austen worked on The Watsons in 1804, after she'd drafted Sense and Sensibility, but abandoned it the same year.


Are ebooks for "bloodless nerds"?

According to Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively, e-books are for "bloodless nerds". Considering her somewhat advanced 78 years, one might assume that this was simply a reaction to new technology, but Lively owns an iPad (although she "wouldn't dream of reading a book on it" unless she was traveling or in hospital) and, for what it's worth, thirteen of her books are available as ebooks, including Moon Tiger (which won the Booker Prize in 1987).

To be fair, although the "bloodless nerd" soundbite is being quoted far and wide today, her full comment was, "It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd." Do you think she has a point? If a person's entire literary collection was contained within an electronic device, might their experience with reading be a tad soulless? Or does the written word rise above the confines of the media containing it?


The Sales Tax Chicken Game

Effective June 29, Amazon has cancelled its contracts with about 10,000 California-based affiliates after Govenor Brown signed a law that requires large out-of-state retailers with affiliates in California to collect sales tax on purchases made by their California customers.

California is the latest state to pass a law to push back against the exemption that allows out of state retailers to not collect sales tax - an exemption made by the US Supreme Court decades ago, in favor of the mail-order industry, based on the constitutional premise that one state may not tax another.


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