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November 1-15, 2005 Edition GENERAL NEWS Online Sales

Spur Battle


Reprinted with permission from Chris Hamel and The Republican

SPRINGFIELD/10/17/05—Harold J. O’Brien is a bibliophile who, driven by an interest in history and biography, has built a private library of about 1,000 titles.

But in the eyes of major publishing houses and chain-size book retailers, he probably stands as a symbol—part saint, part serpent—of a new head-butting contest that pits mega-publishers and retailers against readers and Internet sites that traffic in used books.

On the supply side, there is squawking about book buyers who purchase new titles and later resell them as used copies at reduced prices on the Internet. The used product has the potential to be resold repeatedly, always below retail price.

The nonprofit Book Industry Study Group said used book sales last year exceeded $2.2 billion, including more than $600 million in online sales, which represented a 33 percent increase from 2003. By comparison, sales of used books in stores rose only 4.6 percent. The study group noted that the cost of used books last year averaged $8.12, excluding used textbooks, which averaged $42.31.

So theoretically, uber-publishers and retailers should like a buyer, such as O’Brien, a stenographer and notary public from Springfield, who recently at Edwards Books in Tower Square bought two copies of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” At more than 900 pages from Goodwin’s well-respected pen, a new copy carries a U.S. jacket price of $35.

O’Brien purchased one as a gift and the other for himself. He said he wanted a copy in mint condition, which he will ask Goodwin to sign when she speaks Nov. 8 at Symphony Hall.

But O’Brien also said 60 percent of his personal collection consists of books he bought used, many at the former Johnson’s Bookstore here and some online more recently. He also said a vision problem prevents him from driving, so, as for many who either can’t, or don’t want to, travel to buy books, the Internet has been a sort of godsend.

But peripheral to the debate about online book sales, he and others cited an appealing kind of middle ground they have found in small, independent bookshops, venues that shine between online buying and shopping in a sprawl.

O’Brien noted his consumer marriage to Edwards Books and its owner, Janet M. Edwards. He said he likes the personalized service, including the shopkeeper’s recommendations and the store’s populist environment, where he saw a poster advertising Goodwin’s impending speech here. “I usually can get through (Janet Edwards) what I need,” he said.

The allure of the small retailer also claimed another Edwards Books shopper, Brian Q. Corridan of Springfield. Like O’Brien, Corridan, an investment counselor, considers himself a regular at the shop, where he, too, favors books with biographical and historical slants. He said he has no objection to the sale or purchase online of used books, although he has done neither.

This story reprinted with permission from Chris Hamel and The Republican. Read the original story at The Republican.


Katrina Survivor

Turns Literary Agent

For Chinese Market SAN FRANCISCO/10/18/05—A few weeks ago she was being rescued on a rowboat in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina’s wrath. Today, she’s in San Francisco starting a global business. How did she do it?

Like many other people, Sara Lu decided to wait out the storm at home. She had lived in New Orleans for fifteen years. This was not her first hurricane and she thought it would be like so many others that came before it. She thought it would be a brief interruption from her normal routine. “Of course, we were mistaken,” says Sara. “By the time we realized this the water had come half way up the stairs of the second floor of my home.”

It didn’t take long for her to realize the danger she was in with her family. “My friends used a rowboat to rescue us. The few things I took with me included my laptop and a few books. We were among the thousands of initial evacuees who went to Houston. After a few days I decided it would be best to take my children someplace else. We had relatives in San Francisco, so here we are.”

One book Sara took from her flooding home was Stop Working by Rohan Hall (ISBN 0972918736, Eye Contact Media). Stop Working teaches everyday Americans and entrepreneurs how to build successful global businesses. It makes the case that the smallest disruption in most people’s lives could create financial ruin and that the only true financial security is to own and control your own business. The book teaches how to use the convergence of the global market and technology to become financially independent.

“The words of the book rang true for me.” She now has no home to go back to, no job and a questionable future.

Sara started turning around the tragedy of Katrina by contacting various book publishers. She offers her services as a Literary Agent to introduce American books to the Chinese market—a growing $7.3 trillion market highlighted by the book.

“I am originally from China, and books are like oxygen to me, so the idea of starting a global literary business is like a dream, my American dream. I have a lot of literary contacts in China and would like to introduce books like Stop Working to the Chinese people. I believe everyone benefits from this,” says Sara.

Last week Sara was awarded a long-term contract with Eye Contact Media to represent them in China as their literary agent to the 1.3-billion-people Chinese market.

“These books will be hot sellers in the Chinese urban population,” says Sara. “I already have Chinese publishers who are very excited about having these books.

“I’ve discovered a secret,” says Sara. “A fulfilled life must be one that combines passion and action. I am more passionate about my life today than I have ever been.”

Random House Sets

Lecture Affiliation

with Program Bureau New York/10/10/05—The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., has joined forces with the Boston-based American Program Bureau, one of the largest U.S. lecture agencies, to offer ongoing lecture engagements nationwide to its broad spectrum of fiction and nonfiction authors, it was announced today by Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of the Group.

Among the Random House and Ballantine imprint authors who are on or joining the American Program Bureau roster are Salman Rushdie, Gail Sheehy, Jonathan Harr, leading ADD expert Edward M. Hallowell M.D., Matthew Pearl, Lisa See, and Valerie Hemingway.

The American Program Bureau, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary last year, will select potential speakers from the Random House Publishing Group’s catalogues and will work closely with Random House to coordinate speaking engagements with Random’s publicity and marketing efforts. They will secure lecture dates for participating authors not only during the initial new-book publishing launch, but also upon reprint publication and in between books, when there are fewer media opportunities. The agency will be responsible for organizing and implementing the lecture dates on behalf of the author and the publisher.

The agreement was developed by Robert P.Walker, American Program Bureau founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Carol Schneider, Random House Vice President and Executive Director of Publicity and Public Relations, who will coordinate the program within Random House.

“We welcome this affiliation with American Program Bureau at a time when all publishers are seeking ways to extend the life of a book,” said Gina Centrello. “We see this as a wonderful opportunity to provide ongoing exposure for our authors, drawing upon the expertise of one of the preeminent lecture agencies in the business, whose extensive customer base encompasses virtually every subject area in which we publish.”

Commented Robert Walker, “We are delighted to have embarked on this ‘strategic alliance’ with Random House, one of the world’s most recognized names in book publishing. We look forward to integrating their remarkably diverse list of eminent and rising authors into our own roster of distinguished speakers.”

The Random House Publishing Group is a division of Random House, Inc., the U.S. company of Random House, which is the trade book publishing division of Bertelsmann, AG, one of the world’s foremost media companies. The Random House Publishing Group is comprised of Ballantine Books, Del Rey, Modern Library, One World, Presidio Press, Random House, Random House Trade Paperbacks, and Villard imprints.