Friday, February 18, 2011

824 Going Buy the Book (store) and Book Look

824 Going Buy the Book (Store) and Book Look

We’re in the Borders on Park Avenue in the 50s with a gift card and a Latte at their coffee and pastry corner. About half way through the shared drink we find something in the cup that wasn’t on the menu: a roach.

They made nice on us after that, refunding our money (thank you,) offering a replacement drink (no, thank you) and willingly cashed out our gift card, a violating company policy. They were as happy to see us go as we were to leave.

That was one of two leading indicators that things were not going perfectly at Borders. The other was their stock. They had more strange and obscure books than any major retailer whose specialty was not strange and obscure books.

It seems their choice was either to imitate Barnes & Noble’s Wal-Martish approach (minus the censorship) or shrink to fit the obscurity market.

They did neither. Chapter Eleven bankruptcy protection is kind of like attempted suicide: If you’re caught in time, you live. Otherwise you die. As part of the filing, the company plans to close about one third of its stores of which there are something over 600. Something like six thousand jobs are going or gone. They’ve piled on $500 million in new loans from GE Capital to keep running while they figure out what else to do.

So what can they do? First, they can get with the Amazon program. The Border website is clunky, their prices are high, their e-readers are inadequate compared to what else is out there.

Amazon and B&N have turned books into a commodity. The only thing Borders can do is become the “important alternative,” the book store for book lovers.


Book Look: Heat & Light: Mike Wallace and Beth Knobel.

CBS’ Mike Wallace, 93, has built himself the best possible kind of monument. “Heat & Light” (Three Rivers Press 2010) is a guide for a future generation of journalists, most of them in great need of guidance, if not therapy.

His co-author, Beth Knobel is a former CBS producer and current professor at Fordham University with a pile of Ivy League sheepskins probably to heavy to carry all at once.

Tips on writing, on video on interview techniques, the law, a reporter-editor’s checklist, the balance between drama and information, and a gazillion good quotes from some heavy industry hitters.

“The Elements of Style” it ain’t. But close. At the end of the book, the authors thank the people who contributed, either gladly or by intimidation. C’mon. What idiot would or could turn down a question from Mike Wallace? And the seven most feared words in any politician’s vocabulary? “Mike Wallace is here to see you.”

===Readometer Key: 1 and 2 It’s already a paperback.
1 - Buy it.
2 - Wait for the paperback.
3 - Take it out of the Library.
4. Flip through it at the book store.
5. Forget it.


Shrapnel (New York Times edition):

--Bernie Madoff’s gave a jailhouse e-interview to the New York Times and said Wall Street “had to know” about his multi-zillion dollar King of the Ponzi schemes. Of course they did. But selective blindness is common on The Street.

--The Times also has reported recently that the NYSE is selling itself to the Frankfurt exchange. Technically, it’s a merger, but there ARE no mergers. Daimler Chrysler all over again.

--Gotta stop reading this paper. Something infuriating every day. Liberal-Shmiberal... The facts alone are enough to inflame.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

1 comment:

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