Critical Linking: November 27th, 2013


In 1936 — perhaps the darkest year of his life — F. Scott Fitzgerald was convalescing in a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, when he offered his nurse a list of 22 books he thought were essential reading. The list, above, is written in the nurse’s hand.

Not on the list? Anything by Ernest Hemingway.


The British marketing research agency Voxburner recently surveyed more than 1,400 people, ages 16 to 24, about their media-consumption habits. The survey found that 62% of the respondents said they prefer printed books to e-books.

Interesting result. Though, to prefer something doesn’t necessarily mean you will use it more often. For example, I “prefer” hand-written letters, but email is cheaper, faster, and easier.


Barnes & Noble has turned a profit in its second quarter of trading, but sales in its Nook business have dropped by 32%. The US bookseller reported second quarter earnings for the three months to 26th October were up 13.7% to $76m (before EBITDA), in comparison to the same period a year ago. The profits were achieved despite falling sales, as second quarter consolidated revenues decreased 8.0%, to $1.7bn, compared to a year earlier.

So sales down, but profit up. I wonder if B&N’s closing of underperforming stores over the last year might be one of the reasons for this. Better to take in less money and be profitable than to see revenue go up and lose money. Those Nook numbers, on the other hand….


But in 2010, the American Booksellers Association saw its first increase in membership in many years, and by 2013 the sector had recovered enough that independent bookstores are once again seen as critical to the success of the book industry. For their role in leading the resurgence of independent bookselling, ABA CEO Oren Teicher and the ABA board have been chosen as PW’s Person of the Year.

A good sentiment, but I wonder if the commendation shouldn’t have been giving to “Jane and Joe Bookseller”–you know, the people on the floors of independent bookstores that make them what they are.

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