Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N15); Borders, Indigo,

Short this week due to travel:

Borders' management are under fire for the seemingly unjustified executive bonus plan they put in place (Reuters)

In a filing on Thursday, the U.S. Trustee's Office said the plan to pay 17 executives, 25 "director-level" employees and additional "key" employees over $8 million in bonuses was "really a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders".The Trustee's Office, which is the Justice Department agency charged with overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases, said Borders failed to show that the proposed payments complied with the bankruptcy code."Seeking the approval of the bonus motion at this early juncture, prior to the debtors finalizing their business and operational plans is not a sound exercise of the debtors' business judgment," said Tracy Hope Davis, the U.S. Trustee, in the filing.

Locked in a bathroom (Telegraph):

I have long observed that the success of a social occasion depends upon at least one individual sacrificing their dignity for the merriment of others: witness the guest who found herself locked in the loo at a book launch I went to on Monday night. Attempts to break down the door left the young aesthetes winded, and eventually our stumped hostess called in the fire brigade. This took the drama to new and enthralling levels, and drinks consumption trebled.Soon afterwards, the prisoner was freed and the firemen chivalrously allowed her to flee down the stairs before she could be identified. I was glad the poor woman was spared her blushes, but longed to tell her she was in excellent company. Margaret Thatcher, as Leader of the Opposition, had to be "released from bondage" when her bathroom door stuck fast in a Detroit hotel. In the days after John Smith's death, when Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were haggling over the leadership, Blair received a text message during one peculiarly long hiatus: "Tony. It's Gordon. I'm locked in the toilet." Blair couldn't resist writing: "You're staying there until you agree."

Heather Reisman profiled as the best book retailer (The Star):
Reisman, billing herself early on as a merchant of "culture" and not just books, successfully diversfied her product mix to include upscale giftware and stationery, going beyond music and DVDs that even Canadian Tire now sells in "dump bins" in its corriders.

I thought at that time, in the early 2000s, that Reisman, 61, risked junking up her stores with the non-book inventory, muddying the image of Indigo/Chapters. I was wrong. While too much of the early non-book merchandise was shoddy or too cute, Reisman steadily narrowed and refined the non-book demo. That has since been a big driver of sales, up 11% over the past four years in a flat market for traditional booksellers.

Indigo also launched and is the largest owner in Kobo, an e-reader intended to guard and ideally grow Indigo's bookselling franchise. Kobo is pitted against rivals including Kindle, iBooks and Google Inc.'s nascent Editions e-book store. An online bookstore as well as an e-reader, Kobo comes pre-installed in a number of smartphone and tablet devices. It's unique in operating on the EPUB open standard devised by the global book trade. Which means Kobo works on all manner of devices, while Amazon's Kindle has been selective in developing apps for favored device makers.

The great debate: Will Publishers' exist was a bit of a bust but here's a short write up (The Bookseller):
Franklin said that while digital meant self-publishing was easy, it did not mean authors could replicate all of a publisher's work. "If you self-publish on the internet, you might as well not bother, you will be silent," he said. "Free is far too much to pay for the overwhelming majority of books self-published‚ you can't even give them away." Both Charkin and Franklin pointed to the health of the fair as evidence that publishing was still vital. Franklin added that so long as publishers provided a service that connected readers to authors, they would remain in business. "The job of publishers is to persuade readers that they should part with money to read an author's work," he said. However, both admitted that publishing had to change. Charkin said it had to begin marketing 24/7, and improve its speed of production. Franklin also conceded that publishing was not in a "healthy state" and warned: "Some publishers will go bankrupt this year."

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