Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Arm Yourself with Book Wishlists for the Holidays!

The Indie Bound website (which advocates buying local for bookstores) has a cool Wish List feature (just like Amazon, only better - because you can help support local business). Once you set up an account, you can add any number of books to your list and email the list to anyone you choose. And there's a short, helpful video to get you started.

The site provides links from your chosen books directly to the Regulator's website (if you add us to your favorite bookstores) in case you want your relatives or book group members to buy from us online and support independents (not Amazon). Keep track of all your holiday gifts.

NPR Book Selections Online!

Thanks to National Public radio, many book pages on IndieBound.org book now feature unique audio content, gathered from NPR's extensive book coverage: reviews, interviews and more. Check out Zadie Smith's new collection Changing My Mind or Carl Jung's legendary Red Book for examples.

Now also available on Indiebound.org are longer book descriptions, author bios, editorial reviews, and conversation starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com.

eBook vs. Paper?

You may not be able to enjoy the smell of a new eBook or enjoy the feel of flipping of through its pages, but now on your iPhone you can search for and purchase eBooks from independent booksellers across the United States.

IndieBound.org has gotten in on the act as well. The main book search on the site now includes eBooks along with regular results, and a special list of Indie Next List Favorites in eBooks has been added.

If you go to the Regulator website, and use our "Search for Books" feature, you can choose to search through regular books or eBooks, too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Call Congress' Bluff on Health Care Reform--Reform Their Health Care First!

As an owner of a small business, I’ve about had it with the ways small businesses are being used to argue against health care reform. It’s clear to me that the folks making these arguments have no real experience with running a small businesses. And they certainly don't know how hard it is for a small business to navigate through our current health “system.”

Yet the folks in Congress who make the most noise about how important small businesses and entrepreneurs are for our economy--and they are right about that--are the same ones who are using the small business banner to try to beat back health reform. Talk about the importance of small and start-up businesses is cheap. As an owner of a small business myself, I know that walking the walk is something else.

So with the prospects for health care reform uncertain and the economy still in the tank, I figure this is the perfect time for Congress to demonstrate how much it really appreciates small business--with what I’m calling The Congressional Small and Start Up Businesses Health Care Bill (C-STUB).

The idea of C-STUB is to reform Congress’ own health care before they reform ours. C-STUB would simply replace Congress’s current government health insurance policies with the policies currently available to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

First, to assign health insurance coverage, congressional delegations from each state would participate in a lottery. Half of the delegations would be assigned to form small groups, just like small businesses, and then they would go out on the market and find health insurance policies for their small group. Members of the other delegations would act like entrepreneurs, and they would go to the market to find individual health insurance policies.

I’ll guarantee that within weeks of C-STUB’s passage, there will be overwhelming bipartisan support for health care reform. The delegations in small groups will find they have no leverage with health insurance providers, and they’ll end up paying a small fortune for inadequate coverage. Most of those assigned to get individual policies--the entrepreneurs--will find themselves unable to get health insurance at all. These poor souls will end up crowding into the ER waiting rooms of DC area hospitals.

It’s time to call Congress’ bluff on health care. Reform Congress’ health care first! Write your congressman or congresswoman (email addresses available at http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html).

Tom Campbell

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Katy Munger, LIVE @ The Regulator!

On Wednesday night, 9 September, The Regulator hosted local favorite Katy Munger reading from her two new mystery novels. First she read from 'Desolate Angel', written under the pen name 'Chaz McGee' and published by Berkley Prime Crime. Next she read from 'Bad Moon on the Rise', a new Casey Jones mystery, published by Thalia Press. In this first video from the evening you'll hear Katy give a little backstory on her life as a writer. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 which entail the readings from the new novels. Thanks to all those who came out for the reading, and for any who couldn't be there we hope you enjoy the videos, and check in at our website for lots of upcoming author appearances. Cheers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here's a Small Taste of our Pajama Party

Here's a small taste of our pajama party with Peter Holsapple (musician from REM and Hootie and the Blowfish). The sound quality is better in person, so join us this Friday for stories and music for kids, their parents, and all who are young at heart! We'll be having more pajama parties two Fridays a month!

Our First Pajama Party!

Telling Tales!

Singing Songs!

Stop by for our next Pajama Party with Peter Holsapple this Friday, September 4th!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just Around the Corner

Click below to watch our funny, fabulous "Shop Local & Save the Planet" video: "Just Around the Corner!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blast from the Past

"Endangered Durham,"
a cool little website that documents the changes in land and architecture in Durham has a post about 9th street - more specifically 720 ninth street, the address of the bookshop. Check out what it once was here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brad Pitt raises chickens! You should, too.

In celebration of our collective ability to raise chickens...Top Selling Chicken Books in Durham:

1) Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens
Once you decide to raise chickens, you'll need all the information and advice you can get. And lucky for you, this book is as far as you'll have to look. A Guide to Raising Chickens contains everything you need to know, from starting your own backyard flock to putting eggs on the table. With easy-to-understand illustrations and text, this book shows you all about:
-- Choosing the right breed
-- Caring for chicks
--Feeding the growing flock
-- Building feeders and shelters
-- Collecting and storing eggs
-- Preventing health problems
-- Raising broilers for meat
-- Showing your chickens

2) Keep Chickens!
Chickens are hot! Kilarski, a woman with a passion for poultry, offers a handbook that is as practical and encouraging as it is witty and entertaining. This book provides the detailed information every aspiring chicken keeper needs to know. 16-page color insert.

3) Choosing and Keeping Chickens
Do you raise chickens as part of the family or as a livelihood? Are you looking for helpful information to provide the best care for your chickens? Or are you just curious to learn more about this popular animal? Choosing and Keeping Chickens provides detailed information about the most common types of chickens.

4) Chickens in your Backyard
Rick and Gail Luttmann
Your backyard can be the source of the best eggs and meat you've ever tasted. The answer is chickens-- endearing birds that require but a modest outlay of time, space and food.

5) Chicken Coops
Bring your chickens home to roost in comfort and style! Whether you're keeping one hen in a small backyard or 1,000 hens in a large free-range pasture, you will find the perfect housing plan in this comprehensive handbook.

6) The Joy of Keeping Chickens
Farmer and animal expert Megyesi discusses all the basic details of raising chickens--biology, health, food, and choosing breeds--and identifies what terms like organic and free-range really mean for poultry farmers and consumers. 100 color photographs.

7) Living with Chickens
Chickens-why not? Tens of thousands of people in all areas of the country enjoy raising these birds, whether for food or companionship. You can, too, with this indispensable guide. Then again, you may want to read Living With Chickens just for the sheer joy of it.

8) Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance
Watch out, poultry best-seller list: This hilarious account of a rookie poultry-owner's experience raising birds in his backyard is the first "chicken memoir" of its kind. Owning chickens is fast becoming the latest in metropolitan chic-and if you can't own them, you'll still want to read about them. Move over, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt (both rumored to raise chickens), Martin Gurdon is the new celebrity chicken owner.

9)Extraordinary Chickens
Many people are not aware of the exotic nature of "fancy breed" chickens, so this unique volume, with 165 amazing color photographs of all kinds of international breeds, will be a revelation.

10) Chickens: Tending a Small-scale Flock for Pleasure and Profit
Helps hobby farmers to become more knowledgeable about their poultry and to better appreciate the bountiful gifts they bestow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eat, Sleep, Read

Hey, a lot of customers have asked about our "Eat Sleep Read" poster (soon to be followed by our "Snack Nap Read" poster in the kid's section. In addition to the Wish List page posted below, you can also find this and other cool posters (and T-shirts) at the Indie Bound site.

Regulator Wish Lists!

Are there any book lovers out there with a birthday coming up? Is anybody in a book group? The Indie Bound website (which advocates buying local for bookstores) has a cool Wish List feature (just like Amazon, only better - because you can help support local business). Once you set up an account, you can add any number of books to your list and email the list to anyone you choose. And there's a short, helpful video to get you started.

It'll be great for Christmas lists and for book groups. The site also provides links from your chosen books directly to our website (if you add us to your favorite bookstores) in case you want your relatives or book group members to buy from us online and support independents (not Amazon). Keep track of your “must-read” list, reading lists for school, or just all the books you love. Make lists and lists and lists!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Our August Rave Reviews!

Our August Rave Reviews section just went up on our website. (Of course, some reviews are a bit more nuanced than others.) It also looks like the Fall line up of books coming out are already getting some "Rave Reviews" over in British newspapers. Check back then for more! - Jaimee

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Our video, the Swindle, and sea monsters..

An eventful week, just ended.

1) We posted our "Shop Local, Save the Planet" retro video on youtube:
and we're currently at 3,500 views and counting.
Good notices in Bookselling this Week:
and Shelf Awareness:
as well as a really nice press release on July 17 from the Durham Visitors and Convention Bureau:
Bookstores across the country tell us they will be pointing their customers to the video in their stores' upcoming email newsletters.

2) Amazon gave us all another peek into the future when they reached out to all those folks who own Kindles (rhymes with swindle..) and deleted George Orwell's 1984 from the devices--even when people had already paid for the book. A problem with the digital rights to the book, amazon said.

Being astute business folk, amazon is probably already hard at work marketing the Kindle to places like China and Iran. Authoritarian regimes everywhere are going to love the ability to edit, delete, and snoop on what people are reading. Of course that kind of thing will never happen here...

George Orwell would not be a fan of this device.

3) Saving the biggest news for last. Quirk Books, publisher of the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, has announced its next mashup, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. And I was just sure their next book was going to be Wuthering Heights with Werewolves..

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Recommended Reading

I’m just back from a meeting of the Board of Directors of the American Booksellers Association (Idie Bookstores United!). One of the things I look forward to at these meetings is the “reading lunch,” where we spend a half hour or so going around the lunch table talking about books we’ve been reading.

This is a great chance to hear book recommendations from some of the best booksellers in the country, so last Tuesday I jotted down the titles that my fellow board members were enthusiastically recommending. What follows is a short list of some of the books that sounded especially intriguing. The book descriptions come from our web site.

(My own recommendations included The Book of Dads and Jill McCorkle's fantastic forthcoming story collection, Going Away Shoes, due out in September. More on this at a later date)

The Board of Directors Recommends:
Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys. (Delacorte Press, $22.00)
“In its long history, the river Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river."
So begins this breathtaking and original work, which contains forty vignettes based on events that actually took place each time the historic Thames froze solid. Spanning more than seven centuries--from 1142 to 1895--and illustrated with stunning full-color period art, The Frozen Thames is an achingly beautiful feat of the imagination...a work of fiction that transports us back through history to cast us as intimate observers of unforgettable moments in time.

Whether we're viewing the magnificent spectacle of King Henry VIII riding across the ice highway (while plotting to rid himself of his second wife) or participating in a joyous Frost Fair on the ice, joining lovers meeting on the frozen river during the plague years or coming upon the sight of a massive ship frozen into the Thames...these unforgettable stories are a triumph of the imagination as well as a moving meditation on love, loss, and the transformative powers of nature.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana DeRosnay. (St Martin’s Press, $13.95)
A "New York Times" bestseller. Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel' d'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. (Algonquin Books, $23.95)
Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt - a passionate man with his own dark secrets -has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of "Wuthering Heights" and "Rebecca," Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett. (Houghton Mifflin, $20.00)
A novel set on a remote island in a post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden world, destined to become a modern classic.

Anax thinks she knows her history. She'd better. She's now facing three Examiners, and her grueling all-day Examination has just begun. If she passes, she'll be admitted into the Academy--the elite governing institution of her utopian society.
But Anax is about to discover that for all her learning, the history she's been taught isn't the whole story. And that the Academy isn't what she believes it to be.
In this brilliant novel of dazzling ingenuity, Anax's examination leads us into a future where we are confronted with unresolved questions raised by science and philosophy. Centuries old, these questions have gained new urgency in the face of rapidly developing technology. What is consciousness? What makes us human? If artificial intelligence were developed to a high enough capability, what special status could humanity still claim?

Outstanding and original, Beckett's dramatic narrative comes to a stunning close. This perfect combination of thrilling page-turner and provocative novel of ideas demands to be read again and again.

Free Range Chickens by Simon Rich. (Random House, $13.00)
From the book:
--Hey, look, the truck’s stopping.
--Did they take us to the park this time?
--No…it’s a fire. Another horrible fire.
--What the hell is wrong with these people?

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart (Algonquin Books, $18.95)
A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In "Wicked Plants," Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations. It's an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You'll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln's mother).

Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (Penguin Press, $25.95)
In this tightly plotted yet mind- expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people's dreams

In an unnamed city always slick with rain, Charles Unwin toils as a clerk at a huge, imperious detective agency. All he knows about solving mysteries comes from the reports he's filed for the illustrious detective Travis Sivart. When Sivart goes missing and his supervisor turns up murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted to detective, a rank for which he lacks both the skills and the stomach. His only guidance comes from his new assistant, who would be perfect if she weren't so sleepy, and from the pithy yet profound "Manual of Detection" (think "The Art of War" as told to Damon Runyon).

Unwin mounts his search for Sivart, but is soon framed for murder, pursued by goons and gunmen, and confounded by the infamous femme fatale Cleo Greenwood. Meanwhile, strange and troubling questions proliferate: why does the mummy at the Municipal Museum have modern- day dental work? Where have all the city's alarm clocks gone? Why is Unwin's copy of the manual missing Chapter 18?

Bruno: Chief of Police by Martin Walker (Knopf, $24.95)
The first installment in a wonderful new series that follows the exploits of Benoit Courreges, a policeman in a small French village where the rituals of the cafe still rule. Bruno--as he is affectionately nicknamed--may be the town's "only" municipal policeman, but in the hearts and minds of its denizens, he is chief of police.
Bruno is a former soldier who has embraced the pleasures and slow rhythms of country life--living in his restored shepherd's cottage; patronizing the weekly market; sparring with, and basically ignoring, the European Union bureaucrats from Brussels. He has a gun but never wears it; he has the power to arrest but never uses it. But then the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army changes everything and galvanizes Bruno's attention: the man was found with a swastika carved into his chest.

Because of the case's potential political ramifications, a young policewoman is sent from Paris to aid Bruno with his investigation. The two immediately suspect militants from the anti-immigrant National Front, but when a visiting scholar helps to untangle the dead man's past, Bruno's suspicions turn toward a more complex motive. His investigation draws him into one of the darkest chapters of French history--World War II, a time of terror and betrayal that set brother against brother. Bruno soon discovers that even his seemingly perfect corner of "la belle France" is not exempt from that period's sinister legacy."

Tom Campbell

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Buying Local has a Big Impact

By Tom Campbell, from the Durham Herald-Sun, 27 Jan 2009

Bob Ashley, in his recent column, "Buy local? Sure, but not always," said that "while I applaud and respect many of the motivations of the "buy-local" movement, I worry that, like many good ideas, it can be carried to the extreme."

While I understand the point that Ashley was making, I have to say that from the perspective of an owner of one of the dwindling number of locally owned, independent businesses in the area, it's hard to see, in practical terms, how "buying local" could actually be carried too far.

Gone are the days when folks around here had lots of locally owned choices for things like hardware stores, food stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, print shops, business supply stores, pharmacies, etc. Trying to survive in the Durham area today by just buying local would be a very tough go indeed.

But the motto of the shop local movement isn't "Shop Local Only."

It's "Shop Local First." And what it really means is "Think Local First" -- take a moment before you buy something and ask yourself if there's a local source of whatever it is you are looking for.

Thinking local first also means giving some thought to the benefits that flow from shopping local. Independent businesses make for a more vibrant and varied local culture. A greater sense of community. And they help keep a lot more of our money at work here in our hometown.

Why? Because a lot more of the money you spend at a locally owned business stays (and re-circulates) in our local community. Take my business for example. All of our employees live here. Our back office is in the back of the store, not in New York or Shanghai. We buy almost all of our supplies locally. Most of the taxes we pay stay in Durham and North Carolina. We bank locally. And we don't send dividend checks or inflated CEO salaries off to another state, or another country.

A recent study in Grand Rapids, Mich., found that a modest change in consumer behavior -- a mere 10 percent shift in market share to independent businesses from chain stores -- would result in 1,600 new jobs, $53 million in wages, and a $137 million economic impact to that area. If this 10 percent shift were to happen in Durham, (a smaller city than Grand Rapids), the impact would be something like 800 jobs, $20 million in annual wages, and $60 million a year in increased economic activity.

There's no escaping the fact that we live in a global economy. And for a lot of reasons the global end of things has been running rampant lately, driving local business to the brink. Some of this has to do with efficiencies, but a lot of it also has to do with access to capital, exchange rates, and things like the financial backing needed to sign a lease at most shopping malls.

But we also live in a very specific (and I think very remarkable) place. And supporting a little local balance to the global giants can only be a good thing for this place we call home -- and, really, for the global economy as well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Got Wisdom?

From the final pages of Henry Alford's new book, How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People...

Five traits that Alford concludes are associated with wisdom are reciprocity (do unto others..), doubt (not being overly sure of yourself), nonattachment (from Buddhism), discretion (knowing when to say nothing), and acting for the social good.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bargain Hunting for Books, and Being Confused About It

The New York Times over the holidays published a marvelously muddled piece about the book business titled “Bargain Hunting for Books, and Feeling Sheepish About It.”

The point of the article was that the sale of used books over the web was the death knell for bookstores and for book publishers. As proof of this idea, the author, David Streitfeld, recounted his experience buying a used copy of a book called “Room for Doubt” through the web site ViaLibri.net. There he purchased the book for twenty five cents (the book sells new in paperback for $13.95) from a woman in California.

Streitfeld makes much of the availability of used books on the web for next to nothing. He even recounts finding copies of “Room for Doubt” being offered for as little as one cent! Books for a penny! Books for a quarter! It sounds almost too good to be true.

And of course it is. And maybe Streitfeld knew this was the case when he told us the title of the book he ordered.

The rub here is that Streitfeld gives exact figures for the new price of the book and the two astonishingly low used prices he finds on the web. But he glosses over how much he actually paid for the book, saying he “bought a copy for 25 cents from someone who called herself Heather Blue plus a few bucks for shipping.”

“Plus a few bucks for shipping” indeed. If Streitfeld really paid so little to get this book, why doesn’t he tell us what the bill really came to? Probably because if he did, he would be feeling sheepish about his whole article.

The standard internet charge for shipping a book these days is $3.99. This is for postal service book rate shipping; arrival in 5 to 14 business days. Some places charge $4.50 or $5.00 for this standard shipping. So Streitfeld almost certainly paid a minimum of $4.24 for his book, and he had to wait 5 to 14 business days for his purchase to arrive.

Paying $4.24 for this book is a decent bargain, but it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of the industry-changing phenomenon that Mr. Streitfeld claims. And talk about twisted economies--Streitfeld likely paid 16 times more in shipping charges than the supposed value of the item he purchased. To put this in perspective, let’s apply this ratio to the purchase of something that you might actually need to have delivered to your home. I’ve got a great deal for Streitfeld on a new refrigerator--$500, plus a few bucks—say $8,000--for delivery!

The seller’s side of this transaction is stranger yet. When contacted by Streitfeld, Heather Blue said she sold the book “because she had too many books and wanted to raise money to buy more.” But how can selling a book for 25 cents, when it will cost her at least $4.00 to get a similar book, be a smart move? Of course, she probably made an actual profit of about $1.25, since the post office charges $2.23, book rate, to ship most books. (And she would also have paid something for packing and shipping materials).

But going through all the work of posting a book on the web, accepting an offer, packing and shipping this book for a net of $1.25? It’s hard to see how this is a good use of anyone’s time or energy.

Why didn’t she gather this book together with others she wanted to sell and bring them to a local bookstore? At The Regulator she could have received $2.00 in store credit for her copy of “Room for Doubt,” and more (than selling on the web) for her other books as well. In just one short trip, she could have gotten a bunch of credit that she could spend in our store on used books, new books, remainders, cards, gift items, magazines, etc. Compare this to the effort of selling, packing and shipping her books one book at a time to folks like Mr. Streitfeld, with each transaction netting a smaller profit on each item.

What’s going on here? My guess is that both the buyer and seller in this transaction have fallen prey to the thrall of the internet. Many folks these days operate under the assumption—usually unspoken and almost always unexamined—that if you can do it on the net, most especially if you can do it peer to peer on the net, that’s the best way to do everything and anything. As this case shows, this is not always so, particularly when there’s a reasonably close-by local alternative.

There’s one more thing David Streitfeld should really feel sheepish about. That’s the carbon footprint/global warming impact of his method of buying books. Even without a carbon tax—which we should all hope gets put in place soon—the huge imbalance between the price of his book and the cost of shipping should have tipped him off that something wasn’t quite right with this way of buying things. Shipping a single book, with all its packaging, hundreds or thousands of miles is a global warming nightmare. Buying (and selling) locally is a greener way to go.

When we finally do get a carbon tax, some ways of doing business may no longer be viable. Selling small items one at a time over the net could well be one of these. Sell your amazon stock now?

Read Streitfeld’s original article at this link