BTW News Briefs

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    Harvard Business School Professor Studies Indie Bookstores’ Resurgence

    To celebrate Small Business Saturday, Harvard Business School (HBS) is promoting new research on indie bookstores by Ryan Raffaelli, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School’s Organizational Behavior Unit, in which he probes the reasons why independent bookstores have managed to survive and even thrive in spite of competition from Amazon and other online retailers.

    The new qualitative study, “Reframing Collective Identity in Response to Multiple Technological Discontinuities: The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores,” “examines the factors contributing to the decline and unexpected resurgence of the incumbent U.S. independent bookselling sector from 1995 to 2015.” In part, the study looks at how ABA’s work has served to “[promote and codify] a collective identity that established category cohesiveness but simultaneously preserved local store independence when coupled with bottom-up efforts from store owners.” 

    To promote Raffaelli’s findings regarding the value of community and personal contact to consumers, HBS has created several materials to be released ahead of Indies First on Small Business Saturday, including a video about Porter Square Books, also in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The materials will be sent out to several hundred thousand viewers via the HBS Working Knowledge series, along with shorter versions of the video to be posted on Twitter later in the week to another half million.

    Watch Bookselling This Week for more of the report to be released in 2018.

    Justice Department Sues to Block AT&T Merger With Time Warner

    The U.S. Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit on Monday, November 20, against AT&T seeking an injunction to block the telecommunications company from merging with Time Warner, which owns TV networks including CNN, HBO, TNT, and TBS, NBC News reported.

    Department officials argued that the $85 billion merger would result in higher bills for consumers, reduce competition and innovation, and provide an incentive for the combined company to charge more for its content.

    According to NBC, some have expressed surprise that the Department of Justice would attempt to block a vertical merger, in which two companies merge that don’t have directly competing entities. Additional scrutiny of the proposed deal has cropped up because of President Donald Trump’s frequent criticism of CNN and of the merger, but a Justice Department official said Monday that the White House played no role in the agency’s decision.

    AT&T has called the Justice Department’s suit “a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent,” and AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson stated that the company would not be party to any agreement “that would even give the perception of compromising the First Amendment protections of the press.”

    AT&T and Time Warner have until April 22 for a federal judge to rule against the Justice Department. Either company can abandon the deal if this does not happen.

    Canadas Indigo Books & Music to Open First U.S. Store in 2018

    Indigo Books & Music Inc., Canadas largest book, gift, and toy retailer, will open its first U.S. store at the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey in the summer of 2018according to NJ.com.

    The 30,000-square-foot store, marketed as a cultural department store for booklovers, will sell books, toys, fashion, home decor, stationeryelectronicsand more. The store, which will move into a space formerly occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue, will also host in-store events for kids and adults.

    Indigo CEO Heather Reisman called the Mall at Short Hills the perfect location” to launch the companys first U.S. store and also hinted at three to five more U.S. openings over the next two years, according to media reports.

    Art for Justice Fund Awards $22 Million in Grant Money

    The Art for Justice Fund recently gave $22 million in grants to 30 recipients with an interest in supporting justice reform and assisting those who have been incarcerated, the New York Times reported.

    The fund was created in June by the philanthropist Agnes Gund, president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, in partnership with the Ford Foundation from proceeds from the sale of a Roy Lichtenstein painting.

    Among the recipients of the grants, which ranged from $100,000 to $7.5 million each, were The Actors’ Gang, a theater program for incarcerated men and women; Color of Change, a group that advocates for reform; and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, an organization offering legal services to prisoners. The National Book Foundation also received a grant to start a “Literature for Justice” program.

    The next round of grants will be announced in the spring of 2018; the plan is for the fund’s entire $100 million to be distributed over the next five years.

    Penguin Random House Audio Announces Promotions

    Penguin Random House Audio has announced a series of promotions in the division’s publicity and marketing departments. The company announced last week that Nicole Morano is being promoted to publicity manager, and Dennis Tyrrell is being promoted to associate director of digital products.

    In addition, Robert Guzman is being promoted to senior manager of marketing strategy and Taraneh Djangi is being promoted to senior manager of creative marketing. Victoria Tomao is being promoted to associate director of marketing strategy, while Jennifer Rubins is being promoted to associate director of creative marketing.

    Jennifer Klonsky Joins Putnam Children’s Books as Vice President and Publisher

    Beginning January 2, Jennifer Klonsky will join G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers as vice president and publisher, Publishers Lunch reported.

    Klonsky, who had been editorial director at HarperCollins Children’s Books, will report to Jen Loja. She is stepping into the position vacated by Jennifer Besser earlier this fall.

    Klonsky was the editorial director of Simon Pulse prior to working at HarperCollins.

    New Zealand Government to Institute Goods & Services Tax on Overseas Internet Purchases

    New Zealand news website Stuff has reported that New Zealanders will now pay a Goods & Services Tax (GST) on Internet shopping purchases they make from overseas. This development continues the trend of countries across the globe taking a harder look at how Amazon uses tax law to its advantage.

    Revenue Minister Stuart Nash said that collecting GST on overseas online purchases is the “right thing to do” to create a level playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers. Retail NZ spokesman Greg Harford said confirmation of a so-called “Amazon tax” was “outstanding news” for New Zealand retailers. Retail NZ has estimated the change would bring in $235 million a year in taxes, increasing to $935 million within nine years.

    A spokeswoman for Nash said the minister was still seeking advice on how the tax would be applied and that there was not yet a timeline for its implementation.