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President Obama Mentions Prairie Lights in Health Care Speech

In a speech at a health care rally in Iowa City today, President Barack Obama referred to Prairie Lights Books as just the type of small business that health care reform would benefit. Here's the except from the president's speech, which can be read in its entirety on the New York Times website:

"This year, millions of small business owners will be eligible for tax credits that will help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees. And let me talk about what this means for a business like your own Prairie Lights Bookstore downtown. This is a small business that's been offering coverage to their full-time employees for the last twenty years. Last year their premiums went up 35 percent, which made it a lot harder for them to offer the same coverage. On Tuesday, I was joined at the bill signing by Ryan Smith, who runs a small business with five employees. His premiums are going up too, and he's worried he'll have to stop offering health insurance to his workers.

"Starting now, small business owners like Ryan and the folks at Prairie Lights will have the security of knowing that they could qualify for a tax credit that covers up to 35 percent of their employees' health insurance. Starting today, small business owners can sit down at the end of the week, look at their expenses, and begin calculating how much money they're going to save. And maybe they can even use that savings to hire that extra employee they've needed. This health care tax credit is pro-jobs, it's pro-business, and it starts this year."

Following his speech, President Obama stopped in at Prairie Lights, where he purchased some children's books, according to Ron Charles, fiction editor of the Washington Post's Book World. The Iowa City Gazette also covered the shopping trip.

Curtis Riskey Named CBA Executive Director

CBA, the Association for Christian Retail, has named Curtis Riskey its new executive director, effective immediately. Riskey, who joined CBA in October 2007 as strategic solutions executive, has been serving as CBA interim executive director since November 2009.

Riskey brings 20 years of retail experience to his new job, including 10 years in the appliance industry, where he learned, developed, and implemented channel management strategies. Ten years ago, he opened BASIC Books and Café, a Christian retail store, which continues to serve the Fox River Valley community in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

"As a Board, we look forward to the many exciting changes Curtis will help effect to the benefit of CBA's members, both retailer and supplier, and to the industry as a whole," said CBA Board Chair-elect George Thomsen. "To us, it's important that Curtis not only has a heart for retailers, but is a retailer himself."

Before joining the CBA staff, Riskey served on the association's Independent Retail Advisory Council, as a regular columnist in CBA's magazine, and taught in the "Professional Christian Retailer Certification" training program. He has a business degree from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, and has served on the board of directors of the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce and is co-founder and president of Excellence in Leadership. Riskey is working toward his IOM (Institute for Organizational Management) certification through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

E-book Sales Grow More Than 200 Percent

Trade e-book sales (books delivered electronically over the Internet or to hand-held reading devices) in January 2010 were $31,900,000, a 261.2 percent increase over January 2009 ($8,800,000), according to figures recently released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) in conjunction with the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).

January 2010's results far surpassed the previous highest month, December 2009, when e-book sales reached $19,100,000. The data represents U.S. revenues only from e-book sales via wholesale channels. IDPF said that "retail numbers may be as much as double the above figures due to industry wholesale discounts." The sales data was gathered from approximately 12 to 15 trade publishers, and it does not include library, educational, or professional electronic sales.

The statistics, historical data, and information about the numbers can be viewed on the IDPF website.

Perseus, Workman Sign With Apple

The New York Times reported this week that Perseus Books Group and Workman Publishing Company had signed deals with Apple to sell electronic versions of their books for the iPad. Perseus distributes works from 330 other smaller presses, including Grove/Atlantic, Harvard Business School Press, and Zagat.

The Times noted that the deals come as Amazon "is pressuring publishers that have not yet signed deals with Apple to refrain from doing so. With Apple's iPad coming on the scene, Amazon is fighting to keep as much of its market lead as possible."

Like the five other large publishers that have already signed with Apple, the Times said, "Perseus and Workman will set consumer prices and Apple will serve as an agent, taking a 30 percent commission on each sale. E-book versions of most newly released adult general fiction and nonfiction with comparable hardcovers will cost $12.99 to $14.99. All publishers whose books are distributed by Perseus will be allowed to opt into the deal."

In other e-book news, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Sony Corp. is lowering the price on its the Pocket Reader, to $169, through April 4, a move that might be "the first salvo in a coming price war for the devices."

WSJ noted that Sony's $30 discount on the e-reader was timed to coincide with the arrival of Apple's $499- and-up iPad in stores on April 3, and the temporary price is $90 less than Amazon's $259 Kindle, although the latter does come with a wireless connection to download books.

Sherman Alexie Wins 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

This week, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation named Sherman Alexie's War Dances (Grove Press) the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. War Dances triumphed over close to 350 novels and short story collections by American authors published in the U.S. during the 2009 calendar year. Submissions came from over 90 publishing houses, including small and academic presses.

Among Alexie's previous honors are a 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown), and the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Alexie and the prize finalists -- Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna (Harper); Lorraine M. López for Homicide Survivors; Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press); and Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs (Knopf) -- will be honored during the 30th anniversary PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 8.

Ingram Wire Opens to Libraries

Ingram Library Services Inc., an Ingram Content Group company, this week announced the launch of Ingram Wire, a downloadable desktop application, to libraries. In December, Ingram launched Ingram Wire for the bookselling community.

Through the downloadable desktop app, built on Adobe® AIR™ and compatible with both PC and Mac, booksellers, and now librarians, can receive stock news on fast-moving products specific to their assigned distribution center, alerts on top awards and breaking events, as well as "backorder now" messages to ensure they are among the first for allocations. From the desktop, users can click directly to ipage®, Ingram's e-business tool, to place orders. The Ingram Wire desktop application is 100 percent opt-in, and messages are prompted by business need, not advertising. Customers can download the application at