31 October 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The Melville House blog has a really interesting post about the future of Barnes & Noble that links off to this piece by Rick Aristotle Munarriz.

Barnes & Noble is coming off another dreadful quarter. Back out the Nook and its digital downloads and you’ll find that sales actually fell by 11% at its superstores and college bookstores. Unlike Amazon.com (AMZN), which is routinely profitable throughout the year, Barnes & Noble posted a wider-than-expected deficit.

Coming up short has been a recurring theme for Barnes & Noble. The struggling retailer has missed Wall Street’s profit targets in each of the past six quarters, with five of those periods resulting in larger-than-forecasted losses. Analysts see Barnes & Noble posting a loss for all of fiscal 2012. They see a return to profitability come fiscal 2013, but we’ve seen how the prognosticators have overshot the chain’s reality in the past.

We’re now heading into the seasonally potent part of the year for Barnes & Noble, but how many holiday shoppers do you really think will be crowding the registers when they know that books and gifts can be bought cheaper online? Besides, now that so many people own a Kindle — and to a lesser extent a Nook — why insult gift recipients with an actual hardcover book?

This isn’t necessarily all that surprising, and helps fuel my deep hope that the fall of Borders and the contraction B&N will lead to a rise in quirky, community-centric indie stores. That said, how fucked is it that Books-A-Million! (punctuation and strange capitalization all theirs) is expanding into 41 previous Borders locations, meaning that the Southern-based, fourth-rate chain will now be in 31 states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin where they’re opening their first stores.

I know it’s terribly snobby to say this—especially considering I’ve only been in a single BAM! in my life—but it would be terribly sad if the only book chain left standing was this Wal-Mart inspired mess of a organization. I think they should be boycotted on extraneous exclamation point alone. (Says the guy who includes an average of 3 exclamation points per text and loves Los Campesinos! for the same textual over-exuberance.)

We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

Read More >

The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

Read More >

French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

Read More >

Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .

Read More >

The Cold Song
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann
Reviewed by David Richardson

Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .

Read More >

This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

Read More >

A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

Read More >