Talking About Books . . .

Barnes & Noble, the sole remaining nation-wide brick and mortar bookstore chain, recently revealed that its consolidated revenues for the fourth quarter decreased to $1.3 billion – a drop of 7.4 percent as compared to the same period last year.  The fourth quarter net loss amounted to $118.6 million, compared to $56.9 million during the same period last year.  Nook sales also dropped by 16.8 percent.  The chain is in the process of closing 15 to 20 of its least profitable stores while at the same time opening five new stores.

Though more and more people seem to be using e-readers, Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader seems to be the primary money drain for the chain.  There have been rumors that the B & N would like to sell Nook, but so far there are no takers.

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A recent Pew Research Center report found that a majority of people who were under 30 years old believe that it is very important for libraries to have librarians and books for borrowing.  Relatively few thought libraries should automate their services or move them online.

Here are some additional findings from the Pew survey:

  • 75% of younger Americans have read a printed book during the past year compared to 64% of older adults.
  • 85% of 16- and 17-year-olds read at least one print book in the past year, making them significantly more likely to have read a book in this format than any other age group.
  • 60% of younger patrons say they go to the library to sit and read, study or watch or listen to media compared to 45% of library visitors 30 and older.

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In an earlier post I wrote about how important the local bookmobile was to me when I was a kid.  Well, believe it or not, bookmobiles are still around and are still warming the hearts of library patrons.  They’re still important in order to give some people (especially the very young and the elderly) access to libraries.  The stories about a few of the bookmobiles in an American Libraries magazine article are both fascinating and touching.  The stories told by the bookmobile librarians will bring a smile to your face and make you realize how something as simple as a bookmobile can change people’s lives.

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Does the name “Marie Duplessis” mean anything to you?  She was the subject of La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias) a book by Alexander Dumas, fils.  She was also the subject of La Traviata one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most beautiful operas and she was portrayed in the famous 1936 movie Camille by Greta Garbo.

Duplessis was not just a made-up character.  She was a beautiful Parisian courtesan who died from tuberculosis at the age of 23.  And now she is the subject of a new book The Girl Who Loved Camellias: The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis by Julie Kavanagh.


You can learn more about the real Marie Duplessis and how Dumas came to write about her in an NPR interview with author Julie Kavanagh.

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In what country do people spend the most hours per week reading?  Would you believe . . . India?  Yes, that’s right, India.  Here is a color coded map of the world with the hours of reading per week in various countries.  Click on the map to enlarge it.

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So what’s the big deal about narrating an audiobook?  You pre-read the book, go into a studio (with a glass of water perhaps) and read it again, right?  Wrong.  In a New York Times article John Schwartz tells us all about the fine art of narrating audiobooks.

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When I think of Sherlock Holmes two men come to mind.  The first is Basil Rathbone who portrayed Holmes in 14 movies made between 1939 and 1946.  And who can forget Nigel Bruce as Holmes’ bumbling sidekick Dr. Watson in those movies?

Basil Rathbone

The other great Sherlock Holmes, from my point of view, was Jeremy Brett who starred in the long-running PBS series.

Jeremy Brett

But there have been many incarnations of the great detective, and has a list of some of them here.

By the way, Brett had the role of Freddie Eynsford-Hill in the 1964 movie version of My Fair Lady – and he had a fairly decent singing voice.

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