Monday October 20

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news!

64 years ago today Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s invasion to liberate the Philippines began with an attack on the island of Leyte, which prompted a Japanese counter-offensive that lead to the largest naval battle of all time, The Battle of Leyte Gulf.

*** Following up the continuing story of the fire-bombing attack in England on the home of the publisher for The Jewel of Medina, it seems three men were in court at the Old Bailey in the case. (Aside: whenever I hear of someone going to the Old Bailey, I wonder if perhaps Horace Rumpole will be their barrister)


*** Sunday, October 19, saw the demise of Acres of Books in Long Beach, CA. Founded in Cincinnati in the 1920’s, legendary bookseller Bertrand L. Smith moved the store to Long Beach in 1934. It seems that such classic buildings are no longer wanted in 21st century California, probably too much history, not enough glass, and so the store is now gone. I never had a chance to visit this mythic oasis and now I never will. Had I been there, I would have taken a sleeping bag and slept in the aisles for the last week or so.


*** It seems that ABEbooks is having difficulty keeping staff. As an ABE seller, it makes you wonder what they are doing with the fees they charge their sellers. We have known for some time that they encourage workers to take frequent breaks for company supplied diversions such as foosball, but Wii? Seriously? I’m paying fees so these people can play Wii? No doubt there is some logic behind this. No doubt. Okay, there is some doubt.

The Vancouver Sun had a long article about this, which had drawn some pretty sarcastic comments, and it was mysteriously pulled down after a day. Interesting. Perhaps ABE’s notoriously thin skin for criticism came into play?

*** William Christopher, aka Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H*, is 76 today. Gack!

*** Historian Nicholas Rankin has a new book that is right up my alley, Churchill’s Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945. To date it seems the only edition is the English from Faber & Faber. I’m not sure exactly how you justify Churchill in the title, since of that 31 year period he was only PM for 5 years, but I’m sure it helps sell the books.


*** I’ve laid off of Ebay for a while, but since it is a legitimate venue for new and used books, both buying and selling, it seems appropriate to follow its continuing demise. On July 26, 2008, I wrote this: “Ebay stock this week is trading around $24.30 or so. I think it was around $32 when they started this idiocy of wiping out their customer base. Maybe their strategy will work. Maybe they will bounce back to become dominant again. And maybe not. And the Motley Fool has declared it their stock to dump. Good. I’m always glad to see Corporate Arrogance rewarded.”

As of today, Monday, October 20th, 10:11 am CDT, Ebay is trading around $15.30. More and more articles are appearing in the financial sectors publications about the company not responding to the market and having serious underlying issues. In other words, these financial gurus are beginning to figure out what we peasants in the trenches have known for 6 months, that Ebay’s declaration of war on sellers was not just bad business, it was suicidal. And until they reverse direction, assuming at some point that they do reverse direction, it will not get better. Indeed, it may already be too late.

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