Weekend tidbits

  • I missed a recent story in the NYT about the Finnegans Wake Society, which used to meet at Gotham Book Mart, until my favorite store store closed its doors a couple months ago.
  • The excellent NPR show Marketplace did a segment last month on Kepler’s membership program, which has raised over $200,000 from shoppers, who, ahem, get nothing in return. Noticeably absent from the Marketplace piece was the very valid criticism that Kepler’s should not be able to get away with soliciting non-profit-style membership contributions until they become more transparent about their financial workings and where the membership money goes. On the plus side, I recently noticed that inventory at the store has improved quite a bit with the critical theory, fiction, and sports sections all showing marked improvement.BN.com
  • BN.com has an item on my Christmas list, the Lego Mindstorms NXT, for $187.46 with the coupon code B3U6E4V. That’s, by far, the best price I’ve seen so far.
  • Yahoo! and Reuters have collaborated to solicit user-submitted news photos through Yahoo!’s new You Witness News site. Reuters may then select photos for distribution to their clients, in which case, photographers will receive small royalty payments.
  • remember watching with delight then 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier pull a Derek Jeter fly ball over the right field fence for a home run in the 1996 ALCS when I was a sophomore in high school. According to a NYT story, Maier is now seeking a job in the front office of a Major League Baseball team, which is still where I hope, on some days, to end up.
  • Has anyone tried the New York Times Reader Beta? I just downloaded it and will post my impressions soon.
  • The Yankees appear closer to signing Andy Pettitte, according to the New York Times.
  • Forbes has a decent, but short profile of McSweeney’s, for whom I used to work. I especially like the following passage from the article: “Like upstart publishers anywhere, McSweeney’s has run into plenty of pitfalls, from bad planning and cost overruns to occasional cash shortages. ‘We’re making mistakes on every level of the spectrum that mistakes can be made on,’ says McSweeney’s editor Horowitz. ‘but our audience is really forgiving of mistakes, too.'”

2 Comments

  1. evicious

    According Kepler’s website, this is what you get if you are a member:
    ” * A Kepler’s Member Rewards Card — you will receive a $20 gift card with the purchase of 20 items. After you have filled your card and received your $20 gift card you will receive another Member Rewards Card.
    * A Member’s Only Shopping Bag — perfect for the Holidays! You will receive 15% off EVERYTHING you can fit into the bag (One time use)
    * In-store thank you gift
    * Invitations to members-only events
    * Advance notices to Kepler’s events and programs
    * The knowledge that you are enriching our community by supporting Kepler’s, your local, independent bookstore!”

    No matter what level of membership you purchase (Entry Level of $20 to Platinum Level of $2500), the benefits are exactly the same. I don’t like the idea of membership programs (can you imagine any other independent business be so bold as to say, “we’re going out of business — let’s ask our customers for some money to keep us open”?). But I have to admit it is creative and seems to work so far. But what will happen when Kepler’s become a business that makes great profit? Will people be as inclined to contribute to the membership program?

  2. Rick

    All businesses are supported by their customers on some level, so I don’t necessarily think the idea is that far-fetched. What bothers me is that Kepler’s does appear in any way to be accountable to its members. Members have no insight into how Kepler’s spends their money, no control over what books and periodicals the store carries, and no voting rights over who serves on Kepler’s so-called “Board of Directors.”

    To answer your question, if Kepler’s makes a great profit, I, as a customer, would hope to receive some sort of return on my investment in the store. I’m not saying that I should contribute membership dues and then earn interest on them or anything, but I should at least get my section of NYRB books and a fiction backwall that includes all works by William Gaddis, John Dos Passos, Saul Bellow, and David Foster Wallace.

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