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Posts Tagged ‘Politics and Prose’

Politics and Prose Bookstore Founder Carla Cohen Has Died

Carla Cohen, the founder of Washington DC’s Politics and Prose Bookstore, has passed away.

Cohen (pictured, via) opened the bookstore in 1984. The bookstore site has this tribute: “Cohen’s entire background was anti-business so it was amusing to her family and all who knew her that Cohen decided to start a bookstore.  It was, however, just like the contrarian character she had inherited that she chose a part of retail then being nationalized.  It was a time at which small, independent bookstores were beginning to perish in large numbers.”

Add your tributes to the bookseller at this link.

Here’s more from the Washington Post‘s obituary: “Mrs. Cohen was a former urban planner who conceived of Politics and Prose as a salon where Washington readers and writers could gather to challenge each other in discussion about the big ideas of the day — a place that would reach beyond customers’ pocketbooks and become part of their lives. That concept proved wildly successful.” (Via Sarah Weinman)

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Booksellers Roll With the Caravan

The Washington Post’s Bob Thompson has a lengthy feature on the Caravan Project, a print-on-demand tool created by Peter Osnos and supplied to select bookstores by Ingram which enables customers to order digital version of select titles, including academic treatises, audiobooks, large-print formats and regular hardcovers. “The trick for you,” Kent Freeman, who works with the Caravan Project, told booksellers, “is to answer a simple question: “How does the physical bookstore provide digital content to the consumer?”

At the moment, Caravan’s reach is tiny: only 23 books are on offer. But most who have seen it in action have high hopes. “[Osnos] trying to do nothing short of change the way the entire industry publishes their books,” says Mark LaFramboise, the head book buyer at Politics and Prose. If it works, “it would be huge.” “This could be a pilot for what all publishers end up doing eventually,” agrees Tom Dwyer, director of merchandising at Borders. Right now, Dwyer adds, bigger publishers are mainly focused on “digitizing all their content.” But when it comes to distribution, he says, he’s sure they’re “planning something in this direction.”

Other publishing types aren’t as sure of Caravan’s importance in publishing. “Peter is a trusted figure in the community,” says another big-company executive, declining to be quoted by name. But “my two cents is that this is not likely to be at all significant.” And Osnos himself hopes the Caravan Project will be irrelevant in a few years’ time. Why? Because at that point, “we’re going to say: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, now you know how to do it.’ Publishers should know how to do the books in all the formats. Booksellers should know how to sell them. And we go away.”