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tv   About Books Janet Webster Jones of Source Booksellers and a Preview of...  CSPAN  November 15, 2021 7:30am-8:01am EST

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become, you know, the ruling class of europe. william the conquer kerr descended from the -- conquer or descended from norway, the king of denmark and others, that there's -- no one ever manages to really unite all of scandinavia, except one, and that's margaret of denmark. thisthis is her effigy, her toms a matter of fact, who for a brief time managed to, through sheer force of will, to unite the kingdoms of denmark, sweden and norway into one. it's the kind of undertaking that -- [laughter] only a woman would conceive of and would pursue and only a woman like margaret of denmark would be able to achieve. >> to watch the rest of this program, visit use the search box at the top of the page to look for arthur
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herman or the title of his book, "the viking heart." ♪ >> on "about books," we delve into the latest news about the publishing industry with interesting insider interviews with publishing industry experts. we'll also give you updates on current nonfiction authors and books, the latest book reviews, and we'll talk about the current nonfiction books featured on c-span's booktv. >> host: and welcome to the "about books "program and podcast. we'll talk with janet webster jones, owner of detroit's source booksellers about how she's navigated book selling during the pandemic. we'll also look at the latest bookss on politics and current affairs. but first, let's start with this week's publishing industry news. penguin random house, the
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largest booksh publisher in the u.s., recently made an offer to buy simon & schuster. the justice department filed suit to stop that merger, but now the a authors' guild has weighed in i saying, quote: we are heartened by the strong and countt focus on authors and its understanding of the fact that authors inevitably lose income when there is limited competition for their works which in turned a versely im-- adversely impacts the reading public because fewer important books are written. now, the $2.2 billion merger was announced last year. the publishers intend to contest thee justice department's decision. in other news, britain's largest literary prize was awarded this week. this year's booker prize was given to south african author damon gelgut for his novel, "the promise." this was his third nomination and his first time receiving the
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prize. and in other award news, the american library association has announced their finalists for this year's andrew carnegie's medals of excellence. this year's nonfiction novelists, 400 souls, a little devil in america is also nominated, and kristin radke's -- [inaudible] the winner will be named on january 23rd. the national book awards are being held on november 17th in new york city. it is a virtual event this year, and as always, booktv the will be covering it. and finally, according to npd book scan, print book sales rose 12% for the week ending october 30th. that means book sales are up 10.5% for the year. and joining us now on "about books" is janet webster jones. she's co-owner of source booksellers in, detroit.
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ms. jones, how long have you had your bookstore, and where are you located in detroit? >> guest: well, good morning, peter. it's a pleasure once again to be on c-span for booksellers. we've been in business since 1989 which is now s about 32 years, maybe going on 33. but in the process, we've had several changes that we have gone through, and the pandemic is our last, most impactful change, i think. >> host: so what's the last year and a half, almost two years been like for you at source? >> guest: well, when the stay at home orders came down from our governor, we closed our doors, but we did not close the business. and i feel very proud of that because my instinct the was to not close the business knowing that to start again takes much more effort. my daughters quickly got us to online sales which we had chosen not to do because we'd always
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wanted a relational business and not just a transactional one. however, the pandemic taught me a new name and a new possibility. and what happened was that people began to buy online quite quickly because everybody was pt home, and that's what they were doing. and so while she was doing that, i was tracking down grants that would help us to kept through this period of time. fortunately, at the end of march i had almost paid up all of our march bills. we did get some rent relief from our midtown detroit inc. organization. we did acquire a few other grants over time between early april and may, and i think there was one in june too. andnd by that time, things had really begun to change nationally given the george floyd murder and all of the social interest and problems that came about with that.
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people wanted to know and because we are a nonfiction book with store primarily -- and i say primarily because we do have our wild side, i'll tell you about that in a minute. we had many of books that people were asking for, and that put us in a position to be able to mail out to corporations that were having conferences that asked to have books sent to their people by mail, small, nonprofit independents near and around townwn and across the state. people calling in and coming in on our online site. so that really changed how the business operated, how the business worked. we really came down to just the two of us, my daughter and i, and the otherer two the ladies that work in the store were on temporary leave. and so it was a pretty heavy time. if i needed to have a jolt and to get going on a new path, that
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really did it for me. and i was able to find the support that we needed and really get busy. we t started having a fulfillmet center in the middle of the floor in our location. and so that's what happened to us f during that time, and it's been from scary to -- shocking to scary, a jolt, to amazement and to right now i'm just filled with gratitude that we've been able to come through this fire with the help of so many people including c-span and its kindness to us over the time. >> host: well, we've checked in with janet webster jones throughout the pandemic to see how they're going and to see the emotions that she's feeling as business changes during the pandemic. but you said also you're mainly a nonfiction shop -- >> guest: yes. >> host: -- but you have a wild side.. [laughter] what is that wild side? >> guest: we do. i like to tell a little story
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that one of my customers told me the move before last. he said if he worked on his grandfather's yard or or out in kansas -- either in kansas or, i don't remember -- and the grandmother would say keep the grass nice and clean and tight, no weeds. but keep your edges wild. so i picked up that idea of keeping the edges wild. while we are basically a nonfiction bookstore with 5-7 major categories, we also have our wild side. our wild side is science fiction. prize-winning authors, some novels and poetry which is sort of a bridge anyway. and then a little mystery and a few other things. so that's our wild side even though we keep our categories pretty clean which are history and culture, health and well-being, books by and about
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women, metaphysical, spiritual, new age and the arts. we've expanded our biography/memoir section, our young adults section, our lgbtq plus section and some other things that are more current. >> host: janet webster jones, you list yourself as a black-owned business. is that important to for you to sayin that out loud? >> guest: well, of course, because i'm an african-american black negro woman. and we are a black-owned business, and our books are reflective of that. but we're not entirely black times or black authors -- titles or black authors because our categories lend themselves to many oh people. one of the i things i do like to keep in mind is we've had many groups of who have come to and through detroit. we have, i often times have books, for example, african
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tales, chinese tales. there's a book called tales of myths. and when i can get books that are about any of these groups that come through, we have a book by a young man in california that i absolutely adore. he was tunisian, jewish, arabic and another category. so we've carried his book in the store. and so we try to pay attention to all of these different groups that have come through detroit, and some of their remains are here, and some of them are still here. and it also a helps with our cross-cultural and multicultural, diverse civilization of our books in our store. >> host: janet, your daughter allison did a lot of the online sales work. what percentage of your books are now sold online as opposed to in person? >> guest: well, that's really changing. it started out in the beginning everything was online and we had many, many sales online. and then as time went on and people began to get more
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comfortable and the restrictions started to ease, then online sales came down a little bit, and the in-store sales and phone call sales and e-mail sales start going up. and even now that's true. right now we usually have two, three ore four online sales evey day. but the other thing that has helped us a great deal is that we have corporate sales that come in. we do a large number of books that our publisher got us going with, and so those have really helped. and as a result, our revenue streams have changed. when we were not online and doing just in-store sales, that was primarily our online sales. with a few off-site sales as well. now we have a very different revenue stream model that includes audio books --
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[inaudible] book shop of which we are an affiliate. online sales at our own web site. the s telephone, i still use the telephone a lot. people call in and that's my connection to the world, i think, because i don't really go anywhere. and so i talk to people by phone. and, of course, people contact us via e-mail. we've gotten to the place now where we're able to bring back our two people that worked for us before the pandemic, and they started in early october. and then i'm adding another person who will help me with some of the back office things. so that's kind of where we stand now, and it's hard to say what percentage because it changes, you know, daily. >> host: are you pulley reopened -- fully roped, and how the -- i reopened, and how is te foot traffic? >> guest: yes, we're fully reopened. people do call and inquire.
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we don't have a big announcement, but we have expanded during the pandemic time period we've been able to do a lot more business than we had and especially in the books-only area. so in a lot of ways, we're kind of w a hybrid now. we're in-house bookstore the, brick and mortar, and we're online and we are accepting large are orders from groups and corporations and nonprofits and schools and things like that. so at one time we were set up in the store, we literally had a small store, 900 square feet, and is we had tables set up can with all sorts of things to send books. now that we have taken over the space that's right next door to us, it's a little less than double the space. we've been able to create a
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fulfillment center and a back office operation so that we can give s our customers much more freedom of movement, a much more relaxed atmosphere. always have some music on so that they can be calmed and quiet and give them a chance to really move about the store. so now the store is more horizontal than it was vertical before. so it was a front door/back door store the, now it's a front door, back inside, you know, horizontal store. that's where we stand now, peter, and we're learning to move around in the new space. >> host: well, i look forward to seeing the expanded space at some point. janet webster jones, you mentioned the george floyd tragedy and how in a sense you were prepared for that the as far as the books that you had in shop. could you explain that a little bit? >> guest: yes. well, when that happened, of course, you know, it was quite a national/international situation that happened.
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we had books such as how to be anti-racist, we had books such of as the american slave code. we had books by eddie cloud. we had isabella wilkerson, we had brian stephenson's book, and this was part of our inventory. isabella wilkerson's book came out, "caste," how do you talk about race by somebody else, sobooks on native american peope that are michigan-based as well as other parts of the country. and so our category of nonfiction really benefited us at that time. it gave us a chance to share what we already knew and then to dig around and find other things. we found that people in some of these organizations wanted to
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have book groups and book clubs. they were at home, they were meeting with each other across the zoom, and so we were able to send books to their residences as a result of some new things that happened in publishing and distributions. for example, there's a ship to home operation that we can use by calling up the distributer and having them send the book directly to the home of the person. well, that was a huge boon for us. the old idea of special orders full blown now. us a great deal. we had other books that were children's books that helped us and we have a new book now called we moved together, which is about disability, so i think that incident has given rise to so many other ways of looking at the world and knowing about the world and of course people want their children to be better informed than they were perhaps about the issue of race, class,
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gender and as a whole ball of wax that we are talking about now. so that has been a benefit of the community and even what you believe we've sent books to canada which isn't really far from us but across the whole united states and england and belgium and new zealand and australia, mexico we've had to learn how to be a shipment and fulfillment center and i have to give high praise to my daughter for that because she's stuck right with it and try to keep everything in order going on so this shut down order, the pandemic, the virus, all of it has had such a impact negative
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as well as positive and some a little bit of both. i wouldn't have guessed before this that we would be where we are today because i never dreamed up this story. it just happened organically from the hard work, opportunity and taking risk. here we are at another new place and i'm grateful for it and to the publishers that have opened up the doors to help independent booksellers and people that were viable during this time period. >> that is another change that has happened in the last couple of years is the diversity in new york and in the publishing world. has that affected you? lisa lucas is now publishing. it's expanded now. has that made a difference to you? >> i absolutely think so we are more representative of the
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population of the country. it's just to the consciousness and awareness have grown and the opportunities for people to come into this industry which is a global industry as you know, to come into this industry and participate. i will give you an example of that. i never paid a lot of attention when i got started with books to illustration but illustration has come into its own and we happen to have a college with creative studies here in detroit that has that illustration and inthe environment. a young man came in with a regular customer of ours through the years. he has just graduated and had taken an illustration and i confidently told him look into the book industry. books have covers and they
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needed the design antitype that i know you've learned about so this may be a career for a young person such as that. i wouldn't have thought about that years ago but it's something available now and i'm not sure how people get to it but i can point them in the right direction and hopefully they will take the ball and go over there. the industry has changed dramatically. we have these talents and capacities of people in our midst all along, but the opportunity hasn't always been there. it's already benefiting people everywhere so that is they still
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think about at the time they were killed down there. he's dedicated his life to writing but hopefully people are being enhanced to move forward to a new and better world. you can find her and her daughter allison and sourcebook. topping the list is tabitha brown's self-help book because it's my business, that's
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followed by wayne state university professor detroit and 50 map source booksellers is very close to wayne state. after that is bibliophile diverse spines a collection of curated lists meant to diversify the reader's library. michael eric dyson's most recent book is also on the source bestsellers and it is an examination of the race in america and it's entitled entertaining race. wrapping up some of the best selling books is the recount of the life of malcolm x it's looking at the latest publishing news and nonfiction books "new york times" columnist joined us on our monthly author call in
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program. here is a quick portion of that program. >> there's lots of people who have something happen where they are like what i thought was true about the world isn't actually true or what i thought, but thee medical or political system told me doesn't seem to be actually true and lots of people have those experiences in our politics over the last 20 years from 9/11 through the iraq war through the financial crisis and the way that experts made all these predictions about the benefits of trade with china that did not work out for significant portions of the country. you can go down the list there benny series of moments where the experts said to saddam hussein and weapons of mass destruction. they said at the housing bubble would never burst and opening up to china would be good for america and make it more liberal. none of these things happened so you have this deep skepticism
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about the sort of elite political narratives just as you end up with skepticism about the medical narratives so the question is what do you do then and the challenge is once you've had one of those experiences, you obviously are going to be skeptical of the sort of consensus of the official ideas that is inevitable but you don't want to assume everything outside of the establishment is right. they got a bunch of things wrong and therefore i'm going to trust outsiders the way i use to trust the establishment and that is the mistake of the fringe you have the sort of populist mistake where it's like cnn and the media liberal got all these things wrong so i'm going to trust absolutely everything i hear from conservative sources and in fact you want this skepticism that runs both ways a
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reminder that in depth is liable in the first sunday of every month. next month will be author historian victor davis hanson whose latest book the dying citizen offers his thoughts on immigration. here's some other new politics in the current affairs titles. woke racism columbia university linguistics professor weizen on race in america. legal journalist at linda greenhouse examines how the supreme court has changed in the past two years. she covered it for "the new york times" the most recent is called justice on the brink. and molly hemingway argues that the media and the democratic party use covid-19 to seize power and former nfl quarterback and activist has a new book as
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well. he offers a collection of essays on policing and the judicial system in abolition for the people. andrew yang argues america's current economic and political systems are outdated and offers recommendations to address both. andrew recently spoke about his book on the author interview program "after words." >> millions of americans stand up and say wait a minute this duopoly is tearing the country apart if enough of us stood up and say we have to make this a democracy for the different
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views have opened primaries, and again i think there should be five parties and if we have the shifting coalition if they woke up today they would be shocked and horrified by the fact we have these parties until we are in a country that we will not be able to recognize. it's going to be because the dynamic did not change and even though 62% of americans want a third party and think that both parties are out of touch, the duopoly knows to keep them to suppress the will of the american people. to the collective detriment. >> that was the presidential candidate talking about his most recent book.
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that program airs weekly and is available as podcast on c-span now. here's a look at some books being published. pulitzer prize-winning reporter and creator of the project nicole hannah jones expands upon the research and the history of slavery in america. in the clock and the calendar doug collins of georgia offers a first-hand account of president trump's 2019 impeachment hearing and chief washington correspondent jonathan carl examines the aftermath of the 2020 election his newest book is called betrayal. historian james morgan explains how america became involved in the vietnam war. in reclamation, thomas jefferson's monticello recalls efforts to have sally hemmings
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recognized as a descendent of the family and reflects on her own connection to hemmings and jefferson. that is a look at this week's publishing news and the latest nonfiction books. thanks for joining us on about books available as a podcast on c-span now or wherever you get your ♪ >> and you've been watching booktv. every sunday on c-span2 watch nonfiction authors discuss their books, it's for serious readers. and watch them all online anytime at you can also find us on twitter, facebook and youtube @booktv. ♪ >> download c-span's new mobile app and stay up top date with live video coverage of the day's biggest political events from live streams of the house and senate floor and key
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congressional hearings to white house events and supreme court oral arguments, even our live interactive program, "washington journal." c-span has you cover. down load the app for free today. >> former vice president mike pence says that president biden has turned his back on israel. he spoke at the annual republican jewish coalition leadership meeting in las vegas. this runs about 30 minutes. .. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪


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