Tidings, grim and otherwise

The New York Times casts its gaze on holiday sales prospects for bookstores. It’s sort of a hodgepodge of optimism and pessimism and everything in between, though this passage certainly casts a pall:

“Like many businesses across the retail sector, the publishing industry has been hit by a raft of doom and gloom in the past few weeks. Leonard S. Riggio, chairman and largest shareholder of Barnes & Noble, said in an internal memorandum predicting a dreadful holiday shopping season, as first reported in The Wall Street Journal last week, that ‘never in all my years as a bookseller have I seen a retail climate as poor as the one we are in.’”

It seems like there’s too much innate variability in book-buying patterns from consumer to consumer. Some view book purchases as bedrock, others cut that part of the budget first. And you know there’s no chance that anyone will consider a bailout for the publishing industry, because they just provide illumination and entertainment instead of grossly irresponsible financial products or gas-guzzling vehicles.

Speaking of the Times, I think they have the best web site in the news industry, so I’ll be very interested in what Vivian Schiller does with National Public Radio’s web presence when she leaves the Times to become NPR’s CEO. (In an indication of the current state of NPR’s web presence, I had to do a search to find the Schiller story, which struck me as weird.) If there’s a news organization that should have a good, free online resource, it’s NPR.

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