Bookstore Sales Weak in June

Bookstore sales fell 6.5% in June, to $1.08 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The decline was the largest since January. For the first six months of 2005, bookstore sales were down 3.8%, to $7.11 billion. For the entire retail segment, sales were up 8.6% in June and 7.2% for the first six months.

FoF Acquires Chelsea House

Facts on File has acquired Chelsea House, a publisher of children's and YA books for the library and school market. FoF paid approximately $9 million for Chelsea, which had sales of $11.3 million in 2004. Chelsea's sales are down 25% since 2002, due in part to a weak library market. The purchase of Chelsea is FOF's first acquisition since it was acquired in April by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, which plans further expansion in the school and library market.

Delmar Buys Charles River

Charles River Media has been acquired by Thomson Delmar Learning. Founded in 1994 by Dave Pallai, Charles River focuses on books for professional game developers, a market that Pallai said has shifted more toward colleges and libraries and away from retailers. The purchase gives Charles River access to Delmar's extensive sales network. Pallai will continue to head Charles River, which will become a Delmar imprint.

Sales Off at MediaBay

Second-quarter revenue fell 53% at MediaBay, to $2.3 million, as the company continues to move its business away from direct mail to digital downloads of spoken-word audio. MediaBay did cut its loss in the quarter to $2.4 million from $7 million. Just after the close of the quarter, MediaBay relaunched its Audio Book Club, which now features a digital download component. Its digital aspirations suffered a setback in July when MediaBay canceled plans to launch the Larry King Audio site.

Results Up at Franklin

Sales at Franklin Electronic Publishers rose 15%, to $18.4 million, for the first quarter ended June 30. Net income jumped 110%, to $1.6 million. The company attributed the gain to two major licensing deals.

Random Adds Wizards

Random House continues its distribution push, signing Wizards of the Coast. Wizards is known for its tie-in fantasy products and the YA line Mirrorstone; it publishes a total of 600 titles. Wizards had been with Holtzbrinck; the new pact begins in January.

Short Stories From Amazon

Amazon officially launched Amazon Shorts last week, a program that will offer original works from established authors in digital formats. The short pieces will sell for 49 cents. Amazon Shorts debuts with works from 59 authors, ranging from Richard Rhodes to Danielle Steel. Word of the program has been circulating for nearly a year and has met with a mixed reception from publishers.

The GAO on Book Prices

The Government Accountability Office issued a report last week that found that college textbook prices rose 186% between 1986 and 2004, faster than the 72% increase in the rate of inflation, but well behind the 240% increase in college tuition and fees. The GAO determined that the major factor behind the increase in the cost of texts was enhancements made by publishers.