Books Flat at Hastings

Comparable-store sales of books fell 0.5% in the year ended January 31 at Hastings Entertainment. Sales of new hardcovers and trade paperbacks were down in the year, offset by higher sales of used books. Because of the recession, sales of all used products rose in the year, with comp sales of used merchandise up 10.5%; used sales accounted for just under 14% of all merchandise sales at the retailer.

Total Hastings revenue for the year fell 1.4%, to $531.3 million, a decrease that includes an $8.5 million gain from a change in the estimate of gift card breakage. Net income was $6.9 million in 2009, up from $4.1 million; excluding one-time gains, earnings in 2009 would have been about $900,000. A new initiative for Hastings in the current year will be to expand its sale of comics; Hastings will add 20 stores by the end of the second quarter, selling both new and used comics.

New Prez for Langenscheidt

Langenscheidt Publishing Group has appointed John Muchnicki president, replacing Marc Jennings, who has resigned. Muchnicki is a turnaround expert who, LPG said, “has been tasked with streamlining Langenscheidt's stateside operation and positioning the company for new growth going forward.” In a statement, Muchnicki said he will move quickly to make the necessary changes at the travel, reference, and language-learning publisher. “The market can then look to us to become leaner, more customer and partner-focused and to expand in our core competencies,” he said.

Yale Launching Publishing Course

Looking to fill the void left by the closing of the Stanford Professional Publishing Course, Yale will offer a weeklong publishing program for book and magazine publishing professionals July 18—23. The program is geared to middle- and upper-level professionals in the book, magazine, and online publishing industries. Robert Baensch and Martin Levin, who served as advisers to Stanford, are involved with the Yale effort, and other publishing executives who had been part of the Stanford courseare joining the Yale program as advisers and lecturers.

Turner Buys Ancestry Book Assets

Turner Publishing has acquired most of the existing inventory and publishing contracts of Ancestry Publishing from, the popular online site that lets users trace their family history. Turner will be publishing and distributing more than 100 active titles under the Ancestry name.

NBNi Expands

National Book Network is expanding its U.K. subsidiary, National Book Network International, and later this year NBNi will move to an 80,000-sq.-ft. facility in Plymouth, England. According to NBN, the move is necessary because of the growth of NBNi, where publisher sales topped $46 million in 2009, up from $18 million six years ago. Accompanying the move is the promotion of Sheila Bounford, who has been named deputy managing director, as well as the appointment of Ian Wordsworth as operations director. He has been NBNi's IT manager.

Brown Up, Marmion Out At HMH

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's trade and reference division has realigned its sales and marketing groups under Laurie Brown, who has been appointed senior v-p, sales and marketing. She had been senior v-p for sales. Bridget Marmion, senior v-p for marketing, is leaving the company. HMH trade president Gary Gentel said the change will give HMH a streamlined approach to getting its books the attention they need.

Kobo Initiatives

E-book retailer Kobo will release its own dedicated reading device this spring through Indigo and later in the summer at Borders. Kobo has also launched Powered by Kobo, a partnership and e-book software and infrastructure program aimed at helping device manufacturers and retailers work with the company.