Canadian Booksellers Vote on Merger

Canadian Booksellers Association members decided at an annual general meeting in Toronto to “explore becoming a division” of the Retail Council of Canada. The CBA has been facing financial difficulties and asked members to vote on dissolving the organization entirely or to join the retail council, which the CBA has been affiliated with for a few years. An official announcement on CBA’s plans is expected soon.

August Bookstore Sales Dip

Bookstore sales dipped less than 1% in August, falling to $2.38 billion, from $2.40 billion, in August 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Last year, Borders’s going-out-of-business sales peaked in August, which is also a big month for college bookstore sales. For the first eight months of 2012, bookstore sales were virtually flat at $10.3 billion.

Amazon Push Into Schools

Amazon has targeted educational and business institutions with the launch of Whispercast for Kindle, a new technology that allows organizations to distribute and centrally manage the deployment of content to multiple Kindle devices. The service is designed to encourage the bulk distribution of Kindles, Kindle Fires, and Kindle Reading apps to institutional groups and to distribute content to the devices through a localized network. The technology will be available for “all books in the Kindle store,” and payment will be made through the organization managing the Whispercast account.

Harlequin Debuts Kiss

Harlequin plans to launch Kiss, a new contemporary romance imprint next year, described as “fun, flirty and sensual romances.” The imprint will feature four titles per month with the first list set to be released in late January in e-book and mass market paperback formats. The first list of paperbacks will be $2.59, and rise to $4.99 beginning in March, while February e-books will be priced at $1.99 and will also rise to $4.99 starting in March.

Wimpy Kid Goes Digital

Starting October 30, kids can read the old editions of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid in a new way, when they become available for download as e-books for the first time. The first six books will carry their own Wimpy e-book logo and branding, and the seventh book, The Third Wheel, will be released simultaneously in both hardcover and e-book formats.

H&S Split in Two

British publisher Hodder & Stoughton (which is owned by Hachette) is splitting in two, creating two divisions, each with its own managing director. John Murray Press, a new division, will encompass imprints John Murray, Hodder Faith, Consumer Learning, Two Roads, and Saltyard Books. It will be overseen by Nick Davies, who is returning to H&S after serving as publishing director of Canongate. Hodder & Stoughton will cover general fiction and nonfiction, and its managing director, Carolyn Mays, will also oversee the publishers of the Coronet and Sceptre imprints.

Perseus Beats Goals, Invests

The Perseus Books Group exceeded its financial goals while continuing to invest in the future. Those investments included a host of digital initiatives including the joint venture with the U.K. house Faber & Faber to create the U.K.-based digital platform Faber Factory Powered by Constellation, which now has more than 100 clients. Perseus’s own digital platform, Constellation, added more than 100 new clients in the year. The company’s Argo Navis operation, which enables authors with agents to self-publish, has contracts with 27 agencies.

Akashic Digits Offers Excerpts

Brooklyn indie house Akashic Books launched Akashic Digits, a digital promotion that will offer free extended e-book excerpts of Akashic titles each month.