Friday, March 25, 2011

25 MAR 11: Into the History Books

If you're wondering who makes the spelling and language decisions in our country, it's apparently the Associated Press. The news agency ruled the other day "e-mail" no longer should have a hyphen, while "e-book" should. Somehow it doesn't seem right or fair - like being expelled from the hyphe-nation.

The e-book may be catching on more than we realized - because the Ledger-Enquirer website reported Thursday Books-A-Million will close its Columbus store. The final day will be 15 April, potentially allowing discount pricing on books about hidden tax deductions.

No reason was given for the closing of Books-A-Million at Cross Country Plaza. But perhaps it was simply a matter of time - since book lovers can drive less than a mile down Macon Road and check out books from the Columbus Public Library for free.

Books-A-Million is based in Birmingham, and admitted this week its net income dropped 35 percent last fiscal year. So we can say cuts at this book dealer were.... uh, well.... they were bound to occur.

But it doesn't appear Books-A-Million is making massive cuts throughout its chain. An online search Thursday night found only one other news story about a store closing - in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia. In that area, a larger concern is whether government budget planners cook the books....

An economic development expert in Alexandria explained why Books-A-Million appears doomed in her city. She blamed it on - which strikes me as curious, since Amazon can't sell fresh lattes and scones online the way Books-A-Million can.

(Books-A-Million also sells books online - and for the record, it spells the word "eBooks" without a hyphen. Dictionary sales probably were jumping already, from people trying to figure out how Libya's leader really spells his name.)

Yet plans also were announced Thursday for a new downsized Books-A-Million store in a southwest Florida mall. Books-A-Million has a mall location in Albany already. So could a move to Peachtree Mall be on the way? And with plenty of distance from the food court, so shoppers don't get sticky Cinnabon fingers all over the merchandise?

But of course, Peachtree Mall lost a bookstore early last year when Walden Books closed. The closing of Books-A-Million makes you wonder if Columbus residents are really that interested in books these days -- and whether the Literacy Alliance needs to go back to the drawing board.

There's also the question of how Cross Country Plaza's management will fill the large hole caused by Books-A-Million closing. At least the bulldozers are ready, after causing another large hole for that renovated Publix store.

I'm not sure what could have saved Books-A-Million in MidTown. If only Teresa Pike Tomlinson had written her memoirs, before taking the oath as mayor....

Now for a final paragraph or two about Thursday:

+ A source I tend to trust reports NCR celebrated the construction of its 10,000th automated teller at the Columbus plant. After the events of earlier this week, the occasion was NOT marked by setting off fireworks.

+ Columbus Police reported thieves broke into a Circle K store on Macon Road in the middle of the night, and stole an automated teller near the front door. While this seems brash, look on the bright side - they didn't steal cigarettes, so they must not have a nicotine addiction.

+ The chemistry building at Auburn University was evacuated for several hours due to an unusual odor. Hazardous materials experts searched the building, but found nothing dangerous - while police probably checked the enrollment list for any chemistry majors from Dadeville.

(Did you see the bright orange safety suits Auburn "hazmat" workers wear? Loyalty to the local university sometimes can go to extremes....)

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