Friday, March 25, 2011

Earth Day 2011 campaign - 41 Reasons to Plant a Tree for Your Book: Reason no. 13

We continue with our Earth Day campaign - 41 Reasons to Plant a Tree for Your Book, where we share with you 41 reasons provided by readers in celebration of the upcoming 41st anniversary of Earth Day!

With more than 180,000 trees planted so far on behalf of readers, authors and publishers working with Eco-Libris, it's no surprise that we think planting trees to green up books is a great idea.. But we also want to hear what readers think about it and why they believe planting trees for their books is a good idea.

So for 41 days until Earth Day, we publish here the 41 best replies we receive, one reply a day. All replies are gathered and presented on the Earth Day campaign's page.

Reason no. 13:

Planting trees for books is important because reading near trees gives you fresh air and fresh ideas. - Nancy

Thank you Nancy for sharing with us your thoughts on planting trees for your book!

Nancy, just like a
ll the other readers whose replies we'll publish, is winning one of the great prizes we give away on this campaign, courtesy of our partners. Winners can choose their prize from a great list of gifts including audiobooks from Simon & Schuster Audio (such as The Half Life by Jennifer Weiner, Left Neglected by Lisa Genova and Essence of Happiness by the Dalai Lama) and great books, like The Last Original Idea by Alan K'necht and Geri Rockstein, Planet Home by Jeffrey Hollender, Spit That Out! by Paige Wolf, and The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. You can see the full list of the prizes on the campaign's page.

Every day we'll give further details on one of the prizes. Today we present you with the book
Spit That Out! by Paige Wolf.

Spit That Out! by Paige Wolf - Have you ever stayed up all night scraping lead paint off the walls (and then realized you've actually made the problem worse)? Googled every toy in the house to make sure they didn't contain high levels of cadmium or lead? Searched every product in the cabinet for the mere mention of a paraben? As a new mother, Paige Wolf has been committed to living an eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. But with the flood of constantly changing information, it's become an increasingly difficult task. In addition to the age-old daunting task of raising happy, healthy babies, mothers are constantly bombarded with new and contradictory research concerning environmental toxins, long-term product effects, and the far-reaching impact of every product we purchase and decision we make.

Spit That Out! answers the questions posed by mothers on the verge of a "green mom nervous breakdown" and turns to experts to present facts, debunk myths, and help parents stay on a reasonable and responsible course without losing their minds. Whether they are cloth-diapering, holistic mamas or moms who still can't give up their designer duds, all modern mothers can relate to the desperation of wanting to do the best for their children - and feeling hopelessly overwhelmed in the process. Spit That Out! feeds an audience of mothers hungry for commiseration, direction, and relief.

, we still have some spots available so please send us your reply it to We look forward to hearing from you.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Barnes & Noble Bankruptcy Index: B&N is so cheap and yet no one wants to buy it!

I know - we're one day late, but we've got some interesting updates - this week our B&N bankruptcy index is showing bankruptcy is getting closer as no buyer is insight and B&N stock continues to fall down. Just a short reminder - As Borders filed for bankruptcy, we look at Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest book chain to see if they will follow Borders and also go into bankruptcy and if so, when exactly.

To do it more analytically we launched few weeks ago a new B&N Bankruptcy Index, which is based on 10 parameters, which receive a grade between 1-10 (1 - worst grade, 10 - best grade). Hence we receive a 0-100 point index scale, which we divide into several ranges as follows:

90-100: B&N is in an excellent shape. Couldn't be better!
80-89: B&N is doing great. Bankruptcy is no longer a real threat.
70-79: B&N could do better and has to be cautious of bankruptcy.
60-69: B&N doesn't look too good and bankruptcy is becoming a more realistic threat.

50-59: Bankruptcy is a clear and present danger.
49 and less: Red alert! Bankruptcy is just around the corner and is likely to happen within a short time frame.

We will check the
B&N Bankruptcy Index every Thursday, updating each one of the parameters included in the index and will analyze the trend. You can follow the weekly changes in the index from the day it was launched on the Barnes and Noble Bankruptcy Index page on our website.

So here's our update for this week (in brackets is last week's grade):

1. Confidence of the stock market in B&N

This parameter will look at the performan
ce of the B&N stock (symbol: BKS) in the last week. The performance of B&N's stock is an indication of the confidence the market has in the ability of B&N to maintain a viable business.

So let's look at last week's figures:

3/16: $9.71
3/23: $9.10
Change: -6.3%

As you can see, B&N's stock continued to fall down last week with a decrease of 6.3% in the stock's price. Just for comparison, the S&P500 Index went up during this period in 3.2% and Amazon also gained 0.4%. Just to give you a broader perspective - B&N shares have plunged 51% since Feb. 18, the last trading day before the company eliminated its $1 annual dividend.

The reason the stock keeps going down is probably connected to the fact that as Bloomberg reported Barnes & Noble said to be likely to end search without buyer, no matter how cheap the price is - "even with Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) selling for 60 cents on the dollar, the cheapest retailer in America still isn’t cheap enough to entice private-equity buyers looking for cash."

According to Bloomberg it looks like the only buyer left may be Leonard Riggio, founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble, himself as private-equity firms back away after the bankruptcy of Borders Group. I'm sure this piece of information is far from reassuring the markets.

Couple more figures from Bloomberg to take into account:

Barnes & Noble is now the only U.S. retailer valued at a discount to its net assets. The company sells for 0.6 times its book value, or assets minus liabilities, which is less than 94 other U.S. retailers with market values of more than $500 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The bookstore chain also commands less per dollar of revenue than any of its competitors, with its shares trading at 0.08 times sales in the past 12 months, the data show.

This week's grade for this parameter is going down by half a point to: 4.5 (5)

2. What analysts say on B&N

“There’s not much to like,” said Brian Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies’ retail analyst. “One thing I’ve learned in retail is once the model starts to go against you it’s tough to pull yourself out. Assets on their books are losing value so quickly. Other than Riggio, I don’t know who else would want it.”

“Barnes & Noble needs to do immediately what Borders waited too long to do,” said Jim McTevia, of Bingham Farms, Michigan-based McTevia & Associates, a turnaround consultant. It needs to start closing stores and “taking steps now to restructure this company before it’s forced into a Chapter 11” bankruptcy, he said.

The valuation discounts are “synonymous with companies that are really struggling,” said Michael Souers, an analyst for Standard & Poor’s in New York. “From a valuation perspective, it does look attractive but there’s concern about longer-term trends and little momentum in the near term.”

Even with Barnes & Noble trading at a level suggesting shareholders have more to gain from firing its managers and liquidating the company, private equity firms are wary of putting money into Barnes & Noble because it doesn’t generate enough cash to support a leveraged buyout and lacks property to sell off, according to Oscar Gruss & Son Inc.’s Bill Kavaler.

“It’s not generating cash, the future is too uncertain, the ability to lever the company is constrained,” said Kavaler, a special situations analyst at Oscar Gruss in New York. “It’s not a private-equity thing.”

He added that “This shouldn’t be a public company and it shouldn’t be a private equity company. It should be a private, family-held company. When it works they make a lot of money, and when it doesn’t work it doesn’t cost anybody outside of the family anything.”

Due to the relatively negative sentiment this week, this week's grade is going down by half a point: 6 (6.5)

3. New strategy to regain sales in the brick and mortar stores
Just like Borders, B&N still doesn't have yet a clear and comprehensive strategy that will transform their brick and mortar stores from a liability back to an asset. This week's grade stays the same: 4 (4)

4. What B&N is saying about itself
“Borders has had a number of strategic decisions along the way that were very different than Barnes & Noble,” Barnes & Noble’s Chief Financial Officer Joseph Lombardi said in an interview yesterday. “In June of last year we stood up in front of the investment community and said this was our plan we were going to execute. We are well on our way and positioning ourselves beautifully to participate in the e-book market.”

Well, I'm happy to hear that at least the CFO is optimistic..This week's grade for this parameter stays the same: 6 (6)

5. Steps B&N is taking
Nothing much here this week except the fact they're still looking for a buyer and can't really find one. This week's grade stays the same: 6 (6)

6. Competitors
This parameter will mainly look into Borders and how its problems affect B&N.
This week's grade stays the same: 5 (5)

7. Financial strength

Two weeks ago Barnes & Noble published the results for the third quarter. This week we learned from Bloomberg that Barnes & Noble ran a deficit from operations, after deducting capital spending, of $166 million in the past 12 months, one of only two mid-sized U.S. retailers with a shortfall in free cash flow, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

This week's grade stays the same: 7 (7)

8. Strength of the digital business

No updates here, except this interesting update on Wall Street Journal:

Microsoft Corp. sued Barnes & Noble Inc. and the manufacturers of Barnes & Noble's Nook electronic book device, escalating a series of patent battles over gadgets based on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

The Redmond, Wash., company, in complaints filed Monday in federal court in Seattle and with the International Trade Commission, alleged that Barnes & Noble, Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. and Inventec Corp. all violate five Microsoft software patents with Nook, an electronic-book reader sold by Barnes & Noble in it stores.

Other than a that we found only a reminder of the some ebook sales figures from Bloomberg Businessweek:

The Kindle has 67 percent of the e-reader market in the U.S., followed by the Nook at 22 percent, according to a February report from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Amazon also generates 58 percent of e-book sales, followed by Barnes & Noble’s 27 percent and Apple at 9 percent.

Bloomberg also mentioned that "some potential bidders balked at a purchase because of how long it may take Barnes & Noble to generate more digital sales, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because negotiations aren’t public."

This week's grade stays the same: 8 (8)

9. Sense of urgency
It looks like B&N still think they have time and are not worried at all, or at least not worried enough to begin doing something with their brick and mortar stores (again, we don't believe more toys in the stores and extra room for the Nook is a winning strategy). If we can learn something from the Borders' case, it's how fast things go bad when your reach a certain tipping point of financial distress or distrust of your stakeholders (consumers or publishers for example). This week's grade stays the same: 5.5 (5.5)

10. General feeling

This parameter will be an indication of our impression of all the materials read and analyzed for this index. Our feeling this week is that things are not looking too good for B&N with the falling stock, no buyer at sight and no strategy for the brick and mortar stores.
This week's grade stays the same: 5.5 (5.5)

This week's Barnes & Noble Bankruptcy Index: 57.5 points (58.5)

As you can see, this week's index is set at 57.5 points, which means B&N is getting deeper into the 50-59 zone: Bankruptcy is a clear and present danger. It's still not the red zone but it means that bankruptcy is getting closer and is becoming a real threat to B&N. See you next Thursday.

To view the weekly changes in the index visit Barnes and Noble Bankruptcy Index on our website.

You can find more resources on the future of bookstores on our website at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Working to green the book industry!