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Tuesday, August 8, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Starbucks adding books to retail offerings

Seattle Times business reporter

Determined to show that it has taste beyond the espresso bar, Starbucks will market a new book to customers beginning in October.

Called "For One More Day," it is the latest novel from author Mitch Albom, who wrote the best-selling memoir "Tuesdays with Morrie."

The campaign marks the latest effort by Starbucks to connect its customers with entertainment recommendations, where it has compiled a mixed record.

The coffee retailer began selling selected CDs in stores two years ago, and had a big hit with the Ray Charles CD "Genius Loves Company," which it helped finance and market.

This spring, it extended the strategy to include the debut of a new singer-songwriter, Sonya Kitchell.

It also dipped into film with the nationwide promotion of the movie "Akeelah and the Bee" through in-store signs, coasters and drink sleeves. The movie, however, was a bust at the box office.

Company executives regularly say customers have "given permission" for the coffee vendor to go beyond beverages and pastries, although Starbucks does not release sales figures for nonfood items like CDs.

"They love that we're exposing them to compelling entertainment options that they also get as part of their daily routine," said Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment.

Beginning Oct. 3, a week after the book becomes available in traditional retail stores, Starbucks will begin selling "For One More Day" at stores nationwide. Albom will make appearances at stores in eight cities, including Seattle, and take part in a video conversation that will be available online.

On Oct. 26, Starbucks will host customer-led discussion groups at 25 stores nationwide. As part of the program, the company also will contribute at least $50,000 to the early-education program Jumpstart.

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Starbucks is being careful not to overload people on media, he said.

"Our customers will never walk into their favorite Starbucks and feel it's been converted into a music store or a video store or, in this case, a bookstore," Lombard said.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com

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