Monday, March 12, 2007

Link-Mad Monday

Link time, kids!

- The fabulous online periodical The Morning News is well underway with its annual Tournament of Books, the most exciting of all of the literary awards, at least in terms of process. Imagine Celebrity Death Match between Gary Shteyngart and Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie! Or Richard Powers vs. Claire Messud! Or, in possibly the weirdest matchup, Brian K. Vaughan vs. Thomas Pynchon! All the excitement is there as prominent critics, bloggers and authors judge two books head-to-head, making for a March Madness of the book world. In a way, the results are as arbitrary as they are for any book award, but rather more transparent, and a lot more fun. (Incidentally, it was Dale Peck's behavior in last year's ToB that inspired my series of posts about Snarks; Mr. Peck has not been included in this year's judging pool, though I can't claim to have anything to do with that.)

I was honored this year to be asked to participate in the Bloggers' Office Pool; despite my total lack of experience in picking Oscar winners, football point spreads, or anything of the kind, I picked my favorite of the matchups in hopes of winning the grand prize: a copy of every book in the tournament. I'm already doing pretty badly (hello, who could predict that ECHO MAKER would be knocked out already?!?), but I'm curious to see whose read on the books and, more importantly, the opinions of these critics is the most right-on. Follow all the action of the ToB, and pipe up with your opinions too!

- The author events for Book Expo America have been announced, and the best way to read about them is right here on BEA director Lance Fensterman's blog. I was on the nominating committee, and while it looks like these picks aren't 100% those we requested, I greatly admire Lance and the Reed folks as well as the publishers for getting as many fabulous folks together as they have. Can you imagine any other time you'll see Paulo Coehlo, Alice Sebold, and Ian McEwan, and Rosie O’Donnell in the same room?? Y'all better make your plans for coming to Brooklyn...

- Dan of the ABA sent this fascinating article from CNN about the unexpected success of the Apple retail model. (I can personally attest to that, since the SoHo store is down the street from us, and directions to Apple are probably the single most common staff-customer interaction in our bookstore!) The reasons?: interactivity, beauty, service, smart people... you know the drill. Sounds like the best bookstores... if only we had that kind of design money. =) Seriously, I think the Apple model is one indie bookstores in particular can learn a lot from, less in terms of technology than in terms of their service-and-beauty oriented stores and flexible "pod"-style organization.

- Speaking of innovation in retail, the New York Emerging Leaders are hosting the first-ever ELNO-BO -- that's Emerging Leaders Night Out, Booksellers Only. If you're a forward-looking NYC area bookseller, join us this Sunday night at 7 at Three Lives Bookstore (154 West 10th Street) for pizza, beer, and a discussion about the future of the industry and how we can create community among our stores. RSVP to me or if you're interested. Hope to see you there!

That's all for this Monday -- I've got a backlog of book reviews that I'm hoping to get up later in the week. Happy reading!