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Showing posts from December, 2005

Comment: Over and Out

A kind friend offered the ALP and I rides in to work today, very early because he had to get to his own job. The bookstore is operating on reduced hours because of the transit strike, so I'm the only one here this morning. It's kind of cool -- reminds me of being at my high school after hours when I was working on the literary magazine, the sense of the institution in its sleepy, mysterious other life. We're headed out of town tomorrow for about a week, and I probably won't get a chance to post from Denver, so you won't hear from me for a little while. I do have book-related plans while I'm there, though -- I'm hoping to break away from the family festivities briefly for a visit to The Tattered Cover, Denver's famous (and huge) independent bookstore. I've heard a lot about the place, and I can't wait to check it out -- I'll report on the visit when I get back. After that, it's time to look forward to 2006. There are so many things

Comment: Odds and Ends, On the Shelf

I'm stranded in Brooklyn today, as a result of the New York City transit workers strike. Many brave souls have managed to get in to work anyway, but as I don't know anyone with a car and my bookstore is about as far away in the five boroughs as one can get from my house, I'm really stuck without the subway. I'll have to find some way to find a carpool or otherwise make it to work tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure the store can make it through one day without me. And I have to confess I'm enjoying the "snow day" -- I've been working at two busy stores every day for weeks, and I'm feeling a little burnt out. So I'm spending the morning on odds and ends, and looking forward to reading and a nap in the afternoon. In the odds and ends vein, thanks so much to those of you who have posted comments and sent emails – I've replied to some (including the anonymous commenter who pointed out that I had mistakenly listed Powell's Books as being

Chronicle: New York Bookseller / Sales Rep Soiree

This past Monday night I attended a get-together of booksellers and publisher sales reps at Kettle of Fish in the West Village. This social event of the season was organized by the owner of Penn Concessions, the bookstore inside Pennsylvania Station -- an incredibly exuberant guy named Rusel with a talent for getting people together. He sent out an email invite, the bookselling and publishing networks started buzzing, and there was a great turnout of folks from both sides of the catalog drinking the night away and talking books, like we like to do. Kettle of Fish is a great old divey bar on Christopher Street -- it was a frequent haunt of mine when I worked around there, and I still seek it out for the cheapest drinks and comfiest couches south of 14th Street. It's been around for ages -- there are pictures of Jack Kerouac hanging out in front of the place, next to the neon "BAR" sign (which was eventually brought indoors as the gentrifying neighbors complained about lig

Comment: Celebrations

Yesterday was my birthday -- 27 big ones. The day was celebrated in suitable fashion, and I have the feeling that it's going to be a good year, full of big doings in the book world. In the spirit of celebration, I'm devoting this post to some good news about booksellers. I've run across a number of references lately to new and old stores and young and old booksellers that are making a go of it, with new ideas, great business models, and the passion for books and people that makes indie bookstore magic. I've pasted the best parts of their stories below, with links to where they appeared whenever possible. Enjoy! --- "Greta Kanne and her husband, Chris Harper, recently purchased the Book Juggler, a 22-year-old used and new bookstore in Willits, Calif., about halfway between San Francisco and Eureka. Kanne wrote to Shelf Awareness that she worked at the store as a teenager before going to work at Chaucer's Books in Santa Barbara, where she met Harper. '

Chronicle: A Customer Remembered

Last Friday night, something reminded me of my friend Betty, and I resolved to call her and invite her to tea as soon as I got a chance. On Saturday afternoon, my former coworkers at the West Village bookstore called to tell me that Betty had died in her sleep in early November. She was 92. Betty had been a loyal customer of the bookstore since long before I started working there. She had been a friend of the woman who handled the poetry section, and when I came along with similar interests I got to know her too. She came in almost every Saturday, sometimes more often, even when her legs started hurting her and she had to rest often. Once in a while when she was feeling too ill to make it to the store, we would run a book or two over to her apartment, and she'd pay by check. Her book interests were primarily poetry (which I was happy to help with) and Buddhist philosophy (which our resident meditation maven ably handled). She had great taste, and read widely, though I imag

Review: Book Nerd's Favorite Books of 2005

Yeah, everybody's got a year-end list, from the New York Times' powerful top 10 to every little indie bookstore's table of Bests or Favorites or Notables or Picks. It may be a clich̩, but it's really fun, and it can be valuable to would-be readers and gift buyers who can't very well get through every book in the world. So I've had a look over my "book of books" Рthe little notebook where I keep a record of every book I've read during the year Рto take my own stock of the best and the brightest. This certainly isn't every book I think was important or worth looking at this year Рit's just an arbitrary little collection of the ones I got all the way through, and added to my memories of rich and enjoyable reads. I'm not getting co-op or reimbursement from anyone for these, and they don't represent the views of the bookstore(s) where I work. These are just what I'd hand you if you walked into my store and asked me whether I

Comment: New York Neighborhoods and Rush Relativity

The independent bookstore where I now work is primarily an academic bookstore. We serve a large Ivy League university, and we were founded to compete with the university's own official bookstore, which is run by Barnes and Noble. Many professors prefer giving their coursebook orders to an independent, and we do a very good job of supplying the books to their students. Even outside the coursebook season, our events tend to focus on scholarly texts and debates, and our customers are primarily students and professors. But we are also located in a fairly well-off New York neighborhood, so we are a general bookstore as well. While we don't bother with cookbooks, kid's books, or some of the fluffier of the new hot titles, we do carry a large and thoughtful selection of new literature, poetry, memoir, pop nonfiction, etc. This tends to be my area of expertise, as I come from a general bookstore background and can be counted on to geek out about the next big thing, or the nex