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Showing posts from December, 2007

Year-End Thoughts: On Dreams and Roles

I've been feeling like a bit of a bad blogger lately. As my RSS feed clearly indicates, the blogosphere is filled with retrospectives, best-of lists, summaries of the year in reading, analyses of the state of literacy, bookstores, publishing, etc. in the year that's just ending. Last year I posted a list of all the books I'd read; this year I can't even do that, because I've lost track. (Resolution #1 for 2008: write down all books read, preferably on paper, so I can look back at them.) While I find myself unable to offer a sweeping, overarching point on the year in books, I have been having, rather typically, some personal year-end sorts of thoughts – about where I (and things) have been, where we're going, why are we doing this again, etc. (As Little Pete from Pete & Pete , the cult TV series of my youth, says in the New Year's Eve episode, "Everybody gets all wiggily on New Year's Eve thinking next year they're going to be better.

The busiest time of the year...

Forgive the lack of blogging around here lately. If you're a retailer, or a moonlighter, or a newlywed, you'll understand. I'm working on Christmas Eve at the bookstore this year for the first time ever. Somehow, in seven years of working in bookstores in New York, I've always managed to get out of it, because I was flying cross-country to see family. This year it's the ALP and I in the city, so I'm on Christmas Eve shift. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. Yesterday was nearly eight hours at the cash register, interspersed with running briskly with piles of books to restock in sections and tables. In the last hour and a half I started to droop a bit, but for the most part it was so fun. I've gotten some teasing for my incessant cheeriness, and for being the most "Christmassy" person anyone knows. Apparently I'm a Christmas nerd as well as a book nerd. I love looking forward to things. It's part of being

Good Friday news

Here's a bit of good news, from PW via GalleyCat : "Bookstore sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in October, rising 8.0%, to $1.10 billion. The increase was the second largest this year, trailing only the 9.3% gain posted in August. Despite the string of increases, sales through the first 10 months of the year were still virtually flat with sales up 0.3%, to $13.47 billion, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. For the entire retail segment, sales were up 6.2% in October and 4.0% for the first 10 months." Feels good, doesn't it? Especially that first bit. Another blow to the old doom-and-gloom, no-one-reads-books, no-one-buys-books brigade. Case in point: I have on my desk at work a copy of the NEA's newest study , which, while it undoubtedly points up real problems in education systems, always irks me with its apocalyptic, hopeless language. If/when I get a chance, I'll read through it and share some thoughts. In the mean

Oh no.

I've just been informed by a fellow Brooklyn litblogger -- and have since confirmed with the man himself -- that Larry Portzline has decided to quit the bookstore tourism business. Don't try to find his noted Bookstore Tourism blog -- it's not there anymore. In fact, Larry's taken down all of his related sites. Here's an article about his project in the New York Sun if you're curious. Larry was trying to raise funds for a nationwide indie bookstore tour -- he had lined up media, made a massive itinerary of indie bookstores across the country, and had appealed to the ABA and the regional associations and other organizations in publishing to help fund the tour. Apparently, not enough folks stepped up. After five years of appearing at trade shows, running Bookstore Tourism buses in New York and California, writing a book, and enjoying the approval of the indie community.... Larry found that no one wanted to put their money behind his project. I'm disapp

A Joke, A Pageant

From Dickens' A Christmas Carol , which the ALP and I have been reading aloud: "The brightness of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke: a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had anything to do." I love the splendid joke of Christmas in retail. Impossibly busy, we nevertheless find more time than we do at any other part of the year to give recommendations, to have a little human interaction with our customers. And it's glorious. Though we depend on it to pay our rent, it does seem to have less to do with making a buck and more with the pageantry of generosity and abundance. I spend a lot of time in the back office these days, but it's wonderful to have Christmas come along so I get to be a bookseller again. Here's wishing all of you book

Do you love to read books but hate reading books?

I just about fell out of my chair cracking up over this . It may not be the most sophisticated critique of the Kindle, but it's possibly the funniest, and maybe the most satisfying. I came across by way of Chip Kidd on A Brief Message , by way of GalleyCat . Everyone's sure talking about this thing.

LBC & Me

When I took on the second job at BookStream, I had a couple of wild-eyed moments of realizing that I literally didn't have time for all the things I've committed to in my life. Several calmer, more balanced individuals suggested making a list of all of my projects, and figuring out which I could cut out. Making an actual list, of course, would take too much precious time, but I did ponder the various options in my head over several weeks. Something (or somethings) had to give. Sadly, among the projects left behind was participation in the Litblog Co-Op . Though I haven't yet been moved from "participating weblogs" to "members emeritus" yet (because EVERYONE in the LBC is probably at least as busy as I am), I've officially given notice to the group. It sucks, because there are so many smart folks blogging there, and I've gotten to read so many great books (that I might never have discovered otherwise) and had some great online conversations