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Showing posts from February, 2008

"Switchblades, bicycle chains and adventuresome tailors": Colson Whitehead on Brooklyn literary culture

As a last treat before you start your weekend, you gotta read this brilliant piece by Colson Whitehead about being a writer in Brooklyn. He lives here (in Fort Greene), he loves it, but he hilariously pierces the hype about "Brooklyn writers." Sometimes it's a relief to admit it's just the same here as everywhere else. And Whitehead ends with an extended metaphor from The Warriors . What could be better? Enjoy, you kooky literati borough-dwellers. And happy reading.

TitleWave rocks!

Well, our first TitleWave event at BookStream was a smashing success. I'm working on writing up the press release now, but I can tell you informally here that the whole thing was awesome. Around 30 booksellers, plus sales reps and other folks, were in attendance. Our three authors -- Richard Price, Steve Toltz, and Hillary Jordan -- were each completely compelling in different ways. And Ken Abramson did a bang-up job of presenting his "pick of the lists" for great literary fiction and nonfiction from all publishers for the spring and summer seasons. You'll be hearing more about it from me and Carolyn Bennett in the days to come. If you're a bookseller who was there, I'd particularly love to hear from you! Thanks to everyone who made this possible, and who attended and enjoyed. On to the next event!

TitleWave on the horizon!

This morning I'm scrambling, along with my BookStream colleagues, to pull together the final details for our fabulous TitleWave event this Wednesday, February 27, in Hartford, CT. If somehow you've failed to hear all about it, here's what several dozen lucky booksellers have to look forward to: 10:00-10:15 arrive at the Sheraton East Hartford (free parking! TitleWave is in the Junior Ballroom) 10:15-10:30 introduction by BookStream CEO Jack Herr 10:30-11:00 Pick of the spring lists by sales rep extraordinaire Ken Abramson 11:00-11:30 Picks from the rest of the BookStream staff, presented by Carolyn Bennett and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo 11:30-12:00 Pick of the summer lists by Ken Abramson 12:00-12:30 Presentation by Richard Price, author of Lush Life (Farrar, Straus, Giroux) 12:30-12:45 short break for book signing & galley pickup 12:45-1:30 Lunch 1:30-2:00 Presentation by Steve Toltz, author of A Fraction of the Whole (Spiegel &

Join the Book Nerd posse!

This definitely comes under the listing of tooting my own horn, but I'm hoping some of you will get a kick out of it. Thanks to the graphic design help of my brilliant sister Sarah... You can now purchase your own Book Nerd T-shirt! Just imagine -- bookish types walking around, all over the country, with their hair-band/L.A. gangster/motorcycle-mob typeface t-shirts, proclaiming their unrepentant book nerdism. It's a beautiful thing. The Cafe Press thing is something I've been thinking about for a while, for a couple of reasons: 1) Several people have asked where they could get their own Book Nerd shirt like the one in my profile photo. Since that was something the ALP had custom-made for me, I didn't have anywhere to send them. Now I do. 1) I'll make a couple of bucks on the sale of each t-shirt, which will go straight into the Future Bookstore Fund. It's not likely to be a major source of funding, but the overhead price is right (i.e. nothing), and

Getcha used books in Brooklyn this weekend

A couple of summers ago, on a weekend ramble through the neighborhood, the ALP and I stumbled on signs directing us to a used book sale at the Methodist Church. We followed them, of course, and found ourselves in a basement full of the best castoffs Park Slope had to offer. The ALP, who has an astounding memory, remembers purchasing Death Ship by B. Travern (author of Treasure of the Sierra Madre ), and a hardcover edition of a little-known Victor Hugo novel called 'Ninety-Three; I think I bought an early Joan Silber novel whose title I can't remember (holy cow, get your hands on a galley of her new novel if you can, or reserve it for when it comes out in June), and another find or two. So I was delighted to get an email from book sale coordinator Nancy letting me know that it's Methodist Book Sale time again! I'm just pasting the whole press release below. If you're a Brooklynite or can make it out here this weekend, it's a great chance not only to fi

Bookstores in the Black; Bookshop Blog

It's not even blogging day (but I was gone Monday at the NAIBA meeting), so here are a few quick make-up links. According to Shelf Awareness, "Bookstore sales last December were $2.113 billion, up 2.7% from $2.057 billion in December 2006, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The year ended on a good note, with sales at $16.768 billion, up 1.1% from $16.589 billion in 2006. During the first half of the year, sales were below the previous year's levels, but stronger results in the second half of 2007 helped pull bookstore sales into the black for the full year." Hooray! And yours truly is beginning a series over at the Bookshop Blog , telling the story of this crazy dream of opening an indie bookstore. There's lots more going on at BB, so if you get bored with the story of my life there's plenty of links, advice, and personality to keep you there. I'm off to a morning meeting, then I gotta do some grocery shopping for V-Day d

TitleWave on the horizon...

The momentum is building for TitleWave, the awesome (free!) event for booksellers I've been helping to put together at BookStream! Bookselling This Week has a nice writeup of the event... Today's Shelf Awareness mentions TitleWave (though I can't seem to link to today's issue in the archive yet)... And Megan at Bookdwarf gives it a mention as well... For myself, I spent the last week missing subway stops reading Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, one of the authors who will be speaking at TitleWave. I was trying to explain to myself its addictive appeal -- it's not unusual structurally or formally, and the setup is almost Greek or Shakespearean in its simplicity: struggling farm, stoic husband, unhappy wife, charming brother, plus nasty racist father, plus bright black WWII vet, plus resourceful midwife and preacher husband, and a big storm on the way. But I couldn't put it down, nor predict just what would happen. Jordan writes effectively in every voice (ex

Friday time wasting

Today is a busy day as usual, with the added delight that the internet is acting screwy in our house. The ALP and I are taking turns cursing at wireless and trying to find work to do that doesn't involve the network (not much). So while it's pointless to try to write a long blog today, I would like to share: some very good (at least for me) news: I'm going to BEA ! As most of you know, it's being held May 28 to June 1 in Los Angeles this year -- close to where I grew up but far from where I work -- and I'm grateful to my bookstore for deciding it's worthwhile to send me. You may see me on a panel or two -- I'll keep you posted. I can't wait to meet, confer, and otherwise hobnob with my fellow wizards -- er, booksellers -- and learn a thing or two. Anybody else got BEA plans? And speaking of a gathering of bookstores -- my buddy Steve sent me a link to this wonderful set of photos of bookstores . Some look like UK stores; many are in New York; so

Comment: On Misperception and Making The World

Can I rant for just a tiny minute? I guess I must have been actually reading back posts of my favorite blogs, because I came across this one on the blog of Lance Fensterman, conference director extraordinaire (BEA *and* Comic Con -- that's right, baby!) and generally funny and observant guy. He's got a link to this story in the MinnPost about Birch Bark Books in Minneapolis, owned by well-to-do and respected author Louise Erdrich but apparently not doing terribly well financially. Here's the opener: "Most writers believe in independent bookstores. But is a belief in past worlds enough to bring them back to life? The answer is yes, if author and store owner Louise Erdrich has anything to say about it. The renowned author of "Love Medicine" and "Beet Queen" opened BirchBark Books in 2001, while independent booksellers everywhere were closing. The 800-square-foot shop, on a quiet street in Minneapolis' Kenwood neighborhood, is a prope

What I'd Like To Do, When I Have Time

- Read the complete results of the latest ABACUS Survey from the ABA -- those stats from indie bookstores nationwide were a big factor in my business plan - Read bookseller Tova Beiser's account of WI3 - Catch up with my Brooklyn blog reading! I just met Myka of MotherSister Brooklyn this weekend (look for a chronicle of meeting with the amazingly wonderful Fort Greene Association soon), and I think I have a lot of back posts to read. There's always Louise Crawfords indispensible Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn , which will also lead you to almost every other Brooklyn blog worth reading (and she also had a supernice congrats on my PowerUp win). And I've recently discovered Brooklynometry , and specifically the write-up of a new Brooklyn bookstore practically in my backyard that I didn't know existed: Babbo's Books on Prospect Park West. Exciting news! - Post book reviews! Here's what I read in January but haven't yet found time to write about (and