Showing posts from July, 2008

New York Bookstore News

My thrice-weekly email from the fabulous folks at Brooklyn Based was both exciting and chagrining this morning: a new bookstore in Brooklyn! With comic books and art installations by great local comics! That I'd NEVER HEARD OF before! Desert Island (dude, also a great name), according to BB, "is one of those places that shines in the consumer retail rough. Proprietor Gabriel Fowler opened the Williamsburg store in February of this year, with nothing more than a bank loan, a small community of artist friends, and a desire to share some o f his favorite comics, zines and books. Fowler grew up around indie record and comic shops in Florida, which “were the only exciting places to hang out in a cultural wasteland.” Powered by his professed “obliviousness” of the weak bookselling market, Fowler built and decorated the store entirely by hand, with a few key installations from his friends: Marie Lorenz, who made a delicate and intricate paper chandelier, and Chris Patch, who ma

Link-Mad Monday: TitleWave and Corpus Libris

As you may know, I spent a brief but producctive stint working for BookStream , an independent book wholesaler for the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. It's a company staffed by smart, passionate, book-savvy folks, and dedicated to raising the level of discourse and profitability across the book industry. To that end, BookStream geniuses Carolyn and Ken have once again cooked up a fabulous TitleWave event: author readings, staff picks, lunch, and free galleys! They've got some fabulous authors lined up for the August 4 event in Princeton, NJ. It's almost a mini-trade show or Winter Institute, and a chance for booksellers to get a look at the books coming out in the next season and learn how to sell them better. I've included Carolyn's press release below with all the details. I'm encouraging all of my colleagues to go, to support BookStream's efforts, and to take advantage of this chance for professional development. And there's no arguing wit

Upcoming: Emerging Leaders, IndieBound, NAIBA

Okay, heads up! I know it feels like the part of summer that will go on forever (and thank goodness for that, on an at-last-gorgeous day like today after a week of rainy 90 degrees). But the fall is on it's way, and there are a couple of major events coming up you'll want to know about. Emerging Leaders Night Out, NYC: IndieBound! On Tuesday, August 19, at 7 PM, Emerging Leaders NYC -- which welcomes young people in bookselling and publishing in the greater New York area -- is hosting a new Emerging Leaders Night Out. That means you come, you drink, you chat with passionate book folks your age, you learn some things, you make new friends. And at this one, you'll learn more about IndieBound , the ABA's buy local revolution. We'll have lots of IndieBound materials available for everyone, and for booksellers who RSVP, free IndieBound t-shirts! These are just for booksellers, and you've got to get in touch fast in order to get your t-shirt at the gathering. Th

The Handsell: The Book of Other People

Readers, forgive me, for I have slacked: it's been over a week since my last post. Summer lethargy and typical busy-ness means things may continue like this for a while, though I've got chronicles of publishing panels and NAIBA board meetings to report. In the meantime, here's a little rec for your short-attention span summer reading. The Book of Other People edited by Zadie Smith (Penguin paper original, January 2008) Anthologies are typically hit and miss, but when you've got Zadie Smith and all her friends writing short stories that are each a character sketch, it's hard to miss. My favorite "other people" are (of course) David Mitchell's insufferable/funny/sad matron looking for love, and Jonathan Lethem's savant/otaku/eccentric Perkus Tooth (whom I'm told features in his upcoming novel). Wonderful for dipping into over a period of time, and for the beautiful/creepy Charles Burns cover.

New York City Booksellers: Gettin' it together.

So it's happened at last: the independet booksellers of my city -- erroneously considered extinct by some, occasionally considered competitive by each other, often considered a powerful, untapped resource by a few Pollyannas such as myself -- have formed an alliance. The Independent Booksellers of New York City -- IBNYC for you acronym lovers -- declared itself an official organization at a meeting on June 26, and set about using their collective smarts to work together for good. IBNYC has no formal legal structure -- our dues and financial admin is being handled by our regional association, NAIBA, under the good supervision of Eileen Dengler. (Hopefully this will mean that more NYC booksellers become NAIBA members!) What we have the potential to do is to make our voice heard, and educate New York publishers and consumers about the existence and advantages of independent bookstores in their town and their neighborhood. There are some committees making this happen now: working on a

The Handsell: Agatha Christie Twofer

The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie (Penguin paperback, 1991 reissue) Agatha Christie is my guilty pleasure, though I secretly think she's got a lot more serious stuff going on than is commonly acknowledged; if I ever go back to grad school I'll write about her sly sophistication about class conflict, ageism, xenophobia, etc. This Hercule Poirot case, involving a series of murders in alphabetical order, takes on class assumptions, the fine line between homicidal mania and just being a bit nutty, and some unexpected romance as well. Read in an afternoon, then ponder or discuss. A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie (Signet paperback, 2001 reissue) Another sign of my weakness for Christie, this mystery celebrates small town life while skewering it mercilessly. It's also yet another instance of the impossibility of guessing the culprit -- I once read Christie would write the novel almost to the end, decide who was the most unlikely suspect, then go back and "fr

Link-Mad Monday: Catchup!

After a deliciously long Fourth of July weekend (barbecue with friends, watching fireworks from a rooftop, spending a long Sunday shopping, browsing and drinking in Brooklyn), it's back to the working week. I'm way behind on link posting, so here's a sampling of the best I've come across from the last month or so -- pretty unrelated. - Thanks to the ALP for pointing out the Salon article on the books that have influenced Barack Obama, from fiction to philosophy to politics. Fascinating stuff. Key quotes: "If Obama is elected, he'll be one of the most literary presidents in recent memory." "All presidential candidates would like to be seen as resembling Lincoln -- even those who aren't gangly master orators from Illinois." "Obama the reader and writer has already shown an affinity for pragmatism, whether it's the Cabinet-level maneuverings of Lincoln or the "Let's make a deal" activism of Alinsky or the "a man&#

The Handsell: You Don't Love Me Yet

Here's a tip for a great read from a great American author for the long Independence Day weekend. It's also one of my staff picks at McNally Robinson right now, which means you can get it there for 10% off all month. Happy 4th! The Handsell #2: You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem (Vintage paperback, April 2008) I picked this up after meeting Jonathan Lethem in the store, and it's the perfect intellectual summer read: witty, topical, sexy, and light enough that you can read it in a weekend. Lethem's story of would-be musicians in contemporary Los Angeles deals with issues of intellectual property and creative commons, and the fine line between artistic/daring and pretentious/exploitative -- but you'll gobble it up for the great rock set pieces, sexual shenanigans, and sun-soaked hipness.

Who says people don't talk about books? (Ugh...)

I have yet to read the really important Washington Post article everyone is blogging about. But I always find time for Overheard In New York (it's on my Google desktop). OINY, which also inspired a book, posts the irresistably funny, gross, weird, and unbelievable things people hear other people saying in New York. Wednesday the site gathers lots of short quotes together around a theme, with often exponentially hilarious results. Today, people are talking about books . If you are a book person, try not to bang your head against the wall after reading these. After all, if you overheard people talking intelligently about books (and there are plenty of those in New York too), it wouldn't be funny enough for Wednesday One-Liners.

New Feature: The Handsell

It's been tough to find blogging time around here lately. With meetings both business and social, I feel like I'm only home to eat and sleep (and debrief with the ALP). So I'm instituting a new little feature that I hope will be interesting -- and importantly, that I can almost do in my sleep. It's called The Handsell , and it's basically the bookseller's job distilled. Not quite a review, this is more like the 30-second version of my experience reading the book, pitched toward the kind of reader I think might enjoy it. It's what we do when a customer asks for a recommendation, and what we do when writing staff picks for displays. I think it's perfectly suited to the blog format. So, you'll be seeing more of them around here, in between longer and more in-depth posts. I've got a serious backlog of books I've read this year, so it will be a while before I catch up to my current reads. Hope you find these interesting -- maybe you'll