He's great at targeting booksellers for reads, and by knowing what they like, a lot of us are willing to go out on a limb for him and read yet another unknown author. Sometimes it pays off, and for us, Mudbound was one of those times.
As the winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize, you might think it was a shoo-in. This is an award they give for strong novels that also have themes of social justice. The problem was the previous winners were not particularly successful in the marketplace. Have you heard of Marjorie Kowalski Cole's Correcting the Landscape. I'm sure it's wonderful, but I don't remember it either.
Mudbound was different, eliciting very strong reaction in the Schwartz booksellers, and others around the country. You can read our archived email newsletter here for the hardcover, where we told all that would listen how much we loved this book. If you don't care to link over, I'll just reprint Ken Favell's reaction:
"A riveting historical novel soaring with emotion. Jordan uses six narrators to tell this fascinating story of prejudice and forbidden love."--Ken Favell, Brookfield
We certainly had a huge success with the book in hardcover. It's the kind of book that really delivered $25 of satisfaction. We had customers come in and buy more copies for friends. Our Mequon manager Lanora (soon to be of the Next Chapter Bookshop) found out she was reading in Atlanta and drove across town for the chance to be at her event.
You know who had even bigger success with the book? Great Britain. It was a coveted "Richard and Judy" book club pick, the equivalent to us of Oprah, only it doesn't go on hiatus so much.
Now Mudbound is in paperback. We generally don't have to work as hard on books in paperback. Trade paperbacks are considered priced at the sweet spot for indie bookstores. Instead of getting three or four validations that this is a book that's worth buying, many of you are willing to be more spontaneous. And then there are the book clubs, most of which prefer the trade paperback format above all others.
Oh, and we're also rather preoccupied.
That said, Algonquin is not resting. They've come up with another cover treatment, this time a landscape with a golden tinge and a superimposed bird. The gold is the mud image. This replaces the more painting-like red jacket for the hardcover.
There was also a very, very muddy advance copy. Craig said the jacket was so different that many booksellers requested a hardcover copy, not knowing that they already had the advance.
Here's the big news, Hillary Jordan is our farewell event at our Brookfield shop, reading at Thursday, March 26th, at 7 PM. More info here. Come celebrate all the wonderful times you've had over the last 24 years with this very special author. Note that our other locations may not have copies of this book--you may have to pick up your copy at the Brookfield Schwartz. You can reserve it by calling 262-797-6140.
Oh, and I'll leave you with a couple of quotes, just in case you haven't made up your mind.
From Peggy Walker at Brookfield: "Passion. Loneliness. Tension. A mesmerizing read!"
From Sharry Sullivan at Mequon: "I love, love, love this book."
What more can you say? Craig's pick for this spring is A Reliable Wife. It's just been named the #1 Indie Next pick for April. But that deserves its own post.
Update on the transition to Boswell Book Company. The date for the closing is looking clearer. March 23rd seems to be the date. We'll be painting and switching out some cases and doing things with our credit card processor, which will take a good week. Best case scenario is a soft opening on April 1st, but that's why they call it "soft." I'm preparing grand opening events for the first week in May. We'll see how that goes.