In a blast from our past, Penguin Los Angeles-based sales rep Tom Benton detoured from a family gathering in Chicago up to Milwaukee to visit Boswell Book Company. Tom was an early champion of David Benioff's City of Thieves, and if you keep track of old Schwartz newsletters, so were we. In the end, the Schwartz stores did sell over 100 copies of the book in hardcover, but I learned from Tom that the wonderful Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colorado, sold over 400!
City of Thieves is now out in paperback and my dream is to sell tons. We have at least four booksellers who loved the book and I promise you this will not be my last post on this book. But just in case you're browsing randomly and came upon this entry, it's about two Russian young men during the siege of Leningrad on a wild chase to find a dozen eggs for a wedding, with execution in the cards if they don't succeed. It's dark and funny, working as a straight-ahead thriller and a stylized modern story. This is off the top of my head; wait till I practice better. I want to be one of those stores that sells 500 copies of something; why can't it be Benioff's novel?
Benton sat me down to chide me for not having more than one copy of Kathryn Stockett's The Help. it's the first released from the boutique imprint from Amy Einhorn, a lovely editor previously at Hachette who ran the Five Star program and also shares my mom's name (no relation to our knowledge). The Help is the easiest book ever to hand-sell, says Benton, a story of 1962 Mississippi with echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird. Since it is actually fabulous, we don't have to worry about steering anybody wrong. The reorder went in immediately.
What we're really gearing up for, however, is Ron Currie, Jr.'s Everything Matters, coming in July. He is over-the-moon about it, and the publicist Shannon at Viking/Penguin was already talking it up as well. It bodes well for us, because Schwartz in general, and the Downer location in particular, actually did pretty well with Currie's previous God is Dead, and that book was relatively quiet.
All in all, a lovely if short trip for Tom. First a pop in at Franklin's Chocolate, then lunch at TLC Soup, a short detour to buy lightbulbs at BBC Lighting, a coffee picked up at the lakefront Alterra. Yes, we've got a local source with national reach that's very competitive pricewise. If Tom had had more time in Milwaukee, I would have made him tour the fascinating showroom. Plus they have excellent initials.
Oh, and did I mention that Tom is Publishers Weekly rep of the year? I would link to the story, but I don't think it's been published. I know my friends at Tattered Cover, Vroman's, Boulder, Skylight and Book Soup are all huge fans. Congrats to Tom, my fellow member of Team C.O.T.
Yes, it galls me too that I'm not yet linking books to our web site. I promise we'll have something up very soon.
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