Friday, May 28, 2010

The Obligatory Book Expo Wrap Up Post--And My Most Beautiful Galley of Book Expo Award

After a day of education, two days of walking the convention floor, meetings with publishers and lots of interatction with other booksellers, I can only conclude that most people are as confused about the book business as I am.

The show started with a roundtable discussion on books, which sort of turned into an argument about ebook author royalties. The only thing the panel could almost agree on was that the physical book quality will be more and more important in the face of ebooks. Actually, the Ingram representative disagreed strongly, but they've put a lot of their beans into print on demand and ebook distribution, so that opinion makes sense.

Actually they're both right. For big printings, I suspect quality does not matter, save for an attractive jacket. But when we're talking smaller printings of literary fiction and nonfiction, it could make a difference. Look at all the folks willing to pay $40 for Powell's Indiespensable limited editions.

I had some very interesting conversations with publishers, asking them to let me know about fancy book production.

To that end, I have decided to award the most beautiful galley award this year. The honor goes to Our Tragic Universe, by Scartlett Thomas. Can you say black top stain? Very, very beautiful. Thanks to Summer, my lovely hand model, for your help in this shoot.

Here's their marketing copy. It's all I know about the book so far, though I do remember a good read on Popco and our rep Ellen enjoying The End of Mr. Y.

"Can a story save your life? Meg Carpenter is broke. Her novel is years overdue. Her cell phone is out of minutes. And her moody boyfriend's only contribution to the household is his sour attitude. So she jumps at the chance to review a pseudoscientific book that promises life everlasting. But who wants to live forever? Consulting cosmology and physics, tarot cards, koans (and riddles and jokes), new-age theories of everything, narrative theory, Nietzsche, Baudrillard, and knitting patterns, Meg wends her way through "Our Tragic Universe," asking this and many other questions. Does she believe in fairies? In magic? Is she a superbeing? Is she living a storyless story? And what's the connection between her off-hand suggestion to push a car into a river, a ship in a bottle, a mysterious beast loose on the moor, and the controversial author of "The Science of Living Forever"? Smart, entrancing, and boiling over with Thomas's trademark big ideas, "Our Tragic Universe" is a book about how relationships are created and destroyed, how we can rewrite our futures (if not our histories), and how stories just might save our lives."

The book is out in September. I'm so excited to read it, but I'm going to be careful. Great job and hope they do something similar with the first printing of the finished book!

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