Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Battle of the Commission Reps, Part 2

This year we went from three reps presenting per evening to four. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but we were able to fill every slot. The reps shaved a little off their presentation times, but just to make my booksellers more exhausted, we had a staff meeting beforehand. I am looking forward to our next gathering, when the only thing that will have happened in the previous 24 hours will be two in-store events, David Sedaris at the Riverside (10/23, tickets on sale here), and Ian Frazier at the Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall (10/24, 2 PM, free, 733 North 8th Street).

Back to the presentations. Tonight was the battle of the two largest commission groups in our area, Fujii Associates and Abraham Associates (no disrespect to the other groups intended--this is based on how much business we do with each.) Both groups have lines that they sell to us, and lines where they only sell to secondary accounts, meaning we are large enough to get a house rep. Sometimes publishers use commission for this, sometimes they use telephone reps. If we weren't so close to Chicago, and we didn't have a good assortment of other stores around, we'd probably be on more phone lists. I have yet to have a phone rep fly out for rep night, but I suppose eventually somone will suggest video conferencing. I'm going to put that off as long as possible.

First up was Andy from Fujii. He brought out the Alton Brown's Good Eats 2, the middle years. It's an episodic guide to all things Brown, and as the first volume did quite well, as did the other volumes that were not episodic, Abrams has high hopes. I guess he's a 500-person event kind of guy, one of those folks whose sales are spread over a lot of mass merchandisers so an indie doesn't really quite how much reach the celeb has. We'll see when we host our signing for Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, on November 11th. It's at 12 Noon. There's no talk--you have to buy tix to his Riverside appearance for that.

Eat Tweet is a web phenom that condenses recipes into Twitter feeds. Maureen Evans has, well, done something clever. It's 1000 recipes in 258 pages. I ran this by a few of our foodie booksellers and they shook their heads, but the next week, one of our speakers was very excited about it.

Apparently there is a lot of buzz on The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, the memoir of Tova Elisabeth Bailey, who, confined to her bed with a neurological disorder, became fascinated by a visiting snail, whose life was structured with, yes, even more limitations. It's a nice variation of nature essay. Why not package your gift with one of our popular snail banks. Always thinking!

From Tiger Tales, I got a kick out of Hugless Douglas, mostly because it reminded me of a customer. He tries hugging rocks, trees, but nothing quite feels right.

Next up was John Mesjak, and I use his last name as he uses it himself in his blog, My 3 Books. John just weighed in on the phenomeonon of customers ordering from Amazon when they are shopping at independent bookstores, well sort of.

Everyone is crazy for All my Friends are Dead. We have it on our impulse table. Come in and laugh. Or you can read a bit here.

People are also crazy for Haikubes. We're not out of it yet, though I forgot to do the last restock.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain came in, one of the most awaited books of the fall. It's from University of California Pres, of all places. Really, this has never been published in a complete edition. We've already sold several.

Regarding 31 Hours, by Masha Hamilton, Jason loved meeting the author at the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association conference. This is from Unbridled, one of the most indie-friendly, classic independent publishing houses. Their other major book this fall is Peter Geye's Safe from the Sea. You've already heard us go on about it. Our event was great. We sold way more books than we expected.

We paid tribute to David Thompson, recently deceased of Busted Flush Press and a noted Texas bookseller, by noting his great publishing program. He brought back Don Winslow's series, which Mr. Mesjak told me he loved to hand-sell when he was at...well, one of the bookstores he worked at. A Cool Breeze on the Underground is the featured title. They also picked up some Daniel Woodrell backlist. Genius! A Boswellian is currently reading Tomato Red. I forget which.

John sells Candlewick, but I must have wandered away at that point, when something sparkly caught my eye. Staying on the bear theme, one of his books was A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker, with illustrations by Kady MacDonald Denton. It's the follow-up to A Visitor for Bear. They have a sleepover. Mouse makes too much noise. Try ear plugs--they are quite popular!

But that wouldn't make a very good book. Anyway, thanks to all the reps who helped make rep night #1 a success. We'll see if I can handle writing up numbers 2, 3, and 4.

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