Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Didn't That Rep Night Happen a Month Ago? Part One

Yes, yes it did.

I had promised to write up some of the picks afterwards, breaking one of my major rules--never promise anything or you will mess up.

It went fairly smoothly. The food from Beans and Barley was delicious and we had just about the right amount. Scratch that--I over-ordered salad. One next time is plenty. There was a little poppy seed torte leftover, but nobody seemed upset about that. It went the next day.

Oh, another problem was that I lost one of the handouts. In retrospect, it was good I lost John's, as he already wrote a blog piece on his rep presentation. John sells books from Harvard, Yale, and MIT. Among his picks:

The Atlas of Rare Birds, by Dominic Couzens. A lovely photography book that documents who they are and where to find them. And John points out the amazing price point on such a nice package--$29.95. It's all about the international printing, I guess. Sometimes you can also find a nonprofit to underwrite some of these things. That's how they got Mary Nohl and Wisconsin's Own so reasonable. At $45, its actually quite reasonable, especially as it wasn't printed in China.

Pride and Prejudice, an Annotated Edition, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks. Do I also have to say written by Jane Austen? Needless to say, there was much oohing and ahhing over this. John was a little concerned over trim and price point, but it's actually quite close in both to the Norton series. If you don't know already, the president of the American chapter of the Jane Austen Society lives in Milwaukee. Her term is coming to an end, and she's hoping to use her extra time by reading more classics (eventually I hope to post on her controversial definition of classics).

Best Technology Writing 2010, edited by Julian Dibbell. If you come to our store a lot, you know we keep all the best-of-the-year anthologies together on an endcap. It is shopped often and sells a lot of books. Most of these books don't tend to sell too well in their sections, except for maybe Best American Short Stories. This year the BASS dump was very nice, but cardboard, so we went back to our rack and changed the header. John's entry is not "American" and it was only when I looked carefully when I realized how many of them are. Really? No Peter Carey or Emma Donoghue or any number of other authors allowed? That's another good idea for a post, checking the nationalities of every contributor to Best American Travel Writing.

Want to read more about John's picks? Visit his blog, Paper Over Board.

It's been so long that I can't remember the order. Here's a bit from Joe's list. Joe is our Penguin Hardcover rep, and he was notable last year for convincing us to put The Power of Kindness on our impulse table. We have sold over 100 copies of this book, and I'm surprised that every store in the country hasn't followed suit. Though I'd like to claim otherwise, our customers are likely no kinder than those at other bookstores. I know this is an odd thing to say in a blog post from an independent bookstore, but if a national chain store mover and shaker is reading this, I would suggest you try it without a table fee; you will likely make more money than putting a dud on your front table and collecting the money, but selling few books.

Joe was very hot on James Thompson's Snow Angels, a new mystery series set in Finland. Everyone's got an entry from the frozen north of Europe of late, and Joe claims to have read most of them. Well, Steig Larsson anyway. A Somali immigrant is found dead in a field. Sex crime? Hate crime? Other? Inspector Kari Vaara starts digging.

The Girls of Murder City, by Douglas Perry. We do pretty well with historical crime books, unless they are packaged to look too mass markety. Karen Abbott's Sin in the Second City was a hit for us, and did I mention Abbott is coming for her next book, American Rose, a bio of Gypsy Rose Lee? It's on January 10th. Mark your calendar. In Perry's book, he documents Maurine Watkins, a Chicago Tribune reporter who glorified "stylish Belva" Gaertner and "Beautiful Beulah" Annan, both of whom shot their lovers and started a craze of Murdress's Row being one of the most fashionable addresses in Chicago. I don't know if I got that right, but it sounds good.

Work Song, by Ivan Doig. This is his sequel to The Whistling Season, his most popular novel that I remembered. Morrie Morgan goes to work for the mining company in Montana, on the lam from Chicago gangsters (see above) and mistaken for a labor agitator. Roughneck action follows. It's said to be pretty good, if not quite at the level of The Whistling Season. And besides, you should read The Whistling Season first anyway. And Bev loved it. I wonder if I can sell one copy of The Whistling Season by mentioning it four times.

This is a two-part post if I ever saw one. Alas, our website is under construction again, so no linking today!

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