Monday, October 31, 2011

A Different Spin on Here's What's Happening This Week.

Since we got an email newsletter out in the past week, and we've already sent a press release and given out print event calendars and signage and who knows what else, recapping this week's events can get stale. So I'm trying to put a different spin on what's coming up.  I wish we could do very detailed outreach for each event, but there's simply not enough time in the day. We're happy to have all the information be correct in all our various and relatively standard missives. And I've certainly talked to authors who have complained that they've been to stores that didn't seem to do anything to get the word out. The problem is that sometimes folks just aren't listening!

Tuesday, November 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Deborah Niemann, author of Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living.

Raise goats. Make your own soap. Don't just knit a sweater, shear your sheep and get your own yarn source. Folks who'd be interested:
--Folks at the Urban Ecology Center
--Folks at Outpost and Riverwest Co-ops
--Folks who homeschool
--Fans of communal living projects and working the land.

Wednesday, November 2, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Lisa Albert, author of Mercy Lily.

This novel for teens and adults deals with a young woman who is caring for her mother with advanced MS, and the dilemma she faces when her mother wants to end her own life.  This event is for:
--Budding writers of young adult fiction.  Support your own and get publishing ideas.
--Folks dealing with end-of-life issues
--Friends and family of the author, who lives in Muskego. Come celebrate her big day!

Saturday, November 5, 2 pm, a co-sponsorship with Patched Works at the Elm Grove Woman's Center, 13885 Watertown Plank Road:
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of The Wedding Quilt and other novels.

The author's newest novel in the Elm Creek Quilts series focuses on the wedding of Sarah's preparation for her daughter Carodline's wedding, and the quilt being made to commemmorate the occasion. Chiaverini is a wonderful speaker and this book would be perfect for:
--Other crafters
--Folks who like novels that connect and carry on like old friends
--You like really cool commemorative pins? We've got one!
--People who want more events from us in Waukesha County.

Saturday, November 5, 2 pm, Nordic November, featuring:
Eric Dregni, author of Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America.

Dregni travels the midwest, looking for traces of his Scandanavian heritage and how it has morphed in the new world.  Come on all ye:
--Sons of Norway
--Lovers of lutefisk and lusekofter
--Not just for Norwegians, but Swedes, Finns, Danes, and Icelanders too.
--Folks who like travel narratives--we've got slides

Appearing with Dregni will be:
Joan Peterson, author of Eat Smart in Norway.

Peterson's Gingko Press fills a gap in travel guides, offering tips on less written-about destinations on our favorite passtime, eating. This talk about the old country also includes slides. In addition to all the reasons to come listed above, anyone planning a trip (at this point, for next spring) will get some much needed planning help.

And why not host four authors in one day?

Saturday, November 5, 7 pm reception, 8 pm talk, at Boswell:
Paul Schmitz,  author of Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up .

Leadership is found in unlikely places.  And Schmitz, CEO of Milwaukee-based Public Allies, offers a game plan for training tomorrow's leaders, based on, to paraphrase the head of the Kellogg Foundation, "inclusion, collaboration, and community building."

This event should appeal to:
--Progressive business leaders
--Folks at nonprofits
--Community organizers
--And of course, since Public Allies, is based here in Milwaukee, we're hoping to get a good contingent of folks connected to the organization, as well as to Schmitz.

Want a more traditional roundup?  Here's last week's email newsletter. And know someone who would just love one of these events, if only they knew about it? Please let them know.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Biggest Non-Event Launch Week Since Franzen and Other Weekly Bestseller Tidbits from Boswell.

As is my tradition when I am not scheduled on a Sunday, I am listening to a reairing of a 1970 American Top 40 countdown. They are either fiercely nostalgic to me (1975-1979) or like some sociological study (1970-1974), since before my obsessive music listening gene turned on at 13, I only know the bigger hits. Though it was not my first time hearing Bobby Sherman croon "Julie do you love me?", I had never noted before that it's pretty much a drinking song, and stranger still, everyone singing sounds tipsy.

And I make a seventies reference several days after my nostalic college post of several days earlier, in reference to The Marriage Plot and The Art of Fielding. So it was particularly odd when I went to a dinner party and it turned that one of the dinner guests and I (and I might add that I hadn't just met her--we've known each other and had many good chats since opening Boswell) not only went to school together, but lived down the hall from each other. It's true, Dee--I checked it in my freshman book.

Fifteen years ago I would have remembered much more, but it's clear that my brain sent a lot of data into deep storage when it became clear I was going to have to rememember way more people at Boswell than I ever had to do at Schwartz.  That's also why I write down all the plot points on sticky notes when I read.

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
2. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
3. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
4. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
5. Ten Little Zombies, by Andy Rash
6. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
7. The Litigators, by John Grisham
8. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
9. The Cat's Table, by Michael Ondaatje
10. The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright

I checked back to see if Murakami broke Franzen's first-week sales with his very excellent number of 37.  No, Franzen sold 45. We'll see if Murakami can keep momentum up or if it's a real core audience buying the first week with a big drop off. You'd think with all the press he's expanding his market.  Mike Fishcher noted in the Journal Sentinel: "Lose yourself in the nearly 1,000 pages of Murakami's alternately mesmerizing and menacing world, living for large stretches of each day with its characters, and time actually shifts and becomes harder to measure --one of the many themes, as it happens, in this big and brilliant book."  Read the rest here.

Oh, and though Andy Rash's Ten Little Zombies was published as an adult impulse-type book, the crowd was packed with ten year old boys saying "brains" a lot.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
2. Oriental Medicine and You, by Curry Chaudoir
3. The Journals of Spalding Gray, edited by Nell Casey
4. Boomerang, by Michael Lewis
5. Van Gogh, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
6. Why Read Moby Dick?, by Nathaniel Philbrick
7. The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 1, edited by Spanier and Trogdon
8. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
9. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
10. A More Perfect Heaven, by Dava Sobel

Our numbers on Steve Jobs were also very strong, and some accounts are saying this will be their biggest nonfiction book of the season. Good thing Simon printed enough for us to restock. Much thanks!

Paperback fiction:
1. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
2. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
3. Room, by Emma Donoghue
4. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
6. The All of It, by Jeannette Haien
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (rack edition)
8. The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer
9. The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake
10. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin

We're also selling the trade edition of To Kill a Mockingbird well, what with the launch of The Big Read, in conjunction with the Milwaukee Rep's production in 2012.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
2. Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff
3. Write-a-thon, by Rochelle Melander
4. The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal
5. The Power of Kindness, by Piero Ferrucci

I just finished writing up a piece on the YWCA's event with Skloot for our next email newsletter. Melander will be doing a NaNoWriMo workshop on Sunday, November 13, at 2 pm.  Ferrucci makes me nostalgic for 2009 when a rep night presentation convinced us to put The Power of Kindness on our impulse table.  We're close to 200 copies sold on the book; while there were certainly other stores around the country on board with this sleeper, I don't think it has yet reached its potential. Where's Oprah when you need her?

Books for Kids:
1. The Death Cure, by James Dashner
2. Forged by Fire, by Sharon Draper
3. Ball Hogs, Volume 1 of Kickers, by Rich Wallace
4. The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner
5. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
6. 17 Kings and 42 Elephants, by Margaret Mahy
7. I am a Bunny, by Ole Rissom with illustrations by Richard Scarry
8. Son of Neptune, by Rick Riordan
9. Every Thing on It, by Shel Silverstein
10. Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

Here's an excerpt of Nick Owchar's review of Silverstein in the Los Angeles Times: "In some cases, publishing material by a deceased author doesn’t serve anybody. It can be a disappointment to fans (often the work is inferior, which is why it was left unpublished) and add a dissatisfying coda to the writer’s legacy. That’s not the case with Every Thing on It, available now, which was culled from material Silverstein really liked but never found a place for in his other collections." Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Accidentally Purchased New Line of Boxed Holiday Cards, Opportunity Buying of Cute Pitchers, a Little Zombie Afternoon Wrap Up.

Our crazy event schedule for fall has left me with slightly less time to do a great job on gift buying. I can usually coast by restocking, but we've had a rash of reps selling in the stuff we've done well with to lots of other stores in the area, leaving me to cut back on some lines.  That's their job, more power to them, but we don't want folks to walk into Boswell and think we are copying the other stores, even if we sold the product first.  Plus if something is everywhere, you simply won't sell as much.

With a few lines de-emphasized, I had to find something new. We decided to stock Running Rhino individual cards. In error, the order was packed as boxes.  After looking at the designs and how they would fit in with what we had, we decided to keep and pay for the boxes sent to us in error. And when I got home the next day, I saw the box of Hanukkah cards on our counter. "Huh?"  It turned out that Kirk had already been into Boswell and bought a box for us.  I guess I am my own target market.

We've also put in a second order for Potluck Press, which I haven't seen around too much in the area.

The other thing Anne and I put out were these little mini ceramic pitchers that we found on a vendor's clearance list. We're able to price the small ones at $3.50 and the larger ones at $4.95. It's a nice deal; they are dishwasher and microwave safe, and also would probably make nice bad vases. Anne and I were sorting them out and immediately Beverly took one for her purchase shelf--it turns out she likes a nice pitcher as much as anyone.

Our friend Jessie and I had a nice conversation after our Zombie afternoon (it actually went pretty well; while not a huge crowd, Angus Macabre's tour manager noted that we had more attendees than Zombiepalooza. Andy Rash showed us techniques for splattering blood that could prove to be very useful--one of his zombie portraits is at left). We discussed that hot button topic of when to put out Christmas stuff.

In addition to the boxed cards, we now have an inconspicuous table of holiday books. But when to put out the ornaments and the like? I don't think we can be like Nordstrom and wait for after Thanksgiving, but post-Halloween seems to be acceptable to most.

But I did give one of our good customers a sneek peak; she bought a winter wonderland apron/dish towl set.

Back to Andy--he signed our copies of Ten Little Zombies. Here's what it looks like.  Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stray Thoughts from a Stray Bookseller on a Friday Afternoon.

1. I decided to look at what was on the shelving cart, to see if I saw something of interest. Peter Sís's The Conference of the Birds reminded me that I saw Amie hugging it when it came in. It's an adaptation of a Persian epic poem. Do you all remember our Persian poetry night in the spring of 2009? I do. I also love seeing people hug books. It makes me happy.

2. Our old pal Sara came in to interview me today for a school project. She worked at Schwartz for a number of years with me, including some time helping me with the buying. I have been found to be a good practice interview.  Unlike others I've done, there was video involved. I hope it went ok. We of course met for chicken tikka masala soup first at The Soup House.

3. A customer came in to ask whether we had any Unemployed Philosopher dolls of the female variety.  Yes, we ran out.  Our order was in back, so I received it. And we now have Picasso.

4. Speaking of Picasso, I'm trying to figure out where our easel is for tomorrow's event with Andy Rash.  Nice writeup in the Journal Sentinel for Zombie Afternoon. Much thanks!

5. I was going to read this morning, but alas, I had to trim the brushy vines from the alley. This time I bought an electric cord that is more difficult to cut when you attack it with an electric trimmer.

6. We have stock on both 1Q84 and Steve Jobs, which is very exciting.  Alas, we have very little Murakami baclist, as someone came in and bought everything we had. Jason informed me that the first two novels are out of print, and the reason we didn't have Dance, Dance, Dance was because it isn't as good. Every day I know a little bit more.

Some people are asking for it as "IQ-84," which makes me feel bad for the book, being not a very good IQ.

7. Next up, a walk through with Melinda from Public Allies for our event with Paul Schmitz next Saturday, November 5, 7 pm reception, 8 pm talk. And yes, we're staying open a little later to accomodate this.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

When is Someone from College Going to Give me a Bit Part in Their Book? It Won't be Mindy Kaling, Because She's Young Enough to be My Daughter (If I Did That Young Fatherhood Thing).

As I had mentioned in a previous post, several books we had events for at Boswell took place at college. And while I wasn't thinking about whether Chad Harbach had been influenced by his own college expereriences in writing The Art of Fielding, it did cross my mind while reading The Marriage Plot that there might be someone reading this book who'd get to an incident and think, "I think that was me."

I think that Eugenides'a novel hit home with me on that level because I was the age of the kids in the novel (they were Brown '82s, I believe) and I always had the sense that at the last minute, I was traded from Brown to Dartmouth, giving me some sort of imaginary affinity to Brown. The story is (and sadly, I also told this to Eugenides, and what a good sport he is by not looking away and rolling his eyes) that after filing applications, I had a solid interview with Brown. In addition, I was contacted by the math department and the radio station and a few other student organizations. So it was a particular disappointment when I was rejected.

But oddly enough, I was accepted into Dartmouth. I had not had an interview, which the application said was de facto. I had never received a mailing, never had a phone conversation with anyone. I hadn't visited. Very odd. Later on, the government asked the Ivy League schools to stop colluding on financial aid; isn't it just a short step to trading applicants?

Feel free to make that story you're own. After all, we're all fodder for someone else's novel. I've heard more than one writer complain that another writer stole (air quotes) their anecdote for his or her own magnum opus. And while many writers at events will claim everything was made up, just as many will note that there are real life observations that make their way into written work.

Over the years, a number of my classmates have written books. As I would go through the catalogs in the days of buying for Schwartz, I'd come to some crazy listing and realize the author was a classmate; I remember in particular some glitzy-meets-Bret-Easton-Ellis novel from Warner. Many were not even acquaintances, but one of my good friends wound up writing a really lovely memoir about her family, particularly her complicated life with her alcoholic father. Much of this was coming to a head when I was first getting to know her--she was dating my roommate. And the sad thing was, I knew absolutely nothing about the whole thing. I loved the book, but it also made me feel sheepish.

Another friend of mine published two novels. The first was a childhood book, but the second had some college scenes, and I knew they were based on her Dartmouth years. After the book was published, she told me that I had a bit part in one of the drafts, but that whole part was taken out.  I could have been a contender.  Yet another fellow student who worked at the radio station with me and has written several novels was contacted by a mutual friend--it turned out she had no clue who I was, alas.

Now here's a true college anecdote that seems almost too fictional to be true. According to a website I visited, the guy who was the student representative to one of the local banks and showed up in all their ads is the head of a very major coporation, and was the highest paid executive of an American business in 2009, according to some random website who was in turn referencing The Wall Street Journal. How's that for a driven character? Please use it in your next story; it will work as flawed hero or villain, but if he's the hero, he'll probably need some minor comeuppance.

But there's another way to go with that story. Another very low-key guy I worked with at the radio station turned out to be the head of another major corporation. It's a different kind of company that valued more creativity and playfulness; I had to say I didn't beleive it at first and had to watch a video where he was CEO of the year or something. But it was him. 

So anyway, you could have both characters in college, very different guys who become friends and then have a falling out, and thirty years later, they are these dueling CEOs and one company attempts a hostile takeover of the other.

Honestly, have I moved too far from my bookish and bookselling roots with this post? No, because I've just finished reading Mindy Kaling's comic memoir/bits, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I've seen a lot of comparisons to Bossypants, but there's also definitely a sense of I Was Told There'd be Cake (and someone else must have thought so too; there is a bit of similarity about the covers). Unlike my vague Sloane Crosley connection through publshing, however, the Mindy Kaling one is that she also went to Dartmouth, only she was born when I was a student. Pardon me, I think my age-related arthritis just flared.

Kaling tells her story, detouring to lists of good concepts to reboot (an all-girl version of "Ghostbusters") and learning in a meeting that what's hot are movies based on board games (though ads are also popular--Kaling has a treatment for the film version of "Crest Whitestrips."). There's a little wondering about the sexes ("Why do men take so long to put on their shoes?"  I didn't know they did. Maybe it's only the ones who use Bumble and Bumble. But I am mixing up two essays here.)

There's a lot about her childhood, growing up in Massachusetts (her birth name is Vera Chokalingam, if you were wondering), some nice thoughts about her parents, being the pudgy bookish girl (yes, there are about twenty names for fat here too, and the intricacies of using each one--pudgy is acceptable apparently). There's a sweet story of being torn between her approrpiate BFFs (they have shorts with all their initials on them) and another girl who is not quite as popular but whom Mindy just likes better.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me is on sale next Tuesday, November 1. I'm glad to know that gift bags are not all they're cracked up to be, and I also don't see the point of celebrity roasts.

But it's her college friends Brenda and Jocelyn whom I'm thinking about now. After intense college bonding, they moved to Brooklyn.  Eventually Mindy and Brenda wrote, directed, and starred in the play "Matt and Ben", which pretty much jump started Kaling's career. So yes, there are stories and photos of Brenda and Jocelyn throughout the book.  It's really rather sweet, but it brought me back to the Eugenides, where I thought, nobody is putting me in their novels.

But on the other hand, I think it's probably a blessing.  My first thought would be, "That's what you think I was like? Ick."

*And while I was poking around, another classmate who I only knew by sight turned out to be head of yet another corporation. But I can't figure out how to get his plotline into the novel that I'm letting someone else write.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finally an Exciting But in Some Ways Somber Release Day (Because One of the Books is a Memorial to a Recently Deceased Person).

We haven't had an everybody-runs-in-to-buy-a-book release day in some time, but yesterday seemed to be it. First of all there was Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. We sold 18 copies yesterday, which honestly, was more than we used to sell at the rest of the Schwartz branches over the life of one of his novels. We've had 3.5 people read the new novel, moving around one beaten-up manuscript. Everybody loves it, but I don't think I've gotten a quote/review from anyone yet.  Sadly, my email is such a mess that I have to double-check on that. It's sort of fine either way--the sale is there either way and the publisher was certainly not going after bookseller quotes on this novel.

Apparently Three Lives and Company did a midnight opening and Word had a read-a-thon.  This is what you learn when you read the Manichi Daily News. Here's the San Jose (now dubbed Silicon Valley) Mercury News review, calling it a masterpiece.

The other book that's had a sales pop is Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs.  I guess Simon was pretty inundated with orders, as we didn't receive our Monday laydown books until Tuesday, and at least one of my other bookseller friends confirmed this. We sold 15 the first day, which is also very good for us. I can also say that our pal Wendy at S&S said we'd sell out the first day with our initial order.  Fortunately after I mentioned our initial buy, we increased it twice.  She's right though--we'll be out of the book shortly.

One of our customers was showing me his new ereader as he bought a copy of Isaacson's book. I'm glad to say we have a good number of folks cross shopping device and physical book. We talked about how we could sell to him via Google Editions.  And in this case, he bought the book, which of course made us happy.

Here's a little write up from The Wall Street Journal about the book. And here's The New York Times review from Janet Maslin.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Local Connection--The Upside of People Leaving Milwaukee is That They are More Likely to Come Back for Book Events

I just sent out today's email newsletter. In it I mentioned a few kids books that seemed to be getting some nice love from booksellers.  Interestingly enough, though we haven't hosted either author, both were Wisconsites.

Ilsa Bick has been getting some nice buzz with Ashes, her new dystopian novel. An electromagnetic pulse destroys all electrical equipment and also kills billions of people, including Alex's parents. As one of my sales reps said to me, they adults almost have to disappear; it's all about thinking of an interesting way to make them leave. As Jason noted to me, the most interesting twist about Ashes isn't the zombie-like creatures that haunt Alex and her ready-made family; it's that Alex has a brain tumor, and this calamity has come in the midst of her treatment.

And this led to Amie telling me how much she liked Bluefish, by Pat Schmatz.  Pat read at the Council of Wisconsin Writers event we had in 2010 for her novel Mousetraps. I promised, promised, promised I'd read it, and then, well, let's just say I'm reading as fast as I can. But now I might go back to it, as her new novel, the story of a young guy with a secret, and the teacher and fellow student (feisty) fellow student that help him out.

We're hoping we can one day figure out how to get Schmatz back to Milwaukee, but we have to work around her day job. That said, even without an appearance Amie assured me that the book will be back on our bestseller list this fall, due to enthuasiastic handselling.

We just sold books at the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators Wisconsin meeting, which really brought home how much talent there is around here. Sometimes it's folks who come here from other places--our event with Andy Rash for Ten Little Zombies on October 29 celebrates another successful transplant from the Island of Long.*

And we're just putting the finishing touches on our event with area favorite Barbara Joosse, whose Dog Parade is a perfect match for our Festive Friday celebration. Ms. Joosse will be doing a storytime/talk at 4 pm on Friday, December 2, after which she will help judge the famous Downer Avenue doggie costume contest. I don't know if you've heard this but Joosse has taken to writing lyrics to kids songs. I'm hoping we'll have some of the music to play in the store that day (and perhaps even sell.)

But even more often, that Wisconsin connection is in the past. A big part of finally getting Chad Harbach for The Art of Fielding  last week is that we're next door to Racine, where he's still got family. Similarly Craig Thompson not only lived in Milwaukee but pretty close to Boswell.** It turns out he visited the store last August.  We're very excited about our event with him for his graphic novel Habibi, coming November 16.

In the end, I hate losing talented folk to other places, but a little movement in and out of the area sort of increases our pool of possible authors.

Sadly, I end this note with some sad news. We just got word that Kenosha's Florence Parry Heide, author of Princess Hyacinth, The Day of Ahmed's Secret, and The Shrinking of Treehorn, passed away at age 92.

*I refer to Long Island, which includes Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties.

**And there were lots of old friends at Harbach's signing. I thought it was so great to see some of his old friends sitting together, cheering him on, taking a group photo, and having a good time.  Just a few days later, one of my own high school chums (from Queens) whom I hadn't seen in many years revealed she is now a librarian. She learned about the bookstore from our mutual friend Linda at their own mini-reunion; I'm not sure if it involved a book signing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What's Going on This Week at Boswell? Zombies and Zombies and What I Think are Actually Zombies Under Another Name, Plus Acupuncture and Spald-o-Rama.

Dare I say it? We have some interesting events coming up this week.

Monday, October 24, 7 pm, Boswell:

Curry Chaudoir is a Diplomate in Acupuncture, which I think is a pretty cool title. As executive director of Acupuncture and Holistic Health Associates, he works with his team to provide relief to pain, fatigure, insomnia, and many other symptoms*. In addition to his practice, Chaudoir also teaches acupuncturists.  So it was a logical step to develop a book, Oriental Medicine and You. For the professional or the layperson, I want to get their details exactly right, so I am quoting from their materials here:

"Oriental Medicine and You is for the millions of patients who have suffered with seemingly unexplainable conditions and have been given incomprehensible diagnoses with little or no options for help. It is also intended as a reference for use by patients who are curious about acupuncture and oriental medicine, and/or by acupuncturists who would like to offer their patients an understandable explanation of particular symptom(s) prior to beginning care."

Tuesday, October 25, 6:30 pm, Greenfield Public Library, 5310 West Layton Avenue
James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure.

One of the things that you learn as a young adult series goes on is that what you originally thought it was about is often not what it was about at all. As we were selling book one, The Maze Runner, all I really knew was that these kids woke up in this strange land where they had to do all these chores. It turned out they were sort of lab rats.

Here's the official description of volume three: "As the third Trial draws to a close, Thomas and some of his cohorts manage to escape from WICKED, their memories having been restored, only to face new dangers as WICKED claims to be trying to protect the human race from the deadly FLARE virus."  Well, talking to Jason (big fan), we decided that (and I think I can say this because I figure there are not too many middle and high school kids reading this and I'm not really giving too much away) in a sesnse, these are really zombie novels under another name. And with zombies being so hot (see below), why not associate Dashner with a hot trend?  Kirkus said "Heart pounding to the very last moment."

Greenfield Library is right off 894, or you can take 94 to 60th street exit and go south, or you can take 43 to Howard to Loomis. Layton by the airport is a bit of a mess, unfortunately. Here's a map.

Wednesday, October 26, 6:30 pm (note special time), at Boswell:
Spald-o-rama, featuring Theatre Gigante.

Join us for a special talk and preview of "Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell," presented in conjunction with the release of The Journals of Spalding Gray. Though Kathy Russo was unable to attend the event, Theatre Gigante promises suitable kickoff for Spald-o-rama.

"Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell" opens Thursday, October 27 at the Kenilworth Studio 508 Theatre with a guest performer each night. Co-conceived by Kathleen Russo and Lucy Sexton, the play interweaves "stories, letters, and journal entries into a funny, poignant, and life-affirming evening of theater." In addition to the cast of Mark Anderson, Marcie Hoffman, John Kishline, and Isabelle Kralj, each performance has a special guest performer--Dan Mooney, Deborah Clifton, and Holly Hughes.

In addition, Theatre Gigante will be screening Steve Soderbergh's tribute film, "Everything is Going Fine" on Saturday at 4 and on Sunday at 2, also in the Kenilworth Theater, 1925 East Kenilworth Place. More on their website.

Saturday, October 29, 1 pm and 2 pm, Zombie Afternoon, at Boswell:

1 pm: Andy Rash, author of Ten Little Zombies.

"Ten little zombies
Walking in a line
One stepped in a campfire
Now there are nine."

For a while, we had a parody called Pat the Zombie on our impulse table. We had one customer who would complain about it every time she saw it, but yet other parents would call over their kids to take a look. That said, this is sort of an event for adults and a certain kind of kid.  If you think you don't want your child hearing a story about zombies being destroyed one by one, and then get a lesson in learning to draw them, this is my warning that this is exactly what this event is about.  But they are very cute zombies, you must admit.

2 pm: Angus the Zombie Comic.

Angus MacAbre is known among the living and the undead by a variety of nicknames, including "Scotland's Smartest Zombie Scholar" and “Scotland’s Funniest Zombie Comedian.” He’s famous for his undeadpan comedy stylings which include such "funny-cause-they’re-true" observations about the differences between men zombies and women zombies and the differences between Canadian zombies and American zombies. Angus is also the host of the critically-acclaimed indie film, "The Zombeatles: All You Need Is Brains."

More about the events on our website.

*My family used to travel to New York's Chinatown to get acupuncture treatments for my grandmother.  These were the days when folks were less enlightened about oriental medicine and there wasn't the same kind of licensing.  Not that it took that long for us to get to lower Manhattan from Queens in those days (the backups are much longer now), and while you were there, it made sense to get something to eat. Oh, and there was a chicken that played tic tac toe in the arcade next door.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Next Week's #1 Bestseller Revealed, Plus Last Week's List Too.

It's not hard to guess that with a visit from Jeffrey Eugenides (today, at Noon), it's not hard to predict that The Marriage Plot is our #1 book for hardcover fiction next Sunday. But it's not all about rank, is it? It's also about time.  This is our first 12 Noon event for a major author; I told him that if this was well, the 6 am slot was a possibility in the future. (Editor's note: it's isn't really).

Note that Mr. Eugenides is #2 on next Sunday's New York Times bestseller list, following Nicholas Sparks. On our list, he's after Chad Harbach for his pre-event week, but that's due in part to Harbach's successful reading here last Thursday.

Hardcover fiction
1. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
2. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
3. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
4. The Cat's Table, by Michael Ondaatje
5. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
6. Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk
7. Zone One, by Colson Whitehead
8. The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick Dewitt
9. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
10. The Lost Memory of Skin, by Russell Banks

So Julian Barnes won the Man Booker Prize and good thing that Jason was able to restock very quickly because there's a lot of demand out there. Carl has thrown his hat in the ring as an official fan. And Michael Ondaatje withdrew from consideration for the Governor General's Award for The Cat's Table.  He's already won it five times.  Interestingly enough, we have another seller that's also on the shortlist--Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters BrothersHe's completed the Canadian awards trifecta, as he's also shortlisted on the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize.

And yes, there's another author who hit all three shortlists--Esi Edugyan for Half Blood Blues. I'm trying to figure out what happened here with this book. It's published by Serpents Tail in the UK and was distributed here through Consortium (and seemingly will be available through Ingram at short discount, nonreturnable).  But now Picador has bought American distribution rights and will come out from them in February. I'm so confused by the whole thing--won't some publishing insider explain it to me?

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. A More Perfect Heaven, by Dava Sobel
2. Vikings in the Attic, by Eric Dregni
3. Going Home, by Jon Katz
4. Grand Pursuit, by Syliva Nasar
5. What it Is, by Lynda Barry

And in my "don't do the bestsellers lists when you're tired moment #1", Reamde was accidentally listed as nonfiction on the list that I sent out to the trade. Alas!

Paperback fiction:
1. The Book of Life, by Stuart Nadler
2. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
3. Traffic Stop, by Janet Ruth Heller
4. Old Filth, by Jane Gardam
5. The All of It, by Jeannette Haien

Things I would like to say:
1) Even if it's because of an event, I would like to congratulate Mr. Nadler at outselling Mr. Franzen
2) I wanted to tell Maile Meloy at GLIBA that by her recommending The All of It to Ann Patchett, she led to it being on our bestseller list for 14 weeks now. With about 3-5 copies sold every week, you can figure out how many we've sold.  Isn't that swell?  Her new kids book is The Apothecary.  Here's a little PW quote: "Even those with a vague understanding of the times will be quickly swept up in this thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance."

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Write-a-thon, by Rochelle Melander
2. Children's Writers and Illustrators Market
3. Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff
4. Galileo's Daughters, by Dava Sobel
5. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson

With the hardcover fiction list being so guy heavy, it's nice to have women dominating paperback nonfiction, of all places. Jason and I were noting that Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers was cleverly published in the fall when most publishers save their literary women for winter and spring.  Unlike last year, I can't complain about the literary fiction releases this fall--not just Harbach and Eugenides and Banks and Palahniuk and Whitehead and Stephenson, but Eco and Murakami and several others are still to come.

Children's hardcovers
1. Bluefish, by Pat Schmatz
2. Wisdom's Kiss, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
3. All the Things I Love About You, by Leuyen Pham
4. Baby Says Moo, by Joann Early Macken
5. Bedtime for Mommy, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (illustrated by Pham)

Children's paperbacks
1. Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
2. Mercy Lily, by Lisa Albert
3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Error #2--I left Bluefish off some of our bestseller reports to the trade.  Amie is very enthusiastic about Pat Schmatz's new book, the story of a teen boy who is taught to read by a teacher and a classmate.  When Amie noticed the omssion, she said, "Don't worry. I'll get it on the bestseller list again, even without the SCBWI conference.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yesterday's Blog Now Has Photos. Today's is Short.

Rebecca II came by with her family, which is always a nice surprise. She assured me that I don't have to do a blog post everyday. Everyone is worried that I'm tired.  I was going to stay tonight and set up for Jeffrey Eugenides (event is at Noon).  Instead, I'm going to come in early tomorrow. It's just like putting off studying for a test.

I did a little gift receiving today, and also some post-event returns. We were nicely busy for a Saturday, but it felt so luxurious having a full shift (4-3) that I thought it would be ok to be off the floor for part of the day.

I still don't have an idea for the teen/young adult corner display table. I think we might go with National Book Award finalists for kids, and I think that we'll include the Lauren Myracle book too, just because it would be nice if after all of this, her novel Shine had a sales pop.

You know the story, right? The list was being transcribed by phone, and the transcriber heard Shine instead of Chime, which is a novel by Franny Billingsley. At first they added the left-out title to the list, but then they asked Myracle to withdraw.  It's sort of like when your boss says, "I'm going to fire you, but we'll make it look like you quit."

And in the spirit of the whole thing, I might have gotten the story wrong, so you should double check with the Washigton Post.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How Does One Fill a Blog Post? Let me Count the Ways...

A nice blog post often is accompanied by photos. I have once again misplaced the store camera, and my cell phone's camera is not so great.  If I were showing you photos, last night's event with Chad Harbach and Stuart Nadler was great (apologies to the publicists I was supposed to write back to) but the best shots are of that amazing room in Discovery World where Dava Sobel had her event. It was quite stormy and you could see the water rushing around outside as the Soulstice Theater dramatized Copernicus's historic meeting with Rheticus that changed the way we looked at the world.

A fine way to write a bookstore blog is to have some staff recs.  Or how about my recs? Well, it seems like I've used up almost all my recs for books that have come out, aside from a few that aren't due until next year. Seems like it's too early for that. I did just read Drew Magary's novel, The Postmortal. Magary is coming on November 30. Hey, I should write a whole post about the book. But that post isn't going to be for today. I'm just not ready.

And how about one documenting how I'm spending my time?  I received some bookmarks that I bought at GLIBA. Do you remember those tins of book darts we used to sell at Schwartz? I brought some book darts in from that vendor, only these are sold off a plastic strip, much like our bookmarks. I'm hoping we'll one day do a custom tin, much like Schwartz did.

Speaking of custom, Aaron's working on a holiday bag for us.  I realized that a collector of paper-handled shopping bags who owned a bookstore (that would be me) would be an embarrassment to his obsession if he didn't at least once have a special paper bag.  This would be the place where I'd show you the bag, but I think it's too early in the process.

I also received (meaning opened the boxes and checked off against packing slips) some toys and plush. Unfortunately that included some plush lambs and chickens that we ordered last February for Easter. I did actually include a cancel date, but you know what they say...dates are so yesterday. On the other hand, we also got Sushi Siamese Cat (see picture), which makes all the problems manageable.

And then I wondered again why a particular order of boxed cards and bookmarks hasn't shipped. It turned out we had this weird stalemate where the vendor claimed we weren't up to date on payment and we claimed we were. In the end, they had applied one of our payments to the wrong invoice. We had actually not paid one of the invoices, but it was a different invoice from the one that both of us thought. There was a bit of sheepishness on all sides, but we're back to being friends and looking forward to the shipment (particularly the bookmarks, because the rack was looking a little piqued.

It reminded me that I have been remiss on finding new gift product for the store on the adult side. I've been good about loose cards and boxed cards and journals, but where are my scarves? Where are my hats? I'm actually not sure if I'm going to bring in clothing, but I do have friends at other bookstores who are. If I brought in the book jacket match boxes, would you accuse me of being too pro big tobacco? Maybe I should bring out my matchbook collection.  Yes, I have one.  I know you're shocked.

This is all to say, I'll be back tomorrow, perhaps with photos.