Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Bestseller Post--Chabon Drives Folks into Boswell, Plus Lots of Other Tidbits.

Hardcover fiction:
1. Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
2. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison
3. Wards of Faerie, by Terry Brooks
4. The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
5. The Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
6. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
7. The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller
8. The Lola Quartet, by Emily St. John Mandel
9. Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown
10. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, by Emma Straub (event 9/18)

With such a strong week in hardcover fiction, I had no choice but to stretch our listing to ten titles. Chabon outsold all our hardcover fiction event books this week, despite pretty strong event showings from several other guests. But folks were crawling out of the woodwork for, at least in our store, what might be the most anticipated of all the literary fiction titles this fall for an author that we’re not hosting. Colette Bancroft in the Tampa Bay Times probably says it best.

“He's done it again in Telegraph Avenue, his big-hearted, sprawling but intimate tale about two families. His most realistic novel in a while — no overt strains of the science fiction, fantasy, mystery or other genres he loves so well — Telegraph Avenue is set during the 2004 presidential campaign and riffs on class, race, marriage, generational conflict, music, movies, food, economics, politics and, perhaps most of all, fatherhood. It does all that through a large cast of beautifully realized characters and a plot as fluid and intricate as a jazz masterpiece.”

Read the rest of the review here.

We worried that with all the wonderful literary authors touring, we’d be probably splitting the market a bit. I so hoped we’d be able to pair up Emily St. John Mandel for The Lola Quartet (signed copies available), being that she was friends with both Jonathan Evison and Emma Straub, but everyone’s touring schedule was too tight to be played with. For a Saturday night, we actually wound up with a pretty good showing, placing (coming in second) in the audience stats for the tour. And I think several more booksellers will be reading her novels after the visit, which never hurts.

I just want to say that in terms of the quality of this week’s touring authors, the quality couldn’t have been higher—what an eloquent and charming bunch!

And especially for The Yellow Birds, I should note  that we have signed first editions.

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. A Father First, by Dwyane Wade
2. Grapefruit, by Yoko Ono
3. The Price of Politics, by Bob Woodward
4. No Easy Day, by Mark Owen
5. Paris: A Love Story, by Kati Marton

The Price of Politics from Bob Woodward outsells Mark Owen's No Easy Day, but that's because there are no books to be had.  Our foot traffic was up this week, partly due to the unfortunate closing of Next Chapter, and for the weekend, I suspect the strong opening of Arbitrage at the Downer Theatre had an influence. But we were still quite dead during the Thursday Packers game.

Woodward’s newest is about the debt ceiling battle between Obama and Congress. Jeff Shesol in The Washington Post thinks Woodward did a better job of it than David Lauter in the Los Angeles Times, but both critics feel that Woodward underestimated the importance of the radicalization of the GOP. Both wonder how Woodward cold have seen The Tea Party as a bit player in this battle, when they were surely a motivating force.

Paperback fiction:
1. Z Rated: Chocolate Flava 3, by Zane
2. Addicted, by Zane
3. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
4. Speedster Vs. Spies, by Gary Shellman
5. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

Event books are driving sales this week in this category two, mostly erotic from Zane. The new release of The Marriage Plot has a nice pop. I’d love to hear Picador’s thoughts on the jacket art for the paperback (we’d have preferred a repeat of the hardcover jacket art, as was done for The Art of Fielding), and why they went with such thin paper. The book looks like it is 250 pages long. Sometimes thin paper means higher quality, but I’m not feeling the weight that usually accompanies a higher grade. Prove me wrong!

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Read This, edited by Hans Weyandt (event is November 15, 7 pm)
2. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
3. The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt
4. Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
5. Just Ride, by Grant Petersen (event is September 22, 2 pm)

Because our event with Hans for Read This: Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores is not until November 15, it’s seemed a little early to start promoting the book, which features the selections of Boswell’s Stacie Williams, but it doesn’t matter, as customers are discovering it anyway. We’ve all talk to folks who are using the bookseller selections from stores around the country to build their libraries, a number who are using the book as a travel guide. So many folks go around the country visiting major and minor league ballparks. Why not travel the country and see all the major league bookstores?

Books for Kids:
1. Where the Mountain meets the Moon, by Grace Lin
2. Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool
3. Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Fear, by Lensey Namioka
4. Corduroy, by Don Freeman (board book edition)
5. The House with a Clock in its Walls, by John Bellairs

Our kids section gets lots of compliments, and we always have customers browsing and buying, but sometimes it’s hard for us to do the traditional bestseller numbers that we see on the adult side, particularly when there’s no high-profile release. This week I’m defaulting to some institutional orders for our blog report. After this week, however, it’s event season, and you’ll see lots of familiar faces, starting with Nick Bruel. Bruel is appearing at the Greenfield Public Library on Wednesday, September 19, 6:30 pm for Bad Kitty for President. Cast your vote here.

What’s happening in the Journal Sentinel book section this week?

The big question I’ve had during everything leading up to Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures was regarding whether the story was based on a real person. There was nothing in our press materials, and I just didn’t know the movie business well enough to guess. I guess I could have asked, but that seemed too easy. I’m grateful to Chris Foran who did ask in his Journal Sentinel profile. The inspiration was Jennifer Jones, who won an Oscar for The Song of Bernadette at 25. Straub became interested in her story when she read the obit in 2009. Our event is this Tuesday, September 18, 7 pm.

This week’s Journal Sentinel Reading List, as told to Jim Higgins, comes from Lauren Fox, whose novel Friends Like Us is just out in paperback. Among her picks are the literary breakout novel from Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins. I just want to say that I really, really, really like this paperback jacket. The book straddles both generations and sensibilities, and I think the jacket tilts the novel a little more New Yorkery.

So now there are two books I really like with green jackets, Friends Like Us and Davey Rothbart's My Heart is an Idiot. Can all those publishers obsessing over old-fashioned superstitions be proven wrong? If you buy these books, you can open the floodgates and put green on more books than those about money or the environment.

1 comment:

Rlk said...

Marriage Plot cover design...guaranteed to impact sales in a negative way. Looks like a remainder bin item misplaced.