Monday, December 31, 2012

New Titles Coming, Well, SometimesThis Week--The World Until Yesterday, To Sell is Human, Me Before You, Off the Map.

What happens when a holiday fall on a Tuesday? It throws the laydowns in diarray, that's what. Greg's off today, so he unboxed and carted, but did not receive, all the new titles for next week. It wasn't an issue for last week, as everyone decided that just about everyone is closed on the 25th and too busy on the 24th, so the 26th seemed to trump. (Note: after this was written, Jason informed me that Simon actually did have a 12/25 laydown.)

This week we've got books to go on sale 12/31, 1/1, and 1/2. And while lots of indie stores do close on January 1st (we're open 10 am to 5 pm, by the way), most chain stores stay open, and of course the internet is always open, except when some mega-conglomerate's data warehousing has a glitch. Didn't you think that those two movie streamers were competitors? I guess that's akin to one large publisher distributing another.

One of the most high-profile books I found on the shelving cart was Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? (Viking). Based on decades of fieldwork in the Pacific Islands, as well as evidence from other traditional societies, Diamond notes that while technology has led to vast improvements in many areas, there is much to learn from the way we did things until, well, yesterday, in the way of childrearing, how we treat our elders, resolve disputes, and keep fit. I always assumed that Diamond was a historian, but now I've learned, by studying the new book, that he's a professor of geography at UCLA. Browsing the book, I found the piece on language preservation particularly instructive; I think I could read a book just on that topic.

There was an outside chance that we might host an event for Daniel H. Pink's To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others (Riverhead), but I'm feeling now that it's not going to happen. In the heat of things, I got Hannah, who also likes business books, to dig into it. Pink is best known for Drive and A Whole New Mind; he's a Malcolm Gladwell-esque study amalgamator and story teller, though I'd say Pink's more explicitly business focused. His new book, needless to say, looks at all sorts of aspects of sales and motivation--I enjoyed learning about the ambivert advantage, and my first takeaway is that people respond better to granular numbers than coarse ones. So I'm not saying this is a useful book, it's 260 useful pages. Doesn't it sound better already?

Pamela Dorman Books knows they have a buzzy novel in Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes (an imprint of Viking) and so they've been working hard on the social media angle. One of our more wired customers (yes, it's on sale 12/31) was already talking it up from an advance copy sent (or transmitted) to them by the publisher, and we've got our own fan in Sharon, who gave me this recommendation:

"Imagine for a moment that you are a young, handsome, privileged man with a great job, plenty of money, and women dropping at your feet. Now imagine all of that taken away in seconds, leaving you imprisoned in your own body, unable to take care of even your most basic of needs. Will Traynor is a quadriplegic, with limited use of only one arm. He requires constant care, from bathing and changing of his catheter, to merely shifting his position in bed. Louisa Clark is a girl from the village, hired to distract Will from his situation, chatter pleasantly, and make the odd cup of tea. After a rough beginning, these two opposites become everything to one another. The only thing that stands in the way of a happy ending is Will’s wish to commit assisted suicide. Me Before You is an unexpectedly touching novel that left me grateful for my own personal autonomy"

Thanks, Sharon! Our problem was that we just didn't know which of the book clubs we worked with really did this sort of networking. And while we've had some great successes getting local book clubs to choose titles that were still off a lot of folk's radar, it's still hard for stores to do that with hardcover titles. Based on the feedback I've got on the book, the word-of-mouth will certainly not be restricted to book clubs.

I thought I was done, but I looked again and spotted On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Explorartion of the Way the World Works (Gotham, which was officially a 12/28 on sale), by Simon Garfield. When we ran out of books on my rec shelf, I switched out for Garfield's last work, Just My Type, and got excited about fonts all over again. You've of course heard that the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers is getting evicted, no? Anyway, Garfield's new book is about the relationship between man and map, from treasure mapping to ordinance surveys to the mapping of Monopoly. Garfield, who I never sort of put together is also the author of Mauve, a book I always wanted to read but did not, has  gleefully brought range of interests, veering from Bengali mathematicians to Muppet movies.

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