Today I drove from Milwaukee to Minneapolis for a gift show. While some folks told me that it takes five hours, I had breakfast in Madison with my old co-worker Sara, and somehow, with a couple of rest stops, the whole thing took eight hours. Nobody's ever accused me of being a fast driver.
I didn't get to stop at any bookstores, though I did browse the Shopko in Eau Claire. I really like the current typeface and brown color palate, but I honestly don't think it's right for the stores. It's a little too rich for what they are selling once you get inside. There were four wall cases of books, though strangely enough, there were no hardcovers in the "hardcover section." Instead, the focus semed to be on romance series. I found it hard to believe that a college town like Eau Claire couldn't sell hardcovers, or that if they couldn't, Shopko couldn't relabel the section, but that's for someone else to take up.
One of the things I learned about the Twin Cities suburbs is that there seems to be no east-west through streets at all, at least south of the city, only freeways. I found it almost impossible to return to my hotel, which always seemed to be on the wrong leaf of the cloverleaf interchange. I only cried once. I'm in the suburbs because the market is in Bloomington and I'm trying to save the store money. The hotel is clean but dated. The most depressing thing is that it's one of those places that smells like pool water really far from the pool.
Smells are funny things, aren't they? I ran into a customer on Downer Avenue, and they said, "I love Boswell because it smells like bookstore." I like bookstore smell too. I think this study that claimed that bookstores that smell like chocolate can boost sales was a bit shoddy. Much as I like chocolate, we are not going to do this.
I've fallen behind in a few of my duties, and I blame it on reading. I actually read eight books last month, which I think is more than I've finished in years. I'll likely be writing about these in the future. I've been rushing to get my rec of the Langer in before deadline.
1. The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine
2. Let Him Go, by Larry Watson (event 9/10)
3. Barrcuda in the Attic, by Kipp Friedman (event 10/3)
4. Someone, by Alice McDermott (event 9/28)
5. The Taste of Salt, by Martha Southgate
6. Of Dice and Men, by David M. Ewalt
7. The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty (book club discussion 8/5)
8. The Salinger Contract, by Adam Langer
For some reason, I also got energized about writing staff rec cards. I even wrote some for books that haven't come out yet. Sometimes I let this go for months, and sometimes I am right on top of it. You can say that for a lot of things about me.
Tonight I had dinner with Bill, one of our former reps. I insisted on driving to a light rail stop and taking it downtown (another reason for staying in the burbs) as even though the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit has been open since 2004 and I had never taken it. It turns out that due to a recent name change, I still haven't and never will. They recently renamed it the Blue Line. Anyone know why? I guess they are working on another line, which will go from St. Paul to Minneapolis and the western suburbs. Our friend John said her returned home upset that Milwaukee couldn't get their act together to get light rail. Why do Republican governments support these proejcts (or at least allow them to go through) in Texas (Houston and Dallas), North Carolina (Charlotte), and Arizona (Phoenix), where they are touted by conservatives as good for luring jobs, but not in Wisconsin? Somebody explain that to me.
You're probably wondering why I haven't written about the latest Amazon developments. I'm mulling everything over.