Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving - Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, Charles Baxter, Jo PIazza

Thanksgiving gives me the chance to catch my breath and write a post. 

The tidal wave of new releases slows down by mid-November. One gets the feeling that if you release too late, you won't make roundups. For example, Charles Baxter's The Sun Collective just made the New York Times notable books of 2021 - the link is to the paperback. The reason that is odd is that the book came out in November 17, 2020. I remember - we hosted Mr. Baxter virtually. But the review for the book came out in the December 13 print issue of The New York Times, after the deadline for their notable books roundup, and rather than ignore those books altogether, they feature them the next year. But other roundups basically ignore books they got to too late.

Our buyer Jason told me that about six 2020 titles wound up on the 2021 list. It reminds of when I followed Billboard and some of the biggest titles on the yearend roundup to my mind were from the prior year. 

This week's notable new release for us was Ann Patchett's collection of essays, These Precious Days. You'll see its presence on Sunday's bestseller list roundup. I like to say that the book starts out like This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage and then morphs into Truth and Beauty. It's a lovely book and if I hadn't read it already, I'd say it's a great book to read on Thanksgiving if you don't want to watch football. Just beautiful! (More on our shared December 7 event here). It could be a notable book of 2022.

We've continued our COVID policy of offering bundled event books before the event, so if you ordered These Precious Days from us and you haven't picked it up yet, you can this weekend. We're trying something new - we've always bagged paid purchases to distinguish them from unpaid holds. But with us doing this for close to two years, and a 20% increase in our paper bag prices, we're experimenting with just having a paid bookmark in them. We're hoping to expand this to all prepaid purchases of one book. And then when you pick them up, if you want a bag, just ask. 

A big release next Tuesday is Jodi Picoult's Wish You Were Here. Picoult generally releases every two years, but she had a little time on her hands and was inspired to write a novel set during COVID-19. This might be one of the reasons why there seem to be so many heavy hitters this fall. We also think there were a number of titles delayed from 2020, with good reason.

We're doing an event (tickets here) with Ms. Picoult as well, a joint program with Books & Company at the Oconomowoc Arts Center on December 8, the day after Ms. Patchett. This one's in person - our first big thing we're running that's not virtual. It's been an interesting season - virtual attendance has declined, but in-person attendance, we're told, is also not at the levels it was pre-pandemic. While we might not equal her previous numbers, ticket sales for Picoult's event are going well, so that's a relief. Alas, because the event is in person and run jointly, we cannot facilitate picking up books in advance.

I was just talking about Wish You Were Here with Jo Piazza, who was visiting family for Thanksgiving. You might know Piazza from her many novels and works of nonfiction. We just hosted her with Christine Pride for We Are Not Like Them - you can watch that wonderful event here. Jo also signed our stock, if you were thinking of buying a copy. Piazza and Picoult were touting each other's novels. I really love the way Picoult champions up-and-coming writers. 

Patchett does as well. Speaking of which, I think I promised I'd read Sorrow and Bliss. Maybe by the end of 2021.

Have a great turkey/tofurkey day.

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