Thursday, December 23, 2010

Searching for Books at the Last Minute, and Sometimes Finding Them

We had a number of people coming in yesterday looking for Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout, by Lauren Redniss, which was reviewed in yesterday's New York Times. Jason and Amie both love this book, but I don't think either of them new it would get a major publicity hit in the days before Christmas. I think we got a heads up from HarperCollins beforehand, but in the week before Christmas, it's hard to keep up with your email.

I understand in this circumstance why folks have expectations for us, as they figure a book reviewed in this way must be a major release with a large advance print. But I'm a little confused when someone comes in two days before Christmas with a very detailed list with no substitutions allowed--not a book on Lincoln or the Civil War, for which I'd recommend Nora Titone's My Thoughts be Bloody*, but "I need to find American Brutus by Michael Kauffman and you really don't have that, it just came out (2005) and I'm really disappointed."

Five years ago seems recent to a lot of customers. Heck, so does ten years. If I run into someone I haven't seen in ten years (which happens with some frequency at Boswell), it seems like a long, long time ago. Fortunately, it's even more common for folks to ask about books that they don't expect to find, and we have them. Yesterday someone asked for an older Bill Bryson, and no, the other seven we had wouldn't do, and almost while we were talking, a copy came out on a shelving cart.

Reviewing the sales from yesterday, it's like a year in review. So many books selling from past events (three different Stitch n Bitch books, Pete Nelson's I Thought You Were Dead, which continued to sell through the fall, and there's a book club reading Lily King's Father of the Rain), and lots and lots of recommendations. And in our obsessive fashion, we're all looking at our sales to see if we can hit a milestone on our favorite books. I have a lot of favorites--my official entries on our list are The Invisible Bridge, The Cookbook Collector, The Lonely Polygamist and of course Day for Night, but I'm also rooting for Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and The Wilding, which I wrote up for NPR**. Several are very close to 50 copies sold--wouldn't that be swell to hit that number?

We are in initial talks about at least one of these authors visiting in paperback. I don't want to jinx it by mentioning who, and then having it fall through.

*And I have been recommending it to customers in the last few weeks. We've had a little pop in sales, which is nice.

**I'm glad to say we've had a very nice pop on sales for Wordcatcher. I expect us to able to sell it for several more months off our impulse table.

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