Friday, January 21, 2011

Guilty and Guiltier--On Attending Presentations Where I Haven't Read the Book, & a Teaser about My American Unhappiness at the Winstitute.

I seem to be apologizing all over this bookseller convention. No, I'm reading stuff that's out already. No, I haven't read this or that galley that everyone is talking about. Ugh. I feel like I'm letting the team down. You've got to read out 3-6 months so you can help talk up the books. Of course, you do fall into the trap of feeling that you have to like everything you read. The excuse is that the stuff you didn't like, you didn't bother to finish.

I didn't feel guilty that I hadn't read our morning speaker's book, the Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business. I'm not one for gimmicks, but I thought the paper airplane bit was quite clever and made a good point. Mine was worth $5 and went about 2 feet. I will probably take a look at it and might even read it cover to cover.

Now we go up the guilt meter. We have these speed dating publisher presentations where you get a 15 minute presentation. Sometimes there are 3-4 books presented, but one presentation seemed to approach two dozen titles. I had one several years ago where there were only two books to talk about. I learned that 8 minutes is a long time to talk about a book. We get a packet with the list of titles. Some publishers provide supplemental materials, but I've been told this is frowned upon. Here's a photo of Wendy presenting for Simon and Schuster. I felt very guilty whenever we got to a book she had tried to get me to read, but I hadn't yet. Oops!

I feel guiltiest that I didn't read Carol Edgarian's Three Stages of Amazement. But is it me or is every other book compared to Rafael Yglesias's A Happy Marriage? Of course I feel a little less guilty now that I replaced the picture of Wendy telling me about the book during the lunch. I never asked her if it was okay.

And I was surprised that so many booksellers hadn't really carried Incendiary until it got the Little Bee-esque cover. They were talking about it like it was a new book. This is the 4th edition we've carried of it. On the other hand (get it?) we brought the new edition back in a big pile that we put right next to the Bee-ster.

No where do I feel guiltier than at the after-show dinners that are set up for authors. Last night we had one with Dean Bakopoulos, author of the forthcoming novel, My American Unhappiness. He's a former bookseller. I read the last book and liked it. It's dedicated to friends of mine. It's funny. It rather screams Daniel Goldin. So I ducked out of a session to finish the Pearl of China, the Anchee Min novel (liked it! more on another post) and then I could at least start reading My American Unhappiness and say I was (true confession time) in the middle of it.

Here's a picture of Dean. I blacked out the other two booksellers because I don't think they knew I was taking their picture and I felt a little bad about it. Dean, on the other hand, knew that this is the price of writing about him in the blog.

The good news is that you've noticed that once I commit to something, I generally follow through. And I laughed about seven times by page 30. Very different from Please Don't Come Back from the Moon....but I'll save discussing the book for another post. That said, June is just around the corner so feel free to email or call us and put one on hold for you when it is released.

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