Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Summery Kind of Tuesday Brings New Boswell's Best--Thrillers and Vacation Reads, and One Piece of Art-Film Style Counterprogramming.

Tuesday has beeen de facto new release day in the bookstore for a number of years now.  There are exceptions.  The Penguin Group has two kinds of on-sale, a hard on-sale date of Tuesday, where you will definitely get the books on time to sell, and a soft on-sale date for lesser titles of Thursday, where you might not get the books on time, but if you get them early, you can't put them out. And James Patterson always likes to go on-sale on a Monday, giving him one extra day of sales on the bestseller lists. I don't think any other high-profile author does this.

So it's not surprising that Tuesday is the day we update our Boswell Best titles, the new books (99% of them hardcovers) that we feature up front and give some extra discount umph too.  Not A-word style just about at cost but sometimes below, which is actually illegal in Wisconsin, but 20%, enough to feel like you are getting a decent deal. 

It turns out that half my booksellers know Bonnie Jo Campbell from something or other.  Jason met her at GLIBA, a regional conference of east-midwestern booksellers, while Stacie spent time with her at AWP, the conference of folks in writing programs. Her novel Once Upon a River (Norton) follows up an acclaimed short story collection shortlisted for the National Book Award. It follows a 16-year-old-girl, as Publishers Weekly notes "who is, in rapid succession, abandoned by her mother, raped by her uncle, and witness to the shooting death of her father." Early reads are great--it's said to be Daniel Woodrell-y. And Next Chapter in Mequon is hosting Campbell on Wednesday, July 13. (Boswell: $25.95, Our price through at least next Monday: $20.76)

You might be wondering why Tom Clancy did not have a book out in years and then has two within six months. At first I thought maybe he'd been working on two books and happened to finish them both together. It turns out that Against all Enemies is more along the lines of his paperback collaborations, where Clancy provides the brand and perhaps some concept, and another writer does the execution.  This time the writer is Peter Telep and the hero is Max Moore. (Publisher: $28.95, Boswell: $23.16)

We've tried to make some headway with thrillers (for example, by having a thriller case, an attempt to sell the writers without marquee names) but between 1) the price competition and 2) our mystery and thriller customers responding to reviews and interviews more than brands, this is not the kind of book we'll do particularly well with.  I would pretty much wager that we will sell less copies of this than we did of Graham Moore's, The Sherlockian, a well-reviewed novel from last winter about tracking down Arthur Conan Doyle's missing journal.  Last week it even hit our bestseller list.

There is a long tradition of novels set in the Maine of vacation retreats, and J. Courtney Sullivan follows up Commencement with the novel Maine (Knopf), the story of four women in the Kelleher family retreating from their everyday lives, but not from the drama of family. Of course folks in the midwest don't think of Maine the way Northeasters do, though my ex-bookseller colleague Jean used to vacation in Vacationland and eventually morved there. I was chatting with our rep Jason about this, and wondered if, with the advent of ebooks a substantial format, they couldn't have had five or six versions of the book, each slightly rewritten. One could be Napa, another Hilton Head, and maybe we could have Door County.  Apparently Knopf isn't ready for that. Now who's the visionary? (Publisher: $25.95, Boswell: $20.76)

As I was compiling this, I asked Jason, what's with the new Jeffery Deaver? He reminded me that Carte Blanche (Simon and Schuster) is the new agent 007 novel, a re-imagining of the spy as you've never seen him before (dressed like cowboy, perhaps?) Here's a take-out from the Evening Standard review: "The most impressive feature of Carte Blanche is the ingenuity of the breathless, blood-thirsty plot. A master of misdirection, Deaver manufactures more surprises than anyone flogging an old warhorse can be expected to produce." My favorite thing about Deaver is his first name. Along with Rachael Ray and Stephenie Meyer, it's often spelled wrong. (Publisher: $26.99, Boswell, $21.59).

We've stoped changing all the prices every week in our website database, but be assured that if you order the book from us while it is featured as a Boswell's Best title, we will give you the 20% discount. And while I know the books are higher elsewhere, why not give a poor indie dog a bone once in a while. Speaking of dogs, we lost our old dog dish, but it was easily replaced and our doggie water is now outside the shop on nice days.

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