Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Display Tour--Star Wars Stuff for Tom Angleberger, China Focus with Christine Merritt, Rock and Roll Table for Daryl Brown, Larry Widen, and Jim Peterik, and questing with Chris Guillebeau.

I was waiting for an opportunity to feature these wind-up Star Wars figures from Schylling and then somehow we got the opportunity to host Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda series. I say "somehow" but I know how, Abrams asked us and we are grateful to present Mr. Angleberger on Sunday, September 14 (corrected--thanks, Sharon!), 3 pm, in conjunction with the release of Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus.

I know I sound like a broken record, but while I'm happy that the Star Wars license moving to Disney means a J.J. Abrams film in the future, it also means a much tigher reign on licensing. We've had so much fun selling Jeffrey Brown's Jedi Academy and William Shakespeare's Star Wars, among countless other projects, and when you look at Disney, everything is just more strictly controlled, and most likely to be merchandisey, and say what you will, these other projects, including Tom Anglebeger's, are just too creative to fall solely into that slot.

This display was so fun that we duplicated it in the window, but you have already figured out that our windows don't photograph well.

Being that we are hosting several music-related events over the next couple of months, my brain started thinking rock and roll. Among the upcomers are James Brown's son this coming Monday, September 8, for Inside the Godfather (it has another title too that makes it clearer that Daryl is James's son), Lary Widen for his Arcadia book, Milwaukee Rock and Roll, on Thursday, October 2, and Jim Peterik, the Survivor member who wrote "Eye of the Tiger" and most of their other big hits, and is also a member of Ides of March, on which he sang "Vehicle", more than forty years ago. How old does that make you feel? Peterik is is coming to Milwaukee on Saturday, October 18, 7 pm for Through the Eye of the Tiger. If you want some eighties flashbacks, I should note that Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick wrote the foreword to Widen's book and Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon penned Peterik's.

So with all that, when I saw this Beatles stuff that Chronicle released in the spring but I didn't catch because it was an add on, I figured we'd still have the market for it in the fall. Hey, it's still fifty years past 1964 and the Beatles were still going strong come fall. I've also got some journals and other things made out of old vinyl, which we should be getting in a few books. The display is a great place to highlight Conrad's enthusiasm for Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce, and Josh's recommendation of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 rpm Record.

Here's some good advice to local authors--if you have a really cool prop, it's possible we can use it in a display and give you extra promotion for your book. I wasn't planning to do a China display, though we were fortuitously discussing Tash Aw's Five Star Billionaire for our In-Store Lit Group on Monday, November 3, at Boswell. But when Christine Merritt, author of Once Upon a Time in China: Worms, Cha and a Harmonious Society, offered to bring in a traditional carrying basket, I could see the way it would work on the table and we went for it. I had just had a conversation with my sister Claudia about Americans misconceptions about China, focusing on the older traditions, event though we'd be surprised if a group of Chinese tourists asked us where the blacksmith was to make our horseshoes. The table features books about more traditional China, but also focuses on its modernity.

Our display includes such popular novels as Gail Tsukiyama's A Hundred Flowers and Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement, but also less well known titles like Kim Fu's For Today I am a Boy, Jenny Bowen's Wish You Happy Forever, and David Eimer's The Emperor Far Away, from our travel lit section. Politics is represented by Geoff Dyer's The Contest of the Century and Nicholas Griffin's Ping Pong Diplomacy, while good's authors Natasha Lim, Li Jiang, and Amanda Cheng are featured as well. Christine Merrit's talk is on Friday, September 26, 7 pm, at Boswell.

The last display I'll mention is also inspired by an upcoming event. On Wednesday, September 24, 7 pm, Chris Guillebeau is coming to Boswell for The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life. We've had great sales on his previous title, The Hundred Dollar Startup, and the new book has won raves from the trifecta of personal growth, at least at Boswell: Brené Brown, Gretchen Rubin, and Susan Cain. The book is about finding happiness through quests, and so we came up with a number of books about these very quests We tried to not overly focus on fantasy, where quests run rampant (among both adult and kids' books), but we couldn't leave them out entirely. But there's also things like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated.

The back-to-school academic novel table has proven popular enough to extend past our event with Julie Schumacher, though still featuring Dear Committee Members of course. At a customer's request, we did add Richard Russo's Straight Man.

I should note that not every event this fall is display driven; I'm reading our football table, and believe it or not, we have no events scheduled at the moment. That said, visit our upcoming event page on our website and guess what will inspire us next.

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