Notes: Indie Synergy on Martha's Vineyard; Bracing for Conroy
Dawn Braasch of Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, Mass., and Susan Mercier of Edgartown Books were lauded by the Vineyard Gazette for having "tapped into some old Vineyard magic: a sense of cooperation, community and support" in their team approach to organizing and promoting author Richard Russo's appearance Friday at the Katharine Cornell Theatre to promote his latest novel, That Old Cape Magic.
"He’s a big author and he would like a big crowd," said Braasch. "The way you get a big crowd is, obviously, you collaborate, and do a venue outside the store . . . Publishing companies are less and less willing to send an author if you can’t prove that you are going to have a large crowd."
The two stores may be on the same island, but the booksellers do not view one other as competitors. "It’s funny because . . . I have always heard that the competition is between us and Edgartown Books," said Braasch. "To me our competition is not each other, it’s Amazon."
Mercier agreed: "We’re just two independent businesses in a community trying to do the right thing and make a living."
They are planning to team up for future events as well, according to the Gazette. "I’d like to see at least one [collaborative event] a year," said Mercier. "We are friends because we enjoy each other’s company, but in terms of the business, it [also] makes sense financially."
The Island Packet reported that today's release of Pat Conroy's South of Broad will be a bounty for local booksellers, who "said they expect a huge turnout of fans excited to read the latest tale from the author who grew up in Beaufort [S.C.] and owns a home on Fripp Island."
"Right now we're in the middle of unloading close to 200 boxes of books," said Lisa Estes, owner of Bay Street Trading, Beaufort. "We pre-sold close to 500 books, and they're being shipped as far away as Australia."
"Pat Conroy has this huge presence," said Connie McGraw, manager of Beaufort Bookstore. McGraw told the Island Packet that the shop "will have nearly 200 signed copies available today for purchase. Conroy signed 300 copies, 100 of which will go to customers who pre-ordered the book."
"It goes so far beyond Beaufort, but locally, there's hardly anyone who doesn't know of him, and many people know him personally," she added.
NBC Weekend Today's interview with Conroy and Bay Street Trading employees is scheduled to air Saturday morning, according to the Island Packet, and the author will be signing at the shop on August 29. "It's going to be hot, and there's going to be a lot of people," said Estes.
Julia Roberts visited BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y., which will have a walk-in role in film version of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love," GalleyCat reported.
"They shot a scene of Julia out front," said the bookshop's general manager, Zack Zook, "She sees some book in the window and decides to come in the bookstore. There is a shot of her in the store purchasing books on divorce. . . . They took the signs down, but there are shots of the fiction section. People who are familiar with the store will recognize it."
"Hakim Hopkins says his life changed with a book," the Philadelphia Inquirer observed. "Now he's trying to change an entire community with a bookstore."
When Hopkins was 15 and in juvenile detention, he received a copy of Richard Wright's Native Son from his mother. "That book just took me out. I didn't know that a book could be that good. I became a book lover, and a thinker," said Hopkins, now 37 and running Black & Nobel bookstore. "It's not so much we sell books. We've become a light in the community."
Hopkins added that "the hip-hop brings them in." According to the Inquirer, "after the music outside lures people into the store, Hopkins gives out a promotional mixed tape with each book sale. 'There's a method to my madness. We're merging everything all together. Now it's cool to hang out in the bookstore.'"
Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a bestseller again, thanks to the film Julie & Julia, which opened last weekend. According to the Associated Press (via the Huffington Post), "On Monday, a $40 hardcover of Mastering topped the charts of Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, easily outpacing a $7.99 paperback of the book that gave the film its title . . . Knopf has ordered an additional 75,000 copies of Mastering, which on Monday was sold out on Amazon."
The Los Angeles Times reported that at Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., Child's works were "flying off shelves . . . The bookstore even cobbled together a display table labeled What Would Julia Do? and featuring guides to Paris and 'all the cookbooks we could get our hands on,' [book department manager Justin] Junge said."
"It's all been selling like hot cakes," Junge added. "And it will carry on for quite some time. Julia Child has always been a great seller."
The countdown has begun for the September 15 release of "local author" (He lives in Rye Beach.) Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, and Seacoastonline.com checked in with coastal New Hampshire booksellers regarding their preparations.
RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, plans to be open at midnight the day of the release and offer 20% off the cover price for customers who pre-pay before September 15. "We might have a few more things in the works, so stay tuned for details," said Michele Filgate.
Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, will also hold a midnight opening. "We are celebrating the publication of The Lost Symbol and we've been designated the official source for signed copies," said Dan Chartrand. Seacoastonline.com reported that "Brown will be signing copies for the bookstore, to be available after September 15."
Margot Rosenberg, co-owner of the Dog Lovers Bookshop, New York, N.Y., has launched A Book and a Dog, a new blog devoted to the companionship books and dogs provide. Drawing upon her experience as a bookseller as well as a writer on--and practitioner of--book care and repair, Rosenberg plans to report on encounters with fellow book lovers as she and the bookshop's staff canine, Phoebe B. Dackel, explore the city. She said she will also chronicle the satisfaction of restoring books and a host of other topics, ranging from the hopeful (how to create a better world for books and dogs) to the practical (tips on caring for books in home, business, and community settings).
In addition, the blog will chart the progress of Rosenberg's new book, a sequel to The Care and Feeding of Books Old and New: A Simple Repair Manual for Book Lovers, which she wrote with bookselling partner Bern Marcowitz.
Zachary Steele is the former owner of Wordsmith's Bookstore, Decatur, Ga., which closed earlier this year (Shelf Awareness, March 3, 2009). Next month, he will be attending the AJC Decatur Book Festival not as a bookseller, but as the author of a satirical novel, Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO. Steele told the Journal-Constitution that the visit will be "a little strange," but "enough time has passed that I don't feel that it would be that particularly awkward. I've got my writer's hat and I've got my former bookstore owner hat. I'll be wearing my writer's hat."
Although he doesn't rule out the possibility returning to the bookstore business someday, Steele admitted that "it certainly won't be any time soon." For now, he prefers the role of customer: "I'm more at ease going into bookstores now. I love bookstores. I can't imagine anything making me not want to go into a bookstore.”
Believe it or not, Americans are "are optimistic--more optimistic, in fact, than they were back in November 2008," according to GalleyCat, which reported on the results of a survey from the Pepsi Optimism Project. Included among the findings is the fact that "the one 'optimism booster' cited by more respondents than any other--88%--was 'books.' Unfortunately, that's not broken down by categories, so it's not quite clear whether fiction or non-fiction lifts people's spirits, so you should probably read a little of both, just to be on the safe side."
Columbus State University opened a new bookstore in downtown Columbus, Ga., Monday. The shop, operated by Follett Corp., "will be open to the public but will cater to CSU's fine and performing arts students," according to the Ledger-Enquirer.