Adapting to a Post-#IndieBookstoreDay World
"If you ask us, the best way to settle into a post-#indiebookstoreday world is more books."
"If you ask us, the best way to settle into a post-#indiebookstoreday world is more books."
|Ready for the crowds at Quail Ridge, Raleigh, N.C.|
On the second annual Independent Bookstore Day, celebrated by more than 400 indies on Saturday, participating bookstores reported enthusiastic crowds, significant gains in sales--and a lot of fun. Stores seemed even more creative this year in what they added to events. Among IBD's exclusive giveaways, the most popular at a range of stores were the Neil Gaiman coloring book and the bookstore cats zippered canvas pouches.
Texas Star Trading Co., Abilene, Texas, celebrated Independent Bookstore Day for the first time and turned it into a two-day event, with four book signings on Friday and Saturday. Co-owner Carol Dromgoole called it "our best sales weekend of the year." The store offered a 20% discount on all books, a free Texas flag book bag with any book purchase, a free book (ARCs and slightly damaged books) on any purchase of $25 or more and gave out coupons and free cookies. "Even customers who came in not knowing about the special weekend were excited when they got a free book," Dromgoole added.
|Ann Castillo in conversation with Cyn Vargas at Women & Children First.|
Independent Bookstore Day at Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill., was "a huge success," co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck wrote. "Despite the cold and rainy weather, we had steady foot traffic all day and were thrilled to see a 20% increase in sales compared to last year's Independent Bookstore Day."
Events at the store included Freda Love Smith, drummer and author of Red Velvet Underground, playing mostly original songs and ending with a cover of the Go-Gos' "Our Lips Are Sealed." In conversation with author and teacher Cyn Vargas, Ana Castillo, whose new book is the essay collection Black Dove: Mamá, Mi'jo, and Me, discussed increasing diversity in publishing and encouraged customers to "buy the books you want to see published."
|Tom Noll at BookTowne.|
At BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., sales doubled over last year's IBD, owner Rita Maggio reported. "People really responded to all of our advertising." A highlight of the day was a signing by Tom Noll, author of the Trash to Treasure children's series.
The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass., had "another great Independent Bookstore Day," according to owner Joan Grenier. "Customers and staff were in a celebratory mood. The Neil Gaiman coloring book sold out quickly. The shelfie photo booth a huge success. Literary trivia mistress Stace Williams (aka Ingram sales rep) had a difficult time stumping several of our well-read customers. And the lemonade and amazing homemade pastries by Carlene were delicious. It was a great way to end the month."
At the end of the day on Saturday, Michael Barnard of Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif., wrote to customers that it had been "a lively day of books, conversation, and lots of temporary tattoos! From the minute we opened the doors this morning and throughout the day, your enthusiasm for books and for this indie bookstore in particular have been marvelous. Thank you for making this day (and, let's be honest) so much fun.
Even before Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., opened on Saturday, customers lined up outside wanting to be sure to get the Neil Gaiman coloring book, which co-owner Bradley Graham wrote was "the hit of the day for us." Other popular IBD items included the signed Anthony Bourdain "Perfect Burger" print and the bookstore cats zippered canvas pouches.
|High fives at Politics & Prose.|
Any customers who recited the store's motto--"so many books, so little time"--received a wrapped galley, delivered with a high-five to the customer. Graham noted, "We couldn't guarantee everyone got something they liked, because none of us knew in each case just what work was contained in the wrapping. But hopefully we introduced people to genres they might not otherwise have read and created some new fans."
In addition, the children's department hosted a book-making class for kids, and the newly renovated coffeehouse, the Den, offered a specially-baked batch of book-themed cookies, dubbed "bookies."
Politics & Prose's three author events on Independent Bookstore Day focused on local writers. Louisa Thomas discussed Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams with WAMU producer Tayla Burney. Then a group of writers who have published books on the store's Espresso Book Machine, aka Opus, did a reading. And finally debut novelist Dana Cann talked about Ghosts of Bergen County, an event Graham called "a reminder of the role of independent bookstores in supporting and developing talent."
|Harvard Book Store after hours.|
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., ended Independent Bookstore Day in cool fashion: it held an "after hours" event with Kelly Link and Samantha Hunt that marketing coordinator: procedures & promotions Serena Longo called "pure magic" and "some of the best fun I've had in my bookselling career." The sold-out event had a "bustling but still intimate crowd of 60 people," each of whom had a Harvard Book Store flashlight that came with their ticket.
The two authors read and shared, Longo wrote, "some truly spine-chilling stories, after which we opened up the darkened store for midnight browsing by flashlight. The energy in the stacks was just amazing--a real palpable sense of the sheer joy of books. Both customers and staff approached me over and over throughout the evening just to express how wonderful it was and beg us to do it again."
Booksellers and other plaintiffs have won a preliminary injunction against a new Louisiana law that requires websites to age-verify every Internet user before providing access to non-obscene material that could be deemed harmful to any minor. A federal district court judge found that the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their claims that the law violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutionally vague.
The lawsuit was brought by the Media Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Garden District Book Shop and Octavia Books in New Orleans; Future Crawfish Paper, publisher of Anti-Gravity magazine; the American Booksellers Association; and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
To comply with the law, booksellers and publishers would have either to place an age confirmation button in front of their entire website, thereby restricting access to materials that may be appropriate for all ages, or attempt to review all of the books or magazines available at their website and place an age confirmation button in front of each individual page that might be inappropriate for any minor. Failure to age-verify, even if no minor ever tries to access the material, is a crime that could lead to a $10,000 fine.
"This is an important victory for me as a bookseller and for my customers," said Tom Lowenberg, co-owner of Octavia Books. "This law would have placed an impossible burden on our website by forcing us to 'ID' every person who visited the site before allowing them to browse our books or risk getting a $10,000 fine."
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., plans to move its campus bookstore to Main Street, "bringing an important piece of the campus to the city's economic hub," the Hartford Courant reported.
Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event, Wesleyan president Michael Roth said the university will issue a RFP for developers for a new location downtown and has looked at several sites and "been in talks with private vendors about operating the store." Due by May 31, the RFP specifies a location between 7,000 and 11,000 square feet on Main Street.
"We want to find a space that is accessible to campus but also on Main Street," Roth told the paper. "We expect it to be a bookstore that functions as a magnet for people who want to be around activities that bookstores often promote: readings, music, there will be some food involved. We just think it will be a place for virtuous economic activity that's good for the school and good for the city, and we'll see what kinds of responses we get."
The current store, Broad Street Books, operated by Follett, is in the same building as the Red & Black Café, which will remain on campus. The café may be involved in helping the relocated bookstore open a café.
Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce president Larry McHugh said a bookstore downtown could attract new visitors and alumni. "We're really excited about them relocating to Main Street," he said. "It's an opportunity for people to come downtown, go to restaurants and see the other retailers. It's a destination store and a destination always brings people in, and it expands from there."
Incidentally, McHugh is chair of the board of trustees of the University of Connecticut, which last week voted to have Barnes & Noble take over the UConn Co-op.
The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, writer and lifelong activist "whose defiant protests helped shape the tactics of opposition to the Vietnam War and landed him in prison," died April 30, the New York Times reported. He was 94. "While he was known for his wry wit, there was a darkness in much of what Father Berrigan wrote and said, the burden of which was that one had to keep trying to do the right thing regardless of the near certainty that it would make no difference," the Times wrote.
Father Berrigan published more than 50 books, including 15 volumes of poetry, an autobiography, "social criticism, commentaries on the Old Testament prophets and indictments of the established order, both secular and ecclesiastic." Included among these are Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings, To Dwell in Peace: An Autobiography, No Gods But One, The Kings and Their Gods: The Pathology of Power, The Dark Night of Resistance, A Sunday in Hell: Fables & Poems, Prison Poems and The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.
The Times noted that Father Berrigan "also had a way of popping up in the wider culture: as the 'radical priest' in Paul Simon's song 'Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard'; as inspiration for the character Father Corrigan in Colum McCann's 2009 novel, Let the Great World Spin. He even had a small movie role, appearing as a Jesuit priest in The Mission in 1989."
While he and his late brothers Philip and Jerry were still alive, Daniel Berrigan wrote in "The Wolf and the Child":
Penguin Random House recently hosted local booksellers for a luncheon celebrating the essay collection Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Dutton, on sale August 9) at State Park restaurant in Cambridge, Mass. Pictured: (l.-r., back) Lorna Ruby, Wellesley Books; Sarah Rettger, Porter Square Books; Marilyn Lustig, Wellesley Books; Karl Krueger and Megan Sullivan, PRH sales managers; (front) author Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Alex Meriwether, Harvard Bookstore; Carol Horne, Harvard Bookstore; Christina Anderson, Concord Bookshop.
The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., is the latest subject of Bookselling This Week's What's in a Name? series, highlighting some of the bookselling world's most unusual, original and coolest store names.
Tom Campbell, co-owner of the bookstore with John Valentine, explained that the name is "a reference to obscure local history. In the 1760s in this part of North Carolina, there was an uprising against the colonial government, which was based near the coast. In this part of the state there were just small farmers, and the corrupt colonial officials were stealing people's farms for nonpayment of taxes....
"These farmers called themselves the Regulators because at first they were naively petitioning the state's governor for better regulation of these corrupt colonial officials, but the governor responded to their petition by calling out the troops. There was a battle about 15 miles from here in which the governor's troops faced a bunch of ragtag farmers." The Battle of Alamance did not go well for the Regulators.
"When we first opened the store in 1976, no one really knew very much about the name," said Campbell. "We thought it was local, historical, a bit obscure, and rebellious, and we liked all of those connotations." He added that the name's rebellious connotations still resonate: "When Regulator Bookshop first started out, we had a certain political and social orientation, which was probably even more pronounced back then, because we were carrying books on feminism and social change that weren't widely available. We were one of the only alternatives around here at the time. We still certainly do have that same social and political orientation. It's rebellious just being an independent bookstore in North Carolina these days."
"It's been an exciting Sunday morning! We had a surprise visit from President Bill Clinton and Senator Joe Manchin," Taylor Books, Charleston, W.Va., reported, posting photos of the event on Facebook.
The Gazette-Mail reported that at the bookstore, the former president "surprised early-morning coffee drinkers and bought a book (Gratitude by the recently deceased neurologist Oliver Sacks) that he inscribed and gave to Manchin."
Librairie Kyralina, the only French-language bookstore in Bucharest, "has been a go-to place for the francophone community in the capital for the last three years," Romania-Insider.com reported, adding that the bookstore "remains clear about the focus of its activity and meeting the reading interests of its public."
The bookshop started in a small space "because at the beginning nobody knew if it was a good idea or not," said proprietor Valentine Gigaudaut. Last year she moved to a bigger location, with an increased focus on children's books. "In the first bookshop we knew that we could grow and the more books we have, the more we sell. So it was time for us to move and to become bigger....
"Sometimes, not every day, but very often, we have grandparents who come here with their grandchildren, and they just sit here and they read a book. It's very moving. Then we know what we live for. The grandparents can speak French, the children can't speak French because they decided to focus on English and now, with the grandchildren, the parents realize it is important for children to speak English and another language. And because the grandparents can speak French they don't transmit it to the children, they transmit it to the next generation."
LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich (Harper), in which the author talks about her own bookstore, Birchbark Books, Minneapolis, Minn., and her love of books.
CBS This Morning: Kenneth Bae, co-author of Not Forgotten: The True Story of My Imprisonment in North Korea (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9780718079635).
Fresh Air: John Doe, co-author of Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk (Da Capo, $26.99, 9780306824081).
Diane Rehm: Michael Pollan, author, most recently, of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin Books, $17, 9780143125334).
On Point: Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, $28, 9781501111105). She will also appear tomorrow on CBS This Morning.
Fox News's the Kelly File: Pete Hegseth, author of In the Arena: Good Citizens, a Great Republic, and How One Speech Can Reinvigorate America (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781476749341). He will also appear tomorrow on Fox & Friends.
Today Show: Clint Hill, co-author of Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford (Gallery, $28, 9781476794136).
Daily Show: Josh King, author of Off Script: An Advance Man's Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle, and Political Suicide (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781137280060).
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Derek Jeter, author of Change Up (Jeter Publishing/S&S, $16.99, 9781481464451).
A new adaptation of Watership Down, co-produced by the BBC and Netflix, is in the works as a four-part animation project that "will give a more prominent and heroic role to the female characters in Richard Adams's novel," the Guardian reported. The voice cast includes Olivia Colman, Anne-Marie Duff, John Boyega, James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, Nicholas Hoult and Gemma Arterton.
"Using the latest computer-generated animation techniques," the series will air next year on BBC1 in the U.K. and on Netflix around the rest of the world, the Guardian noted. The project is written by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary) and directed by Noam Murro (300: Rise of an Empire).
"We jumped at the chance to get in early and work alongside the BBC and 42 to bring this classic English tale to our members around the world," said Larry Tanz, Netflix v-p of global television. "This novel presentation of Adams's work pairs great talent with beautiful animation and will delight existing fans and capture a whole new audience for this timeless story."
Here are the winners of the 2016 Edgar Awards, who were honored last week at the Mystery Writers of America banquet in New York City:
Best novel: Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Dutton)
Best first novel: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press)
Best paperback original: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (Morrow)
Best critical/biographical: The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins)
Best fact crime: Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil (Harper)
Best short story: "Obits" by Stephen King in Bazaar of Bad Dreams (Scribner)
Best young adult: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (Katherine Tegen Books)
Best juvenile: Footer Davis Probably is Crazy by Susan Vaught (Paula Wiseman Books/S&S)
Best TV episode teleplay: "Gently with the Women" for George Gently, teleplay by Peter Flannery (Acorn TV)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: "Chung Ling Soo's Greatest Trick" by Russell W. Johnson, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)
Mary Higgins Clark Award: Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (Seventh Street Books)
Grand Master: Walter Mosley
Raven Awards: Margaret Kinsman; Sisters in Crime
Ellery Queen Award: Janet Rudolph, founder of Mystery Readers International
The Fireman by Joe Hill (Morrow, $28.99 hardcover, 9780062200631, May 17, 2016)
Joe Hill's great strength as a horror writer has always been his ability to play out finely observed interpersonal and emotional conflicts within the constructs of the genre. In Nos4a2 and his comic Locke and Key, Hill showcased his skill at putting highly developed, likable characters through the wringer without seeming sadistic or capricious. His fourth novel, The Fireman, expands the scope of his worldbuilding, but maintains the same, almost perverse level of compassion for characters that Hill constructs only to relentlessly pull apart.
It is perhaps unavoidable that The Fireman will be compared with Hill's famous father Stephen King's magnum opus The Stand or Justin Cronin's more recent novels The Passage and The Twelve. Like those novels, Hill's is an apocalyptic epic that depicts modern society falling apart in the face of a devastating plague. The culprit is Draco Incendia Trychophyton, a fungal infection that characters colloquially refer to as Dragonscale for the oddly beautiful scale-like patterns the fungus forms on infected skin. The 'scale also has the unfortunate side effect of burning the host alive.
Harper is a young nurse as eager to help out Dragonscale victims in the early days of the plague as she is to escape her domineering husband, Jakob. When she becomes infected, Jakob is--let's say--less than supportive, leading to the first of many exceptionally staged, utterly frightening scenes that lend The Fireman the nerve-jangling urgency of great horror.
At around 700 pages, The Fireman is an ambitious story stuffed with surprising plot developments. The titular fireman, for example, doesn't make the transition from a symbolic figure lurking around the edges of the narrative to a central character until hundreds of pages have passed. Hill takes a long-game approach that awards patience while constantly building up new and enticing mysteries.
Hill isn't a showy writer, preferring to lean on his characters and reserve literary flourishes for critical scenes, but he can certainly turn a phrase. Consider this description of an ancient fire engine: "The engine had rolled out of a Studebaker factory in 1935, forty-eight feet long, as red as an apple, and as sleek as a rocket in a Buck Rogers strip. It would always look splendidly like the past's idea of the future, and the future's idea of the past."
Hill's knack for dark, offbeat humor also makes an occasional appearance. For example, Jakob, who becomes an enduring villain for Harper to tackle, is a failed novelist with a hilariously pretentious manuscript called Desolation's Plough. Harper models herself after Mary Poppins and sings her favorite Disney tunes to calm herself in moments of crisis. And then there are the many, many fire-based puns that characters employ as gallows humor.
The Fireman is a dark and grueling novel, but likable characters and sparks of humor give it a warm, humane core. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books
Shelf Talker: The Fireman is popular horror writer Joe Hill's inventive, highly successful foray into the genre of post-apocalyptic epics.