Following on the last post about McNally Jackson, the other thing that I e-mailed to the booksellers on our mailing list was this pdf brochure/flyer that anyone can print out and use in promoting this year’s BTBA finalists.
This can be printed double-sided (just make sure to go into print settings first and indicate that the size is U.S. Letter, the orientation is Landscape, and in the print menu, be sure to turn off page scaling and turn on auto rotate and center), folded in half and handed out to customers. Or you can print two and hang it on a wall—the choice is yours.
I hope this is useful, and again, if your store does a display, send me a pic and I’ll post it as part of our ongoing BTBA coverage.
From Charlotte Higgins’s piece in The Guardian about shopping in her local Borders:
Walk in and you are bombarded with the visual cacophony of three-for-two offers, TV chefs and Parky’s biography. Of course they have a wide selection of books, but the place is such a jungle – Aldi is surely more of a pleasure to visit, and I don’t say much there – that locating what you want is a nightmare, and as for an enjoyable browse, forget it.
I headed upstairs and tried to find the CDs. A staff member, appealed to, said, candidly, “Our music selection is terrible.” No go, then. I tried for the book, edging my way towards the relevant section, where the shelves were full of misshelved volumes and a mess. It wasn’t there. I talked to the staff member again (who gets full points for being pleasant). He found the book on the computer, where it registered as “in stock”, but he couldn’t locate it on the shelves. He told me that the system did not necessarily reflect reality. Bookplates – well, forget it. The assisant I spoke to didn’t know what the word meant.
She contrasts this with the store she used to shop at:
Then there was, close to work, another indy, called Metropolitan Books. Phil Griffiths, the fantastic owner, didn’t always have what I wanted, but he was a delight to chat to and knew precisely what he was talking about. Even if you had to wait a couple of days for an order to come in, you’d always leave Met Books feeling like your day had become rather better, not worse. Phil closed down earlier this year – a black day.
Which leaves me with no independent local book shops and wondering how capitalism has not winnowed out such obviously unsatisfactory stores as Waterstone’s and Borders.
The Guardian has a great article about a bookstore in central Maastricht, one that Jonathan Glancey refers to as “what must be one of the finest bookshops in the world.”
The sheer scale of the black steel bookstack was necessary for two reasons. One was that a spread of shelves along and across the nave would have detracted from its character; the more worldly reason was that Selexyz needs 1,200 sq m of selling space to make the shop’s finances add up. Given that the church has a floor area of just 750 sq m, the only way to go was up. The bookstack, though big, is not one great, irredeemable slab. You can walk through and up it, and it frames views of the nave on both sides beyond it. The bays of the nave are also neatly lined with bookshelves, so what you see through the bookstack are rows of books beyond rows of books.
From Literary Saloon:
We missed their announcement from a few weeks ago, but Jennifer Schuessler recently mentioned it at their Paper Cuts weblog: The New York Times Book Review is now available in Romanian, the only international edition of the NYTBR, licensed to Editura Univers and with a print run of 40,000 to start off with.
And from Shelf Awareness:
Anthony Frost, a new English-language bookshop in Bucharest, Romania, “has become popular among students, academics and expats, especially for its fair pricing system—which sees English-language books on sale for the same cost as in the West,” the Diplomat Bucharest reported.
As to the name?
Why “Anthony Frost?” Co-owner Vlad Niculescu said it’s the name of a friend who helped foster the three owners’ collective passion for English. “He doesn’t know we’ve named the bookshop after him yet. It may be a surprise.”
Both of these things are kind of cool, although I wish this was more of an equal flow and a Romanian book review was being translated into English along with more Romanian lit. (Well, we’ve got our eye on a major, major Romanian work for Open Letter, but I’ve got to keep that under wraps for now . . . )
Regardless, maybe Sara from NYRB is wrong about 2008 being the “Year of Hungary” . . . it just might be the “Year of Romania,” thanks in no small part to the awesome job the people at the Romanian Cultural Institute are doing to promote Romanian art.
Last Friday, The Guardian ran a nice feature on the most beautiful bookstores in the world, including Livraria Lello in Porto (pictured above) and El Ateneo a Three Percent favorite. (I’m hoping to have the chance to visit this store during the upcoming Buenos Aires Editor’s Week sponsored by Fundacion TyPA . . . )
From Maud Newton’s ongoing series on independent bookstores comes a post from Justine Larbalestier about El Ateneo of Buenos Aires’ Barrio Norte, which looks simply amazing.
Their website actually has a short video tour of the store that’s worth drooling over.
Why can’t we have stores like this here in America?
Not sure why we didn’t cotton on to this sooner, but Maud Newton’s running a fantastic series of articles on independent bookstores this month.
So far, she’s had:
Jim Hanas write on Burke’s Book Store in Memphis, TN;
Mark Athitakis on DC’s Books for America;
Sean Carman on D.C.’s Kramerbooks and Afterwords;
Marco Romano on Albany’s Dove & Hudson;
Marie Mockett on San Francisco’s Green Apple Books;
Lorraine Martindale on Bloomington’s Caveat Emptor;
and Stephen Elliott on San Francisco’s Adobe Books.
My personal favorite so far is Chris Lehmann’s piece, also on DC’s Books for America, which begins
Among its many other well-documented disappointments, Washington is badly fixed for good bookstores. The city’s permanent standing army of wonks and think tankers either feast on free review copies or do their grimly efficient intellectual trading at the standard B and N or Borders outposts. And that means that stores that traffic in literary-cum-indie fare are either too embattled (e.g., the well-meaning but erratically stocked Chapters, in downtown’s revived Penn Plaza neighborhood), too self-satisfied (the outer Northwest depot of bien-pensant reading, Politics and Prose, which does for written smugness what NPR does for the broadcast audio kind), or too fraudulent (the overhyped Kramerbooks and Afterwords in DuPont, pretty much a Yuppie pick-up venue decorated haphazardly with Times bestsellers) to satisfy hard-core browsers.
Judith Rosen at Publishers Weekly reports on an interesting collaboration taking place in Western Massachusetts:
The concept of bookstore tourism is getting redefined in Western Massachusetts, where ten independent bookstores are following the example set last year by the region’s museums, who banded together to form Museums10 to encourage visitors to the area to visit all ten by putting together a cooperatively themed exhibit. In September, Pioneer Valley booksellers will join with museums for the second Museums10 show, a four-month long celebration of books, BookMarks.
Which hopefully will drive sales, since PW also posted this info today:
Bookstore sales fell again in June, dropping 6.6%, to $1.13 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales declined every month in the January through June period, resulting in a 4.6% drop in bookstore sales at the midway point of 2007. For the entire retail sector, sales were up 4.0% for the first six months of the year and were ahead 3.8% in June.
The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .
Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .
The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .