Football and independent bookselling

As begun on Facebook after a fun conversation with my co-worker: what if independent bookselling were more like (or anything like) professional football?

Being Eagles-centric, I thought that if I were the McNabb of bookselling, I would forget the alphabet from 2-5pm everyday and thus be incapable of shelving or doing my job properly.

My co-worker, our events coordinator, would get a bonus every time she signed a bestselling author for an event.

No matter what new releases came in on Tuesday, there’d be twenty blog posts up by Wednesday morning on fan blogs talking about how we were idiots to only go with four of the new Pynchon,and wondering if that new book from Featherproof was really going to prove itself or if we had just been snookered.

Kelly then chimed in: “And we’d still get paid the big bucks for all sick days due to paper cuts and box cutting injuries.”

John Mutter of Shelf Awareness: “How about an annual draft of the top bookseller prospects eligible for full-time jobs? C-Span could televise it. The stores down the most the previous year would have the top picks and could trade them. The major choices would have press conferences with their store managers and owners wearing store T-shirts or caps. Oh,and booksellers would have agents!”

Laurie Halse Anderson: “I will look forward to the inquiries and scandals when the news leaks out that you were recruited by the deep-pockets world of bookselling when you were an innocent teen with an astounding ability to read fast and naive parents who didn’t realize what that meant for your future career. And then the coaches came calling… in the dark….”

My boss: “So I guess I’m like the Jerry Maguire of bookselling. SHOW ME THE BOOK SALES!!!!!!”

Terra Elan McVoy, author of PURE and manager of Little Shop of Stories: “You’d want a quarterback who had more than one handsell in her–not always going to the same Audrey Niffeneger handoff: one who could stay in the pocket and not panic but still dole out some Andrea Barrett, a little Zadie Smith, maybe fake with some Chuck Klosterman, but who could also fire off one or two big, beautiful hail marys like selling that copy of Drood you’ve been hoping to get rid of before it comes out in PB next month.”

This is a game that had to be extended to the greater world, naturally. Post your best ideas about how to make indie bookselling more like the NFL while I try to get Roger Goodell on the phone.

Bookavore sighting!

There are so few of us bookavores, we who eat books, that I feel a clan obligation to post any and all sightings of them.

Via the lovely Emily Pullen, please go watch this video of Blake Butler eating the first page of his book. I think he intends to eat the whole thing, so please also go recommend to him ways to make that a little easier.

Does the Sony Reader taste as good as a physical book and other e-book thoughts

I have brought my blog back from the dead! Did you miss me?

I’m just going to jump back into it with a random list of thoughts about a Sony Reader 505 that I won in a contest about a month ago (thanks, Unbridled Books, Firebrand Technologies, and Emily St. John Mandel!). In no particular order:

It is super irritating that the Reader doesn’t work with my MacBook unless I download software someone had to write in order to basically trick it into working with a Mac. (Calibre is, though, a good program.) No wonder nobody in Brooklyn has one.

E-reading is not a strain on the eyes. I had no problem reading for hours on the Reader. I also did not really feel as though I was comprehending the books any differently, though I guess an MRI scan would be a better judge of that.

If you are a fast reader, which I am, you will probably also be annoyed by the weird blinky thing it does between pages. Do other e-readers do that? What the hell is that?

DRM sucks and, though I have on more than one occasion set out EXPRESSLY to spend money on an e-book, I have yet to do it. This is mostly because of DRM and the fact that, because I have a Mac and the Reader won’t make nice with it, I can’t do whatever magic wand waving nonsense I need to do in order to put DRM-encrypted files on the Reader. I probably would have bought a few e-books by now if not for that. The other thing holding me back has been the umpteen formats in which one can buy an e-book. It’s confusing and stupid and I find it impossible to believe that whoever it is who needs to make the decision to release all e-books in the same format hasn’t done it yet. In the case of both DRM and formats, it’s got to be either the publishers or the tech people who are making these mistakes, which I find funny because they’re the same people who send out press releases about how e-books are the future. Not if you make them complicated and annoying, they’re not.

And for that matter, if I had spent money on e-books, I damn sure would have claimed them as a business expense, because frankly right now e-books are so ugly that I’d feel silly spending money on them if I couldn’t even get a break on my taxes. I like what Emily said in this post—I think the industry does, to some extent, need to start thinking about e-reading as a medium, not just a format. Nobody knows better than me how much it costs to put a book together, but frankly, an e-book just does not seem worth the same amount of money as a physical one.

I am glad I didn’t buy the Reader, it’s absurdly over-priced for what it does. If I made twice as much money as I do now, I’d still feel that way.

Partially this is because it’s really poorly-designed. I try not to be too negative on this site, but I think Sony can take it. As a Mac user I know I’m predisposed to expect my hardware to be elegant, but this thing is just blegh. I have no idea why it has to have so many buttons. Sony, for a minimal consulting fee I’d be glad to show you how you could have easily gained an inch of reading space on this thing. My only consolation is that the Kindle is just as ugly, and also white, so over time it will be ugly AND covered in fingerprints.

I love using it to read ARCs. I love getting them in my inbox and plopping them on the Reader and not adding to the stacks all over my bedroom.

I downloaded some free public domain books from the Gutenberg Project, and finally read Mark Twain for the first time in my life. I am sure you will all be shocked to hear that the man was very funny and a great writer! It’s all about timeliness here at bookavore.com.

The thing the Reader is best for, in my life, is my commute. It takes me 20-25 minutes to walk to work. I like to read for much of that walk so the time isn’t wasted. And, though everybody mocked Jeff Bezos for pointing out that an advantage of the Kindle is reading one-handed, the fact is that reading one-handed is pretty useful for a number of non-perverted reasons. One of them is walking. I love walking and reading on this thing at the same time.

If the Reader worked like a Kindle and downloaded my blog reader and newspaper and magazine subscriptions, it would probably be one of the first things I picked up every day. But it doesn’t, so I can go days without using it.

So those are some random thoughts on the Sony Reader. As I mentioned in a forthcoming Shelf Awareness column (link TK), I wouldn’t recommend spending your money on an e-reader—yet. I’m holding out for something that has way more uses. But in terms of plain old reading experience, it is pretty useful, and I think booksellers need to become more familiar with the technology. Mostly because it is probably going to become part of our jobs, but also, I think many booksellers might actually enjoy the damn things a little bit.

There’s so much information out there on e-reading, I don’t know if there are any questions people have about it. Are there? Do you have any questions or thoughts? I have a question, and it’s probably the most important one there is when I think about my relationship to the Reader.

Do I look more or less fetching with an e-reader in my mouth as compared to a physical book?

Nom nom nom nom

Nom nom nom nom

BEA must-do

Make room for one more awesome event during BEA!

Announcing:

THE TRIP TO GREENPOINT TO

VISIT WORD,

MEET BOOKAVORE,

AND HAVE A DONUT.

What? The title wasn’t clear enough for you? I think the purpose and content of this trip are obvious enough.

Where? Again, see title. 126 Franklin St, Brooklyn, NY 11222.

Why? Because there is only so much show floor you can walk before you get sick of ugly carpet and the feeling of your arms going slowly numb under the weight of four overloaded tote bags. Because you like donuts, or at least are curious about these donuts I talk about all the time. Because you have always secretly wondered if I do, in fact, really eat books for meals. Because all purchases at WORD are 10% off this weekend when you show your BEA badge. Because I have to work all day so I want to bring BEA to me!

When? Saturday, May 30, 11am-9pm.

Who? You! Me. Donuts. Cat pictures. Books.

How? Follow these insanely-detailed directions from Javitz to WORD (hey, I get lost all the time, don’t want that to happen to anyone else):

1. Walk east on W35th towards 10th Ave (those of you without a compass, this means walk out the front doors and in the direction of the construction. They’re still doing construction there, right?). At the corner of 35th and 8th, descend into the subway station.

2. Take the E train heading UPTOWN. Get off at 23rd St/Ely Ave (this is the stop after Lexington Ave/53rd St).

3. Walk through the station toward the G train. At some point it will stop being the 23rd/Ely station and start being the Court Square station, for reasons that have never been made clear to me. Get on the G heading to Smith and 9th St. Almost inevitably, wait for awhile. Wait a little longer. Keep waiting! This is good, you’re getting the real Brooklyn experience.

4. Take the G to Greenpoint Ave. When you get off the train and go through the turnstiles, don’t take the exit immediately to your right, take the one further back on the right.

5. Go up the stairs and immediately turn right. You’ll walk down Manhattan Avenue for a hot minute and then reach Milton St. Make a right on Milton. Walk down it. Then you’ll be at the corner of Franklin and Milton. More importantly, then you’ll be at WORD! Good on ya. If you get lost, you can call me at 718 383 0096.

So there you go. When you need a break from the craziness of BEA, come visit your friendly neighborhood Bookavore for a donut and a smile. And cat pictures.

e-ARC follow-up

After this article in Shelf Awareness last month, about the potential of e-ARCS for reviewing and especially indie bookstores, I got a number of very thoughtful responses. Several people wrote in to affirm that they definitely were not interested in e-ARCs at all and have concerns that for booksellers to start to work with e-books puts the future of the book at greater risk.  Several others wrote in to say they were very interested in e-readers, even though they love physical books.  And a few introduced thoughts that had never entered my mind! Below is a selection of voices that I think are crucial to the discussion:

Let me say I would dearly love an e-reader for ARC’s!! I will be anyone’s guinea pig on this! I find the amount of paper products in my office overwhelming.  Publisher’s catalogs, toy catalogs and then what-have-you catalogs. I have been known to purge so severely that my new catalogs are recycled with the old! (My reps just bring them now.)  The book sorting and sharing is never ending, as you say.  But you forgot to mention the book that has been out on the floor for 3 months and the ARC mysteriously reappears on the shelf to be re-sorted and weeded.”  —Andrea Vuleta, General Manager, Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop (CA)

The aspect that isn’t being discussed is that, as a collector, I like having ARCs in my collection. Yes, fewer of them are printed and, to me, that makes them more interesting. There are often changes in the art between the ARC and the finished book and I like having those differences represented- often I prefer the artwork of the ARC. There can be changes to the story or some other aspect of the text between the ARC and the finished book and, to me, that’s worth keeping. Being in the bookworld, I am lucky enough to be able to be many of them signed by the visiting author, so I have sets – the ARC and the hardcover – and I like that. Makes my shelves jammed, but I like it. In fact, if there are gaps in my collection, they are the ARCs of author’s earlier books that I don’t have.

“I recall one author bemoaning how some faceless copy editor decided that the last three paragraphs in the author’s book really weren’t necessary so they were omitted from the finished book. Until the paperback, the only way to read the full book, as written by the author, was in the ARC.

“In another case, an author was horrified to find that an earlier and inferior version of the manuscript was mistakenly issued as the ARC and thought reviews and reactions to the book were hurt by it. He wanted anyone who had read the ARC to read the book again, in hardcover. Otherwise, you hadn’t really read ‘his book’.

“These kinds of stories, along with the artifact itself, makes me value ARCs as a collector. And, for that reason, I’d hate to see them go.”  —JB Dickey, owner, Seattle Mystery Bookshop (WA)

“Being one who tends to see both sides of an issue simultaneously, I can certainly support your reasoning about reducing waste and being more ‘green.’ But I’m also concerned that booksellers need to ‘walk the talk.’ If they’re reading books — even if in galley form — on an e-reader, why shouldn’t more customers do the same?

One alternative solution that came to me is for publishers to use the same model with booksellers as agents do with acquisitions editors: present a one or two page summary, along with a sample chapter. Since we can’t possibly read all the ARCs that we get anyway, we could at least get a feel for the content, style of writing, and whether any of our customers would like the book. Publishers could then produce galleys with print-on-demand technology, should there be some requests for the book.”  —Mark Kaufman, Paz & Associates

The moment I heard of e-readers I thought they would be an excellent tool for me as a bookseller. Imagine seeing a book promoted on a television show, website or actually meeting the author that interested me. I could IMMEDIATELY go to the publisher website, enter my super secret spidey code and download a copy to start reading. If I didn’t like it… no problem… delete it. If I DID like it… start the buzz.”  —Deb Hunter, Chicklet Books (NJ)

And here’s a helpful link from Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media Partners, about a study they did for netGalley that looks at the costs to publishers of making e-ARCs available.

Any other voices out there in the ether that want to chime in?

My favorite cookbook in the world

If you’ve ever visited me in a bookstore in person and asked for a cookbook recommendation, I undoubtedly started with How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman. This is because it is the best cookbook I know of. However, often when I recommend it, people have looked at me like I am crazy. Not the Joy of Cooking? Better Homes and Gardens? Rachael Ray?

No, friends, no. Let me tell you a little story about last night that will help illustrate why I am so devoted to The Bittman (as I refer to it in my head).

By the time I got home from work last night, it was 10pm and I was starving. I had a whole pantry of nothing in particular and a refrigerator of wilted leeks and condiments. I saw a bag of whole-wheat pasta snuggled in the back corner of the pantry, so pasta it was. But it was going to be boring old nothing on it at all pasta. Blegh. Wait, I thought. I bet THE BITTMAN can save my meal! And o boy did it ever.

I flipped in the index (the completeness of which is one of my favorite things about the book) to pasta, then went the to appropriate page. Right there, a basic little recipe for oil and garlic sauce. Alright! This meal was not going to totally suck.

But wait! There were, as there are with almost every recipe in the book, several suggested variations on the recipe. Including one that called for toasted breadcrumbs. Which were also lurking in my pantry. And when I moved them, I found a small jar of tomato paste. So I toasted the breadcrumbs in garlic-y oil, added the tomato paste, and then added a cup or so of pasta water to thin the sauce out (a trick I learned from earlier treks through THE BITTMAN). Tossed it with the pasta, spiral pasta, which held the tomato-breadcrumb sauce beautifully, added salt and pepper, and holy shit, I had the best pasta dish I’ve made in months!

That is the beauty of The Bittman, for me. It has never let me down. It has endless variations that keep my meals from being boring. Whenever I panic and think, ack, how long SHOULD I boil these eggs/steam this broccoli/let this dough rise, The Bittman is there with its lovely index and personable and clear writing to keep me calm. I don’t worry when I see strange vegetables at the farmers’ market. I buy them with confidence, because The Bittman is waiting at home to give me five ways to prepare them.  You will feel like the MacGyver of cooking with this book.

In fact, it’s the only cookbook that I give a pass for not having any pictures (aside from some very helpful drawings for various skills like coring a cabbage, another thing I learned from The Bittman). Normally I like my cookbooks full of food porn. My other favorites—Nigella for baking, Ina for entertaining—oblige with glossy arty photos that make me drool, but that is not what The Bittman is for. It is a cooking tool, as indispensible to my kitchen as a paring knife and saucepan.

So when you’re looking for the right gift for graduation, housewarming, or for “hey dude maybe YOU could try cooking every once in awhile around here,” get The Bittman. If you’re a vegetarian, there is also How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, which is basically just as awesome. Get both, they look really nice together on the shelf and both have the satisfying heft of true wisdom.

As a bonus, below please find the recipe for my dinner last night, which I am naming Bookseller & Bittman Pasta to honor both my inspiration and the fact that it is pretty cheap to make.

You will need:

a bag of whole-wheat pasta (I used Trader Joe’s whole-wheat spiral pasta, forget what the Italian name for it is)

garlic, 2-3 cloves (I used this awesome thing I found the other day which is basically little ice cubes of crushed garlic, I think the brand name was Doret)

one little can tomato paste

1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs (I had some that came with herbs included, I highly recommend these. If not, you’ll probably want to add some Italian herbs into the recipe)

good olive oil

salt and pepper

Instructions:

1. Start the water boiling. Add a lot of salt (I love salt, but even if you don’t, The Bittman instructs that a good amount of salt is crucial to the best pasta).

2. This whole step, keep the burner on medium heat. Get out a decent-sized saucepan and put in a few glugs of olive oil. (The Bittman recipe calls for 1/3 cup, but I hate measuring olive oil, it’s always such a mess.) Add garlic, let it do its thing for awhile, then add the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup or so. Then you’ll probably need to add more olive oil so they’re soaked through. Move the bread crumbs around enough to keep them from burning, but not so much that they don’t crisp up, for 3 minutes or so, until they start to smell really good. Add most of the can of tomato paste (you can probably add the whole can, I just didn’t). Mix it up until you have this kind of bread crumb tomato mush. Turn off the burner.

3. At this point your pasta water should be boiling. Add pasta. Go find your book and read for a little bit.

4. Five minutes later, look up in shock. Holy shit! The pasta! Fish a piece out, it should be done. (The Bittman has very wise words about how to tell when pasta is done that you should check out.)

5. Before you drain the pasta, dip a measuring cup in and take out a little over a cup of the pasta water (I used a 2-cup Pyrex measure, which was perfect for this). Put that water in with the bread crumbs and tomato, stir to make a thick sauce. Add more water if you want. Take out another cup or so of water. Drain the pasta.

6. Put the pasta back in the pot, pour the tomato sauce over top. You will probably need to pour in a bit more water so that it all comes together well. I added more breadcrumbs at this point, I don’t remember why. Salt and pepper to taste. The pepper isn’t so important, but the right amount of salt makes this perfect. I did not have cheese in the house (I know, very surprising!) but if I had, I bet some sort of Parmaesan with a nice bite would have set this off really well.

7. Enjoy! This made about four big bowls. Just as good as leftovers (eating it right now) as it was last night. Incredibly satisfying.

(insert theme music from Brazil here)

(In which I present another possibility for the future of the physical book, because I felt there just wasn’t enough talk about the whole thing.)

Friday and Saturday, the stars aligned and I had—wait for it—two days off in a row.  I know! It was heavenly! And on the second day, I made a trip to the farmers’ market and read (the Contract With God trilogy, fantastic) in the park. Beautiful day, yummy apples, great book.

And then my phone said, “doodle doodle doo.” I looked at it, of course. 2 new emails, neither important, and about 80 tweets in the last hour from people I follow.  Started reading them, but my heart wasn’t really in it.  Maybe I should check my blog reader, I thought.  Then I thought, what the hell is wrong with me? I’m outside on a great day reading a great book and I’m feeling obligated to keep up with the 140-character thoughts of over 200 people?  No offense to the folks I follow on Twitter, all of whom are incredibly fascinating, of course, I just couldn’t believe the extent to which I was freaked out about “missing something” on a Saturday morning.  Same thing with email. I’ve always been a habitual email refresher, and my phone just aids & abets. It sits in my purse and whenever it makes a little noise, I excuse myself from whatever I’m doing, and check what is, half the time, an advertisement.

So I took the day off from the internet on Saturday. I put my phone away and disabled my internet access and just…had a day. Read some more, cleaned, watched Adam’s Rib and began to wonder if in fact Katherine Hepburn is secretly my great-aunt or something. Invented the umpteenth variation on my basic couscous recipe.  It wasn’t the perfect day, but it was nice. And a piece of that was disengaging from the ever-present Internet on purpose. The more of the day I spent not with the Internet, the more I spent not giving a shit about it. So what if another #amazonfail was happening? I was reading, don’t bother me.

This experiment wasn’t perfect; for example, my inattention to the phone for 12 hours caused family members to worry and even call the store to see what was going on. (In future, I will be sure to announce my days off so nobody worries that I am dead.) But I will definitely do it again.

Of course, even on my days off I can’t stop thinking about <serious voice> THE FUTURE OF THE PRINTED BOOK </serious voice>. So I was wondering at the end of my disconnected day, could this be a future trend, people taking the day off from connectivity? I think we all know the stress that comes from being too plugged-in.  I’m feeling it, and I’m a member of the connected generation, the generation with thumb calluses from texting, the generation that feels in emoticons, the generation with ethernet cables for veins. Despite my well-documented enthusiam for technology, some days I feel like checking email and Twitter and blogs any time after 10am is like trying to merge onto I-95 at 75 mph without slowing down.  I can imagine a near future where people say, “hey, just so you know, Friday I’m disconnecting for the day.” And that’s that.

And what will people do on the days they choose to disconnect? Probably the same things I did. Watch a movie, clean the house, make couscous, and maybe even…read a book! A real book. Not connected to anything! With paper and glue and even that o-so-worshiped book smell that is everybody’s first reason to defend physical books.  I still think e-books will be part of the future and that as booksellers we need to understand them, but I also think e-books and physical books will come to serve different purposes in our lives, different delivery for different types of content.

To that end, I think an important part of the physical book’s future will be a refuge from the always-on, always-running digital culture.  I love digital culture, I’m happy to be a part of it—I love connecting with people I wouldn’t know otherwise, I love how quickly we’re beginning to come up with ideas, I love the sheer number of new things I learn everyday (even if it’s making my TBR pile more unwieldy than usual).  But it can wear me down. I’m sure I’m not the only one.  And I bet books will be a place to which we turn to stop and breathe and enjoy the feeling of devoting all our attention to just one person telling us one story at a time.

Get back to where you once belonged

A small conversation on Twitter sparked this question: what books are now out of print that you would sell the hell out of if they were still in print?

I’ll start with three of mine.  They’re all kids’ books, I’m guessing in part because I’m too young to have loved grown-up books that are now OP, and in part because it’s the books I grew up with that really imprinted themselves on me and follow me around all day.

1. The A. I. Gang trilogy by Bruce Coville (originally published by Minstrel Books, part of S&S).  Fantastic work of sci-fi for older middle grade that I was completely obsessed with.  I have no idea why this isn’t available anymore, especially because I thought it was a given that Coville rocks, but I’m really glad I still have my copies.  Great characters, includes fantastic female characters and characters of color without being tokenist, hilarious, and so, so smart. This is a series that made me seriously think about nuclear war and the stupidity of Mutually Assured Destruction when I was all of, like, 10. Still re-read them everytime I move and have to re-pack them.  This series has perhaps the highest badge of honor I can give it: as a kid, I regularly pretended I was one of the characters and/or had extensive daydreams in which I re-wrote myself into the story.  I can say that about maybe two other books (The Dark is Rising series and The Egypt Game).  I really wish it was still around, I think it would delight fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and E. L. Konigsberg but would also be great for reluctant readers, male or female.

2. Nobodies and Somebodies by Doris Orgel (originally published by Viking). This book was YA before YA was cool and before I was old enough to know what YA was.  Actually, I guess nowadays it would be high MG as well.  No matter, it is still great.  Story of a girl who moves to a new area and new school and gets caught up in the craziness of the cool and the uncool, but that looks at several points of view rather than walking the well-trod “man, those popular girls sure are bitchy” route. Would love to be able to sell this book again.  One character lies about having swum with dolphins to be cool, and the popular girls paint their nails in a really weird way that’s actually impossible, and there’s lots of kicking heels against the heater to protest popular girls even though it disrupts the class pet. This should be re-released as a TPO as MG so I can sell it to tweens who want a more sophisticated read.

3. Ash by Lisa Rowe Fraustino (originally published by Orchard Books). Another book that would still be in print if it had been published after the onset of YA madness. A very real look at what life is like when your sibling is mentally ill and your family is just a normal family.  I love this book so much, I can’t count how many times I’ve re-read it.  (Full disclosure, I think my mom and she were once in the same writer’s group, but as it happened so long ago that I can’t remember for sure, I doubt it’s influencing my mentioning it here.)  In voice, it’s an early King Dork, but telling a totally different story.  You know what, I’m going to type out the prologue so you can hear the voice, see if you get drawn into it the way I get every time I read it:

“The Last Will and Testament of Wesley Willian Libby, age 15 (cause you never know when a truck’s gonna hit you)

“Being of sound mind and body, not counting pigeon toes and baby flab, I hereby declare this my 1st and last will and testament so far.

“To my beloved month Bonnie Lynn Tibbetts Libby I leave my Bible. But 1st my best friend Merle R. Daigle’s gotta go through and erase some stuff. Merle, you know what I’m talking about.

“To my beloved father Stefan Edward Libby, known to the rest of creation as Steve, I leave the violin you never wanted to buy me. Sell it and buy the CB you was always after us to pitch in and get you for Christmas. And if you dig deep in my closet you’re gonna find an old G.I. Joe wearing them army medals of yours you LOST a few years ago. Don’t get all mad that I didn’t confess this when I was alive.  You woulda killed me.

“To my once-in-a-great-while beloved sister Deena T. Libby, OFFICIALLY known on her birth certificate as Dayna Theresa, which I personally think is a better name, I don’t leave nothing.

“No, just kidding Deena–you get the dust balls under my bed and the snotty handkerchief in my pants pocket when I die.”

“No, no, DEENA, just kidding! You can have my breadbox. Guess I should cross that out and write “CD-radio,” but Mama told me it was a breadbox under the Christmas tree and now that’s what it is. Also, my entire CD collection, except for the Roy Boys Grammy Ethyl give me for my birthdays, and Grammy had better take them back cause Deena would overreact if she had to share her room with Acuff, Rogers, Orbison & Clark.

“To the aforementioned best friend Merle R. Daigle, who’d get embarrassed if I called him beloved so I won’t, I leave my entire comic book collection except for the 1961 Green Honet and the ’62 Wonder Woman and the ’65 Superman cause them’s worth money and Mama & Daddy can sell them to pay for my funeral. Better clean out my college account at the Fleet Bank of Maine and use that for the funeral too. Only about $142.67 in there, so don’t get no expensive casket. Cremate me. But that don’t mean to keep my ashes around the house in no sicko urn. Bury them out back next to Togo, or put them in the cemetery with Grampy Libby. Even better, use them to fertilize Millard Worcester’s blueberry field, which’s got sentimental value to me but I can’t say why cause it’s Merle’s secret too.

“Merle also gets the personal effects in my locker if I die during the school year, but DON’T let NOBODY else in the locker, Merle, or I’ll haunt you, I swear.

“To the Calvary Bible Church I leave all my clothes to put in a gar(b)age sale or to give to the homeless cause Mama wouldn’t have the heart to do it herself. Except my Knights of Sisyphus T-shirt—that goes back to Ash. The church can also have my baseball equipment, Scrabble, books and junk so the kids will finally have something to do when the parents are fellowshipping at covered dish suppers.

“To my beloved brother Ashton Allen Libby I leave a composition book with some stuff written in it ONLY for him. Merle, you gotta get it for Ash out of the Shibboleth, and nobody else nag Merle to find out what the Shibboleth is cause that’s just between him & me. Now Merle, don’t get all mad, but the book’s in a secret compartment that YOU don’t know about. Take a hammer and pull up that floorboard with the big knothole, the one you always call Mrs. Fish-Lips’ belly button. Then paw around in there till you find the book, but don’t you dare read it or I’ll haunt you WITH CHAINS, I swear. If it ain’t there, that means I changed my mind and already give Ash the composition book.

“If there’s anything I left out then it ain’t important and Deena can have it.

“Just kidding! I didn’t leave nothing out.”

So, there’s my tribute to some books I wish were still around so I could sell them all over the place. What about you? What books do you try to recommend or sell but they’re out of print? Include the publisher name if you have it, maybe one of these days someone will stumble across this post and try to bring the book back.

Amazonfail

It’s all over these interwebs, and my store has a response! Cutting and pasting the whole thing here, since I was the author and I give myself permission.  You should click the link to see the picture of our bestseller list with IndieBound logo hovering above, though.

Over the weekend, you may have heard something about a controversy over recent changes to Amazon’s ranking system that are primarily affecting books with sexual content, and especially books with GLBT content, by removing their rankings and thus impacting their visibility on the site.  More information is easy to find, as the internet has basically exploded about the whole thing.

Though it’s not clear yet what’s happened, here at WORD, we wanted to take this opportunity to assure our customers that the problem of books with “adult content” not being ranked is not endemic across the book industry. In the interests of transparency, our bestseller list is calculated as follows:

1. On first day of new month, run sales report for previous month.

2. Type top ten bestselling titles on a list.

3. Print out list on yellow paper.

(Possible glitch: the manager forgets how to count.  If this happens, we’ll be the first people to let you know.)

As you can see, it is a simple process and any book can be a part. We invite customers to test this assertion by buying dozens of copies of whichever adult title they like best to drive it to the top of our bestseller list.  No one would be more amused than we by an April bestseller list composed of gay erotica and perennial bestseller Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

This should clarify our position nicely, but if you have any other questions, you are welcome to email us at info@wordbrooklyn.com, call at 718 383 0096 (no extension, no phone tree, and definitely no hold music), or for direct human contact, visit us in person at 126 Franklin Street.

It’s time to play…V

Who! Wants! To Be! A Bookseller!

First, yesterday’s answers.  The yellow book with Arial font was No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.  The graphic novel I was looking for was The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert.  Donuts to Liberty and jjchristie when they are next in town!  (Or, depending on how you feel about stale donuts, I can ship one.)

Today’s game is courtesy of Katherine at Bunch of Grapes (on Twitter: @KatherineBoG).  I don’t know the answer either, so she will be the judge.  Prize is a donut.  All prizes will be donuts from now on.

“My all time fave: 2 cousin hamsters, B&W picture book, but there’s a piece of nougat in color, French author. Can you get it?”

Keep in mind that the first tip for playing Who Wants To Be A Bookseller is that none of the clues are guaranteed to be correct.