Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

what’s a used bookshop to do?

Lacy, who owns a used bookshop, is having trouble with her inventory system. she needs to be able to easily list a large quantity of books on the internet, in a place where people are shopping for used books and likely to buy them. which means her two options are, really, ABE and Amazon. right? or are there other options? and as an indie bookstore owner, how squicky (if at all) should she feel about using Amazon/AMZ-related services? these are not rhetorical questions. thoughts? tips? tricks?

this made me sigh heavily, and i thought maybe it was worth…

this made me sigh heavily, and i thought maybe it was worth addressing. i’ll skip the obvious part about “basic human right” and go straight to why a local bookshop can’t possibly stock all local authors:

  • there may literally not be enough space! many local shops are small, and have to make every single book on their shelves count. 
  • making every book count means making sure that they are stocking topics and authors that appeal to their clientele. while you are, of course, very interested in your book, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your local bookshop’s average customer is. 
  • which leads me to, trusting local buyers. no bookstore DOESN’T want to make money. no bookstore in the world is intentionally turning down a potential bestseller, be it local or national. every bookstore in the world wants to stock awesome books. they read sales reports, they read trades, they labor over catalogs, they stay up at night worrying about their bottom line. they read EVERYTHING THEY CAN. i have worked for five of them, believe me — this is absolutely true.

so if your local passes on your book, it’s because they genuinely believe that that book will not work for their shop. stocking a book just to stock it means that the bookstore makes less money, the book doesn’t move, and then everyone is sad except for that initial five minutes in which the author is happy to see it on the shelf. that’s not a recipe for success, that’s a recipe for frustration. 

also frustrating: facing the intense indignation of local authors when you try to explain to them why you won’t be stocking their book.

bookrageous: What We’re Reading This Week! Jenn says: This is…


What We’re Reading This Week!

Jenn says: This is the Winter Institute edition, which means it has a lot of books in it because I knew I was going to be meeting certain authors and therefore read between 50 and 100 pages of as many of their books as I could. I didn’t get everyone, of course, BECAUSE THAT IS UNPOSSIBLE, but I did pretty well. Quickfire notes:

  • Rontel, Sam Pink: He was not at Winter Institute actually, this is Electric Literature’s first ebook! If you don’t know Electric Literature, you are missing out as a reader — their taste is exquisite and I’ve discovered several new favorite authors through them. They’re now an ebook publishers as well, CONGRATS YOU GUYS. Reading this book is so much like having a conversation with a certain person I know that it’s a little unnerving. 
  • A Marker to Measure Drift, Alexander Maksik: A novel about a female Liberian refugee wandering homeless on the island of Santorini. Incredibly vivid and visceral, but with this very dreamlike quality. We had a great conversation about race, gender, and voice, and Binyavanga Wainaina’s essay How To Write About Africa.
  • The Blood of Heaven, Kent Wascom: I spent all weekend describing this to people as True Grit meets The Devil All the Time (which obviously equals, I LOVE IT). I ran it by Wascom and he did not mind, so I feel safe in saying it to y’all! 
  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra: Takes place in post-Soviet Chechnya; a man’s neighbor is taken away by soldiers, and he and his neighbor’s young daughter seek refuge in a nearby hospital where they’re put to work by the gloriously cranky sole doctor left in town. I only got a little way into this one but what I read was impressive — this is going to be a big one.
  • Equilateral, Ken Kalfus: The plot on this one is CRAZY PANTS in the best possible way. A scientist in the late 1800s hatches a plan to get the attention of the (presumably hyper-intelligent) inhabitants of Mars that consists of building a giant, visible-from-space equilateral triangle in the Sahara and then LIGHTING IT ON FIRE. I kid you not. (19th century astronomers were, in fact, obsessed with Mars!) I started it on the plane home and the book reads a bit like my favorite fiction from that time period — a bit stuffy, a bit tongue-in-cheek. There’s also a really epic ping-pong scene. If you are not sold on this book yet, we probably can’t be friends.
  • Unremembered, Jessica Brody: Jessica Brody turns out to have almost exactly the same taste as me (we obsessed together about Emma Donoghue’s Room for a good twenty minutes) and has written a new YA novel that explores weird science and time travel and deeply philosophical questions and also conspiracies and young love and the perils of being a teenager and I’m not done yet and don’t want to spoil anything for you in the meantime so I will just leave that there. I will probably need to go back and read all of her other books, too.

in one of the Winter Institute small group sessions, we got talking about fixed pricing vs the wholesale model, and i can’t stop wondering: what would happen to books if they didn’t have a price printed on the cover?

what would happen if publishers didn’t set the prices? what would happen if, instead of participating (or not) in the discount wars, bookstores could set their own book prices? SERIOUSLY, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN?

highlights of Winter Institute 8:

  • finally meeting Kenny Coble who pretty much won the conference. to meet him is to lurve him
  • realizing this was my fifth Institute, which explains why i couldn’t go two feet without finding someone to hug/high-five/exclaim “oh my god your hair is different!” at
  • having a weather-induced anxiety attack that resulted in my spending half the Author Reception on the phone with American Airlines in order to change flights and avoid the incoming storm (jk, that was NOT A HIGHLIGHT)
  • the many happy birthday wishes (and cupcakes)
  • conversing with Sherman Alexie and Kent Wascom about literary brawls
  • seeing all the lovely authors and in particular meeting Anthony Marra and Alex George and Jessica Brody and Ru Freeman and Morris Collins and Kent Wascom, and remeeting Alexander Maksik and Sherman Alexie, and half-meeting Matt Bell whose book comes highly recommended
  • the many many pages of notes i have to bring back to my coworkers. IDEAS, I HAVE SO MANY.








finished between March and December: 102 books (i had a spreadsheet on my phone for January – March, and when i lost my phone i lost the sheet even though theoretically it was backed up in the cloud, blurgh)

genre distribution*, 2011 v 2012: pretty much the same except i read less romance and nonfiction, and more sff and ya in 2012 (this is the influence ofmolly, without a doubt)

gender distribution, 2011 v 2012: still fairly even!

gender w/in genres, 2011 v 2012: everything is basically same with the notable exception of ya. in 2011, i didn’t finish a single novel in the genre by a dude. in 2012, split right down the middle. it wasn’t on purpose, but i’m glad to see it. there are some good dude-written ya books out there!

goals for 2013: i don’t usually make these but i REALLY want to add a “country of origin” column that is not just split between the US and the UK, so i hereby announce i am going to attempt to read “abroad” for next year.

addendum: this doesn’t count picture books, because i tend to read those on my lunch break and then forget to note them in my spreadsheet, but i did read some picture books this year. see my Bookrageous Top Ten for proof. last year i counted graphic novels/comics/manga as their own category, but i didn’t this year, they just ended up in their larger genre. no, i don’t have a good reason for this. yes, i know it’s not 2013 yet, but i am basically only going to have time to finish the two books i’m reading right now before New Year’s (SECRET HISTORY and MOBY-DICK, in case you’re wondering) so i figured it was good to go. here is 2011, in case you want to compare.


  • fic = fiction
  • nonfic = nonfiction
  • sff = science fiction/fantasy
  • ya = young adult
  • if you don’t know middle-reader, it’s books for ages 8 – 12 (ish)

in which i am confused

hey, internet, can we talk for a minute? about Scott Pilgrim? because i feel like i’m missing something here.

let me see if i’ve got this. lots of folks i know are fans. of the series, and the movie. both of which have some nifty video game elements involved, and some fun simultaneous potshots at/celebrations of garage bands. and we like Scott Pilgrim, the character. right?

that last bit is where i’m getting stuck. i just read the first volume. and, yeah. Scott is a 23 year old. without a job. in a band. pseudo-dating a 17 year old highschooler, who is YOUNGER THAN HIS YOUNGER SISTER. and now two-timing said highschooler with an emotionally scarred, on-the-rebound, woman his age.

i kind of hate Scott Pilgrim. someone please tell me what i’m missing.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.