Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Going Underground

The book I most covet in the store right now has to be Transit Maps of the World. It's a beautiful tome, with maps--both historic and contemporary--of all the world's metropolitan rail transit systems. Want to know how to get to the airport in Kuala Lumpur? Where to change lines in Bilbao? This is your book. It also includes histories of the world's various metros and summaries of up-and-coming systems from Belo Horizonte to Wuhan.'s own Cory Doctorow swooned for this one, too, saying "This is sheer public transit/map porn, and I'm in love." Ditto.--David E

JW Beecroft Closing

The owners of J.W. Beecroft Books & Coffee in Superior, Wisconsin, have told Publishers Weekly that they'll be closing at the end of the year. Books will go on sale at half-price starting November 5. The bookstore is the only one in Superior and was a great site for book readings and other events for the area. We are sorry to see them go.--David E

Hand to God--Part 2

The woman ghostwriting Britney Spears' mom's forthcoming book on motherhood talked to the Grand Rapids (MI) Press--not usually a source for book news, I know. “One thing I do want to make clear is that she’s not a stage mom,” said Lorilee Craker.

Oh, and the book is slated for release on Mother's Day, 2008. You can't make this stuff up.--David E

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hand to God

Britney Spears' mom has signed a contract with Christian publisher Thomas Nelson to write a book on parenting. Read the details here.--David E

Saturday, October 27, 2007

87% There

The venerable Library of Congress can't locate a whopping thirteen percent of its collection. (The number was originally 17%, but a subsequent review found that four percent of the collection was checked out, misshelved, or otherwise unavailable.) With 130 million volumes in the institution, that means that 16.9 million of them are AWOL. Read the details in the Washington Post or go right to the LOC's own Inspector General's report (.pdf).

Don't hold your breath for a turnaround, either. Staff in the libary's CALM division (Collections, Access, Loan and Management Division) is down from 235 employees in 2000 to a current size of 165. Its requested budget of $12 million has been funded at only $6.3 million.--David E

With thanks to the Seattle PostIntelligencer's Book Patrol blog.

Friday, October 26, 2007

To Get Rich Is Glorious

The syndicated radio program "The Engines of Our Ingenuity" (think Mr Wizard in audio format) recently ran a fascinating episode about the Gutenberg Bible. Among the gems about Gutenberg's design (the proportions of the page and the type block both follow the Golden Section) and late medieval reading habits (reading silently to oneself was considered "spooky") is this financial tidbit: It has been estimated that Gutenberg grossed about fifteen million dollars (in today's money) from his 150 bibles. Take that, Harry Potter.--David E

Happy Trails

Penguin has come out with another series of old books made new. The "Great Travels" series includes classic works by authors including Anton Chekov, Olaudah Equiano, Mark Twain, and Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. There's a nice display near our section of travel writing.

Just as nice are the covers. They're pretty little matte designs in jewel tones. Jessica Crispin interviewed the designer.--David E

Thursday, October 25, 2007

85% There

As a former CIA employee, Valerie Plame Wilson was required to submit her book Fair Game to the agency for review before publication. They wanted to remove as much as 35% of the material, according to the publisher, but settled on withholding approval of a mere 15%. Simon and Schuster decided to make these excisions plain and have printed the book with the offending passages blacked out in the final version. (Canada's National Post has the full story here.)

Even with the redactions, it seems the book is still quite readable and worthwhile. You can read a review at .--David E

But Seriously

Like every right-thinking American, I love Stephen Colbert, author of the indispensable guide I Am America (And So Can You!). But I like him even more after having heard him gush on NPR's Fresh Air about his schoolboy giddiness when Tony Bennett came on his show. Does Colbert have the nerves (and the chops) to sing a duet with Bennett? Listen and find out.--David E

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Balance Sheet

JK Rowling's final Harry Potter book was a publishing phenomenon, a solid gold gift to booksellers, right? Not really. According to Publishers Weekly, discounted Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows so fiercely that they actually lost money on it.

But don't shed any tears for the book behemoth. Even in its rush to undercut the indies and other booksellers, managed to make money on what it calls Harry Potter "attachments."--David E

Hope Springs

First, the Bad News: If you're a fan of Ian Rankin's series of Edinburgh police thrillers featuring Inspector John Rebus, you've doubtless already heard that the next novel, Exit Music (no US publication date announced), will be Rebus' last. (Details are here.)

Now, the Good News: At a reading in Toronto, Rankin recently told fans that he's not planning on killing off Rebus, and further that Rebus will likely make a cameo appearance in Rankin's future novels. Rankin has also said that his next series of novels will probably star Siobhan Clarke, who figures prominently in the Rebus novels.

So those of us who were worried about facing a harsh withdrawal period when John Rebus retires next year have heaved a big sigh of relief.--David E

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Don't Ask, Don't Spell

JK Rowling outed her character of Dumbledore at a reading in Carnegie Hall a few days ago. Details are here.--David E

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Its close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark...

The Encyclopaedia Britannica blog has finished its list of haunted libraries. They actually posted the section covering Minnesota yesterday. And we got only one mention: "St. Cloud State University, James W. Miller Learning Resources Center. A 19th-century burial site was found in 1997 when the Miller Center’s foundation was dug. The figure of a soldier has been seen wandering in the halls."

Just one? I feel cheated. Surely there are more scary spots out there in Vikingland.--David E

Friday, October 19, 2007

Out and About

Bruce White, author of We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People will be at Wild River State Park (see info here) on Saturday, October 20, at 4 p.m. White's book is a collection of over 200
You can see some of the photos in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society (here).

Why We Curse

Stephen Pinker, author of The Stuff of Thought is a consistently thought-provoking guy. His book, subtitled "Language As a Window into Human Nature," discusses the relationship between what we say and what we think. Are we limited by our language, or is it an infinitely flexible tool for infinitely flexible minds?

You can get a glimpse of Pinker's language and thoughts in an article posted recently at The New Republic. It's a longish essay (excerpted from The Stuff of Thought) dealing with swearing. Be warned: Pinker doesn't whitewash it; he uses the real swears.--David E

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Booker That Wouldn't Die

I really thought I was done writing about the Man Booker Prize. After all, they announced the winners already. But then they announced that all of this year's shortlist titles will be posted online for free download. And they keep pulling me back in.

Read the Times article here; I'll watch for the actual postings and let you know when the books are available.--David E

Talking Guitars

NPR's All Things Considered talks to Eric Clapton today, in conjunction with the recent release of his autobiography, entitled (wait for it) Clapton: The Autobiography. The interview--the first of two--covers Clapton's early influences and includes links to the songs themselves. There's also an excerpt from his book.--David E

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Authors on Fresh Air

Enjoy.--David E

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We Have A Winner

Defying the odds (and the oddsmakers), Anne Enright's family drama The Gathering has won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. You can read my brief review of the book here or hear an interview with the author here (.ram).--David E

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Review

The latest New York Review of Books has an article on Gertrude Bell, the British woman who was appointed as the senior political officer in British-run Basra, Iraq, from 1916 to 1926. Bell was an "Arabist," who threw herself headlong into the Middle East, its peoples and its culture. She's even buried in Baghdad (NPR reported on the state of her grave here this summer.)

The article is written by Rory Stewart, author of The Prince of the Marshes, about his year as deputy governer of a province in southern Iraq during the current occupation, and The Places in Between, about his trip on foot across Afghanistan in 2002.--David E

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Great Pumpkin

The Dallas Morning News has posted a story about two men's quest to grow a half-ton pumpkin. It's drawn from the new book Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever, but also discusses the author's own attempt to grow a prize-sized gourd of her own; hers got to 240 pounds.

The article also has links to an audiovisual show about growing the big pumpkin as well as an excerpt of the author reading from her book.--David E

Without Reservations

Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning program today rebroadcast last month's Talking Volumes interview with Sherman Alexie. Alexie is the author most recently of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, as well as the earlier books Flight, Smoke Signals, and The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven, all of which deal with presentday Native American life.

I haven't had a chance to listen to this interview yet, but Alexie is usually quite funny and outspoken.--David E

Thursday, October 4, 2007

We're Staying, Thanks

In the middle of last month, Entrepreneur magazine posted an article listing the ten businesses it expects will be extinct in ten years. Used bookstores were on that list, along with crop dusters and the manufacturers of film for cameras. They say the internet will kill used bookstores. We say, Who do you think is selling used books online? Used bookstores, that's who.

Then this week, the local Fox affiliate sent a reporter to talk to owners of these various dinosaur businesses, including our own Denny Magers. Word is he kept his cool, but I can't actually track down the footage. It's not on the TV station's website; it's not on the YouTube. Can anyone help? If you can point me towards the report, I'd love to be able to put it up. Post a comment below, please.--David E

Funny Stuff

Joe Keenan has one this year's Thurber Prize for American Humor. I'll admit I hadn't heard of the Thurber Prize until now, but even so I'm going to take the opportunity to tell you the Joe Keenan's books are smart and light and funny and really worth a read.

We don't have his prize-winning book My Lucky Star on the shelf at the moment, but we have his two earlier (and equally hilarious) novels, Blue Heaven and Putting on the Ritz. All three novels feature the same main characters.--David E

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hot on the Shelves--Part 2

There's a little gem from Minnesota's recent past tucked away in our cookbooks section. We recently got a copy of Serving Time: America's Most Wanted Recipes by Sara Jane Olson.

If that name doesn't ring a bell, you can brush up on your local history here.--David E

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Seattle bookseller Paul Constant has written an article in The Stranger about the social networking site Goodreads. "The website tore through the Seattle bookselling community like an STD. Soon, every bookseller under 40 was a member. "Will you be my Goodreads friend?" we'd whisper to each other among the stacks. It was like MySpace, only better—it was all about books."

M&Q has a myspace page, but as I've said elsewhere in this blog, I just don't get the social networking phenomenon. I'll poke around on Goodreads in the next few days to see if it changes my mind. Is anyone out there a member? Post a comment.--David E