Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Through the Airwaves

Our own David Unowsky was on the radio today. Minnesota Public Radio ran a piece on the changing landscape of book promotion--dwindling marketing budgets, fewer author tours, book trailers on YouTube. David was the happy element in a rather downbeat story. "Here at Magers & Quinn we are doing more events," he said. "That's the way we have got our name out and built the store's reputation."

You can check out those events on our events page. A lot of great authors coming soon.--David E

For Jay, Who Loves So Much

The AP reports that Vicki Myron, whose previous cat Dewey became a posthumous megastar, has a new foundling feline. Earlier this month, a friend swerved to avoid a tabby cat in the middle of an Iowa highway. "It was snowing quite heavily and she was covered in snow. She had ice chunks hanging from her. She had twigs and leaves tangled in her fur," Selzer says. "I took her back to my office and dried her off, put some warm water on her and cleaned her up." She later took the cat the the Spencer Public Library, where the adorable munchkin charmed everyone and began to change their lives.

The cat has been christened Page. She's represented by the William Morris Agency. Details are here.--David E

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Does Your Dinner Have a Carbon Footprint?

If you got an M&Q gift card for the holidays, here's something you might consider buying. Mark Bittman's new book Food Matters was released today--just in time for the post-holidays. Bittman--author of the mandatory cookbook How to Cook Everything--has a simple message: Eating too much hurts you and it hurts the environment.

Bittman talked to TIME magazine about cooking, bovine flatulence, and Michael Pollan. "Not to take anything away from him, but he doesn't do recipes," says Bittman.--David E

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Got a Light?

Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked retold the story of the Wizard of Oz from the point of the view of the Wicked Witch of the West. Now for Christmas, Maquire is tackling Hans Christen Anderson’s downbeat story The Litttle Match Girl from the point of view of the match. OK, he’s not really making the match the protagonist, but how is he going to turn a story with a real bummer of an ending into holiday cheer? Find out tomorrow when Maguire reads his story on NPR’s All Things Considered. You can hear a preview here now.--David E

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Looking Ahead

It's never to early to get your 2009 calendars. We've got all kinds--pocket dayplanners, bright and beautiful wall models, and even page-a-day calendars. There are calendars with art to match any decor and any interest--and they're up to 40% off the publisher's original price.

Stop in and see them now, because once they're gone, they're gone.--David E

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hannukah

Image via Ecclesia Gnostica in Nova Albion.--David E

Defying Gravity

If someone on your list has enough books--I don't know how that could be, but work with me--let me make a gift suggestion. Bookends.

We have all kinds. Bears, horses, even monkeys are available. Bookends make a great present for collectors and newbies alike. No one wants their books to fall over.--David E

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good News, Bad News

Today on NPR, Daniel Pinkwater raved--absolutely raved--about the New York Review of Books' children's reprint series. As with their books for grown-ups, the NYRB finds underappreciated classics (such as store fave The Dud Avocado) and brings them back to today's readers. The kids books are beautiful--gorgeous covers and charming illustrations. We have a display of them in the back of the store.

Now the bad news: The book that Pinkwater read from today--James Thurber's Thirteen Clocks--is sold out. But there are plenty of other great titles waiting for you. Check them out today.--David E

Gift Cards--Better Than Socks

If you just can't find the right gift, we can still help you finish your shopping. Gift cards are available in any denomination. Consider adding another gift card from one of Uptown's cafes and restaurants--such as our neighbor Lucia's--and give someone an afternoon out shopping, reading, and drinking coffee.

Still not convinced? Buy a gift card for $50.00 or more, and get a coupon good for $10.00 off any purchase of $20.00 or more in 2009. You can keep the coupon for yourself--we won't tell--or give it as a stocking stuffer to an avid reader on your list.--David E

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hardcover vs Paperback

One of my favorite publishing insider blogs, Editorial Ass, has posed an interesting question. EA is a junior editor and has to decide if a book she's been working on--and really likes--would be better off seeing its first publication in prestigious hardcover or recession-friendly paperback. In part one she weighs the pros and cons of each format. In part two, she reveals which format her boss ultimately chose and why.

It's all a bit wonky, I'll admit, but if you have the interest, it's a fascinating look behind the scenes.--David E

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Special Special Orders

It happens this time of year: The book you want was just snatched up by another customer. But don't despair. We can order any currently available title from the publisher. There's no shipping charge if you pick the book up in the store--and you even get 10% off the list price.

Please note that special orders placed after 3:00pm, Sunday, December 21, probably won't arrive in time for a Christmas Day unwrapping.

Give us a call at 612/822-4611 or stop in the store. We'll be glad to help you get through your list.--David E

Going Once...

Our friends at Rain Taxi Review of Books are holding an online auction to raise money for their excellent literary review. You can buy some wonderful rare and signed books and ephemera by John Ashberry, Patricia Hampl, Robert Bly, Sherman Alexie, Paul Auster, Ted Kooser, and Jonathan Lethem and support the best literary criticism in the Cities at the same time. And you can get them in time for Christmas. What are you waiting for?

Shop here.--David E

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There's No Princess

Dante's classic Inferno has all the elements to make a good video game. Nine levels? Check. Torments of Hell? Check. A first-person shooter who clubs demons and malefactors with his crucifix? Umm... check, as it turns out.

"The time is right for the world of interactive entertainment to adapt this literary masterpiece, and to re-introduce Dante to an audience that, until now, may have been unfamiliar with the remarkable details of this great work of art," said Jonathan Knight, Electronic Art's executive producer for games.*--David E

*A tip of the hat to The Rake for the item.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Same Old Story

Earlier this month, we had some meetings in the store where we talked about what to suggest to holiday customers. The classic question is, "What do I get for a fourteen-year-old boy who doesn't like to read?"

Conrad had a good suggestion: A friend is teaching junior high English and reports that her students love Sherman Alexie's novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

But don't tell Orgeon. A parent in Bend, OR, has complained that the book is "inappropriate" for students in the local high school. (Details are here.) You know the drill: the school board has pulled the book, pending an investigation. Kids read one few book.--David E

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Good Books

Much has been written about the Bible as text, but there's less out there about the books themselves. Working hard to fill that void is the blog Bible Design and Binding. It's awesome--an entire blog devoted to ghosting (aka, bleedthrough--ie, how much does the text on the opposite side of the page show on the other side), the length of ribbon markers, and my favorite entry so far Leather Smackdown: Goat vs. Calf.

There's clearly a lot to learn here. I'm still trying to figure out what "semi-yapp edges" are. I'm googling it furiously.--David E

PS: Bible-ophiles will enjoy this entry from the Links section: Blog and Mablog (exegesis here and here).

UPDATE: A yapp is the limp, projecting edges of a leather cover. More interestingly, the name derives from William Yapp, a London bookseller of the later 1900s. Thanks to Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology.

Not Dead Quite Yet

Jeff Gomez writes the blog Print is Dead. He does not however share that sentiment entirely, it would appear, based on this recent posting which announces, "Print is Dead will be coming out early next year in a paperback edition."--David E

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"My father flew to Elizabeth's side, gradually making his way slowly to her front."

I'm pleased to report that the contents of Carrie Fisher's new memoir Wishful Drinking are just as good as the title and the cover. To prove it, I direct you to this long excerpt recently published by that excerpt powerhouse USA Today. It's funny stuff.--David E

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The China Beat--a blog which usually covers news and current events from the Middle Kingdom--has posted a quick write-up on some recent books about Chinese food. They discuss The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee; Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuschia Dunlop; and The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco by Cecilia Chiang. I've read the first one, plan on reading the second one, and honestly hadn't heard about the third one.

The comments also point to some other good books on the subject, including my recent favorite, Jen Lin-Liu's Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China. For my money, that one's the best of the lot.--David E

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The blog "FaceOut Books" has a report from Charlotte Strick, the graphic artist who designed Roberto Bolano's magnum opus 2066. She discusses her inspirations and sources the various bits of artwork used in the covers of the two editions. I was interested to learn that the illustration on the endpapers is by Albertus Seba. We had an enormous Taschen collection of his work in the store for a while: Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.--David E

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meri Kurisumasu

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows tops the Japanese bestseller list for 2008. No surprise there. But in positions 3, 4, and 5 are three books from the Jibun no Setsumeisho series (Instruction Manual for My Self), and they are about about Type B, Type O and Type A blood types. (The list is here.)

You see, the Japanese believe that your blood type predicts your temperament, in the same way that your astrological sign might. Type O folk are outgoing; type A people are artistic; and type B people are independent. Bearers of type AB blood are a mixed bag and apparently not great readers.

You can find more on blood typing here, here, or here.--David E

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pants on Fire

Just when I thought I couldn't love Andy Riley any more, he goes and proves me wrong. Riley is the author and cartoonist behind the wildly funny Book of Bunny Suicides and its sequels. They're genius.

Now I learn that he's also produced two eminently useful books--Great Lies to Tell Small Kids and Loads More Lies to Tell Small Kids. They're positive fountains of incorrect information, such as "When I was your age, cars all had anchors and topmasts." Or, "One in ten fish are afraid of water."

So if you want to lie to a child in your life, get one or both of these useful guides. You won't regret it.--David E

UPDATE: Since we put these books out late last night, we've sold through half our stock. Run--don't walk--to get your copy.

UPDATE 2 (12/11/08): We're down to our last copy of Loads More Lies to Tell Small Kids. We may not get more in time for the Xmas lying season. I beg you, hurry in. Don't let your children know only the boring truth. Give the gift of wonderful, entertaining lies this year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

We're Still Standing

There's a Border's-shaped hole across the street from us.

Demolition on Calhoun Square, the mall on the opposite side of Hennepin Avenue, is well underway. Crews have torn down the buildings that once housed the Lotus restaurant, Orr Books, and the only unionized Borders store in that chain.

Rumors abound about who will be in the nuevo Calhoun Square. Will there be a bookstore there again? We don't know. For now, we're just enjoying the extra morning sun that reaches us.--David E

Learn from the Best

Are you looking for a writing class to help you stay busy during the coming winter? Alison McGhee--author of Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing, All Rivers Flow to the Sea, and Countdown to Kindergarten--can help you out. She wrote us recently:

"I'm happy to report that fellow writer Brad Zellar and I are launching a series of three-day creative writing workshops together. These new workshops, each of which focuses on a different subject, are ideal for writers with significant life experience--fifty and up, say--but open to writers of any age and experience level who would enjoy and benefit from a focused, intensive creative writing experience.

Classes are scheduled for
  • January 6-8, and
  • January 13, 14, and 16
Email Alison for more details.--David E

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Watched Pot

Matt Peiken at 3MinuteEgg has produced a video review of our event last month with Minneapolis' own Bedford poets. You can watch the video here and see plenty more short films on local arts happenings on 3 Minute Egg.--David E

It Writes Itself

A library in Massachusetts held an unusual fundraiser, reports the UPI. They posed nude for a calendar. As of the weekend just past, ten thousand dollars worth of calendars have been sold in support of the Woods Memorial Library.

The best part of the story, though, is the name of the town where this is all happening: Barre, MA. You can't make this stuff up.--David E

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Much Ado

I'm a little behind in posting--the holidays are busy, I'm glad to say--but I don't want you to miss out on the NPR interview with John Scieszka this past weekend. Scieszka is the author of Stinky Cheese Man and his recent memoir Knucklehead; he's also the Library of Congress' first national ambassador to children's literature.

The whole interview is good, but the best part is the fanfare which a fifth grade class in California composed for Mr. Ambassador. I want one of those when I enter a room, too.--David E

Yes, You Do Have Room for More Books

BoingBoing loves the Platzhalter bookshelf for its secret compartment. As a bookseller, I like it as a rebuttal to the "My shelves are too full" complaint I hear from customers. There is always room for more books.--David E

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Black and White on the Page

The blog White Readers Meet Black Authors has proclaimed December to be National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month. The blog is devoted to drawing attention to books by black authors--particularly in genres you might not expect--science fiction, anyone? They've also compiled a top ten list of reasons to. My favorite is, "2. We read your books."--David E

Book and a Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, December 9. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

December's book is Out Stealing Horses. Bookseller-turned-novelist Per Petterson's novel was a runaway hit for St Paul's Graywolf Press. Thomas McGuane, writing in the New York Times said, "This short yet spacious and powerful book—in such contrast to the well-larded garrulity of the bulbous American novel of today—reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald and Uwe Timm."

Books & Bars is not your typical book club. We provide a unique atmosphere for a lively discussion of interesting authors, fun people, good food and drinks. You're welcome even if you haven't read the book.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Adolph Hitler's Golden Bookmark

A man was arrested in Bellevue, Washington, outside a Starbucks, where he had arranged a meeting to sell Adolph Hitler's golden bookmark. The bookmark was stolen from a Spanish auction house in 2002. Details are on Book Patrol.--David E

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Sale

It only happens once a year. Magers & Quinn is having its annual Thanksgiving Day Sale. Everything in the store is 20% off. We'll be open from 1:00pm until 9:00pm. So sneak in while the turkey's in the oven or stretch your legs after the big meal, and get your holiday shopping off to a good, smart start.--David E

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

At long last, Clezio

Remember the confounding Nobel Prize for Literature this year? Frenchman Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won. Almost no one in the States knew who he was, and his English translations of his books were few and hard to find. But now Curbstone Press has come through with a reprint of Clezio's novel Wandering Star. We've got a nice stack of them in the store, so you can find out what they're reading in Paris this year.--David E

Monday, November 24, 2008

But Not the Editorial Page

I've recently begun following the book reviews in the Wall Street Journal, and they're quite good. For example, read this review (charmingly titled "Shoe Leather Rhapsody") of Geoff Nicholson's book The Lost Art of Walking. It manages the trick of detailing the contents of the book--including one of those statistics I can't get enough of: "("Of the 70,000 collisions between automobiles and pedestrians in the U.S. each year, Mr. Nicholson notes, fully 15,000 -- "a staggering proportion" -- take place in New York."--while still making me want to read the book itself.

I also recommend this review of Plumes : Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce, a story whose recounting of an early 20th century speculative bubble echoes the WSJ's other coverage at the moment.--David E

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cheaper than a Flatscreen

Indie Bound, which seeks to promote independent bookstores across the country, has released four e-cards for the holidays. Send a personalized message to everyone in your address book, reminding them that good books make great gifts. Just click here.--David E

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Chains that Bind

In case your calendar didn't come with this event printed in it already, note that today is America Unchained Day. Shoppers across the country are encouraged to try to spend a Saturday shopping only at locally-owned stores and restaurants.

AU Day isn't about hurting the big-box retailers; it's about helping yourself. After all, a dollar spent at an independent retailer stays in the local community three and a half times longer than the same amount spent at a chain retailer, whose profits go back to the mothership almost immediately. The American Independent Business Alliance website has a nice list of recommended readings if you need more convincing.--David E

The Rules of Attraction
picked this year's Man Booker Prize-winner Aravid Adiga as the token literato for its list of "Sexiest Men Living." I wonder if that will be in his author bio when the next printing of The White Tiger comes out.--David E

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bad Old Days

From Michael Lieberman's excellent blog Book Patrol comes word of the University of Pennsylvania's online exhibition "Agents Wanted: Subscription Publishing in America. In nineteenth-century America, most folks lived far from a bookstore, so roving gangs of door-to-door salesmen flogged books to customers right in their own homes. It has been estimated that by the turn of the century, seventy percent of books in this country were sold by subscription.

The UPenn exhibit includes not only advertisements for the books themselves, but also a few choice selections from Bates Harrington's 1879 tell-all How 'Tis Done: A Thorough Ventilation of the Numerous Schemes Conducted by Wandering Canvassers, Together with the Various Advertising Dodges for the Swindling of the Public. Check out the whole exhibit here.--David E

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Coverage

The 2008 National Book Award finalists were announced last night. They are:Full details, including interviews with all the nominated authors and video of the announcement, are here.--David E

UPDATE: The Star Tribune posted a nice write-up of the event, including coverage of the winners' acceptance speeches. Read it here.

Puppets of Death

From the Caustic Cover Critic come these great mid-century Dutch pulp novel covers.

Puppets of Death

Turbid Waters

Love for His Dead Ladies

See more here.--David E

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where Folks Have Them Funny Names

"The parent of a Choctawhatchee High School student wants the Okaloosa County School Board to ban a novel from the classroom." The book in question is The Kite Runner, a novel of life in Afghanistan under the Taliban which includes a rape scene. Students in two northwestern Florida high schools read and discuss the book as part of an honors English class.

Ft Walton Beach TV station WJHG reports that the matter will be reviewed, but was unable to contact the mother who filed the complaint. I guess even in the Panhandle it's not easy to be a fundamentalist these days.--David E

Nuts and Bolts

Ready to think about politics again? We've got just the event for you. Thursday night, Jeff Blodgett--who has steered the Minnesota campaigns of Paul Wellstone, Barack Obama, and Amy Klobuchar--will be in the store with his new book Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way. He'll also be giving his analysis of this month's elections--and where to go from here.

Come early. We're expecting a big crowd. Wellstone Action!,, and the Southwest Journal have all contributed to the buzz. It's going to be a big night.--David E

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just the Beginning

Visit NPR's website to hear an interview with Salvatore Scibona, author of The End. Scibona's first novel was nominated for the National Book Award. The NBA winners will be announced tomorrow.--David E