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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Will you still need me, will you still feed me...

In 1966, three guys had a college band. It did not last. One guy went on to become a lawyer; one became a real estate developer; and one became Taylor Branch, acclaimed historian and author of a majestic series on the American civil rights movement: Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan's Edge.

In 2006, the men got together again--under the name Off Our Rocker--and released an album, "OverTime." Following up on that success--according to their website, the first album "went plastic"--they're back with a second album. It's all covers of Beatles tunes, including "Taxman," "You're Gonna Lose That Girl," and even "Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." (Snippets are available here.) Until Toni Morrison releases her long-awaited album of Helen Reddy dance remixes, this is probably the best music by a Pulitzer Prize-winner you're going to find.

A tip of the hat to the Baltimore Sun's "Read Street" blog.--David E

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Low, Low, Low-Tech

Finally, an ebook reader I can get behind. (Courtesy of The Bedside Crow.)--David E

Pick Us

The everyman reviewer website LitMob has a page of "Local Picks", on which they have listings for some great indie bookstores. Magers & Quinn wants to join their ranks. It would really help to have some of our dedicated fans would write them in support of our bid.

If you'd be so kind as to drop them a line--maybe with an anecdote about helpful staff or great events or a compelling blogger--we'd really appreciate it.--David E

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Heavy Reading

The Italian art publisher FMR doesn't believe there's an economic slowdown. They've announced the publication of Michelangelo: La Dotta Mano ("The Wise Hand"), an enormous photo history of the work of Michelangelo in honor of the 500th anniversary of the start of work on the Sistine Chapel. The book weighs in at 61 pounds because the cover is not just a photo. It's an actual marble sculpture, a reproduction of the Madonna della Scala. Full details are here.

Only 99 copies will be produced. They run $130,000.00 each. The New York Times has posted a slideshow of the book's contents, if you don't have that kind of cash lying around.--David E

Friday, November 14, 2008

No Waiting

From Robert Scoble's Flickr photostream come these photos of the "world's largest bookstore," by volume. It's in Shenzen, China, just north of Hong Kong.

M&Q may not be the world's largest bookstore, but at least we have chairs.--David E

Books on the Desktop

Marquand Books--they design books for museums, galleries, architects, and the like--have put out some desktop images, so hoi polloi like us can get a taste of the high life.

There are six designs here.--David E

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Name That Author

Critical Mass, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, is running a contest for the next week or so. They're posting excerpts of conversations with NBCC Award winners and finalists which have appeared in the Paris Review's "Writers at Work" series. If you can correctly identify, you could win a complete set of the collected interviews, published over the last few years by Picador.

Details and a sample extract to be identified are here.--David E

Drying Out

Once Upon A Crime Mystery Bookstore is stepping forward to help the flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids Public Library. The library was inundated last June, and while FEMA will fund a new building, they will not cover the books themselves.

From Publishers Weekly: "[Cedar Rapids bookstore] Mystery Cat and Once Upon a Crime are soliciting collectible books, manuscripts, and DVDs for sale on eBay, as well as books suitable for library sales. All funds raised will be used to purchase new books for the Cedar Rapids library. ...Books may also be dropped off Mondays through Saturdays, 11 am-5 pm, at Once Upon a Crime, 604 W. 26th St. Minneapolis, or they may be mailed directly to the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s temporary storefront space at Westdale Mall, 2600 Edgewood Rd., S.W., Cedar Rapids, IA 53404."--David E

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Little Show on the Prairie

Earlier this week Iowa Public Radio announced that it is canceling the long-running show Live from Prairie Lights, which it coproduced with Iowa City's Prairie Lights bookstore. (The full article is here.) The news prompted an opinion piece in the Iowa City Press-Citizen that could have come right out of The Onion.

In a piece entitled "Some dim bulbs at public radio" Iowa's former poet laureate inveighs against the argument that LfPL's audience was too small: "The interim executive notes that many more people listen to "Morning Edition." This is like saying Iowa City musicians should pack it in because Madonna can draw 100,000. Why televise Iowa basketball when Kobe is on the tube?"

There's no word yet of a reprieve, but I'll keep you posted.--David E

Up and Coming and in Minneapolis

This just in from Publishers Weekly: "Vietnamese-Australian writer Nam Le is the second winner of the biannual Dylan Thomas Book Prize, which awards £60,000 ($100,000) to a writer under 30 and working in English." (The full report is here.) Le won for his book The Boat, whose seven short stories travel the globe almost as much as Le himself has.

I mention all this because Nam Le gave a reading in our store this past June. I can't promise you that everyone who reads here will be named "the best young writer in the English-speaking world," to quote the folks at the Dylan Thomas Prize, but you never know. Check out our events page, and see who's coming this month.--David E

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Man Fails to Bite Dog

Good news. No one showed up to protest a reading by Sherry Jones, author of The Jewel of Medina. The book--which tells the story of A'isha, the youngest of the prophet Muhammad's wives--was originally scheduled to be published in the US by Random House, but the publisher dropped the title from its list after a fire was set outside the book's UK publisher's office in September. The book has since been published in the US by Beaufort Books.

Now the author is on tour, and there's been no trouble, reports the Seattle Times. Moreover, "Nothing strange happened at book signings in the past two weekends in Spokane and Missoula."

The only bad news is that--contrary to the common wisdom that controversy sells--folks at the Seattle reading bought only three copies of The Jewel of Medina.--David E

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Reading Chaucer won't put dinner on the table."

Is reading really such a good idea? Mikita Brottman, who has a PhD in English Literature from Oxford and is the author of Solitary Vice: Against Reading, thinks not. Sitting quietly with a book eats up valuable time, she says, time that could be better spent building relationships.

Brottman spoke to the "Sound of Young America" podcast folks. It's provocative stuff.--David E

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Holidays Ahead

Last week, Barnes & Noble CEO Leonard Riggio sent a memo to the chain's employees. It was not happy reading. Riggio is decidedly grinchy about the forthcoming holiday season:

"Never in all of the years I've been in business have I seen a worse outlook for the economy," wrote Mr. Riggio. "And never in all my years as a bookseller have I seen a retail climate as poor as the one we are in. Nothing even close." (The full memo is here, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.)

Interestingly enough, our experience is quite different. Magers & Quinn isn't giving in to pessimism and self-fulfilling prophecies just yet. We're doing pretty well in the current economic climate, and we're looking forward to a good holiday season. Maybe it's because books in general are such great entertainment and information value, and they're an even greater value at our store since we discount everything. We've got a great mix of bestsellers, recently released books, remainders, and old classics that keeps our customers coming in and leaving happy.

So check your depression at the door and stop by Magers & Quinn Booksellers. We'll be here for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book and a Beer Chaser

The next meeting of the Twin Cities' most unusual and interesting book club is Tuesday, November 11. Books & Bars meets at Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W Lake Street, in Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:00pm; the discussion begins at 7:00pm.

November's book is The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Michael Chabon's novel about a fanciful Jewish community in Alaska won both the Pulitzer Prize and a Nebula Award for Best Novel from the Science Fiction Writers of America. The Washington Post said, "The pure reach and music and weight of Chabon's imagination are extraordinary, born of brilliant ambition you don't even notice because it is so deeply entertaining."

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.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Developing News

The Star Tribune reports that work has begun on a pilot based on Heather McElhatton's novel Pretty Little Things. The novel--in which readers can choose from various plot twists as the story progresses--was a Books & Bars selection earlier this year. Do any of the group's members care to weigh in on how they think the novel will fare as television? Post your comments below.--David E

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Change, More Change

Samuel Delany will give a reading at the Walker Art Center, Saturday, November 15, at 2:00pm. The talk by the acclaimed sci fi/fanasy/lit crit author is part of the WAC's exhibit "Tetsumi Kudo: Garden of Metamorphosis," mirroring Kudo's “new ecology” of humanity and technology.

Delany's lecture is free. Tickets will be available at the Walker starting at 1:00pm.--David E