Monday, August 31, 2009

A Mystery Vacation with Anne

I recently traveled to a small Canadian town for the weekend--thanks to Louise Penny's new book Brutal Telling, which is due out September 22nd. Since an actual vacation was not in the cards this year, it was a wonderful time away. Her books always tell a good story, the sense of place is strong, and the characters who recur from book to book are becoming friends.

If I want to visit Paris for awhile, the mysteries by Cara Black are the perfect way to do it. Each book is set in a different neighborhood of the city. The descriptions are so vivid you can feel the cobblestones beneath your feet! The most recent book is Murder in the Latin Quarter, and a new one is due out in March of 2010.

One of the more exciting developments in the mystery field over the past few years, is the number of authors from other countries whose works are becoming more available here. It's possible to travel around the world without leaving your favorite place to read. Settle back with any of these authors and enjoy a marvelous mini-vacation:

Matt Beynon Rees (Israel/Gaza)
Anne McMahon hosts a Mystery Book Club at Boswell Book Company every fourth Monday of the month.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Used Musings

When I worked at the Shorewood Harry W. Schwartz, we did not buy or sell used books, and as a result I was not familiar with the practice. After a couple months here at Boswell, I have become accustomed to the process somewhat. Although I haven't gotten to try purchasing used books myself yet, I have been able to enter them into the computer and I have watched quite a few get purchased. It's odd what gets picked up and what doesn't.

Awhile ago, a gentleman came in with a bag of "used" books - I use quotation marks because they had been read once and were in almost pristine condition. Not only that, but many of the books were very new. There was a beautiful hardcover copy of Between the Assassinations by Adiga that had only been released a week or so prior. With the discount we placed on it for being "used," I expected it to be gone within days. I was proven wrong rather quickly... truth be told, it is still lurking on the shelf.

On the opposite end of things, a woman came in another day with a few boxes of books. I recall entering them into the computer and not recognizing a single one. One was an old, dusty book about the history of Greece from a seemingly random year to a later seemingly random year. I wondered (sometimes aloud, depending on how obscure the titles were) who would ever come wandering in the store and buy such things. The ancient Greece book was gone by the end of the day.

Why do strange things like this happen? Along with Assassinations came in a beautiful hardcover The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I correctly identified as being a quick sell. It wasn't placement, since the two titles were right next to each other. I don't know. Strange things happen, I suppose.

So what's on the used shelves now? A quick glance will reveal a lot of mass markets. Patterson, King, and Silva seem to be fairly common, as well as a single copy of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, which for some reason has not been picked up either. There is also a ton of crazy things on the 99 cent markdown cart, which is often frequented by customers.

If you're interested in selling your used books, feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call. We buy for store credit, and would love to peruse whatever you have to offer.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Great Summer Staff Rec on The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman was released early this August due to some great reviews. In a month deluged in big name authors, from Pynchon, Conroy, and Russo, this was easily my favorite book coming out. Quite possibly for the year, though there is a new Vonnegut coming that I really, really like. I shamelessly pitched the book onto other employees looking for more readers, and I convinced two, Amie and Greg. Amie started reading the book, only to have it stolen by her daughter. I think this is proof that The Magicians has a good chance to sell well this year; while the book does have a darker edge to the story than Harry Potter and Twilight, it still has that cross over appeal to the teen market. If you have read either, I think this book might just be for you. This is what Greg Bruce had to say about it:

“I am reluctant to call The Magicians the "more adult version of Harry Potter," yet I do. This is because it is the closest parallel that can be drawn, despite the fact that Grossman's work is ahead of Rowling's by leaps and bounds. Nevertheless, fans of Rowling or C.S. Lewis will find themselves engrossed in The Magicians, staying awake until the wee hours of the morning just to discern the fates of the primary characters.

The Magicians is much like Harry Potter in the sense that the main character is a young man with remarkable magical abilities, but with a key difference. Harry Potter is the embodiment of absolute good - his morality never wavers and he always finds his way back to standing against Voldemort, the avatar of absolute evil. Quentin Coldwater, the main character of The Magicians, is different. He makes mistakes - real, human mistakes - and pays for them dearly. In this respect, The Magicians is grittier and more real than Harry Potter, and thus is set apart. In the real world, some mistakes aren't rectified, some problems aren't resolved, and death is absolute.”

There is also a great book review, one of many that had Penguin releasing the book before the actual on sale date, at the Washington Post. It is by Keith Donohue, the author of the The Stolen Child, another fantastic read.

If you are in need for a fantasy fix, if the new Harry Potter movie left you remorseful that there is nothing new to be published, then The Magicians will be a perfect way to end the summer.

Right now, the The Magicians is 20% off in our Boswell’s Best for the month of August.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New to Read Local--American Wildlife Art

Shortly after we first opened on April 3rd, a local author came in to ask if we would carry his book. We had been talking about it for sometime, however, I had been asking to carry it on consignment, since the publisher was small, and really only published his book. It is my standard form with all local authors coming into the shop. Once he showed me the book, American Wildlife Art by David J. Wagner, I was fascinated by it and decided to order it direct. He provided contact information and I was going to work on it. Fast forward to today, and we have just received the book in, it still looks gorgeous.

Why did it take so long to procure the book? Well, simply put, I am not the fastest with the e-mail. I let it pile up, and then I try to burn through it at a furious rate. Not a very good system. Anyway, I sent an e-mail, forgot that I sent it until a reply came back three weeks later, and then I replied again. During that time David Wagner came back in and asked about the progress. I had to sheepishly reply that I had only e-mailed to his publisher a couple of times but had yet to actually place an order. I placed the order about a month ago, and now this book is in our shops. It has been heralded as a both a beautiful and wonderful art book and as a great piece of art history. He has blended the two into a perfect symbiosis. There has always been a place in America where nature art has captured the minds of so many, and David Wagner takes us on a tour of the past four centuries of it. Come in and take a look at the book, it is in our Read Local section, I think you will agree that it is something special.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Y'know, they're making a movie out of that book..."

Hearing someone utter those fateful words can mean one of two things. Either excitement builds and you wait with anxious anticipation for the release date, upon which you flock to the theater at midnight with your friends and observe your favorite literary work played out on the silver screen… or you shudder at the thought and go about your business until release day, upon which you open up the paper and laugh uncontrollably at the negative reviews. But in the end, it is good publicity for the book regardless of whether or not the film bombs.

Take The Time Traveler’s Wife, for example. Since the opening of the store up until June, we sold ten copies of the book. Cue July, and the film previews start hitting the web and showing on television. Eleven copies in one month. We can't keep it on the shelves! However, whether or not the film does well remains to be seen. No Country for Old Men did incredibly well, both as a work of literature and at the box office, although admittedly I was not a fan of the film. Perhaps The Road’s film adaptation will win me over. If it ever comes out, that is – it’s already been pushed back by a year.

The Harry Potter film series has been immensely popular with a wide audience, performing remarkably well at the box office. While I would prefer to see less of the books trimmed for the theater, I must admit that the films are entertaining. One of these days, I'm going to find someone who hasn't seen the sixth film yet and go see it. I've heard good things.

Not all books translate well to film, though. Watchmen, although widely heralded as being a fantastic graphic novel, received mixed reviews as a film. The Spiderwick Chronicles was mediocre at best as a film, and Eragon wasn’t exactly a stellar success either. If you really want to travel back in time, try to recall the movie adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Congo. If you haven’t seen it, consider yourself lucky. If you have, you will recall that it was laughably bad.

So what am I excited about? The new Alice in Wonderland looks to be pretty good, as per the usual from Tim Burton. Where The Wild Things Are, one of my favorite stories as a kid, is also undergoing a film makeover. We’ll see how that goes. And then there’s Sherlock Holmes, a film adaptation that appears to be straying far from the original text, but entertaining enough for me not to mind. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a film version of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – the potential of a Shaun of the Dead-esque Jane Austen bonanza is astronomical.