Friday, February 26, 2010

Leonard Gardner's FAT CITY

Gardner's only novel, first published in 1969 and long out of print. Recently reissued by University of California Press. The story of two washed-up amateur boxers stuck in Stockton, California, and going nowhere fast. Denis Johnson calls it "a book so precisely written and giving such value to its words that I felt I could almost read it with my fingers, like Braille." Adapted by John Huston into a fine film, starring a very young Jeff Bridges and Stacy Keach (1972). We currently have copies.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some Recent Favorites

Two recent arrivals and one perennial bestseller:

The Rebar Cookbook, by Audrey Alsterburg and Wanda Urbanowicz. Vegetarian recipes from the celebrated Victoria BC cafe, many drawing freely from Asian and pan-Asian cuisines. Simple ingredient lists and straight forward preparations make this a book you'll actually cook from, and not just leave lying out on the coffee table. #3 on our in-house bestseller list, and the most popular cookbook we've ever carried, easily beating out the New Moosewood and Julia Child.

Let The Great World Spin, by Colum McCann. Winner of the 2009 National Book Award. Kaleidoscopic, densely-written novel that begins with Philippe Petit's famous 1974 tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers and then fractures into several different narratives that move forward in time to the aftermath of 9/11; reminiscent of Joseph O'Neill's Netherland and DeLillo's Underworld.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. Winner of the 2009 Booker Prize. 700-odd page fictionalized account of the life of Thomas Cromwell, by one of England's best living prose stylists. Murders; courtly intrigue; adultery and political scheming, like an upmarket version of The Tudors or George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice. Mantel is also the author of Beyond Black, a terrific novel set in Thatcherite Britain, about a female psychic, her best friend, and the malevolent spirits that restlessly hound both of them. Beyond Black is reminiscent of Twin Peaks: nominally realist, but occasionally veering into black comedy or full-on horror, and, like Wolf Hall, comes highly recommended. But don't just take my word for it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Death of Print. The Death of Local.

Phone call from a local radio reporter who wanted to know how we were coping with Amazon, e-readers, Costco, the Olympics, "the death of print," skyrocketing retail rents & etc. "Just fine," I told her. "Sales at both stores are actually up over last year." Puzzled silence. There wasn't time to add much more, because the shop was busy and because actually helping customers and ringing up sales always beats yakking with the media. But if I'd had time I would have said that we plan to be here for the forseeable future, and that having a twenty, fifty, or hundred-year horizon for your business changes how you think about short-term problems. Eg., Should I order fifty copies of Greg Iles' latest thriller, the one that's heavily discounted at Costco and London Drugs and Wal-Mart, and which, six months from now, will be clogging up the sale table at Chapters, priced $4.99? Or should I order copies of The Invisible Committee's Coming Insurrection and all of Peavar and Volokhonsky's Russian translations, and everything in print by Italo Calvino? Viewed in this long-term light, bookselling looks less like a problem, and more like a set of ongoing opportunities.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still Buying Books @ Both Locations

Spring 2010 is turning out to be the busiest year in the shop's history, and we're energetically buying books at both locations. We're seeing lots of stock already, but can always use more. In particular, we're looking for:

• Recent ($9.99-$13.50 cover price) mass market paperbacks, esp. recent science fiction, fantasy, and murder mysteries.

• Recent literary fiction (eg., Dave Eggers; Haruki Murakami; Cormac McCarthy; David Sedaris; Paul Auster; Zadie Smith; Nicola Krauss)

• Recent quality nonfiction (eg., Christopher Hitchens; Richard Dawkins; Daniel Dennett; Jared Diamond)

• Award winners (eg., New York Times Notable Books of The Year)

• Literary classics (eg., Orwell, Hemingway, Huxley, Hesse, Borges, Vonnegut, Pynchon, Richler)

• Modern first editions; deluxe Folio and Easton Press editions; rare and scholarly books that we think we can resell within 12-24 months

We pay up to 40% of our retail price in cash on the spot for prime material.

We buy books every day up until 5 pm, unlike many local competitors who just issue trade credit, or only buy on certain days of the week. There's never any need to make an appointment; just bring your books in and our staff will gladly to examine them and make an offer on those we can use.

There are also certain kinds of books that we're never looking for:

• Damaged books of any kind

• Books we have way too many of (eg., if we already have 14 copies of Ian McEwan's Atonement in the back room, we don't want a 15th copy)

• Most Book Club editions

• Books widely remaindered by Chapters, Coles, Book Warehouse, etc.

• Magazines, textbooks and computer books

• Very common airport-bestseller mass market paperbacks: Danielle Steel; John Grisham; Dan Brown; V.C. Andrews; James Patterson et al. These authors are printed in massive quantities, are available in every thrift store in town, and are almost never good candidates for resale.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Olympic Parking Restrictions @ Main Street

From February 4th until March 1st, street parking will be restricted in front of the Main Street store. If you're planning to bring in a large quantity of books for sale, you can find parking in one of the following locations:

• East side of 0 block of Kingsway (city meters)

• 8th Avenue between Main and Quebec (city meters)

• 8th Avenue east of Kingsway (free - good luck)

• Pay lot on the SE corner of Main and Broadway

• Pay lot on the NW corner of Main and 7th Avenue (across the street from The Foundation)

You are always welcome to borrow our industrial dolly and/or surplus staff to help bring your books in.