Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A subtle reminder: SALE!!!!

Wednesday marks the beginning of our big annual blowout July sale. During the entire month virtually every book in the store will be 30% off. And this year, there's an extra added wrinkle:

** From Monday, July 6 to Saturday, July 18, buy 4 or more books in a single purchase and get 40% off! **

No fine print? Well, OK, there's a little bit:

-- Doesn't apply to magazines, cards, calendars, special orders, or books already on hold.
-- There are a few prayerbooks, hymnals, and consignment items which are not eligible.
-- You can't combine discounts; so if you have a full frequent buyer card, you might as well hold onto it until August before cashing it in.

Other than that, there is nothing stopping you from coming in and stocking up for summer reading, for the holidays, for the rest of your life. We hope to see you soon -- and often!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Digital Payola?

Evidently trade book publishers aren't the only ones anxious to get positive word of mouth about their books out onto the internet. Textbook publisher Reed Elsevier found itself apologizing for what it said was an employee's "overzealous" attempt to generate buzz for its titles. Seems this individual sent out an e-mail announcing that anyone writing a "five-star" review of any of Reed Elsevier's new textbooks on either Amazon's or Barnes and Noble's e-commerce sites would get a free copy of the book and a $25.00 Amazon gift certificate from the publisher.

Check Spelling
Makes you wonder about the "impartiality" of some of those reviews.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's not Paradise, just a Parking Lot...

...nevertheless, they're paving it. Specifically, the parking lot in front of Accent on Books is being repaved, as part of the general face-lift we're getting here in Grace Plaza. So, for the next several days you may have to be a bit careful where you park and walk. We are still open, however, so we hope you'll make the expedition here and pick up some of the great summer reading we have on hand.

No word yet as to whether we'll be getting "a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Dude! Holden's so lame!"

One of the first times I became aware of Catcher in the Rye was back in junior high school when the Coolest Kid In The School -- imagine a combination of Draco Malfoy and James Dean -- was reading it. When a few of us asked him to tell us about it, he simply gave us a disdainful look which seemed to say, "There is no way I can explain to you losers the profundities contained in this novel."

Times seemed to have changed. Catcher is back in the news because last week a judge issued a temporarily injunction preventing the publication in this country of an unauthorized sequel by a Swedish writer who goes by the name of J. D. California. This event led to an article in the New York Times by Jennifer Schuessler suggesting that modern teenagers, who often have to deal with J. D. Salinger's book as assigned reading, find the misadventures of Holden Caulfield, the novel's teenage protagonist, to be, well, "phony" (to use one of Holden's favorite words). It's evidently difficult for today's adolescents to identify with a disenchanted prep school kid who runs away to New York City trying to find some way of living that doesn't require compromises with either the shallowness of his school or the conformity of the adult world. Says Schuessler: "Today's pop culture heroes, it seems, are the nerds who conquer the world -- like Harry [Potter], -- not the beautiful losers who reject it." Or, as one 15-year-old told her, "Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, 'Shut up and take your Prozac.'"

By the way, I don't know what ever happened to that Coolest Kid In The School who was such a Holden Caulfield fan. He probably ended up as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and is now living off a $100 million buyout bonus. What a loser.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Marjane Satrapi on the Situation in Iran

Marjane Satrapi is the author/illustrator of the very popular graphic novels, Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which deal with her childhood in Iran and teenage years in Europe. These have sold well at Accent on Books not only to individuals but to book groups.

This past Wednesday, Marjane Satrapi and the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf appeared before the European Parliament in Brussels to talk about the current unrest in Iran. Satrapi called the disputed election a "coup," and presented a document to the Parliament claiming that Moussavi won the popular vote.

Here is a video clip of part of their presentation. In it, Satrapi speaks in English and Makhmalbaf speaks in Farsi. Satrapi then speaks in French, giving what she says are the actual popular vote totals in the Iranian election: Moussavi, 19 million votes; Karroubi, 13 million votes; Ahmadinejad, only 5 million votes.

Apologies for the somewhat incongruous Google ads at the bottom of the video.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Forward to Fall

Working in retail involves living in a perpetual time warp. Lewis and I ordered most of the 2010 calendars months ago. Byron has been busy ordering winter holiday cards. Advent calendars need to be ordered soon. And we've been spending much of the past couple of weeks visiting with sales reps from various publishers who are presenting lineups of books due to be published this coming fall. Back in April I forwarded the announcement that Dan Brown's follow-up to The DaVinci Code is due to be published in September. And earlier this month I mentioned some of the authors who have books coming in the fall from Knopf.

Here is a -- by no means complete -- list of some other books due out in the fall which look like they could be of major interest (along with their publication dates):

South of Broad, by Pat Conroy (August).
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood (September).
An Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon (September). The seventh book in her "Outlander" series.
Traveling with Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor (September).
The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova (October). The first novel by Kostova, an author with Asheville connections, was the wonderful Dracula tale, The Historian.
Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving (November).
The Humbling, by Philip Roth (November).
Stones Into Scrolls, by Greg Mortenson and Mike Bryan (December). The follow-up to Three Cups of Tea.
U Is for Undertow, by Sue Grafton (December).
Unfinished Desires, by Gail Godwin (December). The long awaited novel based on the author's experiences growing up in Asheville and attending St. Genevieve's School.

And there undoubtedly will be more major titles which are yet to be revealed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Off the Pages and Onto the Beach

As a kind of sequel to my item of a week ago -- about what writers want to read this summer -- the Washington Post asked a number of writers what characters from literature they would like to spend time at the beach with. In most cases the writers mentioned characters they would simply want to get to know better, for intellectual or carnal reasons or both. In a couple of cases, added safety seemed to be a factor: Arthur Phillips suggested Captain Ahab and Colson Whitehead mentioned Quint, the shark hunter from Jaws. Garrison Keillor seemed to have the physical well-being of his chosen companion in mind -- he cheated a bit and chose Emily Dickinson, feeling that it might be good to get her out of that house for awhile and into the sun. Who knows how that might change the course of American poetry.

In total, a dozen writers answered the question and their comments can be found here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

There Must Be A Word For It

This past Wednesday, while most of us were probably chatting away with the same old words we always use, the one millionth word or phrase entered the English language. At least that's according to the Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor, which has been studying such things for a while now. Their count is based on their contention that, at the current time, words/phrases are entering English at the rate of one every 98 minutes, or 14.7 per day. And what was that one millionth word/phrase? "Web 2.0," which "won" the honor by being a bit later entering the language than other phrases such as "carbon neutral," "slow food," and "zombie bank" (the last meaning a bank only kept alive by federal intervention).

Of course it's totally unofficial and speculative, but, if nothing else, it led to a delightful article by Simon Winchester in The Telegraph in which he talks about his own experiences coining a rather graphic (and, for males, uncomfortable) word which ended up in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Suddenly feeling intimidated about your own vocabulary? There are items in the Accent on Books reference section that can probably help. And, of course, there is probably no better way to increase your vocabulary in general than by doing a lot of reading.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Writers Want to Read

One more item from BEA. The online magazine Salon sent interviewers with cameras onto the convention floor to ask famous writers about their latest books and also what they hoped to be reading this summer. Among those interviewed were Michael Connelly, Jonathan Lethem, Neil Gaiman and Diana Gabaldon. My favorite response -- other than Dave Barry comparing his friend and co-author Ridley Pearson to a cockroach -- was that of Mary Karr. She said she hoped to spend the summer reading fan mail from her readers. There's an honest answer for you.

The interviews can be found at the Salon website.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It was a stunt, but a fun and interesting one. Earlier this year PublicAffairs, a publisher which is part of the Perseus Book Group, announced that it would go through practically the entire process of publishing a book in a 48-hour period during the BEA Convention in New York City. The book was to be called, Book: The Sequel, and, for the content, PublicAffairs threw out this challenge to literary types around the world: choose an existing book, imagine its sequel, and write the first sentence and title of that imaginary sequel.

Last week, PublicAffairs arrived at BEA with more than 800 submissions from which to produce the finished book. The process began on Friday morning with the decision on what submissions to use and how to format the book. Then came the choice of front cover design, with input from convention-goers and people following the process on Twitter. Initial page galleys had arrived by late afternoon on Friday.

On Saturday, a website for the book was created (found here), along with reading group guides and other marketing tools, and decisions were made about the first print run. Then, precisely on time at 4 PM Saturday afternoon, finished copies of the book itself (a paperback) arrived at the PublicAffairs convention booth. (It's also available in large print and Braille editions, as well as in various e-book formats.) PublicAffairs also set up a YouTube channel with four videos, running a total of about twelve minutes, documenting the entire process. We hope to have the book available at Accent on Books by the end of this week.

All in all, another example of the powerful -- and, for us oldsters, somewhat intimidating -- effects of technological advances on the staid old world of publishing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Knopf's new list

Summer may be just beginning to take hold here in Western North Carolina, but at Accent on Books we're already deep into ordering books for the fall. Of course, with all the books out there (see previous post), we can't carry everything, and knowing which ones to choose and which to pass on is one of the most difficult -- and often frustrating -- parts of this business.

One company that is making it particularly difficult this time around is the Alfred A Knopf imprint of Random House. For decades, of course, Knopf has been one of the most distinguished names in American publishing, first as an independent house and, since the 1960's, as a part of Random House when Alfred Knopf sold his company to his good friend Bennett Cerf. However, Knopf's upcoming fall list is one of the most remarkable I have seen from any publisher or imprint in quite awhile. Here is a partial list of the authors with books in the fall 2009 Knopf catalog (in more or less chronological order):

Kazuo Ishiguro
Karen Armstrong
Lorrie Moore
Anne Tyler
Kay Redfield Jamison
A S Byatt
Peter Mayle
Chinua Achebe
Anne Rice
Harold S Kushner
Orhan Pamuk
Richard Russo
Vladimir Nabokov
Alice Munro

And, again, that's just one imprint of one publisher. Word is, fall 2009 could be one of the true banner seasons in recent memory for new books.