This past Thursday morning, a tidbit that crossed my digital desktop in Shelf Awareness described a “perfect loop” of bookselling. Let’s listen in:
“This week I finished reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and it… is… AMAZING! The book was brought to my attention by a customer, who wanted a copy because it had been recommended by the amazing author, John Green. Let’s do a very basic flow chart: John Green recommends Eleanor & Park > Customer reads recommendation & contacts local bookseller to request a copy > Local bookseller puts copy on hold for customer & also grabs a copy for herself > Local bookseller reads book, loves it, and now recommends it to other customers. That, my dear book loving friends, is the book grapevine at its finest.”
–Lindsey McGuirk, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., in the store’s newsletter (BTW Our very own Owen Curtis from Mitchell’s Book Corner just read that book and recommends it highly as well. More copies are on their way to the island as we speak.)
Thursday evening I got to live my own industry version of grape vineage when I attended an event sponsored by Penguin Books: a “Summer Soiree” in which well-known editor Amy Einhorn showcased the authors of three upcoming novels. This was the last of five stops around the country for this group, focused on gathering regional booksellers to meet and mingle with the authors.
The unique thing here is that it was a case of an editor with arguably more household name recognition than the authors. As Penguin’s website says: “The overarching tenet of Amy Einhorn Books is to hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial—intelligent writing with a strong narrative and great storytelling.” It’s a winning combination, witness the success of the first title in her imprint: the number-one New York Times bestseller The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. Her track record is such that us book buyers pay attention to what she’s up to, hence my journey off-island.
Pictured here is Amy Einhorn on the left, introducing the first speakers, Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman, co-authors of Freud’s Mistress which arrives in July. They have a solidly researched and provocative premise: that Sigmund Freud carried on a long-running affair with none other than his sister-in-law. (!) Can’t wait to dive in to that one and see what they imagine Freud has to say for himself. (Perhaps it’s about time we shook up the underpinnings of modern pscyhology–society as a whole doesn’t seem too well-adjusted anyway…)
Next up was Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist, coming in May. Suzanne is a young woman who completed her novel while working on her Ph.D. Seriously impressive! The novel is set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side during Prohibition era, when a charismatic typist joins the steno pool of a police precinct. Much was made of the reliability or lack thereof of the narrator–another typist in the station–and of the fact that this book has a great twist of an ending. Love that.
Lastly spoke the charmingly accented Anne-Marie Casey, author of No One Could Have Guessed the Weather, coming in June, who had traveled from her home in Dublin to rock the tour. Her dry wit was evident in her brief remarks, and as this is the one novel of the three set in modern times I know that voice will shine through the words on the page.
As to what unified the three, Amy had this to say: “As a group, these novels show us the arc of women’s progress over the last hundred years. They don’t compete with each other – they complement each other on the list this summer.”
So here’s my soon-to-be-closed loop: Bookseller trusts an editor > Editor chooses three authors to feature to the point of taking them all over the country > Regional reps gather booksellers > This bookseller crosses the Sound (and drives back to the Cape in a bizarre blizzard) to attend > Book buyer gets hooked by the books’ teasers so she reads them > If she likes them she will promote them to the reader > Reader will trust the bookseller and the editor, both.
While we all have heard ad nauseum that this book business of ours is changing, one thing that will always stay constant is the importance of the personal connections in these loops. We definitely lose something when we let algorithms take the place of this kind of soulful exchange.
I extend my thanks to my Penguin reps Karl Krueger and Ann Wachur, as well as to Amy Einhorn and the esteemed authors for including me. It was a much appreciated effort and lovely evening. All books may be pre-ordered on our website or by calling us at 508-228-4000 or 508-228-1080.