Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 17, 2017

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Quotation of the Day

'Literature Is Intransigent About Its Liberty'

"Whenever I was encouraged by my elders to pick up a book, I was often told, 'Read so as to know the world.' And it is true; books have invited me into different countries, states of mind, social conditions and historical epochs; they have offered me a place at the most unusual gatherings....

"This is why literature is the greatest argument for the universalist instinct, and this is why literature is intransigent about its liberty. It refuses to be enrolled, regardless of how noble or urgent the project. It cannot be governed or dictated to. It is by instinct interested in conflicting empathies, in men and women who are running into their own hearts, in doubt and contradictions. Which is why, without even intending to, and like a moon to the night, it disrupts the totalitarian narrative. What it reveals about our human nature is central to the conversation today."

--Author Hisham Matar in a New York Times opinion piece


BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships


Buffalo's Talking Leaves Books to Consolidate Stores

Talking Leaves' Main Street store

Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, N.Y., will close its shop at 3158 Main St. after 42 years in the University Heights neighborhood and consolidate to the 951 Elmwood Ave. location, which will remain open. In a Facebook post announcing the closure, owner Jonathon Welch cited "significant changes" in book buying habits and in the University of Buffalo neighborhood as major factors in the decision, but said the "good, exciting news is that our Elmwood location is staying open.... with a renewed focus on a resurgent future that incorporates all that bookselling in the 21st century entails. We will continue our many partnerships with cultural organizations, schools and other community groups to sponsor readings, conversations, and other events, and to bring books out of the store and into the community."

Describing the Main Street shop as "a slow food store in a fast food world," Welch observed that the location had been "conceived in a different era, when people had more time to browse and a deep, wide, and varied inventory was desirable.... As we consolidate and strengthen our presence as ambassadors of book culture to this community, we will address these issues and concerns." The bookstore plans to add online shopping to its soon-to-be updated website, and is considering the possibility of a delivery option for customers who are shut-ins or unable to get to the store.

"What will not change is the vision, purpose and goal that inspired us when we opened in 1975," Welch wrote. "We envisioned establishing a place where the community of readers and writers in Buffalo could find the best writing and reading, both classic and contemporary, bound into print. We wanted to provide a space where books and the ideas and issues contained therein could be engaged with privately and discussed publicly, a space where readers and writers could meet, converse, and engage. From our inception, we featured books from small, independent and university presses and we gave prominent space to the diverse voices of the many underrepresented or ignored communities that make up our world. We will continue to do so.

"Part of our renewed focus is to better engage you in this store and in the movement to maintain and sustain a vibrant local independent economy. A community is only as strong as the resources that physically reside in it. We welcome your suggestions to make us a better bookstore, one that will be around for another 40 years."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

LBF 2017: 'Pretty Good Year' for Booksellers

Despite significant challenges, booksellers in the U.K. had "a pretty good year," Tim Godfray, CEO of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, said at the association's annual general meeting, held late Tuesday afternoon at the London Book Fair. "I feel optimistic and hopeful about the future."

Godfray noted many encouraging signs, reflecting those in the U.S.: consumers "came back to print books," whose sales were up 6.7% in 2016, according to Nielsen; "publishers realized that bookshops are so important for the discovery of books" and are providing booksellers with "greater support"; the production quality of new books has improved; and consumers are more aware of "how a community would look like without bookshops."

Among the many programs and achievements of the association in the past year, Godfray mentioned the inaugural Booksellers Association/Publishers Association Parliamentary Book Awards, honoring works by parliamentarians and about politics and voted on by parliamentarians. The awards help the business stay "on the radar of Parliament," he noted.

Another new project that's worked well is the program under which publishing heads spend a day in a bookshop, witnessing book retailing issues first-hand and seeing how the public reacts to their titles. Godfray called this an "enormously successful" effort that is being expanded.

The Big Green Bookshop at LBF

Ongoing programs include Books Are My Bag (more than half of participating stores reported sales increases); Independent Bookshop Week (when sales again increased); the Costa Book Awards, which the BA administers; World Book Day, a "fantastic" promotion; Book Tokens, which continues to grow, helped by personalized images on the cards; and Caboodle, the online marketing program connected with Book Tokens that has attracted more than 500,000 "passionate book buyers." The association also late last year set up the Group for Young Booksellers.

The major challenges include Amazon, which continues to benefit from unfair advantages; e-book lending; and taxation issues. The association has lobbied hard with national and European regulatory agencies and politicians as well as with the public about Amazon, particularly its favorable e-books value-added tax rate derived from its corporate residence in Luxembourg; its most favored nation approach with e-book contracts; the company's "illegal state aid" from Luxembourg; and transfer pricing. (Regarding e-book VAT and most favored nation approach, recent rulings have removed or effectively ended those practices.)

The British business tax situation has improved somewhat for booksellers, particularly those with low rateable values. The BA was also able to persuade the Treasury not to impose VAT "on the vast majority" of coloring books. (Printed books are zero-rated for VAT in the U.K.)

The BA is also "particularly worried at the moment" about e-book lending policies that could make it so easy for readers to lend e-books that print book sales would suffer. The association has had conversations with libraries, authors and publishers about this, arguing for "frictions" such as limitations on how soon after the printed book pub date e-lending could begin and how long an e-book could be borrowed.

On many positive notes, the Booksellers Association annual general meeting adjourned, and members regrouped across the street at the Hand & Flower pub for a less formal gathering. --John Mutter

Binc, AdventureKEEN Team Up for 'Shop Local, Live Local'

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation and AdventureKEEN are launching Shop Local, Live Local, which is designed to help readers pursue local, healthy outdoor activities while benefiting booksellers via Binc. During the month of June, 100% of the profits generated by the sales of AdventureKEEN titles in independent bookstores will be donated to Binc.

"Our regional titles are focused on local adventure, especially in terms of providing individuals with expert advice for hikes, urban walking, paddling, cycling and camping guides," said Richard Hunt, president of AdventureKEEN. "Supporting local enterprise also means fortifying independent bookstores' reputation as the place to find local resources within their communities. Finally, publishing the best local guides available also means that we're devoted to local authors. Shop Local, Live Local brings together those three core initiatives--bookstores, authors, readers--plus donating to Binc. It's a chance to help every independent bookstore across the country very directly."

Binc executive director Pam French noted that the initiative "dovetails with our mission to strengthen the bookselling community... Shop Local, Live Local allows booksellers to do what they do best, recommend and sell books, while at the same time helping raise funds to ensure Binc is around to help booksellers for a long time."

Obituary Note: Mari Evans

Mari Evans, "remembered as a major figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and '70s," died March 10, the Indianapolis Star reported. She was 93. In addition to being an accomplished poet, Evans was an essayist on American culture, a playwright, an educator and a local TV personality. She also wrote juvenile fiction. Her books include Continuum: New and Selected Poems; A Dark and Splendid Mass; Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie: A Book about Secrets; Jim Flying High; I'm Late: The Story of Laneese & Moonlight; and Alisha Who Didn't Have Anyone of Her Own.

Evans was honored last year with the unveiling of a 30-foot mural by artist Michael "Alkemi" Jordan on Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis. Shauta Marsh, organizer of the mural project, said, "There's no one who can compare to her and replace her. I believe she has, to this day, continued to influence people.... I felt like she did more for me than I did for her."

Dan Carpenter, a writer and friend, observed that Evans "had this unwavering sense of African-American identity. She never stopped reminding people of their unique experiences--both the trials of African-Americans and their gifts, their resources and their contributions."


Image of the Day: Knockout at Garden District

An SRO crowd came to Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, La., last week to celebrate Jenny Lawson's new book, You Are Here: An Owners Manual for Dangerous Minds, and the paperback release of Furiously Happy (both from Flatiron Books). They were "knocked dead" by her inspiring talk, owner Britton Trice wrote. 

Personnel Changes at Chronicle

Effective April 3, Jennifer Yim is joining Chronicle Books as marketing and publicity assistant. Previously, she was the administrative assistant at HarperOne.

Diamond Comic Distributors to Handle Yen Press Internationally

Effective June 5, Diamond Comic Distributors will handle exclusive sales and distribution for Yen Press outside of North America in traditional and non-traditional book channels. This is an expansion of Yen's existing relationship with Diamond for the comic book specialty market and gives Diamond exclusive rights to offer Yen Press titles in the U.K. and Ireland.

Founded in 2006, Yen Press is a joint venture between Kadakowa Corporation and Hachette Book Group that publishes manga and graphic novels for adults and young readers. It also introduces light novels to new readers through its Yen On imprint.

Kurt Hassler, publisher and managing director of Yen Press, commented: "One of Yen's long-term goals has been to increase the availability of our books internationally. As we work with our licensors and creators to break down the boundaries that too often prevent us from putting books in readers' hands globally, Diamond's particular expertise with the comics and manga market around the world made them the natural choice as our partner in this effort."

Media and Movies

TV: American Gods; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Starz has released a new trailer for American Gods, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, "that's full of gorgeous fantasy imagery and gothic drama," Entertainment Weekly reported. "Included are looks at Bruce Langley as Technical Boy, Kristin Chenoweth as Easter, Yetide Badaki as Bilquis, Crispin Glover as Mr. World and a whole lot of gushing blood." The cast also includes Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon and Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday. American Gods premieres April 30.


The first trailer has been released for HBO's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, based on the book by Rebecca Skloot, Deadline reported. Writer-director George C. Wolfe's telepic, which stars Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne, premieres April 22. The cast also includes Renée Elise Goldsberry, Rocky Carroll, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Courtney B. Vance, Leslie Uggams, Reg E. Cathey, Reed Birney, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, John Douglas Thompson, Adriane Lenox, Roger Robinson and Melvin Van Peebles. 

Movies: The Girl in the Spider's Web

"The rocky road to getting another Lisbeth Salander movie made is finally clearing up," Indiewire noted in reporting that Sony Pictures has announced The Girl in the Spider's Web, based on David Lagercrantz's novel, will begin production this September with a tentative release date of October 5, 2018.

Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) will direct a script he wrote with Steven Knight and Jay Basu. Indiewire observed that the "news should prove exciting for fans of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, though anyone who loved the 2011 adaptation The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo may be disappointed: David Fincher is only serving as executive producer and Rooney Mara is officially out as hacker Lisbeth Salander." Sony confirmed the film will feature an entirely new cast.

"Lisbeth Salander is the kind of character any director dreams of bringing to life," Alvarez said. "We've got a great script and now comes the most fun part--finding our Lisbeth."

Books & Authors

Awards: NBCC; Eric Carle Museum Honors; Orwell Longlist

Winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards, which were announced last night in New York City, are:

Fiction: LaRose by Louise Erdrich (Harper)
Nonfiction: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (Crown)
Poetry: House of Lords and Commons by Ishion Hutchinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Biography: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (Liveright)
Autobiography: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Knopf)
Criticism: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury)


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art announced this year's recipients of the 2017 Carle Honors award for their contributions to the field of children's literature. This year's honorees, who will receive their awards September 28 in New York City, are:

Artist: Ed Young, "who consistently brings an eye for beauty, integrity and innovation, and sets an inspiring example for young artists through his books."
Angel: Dr. John Y. Cole, Library of Congress Historian, "for highlighting the importance of books for children and teens."
Bridge: Anthea Bell, "a pioneer in the world of translations of foreign language books into English, especially children's literature."
Mentor: Bank Street Writers Lab, represented by chairperson Dr. Cynthia Weill, director of the Center for Children's Literature, "recognizing the organization's leadership and support of writers and illustrators throughout its long history."


A longlist has been released for this year's £3,000 (about $3,710) Orwell Prize "for outstanding political writing, in a year when George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is once again troubling the bestseller lists." The shortlist will be announced May 15 and a winner named June 8. The longlisted titles are:

The Power by Naomi Alderman
Citizen Clem by John Bew
The Seven by Ruth Dudley Edwards
The Return by Hisham Matar
Black and British by David Olusoga
The Life Project by Helen Pearson
Easternization by Gideon Rachman
All Out War by Tim Shipman
The Marches by Rory Stewart
Island Story by J.D. Taylor
And the Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany
Enough Said by Mark Thompson
Cut by Hibo Wardere, in collaboration with Anna Wharton
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Reading with... Margaret George

photo: Alison Kaufman

Margaret George is the author of six biographical novels, including The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Mary Called Magdalene and Elizabeth I: A Novel. Her latest work of epic historical fiction is The Confessions of Young Nero (Berkley, March 7, 2017), the first part of a duology taking a sympathetic look at the trials and tribulations of the infamous Roman Emperor. The new novel seeks to resurrect Nero as a complicated man caught between ruling a vast empire and indulging in his passions for art, Hellenistic games and the women he loved.

On your nightstand now:

A Poem a Day, edited by Karen McCosker and Nicholas Albery. Just what it says--a poem for every day of the year, and commentary, with poets from all different eras in random order.

Twin Tracks by Roger Bannister. His autobiography, covering both his running--the first man to break the four-minute barrier for the mile--and his medical career as a neurologist. He once said something to the effect that a person's lifetime work is more telling than how fast he can run on one particular day.

Favorite book when you were a child:

A Child's Book of Myths by Margaret Price Evans, published in 1924, with lovely art nouveau illustrations (I've since seen them sold framed). My father read it to me before I could read myself, and that's how I learned Greek mythology. To this day I think the gods look like those illustrations.

The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. It featured an English family of four young cousins (with their dog being the fifth) who fell into the most delicious mysteries--smugglers, islands with treasure, secret lantern signals across the moor. It was terribly exotic to me because they had "holidays" instead of "vacations," and their food was "tinned" instead of "canned" and so on. It also had unpleasant adult characters with names like Mr. Stick.

Your top five authors:

Shakespeare (enough said). Patricia Highsmith, for her riveting psychological portraits of dangerous people and her masterful use of the unreliable narrator, now so popular. F. Scott Fitzgerald, for his use of lyrical language and his Jazz Age settings. And the poets A.E. Housman and Emily Dickinson, for their wisdom about life, as well as their word wizardry.

Book you've faked reading:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Somehow I missed it in school and just never got around to it. But one hears so much about it, it is easy to cheat and pretend you have read it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Ironically, the Bible. Most people own one but have never read it in its entirety, which is very different from knowing only random quotes from it. There are many surprises in it, and you may discover your own private favorite lines or ideas. (For example, Psalm 16:6: "The lines are fallen for me in pleasant places.") Read the King James Version (1611) for the magnificent language and a modern version for the narrative. The Living Bible (1971) is so modern it even speaks of "the Israelis."

Book you've bought for the cover:

Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet by Jim Bell. A stunning collection of some of the first Rover photos from Mars, in a huge format. The cover shows tire tracks on the red dust.

Book you hid from your parents:

Battle Cry by Leon Uris. The library called my parents to ask if they had given permission for me to read "that kind of book." And Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. Of course.

Book that changed your life:

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It opened up the world of fantasy fiction to me, describing reality through the senses, along with a dollop of philosophy. A very wise book and one that never dates, as human nature doesn't change. Ray Bradbury's prediction of a hot dog stand on Mars, as the venal way we take the universe as our footstool, is about to come true. (And it was written in the 1950s.)

Favorite line from a book:

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...." from The Great Gatsby. A perfect description of someone we've all known at some time in our lives, and perhaps been damaged by.

Five books you'll never part with:

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. So much more powerful than the movies made from it, and the first of the vampire sagas, written in 1954.

Julian by Gore Vidal. The story of the fourth century emperor who tried to boot out Christianity and return Rome to paganism. Witty and timely.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Simply superlative storytelling, so that no matter how many times you have read it, you can open it at random and whatever scene is featured, it's hard to put down.

The Glorious Adventure by Richard Halliburton. The author retraced the journey of Odysseus. Almost forgotten today, this explorer/journalist of the 1920s was a sensation at the time and is still good reading. He inspired a generation of Americans to embrace world travel and dive into other cultures.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Breath-holding suspense and exposure of human nature in the raw as the marooned choir boys reveal their "heart of darkness."

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I was too young to understand it when I first read it and would like to encounter it fresh as an adult.

Authors you've most enjoyed discovering:

Some of the best writing today is in crime fiction, especially the so-called "Nordic Noir." I've enjoyed the novels of the Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason, Norwegian Karin Fossum and of course the Swedish Henning Mankell. These go beyond whodunit to look into the heart of human motivation and, as an added bonus, explore the Scandinavian societies they are set in.

Book Review

Review: Unreliable

Unreliable by Lee Irby (Doubleday, $26.95 hardcover, 336p., 9780385542050, April 18, 2017)

In a viciously delicious thriller, Lee Irby (The Van) introduces a charming, refined protagonist who could be a monster, a deranged jilted lover or simply one of love's losers. From beginning to end, the only reliable truth is that the narrator is a liar.

Edwin Stith is a mild-mannered, unassuming English professor at a "leafy liberal arts school" in Ithaca, N.Y., whose failed writing career, recent divorce and sexual impotency provide ready fodder for sympathy. A dutiful son, he's headed home to Richmond, Va., for his mother's wedding. However, he's aware this story in and of itself has no teeth, so he mentions to the reader that he may also be on the run for murdering his ex-wife, Bev. Or maybe he didn't. Or maybe he killed a waitress at a truck stop--or maybe not. Maybe Eddie himself is the murder victim. "It doesn't much matter," he devilishly assures us. "Mine, hers, his. You want a body and I want to give you one."

To find out, readers must come along for the ride as Eddie reconnects with his wealthy, aging mother, who's marrying a man Eddie's age; his long-lost high school sweetheart, Leigh Rose; and a handful of old school nemeses and acquaintances who mean Eddie and his rekindled romance no good. Along the way, he deals with the growing pains of his soon-to-be stepsiblings--misled college boy Graves and teen sexpot Gibson--as well as the increasingly demanding attentions of his sexually adventurous student Lola, who may or may not also be his paramour. As Eddie rediscovers Richmond, where "the distinction between the living and the dead can get blurry" and old prejudices thrive underground, the disparate threads of his life begin to twist themselves into a knot that might snag him--that is, if he's telling the truth.

Riding shotgun with Eddie will have even the doughtiest reader feeling claustrophobic, hostage to a man who will say anything to keep an audience for his deepest secrets, real or invented. Irby sculpts every thrill of terror out of pure psychological manipulation, adeptly batting the reader around like a catnip mouse. Irby also keeps Eddie's running one-sided banter nimble and hilarious, though relentlessly dark. At one point, a few lines of dialogue even take a jab at Unreliable's own self-descriptive title. Eddie's most unsettling quality is the ability to seem sympathetic between suggestions of mania, a reminder that we want to believe other people are normal because "there's nothing more frightening in this world than trusting another human being not to destroy you." Unreliable is tense, hypnotic and elegantly assembled. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: In this mind-bending psychological thriller, the charming narrator could be a lecherous killer or a lovelorn victim, but he's definitely a liar.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Handseller's Bibliodiplomacy ('Looks Good on You')

"The reality is not exactly what the song started out to be, but it's not a bad song." --Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

Before I became a bookseller, I never saw myself as the kind of guy who would fall prey to "the book everybody's reading." And yet, lurking in my past were certain signs of weakness--Erich Segal's Love Story and Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull come to mind. These I read moments after they exploded on the scene, but I quickly backed away from the damning evidence.

Robert James Waller

Distancing myself from books that become huge bestsellers is probably a minor weakness, but memory occasionally serves up discomforting reminders. This happened last weekend when I learned that Robert James Waller had died. First I felt bad about his passing, then my brain cells conjured up an unnerving recollection of my introduction to his mega-bestselling novel, The Bridges of Madison County.

Here's a little trade secret. Sometimes booksellers like a book until everybody else does, and then they have second thoughts. In the spring of 1992, when Bridges was published, I had just started working as a bookseller. There was some early buzz about this title, though without social media the volume was relatively low. Still, I read it; thought it was okay. In fact, I liked it more than I'd expected to, and some of my bookselling colleagues were raving about it.

By late summer, Bridges was a genuine phenomenon, beginning an epic three-year run on the New York Times bestseller list. I didn't have to praise the novel in order to sell it. I could practically hand it to anyone who came through the bookstore's front door and then ask, "Anything else?" They would say no, and rush away to devour the story. I was tired of the book, but it didn't need me anyway.

A year later, noting that Bridges had gone through 41 printings, with 2.9 million copies in print and 150,000 new copies being sold weekly, the New York Times wrote: "It was rebuffed by some bookstore chains, treated most unkindly in a number of reviews, and scoffed at by the publishing elite in New York City, where one quite bitter editor recently said, 'People buy it for the same reason they would buy a Mother's Day card.' But who cares?"

Who cares, indeed. By then, I'd learned how to handsell Bridges without being dismissive. Bookselling, it turned out, was a lot more complicated than just waving books I loved around and saying, "You've got to read this!"

Booksellers sometimes handsell books they haven't read. They handsell books they don't even like much. This is not, usually, a sin of intention. No one wants to handsell a "bad" book. It is, at worst, a sin of omission. What you refrain from saying to a customer during a conversation about a particular title can be as important as what you do say. 

Booksellers routinely discuss not-so-great books with customers who love those titles passionately and are seeking comparable works. By "not-so-great," I mean books that we've dismissed for any number of objective, subjective and even irrational reasons. This can include works that are well-reviewed, popular, award-winning, or any combination of the three.

And every bookseller has had this reaction while reading an ARC: "I'm not crazy about this book, but it's going to be really easy to handsell." Conversely, there are books you love that you'd struggle to handsell at a 100% discount.

A bookseller's job description is to express--or withhold--judgment depending upon the situation. Sometimes you walk a conversational high wire. Nodding and smiling help; saying "a lot of people liked that one" or "he's very popular" or "it's been getting good reviews" will get you through as well. A personal favorite, which I leaned on more than a few times, was that a particular author "knows his (or her) audience well and writes with them in mind."

If you are feeling pressured for your opinion on a book you just don't like, may I prescribe a small dose of retail therapy from the movie Caddyshack. Al Czervic (Rodney Dangerfield) bursts into a posh country club's pro shop and starts buying everything in sight. He notices a garish hat on display and says, "This is the worst lookin' hat I ever saw." Then he spots the club's president, Judge Smails (Ted Knight), standing nearby, wearing the same hat, and adds: "Oh, it looks good on you, though."

Welcome to the world of handselling, where you sometimes just have to smile and say the bookseller's equivalent of "Oh, it looks good on you, though."

Is that wrong? Absolutely not. In fact, it is a kind of bibliodiplomacy. You want customers to be comfortable with their choices. You don't want them to feel judged. You hope they walk away from a handselling conversation thinking, "That was fun." Well, to be honest, You want them to walk away with a huge stack of new books, thinking, "That was fun."

Thanks for the early lesson, Mr. Waller. R.I.P.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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