I’ve been to New York City twice this summer, and I’ve yet to get to the Strand Bookstore! It was actually on the list of things Melissa and I wanted to do when we were in the City for BlogHer’10 last weekend, but between a pretty full conference agenda and my inability to follow the walking directions I got from Google Maps, it didn’t happen. But don’t feel too sorry for me – I came home with plenty of new books! They just didn’t happen to come from the the Strand.
BlogHer usually sets up a Bookstore area at its conferences, featuring books about techy topics – writing, blogging, social media – as well as titles by current and previous BlogHerCon attendees. I picked up three books there, two of which were by BlogHer’10 speakers.
Author Carleen Brice spoke on two panels at BlogHer’10, including the one I was on, “The Evolving Publishing Ecosystem.” The conference program stated that she would be signing copies of her first novel, Orange Mint and Honey, at the BlogHer Bookstore, but I didn’t spot any during my first couple of stops there – as it happened, they arrived late, but they were there by the time our panel ended at 2:45 on Saturday afternoon. At that point, I basically tailed Carleen to the bookstore so I could grab the book and ask her to sign it before she had to run off! I hope to read it “sooner rather than later” (but y’all know how that is…before BlogHer’11, at any rate!), and I’ll be looking for her second novel, Children of the Waters, as well.
I also picked up a copy of Professional Blogging for Dummies by Susan Getgood with the express intention of getting it signed after her FTC panel. While I don’t think I’ll be going pro with this gig any time soon, it looks like a great resource – and I’m listed in the acknowledgments! (I put her and Boston Bibliophile in contact with one another; Marie is profiled on Page 20 of the book.)
Not every author with a book on the Bookstore tables was actually present at BlogHer this year, though. Author Vicki Forman wasn’t there, but I purchased her memoir This Lovely Life on the strength of Melissa’s recommendation and good word-of-mouth from other bloggers.
After my panel was over, we had just a few hours until Melissa’s train home, and we were determined to spend that time – and some money – in bookstores! We hopped on the D train downtown with one particular recommended destination in mind, but stumbled across another one before we got there.
The Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho (126 Crosby Street, NYC 10012) is a huge used bookstore operated by a New York City AIDS charity; they also sell used CDs and DVDs and, as the name suggests, have a small cafe in the back. The store was profiled by Colleen from Books in the City in a guest post for She is Too Fond of Books‘ “Spotlight on Bookstores” feature.
Housing Works is a two-story shop with wood floors and fixtures, but because it is packed to the gills, there’s not a lot of space to move around in. I’ll admit that I’m normally not a huge fan of used bookstores – and no, it’s NOT because I like paying full price for books! Most of the used bookstores I’ve visited have been poorly organized and have seemed a bit beaten down, and I’ve not had much luck finding books that interest me. Housing Works was different; shelves were well-organized and labeled. I did not buy any galleys, which were for sale at $3 each. I wonder if New York’s being a publishing town, along with the fact that this is a nonprofit store, makes people turn a blind eye to the “Not For Sale” blurb on the covers of ARC’s… However, I picked up three recent hardcovers for at least half of their list prices, and the store was also running a “30% off everything” sale that weekend!
Husband and Wife: A Novel, by Leah Stewart, has been on my Wishlist since this past spring, and was just published a couple of months ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy in a used-book store so soon!
I don’t think I’ve read anything by E.L. Doctorow since The Waterworks several years ago, but I was intrigued by the excerpt from his most recent novel, Homer & Langley, when it was a Dearreader.com Fiction Book Club selection earlier this summer.
Once we’d chosen our books (and bought Housing Works tote bags to carry them in – it was for charity, and they were 30% off!), Melissa and I walked a few blocks to the Nolita neighborhood (Noho/Little Italy) and our original bookstore destination, McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince Street, NYC 10012). This indie bookstore came highly recommended by Dawn of She Is Too Fond of Books, who visited during BEA Week. Its selection isn’t enormous, but it’s interesting. One thing that struck me was the separate areas for “literature” and “fiction;” the latter section was occupied by mostly big-name, big-selling authors whom the general (read: “less book-obsessed”) public would recognize. The “literature” shelves – which were much larger than the “fiction” ones – was organized according to the author’s country of origin, which could be useful to those seeking to diversify their reading. The in-store cafe is excellent as well – breakfast items, sandwiches, desserts, and some seriously good quiche (that was dinner on Saturday).
I would absolutely second Dawn’s opinion of McNally Jackson Books. As Melissa and I browsed the shelves and added to the stacks of books in our arms, we kept saying to each other “Dawn is in SO much trouble…” But seriously, Dawn, thanks so much for the tip – I loved this place! I took some of it home with me, of course:
Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, appeals to the pessimistic-leaning realist side of my nature (granted, that’s a pretty big chunk of my nature).
I probably should have waited to get Dan Chaon‘s You Remind Me of Me: A Novel until after I’d read Await Your Reply, but oh well – this one was a McNally Jackson staff pick, and was actually published a few years earlier anyway.
This novel, One Day by British author David Nicholls, has received a lot of attention from the book blogs lately. I had come close to buying a copy of it in Target a week earlier, but I’m glad I waited – I was able to support an indie bookstore, and still get it for 20% off the cover price. (Random question: if a book is already a bestseller, does it really need that bestseller discount? I’m not complaining, mind you, just wondering…)
While it had little to do with BlogHer’10, book shopping in New York City was one of my favorite parts of BlogHer weekend. I’m seriously thinking about going back to New York next spring for BEA 2011 and the Book Blogger Convention (assuming it’s on again – did I miss any announcements?). If I do, that may be when my twice-deferred visit to the Strand finally happens!
Have you read any of these books, or visited these bookstores?