Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#LitMagLove Giveaway!



I’ve been the magazine buyer at Porter Square Books for quite a few years, now. This means that, among other periodicals, I choose what literary magazines and journals the store carries. As a writer myself, I know how important literary magazines are to our reading culture. For writers, literary magazines are often where they cut their teeth and where they are first noticed by readers. Even for established or famous authors, literary magazines offer an opportunity to practice their craft in a different setting and in front of a different audience than normal. For readers, literary magazines are a source of surprise and discovery, a chance to get in on the ground floor of an author, genre, or movement, and an opportunity to read the weird, experimental, and innovative work you don’t see much of in mainstream publishing.

One the perks of being the magazine buyer is that lit mags are constantly sending me sample issues. Sometimes I decide the journal is a good fit, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I wish I could carry it but just don’t have the space. Regardless of my decision, I’m left with the sample. And the samples have started to pile up.

The obvious solution to the problem of a pile of reading material: Give it away!

I’ll be giving two sets of 6 (SIX!) lit mags each. For your chance to win, just tweet why you love lit mags to @PorterSqBooks with the hashtag #LitMagLove. The 2 (TWO!) tweets with the most retweets by August 1st  will be the winners. (In the event of a tie, I’ll randomly select winners from the top tweets.)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“Our Bookstore”

When we first opened we were frankly amazed at the local welcome. Granted it's a pretty bookish part of the world, but it was still a wonderful thing to be treated as if we were coming to the literary rescue of the neighborhood.

The incident that really highlighted our place in the community was a cataclysmic accident that happened in our second year: an SUV in a handicapped parking spot drove through the windows of the recently opened Cafe Zing. It was a Saturday and there had been a typically long cafe line (even in its earliest days!) that had just worked its way through. Ten minutes earlier and it would've been a much more horrible calamity. As it was three people got seriously hurt, the big solid Zing counter was knocked some 30 degrees askew and the front of the store was stove in. The weirdest part of it was that Tag's next door had their Saturday popcorn machine going - so people were calmly looking over this scene of devastation while calmly munching popcorn. It was also early in the ubiquity of folks holding up their phones to take pictures. Surreal.

The neighborhood reaction was surprising. A Starbucks that we used to frequent (before Zing opened) sent food and drinks over, even though Zing was technically competition. A local pizza place sent stuff. People kept coming in and saying, "I'm not getting anything right now but I wanted to make sure you folks were staying open." Their outpouring of concern over "Our bookstore" was a beautiful thing, and really brought home the fact that we were now an integral part of what turns out to be a unique little part of the world.

Gary Cowan

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Porter Square Books Mindset

Every year Beloit College puts together the Beloit Mindset, a list of facts, observations, and characteristics they think help explain the mindset of incoming freshmen. We liked the idea so much we flagrantly stole it to create our own Porter Square Books Mindset as another way to the tell the story of our first ten years. Check out the Beloit Mindset here (it’s well worth a read) and continue on for ours.

If you were born in 2004...

Elfriede Jelinek has always been a Nobel Laureate.

The Notebook has always been Exhibit A in the sappy movie category.

Howard Dean has always been known for his screaming skills.

Martha Stewart has always been a convicted felon.

Michael Phelps has always been known for his medal count.

"You get a car. And you get a car" has always been an Oprah reference.

Janet Jackson has always been known for her Super Bowl performance.



In 2004...

...you’d be met with a blank stare when you asked someone if they were “team Edward or team Jacob.”

...we were still waiting for the next Harry Potter.

...cutting edge smartphones, like BlackBerry, had physical keyboards

... "showroom" was a noun, not a verb.

... only college students could be members of "The Facebook."

... Britney Spears was the top search term on Google. (And she had just married Kevin Federline.)

... Barack Obama was famous for his speech at the Democratic National Convention.

... Ukraine was undergoing a revolution. Also, Iraq was descending into chaos.

...there was no such thing as a tablet computer.

...you needed two hands to count the number of major US airlines.

...you couldn’t post anything on YouTube.

...some of us became "Lost" - at least for a season or two - or was it all a dream

A lot has changed over this decade and it doesn’t seem like the pace of social change is abating at all. But for everything that has changed in the past and everything we expect to change in the future, both in the wider world and in the Porter Square Books community, books are still a powerful source of joy and meaning in our lives and we will continue to do our best to bring the best books to our readers.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Find Waldo in Porter Square

Where's Waldo? In Porter Square, of course. The famous children’s book character in the striped shirt and black-rimmed specs is visiting twenty different local businesses throughout Porter Square from July 1st-July 31st. Those who spot him can win prizes, including buttons, book coupons and more. Waldo figures (and one Woof figure) will be hidden somewhere in all the participating stores.

To participate, pick up your Find Waldo passport at Porter Square Books or any of the other participating local businesses. (Full list below) You’ll earn stamps as you find Waldo in the stores around Porter Square. Everyone who collects at least 10 stamps will earn an “I Found Waldo” button and the first 125 to do so will win a coupon. Those who collect 15 of the stamps can also be entered to win a 6-volume deluxe set of Waldo books and other prizes. (Full prize list below.)

Find Waldo in Porter Square will culminate with a celebration and prize drawing on July 31 at Porter Square Books.

The participating businesses are Porter Square Books, Tags, Star Market, Cambridge Naturals, Cambridge Savings Bank, Watch Shop at Porter Square, Mind’s Eye Yarns, Commonwealth Lock, City Sports, Porter Square Vintage, Clothware, Mucky Kids, Pemberton Farms, Bicycle Exchange, Fun Antiques, General Optical, Abodeon, Guitar Shop, Nomad, Wardmaps, and Irish Imports.

The super cool prizes thus far:

Waldo postcard books
A 6-volume deluxe set of Waldo books
A Where’s Waldo? The Magnificent Mini Boxed Set
Gift basket of goodies from Cambridge Naturals
Kyrptonite bike lock from Commonwealth Lock
Rayband Sunglasses (value $150) from General Optics
Gift card for 2 lessons from Guitar Stop
$25 gift card from Nomad
Red Line Wooden Train subway car from Wardmaps

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

10th on the 10th July

Ah, the inexorable march of time. Another 10th of the month approaches and with it another celebratory sale. On July 10th, the sections of the store that will be discounted 10% are Art & Architecture and Paperback Picture Books, So if you've had your eye on a juicy compendium of architecture or have been meaning to fill out a young one's library, next Thursday is the day to stop by the store. For those of you who like to plan ahead here are some titles to look for:

Art/Architecture


A Way of Living: The Art of De Kooning 

The Art of Rube Goldberg 

The Vatican: All the Paintings 

Atlas of World Landscape Architecture 

Ando 

The Hand of the Small Town Builder 

Paperback Picture Books

Make Way for Ducklings 

Brave Irene 

Ugly Vegetables 

Little Beauty 

Rabbit Ears 

Tuesday 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Magic and Hard Work, Books and People

When we made the big move from the suburbs and opened Porter Square Books, who knew that we were, in fact, coming home? Home to a community that we barely knew and home to a book store life that continues to be sustaining on so many levels. Cambridge readers embraced us and our wonderful front line booksellers supplied the enthusiasm to engage those readers. Voila - like magic here we are 10 years later. Well maybe not so much magic as hard work!

At a recent private event for Bret Anthony Johnston, the amazing author of Remember Me Like This, I was struck, from a rare sense of distance, that being in this place with these people would actually never have happened if we hadn't created PSB. Indeed the books draw us together, but it is the people who breathe life into this world.

What a privilege to have met such a delightful array of authors and illustrators over these 10 years. I mention them not as an exercise in name dropping, but with amazement at my good fortune. Some of my favorites: Annie Lamott, Alexandra Fuller, MT Anderson, Karl Marlantes, Judy Collins, Carole King, Romeo Dallaire, Tracy Kidder, Abraham Verghese, Fonzie (!!), Jerry Pinkney, Peter Sis, Anthony Shadid, Sebastian Junger, David Macaulay, Peniel Joseph, Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Scott Magoon, Joe McKendry, Chris Van Allsburg, Jacqueline Woodson, Mo Willems, Anita Silvey, David Sedaris, Gail Caldwell, Oliver Jeffers, Neil Gaiman, Ruta Sepetys, Jared Williams, Gareth Hinds, Margaret Atwood, Ed Viesturs, Mameve Medwed, Tomie DePaola, Rosemary Wells, Liza Ketchum, Kate DiCamillo, Sarah Chayes, Ann Downer, and many others.

The connections spread to the publishing community, sister bookstores, our customers, and the terrific people we work with in schools, libraries and organizations here in Cambridge and beyond.

However, laughing and working on a daily basis with my fellow founders, our new owners, and all the hardworking folks at PSB truly brings me even greater joy. They have provided camaraderie, kindness and inspiration and make it fun to come into work. The good news is there's more to come. What a gift this has been!

Carol Stoltz
Children's Department Buyer and Manager

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Anne’s Tuesday Table

The very first Anne's Tuesday Table
Monday nights, the back office and hallway is stacked with boxes of new releases. Stacks and stacks of boxes all stamped, stickered, and labeled for the following Tuesday. For whatever reason, (let’s go with “magic”) Tuesday is the day most publishers release their new books. Which means that every Monday, Todd, Robert, and Heather unpack all of those boxes and load them onto carts, so the new books will be ready when we open our doors at 7am on Tuesday morning.

Which means when Anne opens the store, she finds herself surrounded by carts stacked high with the newest of the new. Yes, for Anne, it is like Christmas every single Tuesday, if Christmas involved putting all the presents away and not getting to keep any of them. (So for most parents, I guess, exactly like Christmas.)

Over the years, Anne has become something of a connoisseur of the new book cart, so we found a table for her, to display the new books she thinks deserve special attention. Sure, there will be the big books everybody has been expecting, and that book on Fresh Air last week, but there will also be interesting books that have, for whatever reason (probably not “magic” this time) flown under the radar, books Anne herself has been waiting for, as well as whatever catches her eye. We’ll leave table up for the day, so all who stop by can see what Anne has picked out for them. We’ll also find time during all the shelving to post a picture & a list of titles for all of our internet friends on Books From the Future. Pictured is the inaugural table. Here are the books on it:

The Arsonist by Sue Miller (who will be reading with us tomorrow!)

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (In Paperback)

Latitude Zero by Dianna Renn (whose launch party is July 3rd.)

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