Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Someone Gave You a Kindle Fire

Whatever your opinion of Amazon might be, they have done a great job making sure people think of Kindles first when they think of ereaders. And the reviews of their various devices all pretty much say the same thing; for the price, Amazon makes decent devices. This means that a lot of readers over the last year have gotten Kindles, either as gifts or for themselves, without knowing how the device can limit where you shop for ebooks. If the reports that we’re hearing are accurate, a lot of you will be unwrapping Kindle Fires this year, whether or not you asked for them.

The good news is that you can use the IndieBound Reader app on the Kindle Fire, so even on your Amazon device, you’ll have the option to shop at independent bookstores for your ebooks. Though the IndieBound Reader app wasn’t designed to be used on the Kindle Fire, the staff at the American Booksellers Association have tested it and the results are good. Here is how you put the IndieBound Reader app on your Kindle Fire.

• First, configure your Kindle to allow sideloaded apps. Tap the Settings gear at the top right of the home screen, and then tap the “More” button.

• From the Settings menu, select “Device”

• Toward the bottom of this screen is a toggle that says “Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources.” Switch this toggle from Off to On.

• A nasty security warning appears. Tap OK. You can now install sideloaded apps.

• Point your browser to

• Tap the green button that reads “Download IndieBound Reader for Android”

• When the download is complete, a banner notification will appear at the top of the screen saying, “Download Complete” and a new notification will appear. Tap this notification at the top of the screen, and then tap on the successful download message to begin installation.

• You now have the IndieBound Reader app on your Kindle Fire! It will appear with your other apps on the “Apps” screen.

• (Optional) If you would like to disable sideloaded apps again, simply follow the first few steps and change the “Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources” toggle back to Off again.

Check back next week for a post with a lot more details about using the IndieBound Reader app.

Or maybe you got a Nook Tablet. If so, you can use Adobe Digital Editions to move PSB ebooks onto your Nook Tablet just like with the older versions of the Nook.

Sideloading the IndieBound Reader app is, unfortunately, not as easy on the Nook Tablet as it is on the Kindle Fire, but once installed the app runs great thanks to the Nook Tablet’s superior hardware. Please note that a microSD card is required to run IndieBound Reader. However, if you still want to use the app, here’s how.

• You must have an SD card in order for the IndieBound Reader app to run. Because of the Nook’s unique file permissions sytem, it cannot write to your Nook directly. Make sure that a microSD card has been inserted before beginning this procedure.

• Unlike the Kindle Fire, the “Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources” toggle is not available in the Nook’s settings menu. Instead, you must first try to sideload an APK in order to access this screen. So, point your Nook’s browser to

• Tap the green button that reads “Download IndieBound Reader for Android”

• “Starting Download” appears. Nothing further seems to happen!

• Tap the three-arrow icon in the lower left corner. This pulls up a notifications dialog.
Tap on the IBReader-x.x.apk download.

• Complete action using… choose Package Installer

• A security dialog appears. Choose “Settings.”

• You are taken to a hidden settings page on your Nook where you can enable the
installation of sideloaded apps. Check the box next to “Unknown sources.”

• A scary security warning appears. Click OK.

• Tap the Back button next to the Application Settings page title. You will be returned to your web browser.

• Tap the arrow icon in the bottom right again. Tap on the downloaded IBReader apk

• Complete action using… choose Package Installer

• Install the application.

Running the application subsequently

Unfortunately, the Nook does not display sideloaded apps together with other apps on the system. There are two means of accessing sideloaded apps on your Nook Tablet.
1) The Search
Use the search to look up your app. You will need to search for “IB Reader” (with caps) to find it.
2) Sideload an app manager
This is a great solution if you plan to add more sideloaded apps in the future.

Sideloading the IndieBound Reader app on these devices can be a bit of a hassle, but it means you’ll have the freedom to chose where you want to shop for ebooks. Furthermore, I think it’s a really good reading app in general. It supports annotation and plenty of formatting options and makes buying ebooks really easy. More on the app next week.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Perfect Book Part 3

Part 3 of The Perfect Book. Check out Part 2 and Part1.

Hockey’s Original 6: Breathtaking, vivid photos make this perfect for book for the hockey fan.

Hard Way Around and Atlantic: For the seafarer, whether actual or would-be.

The Art of Medicine: For that doctor or medical student in the family:

One Writer’s Garden: For Eudora Welty fans, horticulturalists, and lovers of American literature. A beautiful gift book, the perfect companion to One Writer’s Beginnings.

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick: For the delusion paranoid member of the family in search of the universal order and/or the hardcore Phillip K. Dick fan.

A History of the World in 100 Objects: For the perpetually curious interested in history.

The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise by Georges Perec: For the office worker in search of a new perspective on his/her toil.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ABA Open Letter

Like many independent booksellers we are a proud and active member of the American Booksellers Association. The CEO of our organization, Oren Teicher, has written an open letter in response to a new app promotion just announced by Amazon. I thought it important enough to share.

This week announced that customers who go into bricks-and-mortar stores on Saturday, December 10, use the company’s smartphone price check app on select products, and then purchase that product from Amazon will receive a discount of up to $5.

While books were not included in the promotion, indie bookstores, like other Main Street retailers, were outraged by the online giant’s latest move.

Dear Jeff Bezos,

We’re not shocked, just disappointed.

Despite your company’s recent pledge to be a better corporate citizen and to obey the law and collect sales tax, you created a price-check app that allows shoppers to browse Main Street stores that do collect sales tax, scan a product, ask for expertise, and walk out empty-handed in order to buy on Amazon. We suppose we should be flattered that an online sales behemoth needs a Main Street retail showroom.

Forgive us if we’re not.

We could call your $5 bounty to app-users a cheesy marketing move and leave it at that. In fact, it is the latest in a series of steps to expand your market at the expense of cities and towns nationwide, stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries.

But maybe we’ve misunderstood.

Even though you’ve spent millions on lobbyists, fired affiliates in seven states, and threatened to shut warehouses to avoid collecting sales tax, maybe you really mean it now when you say you support a level playing field.

It’s up to you to show us.

In the meantime, indie retailers remain the heart of countless communities — offering discovery, energy, support, and unique experiences. See you on Main Street.


Oren Teicher, CEO
American Booksellers Association

This week announced that customers who go into bricks-and-mortar stores on Saturday, December 10, use the company’s smartphone price check app on select products, and then purchase that product from Amazon will receive a discount of up to $5.

While books were not included in the promotion, indie bookstores, like other Main Street retailers, were outraged by the online giant’s latest move.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher has written an open letter (below and here in PDF format) to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos that highlights the glaring discrepancy between the company’s recent statements in support of sales tax fairness and this latest exploitation of an inequitable strategic advantage.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Perfect Book Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our holiday help series, The Perfect Book. Click here to visit Part 1.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: The perfect ‘comfort book’ says Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes.

One Writer's Beginnings byEudora Welty: The perfect book for those yearning to write a memoir. This is a treasure.

Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats: The perfect collection of poetry for the nostalgic romantic in your life.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox: The perfect book to inspire the female athlete.

Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster: For all who appreciate good writing. A friendly approach to literary criticism and perfect for those would-be writers.

A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman: The perfect read for the popular history enthusiast who loves copious set-pieces, anecdotes, perceptive observation and excellent writing.

Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas: For the reader in search of brilliance relatively unknown in the states and the reader looking to bite off more than they can chew.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Perfect Book 2011

We all know books make great gifts in general, but there is something really special about finding the perfect book for someone on your list. Here are some suggestions to help you find those books. (And check out our lists from last year. These books are still perfect for the right person.)

Crafting with Cat Hair: Fun, eco-friendly crafting projects mixed with information about cat grooming and care. Definitely a neat gift for all cat lovers, whether they're crafty or not!

Design Sponge: For those who like to adorn their homes and personal spaces with a unique touch--and on a budget.

Spencer Tracy: Anyone who loves Old Hollywood will find the new biography of Spencer Tracy by James Curtis a special treat.

Flip Flop Flyball: The intellectual sports fan and/or anyone interested in graphic design.

Train Dreams: For the reader in search of America.

Ready Player One: It is perfect for the techie and gaming guru in your life; the one who has the latest and greatest of everything, both in this world and in galaxies far, far away. No batteries required.

Noir, Fatale, and He Died with his Eyes Open: Perfect for the reader who likes a little smarts and a lot of edge in their mysteries.

More to come. And while you're thinking about books, check our What a Book is Worth posts for some wonderful and inspiring meditations on the importance of books in our lives.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Ebooks as Holiday Gifts

Want to give ebooks this holiday? Want to support PSB? Here are some devices and how they work with us, along with some other ebooks info.


iPad2 (16G/Wi-Fi)
With thousands of apps, great design, and cool features, it is still the industry standard.
Price: $499
How to Buy Ebooks from PSB: Use a web browser to buy from
How to Read: The free Google Reader and IndieBound Reader (coming in December) apps will automatically sync with your purchases, both available at the App Store

Toshiba Thrive (16g/Wi-Fi)
The closest thing to a portable all around work station. Perfect for students, writers, & anyone looking to be productive and entertained on the go.
Price: $379
How to Buy Ebooks from PSB: Use the IndieBound Reader app to buy straight from Porter Square Books, available at the Android App Market
How to Read: The IndieBound Reader app will automatically sync with your purchases, even those made on other computers.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (16G/Wi-Fi)
A slick device that packs all the features you want from a tablet into a very bookish size.
Price: $469
How to Buy Ebooks from PSB: Use the IndieReader app to buy straight from Porter Square Books, available at the Android App Market
How to Read: The IndieBound Reader app will automatically sync with your purchases, even those made on other computers.

The IndieBound Reader App for the Android will allow you to make purchases directly from Porter Square Books (or the Indie bookstore of your choice). You can adjust the font, font size, line spacing, margins, and more. It supports bookmarks and annotations, has brightness controls and a "Night Mode." It will also support other ebooks in industry standards like Adobe Digital Editions, ePub, and PDF. The app will be available for Apple products in December.


NOOK Simple Touch/Color (Wi-Fi)
The NOOK is consistently one of the best reviewed ereaders out there. With a little know-how the NOOK Color can be turned into a general tablet. (I use a rooted NOOK Color.)
Price: $99 (Nook Color $199)
How to Buy Ebooks from PSB: Download ebooks from onto you computer.
How to Read: Use the free software Adobe Digital Editions to move the ebook from your computer onto your Nook.

iRiver Story HD (Wi-Fi)
This inexpensive reader has the highest resolution of any e-ink screen on the market and automatically syncs with your Google ebook purchases from
Price: $139.99
How to Buy Ebooks from PSB: Use a web browser to buy from
How to Read: Automatically syncs with your purchases whenever you connect it to the internet

Sony Reader WIFI PRS-T1BC
Sony released the first ereader and they’ve been making quality devices at a reasonable price ever since.
Price: $149.99
How to Buy Ebooks from PSB: Download ebooks from onto your computer.
How to Read: Use the free software Adobe Digital Editions to move the ebook from your computer onto your Sony Reader.

Include a Porter Square Books Gift Card in with the device. Our gift cards are good for ebooks and all other online purchases.

For more information about devices visit the hardware section of our ebooks resource page. Things change quickly in the world of devices. Barnes and Noble has released a new Nook Tablet and though we haven't had a chance to look at it yet, it should work with our ebooks the same way the other Nook devices do. With a big decision like this, it's best to do your research. Wired, Engadget, and CNET, are three sites that consistently review devices like these. (and I scoured all of them for this post)

If you have any questions just ask. If we don't know the answer, we'll find out. Stop in or send an email to

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Very Foodie Holiday

It’s probably too early to use terms like “golden age,” but we might be living in a golden age for people who like to read about food. Food writing, memoirs, cookbooks that read like works of art, and classics brought back into print. Here is a list of books for the foodie in your life.

The Classics

Escoffier: With maybe the exception of the Larousse Gastronomique, Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire is the most important and foundational book of modern French cooking. Whether used as a cookbook or a reference book, it’s on the shelf of all the important chefs.

The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin: If you’ve watched Iron Chef, you’ve seen at least one quote from this beguiling and philosophical meditation on all things gastronomic. First published in France in 1825, this epicurean masterpiece has never been out of print.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee: It might be a stretch to credit On Food and Cooking with the current wave of creative cooking in homes and restaurants, but McGee’s book certainly laid a foundation for interesting thinking about food. By providing a background of science he helped open up the possibilities of cooking.

LinkFood Writing

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain: Anthony Bourdain’s most famous book is his memoir Kitchen Confidential and he is now paying the bills hosting No Reservations, what I consider one of the best shows on television. In this collection, written in conjunction with his first TV show, Bourdain explores the cultural resonances of food and travel, demonstrating how both activities can be pathways to a deeper understanding of life.

Blood, Bones and Butter: Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir was one of the most highly acclaimed works of food writing in the last couple of years. On top of being an unflinching and lyrical work, Hamilton’s book (and life) proudly barges into a restaurant world that is still largely a bit of a boys club.

The Art of Eating: This probably belongs up in the Classics section above, but Brillat-Savarin beat MFK Fisher to it. Regardless, modern American food writing started with MFK Fisher and this is the definitive collection of her writing. Not willing to dive into a 748 page tome, her smaller collections, like How to Cook a Wolf and Consider the Oyster are good places to start.

On The Edge

Thai Street Food: If you want to get a true taste of a place’s culture, eat their street food. This gorgeous book presents the street food of one of the world’s most vibrant and interesting culinary cultures. The pictures make this book as much at home on the coffee table as on the kitchen table.

Mission Street Food: Part graphic novel, part memoir, part cookbook, the story of the Mission Street Food book is about a changing American food culture and a couple of people following their dream to run a restaurant.

A Day at elBulli: The recently closed elBulli was considered by many to be the best restaurant in the world, and its head chef, Ferran Adria, to be one of the world’s most creative minds. Though there are recipes in the book, this isn’t a cookbook, so much as it is an exploration of the process of creation focused around food and eating. A great book for artists and writers whether they read about food or not.

Something You Might Actually Cook From

Family Meal: Every day the staff at elBulli sat down together for a family meal before service. The meals were simple, hearty affairs designed to help power the chefs through their long night, but still spiced with the creativity that made Ferran Adria and elBulli world famous. With elBulli now closed, this book will be the closest we can get to tasting Adria’s genius.

Momofuku Milk Bar: If there’s an American Ferran Adria, it might be David Chang, whose restaurants and cookbooks, and now a quarterly food magazine, infuse food and cooking with the rebellious raucous energy of a punk rock show. This book is recipes from the bakery of the same name run by the equally creative Christina Tosi. Who wouldn’t want to whip up a compost cookie, crack pie, and cereal milk ice cream.

The Good Eats Trilogy (Vols 1, 2, and 3): I make more recipes by Alton Brown than by anyone else. His DIY philosophy combined with his commitment to share the reasons for recipes make his one of the most educational cooking shows out there. These books collect all the recipes and techniques from his long running show.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Come Home for the Holidays

It’s hard to believe it’s time to start thinking about holiday shopping, but, well it is. As you plan your gift-giving this year, we’d just like to tell you about some of the extra benefits of shopping at locally owned independent stores.

Shopping Local is a Job Creation Program. There is a lot of debate about how to create jobs in America, but an easy way for everyone to participate is to shop local. A bookstore the size of Porter Square Books employs 11.6 full time equivalent employees for every $1 million in sales. Walmart employs 5 people for every $1 million in sales. Amazon employs 1. (Institute for Local Self-Reliance) In terms of revenue and actual job creation, another study found that $1 million in revenue shifted to locally owned business would create 2.14 jobs, as compared with 1.27 jobs at chains and .39 jobs when you include online only retailers. And it doesn’t take much. A study in San Francisco found that if shoppers shifted only 10% of their buying to locally owned businesses, it would create 1,295 jobs.

And Those Jobs Usually Pay Better. Economists Stephan Goetz and David Flemin analyzed 2,953 counties, including both rural and urban places, and found that those with a larger density of small, locally owned businesses experienced greater per capita income growth between 2000 and 2007. The presence of large, non-local businesses, meanwhile, had a negative effect on incomes.

Keeping Us Here Makes Your Home More Valuable. And speaking of stimulus, a report studying 27 neighborhoods in 15 major cities found that home values in neighborhoods with thriving independent businesses outperformed their broader markets by 4 percent per year and 50 percent cumulatively over the past 14 years.

It Helps Us Give Back. A 1991 study (most recent I could find for this specific data) found that small businesses donate twice as much, per employee, to charities as large companies. Other studies have confirmed this general trend. Furthermore, because this is our home, we donate to charities in our community and work with organizations like Breakthrough Cambridge and Youk’s Kids that improve the lives of people living here.

Your Money Stays in Your Community. Because we give here and live here, more of your money stays here when you shop with us. With taxes, profits, wages, and the giving mentioned above, $45 out of every $100 you spend at a locally owned store like us, stays in the community. It funds schools and other public services, it pays the rent, it goes back into other local businesses through our own shopping. Only $13 out of $100 stays here when you shop at a national chain. Even less would stay when shopping at an online only store.

For more information about the effect of shopping local visit Civic Economics, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and Cambridge Local First. And a special thanks to Senior Researcher and author of The Big-Box Swindle, Stacy Mitchell for finding some of this data for me.

And on top of all the good economic stuff, you get to give someone a book. To borrow a little business-ese, I don’t think there’s a much bigger return-on-investment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Books help keep me alive and for that I am forever happy

As a child, I had a difficult time learning how to read. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read. In fact, I desperately wanted to be able to do what my mother and father did every day with me—make words on the page come out of their mouths in magical sounds. I would stare at those squiggly black lines on the page trying to make them into words, into something, anything I could make sense of. I wanted to make them mine.

And then suddenly, one day, BAM, I was reading! The black lines were words, glorious words. I ate every one of them right up and haven’t looked back since. I now work at a literacy non-profit spreading the love and pleasure of, you guessed it, reading. The most incredible moments in my work are when a young person finds a book that they can truly and deeply connect with. Many of my students consistently say “I don’t like reading”, or “Reading is boring”. So, when I see a young person re-reading a Mo Willems Pigeon book for the hundredth time and begging their staff to read it to them, I know I’ve succeeded, if just a little, in helping children see that reading can be joyous.

Although I’ve known that I love reading, lately I’ve been even more grateful of the space it occupies in my life. I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch lately—I’ll spare you the particulars, but let’s just say I’ve been feeling like I’m in a boat floating about in a wild sea with no oar, no sails, and no map. And when in a boat like that, it’s challenging to keep sight of what’s positive and hopeful in life. Instead of seeing the blue sky and taking the time to breathe, I can only see the obnoxious fellow riders on the bus and T, the angry pedestrians, and experience a general feeling of malaise. The other day I was at the gym finishing the book Incredibly Close and Extremely Loud by Jonathan Safron Foer. For unknown reasons, I’ve resisted his books up to this point. I don’t know why, because now I’m a HUGE convert. So, I had loved the book up to this point, but the ending: wow. I had the weirdest experience—I’m on the elliptical, sweating my bum off, physically moving my body , and doing my damnedest not to break out in giant sobs as I try to finish the book. I looked out the window at the breathtakingly blue sky and just thought, Oh man, I am so full of feeling and life and look at that sky and I am alive. And I am alive. Books help keep me alive and for that I am forever happy. If I can continue to find bliss in books and to help other people find bliss, I’ll continue to find meaning in this crazy thing we call life.

Sarah Farbo

Want to see more posts like this? Click here. And we want to hear from you. Send your thoughts on the worth of books to Click here for more info.

Porter Square Books Featured in Demand

It’s always gratifying to hear from customers how glad they are that our store is in the neighborhood. We never tire of it! Even more thrilling to be recognized for what we do in print by a veteran management consultant and bestselling business author.

In his new book Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It, Adrian Slywotsky includes Porter Square Books among the many companies he profiles recognizing us with those who achieve success by taking “the individual-customer based approach”. “Like Fresh Pond Market, their store has become a platform offering a wide array of products that can be organized and configured around customers’ varying, ever-changing needs.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Words are my food & I Hope Others Will Join the Feast

The people who ask me what they should read are often the most cat-killing curious of customers, the men and women (and sometimes children) that want, simply put, to be entertained by something new. To this question I respond: “Well, what do you like?” It’s true that everyone has their favorite authors, just as everyone has their literary enemies. Working in a new and used bookstore, where the smell of ancient bindings is always waiting for a covert sniff, I field a lot of ambiguous questions; and you know what? I love it. Words are my food, and I hope others will join in on the feast.

Books can be harsh and silly, they can heal you and hurt you and echo in your mind like cannon-fire. They are redemptive and fun, and can swim raucously around in your intestines like greasy food. Time-tested literature is worth, to me, more than I can express in such a short space. Reading has changed me in the most significant way, as it has given a gift: the realization that I want to be a writer. No longer do I feel the conflict of your average mid-twenties male, puppy-lost in his career search. Now I have a purpose.

I think everyone should read something for pleasure, and it saddens me that there are individuals who do not. How beautiful is this thing called language, the only connection between the author’s vision and the reader’s imagining? As a novelist friend once told me, stories save lives. Books are so much more than just what you hold in your hand. Books are what you hold inside.

Ian Ross

This is Ian's take on the worth of a books. We'd like to hear yours. Send your stories, thoughts, comments, etc, to or Click Here for more info.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zone One, Colson Whitehead’s Bucket List, and PSB

Colson Whitehead’s new novel Zone One is out today. The book is one of the most anticipated novels of the fall and is already garnering plenty of praise. To share a couple of choice quotes, USA Today says: "Highbrow novelist Colson Whitehead plunges into the unstoppable zombie genre in this subtle meditation on loss and love in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, which has become the city that never dies," and The Daily Beast says "A satirist so playful that you often don't even feel his scalpel, Whitehead toys with the shards of contemporary culture with an infectious glee. Here he upends the tropes of the zombie story in the canyons of lower Manhattan. Horror has rarely been so unsettling, and never so grimly funny." In Zone One, Whitehead turns his particular brilliance on the idea of zombies, zombie apocalypse and New York City. And he’ll be reading with us on Thursday November 3rd. And he had this to say about Porter Square Books:

“I went to college in Cambridge, so whenever I read at Porter Square Books, it’s always an occasion for quiet reflection as I’m reminded of how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go. For example, after losing my virginity last week, I’m now halfway through my freshman year bucket list. Now to land that gig as a lead dancer in a Debbie Gibson video...”

Want a sneak peek of Zone One? Here is a link to the first 19 pages.


Here are the particulars about our upcoming Pitchapalooza event November 10 AT 7 PM.

WHAT: Pitchapalooza is American Idol for books (only without Simon). Twenty writers will be selected at random to pitch their book. Each writer gets one minute—and only one minute! In the last month, three writers have gotten publishing deals as a result of participating in Pitchapalooza.

WHO: Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry are co-founders of The Book Doctors, a company dedicated to helping authors get their books published. They are also co-authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2010). Arielle Eckstut has been a literary agent for 18 years at The Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. She is also the author of seven books and the co-founder of the iconic brand, LittleMissMatched. David Henry Sterry is the best-selling author of 12 books, on a wide variety of subject including memoir, sports, YA fiction and reference. They have taught their workshop on how to get published everywhere from Stanford University to Smith College. They have appeared everywhere from The New York Times to NPR’s Morning Edition to USA Today.

HOW: At Pitchapalooza, judges will help you improve your pitch, not tell you how bad it is. Judges critique everything from idea to style to potential in the marketplace and much, much more. Authors come away with concrete advice as well as a greater understanding of the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Whether potential authors pitch themselves, or simply listen to trained professionals critique each presentation, Pitchapalooza is educational and entertaining for one and all. From Miami to Portland, from LA to NYC, and many stops along the way, Pitchapaloozas have consistently drawn standing-room-only crowds, press and blog coverage, and the kind of bookstore buzz reserved for celebrity authors.

Most importantly...

PRIZE: At the end of Pitchapalooza, the judges will pick a winner. The winner receives an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for his/her book.

PRICE OF ADMISSION: To sign up to pitch, you must purchase a copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published. Anyone who buys a copy of receives a FREE 20 minute consultation, a $100 value. If you don’t want to pitch, the event is FREE.

Here's some of the press on the event:

New York Times article:
Pitchapalooza mini movie:
Pitchapalooza on NBC:


Sunday, October 16, 2011

If you have to hide a book, it must be valuable

THE WHALES, a picture book by Cynthia Rylant full of beautiful illustrations of whales, naturally, was the first book I was driven to hide. Now, I’m as fond of whales as the next person, and I’m fond of picture books. Fondness can dim though, when a two-year-old asks for a whale book to be read not just once or twice a day, but once or twice an hour. We had stacks of picture books in the house. It didn’t matter. They seemed to be invisible, so I admit it, I hid the chosen book for a few hours each day. For a child of two, out of sight was out of mind, and it meant I got a welcome respite to all whales, all the time.

The day did come when my son didn’t want me to read the book more than a few times. Joy reigned. I read him at least ten other picture books I had waiting. Wonderful, colorful, fabulous stories. I was happy. But for those of you with book-obsessed toddlers, I’m sure you can guess what came next. A different book, this one called OUR NEW KITTEN by Harriet Hanes, became the new must-read all the time. We ended up with three copies of that book. After the first was in tatters, from the necessary practice of turning pages to him carrying it around like a talisman to me hiding it in the hamper and under sofa cushions, I bought two more. One, I cut up, putting each page in a protective sleeve, and then punching holes in the cover and rebinding it with string. The other I put away, because if a book is so well-loved, it must not be forgotten.

My son is long past that age, and now carries around books so that he can sneak in a few pages of reading when he has time. I still buy picture books, especially around the holidays. They are supposedly just a quirk of mine, but I find when I’m reading them, others in the family migrate to sit next to me just to keep me company. No whale books though. I might have to resort to hiding them.

Dee Garretson

Would you like to share a story or answer the question what is a book worth? Click here for more info.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Your Answers to the Question: What is a Book Worth?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post looking at the value of books, mostly because I wanted to talk abut something other than how much books cost. In some ways, it was a very general look at what books do in our world, but in other ways it was a very personal statement, it was me telling you how valuable books are to me. From conversations in the store, to reading blogs, to following all the bookish goodness on Twitter, I know that I am far from alone. Books are valuable to many people for many different reasons. I’d like to share those reasons with the world.

So send me an answer to the question: What is a book worth? You can talk very generally about books and reading in your life. You can share a story about a particular book that was and is important in your life. You can tell a story about giving that perfect gift, getting that perfect gift, or the one book you always seem to lend out, but never seem to get back. There are many different readers, many different books, and many different ways a book can be valuable, and I’d like to hear about all of them.

So please send your response(s) to You can write something of blog length (1-3 paragraphs), you can include pictures, if you want to make a video you can upload it to youtube and send me the link. What am I going to do with them? I’ll post everything I get on our blog and spread those answers around on Twitter and Facebook. If there’s a quote we think is particularly pithy or powerful we’ll display it somewhere in the store. And then we’ll see what happens. If there’s a big response, we might try to do something else. If not, then we’ll still have a collection of thoughts, reflections, ideas, and stories about books. That alone, seems worthwhile.

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