Friday, November 30, 2012


Earlier this week Richard Mason was at the store discussing his latest novel, The History of a Pleasure Seeker, now out in paperback. A special feature of the evening was his presentation of his exciting new product he's calling an e-lumination. It's a digital edition of his novel unlike any other ebook you've ever seen, designed from the beginning to be a visually stunning, multi-media, interactive experience. Currently it is only available for Apple mobile devices such as the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch and we are one of a very few stores selling cards with a code that you can redeem on iTunes. Come into the store and view our demo of this unique reading experience.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Food Books for the 2012 Holidays

In the way crocuses signal the onset of spring, the arrival of pallets of cookbooks heralds the impending holiday season. As food and food writing continue to grow in cultural importance the amount and variety of cookbooks grow apace. If you’ve got a cook or food lover on your list, this post will be a guide to cookbooks and food writing of the 2012 holiday seasons.

Online to Offline

Two of the best food websites have gone to print with excellent cookbooks. If you’ve ever stared blankly at a refrigerator full of ingredients with no idea what to cook for dinner and you’ve had an internet connection, you’ve probably searched Epicurious for an answer. The Epicurious Cookbook collects 250 of their “four-fork” or highest rated recipes. As practical (some would say lifesaving) as the website is, it doesn’t provide the joy of flipping around to find a recipe that catches your eye. Organized thematically, The Epicurious Cookbook is both a reference, like the website, and an avenue for discovery like all the best cookbooks are.

After years of being one of the absolute best food blogs on the internet with some of the absolute best recipes and the best pictures, Smitten Kitchen has finally come to the printed page. Deb Perelman is a self-taught cook and a self-taught photographer, which makes the quality of her photography and her recipes that much more impressive. She’ll be stopping by the store so we’ll have signed copies for the holidays.

Cookbook as Work of Art

Some cookbooks are collections of recipes, reference guides filled with practical solutions to practical problems. Others try to capture the complete experience of food, with beautiful pictures, cultural explorations, personal stories, and recipes, becoming as much works of art as they are books of recipes. Uniquely bound, uniquely organized, and uniquely covered Polpo might be the most interesting object in our cooking section. Its recipes come from Russell Norman’s Soho restaurant but it’s presentation and photographs come from a commitment to discover the soul of Venice’s back streets.

All of Thomas Keller’s cookbooks are beautiful and amazing. His newest is Bouchon, and it’s beautiful and amazing.

Food Writing

The best food writing going on today isn’t in a book, it’s in Lucky Peach, the quarterly magazine and brain child of Momofuko’s David Chang. With writing by Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Harold McGee, Peter Mehan, and a host of other cooks and writers it is absolutely one of the best magazines out there. And it comes with recipes. Each issue is organized around a theme, the current one is “Chinatown.”

Somewhere between a cookbook and food writing and between photojournalism and travelogue is Saveur’s The Way We Cook: Portraits from Around the World. Like Hungry Planet: What the World Eats and Material World: A Global Family Portrait, The Way We Cook features pictures of people, well, cooking. As simple as that sounds, the book is absolutely fascinating. And if you happen to feel inspired, there are recipes in the back.

On the Edge

If there is one cookbook that encompasses the innovations, experiments, and revolutions of cooking over the last ten years or so, it’s the encyclopedic Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet. Unfortunately, at six volumes, 2,400 pages, and $625 it was too encyclopedic for just about anybody not striving for a Michelin star. This year, however, the authors have released a pared down version called Modernist Cuisine at Home. It’s 456 pages contain recipes at all skill levels and detailed information on equipment and techniques. And Modernist Cuisine at Home also boasts one of the best innovations in cookbooks, I’ve ever seen. One of the problems with beautiful (and expensive) cookbooks is their beauty makes me reluctant to cook with them. Cooking can be messy and I don’t want to destroy a book I spent $50 on. Along with the shmancy, full color photographs, at home on the coffee table as well as on the kitchen table, edition of the book, Modernist Cuisine at Home comes with a spiral-bound, text only, tear resistant, WATERPROOF, book of all the recipes. You can cook from Modernist Cuisine at Home without fear of damaging Modernist Cuisine at Home. I truly hope other cookbook publishers will follow suit.

Book Recommendations Are Like Fruit Cake

Last year I wrote A Very Foodie Holiday for the Porter Square Books Blog, and, just like fruit cake, book recommendations keep for over a year. Check out the post and all the suggestions here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kobo Mini 2-Day Sale

UPDATE: Good news everyone. If we run out of Minis during the sale, we will be able to place paid special orders at the sale price. You still need to make the purchase on Friday the 24th or Saturday the 25th to get the $30, but now you don't have to worry about elbowing your fellow reader out of the way for the last Mini.

Kobo is running a big two-day sale on the Mini. All Kobo Minis purchased on Friday November 23 (maybe you’ve heard of this whole “Black Friday” thing) and Saturday November 24 (Small Business Saturday to all you American Express Users) will be $30 off. On those two days instead of being $79.99 all Minis will be $49.99. A top of the line, fully featured, fits in the palm of your hand e-ink reader will be about $50. If you participate in American Express’s Small Business Saturday (sign up and more info here) you could get a $25 credit. In that case, you’ll get a top of the line, fully featured, fits in the palm of your hand e-ink reader for about $25. On top of that, all Kobo accessories will be 10% off those days with the purchase of a device. Personally, I think these are great little devices and at $50 or even $25 they make outstanding gifts for readers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shop Indie Anywhere

It’s a sad truth that many people don’t have a local independent bookstore. Maybe their hometown is too small to support one or the ones that used to be there went out of business for one reason or another. Some people may want to shop independent but can’t.

The new partnership with Kobo can make it convenient and economical for those of you without a store nearby to still shop independent. Porter Square Books, and other independent bookstores around the country are now selling Kobo devices, the Glo and the Mini. Both devices have Wi-Fi, high resolution e-ink touch screens, an integrated dictionary, and social reading functions and come with easy access to the Kobo ebooks store. If you purchase a Kobo from an independent bookstore all the ebooks you buy on that device will credit that bookstore. You’ll be shopping independent with every single ebook purchase. The same goes if you give the Kobo to someone else. If they’ve written “Kindle” on their wish list, the Kobo devices will give them all the features and convenience of Kindle, with a comparable catalog, easy access to .epub files, competitive prices, and higher resolution screens, AND you’ll be sharing your independent spirit.

Most indie bookstores have websites that sell and ship books, but the Kobos offer a catalog of millions of ebooks, all competitively priced, all available instantly with a tap or two on the touch screen, and all supporting independence.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kobo Live On Our Website

We started selling Kobo devices in the store on Monday and are now selling Kobo ebooks on our website. They are readable on pretty much every device except the Kindle. If you’re looking for ebooks just start with the search box on the left hand side of the webpage. You can also click on the “Other Editions of This Title” link in title listings to see the ebook edition of a particular title.

Once you find the book you want click on “Buy Ebook Now.” The first time you do this a window will pop up letting you know you’ll be completing your order on the Kobo website. You’ll also need to create a new Kobo account. When you do, you’ll be able to save your credit card information. If you stay signed in to Kobo, clicking on the “Buy Ebook Now,” will take you directly to the payment screen and then you’re one click away from your book. If you want to shop for more titles, click on the “continue shopping” button. You’ll stay on the Kobo website, but all your purchases will support Porter Square Books.

Click here for device specific instructions.

If you have any questions about Kobo or ebooks in general please email me at 

And if you’re in the neighborhood stop in to check out our device display at the front counter. You’ll be able to try out a Mini and a Glo. So far, everyone who has tried one out has really liked it. They’re comfortable in the hand, clear to read with many different display options, have an integrated and easy to use dictionary, and have a very smooth highlighting and annotation feature. (There’s even a translation function for all of you struggling with the Spanish in This Is How You Lose Her) I think a lot of holiday lists where updated with a Glo or a Mini. And if a friend or family member wrote “Kindle” on their wishlist, you can get them a Kobo instead.

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