Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two Cool New Features on Our Website

Two very cool new features have been added to our website, one unique to us and the other on indie bookstore websites throughout the country thanks the American Booksellers Association. One will help you know what books are coming out in the future (that’s the one we did!), and the other to help you decide if a book you’ve found is one you actually want to buy.

Books from the Future
Did you know we can take pre-orders for books that haven’t been published yet? We can. Of course you can’t pre-order what you don’t know about and unless you happen to be a book buyer, work for one, or spend time at publishing trade shows, you’re probably not going to know what books are available for pre-order. So we’ve created this ever expanding list of Books From The Future. We’ll add to this list every time our buyers hear about future releases they think people will be excited about, so check back frequently. We’ve also set up a page of all the paperback releases, so as soon as we know when the book you’ve been dying to read is due in paperback, you will too. You can also follow our Books From The Future Tumblr where we’ll post one book (or so) from this list every day (or so). Or if you’re on Pinterest follow us and/or our Books from the Future Board.

Staff Picks Labels on Book Listings
Every month we feature a dozen or so adult and childrens books as Staff Picks. We have a display in the store and this page on our website. Over the years we have selected hundreds of great books, and though much of that list is online, it doesn’t really help you if you’re trying to decide whether or not to buy a particular book. Now, when you search for a book, you can see if it was a staff pick right from the search return and read what we had to say about it on its page. We’re still catching up with all our past picks but eventually everything we’ve picked will have a “Staff Pick” stamp on the cover. It’s a little change, but it’ll make it a little bit easier to answer the age old question, “Should I buy this book?”

That's all we've got planned for the website at the moment. Leave us a comment with what other features, services, functions, etc., you'd like to see from

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lit Crit on Your Wall

You should have heard the gasp I made when I saw this full-sized poster of a character map of Infinite Jest. (Maybe it’s best for both of us that you didn't.) Infinite Jest is one of my favorite books, but it is a massive novel in every sense of the word with hundreds of characters all orbiting different centers of gravity in the plot. Just reading through, no one would be able to keep all the characters straight in their heads, but one of the reasons I think Infinite Jest is such a great book is that you don’t need to keep all the characters straight to really enjoy the book. This poster handles the characters for you and provides a chronology of the sponsored years, a map of the Great Concavity and the Eschaton “board.” (And if you’ve read the book, you are probably very very excited.)

Not only is cool to look at, but I think it’s a pretty amazing work of literary criticism. Think of how long an essay (or book) would have to be to explain all of the relationships represented in the poster. Good criticism not only explains a work of literature, it also gives readers the tools they need to discover more of the book on their own. Along with being an exploration and explication, good criticism should be the start of or support a reader’s personal process of discovery. As printing and digital technology continues to improve, I hope we’ll see more work like this. And we are starting to see some. For example, check this interactive character map of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad  There’s also Infinite Boston, a blog essay series about the real life locations that inspired the settings in Infinite Jest. I hope we start seeing more and stranger approaches to understanding literature. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the night tracing the relationships that flow through Michael Pemulis.

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