Friday, May 23, 2014

Where to Purchase New Fall Books from Hachette

For those of you who might still be going to Amazon to buy books, we wanted to let you know that you could possibly be thwarted in an attempt to pre order forthcoming Hachette titles. (See below) Please know that you can go to our website,and pre order these titles. Among the new fall titles are Neverhome, Burning Room, Her, Heroes of Olympus Book 5, Last American Vampire, Silkworm. Thanks for your support.

Amazon's New Attack Against Hachette; Amazon 'Openness' Amazon has added another tactic in its battle for better terms against Hachette Group: it is now making it impossible for customers to pre-order many forthcoming Hachette titles, in some cases just the e-book version and in other cases both print and e-editions. Until this week, in its ongoing dispute with Hachette, Amazon had only slowed down delivery of many Hachette titles. Among titles that Amazon customers can't order, courtesy of Publishers Lunch: Silkworm by J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith; James Patterson's forthcoming titles (too many to list!); The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons; The Fever by Megan Abbott; and The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos. E-book versions of The Universal Tone by Carlos Santana and Honeydew by Edith Pearlman are also unavailable for ordering. As noted by the Bookseller, the latest Amazon move is similar to Amazon U.K.'s removal of buy buttons against Hachette U.K. in 2008 in another dispute over terms. The tactic is also similar to Amazon's battles against Macmillan in 2010 and IPG in 2012. ---

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy 10th Porter Square Books!

Porter Square Books celebrates its 10th anniversary this Fall and as part of the celebration I asked the booksellers who have been with the store for the entire decade to share their thoughts. Below, from Anne Miley, is the first installment in the series.


It seems that there must be things called "bookstore years", similar to dog years, which would make Porter Square Books older than it actually is. It doesn't seem possible to me that the bustling, bright and welcoming spot the bookstore is today has only been a part of our lives since 2004.

I am one of the original settlers of Porter Square Books, coming as that small group did, east on Route 2 from The Concord Bookshop where we had worked together for a number of years. After a summer of a lot of planning and hard work, the bookstore opened in October with not all that many books and no Cafe Zing! What we lacked in inventory we made up for with an abundance of camaraderie, a wide range of talents and a strong desire to create a store that would, to put it simply, be a place that people wanted to be.

When I tell people what I do for work their universal reply is to say how lucky I am and what a great job that must be. They are right-it is a great job and I am lucky. Getting paid to do what you love to do is one of life's great blessings. I am always reminded of a press conference years ago when basketball legend Larry Bird had just signed a contract with the Boston Celtics and their manager Red Auerbach. When Bird was asked how it felt to be earning what, at that time was a lot of money, he said "I didn't tell Mr. Auerbach but I would have played for free." I can relate.

As Porter Square Books was opening in October of 2004, my two sons were in various stages of finishing high school, applying to and going off to college. As with the bookstore, there was a lot of happiness and hope in our family that all this newness would work out well and that our feelings of uncertainty and trepidation would not rule the day. Here we are in 2014 and my boys and the bookstore are fully launched in their lives and happily making their way in the world. Long may they run.

Anne Miley

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Joe McKendry and Matt Tavares on Storytime

On Saturday May 17th, we will be hosting Indies First Storytime with Jef Czekaj, Matt Tavares, Joe McKendry, and Scott Magoon. Indies First Storytime is lead by national ambassador for young people’s literature and multi-award winning author Kate DiCamillo, to celebrate the power of reading to children and the unique role independent bookstores play in getting good books into the hands of readers. Read Kate’s letter here. In honor of the event, we asked the authors to share their thoughts on the importance of storytime. Here’s what Joe and Matt had to say.

Joe McKendry: Even before I had kids I had started a pretty good collection of children's books that served as inspiration for the books I was aspiring to create. Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House was the main inspiration for my book One Times Square. Burton's book chronicles the story of a house that remains unchanged even as the landscape changes around it. I began to see the subject of my book One Times Square (where the famed New Year's ball drops atop its roof each year) as The Little House. When it was built in 1904 it was the tallest building around, but over time it became overrun and dwarfed by the surrounding buildings. So even though what I ended up producing was a much different book, both in illustration style and subject matter, my guide was a simple but powerful children's book.

Matt Tavares: When I was a kid, story time was always a highlight of my day, and now that I'm a parent (and a children's book author), it still is. Whether it's reading with my daughters at the end of a long day, or reading to a room full of kids, there is something so special about taking the time to get lost in a story together.

Monday, May 12, 2014

David Downing on Spy Fiction

David Downing will be reading from his latest book Jack of Spies on May 14th at 7pm. He is the author of The Station series, set in WWII Berlin, featuring the spy John Russell. With Jack of Spies he turns the clock back to the eve of WWI and the early days of British Espionage. So early, in fact, that Scottish car salesman Jack McColl, is able to moonlight for His Majesty’s Navy. Lots of readers are looking for the next Le Carre or Furst, so we asked David to share some of his thoughts on spy novels. Here’s what he had to share.
Some thoughts on ‘spy novels’

Consulting a website which listed ‘the best 690 spy novels ever written’I was surprised to find The Fellowship of the Ring at #230. How, I wondered, did that qualify as a spy novel? And that wasn’t the only question the list provoked. The spy fiction genre seems a rather movable feast.

Most bookstores, at least in the UK, tend to group classic literature, so-called non-genre fiction, traditional romance and modern romance (the pejoratively labelled chick lit) in one great swathe of shelving, and reserve the sub-shelves for illegal behaviour (crime/mystery in its many forms) and adventures in never-never land (Science and fantasy fiction). There aren’t enough spy novels to warrant shelving of their own, so they end up in either crime or general fiction, presumably at the whim of the manager. My books--the Station series and Jack of Spies--usually end up in the latter, for which I am grateful. They might have characters who are spies, but I certainly don’t think of them as ‘spy novels’.

That said, there seems to be a consensus that two of the authors who (I hope) influenced my work are often referred to as spy novelists. Between the 1930s and 1970s Eric Ambler produced a string of novels about ordinary people caught up in political shenanigans of one sort of another, often in countries not their own. In book after book he captured the sleazy absurdity of it all, and in the process made the world a little more understandable.

But interesting though the subject matter was, that wasn’t what made the books great. During that same period Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald were exploring much the same emotional and social territory in their private detective books. Both wrote mysteries, but what made them brilliant were the writing and characterisation, and the light they shone on American society at a particular place and time.

Ambler’s obvious heir was (and is) Alan Furst, whose novels set in Europe before and during the Second World War--particularly Night Soldiers and Dark Star--both excited and inspired me. Here was someone, like Eric Ambler, who painted a realistic picture of the twentieth century’s long battle between left and right. Here were decent communists and venal conservatives, decent conservatives and venal communists, all struggling to survive and maybe win a round or two in the process.

The only other ‘spy writer’ who comes close to these two is Graham Greene, who considered his ‘spy novels’ – most notably, The Quiet American  and Our Man in Havana– inferior to his other works.

If spy fiction’s parents were Conrad’s The Secret Agent and John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, then most of the children have followed Buchan, sacrificing characterisation for image, insight for cynicism, the real world in all its complexity for the crudest political clich├ęs. I loved the James Bond books as an adolescent, and I can still enjoy watching Matt Damon’s play Ludlum’s Bourne, but as a writer I find them more of a warning than an inspiration.

David Downing

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Read Aloud Memories

On Saturday May 17th, we will be hosting Indies First Storytime with Jef Czekaj, Matt Tavares, and Joe McKendry. Indies First Storytime is lead by national ambassador for young people’s literature, multi-award winning author, and all around superhero Kate DiCamillo, to celebrate the power of reading to children and the unique role independent bookstores play in getting good books into the hands of readers. Read Kate’s letter here  In honor of Indies First Storytime Day, the booksellers at PSB have shared some of our childhood storytime memories.

Josh: I have no idea why but I loved The Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown. Maybe it was the rhythm of the story or how Scuppers the sailor dog collects all the necessities for his sea-going adventure, or perhaps it was just the fact that this sailor dog was named Scuppers, but for whatever reason, I pretty had the book memorized.

Susannah V: When I was 5 and had just started school, I got measles. I was off school for 6 weeks and once the recovery part started wanted to be read to all the time. Having a mother who taught elementary school was terrific because she knew all the best books. I must have driven her crazy as she was the only one who could do all the "right" voices and sing the songs the way I wanted them sung and I would accept no substitute readers! My favorite books were the Teddy Robinson series by Joan G Robinson. They are still in print and, like Paddington, still hold appeal to today's readers with their wry humor and charm. I remember being offered a substitute book about a Teddy Edward who I rejected immediately as a useless imposter and fraud, and being so bitterly disappointed that we had finished all the series. I obviously went on to read more widely and with less discretion, though I still have my original hardback copy of the first book with my name written carefully inside. I read it to my own son 30 years later and also my two nieces who all enjoyed it just as much. But that's because I could do the right voices, I'm sure.

David: While we read a ton of Dr. Seuss in my house in the early 60s, the book I always loved the best was Yertle the Turtle. I don't think I appreciated its portrayal of the vanity and cruelty of the autocrat Yertle - I was just thrilled that the momentous event at the center of the plot was a burp.

Dina: My mother brought to life the story of five Jewish sisters in the early 1900s by reading aloud All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. The stories became our script for hours of dramatic play as we reenacted life on the Lower East Side of New York. We visited peddlers in the markets, bought penny candy, searched for buttons our mother had hidden to trick us into dusting the parlor, and were quarantined after an outbreak of scarlet fever. Great for ages 7 and up. 

Mackenzie: When I was a kid, my dad used to read me Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton--as an engineer, a book about construction projects really appealed to him. He always insisted on reading all the text, including copyright info, publisher, and dedication page, which drove my mom crazy, but I always felt like these secret, hidden pieces of the book that no one else read out loud were a special part of reading that only me and my dad shared.

Sarah: I can't tell you much about Stuart Little (I mean, I know it's about a mouse. Beyond that? Not much.) but I vividly remember when the book was read to me. I was 8, my brothers were 4 and 2, and every night we'd crawl into my parents' bed for another chapter. Someday I'll get around to reading the book myself, but the important part happened years ago. How's that for a moral? Read to your kids: they'll remember nothing from the award-winning literature you strain your throat to share with them, but who cares? It's the reading, not the words, that matters.

Stephanie: My book of choice is Princess Smartypants, by Babette Cole. As a really shy, introverted kid, I loved the sass of the protagonist, which is reflected in the wry, quirky illustrations and (ultimately) the plot. It was only much later that I realized that it's a totally an anti-fairytale fairytale, and a fantastic feminist message to boot! I give it to everyone I know who has a daughter now.

Jennifer: My mom read to me every night. One of the re-reads I always demanded was the Marianna & Mercer Mayer fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast. I loved the story, but mostly I loved hearing my mom's voice while I got lost in the lush illustrations that were so unlike my everyday world. I still have my childhood copy.

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