WORD on Wednesdays: 7 October 2009
October 7, 2009
Welcome to a new series of blog posts that we hope will introduce you to our taste, our neighborhood, and our customers a bit better.
The front table changes more than any other part of the store, and as Tuesday is traditionally the day on which new books are released, Wednesday morning is when the table is at its freshest and newest. We’re a little obsessive about the front table, but with good reason. It’s the first thing both new and regular customers see when they walk in the store, so it’s everyone’s first impression of who WORD is and what we care about. It’s hands-down the part of the store with the most sales, so what we put there matters from a financial perspective as well. And what people see matters for authors and publishers, too, so we want to make sure we’re supporting the authors and presses that we love and that our customers love.
Here are some of the things our manager thinks about when she fusses and frets over the table: is there a somewhat-even gender distribution? are international authors adequately represented? what’s getting a lot of attention on NPR and The Daily Show? what about small presses? what about authors with a proven track record in our neighborhood? what about books we love but nobody’s heard about for some reason? are there books about which, when someone asks, “have you read these?” we can proudly say yes? is it possible to balance all of these qualities in a selection of just sixteen books, most of which came out this week?
We’re not sure if it is, but we do know that it’s our duty as independent booksellers to give it our best shot—to balance the debut and the proven, the foreign and the Brooklyn, the fiction and the non-fiction, the paperback and the hardcover, the NYTBR front-pager and the up-and-coming. Every Wednesday, we try again, and now we want to share that attempt with the world every week. You’ll see a picture and a short explanation of what’s new and why we chose it.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s picture:
And here’s our commentary: As fits this crazy fall of basically every famous English-language author releasing a book, there’s a lot of heavy hitters on here this week: Bukowski, Roth, Bolano, Byatt, Saramago, and a new translation of The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. It should shock no one to hear that McSweeney’s is especially popular in our part of Brooklyn, so Dave Eggers’ The Wild Things and McSweeney’s More Things Like This both get prominent placement this week. In a similar vein, we’re also featuring Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates, now in paperback.
We’ve got Terry Tempest Williams on there because dozens of other indie booksellers love her, so even though no one here has read the book, their recommendations are good enough for us. The Sealed Letter by Emma Donague because Stephanie loved it, and the paperback of State by State because it is a cool collection. And George Orwell for good measure. You can’t go wrong with George Orwell’s essays.
I don’t know anything about Totally Killer except that it’s one of the best covers of the week. And in a week super heavy on fiction, there was still room for Alphabet Juice, a great book for word lovers (and hopefully also WORD lovers. Haha! Yes, those jokes never get old for us.)
Rounding things out, at the top we’re featuring Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger a. because The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of Christine’s favorite books of all time and b. because the publisher sent us a gorgeous letterpress broadside to display with it (poking out the top there) and we love letterpress more than a simple blog post could express.
So there you have it! The bizarre thought patterns behind our front table. As you can see, we don’t always solve every question perfectly every week. But we hope you’ll continue to read along and let us know what you think.