The End of Summer wrap-up post

I finished my summer of sales calls this past week.  I've been visiting bookstores and other customers more or less non-stop since the week after BookExpo America.  This week is also something of a milestone for the my3books blog, as I posted my first entries on June 6, just before I started this summer of travel & bookselling.

As I said in that first post...

I’ve been looking for a way to pull out just a few of those books at a time - to restore a more human-readable scale to the process - and focus on some of the really great ones.

Having spent the summer both selling books to my bookstore customers and blogging about those same books, I have to say that the blogging has enriched my selling experience and has really been a lot of fun.  I've found that I have more to say in my sales calls about the books that I've also blogged about.  And I've thought more about the books, and the ways they connect and interrelate to one another.


It's also been a summer of expanding my connections to booksellers and other publishing folks.  I want to say thanks to everyone who contributed a guest post this summer:

Geoffrey Jennings (twitter: @RainyDayBooks)
Jake Hallman (twitter: @jakethegirl)
Melinda Blau (twitter: @melindablau)
Micheal Fraser
Paul Ingram
Taylor Rick
Teresa Rolfe Kravtin (twitter: @trkravtin)

and especially, the stellar Angela Sherrill

Their additional voices in the chorus made this a much more interesting place to visit, if you ask me.


At some point this summer, I began to wonder what I would post about when I was done visiting bookstores and selling the Fall books in a one-on-one sort of way.  It was a momentary madness, of course.  The sales kits and manuscripts for next spring's books have already started to trickle in and I'll be able to start a whole new list of potential post ideas.

Then I started to unpack some of the boxes of samples of the very same books I was posting about all summer, and I found some more books to write about.

I'll be taking part in some Rep Nights at some of the bookstores I sell to, sharing some of my picks from the lists with a roomful of frontline booksellers.  I'm hoping to be inspired by what I hear from my fellow rep colleagues, and in conversation those booksellers.

And finally, I'll be attending two of the regional trade shows for booksellers this fall: the Midwest Booksellers Association show in St. Paul, MN and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association show in Cleveland, OH.  There will be endless book chat at both, no doubt.

I'm looking forward to a glorious autumn of new posts, more guest voices, and a lot of great reading.  I hope you'll keep coming around to see what we have to offer.

Fall 2009 Catalog Picks: D.A.P. part 1: the impulse picks

No other publisher that I represent gives me the same roller-coaster-y excited wooziness like D.A.P. Their seasonal catalog brings together the finest arts and cultural publishing from around the world - hundreds of big and small publishers and galleries like the Aperture Foundation, Steidl, Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Boston MFA, the MCA in Chicago.

To spend time with the staff of D.A.P. is to glimpse the dizzying borderlands between the capital-A Art world and the world of publishing - they bridge that gap easily, helping their publishers bring word to the outside world of the latest wonders, the newest downtown galleries, the most innovative exhibits and installations.

At the same time, the sheer wonder of their catalog (over 500 new books this fall!) defines for many of my buyers the heart of their problem of trying to choose the right books for their stores. Many of the choicest books from D.A.P. can top $50 or $75 or $100 each. No matter how beautiful those books are, no matter how well-reviewed the new exhibits and fairs will be, many stores simply cannot afford to stock these books.

Here at my3books, we can momentarily overlook the most important and pricy exhibit catalogs and artist books in the Fall 2009 D.A.P. catalog to look at three charming and affordable books that any store can afford to stock in quantity, and any interested buyer can snap up without hesitation.

Tim Burton
by Tim Burton
edited by Ron Magliozzi and Jenny He
Museum of Modern Art (D.A.P.) | 9780870707605 | $19.95 | Nov 2009

This book is an introduction to the vast breadth of the career of Tim Burton, the visionary artist and director. It's being published this fall to accompany a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This affordable paperback will include works from his earliest years to his latest films, including 2010's Alice in Wonderland.

The show at MoMA, and this book, traces Burton's creative process, from sketches to pencil and painted concept art, puppets and maquettes, storyboards and stills from his movies. It opens November 22, 2009 and will run through April 26, 2010.


The New Millennium Paper Airplane Book
by Klara Hobza
Public Art Fund (D.A.P.) | 9780960848850 | $15.95 | Sept 2009

Inspired by a historic paper airplane contest that was originally held in 1967, conceptual and performance artist Klara Hobza organized a modern-day recreation in 2008. Contestants entered the new contest, designing their own paper airplanes, and then traveled to the same location as the original - the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, originally built for the 1964 Worlds Fair.

After a day-long event, Hobza and her judges declared the winners in many categories. The best airplane designs and the stories from their creators have been gathered into this single volume. The airplanes are removable and foldable.

This is a great gift book for an era in which we are both looking backward to see how previous generations survived challenging times with creativity and innovation and looking forward to what our own generation will discover.


Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People
by Emily Pilloton
Metropolis Books (D.A.P.) | 9781933045955 | $34.95 | Oct 2009

Emily Pilloton founded Project H Design in 2008, aiming to promote and inspire the kind of world-changing (or at least, world-improving) design that simple, thoughtful, useful products can become. As her manifesto on the Project H web site says, industrial design is "a tool to address social issues, a vehicle for global life improvement..."

Design Revolution, the resultant book from the beginning of Project H's work, brings to our attention some of the best recent industrial design: safer baby bottles, waterless washing machines, rent-a-bike systems, DIY soccer balls and many more.  Pilloton challenges designers to move beyond "going green" and to become change makers instead of mere "stuff creators."

This is the kind of design book that, like another book I featured earlier this summer on my3books, Graphic Design For Nondesigners, transcends the realm of the professionals in the field to appeal to a much broader slice of readers.


New fiction picks from 3 Consortium publishers

I've been making lists of potential blog post topics since before I started publishing my3books, and I've been making further lists of possible books that would fit the potential blog post topics, too. One of the most challenging lists that I've been working on, adding to, subtracting from, editing, restarting, etc was the possible fiction picks from the Consortium catalog.

Consortium Book Sales & Distribution is the home of more than 100 great independent publishers, from established indie icons like Seven Stories, Copper Canyon, and Feminist Press at CUNY to brand new startups like the (previously featured on my3books) Exterminating Angel Press and Two Dollar Radio.

Every season, I get manuscripts and galleys and sales kits for hundreds of their books. It's far more than any one person could read, really. So now it's a kind of parlor game, trying to spot the books that will make for the most entertaining reading. It's like walking into the backroom of any bookstore and gazing upon the bookshelf of galleys in miniature - there's literally something for every taste.

These are three of the many, many books coming this fall from Consortium's publishers, three that caught my eye, and kept my attention.

The Cry of the Sloth
by Sam Savage
Coffee House Press (Consortium) | 9781566892315 | $14.95 | Sept 2009

From Sam Savage, the author of Firmin, the tale of a rat who learned to read by digesting his way through his cozy nest of books, comes the story of Andrew Whittaker, another type of lowlife. After reading Firmin, a reader coming to The Cry of the Sloth might well suspect it's the story of another kind of rat - a pack rat. It's a shocking understatement to call this an epistolary novel - it's told by way of letters, yes, as well as shopping lists, angry notices to tenants, complaints to the local paper, pieces of Andrew's attempted fictions, and entries from his diary.

Andrew Whittaker is the ne'er-do-well editor of a midwestern literary journal that he's struggling to keep afloat. He's also a poorly financed landlord of a depressing assortment of rental units, a sad sack ex-husband, and the would-be artistic eminence behind a not-yet-launched literary festival that he hopes will save his career and his standing in the local arts scene.

Over the course of an increasingly frantic few months, we read over Andrew's shoulder as he accepts and rejects queries from potential contributors to the journal, sends pitiable letters to his ex-wife, tries to rope in possible big name authors for his literary festival, and tries to fend off the amorous advances of one of his tenants.

Andrew Whittaker is a character ripped from the Community News pages of any small town's newspaper, a man who bears the weight of the local arts scene on his thin shoulders and his outsized ambition. I loved The Cry of the Sloth for bringing such an unloveable character to life with such honesty and charm.


How to Rob an Armored Car
by Iain Levison
Soho Press (Consortium) | 9781569475997 | $15 | Oct 2009

We've all seen hundreds of hours of Law & Order and watched the films of Michael Mann and Quentin Tarantino dozens of times, so it shouldn't come as a surprise when one of your friends thinks he could become a crime kingpin. We all know what NOT to do - don't leave your uniquely identifiable shell casings at the scene, don't charge the getaway car to your credit card, don't blab to your girlfriend in Queens, etc. The only question left, of course, is coming up with the right plan - what TO do and how to do it.

Mitch is the "brains" of the operation, of course, as he is the one who had the assistant manager job at Accu-mart until he quit. Kevin is the recently-paroled buddy who's running a dogwalking business to give him an excuse to get away from the disappointed gaze of his wife. And Doug is the shy one who holds down a job as a line cook in a ratty diner. Though they dream of a big score, all they really want is enough money to keep them well-supplied in pot and video games. Of course, they end up in way over their heads.

Watching these three smalltown Pennsylvania friends make all the classic mistakes and still soldier on cluelessly is what makes this new novel from Iain Levison (author of Since The Layoffs and The Working Stiff's Manifesto) so darkly funny and disturbing.


The Poison Eaters And Other Stories
by Holly Black
Big Mouth House / Small Beer Press (Consortium) | 9781931520638 | $17.99 | Feb 2010

How does Holly Black get everything done? She's behind two big-time fantasy series (her urban faerie trilogy that began with Tithe, and a little something called The Spiderwick Chronicles), a graphic novel series from Graphix/Scholastic called The Good Neighbors, and she's edited a new anthology for YA readers called Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd (with Cecil Castelluci). Oh, and there's this collection of her short fiction, The Poison Eaters.

I've read a few of her short pieces already, some from anthologies like The Restless Dead and some in the advance materials that Small Beer sent me for this collection. The Poison Eaters also features two stories that bring readers back to the world of Tithe.

The standout story so far is "In Vodka Veritas," which was first published in the anthology 21 Proms in 2007. If you've ever wondered what might happen when a rogue Latin teacher and the Latin Club decide to make a private school's prom a LOT more like a true Roman Bacchanalia, then you'll want to read The Poison Eaters. It warmed this former high school nerd's heart to see a member of the gaming club save the day.


> Consortium Book Sales & Distribution distributes the books that these publishers create to bookstores around the US. You can download their Fall 2009 catalogs here. Follow them on Twitter and befriend them on Facebook.
> Coffee House Press is on the web, on Twitter, and on Facebook
> Soho Press is on the web, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
> Small Beer Press is on the web, and on Facebook.  Holly Black is on the web and on Twitter, too.

Fall 2009 catalog picks: Quirk Books

I've been out on the road selling my publishers' fall lists all summer, and I'm feeling like I've got a pretty good handle on what's been going into the midwestern bookstores that I cover. I thought I'd spend a couple weeks looking at the highlights of these catalogs, three by three. (As always, I invite other sales reps to send in their picks from the publishers they represent.)

I'm starting this tour with Quirk Books. Born out of the success of the Worst-Case Scenario series they packaged for Chronicle Books, Quirk has always been known for a combination of cheeky humor, semi-useful reference books, foodie tomes, and a sharp eye on the cross-currents of pop culture. It's no accident that the Quirk web site is to be found at

Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters
by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
Quirk Books | 9781594744426 | $12.95 | Sept 2009

Riding high on this spring's little sensation, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk Books follows it up with the recently announced Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, another Jane Austen mashup. It's such an obvious highlight of the Fall 2009 Quirk catalog that I almost feel like I'm cheating talking about it. But hey, I've been selling the Quirk list all summer, and guess what? It's a highlight. Deal.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was such a great idea that I would have happily paid full price for a blank book with that title and cover. The same goes for what we must now abbreviate SSSM. In some ways, it just doesn't matter what the story is. Nevertheless, a story there is. In Quirk's mashup, the beautiful Dashwood sisters are banished from their longtime home. Instead of finding refuge at a Devonshire cottage, they are almost literally cast ashore on a mysterious island surrounded by murky waters. Will the Dashwood sisters survive the strange happenings and find true love?

The Quirk Classics blend of authentic Austen and supernatural mayhem remains in place, if in a slightly different proportion than was found in PPZ. Early interviews have pegged the balance of Austen to Winters at about 60% to 40%.


Wine Secrets: Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers & Connoisseurs
by Marnie Old
Quirk Books | 9781594742613 | $12.95 | Aug 2009

Combining the practical advice and wide-ranging wisdom from forty expert wine-lovers, Wine Secrets is a handsome gift book filled with tips and tricks. Chefs such as Jacques Pepin offer their advice for cooking with wine. Restaurateurs and sommeliers talk about the do's and don't's of ordering wine when you're out and about. Winemakers discuss the constantly expanding world of different varieties.

Our host and author, Marnie Old, is an experienced sommelier, wine educator and author. She maintains a blog on wine. Her previous book, He Said Beer, She Said Wine, co-authored with craft brewer Sam Calagione, is just out in paperback from DK.


The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World's Greatest Detective
by Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books | 9781594744297 | $16.95 | Sept 2009

It's looking like a Sherlock Holmes kind of winter - the startlingly different film take on Holmes directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law opens on Christmas Day.  Before that, you'll have the opportunity to learn the methods and insights that made up the ingenius consulting detective of 221B Baker Street.

Inside this beautifully bound book - designed to look like the sort of manual a detective might have in a desk drawer next to their opium and their whiskey - you'll learn how to use deductive reasoning, analyse fingerprints, become a master of disguises, and (since we're talking about Holmes) survive a plunge off a waterfall.

Author Ransom Riggs is a blogger, author and filmmaker. (He's also the auteur behind the camera on the book trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.)  He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

> The entire Quirk Books' Fall 2009 catalog can be found here on Scribd.

my3books: Graphic Design Books for Designers and Non-Designers Alike

In a time lost to the mists of history, before Adobe InDesign, before Quark Express, even before Aldus PageMaker, graphic designers were a secretive lot, hidden away in their garrets with Pantone color swatch books, pica rulers and propotional scales, bins full of inky Rapidograph pens, cans of spray adhesive, and X-acto knives. They were apprenticed in their youth to mystical greybeards who taught them the occult arts of typesetting, paste-up, and color separation.

But those days have passed on, and the old ways are soon to be forgotten.

In the future, everyone will be a graphic designer for 15 minutes. Or at least, everyone will create at least one horrendously botched document with a mix of completely inappropriate typefaces (not fonts!) and badly spaced lines of copy and call it a day.

To the rescue comes Chronicle Books, and their publishing partners, Princeton Architectural Press and Laurence King Publishing. This year, they are bringing out a trio of helpful books that will provide the curious with a sense of context and history, and the clueless with comfort and inspiration.

100 Classic Graphic Design Books
by Jason Godfrey
Laurence King Publishing | 9781856695923 | $50 | Aug 2009

Bibliographic: 100 Classic Graphic Design Books provides an introduction to some of the most influential books on design ever published. From historic books by the likes of László Moholy-Nagy to modern monographs by Peter Saville and his contemporaries, this book covers typography source books, monographs on designers, histories of design, anthologies and instructional how-to books. There are hundreds of illustrations in full color, including page spreads from all of the books.


The Handy Book of Artistic Printing
A Collection of Letterpress Examples with Specimens of Type, Ornament, Corner Fills, Borders, Twisters, Wrinklers, and other Freaks of Fancy
by Doug Clouse
Princeton Architectural Press | 9781568987057 | $40 | Mar 2009

The Handy Book of Artistic Printing is a wonderland of quirky typefaces. The subtitle says it all. In the late nineteenth century, letterpress printers, engravers and lithographers blew the minds of their customers and readers with an unprecedented turn towards the insanely elaborate - a style that came to be known as "artistic". You can almost hear the air quotes: "My, that is certainly an ... artistic ... design. But are you sure my flour canister requires it?" Nevertheless, this book from PAP brings together examples of period ephemera, promotional pieces from the various print shops, and specimens of type and ornaments. A treasury for type fans.


Graphic Design for Nondesigners
Essential Knowledge, Tips, and Tricks, Plus 20 Step-by-Step Projects for the Design Novice
by Tony Seddon
Chronicle Books | 9780811868310 | $22.95 | Sept 2009

This is the book for every one of us who's been asked to come up with a printed object without the benefit of any training or experience. Guidance for 20 different projects - from web sites to business cards to t-shirts - along with general instruction for the beginner on graphic design principles like the effective use of space, color and type. Consider this a must-have reference for every bookstore's back office, where you never know which bookseller is going to have to design the next bookmark or author signing poster.

>> Curious about what else Chronicle Books has coming out this fall? You can view their catalogs online, or download them, here. Read their blog or follow them on Twitter.
>> Princeton Architectural Press offers a direct download of their Fall 2009 catalog, but no fancy animated page flips. Read their blog or follow them on Twitter.
>> Laurence King offers downloads of their catalogs, but they're a couple seasons behind. Read their blog (filled with contributions from their own authors - good idea!) or befriend them on Facebook.
>> You can also search the Chronicle Books web site for books by them or any of their distributed publishers.

DISCLOSURE: This particular entry features books that are brought into the world by publisher(s) that I represent. But you knew that, right? The whole point of this blog IS to talk about books you should be buying or reading, so just take it as a given that in the back of my mind, it has been my secret plan all along to make you want to buy these books. Preferably from an independent bookseller.