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Author Archives: Booksellers Without Borders

Five Minutes with Marni Bates

It’s been a while since we’ve featured an author interview, so we’re excited to be joined today by Marni Bates, author of Awkward, as part of her blog tour this month.  We reviewed Awkward yesterday, so check it out if you haven’t already!

Marni Bates blog tour

[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?

[Marni Bates]: Erm . . . this is hard to answer without sounding like a pompous jerk. But I think that Awkward is a real fun book with loveable characters that will make you laugh and groan and (hopefully) swoon. Have I mentioned that there’s a really hot guy? Because I think Logan alone is worth reading the book . . .

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The Death of a Bookstore

The Death of a BookstoreIf you never worked at Borders, you may have already acknowledged the company’s sad passing and moved on.  If you spent several years of your life selling books and are still seeking other employment, however, it’s a bit harder to let go.  We know.

Today we would like to highlight a piece written by Tom Schwider, who worked at the beautiful Michigan Avenue store in Chicago (store 58, for those of us who identify by store number).  Store 58 was already scheduled to close long before the company declared bankruptcy, but got a one year extension that made the closing date fall only a month before the bankruptcy filing.  Tom highlights the death throes of a bookstore in honest, yet poignant, vignettes about people and experiences in those final days.

It’s a long read, but well worth it.  Settle in and give yourself some time with this one.  It gives a truer glimpse into the world of corporate bookselling and bookstore liquidation than anything else I have read.  A bittersweet memorial to the job we loved, and hated and, in the end, loved anyway.

Special thanks to Tom for sharing his words and allowing us to pass them along to you.

Read The Death of a Bookstore

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Other Writing

 

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Ode to an Indie

Unabridged Bookstore

Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago, IL

Indie Thursday came early this week.

For those of you who are unaware, Indie Thursday is a weekly Twitter event/meme/hashtag thingamajig started by friend of the blog Jenn.  Basically, it’s a way to share what books you purchase at independent bookstores each week, by tweeting about it with the hashtag #IndieThursday.  It comes a convenient 24 hours before Friday Reads, which is a similar method of sharing what you are reading every week.  #FridayReads promotes reading as a social experience; #IndieThursday builds off of its momentum and promotes buying your reading material from human beings who live and work in your community.  This blog strongly supports both.  Obviously.

More often than not, my #IndieThursday books are purchased from Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview, a neighborhood in Chicago, both because I have to drive past it several times a week and because it’s a wonderful bookstore in just about every way possible.  I love bringing my nephew to the store after picking him up from daycare to let him choose a book to take home, and sometimes I splurge and get one for myself, too.  They also order books for me that aren’t in stock, and it’s always been a fast, pleasant experience.  I’m a fan.

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Bookstore Spotlight

 

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Guest Interview posted at Jenn’s Bookshelves

Murder, Monsters, MayhemWe’re proud to be participating in a month of Murder, Monsters, and Mayhem over at Jenn’s Bookshelves!  Our contribution has just been posted – another interview with blog favorite John Connolly.  This time we asked about the dark side of his writing.

See the guest interview here.

Read our previous interview with John here.

Thanks to Jenn for hosting us!

 
 

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John Connolly and Stuart Neville at Centuries & Sleuths

Neville and Connolly

Stuart Neville and John Connolly with BwoB admin Rachel

As most of you know, we are huge John Connolly fans around these parts.  When we heard he was going to be in town with fellow Irish crime writer Stuart Neville, we were excited!  We got to spend some time with them during the day and live-tweeted during the event itself.  Here are some tweets and pictures for any of you who were not able to attend in person.

@BksellerExpats: What a beautiful day for a book signing in Chicago! We’ll have @jconnollybooks and @stuartneville updates all day – keep checking back.

@BksellerExpats: “What I realized is that, by and large, my readers would prefer it if I died, as opposed to Charlie Parker.” – @jconnollybooks

@BksellerExpats: (We are live-tweeting the @jconnollybooks@stuartneville event tonight, in case you forgot.)

@BksellerExpats: Ooh, @jconnollybooks is reading the first chapter of the next Parker novel! Nice.

@BksellerExpats: “I’m usually about a third of the way into a book before I find out what kind of shape it’s going to be.” – @stuartneville

@BksellerExpats: “I can’t even read in a car, and I don’t think Rachel wanted a car covered in vomit.” – @jconnollybooks on writing on tour

(NOTE: We have it on good authority that no, she did not.)

@BksellerExpats: “Art comes out of hacking away on all those days when you want to be doing anything else.” – @jconnollybooks on having a writing schedule

@BksellerExpats: “Sometimes you just need an alleyway. And then you think, as far as my books are concerned, I’m God.” – @jconnollybooks on fictional alleys

@BksellerExpats: “After you read a book, you’re never the same person. You just can’t be.” – @jconnollybooks

Connolly / Neville signing

Connolly / Neville signing

Connolly / Neville signing

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Events

 

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Finis

The End

When I set up this blog, my friends and I were about to lose our jobs as booksellers, and the store we called home was about to close forever.  My goal was simple: to give us a place to continue sharing our love of reading, and to keep passing along the knowledge we had gained from working with books for so long.  I made a conscious decision not to discuss the specific company we worked for.  (I also decided not to mangle sentences in order to avoid ending them with prepositions.)  There was no need to discuss the company’s mistakes; we lived in their shadow for years, and haven’t escaped it yet.

I made an exception and posted pictures of our store in The Ghosts of Borders Past because I wanted to share our personal experience with this corporation’s downfall.  We are real people who took care of our books and had pride in our stores.  We also watched everything we had built through the years get destroyed in a matter of weeks.  Then we lost our jobs.  I still didn’t feel that I wanted to write about it on our blog proper, but I let the pictures tell the story.

Now the last store in the company has closed, and there’s not much left to say except goodbye, and we will miss you.  I still don’t want to use my blog for that purpose, but our friends at Word Hits have kindly hosted a fond farewell by yours truly.  You can read it here: Closed Book: The Last Days at Borders.

Word Hits has previously hosted my guest blog A Former Borders Employee Says Shop the Sales, in response to their post entitled Caveat Emptor: Skip the Borders Fire “Sale”.  We were also featured in their discussion of Books, Dialogue, and Community during Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW).  We follow @WordHits on Twitter and like Word Hits on Facebook and think that you should, too.

If you want to know what the end of a once-great bookstore chain means to me, I invite you to click on the links above.  Here, we are back to reviews, interviews, and author events starting…now.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Industry News, Updates

 

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Five Minutes with Julie Kramer

Julie Kramer

Julie Kramer

Julie Kramer is a former television journalist who now writes a series of mystery novels starring investigative reporter Riley Spartz.  Her books were among our favorites to hand sell, and we are sorry not to be able to do so in person any more.  You should be sure to pick up her fourth and newest title, Killing Kate, which will be released July 26th.  (Our review will be posted early next week.)

[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?

[Julie Kramer]: Because angels might be the next vampires or demons or zombies. And KILLING KATE deals with a killer who draws chalk outlines shaped like angels around victims. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible features angels as messengers. So what message is this angel of death delivering? After a career in television news, some of my former colleagues believe I’ve been too candid reinventing myself from journalist to novelist. “Did you have to tell them, if it bleeds, it leads?”

Besides a stay-up-late read, my books also give you an inside look at how newsrooms function amid crime and chaos. Whether the issue is which missing people get publicity or why animal stories get good play in newscasts, you’ll see the media in an a more desperate light after you read my series.

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Guest Review: The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke

Jamie YatesToday we are excited to be joined by our first guest reviewer, fellow bookseller-in-exile Jamie Yates.  Not only does Jamie run his own review blog, Chicago Ex-Patriate, he is also associate editor and contributor to the newly-launched Instafiction.org, which features a new short story each weekday.  Plus, he’s fun to be around.

If you are a bookseller (past or present) or book blogger who would like to contribute a guest review, please contact us!

Le.Review: The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke (published April 2011)

by Jamie Yates

In my career as a bookseller, I had a tendency to disdain memoirs. Let me make a distinction—I’m not lumping biographies into this category, but rather clarifying a much needed division between the two. I generally enjoy biographies, even though supposedly “journalistic” accounts are sometimes revisionist histories, but that’s another topic altogether. Memoirs, however, are sometimes unabashedly biased or skewed towards an almost pornographic/voyeuristic look into private lives. Are you a long forgotten 1980s/1990s television co-star with a former co-dependency? Are you a non-famous person who endured unspeakable personal atrocities? If so, then your chances of selling a memoir to a publishing house are probably pretty high. I’m not trying to sound cold or unfeeling towards these sub-genres, but after awhile, there are only so many (likely ghostwritten) accounts that one can handle. The troubling subjects are explored with the stated goal of continuing the healing process, or reaching out to others with the same afflictions. Noble, yes, but after awhile, readers can become desensitized when so many similar titles have been released.

However, in my last days of corporate book selling, I excitedly came across a galley of The Long Goodbye, a memoir by poet/critic Meghan O’Rourke, a former editor with The New Yorker and The Paris Review, and The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourkea current contributor to Slate magazine. My admiration for her writing stems back to 2010. When everyone in the literary community (myself included) was eagerly reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, O’Rourke wrote a stunning essay exploring the role of female authors in the goal of writing “The Great American Novel.” She wondered whether Freedom would have been as highly received had it been written by a woman, and almost immediately after, she was the recipient of several critiques herself, as well as a briefly altered Wikipedia page (“Despite her Yale education and privileged life, she believes she is at a great disadvantage as a writer because she is a not a (yawn) white male”). These attacks were utterly unfounded, and that single example of her writing hooked me. Her arguments were precise, but not attacking; rather, the overall atmosphere was that of someone seeking an honest, open discussion about an aspect of the literary community that needed to be out in the open. Plus, while I’m still a huge fan of Mr. Franzen, I agreed with her statements, and was bewildered that people would take her words as personal attacks. I made immediate mental notes to read more of her bibliography. While my hope was to catch up on her poetry, I found myself beginning to read more of her work with The Long Goodbye, an account of her mother’s cancer and imminent death, and their many personal implications.

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Five Minutes with James Klise

James Klise

James Klise

James Klise is a high school librarian in Chicago who published his first book, Love Drugged, last September.  Not only did he launch his book at one of our most successful store events (back in the olden days, kids, when you could touch books in a store before buying them), he was also a regular customer, stocking his school’s library from our shelves.  We were lucky enough to catch up with him at Printers Row Lit Fest last month, and he agreed to answer some questions for our blog.  If you haven’t checked out our review of Love Drugged yet, you can find it here.

[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?

[James Klise]: LOL at this question. Why should anyone pick up my funny, suspenseful, thoughtful, provocative, award-winning novel?

I’ll give you a serious answer. Please buy my book so you can donate it to a local high school library. It’s rare to find a selection of teen novels with gay characters in bookstores, and so we rely on libraries to get them into the hands of readers. But most school libraries are strapped for cash. Speaking as a school librarian, I can tell you that donations of brand-new YA books are always welcome. Many high school teachers have classroom libraries, so these, too, may be a great place to donate your gently used books when you are finished enjoying them.

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Patience, Dear Readers

Go Away.  I'm Reading.It has been a slow week here at our humble blog, but we would like to take this opportunity to assure you that new reviews will resume within the next few days.  We have been working on developing some exciting new features, creating a personalized logo, lining up author interviews, and doing some general blog maintenance that is probably incredibly boring to read about.  Our blog has been live for less than three months, but the support from readers and authors has been phenomenal, for which we are endlessly grateful.  Now we are working on building up an infrastructure that can showcase the bigger and better things that we hope to accomplish in the near future.

In the meantime, if you are a reader with an idea for a feature, review, or interview you would like to see on our blog, let us know!  We are always open to feedback and get some of our best suggestions from other readers.

Many thanks for your patience as we shift into higher gear.  And, as always, thank you for stopping by and looking around!  Don’t forget to tell all your friends about us.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Updates

 
 
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