Monday, March 8, 2010

Let the #indievolution begin!

Indie booksellers on Twitter know how valuable a tool it is not just for contacting customers and keeping them in touch with our stores, but also for staying connected with other booksellers across the country. Through it, we've been able to trade answers to the two most frequently asked questions amongst booksellers: "What are you reading?" and "What's working for you?"

There is no shortage of people talking about what they're reading, especially thanks to projects like #fridayreads. But the Emerging Leaders Project decided that we want to gather ideas on what's working all in one place, to make it easier to start and continue conversations about how indie bookstores are improving their stores and the communities they serve.

To that end, we'd like to start a new tradition on Mondays: #indievolution.

It's simple enough: as you go to work on Monday and start working through your inbox and recovering from the busy weekend, take a few minutes to think about what went best for you. Did you try a new type of authorless event? Did you take advantage of a coop opportunity? Is there a title that is outperforming even your wildest expectations? Did you move the staff picks wall? Did you change bags? We're constantly tinkering with our businesses to make them better. Which change did you make that worked?

Although the daily experience of bookselling is obviously our focus, you can also use the #indievolution hashtag to share broader ideas about the future of reading, bookselling, publishing, and literary culture. That zooming out is just as important as the nitty gritty. Like evolution, it isn't only about the small things we do every day to survive. It's about the grand arc of where we've been and where we're going.

Then, go to Twitter and post your thought with the hashtag #indievolution. That'll make it easy for everybody to look at other people's ideas and keep up with the conversation, even if they can't get to Twitter until later in the day, and it'll make it easier for us to collect the ideas and disseminate them more widely so as many people as possible can benefit from them.

If Twitter isn't your thing, then become fans of the Emerging Leaders Project on Facebook. Post your questions and ideas there. And we'll try to bring over some of the ideas culled from the Twitter hivemind.

Together, as a species of book people, we will survive. Let the #indievolution continue!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Videotaping events

Here's a question for the masses:

We're interested in taping our author events, but would like to cover all of our bases in terms of any potential legal issues up front. Anyone out there with experience in such matters? Have you had any publishers or authors opposed to taping? Has taping been successful in terms of website traffic?

Please sound off down there in the comments.

And thanks for stopping by the Emerging Leaders blog!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Twitter as Newspaper: Emily's Front Page

This morning, I realized that I've been using Twitter as sort of a newspaper substitute. I check out my feeds, open links to interesting articles in new tabs, go make coffee, and then sit and absorb the articles. Am I contributing to the death of the newspaper? It's like I'm the content editor of articles that my "friends" have submitted to me.

This would be my above-the-fold Front Page today:

From NPR, a story on the demise of Reading Rainbow. Oh, this one makes me sad. We were nearly the same age... Butterfly in the Sky 4-evah...
'Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter

From, a look at how Sony and others might challenge the monopoly of Amazon and the Kindle.
How To Beat the Kindle

From the Christian Science Monitor, a particularly eloquent homage to all that books are and the Kindle is not.
I shall not be Kindled
"But I immediately sized up the device and knew that, while it is "neat" and convenient, it is not, nor will it ever be, a replacement for the book in the way that transistors replaced vacuum tubes or electronic calculators, the slide rule."

From Wired Magazine, a fascinating discussion on how technology is affecting the quality, content, and frequency of our writing.
Clive Thompson on the New Literacy

Friday, August 21, 2009

A few quick links (late) on a Friday...

Greetings Emerging Leaders and Fans!

Here are some tidbits that I found interesting this week:

is live! A great way to show off our collective knowledge!

Richard Nash, as always, has pointed the way to an interesting perspective on Twitter from performer/composer/director Amanda Palmer: "i started making the music in the first place not because i wanted music, but because i wanted human connection. music was the bridge there... connection = primary. music/art = secondary. twitter = realtime connection."

At the very end of a reading by Dave Eggers at my store last night, he said to expect a McSweeney's newspaper. Does that mean there's hope?

I've written a couple of pieces lately on the development of digital technology and its perception as either a format or a medium: one on this ABA Emerging Leaders Blog and a second one on the Two Dollar Radio Blog. Admittedly some heady stuff. But I discovered an amazing example of using digital as a literary medium on the JayIsGames blog: a game called Silent Conversation. This thing is totally mind-blowing. It creates a digital landscape using words, and it is interactive. You have to do something to continue reading the text. The text often visually illustrates what it is doing, like concrete poetry. It is soothing and challenging and beautiful and thought-provoking. Just go play it already!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Perks of Being a Bookseller

We've had some luck (and a whole lot of fun) putting on authorless events here at Magers and Quinn Booksellers and I'm curious what other booksellers have done in their stores. Please chime in down there in the comments and share your ideas and success stories.

This month we're doing two big off site events in conjunction with an exhibit at the Soap Factory gallery (yes, it's in an old Soap Factory!)called Common Room. Common Room will be a temporary curated gathering space within The Soap Factory designed to facilitate interactivity and the blurring of the boundaries between curators, performers and audience, all within in a casual, living room-esque environment.

We were invited to curate some community gatherings around the subject of books.
And here's what we have on tap:

During our book club discussion of Time Traveler's Wife, we're having our attendees (circa 100 people) each create a paper sculpture (Clare's profession/hobby in the book). And, in honor of Henry the time-traveling librarian, we're building a card catalog of information on the reading habits of our book club regulars.

Afterwards, once the beer and wine have been flowing for a while, we'll do:

Competitive one-on-one writing contests (sort of like Balderdash, but trying to write a cover blurb for a book you've never read) and Giant Mad Libs on a 1970s projection screen that looks a little like Wall-E.

We're also hosting a release party for the new issue of Granta Magazine, which will feature:

5-minute book reports (think Reading Rainbow for adults)
A presentation on literary hoaxes, which may or may not include slides.
An interactive book report (requiring audience participating to act out various scenes)
A presentation by author Eric Hanson titled "When Ted met Sylvia." The working subtitle is "excerpts from Eric Hanson's birthday miscellany on crossed paths and bypaths of literary and historical figures."
A literary trivia challenge with author Brad Zellar taking on the crowd.
An Exquisite Corpse writing game using a vintage typewriter

Jay D. Peterson
Magers and Quinn Booksellers
Minneapolis, MN

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Link Roundup

The folks at Green Apple do hilarious videos. This one cracked me up - BOOK v KINDLE SMACKDOWN!

According to a UK study, "Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds or 68%" -- so an hour is like a day at the spa, without the expense or weird mud wraps. (Thanks PW)

If you are an Indie bookseller, please consider filling out the ABA's IndieNext Survey. "Data gathered from the survey will help ABA ensure that the Next Lists remain relevant for booksellers and customers alike." Deadline is Aug 5.

Finally, four months after a gigantic big-rig truck plowed through the store, killing two and almost destroying the building - Flintridge Books in La Canada, California is reopening. This store is fairly new but a wonderful part of the La Canada and Pasadena community. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by on August 1st and help them celebrate! (Thanks Publisher's Mktplace).

Friday, July 24, 2009

What would a digital translation of The Grapes of Wrath look like?

Reading Jenn and Emily's post a couple weeks ago made me wonder: what if Emily is right, and the future of the book is digital not just in terms of format, but also in terms of medium? In other words, much like we moved from oral storytelling to books hundreds of years ago, what if over the next few decades we move to a new digital medium in which the hypertext, notes, reader comments, and so become just as much a part of the book as the original story?

I'm not sure how comfortable I am with this idea, but it seems to be popping up in a lot of online conversations. And perhaps it would be foolish to use the potential of digital books for nothing more than, as Emily aptly calls the current e-readers, storage devices. For non-fiction this might be as straight-forward as linking to sources in the text (hell, even most online newspapers do this already). For fiction the implications are broader and almost overwhelming.

Some modern books seem like they'd fit well into this format. I, for one, would be more likely to tackle Infinite Jest if I knew I could touch the screen at each footnote and have it pop up over the main text. But here's what I can't stop thinking about: if digital reading, with its attendant whatever-we-add-to-it, becomes the primary way we read, would we need to translate today's books to this new medium? Much like you're now more likely to read Beowulf instead of hear a traveling bard read it in the original, and similar to the way that many classics have been given a graphic novel edition, would it be necessary for the books we read now to be changed to fit the digital reading experience?

And if so, which books would we choose? I imagine that the process of making a book a digital book would be like a translation in many ways---not all books make the cut. Beowulf was not, after all, the only epic poem of its time, but it's the only one you'll read in tenth-grade English. Which, of all the books I've read, of all the books we have before us, might we choose for this new digital formatting for hapless fifteen-year-olds to read on their retinal-book-implant in 2100?

As you can tell, I have a long walk to work, and sometimes I take my wondering a bit too far. But as you ponder which books you love enough to work on their digital translation, check out this list of favorites, new and old, from the EL council: