Monday, May 28, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
One of the highlights of the past few weeks for me was the International Reading Association (IRA) annual Conference, which was held in Toronto two weeks ago. The book fair component of the show was about twice the size of the Ontario Library Association annual conference, taking up th entire South building of the Metro Convention Centre (which is the same location as the Canada Blooms show, for those fellow gardeners out there). The publishers displaying at the book fair brought up an amazing group of authors for sessions and signings.
Hyperion Books hosted a 'Sipping with the Stars' cocktail party, which was kind of like speed dating with authors. There were about ten authors scattered around a restaurant. All invitees got a drink, a bag of books and were let loose to mingle and meet each author for a few minutes & have your books signed. The wonderful Mo Willems was there, which was a great thrill for me as I count his books Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Knuffle Bunny, & the new Elephant and Piggie series as some of my all-time favourites. If you are a Pigeon fan, you absolutely MUST check out the Pigeon website for lots of free downloads & games. Make sure that you look at everything, as Pigeon pops in now and again to offer commentary. There is a new Pigeon book scheduled to release Spring of 2008, but in the meantime fans like myself will have to content themselves with the two new Elephant & Piggie titles and a sequel to Knuffle Bunny coming out this fall! 'Knuffle Bunny Too' is fantastic and answers , at long last, the debate over how to pronounce 'Knuffle'. Trixie does pronounce the 'K' for those keeping track.
Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout, the Canadian authors of the new book The Black Sheep, and the Vivien Leigh Reid series were at the party too. It was such a pleasure to meet them after talking about their books for so long. They have a great sense of humour- both in person and in their books! They will be at the H.B. Fenn booth at Book Expo Canada signing books so please feel do stop by and say hello to these authors if you happen to be in the Toronto area June 10th & 11th. I'll post a list of signing times as soon as I have them confirmed.
That's it from me for now!
Friday, May 25, 2007
No ghosts at my hotel so far, but it does have an indoor WATER PARK with two huge waterslides. How cool is that? We're here to work the bookfair at the Congress at the U of Saskatchewan and after standing on my feet for 8 hours each day, I can't think of a better way to recharge the batteries, than to whish down a slide. It reminds me of this great installation that was recently at the Tate Modern in London (which alas, I didn't get to experience). It's a lovely twenty minute walk beside the rivdr from the hotel to the campus, which is celebrating it's 100th anniversary and is very beautiful. (Aesthetics are so crucial to learning, I think.) Plus the air is so fresh and crisp here with no humidity -it truly makes one feel alive and happy it's spring. We spent today setting up our booth - many of the Deweys started our careers in the book business as independent booksellers, and what I do love about this conference (even though it's very long), is the chance to handsell again. We have about 250 titles on display and if I do say so myself, our booth looks so colourful and inviting and there are so many terrific books there that I'm truly proud to represent. Of course, we're just one of 85 booths - it's Canada's largest academic bookstore all in one place and so I doubt I'll get out of here without weighing down my suitcase significantly. I've already bought one local speciality - anyone know what a "bunnyhug" is? The term originates in this city. The campus bookstore sells them and I couldn't resist one that actually has the Canadian Oxford definition printed on it. Yes, I'm a geek. (And JJ - I promise not to wear it at any productions of King Lear!)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I recently bought Issue 22 of McSweeney's. While the content of this quarterly is a bit hit and miss with me, I do always admire the creativity behind the packaging. This issue has three paperback books; the first on poetry where poets start a poetry-chain of admiration; the second where writers finish F. Scott Fitzgerald's unused story ideas and the third - and what really sold me - a collection of new work from the Oulipiens! (see info in English about this fascinating group here). But what's really cool is how these three paperbacks are gathered and held in place within a hardcover shell/binder through the use of magnets on their spines. Which makes me wonder if this might be the ultimate solution to a question that has long been puzzling me, given that I'm rapidly running out of shelf space at home. If one was to run powerful magnetic strips on the ceiling and then attach magnets to bookspines, could one utilize all that dead space and actually store books on the ceiling? Would all of those magnetic strips cause havoc on your electronic equipment? Would it be a health hazard? Hmmm, would somebody out there look into this before the next season of books arrives?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Since the book is short, it would make an excellent choice for practicing and improving one's reading of French. As are the novels of Irene Nemirovsky, the author of the bestselling Suite Francaise - a world wide sensation when it was published sixty years after it was discovered in the suitcase Irene left with her children after being sent to Auschwitz. Her other work has also been brought back into print. David Golder is available now; Le Bal will be published in October. If you can believe it, that famous suitcase also contained a few pages of another novel that were then matched up with a manuscript she had previously deposited with friends. We're publishing this NEW Nemirovsky in English this fall as Fire in the Blood. However, I'm reading it now (slowly, dictionary close at hand) in French as Chaleur du Sang, and it is a marvellously atmosopheric novel about a middle-aged man who self-righteously loves to observe and comment on the love affairs and marriages of those around him. I'm only halfway through and a husband has died in the river after falling from a bridge. Or was he pushed? Hopefully my translation skills will be up to finding out the truth. This novel also has two beautiful covers:
Thursday, May 10, 2007
In Ottawa, we like to stay at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel because the rooms are big, with full working kitchens and a dining table where we can spread out our work. We're in the midst of doing the non-glamourous part of our jobs and prepping for our fall books selling appointments. We've just been through a week of sales conference, heard numerous editorial presentations and marketing/publicity plans and now we have to pull all our notes together, think about our specific markets, hone in on the best selling points and comparable titles for the dozens of books in our catalogues, and come up with the most perfect pitch and synopsis that can be articulated in 30 seconds or less, which is often how much time we're given to sell any particular book. The whole process is a bit akin to cramming for exams at the last minute and just hoping the key points stick when you are in front of the buyer.
But as always when we're on the road, there are some lovely compensations. Another reason we love this hotel is for its proximity to our favourite breakfast spot in Ottawa - The Scone Witch. Located in a house on Albert between Lyon and Bay, this place makes the most delicious savory and sweet scones - they stay moist for at least three days. I highly recommend their herb & onion and their lemon poppyseed. We always grab extras for the drive home. Other favourite haunts in the city are Zone ( a great store located in the Market that sells home and kitchen accessories, great gadgets and costume jewelry), The Book Bazaar (a wonderful literary used bookstore), Yarn Forward (one of those yummy wool stores where, especially in the winter, every ball just feels so soft and tactile you immediately want to knit a dozen scarves) and all the great independent stores in the Glebe area, including Octopus Books and the Glebe Emporium.
One of the books I'll be talking about to librarians tomorrow is set partially in Ottawa and across the river in Hull, Quebec. Fred Vargas is France's best-selling mystery writer and if you are a fan of Reginald Hill, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell or Henning Mankell, you really should give Fred (short for Frederica) a try. Her latest, Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand, features her regular detective, Comissaire Adamsberg, who reluctantly travels to Hull to take a course on DNA forensics given by the Quebec police. When an ill-timed one night stand leads to the murder of a woman - stabbed by a trident in an eerie echoing of several previous murders in France - Adamsberg is the number one suspect. In order to clear his name, he needs to stay out of jail and make his way back to Paris to solve the case himself. The book is worth reading if only to see how he manages to sneak past the police and airport security to get out of Canada. And that's only the beginning of his troubles. He's fairly sure he knows who the real murderer is, but the only problem is that the man in question is dead. This is a wonderfully intricate, meaty and literary mystery. And don't let the fact that it takes place in winter deter you from taking this to the beach. So what if the seasons are out of whack? Welcome to my world.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
We were invited by a committee of the Ontario Library Association which has really been pushing for a greater attention to readers' advisory events and training. Kudos to them! I love this type of event where librarians from a whole bunch of surrounding systems come to hear us talk about the books we love. And we're always grateful and somewhat humbled that so many are willing to drive quite a distance. So a big thank-you to those librarians from Kingston, Napanee, Cobourg, Oshawa, Stouffville, Markham, Lennox and of course the Whitby hosts (I hope I didn't forget anyone!).
I do have to admit to a secondary motive for loving the trip to Whitby. I live in downtown Toronto and so the concept of suburban outlet stores is pretty alien. The ones along Highway 2 are particularly enticing and so I had to sucumb to a little retail therapy on the way home. Mind you, an hour after popping into one store after another, I noticed a familiar figure in the parking lot. It was the other "downtown" Dewey who had had the same idea and lack of will power. Yep, that's the Dewey way - we promise to pump money into the local economy wherever we go!
Off to Ottawa next. I hear the tulips are out!