Over the weekend, we celebrated Independent Bookstoredness, and it was a delightful time. Some customers commented on the state of the independent bookstore, and we gave them extra cake. But their comments are worth pausing over for a moment. In this age of rapidly declining attention spans, a wild proliferation of alternate media types, and a decidedly Gleikian rush toward the future, bookstores—and the act of reading—are becoming more rarified.
Or, at least, that is the perception. Sometimes. But honestly? Bookstores are still the same delightful places where you could get a dozen hours’ entertainment for about the same price as a cup of that overly complicated eight squirts of this and that espresso that everyone thinks they need in their lives. And—oh, what? Books are more expensive than coffee?
Well, not if we’re talking about mass market paperbacks, they aren’t. Hmm? The mass market format is dead, you say? Oh, dear reader. That format is most decidedly not. It’s just no longer carried at the big box stores as a loss leader any more. Bookstores still carry them. And, in fact, this week’s newsletter is going to be devoted to highlighting the new mass market paperbacks that came out THIS WEEK.
Here’s a picture of three dozen titles that can generally be classified as “new.” This isn’t everything, of course, because we are savvy curators, after all, but . . . yeah. Thirty-six titles. Which means that we’re going to do an edition of Book Cover Speed Dating.
It’s longer than five pages, so it’s safe to assume that Grace is tempted, and then hanky-panky happens, which is Regency-appropriate terminology, of course.
This appears to be a self-explanatory title, and we hope someone figures out who did it. However, while this book is pitched as a "cozy," we'd like to direct your attention to the open window and unsupervised cat, both of which are making a mess of that unsecured manuscript. Frankly, there's nothing "cozy" about that sort of nonsense, and we're inclined to think this is a horror story.
And speaking of murder and manuscripts . . .
There should be another credit on the cover there. "And baked into America's Shared Pop-Culture Consciousness by the one and only Angela Lansbury."
Now there's some strange juxtaposition. "Ms. Lansbury, when you first took the gig as Jessica Fletcher, did you have any idea that your face would end up shilling a media tie-in line of books more than twenty years after the series went off the air?" To which Ms. Lansbury might reply: "Never thought I'd be a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire either."
Dame Commander Angela Lansbury is still acting, in fact. She most recently appeared in Mary Poppins Returns, which was in the theaters last Christmas. We suspect, however, that she's not actually writing these books. Shocking to consider, we know.
Again, since this book is longer than five pages as well, we’re assuming someone did kiss her, and then, naturally—hang on, let's go to the thesaurus for a variant of "hanky-panky"—and then, mutual entanglements occur. This one has gossip-mongers, tongue-waggers, and spirited writers. Oh, and a veiled temptress, who is probably not named Grace.
As compared to, say, The Fluid Mechanics of Star Wars or DK’s heavily illustrated HVAC Systems of The Empire. All of these are written for the lay-person, naturally.
The latest offering from William W. Johnstone (who is still dead). The back cover marketing is marvelous.
Where it’s never quiet on the western front.
Springfield Model 1880.
Trapdoor rifle with bayonet. Vengeance optional.”
Also available as an audio book—hopefully without sound effects.
And speaking of westerns, there’s a bit of a resurgence going on there, as you may know, which would explain the sudden appearance of Easy Jackson on the scene. And no, it’s not one of Mark’s pseudonyms, though he wishes he had thought of it.
Also, just to be clear, this is not a literary re-imagining of Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, the prose poem he published in 1873, and which was influential on the later surrealists. We know. At least one of you is now saddened that such a book doesn't actually exist. And if it did, oh, yes, "Easy Johnson" would be the best name for the thinly veiled author stand-in protagonist.
It’s a bird pun, which what distinguishes this book from “Cozy While Baking” and “Cozy With Cats.” Also, there’s a columbarium in this one, which is different from a campanile, in case you missed that question on this week's architecture quiz in the local newspaper.
["Campanelle" is a type of pasta, and was just the wrong word all together, but nice try, Mark.]
Again, longer than five pages, so we should assume that . . . well, hold on. Are there complications because one does not deny the duke, or is the title almost a spoiler? As in, the whole book is all about DENYING the duke, but in the end, you know . . . denial stops. Gosh. We’re not sure. Hang on. We're going to go read it. Check back with us later.
We’re not entirely sure how we got this far—culturally—without this title being used already.
We know that the cover picture is terribly small in this newsletter, but we can assure you that Sullivan is promising all sorts of smoldering mischief. That flinty stare and square jaw are on the spine as well, which makes it terribly difficult to walk down the row and not get snared by the promise of that gaze.
[Ed. Note: We should figure out how to do a Blind Date book wrap which is torn just enough for readers to see the hunky stares on the cover. And maybe their abs. And pecs. Though, there might not be much brown paper wrap after that. Hmm . . . ]
Cats AND Knitting. And puns. It’s almost too much.
“Cake or death?” Right?
This here is Truth in Advertising. 359 pages of trouble, in fact.
The blurb on the cover says "Brennan knows how to deliver," and we just have to wonder: is that just for pizza or can we get, like, gyros or tacos?
And now we get into that murky genre of Who Can You Trust, And Why Should You? McLachlin looks like one of those who says you should confess your sins (which, naturally, turns out to be narrative trigger for a whole bunch of bad stuff, so well done there!).
Or do you, like Webb here, hide your secrets?
Or does everyone assume that no one has clearance to know what they need to know, which turns the book into a complicated morass of hysterics and duplicity. Which is say: Prime-Time Ready Drama.
Well, regardless of your view on secrets and the telling/burying/obfuscating thereof, we have a book for you.
And finally, Kim Newman continues his fiendishly pulpy 19th century Dracula novels with One Thousand Monsters. It’s basically vampires vs. undead ronin, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. We know. We’ll have a copy at the front counter for you.
And that is merely HALF of that stack we showed you at the beginning of the newsletter. It’s a marvelous time to be a reader, isn’t it?