Thursday, December 31, 2009

Joyce Maynard's "Why I Read"

As I'm still recovering from the holiday rush, let's dip into the "Why I Read" files for today's blog entry, shall we? "Why I Read" is an occasional feature of our email newsletter and a personal favorite of mine. We've been gradually posting them online for all to see. In short, we ask authors why they read.

Today's entry comes from Joyce Maynard, a local author whose works include her memoir of growing up in the 1960s (Looking Back), her early 1990s novel To Die For (later made into a movie) and many more. Her latest book, Labor Day, came out last summer. NPR said that "apart from being a successful thriller, this book is a fascinating portrait of what causes a family to founder, and how much it can cost to put it back on the right path." Here's her original essay:

Truth to tell, I didn’t start out as much of a reader. I watched TV as my own private rebellion against the world of English literature. Child of two English teachers who quoted Shakespeare and eighteenth century poetry at the dinner table, I favored “Father Knows Best” and “Gilligan’s Island.” Still, every night before I went to sleep, my father sat at my bedside, reciting poetry. Sometimes he had me memorize Wordsworth. Sometimes Yeats or Blake. And the rhythms stuck in my brain, even as the sitcom stories faded.

I thought about our old practice of memorizing poetry just the other day, when (having come, a little later than some, to the joy of reading great literature) I had reached that scene in Ian McEwan’s novel,
Saturday, in which the young daughter—with her whole family held hostage and a knife at her mother’s neck—recites the poem “Dover Beach” and so disarms the man responsible for the crime that he releases them all. It wasn’t brute force or the heroic arrival of a SWAT team that brought about the family’s release: it was Matthew Arnold’s words.

My father could have recited “Dover Beach.” My mother, too. If I had been a more willing student, I would know the poem better than I do. But the rhythms of poetry—the poetry that was as much a part of dinners in my family as the food set on the table—sustain me still. Poetry can save your life, was McEwan’s message. Not just poetry, either, but language, words, the sound of syllables, the music of sentences.

Link I will never be a physically powerful person, but with words, well chosen, I take on strength. I know this, as a writer, because I know, as a reader, what other writers’ words have done for me. They open up the universe. They lift me out of myself, revealing a larger world.

Words can save your life, is the lesson. I believe it. That’s why I read.

Thanks, Ms. Maynard. Want to read others? On the blog so far: Beth Lisick, Susan Choi, Peter Rock, Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, and T.C. Boyle.

Monday, December 28, 2009


We don't talk about film on the blog much, and being that Green Apple houses a formidable selection of movies, I'd like to touch on some Hollywood news today.

This Christmas, as great as it was for me, was overshadowed by an insurmountable loss. On Christmas day I learned that, on December 17th 2009, Dan O'Bannon was taken from this world by Crohn's disease. For those not familiar with the man, O'Bannon was the brains behind the scripts of some of the best sci-fi & horror films of the last forty years. He is the man who penned Alien, Lifeforce, Return of the Living Dead, Total Recall, Screamers, the two best (and in my opinion only watchable) animated shorts featured in the 1981 Heavy Metal movie, and a lot more. He worked with both John Carpenter and George Lucas at different points in their careers, collaborating to create some of the most visually stunning special effects of the seventies.

So for what it is, goodbye Dan. I wish word hadn't come to me so late. You were a true brutalitarian and your efforts to make quality films will be greatly missed. It's time to revisit your work.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just In Case Our Word Wasn't Good Enough...

Yes, Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s Running Away was our November Book of the Month, fully guaranteed, and 16 of you bought it in November...

Of course we had our Book of the Month Video that went with it...

Today's New York Times Book Review, might be a good indicator that you really, really, should read this book.

See, I'm not the only one who loved this book!

So come on in and experience this awesome book from Dalkey Archive.

You should also check out this other article in the New York Times about books in translation and Open Letter Books.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dave Eggers Stops By!

Christmas came early for us here at Green Apple-- Dave Eggers, the busiest man in literature, came by for a visit. He graciously signed all of his latest works, and when he overheard us telling a customer that we were sold out of the McSweeney's Panorama, he ran to his car and came back with a box full! Of course, those sold out in minutes.

Pete took artistic license with the photo, going for a "day for night" feel. We assure you that our bookstore is not this dark.

So if you're looking for unique holiday gift ideas at the last minute, give us a call: 415.387.2272! We'll put a copy aside for you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too busy to blog

It is with meta excitement that I now blog about being too busy to blog. Thank you, book-loving people of San Francisco, for a robust holiday shopping season.

Oh, and here's the line for the new bike rack I showed you last week. Yoinks! The lines in our store are shorter and move quickly, I assure you. Peace.

Monday, December 21, 2009

When We Let You Down

People get a little wiggy around the holiday season. It's the truth. What are ya' gonna' do? When you're desperate to find that perfect gift for that special someone/thing (I mention 'thing' because yes, someone did ask me for a recommendation on a book for their dog once), it's easy to temporarily forgive the sins of our many crummy corporate competitors and turn to them for an answer. They've got a hell of a lot more money and power and to blow tracking down whatever it is that you may need- but friends! Friends! I'm asking ya' pretty please on bent knees not to falter! The culture of reading that a corporation offers is bankrupt of character. So here's the deal. If you can't find what you're looking for at Green Apple, I am happy to give you a list of independent bookstores in San Francisco that will be thrilled to accept your business. That way we won't see so many book stores going the way of Black Oak and Stacey's (or at least not as soon), and you don't have to feed Moloch.

Neighborhood: Castro
227 Church St
(between Market St & 15th St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 552-6733

Neighborhood: Noe Valley
3957 24th St
(between Sanchez St & Noe St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 821-3477

Neighborhood: Mission
3166 16th Street
(at Albion St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 864-3936

Neighborhood: Mission
900 Valencia St
(between 20th St & Liberty St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 282-1901

Neighborhood: Bernal Heights
401 Cortland Avenue
(between Bennington St & Wool St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-5331

Neighborhood: Inner Sunset
345 Judah St
(between 8th Ave & 9th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 664-0126

Neighborhood: Haight-Ashbury
1369 Haight St
(between Central Ave & Masonic Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 431-8355

(and of course we all know...)
Neighborhoods: Nob Hill, North Beach/Telegraph Hill
261 Columbus Ave
at Broadway
(between Jack Kerouac Aly & Saroyan Pl)
San Francisco, CA 94133

Now, this is all just off the top of my head. I know I'm forgetting plenty. So if another good shop comes to mind let us know. Happy Holidays to the good kids, & if you've been bad, well, watch your butt. It's getting cold and Krampus is out there...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bestsellers and....not

'Tis the season for everyone and their book review section to list their best books of the year. I thought I would run down what's hot this holiday season, and a few things we thought we'd be selling better than we are. To begin, the single bestselling item at Green Apple since Thanksgiving is (drumroll)- finger monsters! Yeah, we're a bookstore, but people have a hard time resisting these little guys at a buck a pop. The next bestselling item is...Mad Libs! Holy cow, I thought we had a serious literary venture going here. Our remainder buyer bought a huge assortment of Mad Libs, and we're moving them out by the armload at just $1.98 each. OK, let's get serious now. The bestselling book in the store, even though we were out of it until the middle of the month, is R. Crumb's awesome Book of Genesis. We've got a bunch in stock right now, but it's going fast. The other bestselling books, in descending order, are The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Alice Munro's new collection of stories Too Much Happiness, and Ad Hoc at Home, which unfortunately is about to be out of stock for a while. Our current Book of the Month, Bicycle Diaries, is next on the list, and to complete the list is a book off our staff favorites display, Art & Fear. Our new and very functional website lists inventory as of last midnight, and you can order a book to be picked up in the store. Technology actually making your life easier for once.

Now for some books that we had high hopes for, but our customers don't seem to share our enthusiasm. Topping that list is James Ellroy's magnum opus, Blood's a Rover. Not sure why folks aren't putting this one under their tree. Another book we had high hopes for is Justice, which seems like a perfect dad book. Lastly, all of the folks who bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies don't seem to be as enthusiastic for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, at least not at Green Apple (I have noticed it on nation bestseller lists).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sign here, and here, and here, and here, etc. . .

It's been said that a book is a present that you can open again and again. Cheesy, yes - but true. Obviously, I think that a book is just about the best gift you could possibly give or receive, but not all books are equal.

Indeed, Green Apple Books stocks plenty of new releases that would suit the stockings of passionate readers galore, but the difference between, "Oh neat, I've been curious about this tome" and "OMFG, I'm never letting this out of my sight!!!" may be as simple as the swipe of a pen. Enter the Signed Copy.

On a quick walk past our Main Store displays this afternoon, I spotted stacks of signed copies from some of literature's brightest lights: Jonathan Safran Foer, Sherman Alexie, Lorrie Moore, Michael Connelly and Paul Madonna, just to name a few. And there's no buyer premium here - these are all selling for the list price at most, and some are even discounted 20%. Throw in free gift wrapping (shhhh...), curbside delivery and maybe some Synthetic Owl Puke, and the lucky ones on your list will think you most considerate and unique!

And that doesn't even include some of the rare signed gems that we keep behind glass: Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Nixon and more than 10 by Bukowski. Plus, I think that we've still got the Signed Limited of Crumb's Book of Genesis for the really nice (or naughtiest) one on your list, as well.

Of course, stock of these unique items is limited to quantity on hand, and may change in the time it took me to write this (it's pretty busy these days...) so come by early - we are opening at 9:00AM through December 24th. Or give us a call. We're here to help - it's what we love!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Clement Street parking or curbside pickup?

We know parking in San Francisco can be a challenge. While the Richmond is probably easier than some neighborhoods (North Beach, the Marina, Valencia Street. . . .), we know it's not easy. But you gotta get your holiday shopping done, right? So here's our advice:

Link1) Take Muni. The 38, 2, 1, and 44 all stop within a block of Green Apple. And the $2 fare is the same cost as an hour of metered parking. More info here.
2) Ride your bike. Get healthy, save on gas, and park right out front. Above is the fancy new rack just installed in front of the annex. This can help plan the least hilly route.
3) Order online. If you order your books (and shirts and gift cards), pay online, and choose "in-store pick-up," you can then pick up your order curbside. Just call us with your order # when you're a few blocks away and we'll meet you in front of the store.
4) Order online and have us ship your books. It doesn't cost much.
5) See this post for David LaBua's tips on parking near Green Apple.

Green Apple is, of course, best experienced in person, not online. And the hunt for parking always pays off when you find 5 more things you hadn't planned on buying, which allows you to cross 5 more names off your shopping list. Plus you can eat great food nearby, buy cake at Schubert's, grab a cup of coffee at Toy Boat or a drink at the 540 Club. And isn't it always better to get out in the world than live in front of you computer?

Schubert's Swedish Princess Cake

We hope to see you soon. . . .

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cocktail anyone?

We carry a lot of things that most bookstores don't. Like this essential cheesemaking manual. And synthetic owl puke. Many of these unique items never make it to our web site, so the in-person browser truly is rewarded, beyond just seeing our many great books and people and masks and the nooks and crannies of the store.

Notably, we recently received a batch of quirky reprints of old cocktail guides. There are about a dozen of them, mostly $19.95 to $29.95.

These two are fine examples. The one on the left is from 1884. It's subtitled:
Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them


clear and practical directions for mixing all kinds of cocktails, sours, egg nog, sherry cobblers, coolers, absinthe, crustas, fizzes, flips, juleps, fixes, punches, lemonades, and pousse cafes, together with complete directions and receipts for making all kinds of domestic brandies, beers, wines, cordials, extracts and syrups.
The one on the right is from Paris, 1927. Its whimsical illustrations, as implied by the cover, make this a perfect stocking stuffer for any modern tippler or your favorite bartender.

Above is our local pride, published in San Francisco in 1908 by "Hon. Wm. (Cocktail) Boothby. I'm not sure about all of these recipes. Like the Reviver on p.68. Hmm:
Into a large goblet, place two lumps of ice, a jigger of raspberry syrup, a wine-glass of milk and a pony of brandy. Fill the glass with sweet soda, stir and serve.
Maybe the Quencher ("a la the late Tommy Mulcahy") is more to my taste.
Take a mixing-glass, half filled with fine ice, throw in four spoonfuls of sour, two spoonfuls of bar sugar and one jigger of fine cognac. Break an egg into a separate glass, and if pleasant, throw into your mixer; shake well, strain into a large pint glass and fill up with a cool bottle of imported ginger ale. This makes one of the finest drinks known.
Perhaps with your gift of this book to someone you could include sour mix, sugar, cognac, ginger ale and an egg? We'll report back if we manage to give this one a try. Hopefully late this afternoon. . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jingle Jams

Back in 2007 my buddy Matt and I tried to keep the Christmas festivities going all the way through the New Year, across the stretches of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall with the intention of happily landing again on December 25th of '08, having celebrated three hundred and sixty five days of yule tide spirit. Well, we only made it till about the end February. At that point our humbug roommate threw one of our two Christmas trees out the window and smashed the other to bits in the living room. We were disheartened, sure, but probably a little more relieved than we admitted at the time. We hadn't really prepared ourselves for what we were getting in to and despite our efforts, the nonstop-ultra-holiday-party was a little difficult to keep up, especially when KNGY 92.7 (now sadly defunct) stopped playing techno Christmas song remixes for the year.

This year I'm taking it a little easier. I was actually kind of thinking about checking out what the Hanukkah thing is all about this year, being that the Jewish cooking section at Green Apple has been stealing my heart lately (L-A-T-K-E-S spells 'YUM!'), but still, there are still a few jingle jams that I can't help humming in my head as I wander around this fair city. Also happily enough, Green Apple is carrying a number of new and used Christmas CDs, often heartily discounted to the point that even Bob Crachit could dig up a clam or two bring one home to his family. To name a few:

If on a Winter's Night by Sting
Christmas in the Heart by Bob Dylan
Merry Christmas by Mariah Carey
The Christmas Album by The Jackson Five
A Colt .45 Christmas by Afroman
Home for Christmas by Hall & Oates

This one is for the lovers:

& here's one for the haters:

Happy holidays to everyone. See you 'round the hearth.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Holiday Gift Ideas: New Books At Used Prices...

AMMO's GONZO by famed American author and journalist Hunter S. Thompson. GONZO presents a rare look into the life of Thompson, whose groundbreaking style of "gonzo" journalism made him one of the greatest writers of his generation. Now, for the first time, his photographs and archives have been collected into a visual biography worthy of his literary legacy. With a heartfelt introduction by close friend Johnny Depp, GONZO captures a man whose life was as legendary as his writing.
NEW it costs you $39.95...
Green Apple's Price only $5.98!!

Rolling Stone Cover to Cover is a backstage pass to four decades of popular culture--a DVD ROM-based, searchable digital archive of every issue of Rolling Stone magazine from 1967 to 2007. Browse issues 1 through 1026 – over 98,000 searchable pages, exactly as they first appeared in print--every story, review, interview and even every ad.
NEW it costs you $125.00...
Green Apple's Price only $39.98!!
What do Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, Jayne Mansfield and Brigitte Bardot have in common? They are the most alluring sex symbols of all time--and they all graced the pages of Playboy in the 1950s. But Playboy wasn't only about beautiful women--it featured serious literature by equally serious writers like Hemingway, Kerouac, Bradbury, and Steinbeck. Playboy Cover to Cover--the 50s brings the magazine's entire groundbreaking first decade--every issue, every page, cover to cover--into one searchable digital archive.
NEW it costs you $100.00...
Green Apple's Price only $39.98!!

You can have your high-tone, filled-with-stunning-color-plates retrospectives of Goya and Picasso -- none come close to The Completely MAD Don Martin ("1,000 pages, 2 volumes, 1 slipcase, 25 pounds!"). This insanely special gift to the ages from Running Press has every piece of art that MAD's Michelangelo published during his 30-year run at the magazine, plus letters, sketches, photos and an intro by the "Far Side's" Gary Larson.
NEW it costs you $150.00...
Green Apple's Price only $49.98!!

Be sure to check out all the Remainders that Green Apple has to offer!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mmmmmmm, Pie.

Some young women stopped by the store today and asked us to put up a flyer for their business. They immediately got everyone on staff's attention when they they told us what that business was: the making of pie. What nobler calling is there? (aside from bookselling, that is). They call themselves The Golden Crust, more information here. They are local to The Richmond District, they're using organic ingredients, and they're selling them for $15 per. And we're talking Pecan and Kumquat pie, Chocolate Hazelnut pie, and get this, Upside Down Caramelized Pear and Quince pie. We haven't tried any yet, but you can bet there will be some orders coming their way mighty soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ho Ho Ho!!!

Well, the weather outside is pretty yucky - it's cold and drizzly, but I don't think that it will snow. Which it actually did once here, on Clement Street, on Christmas Eve of all things. Honestly! But even if it's not snowing out, it's still a fine time to get indoors - like in Green Apple's doors, because I just priced a used set of the Complete Spirit Archives and it'll be hitting the shelves tonight.

For those who don't know, The Spirit was a newspaper comic created by Will Eisner that ran from 1940 - 1952 and forever changed the way that comics would be viewed. Eisner's genius extended into all aspects of his strip - the art was superb and often surreal, his plots were engaging, socially conscious, yet somehow self-effacing. Eisner's work on The Spirit was so sophisticated that the Comic Industry even named their top honor after him; The Eisner Award is considered the "Oscar" of comic artists and has been awarded to Dan Clowes, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Chris Ware and many, many others.

So, in the spirit of the season (HA!) I'm reproducing Eisner's Sunday December 21, 1947 in its entirety below. And maybe I'll sneak another strip or two up here before Santa's sled hits town.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Help a kid out?

Just a click or two can help provide a child with a book this holiday season.

The Asia Foundation, which has been headquartered in San Francisco for 55 years, is running a free online vote to send copies of a favorite children's book to children in Bangladesh who have never before owned a book. Watch a short 3-minute video about the project and vote for Curious George Learns the Alphabet; Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; Harold and the Purple Crayon; Goodnight Moon; or What Do People Do All Day, and each child in the Bede "river gypsy" community will get a copy of the winning book. A follow-up video showing the arrival of the winning book will be posted on The Asia Foundation's site on December 16. Voting ends on Monday, December 14.

The Bede are once-nomadic river people who have limited access to basic services and whose children rarely have a chance to go to school. In order to provide these children with an education, The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program partnered with a Bangladeshi organization called the Subornogram Foundation, which has set up a "boat school" to make it easier for the children to attend school. The challenge now is to stock the school with books.

Books for Asia distributes one million new books and resources each year to students, educators, and community leaders throughout Asia. They recently completed a similar campaign for a small rural hilltribe village school in Thailand. The winning book, Dr. Seuss' beloved Oh, The Places You'll Go!, was delivered into the hands of each child in Morwakee Village on November 1st. Click here to watch the "Return to Morwakee" video.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cookin' With Green Apple Books

I could be wrong here, but it seems like we don't really mention our incredible COOKING section on the ol' blog. And that co-owner Pete leaves awesome lists of our favorite cookbooks periodically on San Francisco food blog Tablehopper.

So check it out! For cold days like these, there's Clifford Wright's Best Soups in the World, and of course, David Chang's memoir/cookbook Momofuku, chock full of amazing recipes for broths and ramen!

And while we're talking about RAMEN, the streets are buzzing about the new ramen truck circling Hayes Valley. Consider this our plea to bring the love over to the Richmond. We're cold here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New bookmarks

I know it's not exactly the best reason to fight Clement Street parking to get in here, but we have a new bookmark.

We're excited, but then again we're bookstore dorks. Big thanks to the creative and generous folks at Seidel Advertising. They get us.

Click for a bigger view of either the front or the back. Better yet, come knock some holiday shopping off your list and get yourself a new bookmark or two.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Tomorrow Morning's Paper

With San Francisco's floundering local papers amounting to little more than blankets and jacket lining for the city's ubiquitous homeless population nowadays, one might ask where does the discerning Bay Area reader turn for his/her/his2her/her2his' dose of premium journalism? Tim Redmond? Well heck, I read The Guardian today (only to discover that I missed The Legendary Stardust Cowboy playing a few days back), and of course it is what it is and always will be, but I'll tell ya' what I'm gonna' read tomorrow-

Yep. The veritable round table of shining knights that is McSweeney's will be taking to newsprint with San Francisco Panorama, and tomorrow will mark the release of their first (and last so they say, but we'll see depending on how lucrative the venture is) 320 page "21st century newspaper prototype." The publication will be featuring a diverse range of contributors from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Art Spiegelman to William T. Vollmann.

Now I'm going to be a bit editorial here, so apologies in advance if my thinking sounds somewhat convoluted. Personally I tend to be a little cold on McSweeney's most times. As appreciative as I am that San Francisco is home to a publishing house that strives to produce new and inventive work (and often does), the social niche that it caters to can be off putting (think "up and coming neighborhoods," street food, or maybe just skim Christian Lander's book). Because of this apparent fan base I worry that sometimes by and large what is considered "cutting edge" is pigeonholed, and that work lacking the McSweeney's aesthetic is ignored. I suppose this isn't the fault of McSweeney's per se. It's just a shame that in their attempt to expose the work of lesser known artists and authors a hierarchy of "what's good" comes to exist, and that people tend to look for a seal of approval rather than making an attempt to explore and develop their own personal landscape.

...Or maybe I'm just cynical. Regardless, I've expressed my lament. Moving on now.

Panorama is something to keep an eye out for. The fact that news of it's production is enough to turn an ugly head like mine is something in itself. Though it's moniker as a "21st century newspaper prototype" may a bit boisterous, it will most certainly provide a bit of breathing room away from the vapid smog that seems to have engulfed much of the world of modern journalism. Read more about it here on the McSweeney's site and if you like what you're seeing (Stephen King on baseball!), swing by to pick it up from us. It really does look like it's going to be awesome.

*An excerpt from Adrian Tomine's full page strip in Panorama, probably relevant to my post here today.*

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gift Ideas at Great Prices!

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life - This amazing art book from AMMO books, is out in a smaller $49.95 edition...or you can buy the $200.00 edition for only $79.98!

The Ultimate David Sedaris Box Set - Listening to David Sedaris act out his memoirs and stories is as good as reading them yourself. In the Ultimate Box Set you get 20 CDs containing most of his work. It was $99.98 for you...$39.98!

The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus - The perfect gift for any comedy lover. Every episode of the Flying Circus as well as bonus discs with live performances. We have the set for $172.44 or you can by brand new, sealed copies for only $69.98!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Books are Dangerous

I was called down to the counter last week to talk to someone who had asked for the manager. Waiting for me was a priest, and he was holding this book, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. He said to me, "This book is very offensive to the Virgin Mary. I'm wondering if you also carry books that are offensive to Judaism and Islam." My response was "I'm sure we carry lots of books that are offensive to a lot of people." He was polite and thanked me and put the book back and left.
I know this sort of thing happens all the time. Once, back when the Balkan War was raging, a man with an Eastern European accent approached a Green Apple employee with a copy of The Lonely Planet Guide to Serbia and Croatia or something like that. The man was shaking with rage, and he said "They are two different places." The employee wasn't sure how to respond, and the man repeated what he'd said, then he ripped the book in two right in front of the employee.
My point is that most things are offensive to somebody. This story in the Chronicle got my dander up. It is about how bookstores in the Bay Area aren't carrying Sarah Palin's book because they disagree with her politics. I can see a bookstore not carrying a book because they honestly don't think they can sell a copy, but for a general-interest bookstore to edit a book out because they disagree with the contents seems like a slippery slope.
The point I want to make is that Green Apple does not stand behind every book we sell (we have our book of the month for that). The store is filled with all sorts of crackpot, idiotic, self-serving, meretricious and offensive books. There are also quite a number of worthy ones. Have at them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just passing through...

The Green Apple Core has been blogging now for a few months and I'm thrilled with the variety of content our eclectic staff has been producing, with the strong feedback we've received from fans across the globe, and with the manner that blogs like ours contribute to the greater community of readers. Green Apple Books certainly provides much to write about on a day to day basis, but on this day, I'm going to pass you on to another wonderful voice in this virtual conversation!

As many of you know, Roberto Bolano is a personal favorite of mine. His writing is so engaging, on so many levels, that I've often found myself wondering about his influences. What makes a great writer? A great thinker? A great communicator? Certainly the important books and authors that impacted their own lives would have something to do with it, yes? Well, over the course of the next two weeks we will all be lucky enough to gain access into these aspects of Robero Bolano's brief life through a wonderful series of blog posts by Tom McCartan of Melville House Books.

Tom was instrumental in the recent publication of Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview, which by the way, is an awesome little read. Yesterday, Tom launched the first of what will be many posts examining What Bolano Read. Melville House is one of the most exciting publishers to hit the scene in some time, and Tom is not only an important part of their equation, but by sharing things like What Bolano Read with the rest of us, his passion and commitment to the written word will enrich readers of all types (and all devices) for years to come. I encourage you to check it out.

Well done Tom, and thanks!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ebooks at Green Apple

LinkThe 21st century has arrived at Green Apple Books. Sigh.

Green Apple now offers ebooks for sale on our newly redesigned website.

If you're interested, here's our take on the whole ebook thing.

We love books printed on paper and bound with stitches or glue or whatever they use these days. We like their feel, their smell, their heft, their air of legitimacy. And so on. Preaching to the choir, I know.

Still, it's clear that ebooks have their place in this crazy world. We get it: great for traveling or buying a book while sitting at your desk. It's not the same as browsing Green Apple, sure, but a great book is a joy, no matter the format. (Formats we offer vary book to book, but include Palm eReader/iPhone, Adobe Digital Editions, Microsoft Reader, and more.)

We do take issue with Amazon's Kindle (for a more complete essay on the topic, may we recommend Nicholson Baker's New Yorker piece?). We bought a Kindle a few months ago, tried it out (secretly fearing we'd love it), and made a series of videos pitting the Kindle against a real book. Results are here and Round 5 is below. Frankly, we think the Kindle is lame for many reasons, and that it will be the "8-track" of e-readers in a few years (or months). It does nothing but display books (no web browser, can't make phone calls, etc.). Its "text-to-voice" feature is laughably bad. And Amazon can and has unilaterally removed books from customers' Kindles. And the books you "buy" from them are only yours and readable as long as you have a working Kindle--no other formats are supported. And no one else can sell you a book for the Kindle except Amazon. Which can/could/will limit your choices in the marketplace. And Amazon has bullied publishers pretty hard into reducing prices at great risk to the industry's overall viability. . . .and so on.

Phew. End of rant. Sorry.

It is also worth noting that the whole ebook thing is still evolving. Publishers, the initial gatekeepers between writers and readers, are presently trying to figure out a sustainable pricing model, when to release ebook versions, etc. So the selection is spotty. For example, some Murakami books are available as ebooks, and some aren't. Prices vary widely, too. We'll do our best to keep up with the evolving marketplace, and we've done our best to discount ebooks from their "list" prices to compete well.

So now you can read ebooks and support your favorite locally owned independent bookstore. With your support, we'll be here for all your reading needs for years to come, "e" or otherwise. Remember, if you buy a Kindle, you can't buy your ebooks from Green Apple (or anyone but Amazon).

But now at last, with non-Kindle ebook readers, you can support Green Apple, so that when you're on your way to a birthday party and need a quick gift, one that can be felt and read and passed on to others, we'll still be here for you. In person.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Small Discoveries in My Quest for Holiday Gifts