Friday, March 6, 2009

Last Bookstore Standing

As you probably know, one of San Francisco's best bookstores will be closing its doors for good in the next week (see article from Thursday's Chronicle here). Stacey's was always the store I went to when I wanted to see what other bookstores were doing that we could copy, or hunt for titles that we might have missed.

A few of my friends outside of the book business have mentioned that a bookstore like Stacey's closing is a good thing for Green Apple. One less competitor to worry about. But books aren't like that. To paraphrase John Donne, every bookstore's death diminishes me. No one has to buy a book, especially not from a brick&mortar bookstore. If I were a greedy capitalist, I might choose to be the last grocery store in San Francisco, or the last gas station. But being the last bookstore standing is the last thing we at Green Apple want. A city filled with interesting bookstores is a city where people are reading.

Books thrive on a culture of reading. People have to hear about books, talk about books, feel like they're missing out on something if they haven't read (fill in the blank). That's why the loss of so many newspaper book reviews is a bad thing, because it diminishes the culture of reading.

So here's to you, Stacey's. You'll be missed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NoisePop art on Clement Street

Huge thanks to Roman and Aaron and Sparks for their wonderful efforts on our current Book Of The Month video commercial for Little Bee! We're so lucky at Green Apple to have such talent on staff, but I'm betting on phone calls from Hollywood soon, so enjoy their work while you can!

I'm going to hop outside of our box for a bit and tell you all about a great art show that has gone up recently at Park Life, a wonderfully independent retail shop just down the street. Sights of Sounds they're calling it, and this is the third year that they have teamed-up with musicians participating in Noise Pop (The City's annual indy music fest) to showcase visual art. Think of the visual equivalent of getting a catchy pop jingle stuck in your head, and this will be nothing at all like it. We're talking original works of art on the wall by Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo fame, DJ Shadow, Jessie Michaels (Operation Ivy), and my favorite mittenmaker ever, Allisa Anderson. "Awesome" is just one word that comes to mind...

And speaking of art, why in the heck do we still have a stack of Mark Ryden's newest book, The Tree Show in stock? Seriously. This is another beautiful production from Porterhouse that immediately calls to mind Anima Mundy. You know, Anima Mundy, just one of Mark's earlier titles that is out of print, and now selling for much, much, much more that list price on ebay. If there ever was a crystal ball...

Please keep reading!

Chris Cleave hearts Green Apple!

Our Book of the Month commercial for Little Bee (posted only two days ago) has already got the stamp of approval from author Chris Cleave!

"After watching this, you’d need a pretty good reason not to immediately order your copy (of this or any other book) from Green Apple Books & Music.

Independent booksellers - putting the “oo” back into books."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cook with your kids

Word on the street is that we San Franciscans are eating out less and, it is thus assumed, cooking at home more. Fellow rugrat-care providers, it is in this vein that I wrote a review of books for cooking with kids in my monthly guest appearance in Tablehopper (a lively weekly e-column about all things food in SF). Below is an excerpt; you can read the slightly longer piece (with two more books) next week in Tablehopper.

First up and new from Williams-Sonoma is Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey. Now I have to admit that as an occasionally snooty bookseller, I usually steer away from “packaged” or “branded” books like this one, where the Williams-Sonoma brand is what’s supposed to sell you on the book. But this one’s an exception: the content is good, even if the layout is more magaziney than is my style.

Organized by ingredient, this thick book is full of relatively simple and wholesome recipes, many of which you already know how to make (roasted cauliflower, tabbouleh, etc.). While there are more advanced projects, like making your own sourdough starter, or curing your own salmon, think of Family Meals more as a resource and motivation to get you and your kids into the kitchen. Start a tradition. Every Sunday night you cook together?
Bon appetite and thanks for reading.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Green Apple Commercial #4: Little Bee

This month's Book of the Month is Little Bee by Chris Cleave-- a book that has already been highly recommended by our own Kevin H. on KFOG, and a book that comes with little to no information about the story on the jacket... only that it is "truly special" and it's not to be spoiled...

The jacket also says, "Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds."

Little Bee is guaranteed (meaning if you don't enjoy it, we'll give you your money back) this month at Green Apple Books.

Bibliopolis's Blog Roll

Today we've been featured on Bibliopolis's blog roll, thus officially inducting us into the "bookselling blogosphere"! Click the link to find us along with other fantastic indie bookseller blogs (IBBs?).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Kindly Ones: brilliant trash?

A literary storm is raging in the papers and the blogosphere - and on March 3, you'll be able to join the fray.

At the heart of the dust-up is Jonathan Littell's epic Holocaust novel, The Kindly Ones, winner (in 2006) of France's most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt. Littell, son of spy novelist Robert, is the first American to win the award.

The controversy centers on the merits of the novel, which is narrated by an unrepentant SS officer and is full of violence and, according to some, excessively gruesome imagery. On one side are critics like the New York Times' always-divisive Michiko Kakutani, who dismiss the novel as "willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent" and considers the high praise heaped upon it by the French as proof of the "occasional perversity of French taste".

On the other, equally strong praise from no less a personage than Michael Korda, who provocatively claims that if "you want to read about Hell, here it is. If you don’t have the strength to read it, tough shit."

And, somewhere in the middle, there's the typically masterful critique at the Complete Review, which concedes to the novel's power and scope, but laments its lack of insight.

In a few days, we'll be able to do what books like this demand: decide for ourselves. Is The Kindly Ones is a modern War & Peace? Or is it an overhyped monster signalling the end of publishing?

I can't wait to find out.


The New York Times ran an article on March 4 fleshing out HarperCollins' gamble in publishing the book.