Saturday, May 16, 2009

Conservative Books in Liberal San Francisco

Every once in a while, a conservative book hits the bestseller lists, and a customer will come in and complain that we don't stock it. Such was the case recently with Mark Levin's Liberty & Tyranny (that link actually leads you to, since we don't have the book in stock at the moment). A nice man came into the store asking for it the other day wondering why we wouldn't stock a bestselling book. I explained that mostly it is because we don't have much luck selling such books here in old lefty pinko San Francisco, but that I would order it.

Sometimes the folks who come in demanding to know why we don't stock the latest bestseller by Coulter, Savage or Hannity aren't so polite. But I have a stock response for them: it is because we are capitalists, and we only stock books we can sell and thus make money. Not much room for argument there. Green Apple doesn't not stock any particular book because we don't agree with the content therein, and we'll buy the conservative books used when they come in over the buy counter.

All of this reminds me of a time about 10 years ago when Michael Savage's first book came out, and we were rather surprised at how many requests we were getting for it. Since we didn't want to not have the book for our customers, but found the author's opinions so odious, we thought up a tidy solution: we put a little sign on the book saying that we would be donating all of the profits of the book to the A.C.L.U. The reason for choosing the A.C.L.U was that I had recently heard Mr. Savage on the radio stating that, were he to find himself running things, one of the first things he would do is put the head of the A.C.L.U on trial for sedition. In the end, we were able to send them a check for around $100.

Now Mr. Savage has been barred from entering Britain, and the A.C.L.U. is one of the organizations defending him, because that is what they do, defend the civil liberties even of odious people. And so in a way, the people who purchased his book at Green Apple contributed to the Michael Savage legal defense fund.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hubba Hubba Ding Ding

But I'll bet that you missed it. . .

Maybe the coolest author event that I've ever organized happened last night, and unless you were one of the lucky group that packed the house at The Hypnodrome, I'm afraid that you missed it. C'mon people, what part of FREE BURLESQUE didn't you understand? We certainly could have made room for a few more.

Lily Burana read briefly from her new one, I Love a Man in Uniform, but mostly she (like everyone else) whooped it up for Sugar Shack burlesque troupe, who entertained us all with the finest bumps and grinds. Pasties were bouncing while costumes were falling all through the night, and we even managed to raise a grip of bills through a prize-laden raffle for Lily's favorite charity, Soldiers Angels. Thanks to all performers, especially my co-host for the evening Lady Satan. So what have we learned? That's right - check the event section at the Green Apple Books website often for more upcoming good times, and don't miss out again. We won't always promise the best in burlesque like last night, but we do promise that there will be books.

Yes, I did take pictures, but I'm not sure that you should see them, though. Should have been there. Instead, here's another blast of 3 Easy Pieces (and why I read) with one of The City's special residents, Frank Chu (aka That Guy With The Sign Who Seems To Be Everywhere I Go). I think this one should be called "Why I Read (and 1 really difficult answer)." Enjoy!

Frank Chu does Green Apple Books 3 Easy Pieces (and why I read) from kevin hunsanger on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kevin's local favorites

The SF Chronicle runs a feature every Sunday called "On the Town," wherein a resident lists her/his twelve favorite spots in San Francisco (and the Bay Area): restaurants, bars, retailers, etc. Green Apple was mentioned three times since March (by music biz veteran David Katznelson on April 26; the our Park Life neighbors on March 15, and Michael Mina on March 1). So the Chronicle came to Green Apple co-owner Kevin Hunsanger to get his spin on the city's gems.

Here's Kevin at one of his favorite bars: Aub Zam Zam on upper Haight. Want to see where one of Green Apple's owners goes after a busy day manning our used book buy counter? Here's the full story: Where A Bookworm Turns. Cheers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book cover quirks, Part 1?

The marriage of a good book and a whimsical book designer is a beautiful thing. The five-legged Knopf dog on the spine of hardcover editions of Geek Love (a novel about circus freaks) is my favorite example (click to see it bigger):

There are a few Angela Carter paperbacks in which the Penguin logo plays with the design, like these (again, click to best see the Penguin's quirks):

The classic of the art may be I, Libertine. The book was initially conceived of purely as a hoax in the mid-1950s to protest then-current ways of creating bestseller lists. You have to read the story. Part of the story is all the in-jokes on the cover (designed by an artist who went on to help design Alfred E. Neuman).

There are some good non-cover book quirks, too. My favorite is from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Now some people don't like Eggers's playfulness (one of my co-workers said the title page was as far as he got into the book), but I think the 10-point sexuality scale of gay to straight is brilliant and just as important, to me, in choosing a book as the ISBN (i.e. who cares?). Here's half of the title page.

Contest time. Correctly identify the cover quirk on this Disney VHS cover (oops!) and I'll send you a Green Apple canvas tote bag. Email me to enter: pete at greenapplebooks dot com. I'll update this page when the prize is claimed. UPDATE: Prize claimed. There's a can't-miss phallic symbol in the dead center of the castle. Kudos to whatever artist snuck that one by Disney. Well played, I say.

By all means, share your favorite book cover quirks here, too. Play with us!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Art of the Shelf-Talker...Part 2: Children's Books

After my last entry on the Art of the Shelf-Talker we got a pretty good response, which is nice, since it means people are actually reading our humble blog. So I thought I would bring the next installment in the Shelf-Talker series: The Art of the Children’s Book Shelf-Talker.

The thing about these Shelf-Talkers is that they have to appeal to the parent, since they're the ones with the money. But they still need to be eye-catching and enticing. The nice thing about children’s books is that they have pictures, so you already have inspiration for the design. The downside is that the books are shorter, so you don’t want to give too much away.

Here are some classic Green Apple examples from our Staff Favorites:

The Incredible Book-Eating Boy:

Sam & the Firefly:

Harold & the Purple Crayon:

The Gift of Nothing:

Fly High Fly Low:

The Peace Book:We hope that not only do you enjoy our Shelf-Talkers, but that you enjoy the books that we love so much.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Green Apple miscellany, part 3

1. Liao Yiwu's sobering (and at times hilarious) collection of interviews with the outcasts, dissidents and criminals at the bottom of Chinese society, The Corpse Walker, is just out in paperback. Local writer Yiyun Li reviewed the hardcover last year in the SF Chronicle, praising its evocation of the "history that lives only in people's memories".

I can't put the book down.

2. There is a growing movement to turn May into National Short Story Month. Follow at the Emerging Writers Network blog, where reviews of collections and stories are offered.

3. Marc Fitten is turning the book tour for his new novel, Valeria's Last Stand, into an excuse to visit 100 independent bookstore. He just left East Sandwich, MA, but we're confident we'll see him within the next few months. (via Maude Newton)

4. Poets are ranked by beard weight at A Journey Round My Skull.

5. And is A Lion Called Christian the first book to be based on a "Youtube Sensation"? (Sure, I'm as cynical as the next guy, but the clip really gets me! Here come the waterworks!)