Friday, June 12, 2009

Creation Story

Customers often ask where the name of the store came from. In answer to this question, we go back to the archives, to an introduction that the founder of the store, Richard Savoy, wrote for our first print newsletter back in 1989. Here it is reprinted in its entirety:

And now a cautionary and somewhat naive (I was very young then) tale of the "meaning" of the store name and why I sell books. It is intended as a reference to that infamous apple in Genesis. It just struck me that the apple eating incident and subsequent fall from grace and being asked to leave the Garden of Eden wasn't such a bad thing. With this came knowledge- a process, not an absolute. Hence the cult of the expert: orthodoxy in science, intolerance in religion, rigidity in government. Books offer the largest, most varied, and easily obtained body of knowledge. We try to keep in mind that the act of printing a word doesn't make it true. To finish, John Ciardi's warning about the expert, be it in science, religion, or government (anyone's):

Who could believe an ant
in theory?
A giraffe in blue print?
Ten Thousand doctors of what's
possible could reason
the jungle out of being.

I know, I know, it doesn't tell us why it's called The Green Apple, but it's good to maintain a little mystery.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's that in the woods?

One of the most enjoyable perks of living the bookseller life is certainly getting my paws on advance reading copies sent from publishers. All it takes is a couple of unexpected padded manila envelopes sent to my attention, and any random day at Green Apple becomes Christmas. Last month I had only heard rumors of a new Thomas Pynchon novel due to be published at the end of summer, but then after a well-placed 'please' to the visiting Penguin sales representative, here I am, 20 pages down the darkly psychedelic path of Inherent Vice. It's quite a departure for Pynchon, and I'm thrilled to be one of the first folks in San Francisco to read this highly anticipated novel! I'll tell you just this much about it: one of the characters is named Bigfoot. Which is just the tipping point that I need to decree 2009 "The Summer of Sasquatch".

Seriously. May all the pirates just get eaten by zombies already, 'cause Bigfoot reigns supreme at Green Apple!

If you aren't sold on the majesty of Bigfoot yet, just flip through any of the funny, lovely, and weirdly poignant books from Graham Roumieu. It starts with Bigfoot: In Me Own Words, but Bigfoot: I Not Dead really brings it all home. And don't overlook the fact that there were not just one, but two scholarly tomes on my main man, 'Squatch, released last month. McLeod's Anatomy of a Beast from UC Press focuses on the meteoric rise of the mythology and pop appeal of our shaggy idol, while Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend from the University of Chicago attempts to uncover a more gender-relative sphere of influence. One of my colleagues has written on his shelf-talker for Anatomy of a Beast, "Maybe I'm all alone in this, but I'm doing what I can to make 2009 the Official Year of Bigfoot." Well, at least there are two of us now!

(Beware The Yeti of 2010)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Brad Warner at Green Apple

A few months ago, Brad Warner spoke at Green Apple as part of our Sideroom Series. He sent us a couple of YouTube clips that he posted from that appearance. Check them out


And here:

And speaking of the Sideroom Series, Meredith Norton will be in the store next Thursday, June 18 at 7pm to discuss her surprisingly funny memoir of dealing with breast cancer. Details here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The 1,000 Copy Club

Our computer system (IBID) is pretty podunk. Each terminal is a "dummy;" i.e. it can't run any other program. So if we want to do a Google search to find that book you heard on NPR last week, we have to switch computers. The terminals are connected to the main computer by flimsy 6-pin wires. Next time you're in, take a gander at the wires running across our storefronts for a look at the IT infrastructure that cements our place in the cutting-edge world of bookselling.

But IBID does keep track of our new books pretty well. It tells us how many copies we have sold of each title in the last week, month, or year. And starting with an "upgrade" in 1999, it began to keep track of perpetual sales. Since that "upgrade," which I believe is still the most recent one, five books have sold over 1,000 copies at Green Apple (not including used books or titles where the hardcover and paperback combine for 1,000).

Here's #1, with 2,362 sold since 1999.

You Can't Win by (not that) Jack Black has been on our staff favorites as long as I've worked here, I think (16 years). We try not to let books linger there too long so the selection will always be fresh. But when we sell 15-20 copies a month of a book no one has ever heard of, we can't pull it. Here's Kevin H.'s blurb and the reason we've sold 2,362 copies.
Who will be #2,363?