Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ye Olde Partners Page

*A Collection of Antiquarian Curios & Relics*
"These days, the bigger the company, the less you can figure out what it does . . ."
--Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things (9780553418842) 28.00


  Thankfully, Juan Carlos had appropriated a drone that was already on autopilot so he could watch from the safety of the cockpit as it sailed languorously upward to the landing strip on Jeff Bezo's Cloud City.  He may have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but he was certainly no pilot.  As wisps of cottony clouds floated around his canopy, a sudden buzzing from his cell phone jolted him from his reverie.  A text from 'The Ghoul' read:  Computer virus.  Manchurian Candidate.
  So, he hypothesized, a virus that was spread through a competitor's e-reader would make Jeff Bezos a likely suspect.  Of course, there was always the North Koreans, but that seemed unlikely.  And there really was no turning back now.

  Juan waited a moment for the canopy to automatically slide backwards.  He clambered down the side of the drone and alighted on the concrete tarmac.  A woman in an Amazon jumpsuit greeted him and shouted over the roaring wind, "Welcome to Cloud City!  Follow the yellow line to the gate!"
  He squinted at her name tag, it read:  AMANDA HOCKING and then in smaller letters, 'I'm reading Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See (9781476746586) 27.00, a National Book Award finalist.

  Juan leaned towards her ear, "Is Anthony Doerr's book any good?!"
  She nodded energetically, "It's brilliant!  If Mrs. Bezos hadn't written another one of her amazing novels, I really think he would have won this year!"
  "Great!'  He turned and followed the yellow line towards the gate.

  The yellow line continued and led him to a huge cathedral-like structure with ten-foot high gothic doors.  When he was within a few feet of them, the fully automated doors swung outward, beckoning him inside.  The antechamber was gargantuan.  He walked across a football field length checkerboard floor of polished marble to a young man sitting behind a curved desk.  His name tag read:  JOE KONRATH, then smaller, 'I'm reading Edward O. Wilson's The Meaning of Human Existence (9780871401007) 23.95, a National Book Award finalist.

  Juan said, "I'm here to see Mr. Bezos."
  Joe didn't look up from reading Tony Robbins' Money Master the Game (9781476757803) 28.00 and gestured, "Right through that door."

  Juan went through another automated cyclopean door and gasped at the huge domed ceiling inside.  There was a TV screen hundreds of feet long on the far wall, and it immediately sprang to life when he entered.  A massive computer-generated image of Mr. Bezos' head spoke in a booming voice, "I am Bezos . . . the Great and Powerful!  Who are you?!"
Odds & Sods

One would think that the readers of the Grand Rapids Press would be too elderly to hike, but then I carefully re-read the subtitle, 'Sixty Walks, Day Trips, etc.' and then suddenly, it all made sense.  The Grand Rapids Press ran their feature on Jim DuFresne's new edition of Explorer's Guide: 50 Hikes in Michigan (9781581572063) 21.95 a few weeks ago and the phones have been hoppin' ever since.  We will have more stock shortly . . .

Speaking of local titles, Stephanie Meyer's (No, not that Stephenie Meyer!) Twin Cities Chef's Table (9780762792191) 24.95 is back in stock.  At that price, it's a steal . . .

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ye Olde Partners Page

*A Collection of Antiquarian Curios & Relics*
"I am putting myself to the fullest use possible,
which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do . . ."
                                                                                 --HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey

FOX NEWS Presents their first reality show: WHITE MAN SCHEMING
  It was a typical day in Bloomfield Hills.  The traffic on Telegraph Road was a glut of Lexus and Mercedes.  Most of the well-coiffed drivers were sipping lattes and talking to their hands-free phones on their way to their jobs in shiny skyscrapers.  Since I'm on a reality show, I don't really work.  Instead, I amble down to the local bookstore to sit in their cafe, drink coffee, and read the Detroit News.  I overhear a lot of things:

Customer:  I'm looking for a book about a happy black girl.
Bookseller:  Huh?  Oh, I bet you're referring to the NBA Young Literature winner Brown Girl Dreaming (9780399252518) 16.99 by Jacqueline Woodson.

  My phone vibrates on the table and I answer, "Yo!"
  It's my friend Mick from Partners; he replies,  "What's up dog?"
  I say, "What's hot in books?  And not necessarily for the holidays, I got some birthdays coming up."
  "Well, yeah, there are quite few surprise titles that I think will sell after Christmas."
  I correct him, "The holidays."
  "Whatever.  Ann Patchett is touting a book on the trapped Chilean miners Deep Down Dark (9780374280604) 26.00 for NPR's new book club.  We should have stock on Monday.  It's written by Hector Tobar . . ."

  I interject, "Isn't he the big, bald guy in Plan 9 From Outer Space?"
  "Not even close, that's Tor Johnson.  Also, this computer geek David Pogue came out of nowhere with his book, Pogue's Basics (9781250053480) 19.99.  It looks like we won't get any more copies until right after Christmas . . ."

  "The holidays."
  "No, literally after Christmas.  I think I'm allowed to say that.  The news isn't so good for Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl (9780984504176) 39.95.  The publisher is out until mid-January."

  I ask, "With all the kerfuffle over the new Seth Rogen flick, I'd be interested to read something on Best Korea."
  "It's funny you should mention that," Mick chuckled.  There's a new book by Suki Kim, a former teacher in North Korea called Without You, There Is No Us (9780307720658) 24.00 . . ."

 "Mick, hang on for a second, I gotta hear this one."

Customer:  Do you have any childrens books on serial killers?"
Bookseller:  . . .
Odds & Sods

Our lovable scamp is back!  Coast Guard mascot Onyx has returned in a new title called The Mighty Mackinaw (9780989284646) 14.99 by Tyler Benson.  The latest in the 'Adventures of Onyx', this one has the black Labrador retriever ('Find me a Labrador and I'll retrieve it.') on-board for the arrival of the Christmas Tree Ship in Chicago.  It is guaranteed to be a holiday favourite for years to come . . .

Tom Daldin's Under The Radar Michigan (9780991602100) 24.95, which is based on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series, is back in stock.  Michiganders will not believe what is in their own backyard!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ye Olde Partners Page

Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff Decided to Publish Books and Sell Them Only in Indie Stores. Are They Crazy?

Ye Old Partners Page wanted to know, so we asked writer Jerry Dennis, author of The Living Great Lakes, The Windward Shore, Canoeing Michigan Rivers, and many other books to explain…

Jerry’s response:

No doubt about it, we’re crazy. But I think it’s a good kind of crazy.

Artist Glenn Wolff and I have made our livings illustrating and writing books for nearly 30 years. In that time we've seen the publishing industry go through the most dramatic changes since Guttenberg.

When we met in 1986, Glenn was a regular illustrator for the New York Times and for magazines like Audubon and Sports Afield, where my nature essays were also appearing. We teamed up, signed with an agent, and started publishing with New York houses. We've enjoyed—and hope to continue enjoying—all the benefits big houses bring to a project.

But we've always made time for less conventional projects, as well. We publish in literary journals and small presses we admire, such as Alice Greene & Co of Ann Arbor, who this fall brought out a chapbook of my prose poems (A Daybreak Handbook, with illustrations by Glenn Wolff and cover design by Gail Dennis). We've allowed our art and words to appear on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and a park bench. And we've published limited-edition books and broadsides with letterpress artist Chad Pastotnik of Deep Wood Press and watched those works go into permanent collections at Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State, Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Almost from the beginning we've wanted to run a small press of our own. Our chance came this summer, when we teamed up with Gail Dennis, a graphic designer with 30 years’ experience designing books and other publications and who is superbly organized and a master at implementing ideas. We named the press for the sugar maple in Gail’s and my front yard and Glenn designed a logo featuring it.

And then we made a momentous decision: Big Maple Press would publish books that can be sold only in independent stores.

Why? First, because we want to stay small. We've heard too many stories about start-ups driven into bankruptcy when big distributors ordered thousands of books then returned them. We’d rather work closely with a single distributor—Partners, of course—and with a manageable number of independent stores that appreciate our books and might be inspired to hand-sell them.

Second, because we hate bullies. I was one of 600 authors who in September signed a full-page letter in the New York Times protesting Amazon’s business tactics. As a Macmillan author, I saw the buy buttons on four of my books disappear from Amazon’s website in 2010, when Macmillan refused to buckle in to unreasonable price demands. We saw the same tactic used this year against Hachette. Glenn, Gail, and I decided we could make a few books that are impossible for the Bully to get his hands on.
But there’s a third reason, and it’s the one that matters most. Glenn and I owe our careers to independent booksellers who championed our work from the beginning, back when the big chains wouldn't bother with us. It seems only right at this stage of our careers that we should publish special editions that can be purchased only in indie stores.

Finally, we’re here—we've always been here—because we love books. We love writing, designing, and illustrating them, proofing them, opening the first carton of a new title, organizing them on our shelves, opening their covers and burying our noses in their pages, settling into our chairs on winter nights and losing ourselves in them. We've poured our hearts into all of our books and made them the best that we could. Now we have a chance to make them even better.

Is that crazy, or what? We’d love to hear what you think.


Read Jerry’s paean to independent bookstores:

Read about the genesis of Jerry’s and Glenn’s HarperCollins bestsellers, now out in indie-only editions from Big Maple Press:

It’s Raining Frogs and Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky:
The Bird in the Waterfall: Exploring the Amazing World of Water:

For more information:
Contact Jerry Dennis at jcdennis[at]charter[dot]net.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ye Olde Partners Page

*A Collection of Antiquarian Curios & Relics*
"You're one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan
 Designed and directed by his red right hand. . ."
                                   --Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Red Right Hand

  Gathering his thoughts, Police Lieutenant Juan Carlos sat in Bezos Park on a bench sponsored by the largest conglomerate in the free world, Amazon.  He peered at the two moons in the nearly cloudless sky.  They were almost like bookends to Cloud City, which floated between them.  It was not often that you saw both moons during the day.  It was usually interpreted as an evil portent.  They looked like two dead eyes staring down at him.  He exhaled slowly.
  He was at a dead end in his investigation of the now infamous Nook incident, but every finger seemed to point at Jeff Bezos.  However, Wilson's comment still rang in his ears, "That's all fine and dandy, but one does not simply walk into Jeff Bezo's Cloud City.  It is folly."
  For a moment, the sky appeared to crack open and he gazed upon a darker sky.  There was a sky with only one moon, and without any signs of Cloud City.  He blinked and it was gone.  Juan smiled.  He thought, perhaps, just perhaps, there is another universe.  A universe where Amazon does not control every aspect of their lives.  Maybe there is hope.
  He rose from the bench and said aloud, "Then, folly it is."

  Juan walked across the green to the drone park on the other side.  A man with an Amazon jumpsuit met him at the gate and asked, "Can I help you?"
  He glanced at the gangly youth's name tag.  It said:  HUGH HOWEY and then in smaller letters, 'I'm reading Phil Klay's Redeployment (9781594204999) 26.95, a National Book Award finalist.'
  He asked, "Redeployment, eh?"

  Hugh nodded vigorously, "Oh, yeah.  Great book.  I think it would have won the NBA, if Mr. Bezo's wife hadn't had a new release this year.  She's a really good writer.  I think this makes five NBAs in a row for her."
  Juan pointed towards a one-seater drone and said, "I need to see Mr. Bezos."
  Hugh tsked-tsked, "I'm sorry, sir.  Unless you're on the approved list, no can do."
  Juan flashed his badge, "Does this get me on the list?"
  "Sir, I'll have to check with my supervisor."
  As Hugh glanced down at the walkie on his belt, Juan reared back with his right fist and cold-cocked him in the face.  Bezo's employee fell backwards and landed on the tarmac with a sickening thud.
  Juan flexed his hand, opened the gate, and stepped over the still prone body, "It looks like I am on the list."
 Odds & Sods

You can't make this stuff up.  Just when you think you've read it all, Mardi Link comes out with a new book.  It's called Wicked Takes the Witness Stand (9780472051694) 26.95 and it deals with the 1986 unsolved murder of Jeff Tobias in Gaylord, Mi.  It may be unsolved, but five men went to jail for a crime they did not commit.  This true crime title has a little bit of everything: bungled forensics, judicial malfeasance, shady prosecution, and a psychopathic star witness out for revenge.  The next time I hear some idiot say, 'Well, if you didn't do anything wrong, you shouldn't have anything to worry about'.  I will hand them a copy of this book.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ye Olde Partners Page

*A Collection of Antiquarian Curios & Relics*
"Stop making stupid people famous . . ."

(The show opens with a Chuck-like montage of History Channel images.)

  B. Traven Jr. here.  I will be your host for our new show R2H2: The History Channel Week In Preview.  Please don't sue us, Disney!  Ha, ha!  Hopefully, this show will be more profitable than the infomercials that usually inhabit our Sunday 5:30 am time slot.  Ha, ha!
  Let's take a peek at the docket: This Monday we will feature an America Unearthed marathon with my good friend Scott Wolter, author of Hooked X (9780878393121) 18.95.  In his new episode at 9:00 pm, he will search his home state of Minnesota for clues to the alleged Viking ancestry of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Some people believe Ms. Wilder is descended from the Viking settlers who erected the Kensington Rune Stone in 1362.  Mr. Wolter begins his search with an investigation of the new annotated autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pioneer Girl (9780984504176) 39.95.


 On Tuesday, surprise, we have an Ancient Aliens marathon.  The new episode is an examination of former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and his connection to our alien overlords.  Here's a clip from the show:

David Childress (in a high pitched, squeaky voice):  Donald Driver's new book is Quickie Stands Up To A Bully (9780692289280) 24.80.  And there's a reason they call him Quickie.  He is much faster than a normal human being.  He's quite possibly a human-alien hybrid, or as some alien astronaut theorists believe, he may have had alien DNA spliced into his genetic material.

 Giorgio Tsoukalos:  I'm not saying he's an alien, but he's an alien.

  On Wednesday, you guessed it, we have scheduled a Search for Lost Giants marathon with Jim Viera.  On his latest episode, Jim examines the bloodline of Anthony Robbins, author of Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom (9781476757803) 28.00 and co-star of the movie Shallow Hal.  Physically, Tony is enormous.  Could his lineage include the Lost Giants?

   And finally on Thursday, Andy Cohen, host of a myriad Bravo channel shows and author of The Andy Cohen Diaries (9781627792288) 26.00 joins us on Modern Marvels.  On this week's episode, we will explore the marvel of how Bravo is still a viable network.

Thanks for joining us and if we're not canceled, we'll see you next week.  Ha, ha!

Odds & Sods

James Patterson may have actually written his latest Alex Cross novel, Hope To Die (9780316210966) 29.00.  This time he has chosen to forgo his usual ghostwriters, a group of Vietnamese children in a Ho Chi Minh City sweatshop, and instead, do it the old-fashioned way -- write it himself.

Do you believe in miracles?  Sportscaster Al Michaels' new book, You Can't Make This Up (9780062314963) 28.99 is really starting to take off.  This one could be the big sports book for this holiday season.  I have to admit that he is one of the few announcers that I do not find annoying.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!  It's back to the trenches on Friday . . .