Monday, February 22, 2010

Bay Area Literary Tidbits

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Andrew S. Ross took a look at the success of Books, Inc, the 11-store independent chain in the Bay Area on Sunday. Rescued from bankruptcy in 1996 by Michael and Margie Scott Tucker, the 149-year old company is thriving because it stays lean and treats each store separately.

“We buy for each individual store, seeing each store as a reflection of its community," Scott Tucker told Ross. In Books Inc.'s case, wrote Ross, “it also includes special shopping nights with a portion of the proceeds going to local schools, and discounts for community book clubs. "Integrating with the community will become more important as progress marches on," said Margie Scott Tucker.

University Press Books in Berkeley has its own unique way of connecting with community.  On Monday, Feb. 22, it will host its second Slow Reading Dinner, where guests munch on food foraged from the Berkeley Hills cooked by a master chef. Then, over bottles of wine, the guests will read passages from their favorite books. Slowly, of course.

Two Bay Area authors are featured in Oprah Magazine in March. Zoe Fitzgerald Carter’s forthcoming memoir, Imperfect Endings, about her mother’s quest to commit suicide – with Carter’s assistance – is excerpted. Carter is a friend: we went to Columbia Journalism School together and our daughters work on the Berkeley High newspaper together. She gave me an advance copy of the book and I must say it packs a wallop. It is beautifully written, which almost disguises the anguish Carter felt at contemplating whether to help her mother die. Carter will be having her book release party at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland at 7 pm on March 3.

Gina Welch’s In the Land of Believers was named one of Oprah’s top 10 books for March. Welch, who is from Berkeley, is a secular Jew who spent two years at Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. Welch starts attending the church as a skeptic, but soon comes to understand – and appreciate – aspects of evangelical Christianity.


Nani said...

Thanks for this post Frances. What great work Books Inc. does!

I'm interested in the Slow readings, but the link does not work, and I can't find it on UP' website. I would love to know more about this, and maybe participate myself.

Also wanted to point out Kepler's and the interviews they do with authors, archived on their site, like this recent one with me, also posted on YouTube:

Cheers, Romney

onceuponasunflower said...

That sounds like a lovely place. I hope it continues to do well :)

Connie Hale said...

Books, Inc. is a sentimental favorite of mine--my grandmother worked there in in the forties/fifties, in a branch on Market St.? She died before I was born, possibly of alcoholism, and is a bit of a family ghost. I once wrote a piece about her, a Rashoman tale, each person's memory describing a different woman.

I've been told she was a legendary bookseller-- had worked in the bookstore at Smith College--and was quite a resource, the way booksellers used to be. Supposedly James Michener would ask her for recommendations. Hooray for Books, Inc. for staying in the game so long and for understanding the alchemy of the business. said...

It's really great that independent book stores are still able to operate in this day and age. After being saved from bankruptcy, this is a great success story!

Kimberly said...

I love cute independent book stores - such a great atmosphere. And I just got a copy of "In the Land of Believers" and am really excited to start it.