Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Subscribe to an indie!

I mentioned the idea of a cooperative bookstore before, in my last post, but of course some bookstores are offering different subscription services. What, no reader could mention this in a comment section? Thanks for nothing.

The one mentioned in today's Shelf Awareness is Powell's Books and their Indiespensable (points for the cute name!):

Powell's new subscription club delivers the best new books, with special attention to leading independent publishers. Signed first editions. Inventive, original sets. Exclusive printings.... Every six weeks, another installment to read and admire.

All titles are thoughtfully selected by Powell's staff. PLUS: Every shipment is stocked with exciting surprises.... Maybe a pre-publication copy of some great new book, or a bonus DVD or CD, or a literary periodical, or handmade chocolate — always something extra for your pleasure. It's our booklovin' Cracker Jack prize.

I've only been to the Powells in Chicago, but I definitely want to check out the mothership in Portland, Oregon. Hell, I'd just like to check out Portland - I hear nothing but good things. I just need to find a way to get there and stay there for a bit at a reasonable price - it's the hotels that kill you on trips, no? But wait! I've just noticed on the li'l history page at Powells that the original is the Chicago one, and the Portland is an offshoot, but a child who overtook her parents. Ah.

Anyhow, my point... these subscriptions are very cool. I know locally, in the Boston area, the Harvard Book Store has started something similar, the Signed First Edition Club, wherein subscribers can purchase, at the publisher's list price for the book, a... well I think it's obvious. I kinda wish they'd actually have a subscription service, where you pay a flat rate and get whatever comes up, but maybe that's not economical from an independent business standpoint. (And as anyone who is anyone knows, this book store is top rate, probably the best indie in the metro area.)

I myself have just started a subscription of a different kind, at McSweeney's, and I love it. It's their Book Release Club. (Join now! We can talk about our selections!) Got my first book and can't wait to read it, but I'm still trudging through David Michaelis' Schulz & Peanuts: A Biography, which is very well done and quite interesting, but ya know, biographies... You read 200 pages and realize the subject is just out of diapers. So I don't know when I'll get to read my McSweeney's pick, which is a novel called Arkansas by John Brandon. It looks quite good.

So I'm loving these models and anxious for more. In the meantime, I feel inclined to wish good fortune on Jessica Stockton Bagnulo (link to her blog, Written Nerd, well worth a visit), who won $15,000 from the Brooklyn Public Library - who doesn't love libraries? they're just the best - to start her own indie bookstore. Nice work! And best of luck! I'm green with envy.

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