Staff Musings

July 21, 2007


Filed under: Reference — carricee @ 11:39 pm

Today, Monique shelved lots of things quickly, moved large print and audio books to where horror used to be (keeping you guys on your toes, as usual), and typed a bunch of stuff. I weeded in the parking lot so people will stop walking in and asking if we are still open and rearranged the reference section.

Working in the reference section got me thinking. People don’t think that the reference section is fun. They only head there when they want a dictionary or a thesaurus, for the most part. Just the word reference implies that you only use those books when you need to refer to something, yet there are a lot of books that live in the reference section that can be read from cover to cover, without causing pain. I thought I’d profile a few of our reference books, and remember, we usually get between 100 and 300 books in everyday, so we will always be getting in new, fun reference books for your amusement.

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, by Patricia T. O’Conner  This grammar book is fun and easy to get through. O’Conner reminds readers that you don’t need to know the technical nitty-gritty of language to get it right, and gives everyday, easy to follow examples that take much less effort to understand than my college composition books did.

Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Extraordinary Book of Facts and Bizarre Information. We actually have several of the Uncle John Bathroom Reader series right now. Did you know that one third of all high school graduates never read another book?  I couldn’t imagine that, but that’s what Uncle John says! With pages of facts and other fun things like lists of oxymorons (drag race, nonworking mother, genuine imitation), these books have enough fun and useful information to keep you occupied while you are occupied. They also have very durable covers.

The Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn (a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot). Though many of the cost-saving techniques in this book require far too much effort for me, I have nothing but admiration for the people who manage to utilize these techniques everyday. Learn how to safely reuse everything from vacuum cleaner bags to tuna fish cans, make a compost bin, and get discounted pantyhose.


Speaking of craze-inducing kids books…

Filed under: Children's Literature,Sci Fi & Fantasy — carricee @ 10:52 pm

I mentioned a few posts back that I had heard a lot of good things about the Philip Pullman His Dark Materials series – of which the first installment, The Golden Compass, is being made into a movie – but that I had yet to read it.  I was embarrassed enough by that omission to pick up a copy on Wednesday and I love love love it.

I even went to the movie website after I finished the books and made my own daemon (mine is a fox named Sirion) and read up on everything on there, and then to the author’s website so I could find out more about him. I looked at a few fansites but then got nervous about spoilers so stopped. I told my husband about the world-building and we decided it would be our next carbook (we have a deal – he can drive if I can read. Since I feel guilty about reading with him sitting there being bored, I started reading aloud to him, and now sometimes we invent places to go so we can read our carbook. Right now it is Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – a fantastic book).

So today I bought books 2 and 3 in the series, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. I am so excited to read them I’m almost disappointed that I have plans this evening. The world-building in Pullman’s novel is fantastic – you never feel out of touch, despite the fact that you rarely notice when he is giving you pertinent details. The world has a very unique, kind of steampunk feel about it. The characters are wonderful, it’s impossible not to adore the main character partly due to her faults – she is a magnificent liar! It also takes a bit of time to turn out who are the villains and who are the good folk, and with some characters you are never quite sure. I keep reading from other people that there are all kinds of deep philosophical questions and moral quandries in the novels, and while I noticed that they were there I honestly didn’t take the time to sort them out; I was far too interested in the story.

Come in and pick up a copy before the movie! The movie isn’t actually out until Christmas, which is far too far away, but this way you’ll have time for your whole family to read it – and it’s definitely a book for both kids and adults.

Harry Potter is GONE!

Filed under: Children's Literature,Sci Fi & Fantasy — carricee @ 10:29 pm

From our shelves…that is. I don’t know if he’s REALLY gone as I don’t have a copy of the book because Robert sold them ALL last night. Yay Robert! YAY for selling!

While we’re glad we were able to sell the massive quantity we ordered, Monique and I were a little disappointed we weren’t able to lug home our copies today, though it was obviously our own fault for not having faith in Robert’s selling power.

While I’m definitely in the middle of reading something else that I’m not going to put down for the new tome, I’m nervous as all get out that the book is going to be spoiled for me. I am really, really careful about spoilers; I hate them for anything. So far, I’ve just avoided turning on the tv or looking at newspapers or looking at websites I believe may not be discrete. It seems to work, but I’m not sure how long I can survive on limited media.

July 18, 2007

Working at Don’s Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — carricee @ 9:31 pm

Today I was told I need to talk more about how great it is to work here.

Despite the draconian insistence on publishing positive press, it is a great place for me to work. I’ve worked at one other bookstore, a Barnes and Nobles – and I worked in the cafe. The cafe was the lowest of the low in the Barnes and Nobles caste system; I never did understand why, and I liked my actual work and customers. It was management that was whacko. I think they all had thought they would do great things with their English degrees when they grew up…

BUT, on to THIS store. I love working here because:

1. I get cheap books.

2. I love to help people find new authors and get them to read great books.

3. I love working for an independent bookstore.

4. I love that I’m allowed to squeeze all my hours into 4 days a week so I get three days off

5. I love it when we have a rare book that someone’s been looking for for years

6. I love our customers

7. I love having authors come in

8. I love having the flexibility to be creative and implement new ideas

9. I love that people ask me about books and I get PAID for it

10. I love being surrounded by books all day

11. I love working with our staff

12. I love being paid to stay current on trends in the book world

13. I love learning about the book industry

I think my very, very favorite part about working here though, is being able to recommend books, and the helping people find things to read part of the job. It’s fun how I get paid to be a book-pusher, when it used to just be an annoying quirk of mine. I mean, I still try to push books on friends and family, but not nearly as often as I used to. It’s almost as if a person with OCD got a job cleaning tile floors with a toothbrush, or a drug addict got a job…err…doing dugs, I guess.

Of course, I also love the cheap books part. I usually end up taking one to three books home on a daily basis. As I said, I work four days a week, so that ends up being 4 to twelve books on a weekly basis, or 16 to 48 books on a monthly basis. Not that I read all of them, but I like to think that someday I might.

July 17, 2007

Books and Movies and Movies and Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — carricee @ 10:31 pm

I just had a child ask me if the Nancy Drew graphic novel we had on display was based on the movie.

It was fun to watch her eyes widen when I explained to her that, in fact, Nancy Drew books were being written before someone as old as ME was born. At least with Harry Potter, people – well, the vast majority of people –  know that Harry existed in print before he was on screen

Speaking of Harry Potter, the new book comes out on Saturday. We will be open at 11:30 in order to sell the book at 12:01. As Robert said in his email, we may not be the cheapest  place in town to get it, but we’ll probably have the shortest lines!

Back to books and movies – there are so many good books being made into movies right now. You should check them out when you come to pick up your copy of Harry potter! Here’s a short list:

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman – A beautifully rendered fairytale, told by the master of myth who brought us Sandman, American Gods, and of course, the funniest novel on the apocalypse ever, Good Omens.

The Golden Compass, by Phillip Pullman – If you’ve been to the movies lately, you’ve seen the previews for this one. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve yet to read it – despite the many great things I’ve heard about it in the last few years. It’s supposed to be brilliant, and the movie looks dazzling.

The Nanny Diaries, by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus – This was a guilty pleasure of mine, and it definitely kept my attention. Who knew how crazy incredibly rich New York housewives were?

July 10, 2007

Of Potters and Poets

Filed under: Uncategorized — carricee @ 9:39 pm

Harold Bloom reviews Barack Obama’s poetry (published in 1981, while Obama was in college) in the New Yorker. It comes as no surprise that Bloom said he would not have encouraged Obama to pursue poetry as a career; I’m not sure I’ve ever read a positive review from Bloom on anything written in the last century. He at least says, that Obama’s poetry is better than some of other politicians he has read.

Speaking of things Harold Bloom doesn’t like, the Harry Potter movie comes out at midnight! I’m excited about this one, since this is (at least in the book) the one in which Harry and friends stop reacting (and whining) so much and begin taking action. Though I probably won’t go tonight at midnight (I have a tendency to fall asleep during movies no matter what time they are played) I may see it tomorrow.

“Did you guys get more lights?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — carricee @ 12:01 am

Yesterday at the store we got an incredible amount of stuff done. Recently I wrote about how I ripped up the nasty old carpet back by fiction and science fiction; well yesterday Robert, Monique and Chris painted the boring gray cement floors back there, and they look great! Seriously, it almost looks like a different store.

I managed, somehow, to paint the shelves where horror USED to be (it’s been moved to live closer to the rest of fiction). Even though I stepped off the ladder onto the paint can, flipping paint and can in every direction (most of the former onto me or the drop cloth, thank goodness), I still got more paint on the shelves than anywhere else. Yay!
Stop in and take a look!

July 7, 2007

Scalzi and Buckell Signing

Filed under: Store News and Events — carricee @ 3:50 pm


Look! Here’s local author, guitar player, and Official Don’s Books Bodyguard Scott Boota Carpenter getting his Scalzi signed. Even tough guys love their science fiction.


Wow! Look at the crazy wild rush! I think the author’s fingers are starting to bleed.


Fans came from far and wide to meet their heroes. Look! That kid came all the way from the 60s!


Tobias had such a nice smile and quiet, easy-going attitude. Scalzi was nice enough to make up for this by talking loudly and a lot. What a great couple of guys!


Here we have the triumvirate of fandom. Guy on the left wore a cooler t-shirt last year, something about grammar – this year he wore nothing interesting. I was a little disappointed in him, honestly. Boota is holding back the crowds with his intimidating facial hair.


Cheri is not intimidated by facial hair, in fact, she seems not even to notice it! What is her superpower?

July 6, 2007

We Matter!

Filed under: Uncategorized — carricee @ 6:05 pm

What is it about this area of the country that breeds so few independent bookstores? It could be the attitude of consumers, being more comfortable with the familiar big-box bookstore feel and business folk are likely spending more time on manufacturing or other areas with more profit. Investors surely see little need in spending their money on a project that is on such shaky ground.

But guess what? We matter! That is, according to Larry Portzline, an innovator, writer, and professor, who created a concept called Bookstore Tourism. In celebration of independent bookstores, he is planning a 10-week trek across all fifty states to visit 200 independent bookstores and ask them why they matter. He’ll post videos and interviews on his website, and is encouraging readers to join him for a day or two on his tour bus to visit stores. He’s done several successful smaller tours to areas like Greenwich Village and Washington D.C.

Personally, I’d like to think that we, at Don’s Books, matter a great deal. If you think so too, feel free to email Mr. Portzline and let him know that we’re a more than worthy stop on his tour. When I emailed him, he replied that he wasn’t sure what route he was taking through Indiana yet, but that he’d keep us in mind. Friends, we should DEFINE his route through Indiana. How many independent bookstores are there around here that wouldn’t necessitate him to take some back roads? A few, but not enough. He asks for bookstore suggestions, donations, and ideas for sponsorship to be emailed to him, and you can get his email address at his website.

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