Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Win a Laurie R. King Broadside for You and Us!

Laurie R King's new book The God of the Hive is here, providing long-awaited resolution to the plot threads left dangling in her previous book, The Language of Bees (out in paperback today!). Because Laurie loves independent bookstores, she's having a promotion: mail in your receipt from an indy bookstore by May 16 and get entered in a drawing for a broadside. If you win with your receipt from us, Third Place Books gets a broadside as well!

More information is available at www.laurierking.com. We also have printed copies of the drawing information in our Mystery section, right next to our shiny new copies of The God of the Hive. And we have a handful of signed bookplates for the new book - stop by and get your copy before we run out!

Posted by Monica.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Events Host Tells All!

Sunday evening I gave Yann Martel permission to use the bathroom. I was about to escort him to the podium for his Third Place presentation introducing Beatrice and Virgil, but the humility of this struck me – bestselling Booker-prize winning author Yann Martel asked me if he could have 5 minutes?  But in reflection it was not unusual – like virtually every author we are so fortunate to meet in this job, Yann Martel is above all a lovely, thoughtful person.

He entertained the crowd, many of whom said that of the frequent readings they attend, his stood out as one of the very best. He won many hearts when he shared his now-well-known story of Barack Obama writing to him after he and his daughter read Life of Pi, to thank the author. This is in sharp contrast to his own country’s leader, Stephen Harper, whom he described as “George Bush Light.” At least Mr. Bush was known to have read a book now and then, while the Canadian prime minister seems to be without what Martel refers to as the capacity for “stillness.”
So Martel sends him a carefully selected book, with a thoughtful letter, every two weeks, and he is now on Book 79. (http://www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca/)

Book clubs needing a new list could do worse than following what Martel’s mailed to the leader. The Prime Minister has not replied.

The friendly, enthusiastic Canadian greeted every fan, posed for all photos, and inscribed books and the Third Place commemorative broadsides for over an hour after his reading.

On Tuesday I went with Ridley Pearson to two elementary schools, where he talked about his new Disneyland adventure, Disney in Shadows, about kids who become holograms. A bestselling author of thrillers for adults, his relatively recent, and very successful, foray into kids’ books seems like a perfect match. He captivates his audiences and shares the same delight as the kids with the magic of Disney and the thrill of scary, spine-tingling mystery. When he arrived for his in-store event and saw that Jacqueline Winspear was about to speak to an overflowing Den, and the larger stage venue was reserved for him, he insisted that we switch spaces – a very good call and one made purely from his respect and appreciation for another author. (They had never met, except in cyberspace, so it was fun to see them greet each other.)

And Friday morning Third Place reverberated with the excitement of 400 plus elementary school kids, here to see Andrew Clements on a rare book tour. Again, a more gracious gentlemen one could not hope to meet. He told his personal memories (with slides) and emphasized that everyone has “history” and can draw on it to write stories. Since Andrew and I were at rival Big Ten schools studying English the same years, and enjoyed a laugh over that, I think I appreciated his family photos at least as much as the kids did. He also enthusiastically told me about writing Double Trouble in Walla Walla, which uses his collection of words that rhyme in this way – and then thanked me in an inscription for a “super duper” event.

People often ask “What are famous writers really like?” They expect some stories of arrogance and aloofness, I suspect. But I was reminded this week why I am continuing to go with my usual answer: “Better than you can imagine!”

Posted by Cheryl

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Brief Wondrous Life of an El Oso Burrito

Pictures do not do justice to the deliciousness of El Oso's Adobo Chicken Burrito. So filling and packed with super-fresh ingredients, everything at El Oso is amazing. Come check out Third Place Commons' newest resident, and don't forget the free chips and homemade salsa bar!

Book Design Fun

Look! It's a Cow-terpillar!
Thanks to The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Just a reminder, be good to your Mother Earth today (and everyday!). And check out this great new children's book:

Bag in the Wind, by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Barry Root
With gorgeous illustrations, and a timely message, this one is a must-read for today.  And don't forget, if you're in the store today, why not treat Mother Earth extra nice and buy one of our fabulous reusable bags.  It's perfect for carting loads of books around, and you can use it again and again and again!
Posted by Erin

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Predicting the Future of Ebooks and Independent Bookstores (why not, everyone else is)

For the past couple months I have been listening to fellow independent booksellers discuss, worry and fret over what kind of impact ebooks are going to have on their businesses. Moreover, I have heard many of them discussing strategies as to how they plan and hope to capture some of that market. The assumption from these booksellers is that if they don’t get in there and compete as ebook sellers as well, they will be losing existing book sales. There were some excellent words by Copperfield’s Books Tom Montan last week about independents staying out of the ebook market. What Tom said rang true for me, but I am going to take his point a bit further here.

Since this seems to be the year for manifestos and bold predictions about the future of the book industry, I thought I would add my voice to the noisy debate with my own prediction about ebooks and independent bookstores :

Prediction :

The growth and proliferation of ebooks and ebook reading devices, no matter how vast, will have little to no impact on physical independent bookstores.

Assumptions :

I certainly believe, as many studies show, that ebooks will slowly replace a sizeable percentage of the physical book market. Yet, I also believe that the converts from physical books to ebooks will be converting sales that were happening mostly online, not in stores like mine. As far as I have seen, there has been no real data assembled to look at where current ebook buyers bought their books prior to their ebook lifestyle. My guess is that if that analysis were ever done, we would find that the majority of these customers’ prior book buying habits were not in physical independent bookstores.

Most independent bookstores that are still in existence, have been fighting the battle of reimagining themselves for years to make sure that what they offer (products, services, amenities) is not only relevant to their customer base, but is essential to those customers, and is not easily duplicated elsewhere (online, chain stores and big box retailers).

Plus we already know that of our most customers don’t make all their book purchases through us anyway. They have a handful of book needs that we, somehow (price, convenience, etc), don’t always fulfill best for them. That has been true and it will remain true. Therefore, the customers who currently find value in strong robust independent bookstores, will not make a significant change in the way they shop at them, even if they change part of their reading to electronic devices.

Anecdotal Evidence :

Our store acquired a print on demand book machine (the Espresso Book Machine) this past year. One of the things the machine does is print perfect bound paperback copies of public domain titles provided by Google Books. The day after the first major article came out about it in our local paper a customer came in with a list of over 15 titles that he wanted printed. These titles were all public domain books that he was able to read for free via Google Books on his computer or other electronic reading device. Furthermore, they were also available for free for him to download and print on his own. Yet, he came in our store, quite excited, to have us print copies for him to buy because he was finally able to have physical bound copies of these books he had been only able to read electronically until now.

Further Assumptions :

My prediction is based on the concept that a number of other factors in the industry stay the same or improve. First and foremost, my prediction will not have the slightest hope of succeeding if publishing industry does not work more aggressively on ceasing the devaluation of their product by allowing books to be sold in multiple venues at less than their true cost. Likewise, publishers will need to find ways to further support physical bookstores who maintain a breadth of their inventory (which I discussed in a previous blog). 

I also assume, as I have seen no evidence to the contrary, that purchasing an ebook via an independent bookstore, no matter what the method, will always be an extra unnecessary step in what could be a much simpler process for the ebook buyer if they went elsewhere.

It is therefore my hope that my fellow independent booksellers (some of whom have gone to the lengths of renting e-readers to customers) and the American Booksellers Association not waste precious time, energy and money in a part of the market, that I believe we will not be able to compete in with any kind of significance nor will we need to be a part of to continue to exist. 

Posted by Robert Sindelar 
Managing Partner, Third Place Books

New Staff Uniforms

We didn't plan it, we swear. But don't we look like our illusive red-and-white friend Waldo?

Clash of the Titans!

Adam; bookseller, movie buff, and all-around knowledge machine found this interesting little tidbit of information about two HUGE literary icons...

Last November Michael Slater’s Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing was published. On page 502, Slater casually lets drop the stunning fact that Fyodor Dostoevsky met and talked with Charles Dickens in London in 1862—which places the meeting near the end of Dickens’ writing career and in the middle of Dostoevsky’s (who had yet to write his best-known novels). In a letter 16 years later, Dostoevsky wrote about the meeting. This letter was translated by Stephanie Harvey and first published in a 2002 issue of a scholarly Dickens journal titled The Dickensia.

Slater quotes this passage from Dostoevsky’s letter:

He told me that all the good simple people in his novels, Little Nell, even the holy simpletons like Barnaby Rudge, are what he wanted to have been, and his villains were what he was (or rather, what he found in himself), his cruelty, his attacks of causeless enmity towards those who were helpless and looked to him for comfort, his shrinking from those whom he ought to love, being used up in what he wrote. There were two people in him, he told me: one who feels as he ought to feel and one who feels the opposite. From the one who feels the opposite I make my evil characters, from the one who feels as a man ought to feel I try to live my life. Only two people? I asked.
Think on that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take Me Out To the Ballgame

Here's a great shot of some of your favorite Third Place Booksellers about to enjoy the Mariners' home opener on Monday.  Greg, Mike, Steve, Johnny, Mark, and Emily (photographer) are six of the most rabid Mariners and baseball fans around.  Just try making fun of their exclusive fantasy baseball league.  And check out Greg's bag.  That's one of our new biodegradable plastic shopping bags filled with...you guessed it...books.  You can take the bookseller out of the bookstore...but he'll take a bunch of books with him when he goes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pulitzer Winners and Finalists Announced Monday

Tinkers, by Paul Harding

Finalists: Love in Infant Monkeys, by Lydia Millet; In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin.

Next to Normal, music by Tom Kitt; book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey.

Finalists: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, by Kristoffer Diaz; Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, by Rajiv Joseph; “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play),” by Sarah Ruhl.

Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, by Liaquat Ahamed

Finalists: Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin; Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, by Gordon S. Wood.

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt,” by T.J. Stiles

Finalists: Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, by John Milton Cooper Jr.; Cheever: A Life, by Blake Bailey

Versed, by Rae Armantrout

Finalists: Tryst, by Angie Estes; Inseminating the Elephant, by Lucia Perillo.

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, by David E. Hoffman

Finalists: How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities, by John Cassidy; The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Art from Books : Broadsides

It is interesting to me that in the same year that ebooks have become such a huge topic in the book industry, we here at Third Place Books are continuing to entrench ourselves deeper into the world of the physical book. Late last Fall we brought an Espresso Book Machine to our store, and this year we are continuing our eight year program of producing Broadsides.

We commission these original letter press posters, that are designed and printed by local Seattle artist Amy Redmond, two to three times a year to honor some of our favorite authors who have visited our store.  She picks a quote from the book that speaks to her and creates a design inspired by the quote. We produce 150 copies, number them, have the author sign them when they come for their reading and give them away Free to customers who buy the author's most recent book.

We see it as a way of celebrating the author and giving the evening and their book a longer life by allowing their words, along with artwork, to be hung in peoples homes and offices.

Today I just received the broadside for William Vollmann's new book Kissing the Mask. Vollmann will be at our store tomorrow night 4/7 at 7pm.


This one of the more elegant broadsides Amy has done for us, and, as usual, she really put herself into this one. Here is what she said about the process :

As I was hand-tearing the Japanese paper for this broadside, I happened to be having a phone conversation with a friend about the reverance we share for the process of letterpress printing. Later that day, I realized that what I previously thought was too obvious/gimmicky was in fact the perfect final touch to this project: I kissed each and every single print. All 150.

After all, hadn't the paper been made by hand? Hadn't the typeface been drawn and then cast in hot metal by a friend, with each character passing one at a time through my fingers to form words and sentences? Hadn't I already caressed each delicate page, first by tearing it and then by handfeeding it into the press? And so before sending them off to the author for him to sign, why shouldn't I kiss each and every one, bidding them a fond farewell after such intimate relations, wishing them safe travels into the hands of 150 strangers?

Later this month we will have another broadside for Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil, and we hope to have one for Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story later this year.

Posted by Robert Sindelar

Hot New Releases

Some of you may not know, but Tuesday is "New Release" day in the book world.  So, here is a shameless plug for some of the great titles we've received today:

The latest Jim Butcher novel in the Dresden Files series

Martha Grimes' most recent installment in the Richard Jury series

Alice Waters' compilation featuring scads of famous chefs

The New Yorker editor, David Remnick's, extensive bio on the president

And there's lots more including, Anne Lamott's new novel, Imperfect Birds; Carol Burnett's memoir, This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection ; and William Vollmann's newest nonfiction effort, Kissing the Mask: Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater, with Some Thoughts on Muses . Mr. Vollmann will be here tomorrow night at 7 PM and we have limited edition broadsides with the purchase of his new book.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

From Russia With Love

It seems literature is an unending font of inspiration for filmmakers. Take Michael Hoffman's The Last Station, a robust portrayal of Tolstoy's last years and his marital struggles following his spiritual conversion from his position as a man of the world and of letters, to a prophetic figure who renounces property, orthodox religion, and conventional attachments.

Christopher Plummer (better known as Captain Von Trapp in his younger years) and Helen Mirren were both nominated for Oscars in their electric and emotional performances as Tolstoy and his wife, the Countess Sofya. The film explores the tension of young love with the uphill slog - and joys - of marriage, and the conflict between ideals and reality, the warring duties to oneself, one's family, and one's nation.

Should you see the film - and you should! - come over to the store check out the novel on which the movie was based, Jay Parini's The Last Station.You'll find Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy a magnetic character who deserves attention for his personality and his writings, both fiction and philosophy.

Anna Karenina and War and Peace are masterpieces of world literature and Tolstoy's writing is elegant and energetic. Get a hold of the Richard Pevear and Lara Volokhonsky version, who have translated both books with verve and an ear for accessible language. (This dynamic duo have also translated Dostoyevsky and Dumas to great effect.)

Or, if you're familiar with his larger works, try his shorter fictions: The Death of Ivan Ilyich and The Devil And Other Stories.

Should you want to read the manifesto which sparked the Tolstoyan cause and inspired writers like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr., pick up his Confessions, a brief and honest record of his conversion, beautifully printed by (who else?) Penguin.

Posted by Christy

Thursday, April 1, 2010


We get tons of great, forgotten, sometimes insightful old books at the used book counter everyday.  And today, used book buyer, Johnny may have found the origins of Robert Pattinson's trademark hairdo...

Now if we could just figure out where the sparkle and the pout come from.