Best of BookExpo

The makeover of Malvern Books is now under way. Here’s another Before shot, featuring our pair of oh-so-structural poles.


The poles are doing a smashing job of keeping the ceiling and the floor apart, but they’re not much to look at, so we plan to hide them inside a couple of bonny book displays. Good riddance, tiny poles.

Meanwhile—here comes the most whimsical segue ever—two non-structural members of Malvern Books spent a few days last week in New York, strolling the plushly carpeted aisles of BookExpo, aka “the largest publishing event in North America.” BookExpo is an annual Javits Center shindig in which over a thousand bookish businesses show off their wares, from massive publishing conglomerates giving out advance copies of their latest Outlandishly Daft Diet (Reset Your Body With Cheese!) to some dude flogging his self-published memoir, Gout. There are also lectures, readings, autographing events, and an abundance of sideline displays. (Sidelines are those vaguely reading-related items booksellers situate near the counter—bookmarks, Kafka mints, Virginia Woolf finger puppets—in the hopes that drunken impulse purchasing will keep their store afloat.)

A few BookExpo 2013 highlights:

  • We met heaps of lovely people and presses. Our basic plan of attack was to wander into as many booths as possible, say “Hello! We’re opening a bookstore that sells poetry and literary fiction!”, and then see what happened. What usually happened was that the people in the booth said (1) “You’re mad!” and/or (2) “Yay!” (One man said, “You’re opening an independent bookstore? My god, you’re a unicorn!”) Then they showed us their books. And gave us catalogs. And business cards. And candy. All of which was quite wonderful. Stacey at City Lights Books and Ruth at Edelweiss deserve a special mention for being extraordinarily awesome and informative. And we’re excited to soon be placing (mammoth) orders with excellent indie presses like Talonbooks, Bellevue Literary Press, Other Press, and Biblioasis. They produce smart, stunning, inventive literature that we’ll be proud to have on our shelves.
  • We stuffed our tote bags with so many fantastic books. Among the many advance reading copies we picked up, Sylvain Tesson’s The Consolations of the Forest and Peter Mattei’s The Deep Whatsis look especially interesting. And in the Out Now! category, we’re excited to read Dina Del Bucchia’s Coping with Emotions and Otters, a poetry collection that wins the Best Title Ever award and promises to be a little wicked and very, very funny.
  • TattooWe got a glitter tattoo. While sober! Malvern Books likes pirates—who doesn’t?!—so we requested a picture of a sparkly marauder. The photo at right shows the finished, ahem, design. When a woman at the drugstore spots your pirate tattoo and says “nice spaceship!”… well, that’s when you know you don’t have a very good pirate tattoo. Worth noting: glitter tattoos last for two days, and those two days will feel like an eternity.
  • We met Grumpy Cat! OMG, ROFL, etc. Yes, we queued for forty-five minutes to have our photo taken with an Internet Cat (real name: Tardar Sauce). She was at BookExpo to drum up publicity for her book, a mildly amusing compendium of “disgruntled tips and activities designed to put a frown on your face.” She refused to sign autographs and patting was expressly forbidden, but each fan was allowed to quickly bend down and have their picture taken with Grumps as she slumbered in her furry pod. The event was late on Friday afternoon, shortly after the blokes at McSweeney’s started handing out bubbly to celebrate their fifteenth anniversary, so the queue was quite… jolly. And when we finally got to briefly hover over her royal grumpiness, well, it all seemed like the best possible use of an hour. She appeared heavily sedated and yet absolutely furious at the same time, which you have to admit is a fairly tremendous talent.

Grumpy Cat BEA