BookExpo 2015

It’s that time of year again… BookExpo America! Three days of bookish ballyhoo, featuring an assorted cast of publishers, buyers, and book nerds from across the country…

BEA 15 01And so we put on our sensible shoes and headed off to the ginormous glass monstrosity that is the Javits Center for our annual dose of destiny and power books. (If you missed BookExpo but fancy a trip to the Javits Center anyway, I’m sure there are still tickets available for future Javitsian expos of the non-literary variety… Plastics Today or Cannabis World Congress, anyone?)

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Your tote bag game was strong this year, BEA! Well done. And we can’t wait to take a look at all the intriguing catalogs we happily toted home; nothing gives us more pleasure than contemplating our upcoming orders from brilliant indie presses like BiblioasisNew York Review of Books, and Graywolf Press.

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Of particular interest—three fantastic titles coming up from San Francisco’s City Lights, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Keep an eye out for I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career (correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and City Lights’ founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti); Pictures of the Gone World (a limited edition reprint of City Lights’ first book, a collection of poetry by Ferlinghetti); and Shock Treatment (a 25th anniversary edition of the first book by iconoclastic performance artist/poet Karen Finley).

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If it’s not already obvious, we love small, independent presses! Even really small presses.

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Of course, the publishing giants were out in full force (is it just me, or was the Ellora’s Cave booth surprisingly low on be-thonged spokespeople this year?) and they had some… interesting offerings lined up. No, we won’t be stocking any of the three titles pictured above—but a taco cleanse does sound pretty fun.

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BookExpo Exploits

It’s that time of year again—BookExpo America, during which publishers, buyers, and assorted book-fiends from across the country meet at the Javits Center in Manhattan for a few days of bookish ballyhoo. Last year we met Grumpy Cat (“no touching Grumpy Cat, please”); this year he eluded us, but there were plenty of other (non-feline) folks to meet…

Javits Center

Mr. Javits was there, as always, guarding his Crystal Palace. Much like Grumpy Cat, Mr. Javits does not like to be touched; a man who sat in his chair was promptly moved along.

David Mitchell

A ginormous and somber David Mitchell loomed over us all. (If the nightmares don’t stop soon, I shall invoice Random House for the therapy.)


In contrast, the Penguin Mobile Bookshop was fairly adorable and non-threatening… but my heart belongs to the Warrington Perambulating Library.


Inside the main exhibition center, Mr. Chewbacca was sporting this season’s lego tuxedo. (Shameful fact of the day: I have never seen Star Wars and had to goggle-image-search “giant hairy orange and gray lego bloke” in order to identify the subject of this photo.)


We checked out the latest wares from our favorite journal makers, Leuchtturm1917 (thanks for the tour, Laura)! Their notebooks are beautiful, durable, and ethically made; ask us about them next time you’re in the store.

City Lights

And we also paid a visit to some of our most beloved indie presses, including City Lights, who have a ton of great stuff coming up for y’all. Thousand Times Broken features three never-before-translated texts from the idiosyncratic Henri Michaux… look for it on our shelves in the Spring.

NY Review

Also coming soonish to Malvern Books… classic titles from the New York Review of Books!


BEA = ARCS ARCS ARCS! Other Press were well-stocked with proofs of Peter Stamm’s All Days Are Night.


BEA-ing is tiring work, and I really don’t blame this chap for making the most of his “new-fangled, super-comfy and supportive lounge bag.”

Break time

We took a little break ourselves… TOO. MANY. CATALOGS. And complimentary tote bags were in short supply this year; it seems stickers and pens are the swag du jour. Also on offer: a bafflingly aggressive invitation to meet Ms. Bethenny Frankel, who has apparently written a book about a resentful dog. We politely declined this invitation, on the grounds that we are not insane. (Leave it to Page Six to make sense of this peculiar incident.)


Recaffeinated, we headed back out to the endless blue aisles, in search of future Malvern vendibles… and furious, untouchable cats.

The Chapbooks Are Coming

We don’t do things by halves here at Malvern Books! We’re already celebrating National Poetry Month with a very generous offer and a multitude of readings, but we decided to go for the Hurray Poetry! trifecta by adding something rather special to the Malvern mix: chapbooks. Yep, we’re soon going to be stocking a bunch of them.

Making chapbooks

Most of you are probably familiar with the wonderful world of chapbooks, but for the four of you who are picturing volumes of poetry encased in leather trouser-coverings: stop it, you weirdos. Chapbooks are just short books, generally no more than forty pages long—and they’re often very, very beautiful.

Poetry Society of America

Locket, Master

In the interests of bringing y’all the best of the very best, we decided to check out the wares at last week’s NYC/CUNY Chapbook Festival, which was held in a gloomy basement in midtown Manhattan. (All literary festivals must take place in basements: it’s the law.) There were a ton of small presses in attendance, and we were thrilled to take a peek at the offerings of some of our favorites, including Factory Hollow Press, Bloof Books, and Ugly Duckling Presse.

Theatre of the Cow

And we also made some lovely new discoveries, like Lost & Found, a publishing project of CUNY’s The Center for the Humanities. Their exquisite chapbooks feature all manner of rare and unpublished texts, from Adrienne Rich’s teaching materials to late work by Harlem Renaissance poet Helene Johnson.

Chapbook Misc.

Another chapbook champion? Ed Rayher of Swamp Press. Founded by Ed in 1976, Swamp Press produces limited edition letterpress books so beautiful they’ve found their way into the rare book collections of the Boston Public Library, the New York Public Library, Brown, Harvard, et al. And Ed really knows his stuff vis–à–vis printing techniques and equipment—if you ever want to discuss Benton Pantographs and Thompson Typecasters, well, Ed’s your man!

We left the fest with a groaning tote bag full of cards and brochures and a ridiculously long To Buy list. (You’re welcome to add to this list by emailing us with suggestions.) We can’t wait to make room on our shelves for a whole heap of chapbook goodness, and we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as they arrive!

Stocking Up in Seattle

We’re busy getting our stage all spiffy for tonight’s reading with poets Peter Streckfus and Rob MacDonald. It’s going to be awesome—they’re two seriously talented blokes—and we’re looking forward to seeing y’all there!

Joe and Stephen

We’re also recovering from our assorted tote-bag-toting escapades at last week’s AWP shindig in Seattle. We stole several (highly caffeinated) pre-conference moments to play literary tourist, visiting a few of the city’s fantastic small bookstores and gawping admiringly at the beautiful (and beautifully functional) public library. And as for the conference itself? We had a blast! We caught up with a ton of bookish pals (pictured above is Dr. Joe, Malvern’s curmudgeon-in-chief, with Smartish Pace founder Stephen Reichert), made some new friends, and stocked up on some very exciting books. Coming soon to a Malvern shelf near you, we have titles from a bunch of wonderful small presses, including (pictured below, from top to bottom) Bloof Books, Coconut Books, The Overlook Press, Forklift, Ohio and Typecast Publishing, and University of Pittsburgh Press.

Bloof Books

Coconut Books

Overlook Press

Forklift Ohio

University of Pittsburgh Press

Get Festival Ready!

We’re helpful (and slightly bossy) sorts here at Malvern Books, and we’re always looking for new and exciting ways to keep y’all entertained. To that end, we’ve gone and planned your weekend-after-next for you. Curious? Well, we suggest (firmly, but without menace) that on October 26th and 27th you head to the Texas Book Festival, held in and around the State Capitol. While there, you can eat your weight in barbecued whatsits, take part in a spooktastic Lit Crawl with R.L. Stine, and hear talks from excellent authors like Jonathan LethemAyana MathisMeg Wolitzer, and James McBride. Best of all, you can stop by Booth 500 (Exhibitor Tent 5, near the corner of Colorado and 11th Streets) and say hello to Malvern Books! We’d love to make your acquaintance. And we’ll be selling heaps of outstanding poetry, fiction, and graphic novels, so it’s probably best to start warming up your totes-full-tote-bag-toting muscles now.

Malvern Books

And speaking of things to do and places to go, doesn’t the lovely bookstore pictured above look like the perfect place to shelter from today’s inclement weather? We’re open till 8pm tonight, and so far we have absolutely no leaks.

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