Malvern Books Turns Two

Party CatLast week we celebrated our second birthday! Can you believe we opened our doors over 730 days go? And, after a brief and puzzling visit to Analytics Land, I can share some equally mind-boggling numbers with you: over the past year we’ve hosted 143 events; shared a whopping 437 videos on our YouTube channel (with over 537 hours of watched footage); and had over 44,000 visitors to our website. Yes indeed, we’ve been a busy little bookstore—and it’s all because of you lovely people! Our heartiest thanks to everyone who has bought a book, shared a link, or taken part in an event. We really appreciate your support, and we’re so thrilled to be a part of Austin’s lively literary community.

Of course, we couldn’t let our second anniversary pass us by without CAKE and a party. So last Saturday we threw an all-day birthday bash. We staged a communal reading of Kenneth Koch’s epic 100-stanza poem, “When the Sun Tries to Go On,” with our Curmudgeon in Chief, Joe Bratcher, starting and ending the reading. Other intrepid readers included Fernando Flores, Kurt Heinzelman, Dean Young, Tyler Gobble, Ken Fontenot, Jon Meador, Chris Brown, Teresa Roberson, Josh Ronsen, Jefffrey Dahlgren, David Jewell, Becky Garcia, Dave Oliphant, Polly Monear, W. Joe Hoppe, Schandra Madha, Tony Tobin, James M. Cullen, and Laura Perna. And yes, we collectively covered all 2400 lines!

When the Sun Tries to Go On

Then we tapped our feet to live music from Americana roots duo Mark Viator & Susan Maxey and played a few spirited rounds of Poetry Karaoke. If you missed out on the fun, do check out the footage below. And, to conclude with another astounding number, please note that the video of our EPIC reading clocks in at over three hours! Malvern Books, the bookstore that just won’t quit…

Malvern Books Turns One

Party CatToday is our first birthday! Yes indeed, Malvern Books opened its doors a year ago today. (Remember when we used to look like this and like that? We’re much prettier now—and we’ve not missed that carpet AT ALL.) The past 365 days have whizzed by in a blur of paperbacks, folding chairs, bookmarks, and eye patches… let’s take a moment to share a few facts, figures, and thank yous from our first year of book-selling:

  • We’ve sold books. Lots and lots of books. Assorted armchair economists have been predicting our demise since day one, and we’re chuffed to be proving them wrong. It seems that, despite all the doom-and-gloom reporting to the contrary, people still read books made of paper and visit bricks-and-mortar bookstores. After all, books smell so much nicer than screens, and visiting an indie store offers an experience that’s a little more engaging than buying with a click. So thank you, lovely book-buying people, for stopping by Malvern Books. We have loved meeting every single one of you, talking about poetry and prose and pirates with you, and sending you home with piles of books in your arms. Long may it continue!
  • We’ve hosted a whopping eighty-nine events over the past year—and you can watch footage from many of them on our YouTube channel. We’re particularly proud to be the stage of choice for some brilliant reading series, including Everything is Bigger and W. Joe’s Poetry Corner (thanks to Tyler and W. Joe, respectively, for organizing such delightful monthly literary treats!), and the Lion & Pirate Open Mic events, hosted in association with VSA Texas and the Pen2Paper Creative Writing Contest (thanks to Laura and April for all their sterling Lion-y work!)
  • We’ve published 178 blog posts and our website has had over 40,000 visitors. Our analytics suggest that while “malvern books austin” and “bookstores in austin” are the search terms that most commonly lead people to, a few intriguing souls have descended upon us after inquiring about “hungry squirrel salamander emergency” and “mince sex books” (we hope those visitors found what they were looking for).
  • More than a thousand enthusiastic lit-fans have given us the thumbs-up on Facebook! Thank you, Likers! We like you too.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a birthday without a PARTY… and since we don’t like to do things by halves, why not an entire week of celebrations (and cake)? We really hope you’ll stop by for one or all of these excellent occasions:

  • Tonight at 7pm we’re sharing our party with writer, jazz critic, and all-round Top Bloke Harvey Pekar, who would’ve turned seventy-five today. Come by for comix and cake with party MCs W. Joe Hoppe, Kathy McCarty, and David Thornberry.
  • On Friday night we’re hosting a reading from UT Austin’s 1st year MFA students, who, like us, have been immersed in this literature business for the past year.
  • On Saturday night we’ll have classical guitar from Tony Morris, along with readings from W. Joe Hoppe, Kurt Heinzelman, and Richard Sober (whose artwork will also be on display around the store).

The Well-Read Weekend

It’s TGIF time, and we have a few first-rate recommendations for those of you in need of a little literary relaxation…

  • YouTube awaits! We’ve posted a couple of videos from Wednesday night’s wonderful reading with Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Zachary Schomburg, and Mathias Svalina, and you should most definitely hit play. Trust me, you need to hear “Building of Unseen Cats” and “Tennessee.”
  • Cup of coffee + sofa + Octopus = GOOD TIME. Founded by the aforementioned Zachary in 2003, Octopus is a brilliant and beautiful online literary magazine that’s well worth a read. I particularly like their Recovery Projects, brief essays that draw attention to overlooked books.
  • If podcasts are your bag, check out the episodes on literary history over at Stuff You Missed in History Class. Topics discussed range from the disappearance of Agatha Christie to the assorted misfortunes of the Brontës—and our store’s dangling swashbuckler was happy to learn that historic pirates also make a regular appearance on the show.
  • Last but certainly not least: no weekend of literary relaxation would be complete without a trip to Malvern! Stop by on Sunday afternoon to peruse our new titles and Staff Picks and catch a 2pm reading from local writers Ron Jaeger and Jan Marquart. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Forklift and Fun Times

Happy Thursday to you, Malveroos, and a very happy birthday to renowned existentialists Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Krantz (the google doodle goes to Ms. de Beauvoir). Because a random post should begin with a random introduction!

On our assorted-bits-and-bobs list this week:

  • If you’re curious to learn more about the trials and tribulations of opening an indie bookstore, head over to The Bookseller and check out this blog post by our very own curmudgeon-in-chief, Dr. Joe!
  • We have the new issue of everyone’s most beloved journal of poetry, cooking, and light industrial safety in stock. Yup, Forklift, Ohio #27 has landed, and it features Malvern Books’ favorite Pates, Blake Lee and Taylor Jacob. And the carnivores amongst you will be delighted to hear that this particular issue is packaged like a slab of butcher’s meat.
  • If you’re looking for winter amusements, there’s no shortage of events at Malvern. Next Wednesday at 7pm we have the inaugural reading in our Everything is Bigger poetry series (featuring the aforementioned Blake Lee Pate, along with Dean Young and Vincent Scarpa), and the following Tuesday (the 21st) we’re introducing another new series, W. Joe’s Poetry Corner. W. Joe’s first guest will be poet and visual artist David Thornberry (check out his awesome chapbook covers below), who will give a reading and also sit down for a chat with our host. As always, our Events Calendar has all the details (and we like to keep y’all informed on our Facebook page, too).

David Thornberry

  • Finally, computer boffins at Stony Brook University in New York have developed an algorithm that can analyse and compare the language of “successful” and “unsuccessful” novels—and they’ve discovered several trends:

Less successful work tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words that explicitly describe actions and emotions such as “wanted”, “took” or “promised”, while more successful books favoured verbs that describe thought processes such as “recognised” or “remembered.”

Night & Day

What ho, book fiends! We’re a box of fluffies here at Malvern, and we want to say an extra big thank you to everyone who stopped by the store during our first-ever week of bricks-and-mortar retail escapades. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our wares yet, I highly recommend coming by tonight… we’re open till 9pm, and as you can see from the first photo below, it’s ever so cozy after dusk (and you’ll always be safe from bats at Malvern, because of the dutiful watchpirate). As the sign says: BOOKS ARE SUPERFUN. COME ON IN!

Open at Night

New Sign


Shiver Me Timbers

Ahoy there, Malverns! I hope this day of Wōden finds you well. (That is the nerdiest sentence I have ever written. Ever.) Our householdy week got off to a thrilling start when Cat #3 made the unusual choice to turn on a faucet while we were out, thus flooding half the apartment and causing the living room floorboards to adopt a rather jaunty, pyramid-like appearance. Needless to say, Cat #3 has been ordered to get a part-time retail position to help pay for the clean up. Cat #3 is not very happy about this. (I’d avoid the Forever 21 at Esperanza Crossing for the next few months.)

And from buckling to swashbuckling… allow me to introduce you to the newest, saltiest member of the Malvern team:


Yes, we have a pirate! And a very handsome fellow he is. Our beautiful buccaneer has yet to be named (suggestions, anyone?), but I’m sure we’ll have a suitable moniker in time for next week’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the blue sign to the left of our rogue and wondered if Malvern Books had made the sensible decision to serve rum with its poetry. Alas, we have not: wassailing R not us. The grog license application belongs to our new neighbors, Vapor Joe’s, an “E-Cigarette and Custom Beer Lounge.” Yes folks, if your To Do list requires you to purchase some pirate-approved poetry, do some bong comparison shopping, rent a DVD, and light up an electronic cigarette, well, you will soon be able to tackle all your chores at once down on ol’ West 29th Street. We can’t wait to see you!