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 malvernbooks.com, 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).

Open For Business!

As befits a bookstore with an eponymous lion on staff, our (soft) opening day was a roaring success. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by the store, wished us well on Facebook, and shared our madly enthusiastic tweets. We really appreciate your support, and can’t wait to meet many, many more of you lovely readery people.

Asked to reflect on opening day madness, Curmudgeon in Chief Dr. Joe had this to say:

I’m so exhausted and overwhelmed that it’s hard to put my feelings as a bookstore owner into words. Most of the time you work hard for years and then something happens and—BANG!—it’s over and all you’re left with are the memories. I’ve dreamed about opening a bookstore for a long time and over the past year have put in tons and tons of work to make that dream a reality. But opening the store is not the end, it’s just the beginning. Watching Malvern change and grow and become part of the Austin literary community makes slogging through inventory and learning the POS system (which I actually love doing) worth every minute.

If you fancy a glimpse of the storm before the calm, here are a few photos from the last couple of (rather hectic) days…

FuzzWe’re due to open in less than twenty-four hours, and honorary store cat Fuzz is supervising a few urgent software updates.

MessThirty minutes before opening and things are still… adorably disheveled?

FlowersBut we’ve learned the first rule of decorating: flowers make it fancy (thank you, kind givers of flowers!)

First CustomerWe’re delighted to meet our first-ever paying customer.

Two CustomersAnd also these two happy customers, who appear entirely untroubled by the looming swashbuckler.

Book InspectionWe hope you’ll stop by soon, pick up some poems, and pat the cat. He purrs every time someone buys a Birds, LLC title.

Softly, Softly Opening Bookstore

OpenA glorious and shining day here at Malvern HQ: the standards are on their way, our final book order has arrived, and… we have an opening date for you! That date—mark it in your calendars now, my dears—is Tuesday, October 8th. (We are naturally delighted to be sharing a birthday with Zog I of Albania, “the strangest monarch of the twentieth century.”)

Now, before you start rummaging through your closet for your tutu and top hat, please note that October 8th is not the Grand Opening. We will not be serving wine in paper cups and THERE WILL BE NO FREE CHEESE. Nope, this is the soft opening (lower case, see, for lack of emphasis), the splendid but low-key day on which we quietly open our doors and then stand nonchalantly behind the cash register, hoping no one has any complicated transactions for us. We want to get fully into the swing of bookstore life (selling books; evicting pigeons; shushing benevolently) before we stage an elaborate grandest-of-the-grand opening shindig. So on October 8th at 11am, we welcome you to stop by Malvern Books, say hello, and pick up a few wonderful books and journals (like this and this and this). We might get a little teary as we hand you your purchases; that’s just all the, um, new-book fumes.

Bad ToiletAlso worth noting: now that our handsome stage is all spick-and-span and this errant loo is no longer lounging in the middle of the store, we’re ready to start filling our Events Calendar with all manner of exciting literary festivities (we already have a couple of great readings lined up, and we’ll fill you in on all the details soon). If you’d like to give a reading, or if there’s a local writer you’d love to hear strut their poetic stuff, please send us an email. And do tell all your writerly friends about us… the more Malvernians, the merrier!

Dangerous Birds

Merry midweek, my magnificent Malverinos! Yes, it’s Alliteration Week in my brain and it’s Banned Books Week… everywhere. According to the American Library Association, grumpy curmudgeons have attempted to restrict our access to over 11,000 titles since 1982. And these knee-jerking jerks often object to the sweetest things, like kiddie wizards and Maya Angelou.

Banned Books Week

If you’re wondering if the land of the free really needs to devote a week to “the freedom to read,” please be sadly assured that our great nation is chock-full of feisty loons who want to restrict our access to books about gay penguins and bathing cowboys. If you want to say a hearty yah-boo-sucks to these would-be censors—and celebrate your right to read about homosexual avian hijinks—then check out these ten ways to take part in Banned Books Week.

And here’s an unlikely segue: much like the aforementioned heartless nutbars concerned conservatives, we are utterly, irrationally obsessed with standards. Yep, our blasted standards are still missing, and thus our bookshelves are still sans shelves. Several kind readers sent us emails suggesting places we might get hold of some suitably bracket-like items, but our carpenter eschews bog-standard standards and has his heart set on a particular kind (the brown kind, apparently), and so we continue to wait patiently for the arrival of all that is upright and dun-colored…

The Importance of Standards

G’day there, Malvernites! It’s Pop Quiz Wednesday! Do you notice anything strange about the handsome bespoke bookcases lurking in the background of this photograph?

Shelves

If you observed that there appear to be bookcases and also shelves, but that the two seem sadly torn asunder, you are quite cheeky and also absolutely right. We are having shelf issues here at Malvern Books. (Poor shelf-esteem? Bad shelf-image? Bah!) The problem is not that the shelves are the wrong size, or riddled with angry termites. Nope, the problem is that our shameless shelves have no standards. These are standards:

Standards

Gorgeous, aren’t they? All gleaming and full of holes and ready to support some literature-laden shelves. Alas, as anyone who wrote an angry letter to the ether after Miley’s VMA art piece can tell you, standards are lacking. You’d think a quick trip to the nearest Home Depot would soon see us right, but you’d be mistaken. We need special standards—we’re ever so proper—and these special standards have been back-ordered for six weeks. Can you say gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah? If a weird and inquisitive genie had appeared before me a few months ago and asked me to make a list of seventy-five reasons why the opening of the bookstore might be slightly delayed, I can guarantee you I would’ve listed a zombie invasion, a really big earthquake, the accidental destruction of all books everywhere, and seventy-one other calamities before it would’ve occurred to me to write “maybe the shelves won’t have any little metal thingamabobs to rest on.” But they don’t, the poor shelves, and so they remain propped up against the wall, gathering dust and looking foolish. I suspect a solution will be found very quickly—we’re certainly not waiting six weeks to acquire standards—but until then: standards, people! Do watch out for them.