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.

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

Stocking Up

Please pardon our brief silence here at Malvern Books, but we’ve been terribly busy making lists. You see, while it’s possible to fill the shelves of your soon-to-open store by asking a friendly book distributor to send you their “starter kit”—presumably a bunch of bog standard* best sellers they ship to every new retailer—we decided we wanted to pick each and every title ourselves…

bookshelfYep. Every single book. Spreadsheets at the ready, book nerds! Making a list of thousands of awesome indie and small press books is immensely fun, of course (and there’s so much good stuff to choose from), but it’s also rather time-consuming. And we’re hoping to finalize most of our selections before we head to next week’s BookExpo in New York.

In the meantime, I heartily recommend you check out these fantastic presses we’ve encountered on our Excel(lent) adventures: Calamari Press for irreverent contemporary fiction; Ugly Duckling Presse for beautiful poetry in beautiful packages; Pushkin Press for classics from around the world; and Tam Tam Books for “lost masterpieces.”

* I was curious about the origins of this idiom and whether Americans use it, so I googled it and found myself at the website of this excellent campaign. Whoever came up with the name for this, ahem, movement deserves a medal.