Birmingham, Books and BookstoresBe sure to check out the list of UPCOMING BOOK EVENTS and the growing roster of local BOOKSTORE PHOTO-TOURS.
Yesterday, Tim O’Reilly announced that, after a seven year run, O’Reilly Media would no longer organize their annual “Tools of Change” conference. Of course, like many I was asking a fearful “Why? What’s not working?” Which is why I was thankful to see this quick exchange between LibraryThing founder Tim Spalding and O’Reilly-founder Tim O’Reilly:
The two Tims talked via Twitter briefly where Tim O’Reilly said that there was a definite opportunity cost:
“Expensive in NY, not very profitable, not enough resource to do everything we want”.
So it sounds that, yes, as ebooks settle into their own and trends are maturing and flattening, it was really a numbers decision to pull the plug on the Tools of Change conference.
The TOC conferences have been fun. While many other digital publishing conferences have popped up over the past few years, TOC tended to focus on “high level views” of publishing and technology. While the details were mentioned and listed, there were more chats and sessions on trends and next year’s tools than this year’s strategies and products.
Speaking of which, it sounds like (paragraph 5) O’Reilly plans on rolling out their own publisher-focused tools in the coming months. I’m anxious to see what they can offer that other services and add-ons don’t already. It’d be exciting to see then apply their forward-looking experience to current publishing tools and services. We’ll see.
The bookish barristas at Church Street Coffee & Books have organized something cool next week. They call it ‘Bookstravaganza’ and it kicks off on April 22nd, with a books-themed scavenger hunt, ending April 26th. Starting on the 22nd, the indie bookstore will start posting cryptic clues for their Facebook and Twitter followers. Once decoded, the answer will points to another local Birmingham business where a free book is waiting on the first successful code cracker. So that’s four days of following for freebies. Sounds fun!
They are also running a neat promo inside the store, which I’m anxious to go by and try out. Basically, they’re inviting you to scan the books, on the shelves, with your smartphone to get the super-secret discount (10%-50% off) price. Some of the books will also score you a free cookie or coffee.
Other events planned during the week that is Bookstravaganza 2013:
April 23rd (all day) – World Book Night giveaways, with hundreds of books to be given away free to help encourage reading. Many of which volunteers will hide in places around the city. This is a global event and very cool that they are participating.
So grab your decoder ring, smartphone barcode reader and follow Church Street Coffee & Books on Facebook and Twitter to play along next week. Bookstravaganza sounds like four days of fun promoting local businesses, reading and books, books, books!
The first 10 minutes of this short film are fantastic. I would love to get lost in the stacks of an old shop just like this boy does. Lots of great imagery here as a boy finds himself exploring the last bookshop in England. The film was produced in an effort to support local bookshops and stress the importance of them. They have a site for the film as well so you can learn more about the shops shown in the film, bookshops in the UK as well as the movie score. Lot’s to think about while watching this short movie.
What did you think of the short film?
There is a Used Book Sale at the Hoover Library this Saturday (March 16, 10a-5p) and Sunday (2p-5p). Looks like hardbacks and paperbacks will be priced at 50 cents a piece. This sale is being organized by the Friends of the Hoover Library group. Certainly worth swinging by this weekend to see what they have!
The sale is being held downstairs. Here is a quick photo tour of the library bookstore with photos and directions (about half-way down the post) of where this weekend’s book sale is being held.
Hope you find something good!
The 2012 Politics & Prose Holiday Gift Guide is out. It’s a free PDF download from their site as well. There are a gazillion good recommendations, but very few that you won’t find featured at one of Birmingham’s local bookstores. But, if you’re on this site you are probably of the ilk that enjoys scrolling through pages and pages of book covers and book reviews. I know I do.
One thing that I find particularly worrisome is the lack of books about books. The section under Biblio-graphic has one book My Ideal Bookshelf and there is also the new slipcased issue of the Book of Kells, which isn’t really about books per-se, but I think most bookish folks would appreciate the new edition as well as the place in book history that the Book of Kells holds. Anyway, this must be rectified! I am now on a mission here at the end of 2012 to chronicle the 10 Best Books about Books published this year.
Tomorrow, December 1st, 2012 is the third annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. The day was started as a way to encourage parents to get their kids in bookstores and browsing; simply to instill a love of books and bookstores. Needless to say Take Your Child to a Bookstore has grown into more of a movement as bookstores offer deals and the group’s plans have grown. However you approach it, getting kids into a bookstore and getting them excited about all of the possibilities offered is a great idea.
The group’s map only lists two shops in Alabama as “officially” participating, Capital Book & News in Montgomery and Page and Palette in Fairhope. Are there others? No doubt, every day is a great day to get the kids into bookshops, but it’s nice when something crops up to put indie bookstores back in the media. You can keep up with the Take Your Child to a Bookstore folks on their Facebook page or site.
On Tuesday, November 20th, Pat Hall & Jane Newton Henry will be at Reed Books signing their new book Leeds. The 128-page book traces the beginning of the St. Clair county town from the beginning of the 1800′s offering up lots of historical stories and photographs along the way. The book was released in October 2012.
The authors will be at Reed Books from 11:30am until 1:00pm to talk about Leeds and sign copies.
The American Bookseller Association is teaming up with 20+ publishers and independent booksellers across the country for a special week of promotions called “Thanks for Shopping Indie”. The ABA helped get special pricing on a select set of titles for independent bookshops, so they can pass that extra-lower price on to their customers.
The event kicks off in conjunction with Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24th) and runs through December 1st. So mark yoru calendars and be on the lookout for the “Thanks for Shopping Indie” logo as there may be some good book deals to be had.
It’s great to see this promo. I was so disappointed when Google left independents hanging. I’ve stopped by a few local shops looking for the new Kobo displays, but haven’t seen any yet. So yes, I now have the perfect excuse to canvas the town this weekend and visit all of the local shops.
On November 29th, at 4:00 p.m., the Alabama Booksmith will host the launch event for Fading Ads of Birmingham, authored by Charles Buchanan. Buchanan is a magazine editor at UAB, overseeing publications like UAB Medicine, as well as contributing to the flagship read UAB Magazine. Buchanan is also a well respected (and collected) print artist. That’s how I first met him years ago, by buying some of his prints. And it is why I was excited to learn that he was the pen behind this new book about Birmingham and some of its curious and historical artwork decorating the city. Spend five minutes visiting with Buchanan, at one of his shows, and he’ll guide you in a budding appreciation and wonder of all of the cool architectural artifacts in Birmingham’s past. No doubt that sense of story, history and place will come through his 168 page book (sporting 88+ photos).
Buchanan was kind enough to take a few minutes and answer do a quick Q & A, via email.
Q: How did the idea for this book come about?
A: The “ghost signs”–the old faded painted ads seen all around town–have inspired my printmaking for a while. I like the look and feel of the ads, particularly when several are layered on top of one another, and you see bits of all of them at once. In 2010, Birmingham Magazine asked me to write an article about the city’s ghost signs. Less than a year after it was published, The History Press contacted me, asking if I had ever thought about writing a book on the topic. I had thought about it, but I never expected I would be doing it so soon.
Q: How long did it take you to put it together?
A: It took about a year. The research was the most time-consuming part because there’s no direct way to research the ads. The companies–and in most cases, the people–that painted them are long gone, with no records. The ads weren’t intended to be permanent, anyway. I had to dig through lots of city directories, newspapers, maps, and photographs to piece together the stories of the advertised products and services and the buildings and neighborhoods where the ads hang. I ended up finding far more information than I had expected.
Writing the book presented a few challenges as well. I had better luck writing the first draft using pen and paper rather than a computer. That helped me to avoid editing myself too much in the beginning.
Q: Why is it important to chronicle the types of things your book does?
A: In much the same way that archaeologists can tell how people lived centuries ago from shards of pottery, the ghost signs reveal the history of everyday life in Birmingham from the 1880s through the 1980s. The ads tell us what people spent their money on–what they ate, drank, and smoked; where they worked and played; what products and services they thought would improve their lives; and so forth.
Also, these signs have made a good effort at sticking around, but they won’t be here forever. At least one ad featured in the book has already been painted over, and some others will eventually fade in the sun. In a way, the book (which features photos by local photographer Jonathan Purvis) helps us to hold on to the signs.
Q: When someone puts down the book, what is something you are hoping they take away with them?
A: I hope that the book encourages people in Birmingham to explore their own city. There are so many great details, stories, and opportunities to discover when we really pay attention to the buildings, people, and landscapes around us–and much of our history is so visible and accessible. I’ve listed locations for every ad in the book so that readers can go see the signs for themselves, and hopefully that will inspire them to look for other fading ads around town.
I’d also like the book to bring attention to the work of the sign painters who created these ads. Many of them were very talented artists who worked hard in tough conditions and never received much recognition for what they did. And they did everything by hand. Hopefully readers will think about those guys when they walk or drive by a fading ad in the future.
Q: What’s the coolest thing you ran across while writing the book?
A: The ads opened the door to some fascinating pockets of local history that surprised me. For instance, Birmingham was once full of homegrown soft drink companies making all kinds of crazy colas that got regional, national, and even international distribution–things like Celery Cola, Rye-Ola, and Wiseola, which is my favorite because one of its wall ads remains in town. Another sign, for a piano company, helped to reveal Birmingham’s important role in introducing Southern jazz, blues, and gospel music to the nation. I had no idea about these particular aspects of our history before I began researching the ads, and it felt like I was exploring a whole new Birmingham that I never knew existed.
Q: What’s your day job? On twitter? got a site for people to check in on?
A: On Twitter, I’m @cbprints, and my new web site will be up in the next few days at www.cbuchanan.net. The new site includes plenty of book info, including events and places to buy it, as well as a Google map to help people locate the fading ads in the book. My new blog on the site also will have book and art updates–and eventually it will highlight some other local ghost signs that aren’t in the book.
Q: Any parting shots/something you’d like to mention?
A: If anyone has questions about the fading ads once they’ve read the book, I hope they will e-mail me. I’m happy to share what I know about the signs and what they reveal about Birmingham’s history.
If you miss the launch event on November 29th, don’t despair. He will also be doing a book talk and signing at Homewood Public Library on December 6th at 6:30 p.m. As well as a signing at What’s on Second on the evening of December 7.
This weekend Birmingham-based Desert Island Supply Company is celebrating the Grand opening of their Woodlawn writing and tutoring center. Festivities kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 17th at their new center located at 5500 First Avenue North in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
They have even organized a Hobbit-Read-a-Thon, where you can be a part of a crew of readers scheduled to read through the whole Hobbit book aloud. The Hobbit-Read-a-Thon is part “celebrate reading” and part fundraiser for D.I.S.C.O. which is a creative writing program that offers free writing workshops and tutoring for kids in the Birmingham area. So everything collected goes right back into helping local kids realize the importance and joy of developing a life or reading and writing (which is pretty cool).
Other events are planned as well, such as live music and storytelling, balloon mapping, a writing booth, and other crafts and games. So mark your calendars, sign up to read and check it out this weekend.
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