Sunday, April 30, 2006


Who uses it: Booksellers
What it means: Opening a book and using the front flap of a book cover to mark the title page, so that an author can open it easily for signature. I've also heard the term "leaf" used for this.
How you can use it: When preparing the way.

My feet hurt. The first day of the Festival of Books seemed to go quite well, and the weather was perfect: not too hot, overcast in the morning, sunny in the afternoon.

Last night The Mystery Bookstore held its annual pre-Festival of Books party, which always feels like a family reunion. I was particularly pleased to see Sean Doolittle, and to meet Ben Rehder and his wife Becky, who were in town from Austin. Most of the New York contingent (authors Reed Farrel Coleman, Jim Fusilli, Peter Spiegelman, among others) showed up late, but were in fine form once they arrived.

The most insightful comment I heard about today's Festival events probably came from two ladies' room attendants at Royce Hall, on the UCLA campus. One asked the other how she thought the Festival was going. The other said, "Well, I'd say it was going pretty well, from the amount of paper they're using." Everyone is an expert about something.

The Mystery Bookstore's tent is set up to allow the greatest possible number of books within a relatively small space. People can circulate through it, but it has to be more or less single-file, and the place fills up quickly.

The old joke goes, "I love humanity; it's people I can't stand," but I'm the opposite; I like individual people, but don't do well in crowds. At one point this afternoon, as one set of authors' signing shift was about to end and another's was about to start, the tent got so crowded that independent movement was impossible. Rather than take a deep breath and leave the tent for a minute, I figured I could work through it -- books needed to be moved and reshelved.

There's a reason I don't play poker. Linda Brown, my friend and the store's assistant manager, poked me and said, "Take a break. Now." "But I'm working," I said, almost whimpering. "You have black circles under your eyes and you look like you're going to pass out," Linda said. "Just leave for a few minutes, and then you can come back." So I did, and it helped.

The Festival of Books is a marvelous thing, though. "And people always say that no one in Los Angeles reads," said Christopher Rice this afternoon, before he sat down to the signing table. Walking out onto the campus of UCLA and seeing the huge crowds, and the vast sea of publishers' and bookstores' tents, was like seeing one great Ode to the Joy of Reading, and sent chills down my spine.

Tomorrow morning I hit campus at 9:00, and get to do it all over again.

1 comment:

Aldo said...

yes, great fun! It was greta to see you.

I will have pics up later today for the party and Saturday FOB