If You're In The Neighborhood
A Frist For Me
One time in Berlin…
A million book tours ago, I was in Berlin. The leading talk show, the Merv Griffin or Jay Leno, of Germany requested an interview. The only condition was that they conducted all of their interviews in bed with the interviewee, a situation that struck me as icky, and only got worse. To film this, the crew crowded the bed with lights. Tucked under an eiderdown duvet, I started to sweat. Still, when in Rome… The afternoon passed with me sweating and stinking up the hotel bed — yes, it was my own hotel room — and I had to sleep in that same sticky bed for the rest of my stay. Still, it was a first.
This coming Wednesday, Nov. 1st, I’ll be cutting the ribbon at a new Barnes & Noble. Another first for me. It’s nearby-ish, in Salem, Oregon, at the Willamette Town Center. My guess is that it will be a less sweaty, stinky event than talking in bed in Berlin. If you’re in the neighborhood, I’ll be around from nine AM onwards.
Decades back, Barnes & Noble held enormous sway. Publishers told me that every proposed book cover had to be approved by a B&N board to ensure it would fit their in-store esthetic. Special placement in the store — such as an end-cap (the shelves that stand between the aisles), or a point-of-sale shelf, or fold-out cardboard stand alone site — well, such books could not (NOT!) have the word “fuck” on the first page. It was a hard-and-fast rule. For years I launched books at the Union Square B&N in Manhattan, until my novel Snuff. You see, I’d planned to give out several hundred inflatable “John and Judy” pool floats, blow-up toys that suggest sex dolls. B&N said such a gesture was “semantically conflicted” so we held the event elsewhere. Sigh. Big sigh.
That said, there will be no inflatable dolls this coming Wednesday. The good news is that B&N is allowing each of its locations to shrug off the corporate Kelly green identity and re-brand itself as it sees fit. So it’s so-long to all those faux-woodcut (or rotogravure?) images of Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe and John Grisham. The end of an era.