Edward Nawotka writes in PW Daily for Booksellers:
- Booksellers are feeling ambiguous about marking or commemorating the anniversary of the attacks of September 11, a quick PW Daily survey of booksellers from across the country has found. While most stores have set up special displays for the plethora of titles, many booksellers have expressed reservations about handselling or “pushing” books on customers.
The title that appears to make the strongest impression is the photography collection Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs edited by Alice Rose George, Gilles Peress, Michael Shulan and Charles Traub (Scalo, $49.95).
Barnes & Noble will suspend all events on Wednesday. On other days this week, however, B&N stores in New York City are hosting related readings, including one with Terry Golway, author of So That Others May Live (Basic. $27.50), contributors to the book 110 Stories edited by Ulrich Baer (NYU Press, $22.95) and the students of Stuyvesant High School who collected their thoughts in the anthology With Their Eyes: The View from a High School at Ground Zero by Annie Thoms (HarperTempest, $6.99). No September 11-related events are planned for B&N stores in the Washington, D.C. area.
Carolyn Brown, corporate communications director at B&N, said all stores have set up a table at the front of the store to display September 11-related books, which will remain in place until the end of the month. The tables will be positioned prominently and “include a selection from history and religion, to photography and biography, and offers books that satisfy the needs of our customers.” Among the books B&N has put on its priority list and believes “are going to be major titles,” according to Brown are On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald and 9/11, A Story of Loss and Renewal by Howard Lutnick and Tom
Barbash (HarperCollins, $25.95), Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas Friedman (FSG, $26), and The American Spirit: Meeting the Challenge of September 11 from the editors of One Nation. (Little, Brown, $24.95).
Bickerton & Ripley Books in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard, is also taking a strong position on The American Spirit. Owner David LeBreton said that there’s a lot of local interest in the book because a number of island residents, including David McCullough, were involved in the project. LeBreton said he has bought 50% more copies than he would normally.
In suburban Boston, Tim Huggins, owner of Newtonville Books, told PW Daily, “I didn’t want to draw too much attention to [September 11] as an anniversary. I don’t want to remember it in that way. On the personal level, I don’t have my hands around it, so it was hard for me to know how my store should handle it. There were already a lot of things happening in Boston to mark the event, so I thought it was important to host something to help people cope with it.”
As a solution, Huggins teamed up with Harold Kushner to host a reading and discussion of the Rabbi’s latest book, Living a Life That Matters (Anchor, $11.95), at a nearby temple.
The small size of his store makes it impossible for him to stock all the titles. Instead Huggins “picked the ones that [he] felt comfortable bringing and would work for [his] customers.” Among the titles he’s handselling are Before and After: Stories from New York edited by Tom Beller (Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood/Norton, $13), which he said best “shows in particular what happened to New York,” as well as the book of photos, Here Is New York (mentioned above), which he calls “the most impressive thing I’ve seen.”
In San Diego, Calif., where a large contingent of Navy and Marines are stationed, Upstart Crow Bookstore’s bar manager Joe Howarth says the store is not doing anything special on Wednesday. “Everyone’s doing something,” he said. “There’s a newsstand upstairs, and it’s on the cover of the magazines. We have a lot of literature to read up on it. My personal opinion is it’s adding fuel to the fire.” He says that most customers are asking for new, wrapped copies of books, which indicate they are buying the September 11 titles as gifts, possibly to people with police, firefighters or even military in the family. For those looking for recommendations, Howarth is suggesting At Home in the World: Collected Writings from the Wall Street Journal by Daniel Pearl (Wall Street Journal Books, $24).
Howarth was comfortable expressing his exasperation with media saturation and activity marking the September 11 date. “To commemorate terrorism is wrong. The terrorists names are not the one’s we should remember. Instead, we should commemorate life,” he said.