Posts Tagged ‘Alexandra Alter’

I read a silly headline today. It said that books are “in” again.

I’m pretty sure that for a lot of people, they were never out. But maybe the timing is particularly good for the new, roaming branch of independent bookstore Parnassus Books.

Alexandra Alter reports at the NY Times, “Nashville’s newest bookstore is an old van. The bright blue bookmobile, which hit the road [in March], is a roving offshoot of Parnassus Books, a popular independent bookstore. It will roam around town, stopping at food truck rallies, farmers’ markets and outside restaurants.

“The arrival of a bookstore on wheels is a fitting evolution for Parnassus, which is co-owned by Karen Hayes and the novelist Ann Patchett. The store’s name comes from Christopher Morley’s 1917 novel ‘Parnassus on Wheels,’ about a middle-aged woman who travels around selling books out of a horse-drawn van.”

[We will pause here to note that Morley, 1890 -1957, is a Haverford College grad, as are two members of my family.]

“Since Parnassus opened in 2011, Ms. Hayes has wanted a traveling bookstore of her own. She looked at taco trucks and ice cream trucks and felt envious of their freedom to take business wherever people gathered, she said.

“ ‘A bookmobile made so much sense, because food trucks work so well in this town,’ Ms. Hayes said by telephone. ‘It’s a great way to get our name out there, too. It’s a rolling advertisement.’ …

“ ‘One of my hopes is that we’ll be able go into some of the outlying suburbs and cities that don’t necessarily have a bookstore,’ said Grace Wright, a Parnassus bookseller who will manage the bookmobile. ‘There’s nothing like a good bookstore.’ ” More here.

Speaking of bookstores, I’ve been trying to patronize my local indy routinely, even though Amazon delivers. When I lived in Minneapolis, Amazon got an independent women’s bookstore called Amazon to relinquish the name it had had for years, and I had a sense at the time that it was only the first step in the online behemoth’s march across the globe. Didn’t realize how much more than a bookseller it would become.

Photo: Nathan Morgan for The New York Times
Karen Hayes is a co-owner of a Nashville bookstore named after Christopher Morley’s 1917 novel “Parnassus on Wheels,” about a middle-aged woman who travels around selling books out of a horse-drawn van.

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Photo: Laurence King Publishing
Adult coloring book ‘Secret Garden.’

Since March, I’ve been collecting articles on coloring books for grownups.

One article, by Alexandra Alter at the NY Times, was about Johanna Basford, a Scottish illustrator, who sold more than 1.4 million copies of her coloring book for grown-ups, “Secret Garden.”

Alter reported, “Ms. Basford and her publisher were surprised to learn that there was a robust — and lucrative — market for coloring books aimed at grown-ups. When they first tested the waters with ‘Secret Garden’ a year ago, they released a cautiously optimistic first printing of 16,000 books.

“’I thought my mom was going to have to buy a lot of copies,’ Ms. Basford said. …

“Surging demand caught Ms. Basford and her publisher off guard. Fan mail poured in from busy professionals and parents who confided to Ms. Basford that they found coloring in her books relaxing. More accolades flowed on social media, as people posted images from their coloring books.

“Hard-core fans often buy several copies of her books at a time, to experiment with different color combinations. Others have turned it into a social activity. Rebekah Jean Duthie, who lives in Queensland, Australia, and works for the Australian Red Cross, says she regularly gathers with friends for ‘coloring circles’ at cafes and in one another’s homes.” More at the Times.

My friend Mary Ann’s company, Rockport Books, offers a series called Just Add Color. Botanicals has 30 original designs from artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon. The series also includes Geometric Patterns, Folk Art, and Mid-Century Modern Animals, among others.

Finally, here’s Dugan Arnett at the Boston Globe addressing “the recent explosion — and it really is an explosion — in popularity of coloring books for adults? ‘I did not see this coming,’ said [Barnes & Noble’s Tracy] Moniak.

“In a sudden, unexpected, and generally curious development, grown-up versions of the doodle-books used by countless kindergartners have not only become a thing — but the thing, as far as millions of rapt Americans are concerned.

“At the moment, five of the top 30 titles on Amazon’s best-seller list are coloring books aimed at adults. Barnes & Noble currently carries well over 100 different adult coloring book titles, many of which feature much more intricate and detailed designs than children’s versions. And as the trend seeps into the mainstream, publishers and booksellers have been left scrambling to keep the most popular titles on store shelves.

“Marketed as a kind of personal therapy session — a simple and solitary alternative to the digital world in which we live — the books seem to have tapped into a deep desire to unwind, unplug, and fend off the stresses of daily life.” More.

Anyone want to have a coloring-book party?

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