The Free Book Incident – Giving Away Books in Seattle

freebookNear where I work is a popup store front called The Free Book Incident. It is a temporary installment of a book store like space where all books are free to take. I finally went in the other day. Nothing fancy, just book shelves and old books. There was a librarian reading a short story. Apparently he reads a story twice a week at the Central Library during what he calls Story Time for Adults.

I milled around for a while and selected two books. One The Spendthrifts by Perez Galdos (1952), a classic Spanish novelist of the 19th century. The second A Purse of Coppers Stories by Sean O’Faolain (1938), an Irish writer from the early to mid 20th century. I have no idea what he’s like, but it was free.

In a month or so it will be gone and Olson Kundig Architects will create a new store front. From the Olson Kundig website:

coopersOlson Kundig Architects partnered with Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers, Inc. for its next [storefront] installation, The Free Book Incident. Inspired by a long-running book exchange, “The Book Thing” in Baltimore, MD, The Incident explores what can happen when books are made available for free.

Describing the idea behind The Free Book Incident, Wessel & Lieberman state, “It is not a book store (there is nothing for sale); it is not a library (there is nothing to return). The Incident is a place for exploration, engagement, ideas, activity, conversation—and ultimately, alchemy—all of it generated by the decommidification of books.”

The Free Book Incident celebrates the organic experiences that occur when one searches for a new book. With Olson Kundig Architects providing its [storefront] space and Wessel & Lieberman providing the inventory, this installation is designed for all to enjoy.

galdos“Books are more than pages and binding; they are a catalyst for an experience. The reader finds a book on a shelf, takes that book into his hands and home, and its words into his head,” says intern architect and installation co-curator Adam Monkaba of Olson Kundig Architects. “For the space itself, we designed a kinetic book shelf that pivots, offering a variety of settings in which visitors can explore books. Our goal was to create an engaging environment that promotes access to books and allows visitors to interact with them in surprising ways.”

A series of events from readings and bookmaking classes to writing workshops and book clubs will take place during the months of January and February. In addition to special events, [storefront] will be open Monday through Friday, 11:30am -1:30pm during which time visitors can browse for books.

Seattle’s Fantagraphics and Rosebud Archives reclaim vintage comics Via Seattle Times

The Seattle Times’ book blog has a good article about Fantagraphics new series of reprints of the Rosebud archives, which contains many early American works that helped define the genre. The drawings are beautiful and have an attention to detail that seemed to disappear during the golden age of comics. There is a reason I don’t go to the Fantagraphics shop too often, which is just down the road from me. I’d end up buying too many books. But a trip to their site is worth while.

Now Marschall’s company, Rosebud Archives, and Fantagraphics have formed a joint publishing enterprise that will draw from Marschall’s immense collection, reclaiming the work of the great 20th-century magazine and newspaper artists for the 21st-century public.

The Fantagraphics website is already a portal to Rosebud’s collection of prints, posters, framed art, books, and stationery. Later this year Fantagraphics will issue the first book in a new imprint, Marschall Books — forthcoming volumes include a compendium of cartoon advertising, a book devoted to Johnny Gruelle’s lost masterpiece Mr. Twee Deedle, a book on Krazy Kat and a volume devoted to Sherlock Holmes illustrations and art.

Michigan resident Marschall and his partner, preservation expert Jon Barli, have complete runs of newspapers and magazines to draw from (some rescued from the trash bin). An entire run of Vanity Fair magazine from 1913 to 1936; Harper’s Weeklies from the Civil War years; New York Herald Sunday Color comics 1894-1911; a mostly complete collection of Puck Magazine from 1877 to 1918.

Hugo House Writers Conference – Finding Your Readers – Day One

After work I headed over to the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference. The conference is focused on marketing and selling your work in both traditional and non traditional media. Tonight’s session was a round table discussion by Alan Rinzler, Barbara Sjoholm, and Jeff Vandermeer. Sjoholm read a history of publishing, while interesting, it was not particularly revealing. Alan Rinzler talked next and he covered the same ground he did a few months ago and you can read my review here.  Rinzler is part cheerleader, part realist and his talks always leave you feeling that you can do it with a bit of luck. Vandermeer’s talk was the most interesting because he talked about mixing social media into your publishing platform. Naturally, he noted that it is the correct mix of social media and writing that makes one able to finish a book. If you are not careful you will end up doing too much social media. He is an interesting case because he talks with his readers via his blog about what he is doing and that feeds back into his writing. I don’t know if I’d ever like to do that, but it is an interesting approach. I think he is right in noting that starting authors should be careful about doing too much social media because it only becomes chatter and gets lost amongst the noise. Ultimately, though, most of what they talked about was the oddities of the publishing business (book returns, etc), and the need to make yourself stand out, both in your work and the ways you talk to your readers.

Rachid Taha Coming to Seattle in June

Much to my delight I found out today that the Raï singer Rachid Taha is coming to Neumos on Sunday June 6th. It is a rare treat to have any Raï come to town. Hopefully, he will give a better performance than he did last time. I don’t know what the deal was, either he was drunk or jet lagged or what, but he was so erratic and didn’t seem to be able to complete a song. At one point he got in to a shouting match with some guy saying, you want to kill me? You want to kill me? It one of the few moments in English, but there was plenty of French and Arabic tirades. It was too bad because the 1 2 3 Soleils is such a good album, along with Diawan.

Luis García Montero Reading at the University of Washington

Luis Farcia Montero
Luis García Montero Reading 3/3/2010

The Spanish poet Luis García Montero read at the University tonight (3/3/2010) to a packed room of students and academics. He read 8 poems from his body of work that the graduate students had translated into English. I’m not that familiar with Spanish poets and so had no idea what to expect, although I had seen his interview on El Público Lee. He is considered one of Spain’s best poets and is considered a realist poet who uses the elements from the everyday to express emotion or the experience of living. The poems that he read were very interesting and would be worth a return to. While he is a realist, the poems did have a good sense of imagery and didn’t slide into that reportage that is so real it describes nothing but itself and seems to afflict many of the American poets I’ve read and seen recently. Before each poem he explained where the ideas came from and they were often from the most basic experiences, but went beyond the moment he explained and captured something about modern living. The one I remember most was his poem to his mother. It was a reflection on the dreams she sacrificed to her family that in the era of Franco were not possible. And although he fought with her as young man who was experiencing the transition to democracy, he now sees her as someone who was so much more.

Spanish Poert Luis García Montero in Seattle 3/3/2010

Please join us for a bilingual poetry reading with Spanish poet LUIS GARCÍA
MONTERO (Granada, 1958).  Widely considered the most important poet and critic
of his generation, García Montero is a leading proponent of the �Poetry of
Experience,� the dominant trend in Spanish poetry since the 1990s.  He has
received many prestigious awards, including the Adonais Prize and the Loewe
Prize, as well as the National Poetry Prize and the National Critics Award.
Students in Spanish 596 will read their translations of his poetry for this

Wednesday, March 3
7 PM
Smith Hall 205 (UW Campus)
Free and open to the public

Richard Hugo House to Host Writers Conference May 21-23

According to the Hugo House’s website they will be hosting a conference focusing on how one finds readers. This is a nice change to see, because while the Hugo House is a good resource (I am a member and read there occasionally) they typically only offer classes and if you are not interested in classes their program isn’t of much use.Looking forward to see if it will be interesting.

On the weekend of May 21-23, Richard Hugo House will be hosting its first writers’ conference. The topic will be: Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century.

Our focus will be on exploring the changing literary landscape and the options available to writers for getting their work out in the world and into the hands of readers. While we will certainly look at traditional publishing models, what we’re really interested in is showcasing new possibilities that writers in our community may not be aware of, from the traditional to the off-the-wall. We’ll look at ways writers can promote themselves and their work directly to their readers, and offer hands on practical workshops on basic tools of the writing business from creating a pre-pub platform to building your own website.

Registration for Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century will open on April 5 for Hugo House members and April 12 for the general public.

Elliott Bay Books in Financial Trouble

It looks like Elliott Bay Books is in financial trouble. The Seattle Times is reporting they many need to move or close. This is a great bookstore and it would be a shame if it went out of business, if for no other reason than the number of author readings it hosts just could not be duplicated anywhere else. Hopefully, they can weather the storm and maybe move somewhere else.