Book Shelves, Bookstores, Books

Have you ever wished you had enough books and shelves you’d need a ladder to reach the topmost?  Especially one of those sliding hooked-on-a-rail ladders?  Melvil Dewey encountered his first one of those in the late nineteenth century in a Philadelphia library. He was not amused; the bronze hooks running along a pipe made “an annoying metal-on-metal sound.”  Of course, there have been accidents, librarians falling off, sometimes fatal. Surely a partner with a belaying rope would solve that problem.
Whether you love or hate e-books, they are no doubt here to stay.  But they are not doing as well as they once were. Sales fell 10 percent in 2017, and children’s stumbled the worst—-accounting for only 5 percent of all sales.  Somewhat surprising, even the young adult e-category was down 8 percent. Want to guess what the top-three traditionally published adult e-books last year were? (Answer below.)
You all know the Boulder Book Store on Pearl Street Mall. Publishers Weekly has named it 2018’s Bookstore of the Year. In business for 45 years, the store is 20,000 square feet of new books (65%), used and remaindered books (16%), and non-book sidelines (19%), totaling 100,000 items for sale.  Be glad that come January, you don’t have to count their inventory.
Meanwhile, Colorado’s Talking Book Library was named 2017’s best in the country by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library of Congress. CTBL serves 7,200 patrons statewide who use audiobooks, Braille books, and large print books.
How to Read Poetry Like a Professor by Professor Emeritus Thomas C. Foster (808.1FOS) tackles the questions of what, how, and why poetry.  I’ve studied poetry and write it myself, so I thought I’d scan through this in order to review it here.  But I ended up reading nearly every word.  Foster’s easy, conversational style makes it, as the cover says, “a quippy and sonorous guide to verse.” If poetry doesn’t thrill you, try his How to Read Novels . . . .
The top-selling traditionally published adult e-books last year were 1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 2. Origin by Dan Brown, and 3. Camino Island by John Grisham.
*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at

A Few of Our Favorite Things…

Here’s a Longmont Library book you might find interesting: Favorite Words of Famous People, by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. The title says it all. Barbara Taylor Bradford chose “gormless,” meaning stupid, as in “The writer dismissed his critics as gormless twits.” Bob Hope’s favorite word was, of course, “laughter.” No doubt this book was inspired by a Henry James quote: “Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

An article in Publisher’s Weekly reports that audiobooks are alive and very well. In 2015, 35,574 audiobooks were published, and their sales reached more than 1.7 billion dollars. Meanwhile, e-books have been in a slow, steady decline.

Here following are wise and witty remarks from wise and witty folks:

  • “Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” Flannery O’Connor
  • “The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.” Robert Graves
  • “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” Abraham Lincoln reviewing a book
  • “In every fat book there’s a thin book trying to get out.” Unknown

Okay, here’s another book you might want to read. It’s The Book (not The Bestseller) and it’s “a cover to cover exploration of the most powerful object in our time.” It begins with the invention of papyrus and carries through to the binding of modern books, all you could possibly want to know. The author, Keith Houston, also wrote Shady Characters: the Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks. Guess where you can find a copy.

The Association of American Publishers reports that “The publishing industry as a whole loses $80 to 100 million to piracy annually.” More about this next time…

May your to-read pile runneth over in 2017!

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at
*Originally published in December 2016