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The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller Paperback – 10 Oct 2006
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From the Inside Flap
"The story of The King's English is told with such good humor, such irresistible charm and enthusiasm, that it is easy to see why the store has developed so great a reputation among writers and why it continues to flourish." -Mark Strand, author of Pulitzer prize-winning Blizzard of One
This book is, on its surface, the history of a small, independent bookstore. But it is much more than that. Interwoven with charming anecdotes of author visits, The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller is chockful of details about everything from books to business to relationships. Among the dozens of tales, the author recounts her almost-disastrous dinner party given for Isabel Allende, the delightful visit of Sir John Mortimer, and the gossip-inducing reading by John Irving. She also offers insight into the complexities of customer relations and the trials of making it as an independent in the world of chains and superstores. And she talks frankly on subjects from the intrinsic value of poetry in society to the threat of censorship to the importance of community.
Among the highlights of the book are the numerous recommended reading lists on topics including mystery, poetry, fiction, nature, business, and children's literature. The book also includes recommended reading lists from other well-loved independent bookstores across the country.
Filled with wit, passion, a lively voice, and strong opinions, The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller is the perfect book lover's book and a refreshing tale of standing up for what you believe in.
From the Back Cover
"Don't miss this endearing and funny book about books, about loyal readers, perseverant sellers, crazy authors and the whole magical process of independent bookselling. If you are a reader, "Part memoir, part literary history, part social commentary, this book is a smart and insightful look at life inside an independent bookstore."
-Terry Tempest Williams, Author of The Open Space of Democracy"This is a book of passion, of intellectual integrity, of right ethics- the fascinating story of a woman living a life that has made an indelible difference to all of us who read." -Mark Spragg, Author of An Unfinished Life"Of its kind, and for all it tells us of today's literary world,
Burton's revealing, riveting book has no rival." -Jeannette Haien, Author of The All of It
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I have always had a secret hankering to run a bookstore myself, and The King's English both reassured and alarmed me. Burton has had the pleasure of dealing with many wonderful, charming people as employees, partners, authors, and customers over the years. She has also had to deal with viccisitudes like dealing with business partners she doesn't agree or get along with, authors who really prefer not to waste their time with the vulgar people who actually sell and buy their books, and employees and customers who are dishonest or outright criminals. But even the low points as described in The King's English are enjoyable to read about because Burton is naturally witty and a born writer.
Burton waxes most profoundly and enjoyably when writing on three subjects: her private struggle dealing with a handicapped child, the tendency of some people to try to censor/ban books which upset them, and the growth of the superchain bookstores and the dot-coms which have threatened her business over the years. I found this last subject particularly interesting since I am still mourning the loss of one of the great independent bookstores, Oxford Books of Atlanta, which died nearly ten years ago.
Somehow or other when I've passed through Salt Lake City I've overlooked a visit to The King's English. Now that I've met the store's proprietor through this book I intend to put it at the top of my agenda, and will hope to see the bookstore alive and well and to find Betsy Burton hard at work within.
For the person who wants to learn more about the book industry, you'll learn about sales reps and what goes into getting on to various bestseller lists. For the person concerned about protecting our rights, you'll learn about some of the threats that have been made to bookstores, from both individuals and the government. For the person who simply adores reading, you'll learn a bit about how your precious books make it into your hands, and if you took the process for granted, you will take it for granted no longer.
You'll also learn some of the pitfalls of opening a business with little (or no) experience, how to deal (or perhaps how not to deal) with the press, and how to work (or not work) with partners and employees, and last, but not least, how to maintain conviction in the face of cut-throat competition (where the competition is likewise mysteriously cutting its own throat).
Finally, you will enjoy Betsy Burton, and the way she barrels down on problems. I laughed out loud when I read about how she could not get a key to open the trunk of a car (a problem I have also experienced - glad to see I'm not alone) and how she dealt with a Harry Potter crisis.
Well worth reading!
It was a delightful trip down memory lane as I reminisced about the great people who worked there sharing their love of books as well as the wonderful readings by visiting authors sharing their words. It will always stand as one of the best times of my life.
Thanks to Betsy for reminding me of that time, and for the best bookstore in the universe.
The behind-the-scenes guided tour is sure to fascinate customers of independent bookstores as well as those who aspire to own such establishments. How does the owner decide which books to buy for the store and whom to employ? How knowledgeable do the employees need to be and how do they build a rapport with customers of diverse literary tastes? What is it really like to host a famous or little-known author to conduct a reading at your bookstore? How does the management deal with controversial books? Burton addresses all these and many more issues in her book, her narrative deftly covering the intricate interplay of her professional and personal lives.
In an age of un-innocence, when writers are all too eager to unburden their existential angst and analyze yet another malaise of modern society, it is refreshing to read a book such as The King's English. It is not only the saga of a bookstore, but a story of a woman's dream brought to fruition by hard work, intuition and faith in her goal.
I am an avid reader and am somewhat familar with the operations of a bookstore.
This book gives the reader a chance to peek inside an independent bookstore. You become privy to the travils that face an independent bookseller in the era of the big bookstores and the internet.
There are reading lists for just about every interest.
Finally, it is a joy to see a book that is printed on top quality paper.