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Selling books to coventioneers

By / August 25, 2008



The eyes of the world are on Denver today, even as next week they will be on St. Paul. So trade publication Bookselling this Week surveyed Denver and St. Paul area independent bookstores to see what they'd be doing to attract conventioneers. The answers varied as much as, well, Democrats do from Republicans.

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In Denver there seems to be a lot more excitement about the possibilities involved. At the famed Tattered Cover Bookstore big efforts are underway to profit from the proximity of the LoDo store to the Pepsi Center (where the Democratic National Convention is being held.)

Plenty of big-name authors will be swinging by the store to sign books, everyone from Van Jones to Jim Wallis to Ted Sorenson to Jane Mayer. (And that's just today.)

There will also be politically themed displays on the floor, including collections of Right and Left books and a reading list for presidential nominees that asks famed Western authors (George Sibley, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Laura Prichtett) what books the next president of the United States should turn to in order to understand something about the American West and also to gain "information, inspiration, and guidance."

In St. Paul, at the Republican National Convention, however, there is much less buzz. At Common Good Books, the bookstore owned by Garrison Keillor, Keillor is reported to have said, in response to a question about what to display during convention time, "Well, it's back-to-school week, isn't it?"

At Micawber's Books, also in St. Paul, co-owner Hans Weyandt is quoted as saying that with his store's left-of-center customer base he's not sure he'll be drawing many Republican conventioneers. His one ray of hope: Maybe they'll get some protestors.

Across the river, in Minneapolis's Magers & Quinn Booksellers, there is excitement over the idea that evening traffic will be strong. But they're figuring that by that time conventioneers may be hungry for something more like a good volume of poetry.

In fact, spoken like a true book person, manager Jay Peterson says he's prepared to recommend "Out Stealing Horses" by Norwegian novelist Per Petterson. It has nothing to do with politics, of course, but the way Peterson figures it, after being around politicians all day, conventioneers may find it very refreshing to "take a ride out to the real Norway with this guy."

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