Bookshops and the Signing thing

Wow, thanks to everyone for sharing all their writers’ humiliations. Apparently I’m not alone!

This post is for the bookseller who wrote to tell me that if I went to her bookshop I could sign whatever books I wanted.

On the same day I had my less than stellar experience at a chain I also visited Galaxy, Kinokuniya, Gleebooks and Better Read than Dead. All of them had many copies of Scott’s books and all told me that Uglies in particular is flying off the shelves. And they all had the Oz version of Magic or Madness and were very keen on me signing them. At Galaxy I didn’t even have to ask. Bless Galaxy. They rolled out the books, handed me a pen, and told me how well MorM‘d been doing for them. There was also mention of the possibility of Scott and me doing events for all of these shops. Way to make you feel wanted. Lovely!

I also figured out that I’ve been shopping at Galaxy for at least fourteen years! Oh my Elvis! That’s longer than some of my readers have been alive! And I’ve been a regular customer at Gleebooks for even longer . . . They’re two of my fave bookshops in all the world and have been incredibly good to me as both customer and now as author.

I have to admit though, that the whole signing thing is weird. I always feel like a loon asking people in bookshops if they want me to scribble on their books. It seems such an odd thing to do: “Deface your stock, Ma’am?” Though, of course, I’m very happy to have books by my favourite writers defaced, and treasure my two signed Dorothy Dunnett’s (Caprice and Rondo and Gemini).

Other than that initial awkwardness—“Hi, I’m Justine Larbalestier and, er, you seem to have some of my books. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind if I, um, signed them for you”—other than that I really like going into bookshops and chatting with the staff. For one thing, they’re mostly really into books. Surprising that, eh? And once I’ve gotten the self-promotery thing over and done with (quick as poss) I can ask about their favourite YAs and rave about mine (I talked up Haitani’s A Rabbit’s Eyes big time at Kinokuniya). Alliyx at Kinokuniya is a huge Scott Westerfeld and Holly Black fan so it was quite a treat to goss about their books. Interesting how much easier it is to push someone else’s work than it is your own.

I’d never been to Kinokuniya before. It’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve seen that much manga in one place. And the design and architecture section is huge! So’s the young adult section. In fact the whole bookstore is vast and full of bubbly helpful staff and way too many books that I lust after. And, yeah, they had my book, too. I wonder if I’ll ever stop being thrilled by seeing my book in shops? I hope not.

So, yes, Ms Bookseller-who-wrote-me, my chain bookshop experience was an anomaly.


  1. Tim Pratt on #

    Yes, I’ve had good experiences, too — last time I stopped in at Other Change of Hobbit in Berkeley they had me sign all their stock, and I didn’t even ask if they wanted me to (I’d just popped in to browse, honestly). Made me feel as good as the other experience made me feel bad! Thus balance was restored.


  2. jason erik lundberg on #

    I got to shop in Kinokuniya while visiting my wife’s family in Singapore, and I honestly could have spent the entire day in there. I loved that they carried both US and UK versions of books, and the aisles just went back and back and back…

  3. Vernieda on #

    I adore Kinokuniya. Anytime I go to NYC, I make a point drop by although I admit it’s mostly for the manga and artbooks.

  4. Justine on #

    Tim: I really think most bookshops are fabulous. I’ve even had lovely experiences at chain bookshops. Kinokuniya is a chain afterall.

    Jason: Right now it’s my fave bookshop in the world. But one second back in Books of Wonder and I’ll change my mind again.

    Vernieda: There’s a Kinokuniya in NYC?! How did I not notice that?

  5. mely on #

    Wow! Kinokuniya in NYC doesn’t have a general selection of English-language books, just books on Japan — but it’s a lovely collection of books on Japan. And manga. And books and manga in Japanese.

    It’s in Rockefeller Center, next to a Japanese bakery I keep meaning to try.

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