Sunday, August 22, 2010

Franzen's Freedom

You may have seen  Jonathan Franzen's face on the cover of Time magazine this week.  After a rather long hiatus, he has a new novel coming out in Sept.  The title is Freedom.  Preliminary buzz is that it's really good.  You may remember his previous book, The Corrections, which was a big bestseller.   Freedom is not available for sale until Sept., as far as I am currently aware.  It's certainly not in my store yet.  A little known frustration for booksellers and readers is that sometimes the publicity around a book release precedes and builds a good deal of momentum well before the book's arrival.  Eager readers come in wanting to buy the book only to be told it won't be out for some number of weeks yet.  In the book trade there is something known as the laydown date aka the on sale date.  Said date is plastered all over the boxes and is a strictly observed "law" by booksellers or at least it's supposed to be and usually is.  

Imagine my surprise, as I read the Boston Globe's account of President Obama's visit to a bookstore on Martha's Vineyard, to see listed among his purchases the new Franzen novel, Freedom.   Obama is known to be a voracious reader who doesn't have much time off from work.    Maybe someone gave him their galley aka advanced reading copy.  Maybe the article was incorrect on this one point.  Maybe executive privilege trumps laydown dates.   I fault no one, absolutely no one, in this departure from the usual protocol.

My bottom line here is that it's very exciting to have an author on the cover of a national news magazine in the same week that it's a news item that the President went to a bookstore (an independent one!) shortly after arriving at his vacation site and bought a bunch of books.  With all the recent "news" about the death of the physical book,  it's refreshing to hear some other bits of book news.  Have a great vacation Mr. President and happy reading!

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