What are some upcoming trends?
Apocalypse literature has been the trend most often noted, which must have been news to science-fiction imprints who have been publishing it for decades. I can’t speak to what’s upcoming, but a welcome development this year at the Strand has been the immense success of female essayists: Leslie Jamison, Rebecca Solnit, Laurie Penny, Marina Keegan, Sarah Ruhl, Susan Howe, Lena Dunham and Roxane Gay. Whatever quirk in publishing led to this impressive wave of writing, it has been met by an incredible level of interest from our customers.
I would also point to the continuing proliferation of literature in translation. The important work done by NYRB, Open Letter, Europa Editions, New Directions, Dalkey and many more has contributed to market growth and greater numbers of receptive readers, and it has encouraged other publishers in the industry to follow suit.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m intrigued by the concept of Richard McGuire’s December release Here. 2015 should bring novels from Kazuo Ishiguro, William Vollmann and Jennifer Egan, and I’ll be harassing my sales reps for galleys ASAP. I would most like to see something new from Stephen Wright, one of our most undervalued contemporary novelists. I am not familiar enough with the fantasy genre, but the first two volumes of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle were exhilarating and addictive. I am eagerly perched among the millions of other readers awaiting the third volume.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Founding Fathers, Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, JFK: It’s been covered. Please explore the rest of history.
Any interactions with indie authors lately?
I receive multiple submissions from independent authors every day by phone, email and in store. We’ve had strong sales with a recent standout: a self-published book by Nathaniel Kressen titled Concrete Fever. It has been among our best-sellers for the last six months. It’s a debut novel for which his wife designed an attractive cover, and he’s handling his own distribution. And, most importantly, it’s an excellent read. Considering how much fiction I have to turn away, it’s a pleasure to watch a deserving author find a (relatively) wide audience. The quality and salability of self-published work has improved in recent years, particularly among photobooks. On second thought, perhaps the ratio has remained the same, there are just higher volumes of both good and bad! The lowering of barriers to printing, such as Ingram Spark, has clearly encouraged more writers to strike out on their own.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Any notion that the print book is heading toward extinction is false. Sales have rebounded from the Kindle’s peak saturation a couple years ago, and our store traffic increases every year. There is room in the industry for digital and print, and independent booksellers will continue to champion their favorite titles to a passionate, book-buying audience for years to come.
Carson Moss started at Strand Book Store in 2001 and has been a buyer for the last seven years.