What are some upcoming trends for the beginning of 2016?
Trends are difficult to predict or be objective about. That said, here at 192 Books we have a lot of passion for literature in translation. We have a special table set up near the front of the store where we display some of our favorites like Clarice Lispector, Yoel Hoffmann, Robert Walser, and Guillaume Apollinaire. We carry an impressive selection of translations from all over the world. I also like that there are so many excellent personal narratives that have recently been published. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts are part of a “trend” that I like (though they are vastly different books). Also, not that this is a trend, but I'm very excited about Diane Williams’ new book of short stories, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine,and Noy Holland’s debut novel, Bird. Both writers are exquisite masters of a taut, refined prose style that is equally surprising and masterful. Also, later this year, The Song Cave will publish a long-out-of-print underground masterpiece, The Orchid Stories, by the legendary poet and novelist Kenward Elmslie. That alone is cause for celebration.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m always excited when new poetry comes through the door. I believe we’re living in a new golden age of poetry. There are so many poets creating such amazing work. Claudia Rankine’s Citizen is a devastating and important book. Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners is, in my humble opinion, a huge publishing event. As is the publication of SOS: Poems 1961-2013 by Amiri Baraka.
How are you working with self-published writers?
Currently we don’t work with self-published writers. We’re a small and independent bookstore with a specialized and curated selection of books. Were we a larger entity it would be something to consider. Certainly, Printed Matter has made the format of limited editions and self-produced artists’ books a feasible enterprise.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
Independent booksellers are in the unique position of being able to cultivate an individual point of view. We can move fast when we spot an interesting book and reflect the passions of the staff and the community we serve. Certainly the curation we do as a store is striking. Even before I managed 192 Books, I shopped here regularly because I always found something unique and boldly chosen. I’ve certainly tried to uphold the tradition and spirit of independent book selling by helping create an atmosphere where nothing is predictable and the surprises are sophisticated and informed. I love it when people enter the store with a notion of a single book they want but find three others that they never thought about or knew existed; that is the magic of book selling at its best here at 192 Books.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m very proud of our art and poetry section. I’ve personally taken it upon myself to create one of the best poetry sections in the city. Our art section is well-known for its quality and depth. People come from all over the city (and the world) to see what we’re carrying. That is very gratifying.
Todd Colby is the store manager at 192 Books in New York City. He is a Brooklyn-based poet and artist. His recent readings include Maison de la Poésie, Paris (2014), Poetic Research Bureau, Los Angeles (2014); The Public Theater, 10th annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature (2014); IBID Gallery, London (2014); Performa Biennial 13, New York City (2014); OMI International Arts Center (2015); Dia Art Foundation (2015); and MoMa PS1/Greater New York (2015). Colby’s sixth book of poetry, Splash State, was published by The Song Cave in 2014.