Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Night in the Cellar

(sorry it's blurry -- I took this with my cell phone camera)

Someone beat me to it, but I should report on last Thursday's signing at The Book Cellar. I arrived around 6:50 PM and no one was there yet, but the tables were set up in the cafe area of the store. Two other authors were supposed to take part, but Lynn Schnaiberg couldn't make it. Her book Urban Adventure Chicago has some overlap with mine since it includes a chapter about cycling on roads and bike paths. We could have had an interesting discussion. As I was killing time looking at books (I love The Pop-Up Book of Phobias!), a man approached me. It turned out he has been reading about my bicycling exploits on my Web site for more than a year! He even read my cross-country trip journal... in one night. That was so cool -- I've received e-mails from site visitors, but I never met one in person before.

Around 7:10 there were enough people to start. I went first, bumbling through my brief talk as one might expect from someone who spends much more time writing than speaking. I really need to develop those skills and put together a cohesive presentation about my book. Next Noah Liberman discussed The Flat Stick, which is about golf putters (his other book, Glove Affairs, is about baseball gloves) and came across far more polished. I suppose it helps that this is his second book; he's had more practice. If you are a golfer, I wholeheartedly recommend you check out The Flat Stick. It's much more interesting than I expected. I nearly bought it, and I've never golfed in my life.

Cyclo-Chris came in to get a few books. I was amazed that he hadn't seen the book yet, and I wondered how long it would take for him to notice his name in the acknowledgements (answer: about 12 hours). Thanks to him I had a good night, selling six or seven books. Signings also publicize the book to people who don't come -- today a neighbor asked my wife if I was the Johnsen who wrote the biking book. Everyone at The Book Cellar was really nice. It's like an urban incarnation of my favorite small-town bookstore, Books on First in Dixon, IL.

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