Saturday, May 26, 2007

One More Time at the Book Cellar

My encore appearance Wednesday at The Book Cellar was disappointing, but I had a good time anyway. Months ago I suggested to Suzy (the owner) that she should do a summer-themed event. Naturally, my own book figured in the mix, but I also suggested books about baseball, gardening, grilling, and other summer subjects. In retrospect, I should have figured that my repeat signing wouldn't generate much interest.

Suzy introduced the authors alphabetically. I got to go first despite the middle-ish position of my surname. In a word, I was rusty. I hadn't talked about the book much since last year, and it showed. I forgot nearly everything I had said at last year's signings to drum up interest in the book. On the bright side, I did my first reading. Last July at The Book Cellar, fellow author Noah Leiberman read a page or two from his book The Flat Stick. I declined to read, and I had been regretting it ever since. Reading from Biking Illinois is a great way to show that it's more than just "turn right, turn left." I chose the sidebar from the "Merry Miles to Maeystown" ride, which describes the founding of Waterloo, the town where the ride begins. The legend involves a "cheeky Irishman," and I got a lot of laughs with it.

Next Margaret Littman, who has written or edited a bunch of titles, talked about the new second edition of The Dog Lover's Companion to Chicago. The revisions were much more work than she expected; the task took nine months. One growing trend is that many park districts are opening up their pools to dogs the day before they close for the season. One of my mom's friends does the same with her pool.

The final author of the evening was Lucy Saunders. She talked about Grilling With Beer as a microbrewery representative poured free samples of a beer featured in one of the book's recipes. We don't often think about book design, but Saunders explained that she self-published because she had special requirements for this book. First she wanted a spiral binding so the book would lay flat, a common and useful feature for any cookbook. The problem with a spiral is that when the book is on a shelf in a store or at home, the title is not visible. She went to a Canadian printer to get what she wanted: the front cover wraps around the spiral spine to show the title. Grilling With Beer is available online but not through

Afterward a couple of guys asked me questions but no one bought my book. I enjoyed talking with the other authors as I autographed a tall stack of books for stock. I hope Suzy can sell them; Biking Illinois has done well at The Book Cellar so far. Finally, Lucy Saunders bought a copy of my book so I wasn't shut out for the night.
Grilling With Beer

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