From The Editor

by Craig Stark

#69, 22 May 2006

BookThinker readers may recall an interview I did several years ago with Civil Engineer/Professor Henry Petroski, who, in the last decade or so, has used his engineering background as a springboard to a remarkably successful writing career. Ordinarily, we don't expect our best writers to emerge from Engineering Hall, nor do we expect a truly good war novel to be written by somebody who has never fought in one. (Does Stephen Crane come to mind?) Well, in author Nick Arvin, we have unexpected times two. Arvin began his working life as an engineer and recently published a critically acclaimed novel about World War II - Articles of War - without having fired a single shot. Media Editor Cathy Petruccione spoke with Arvin recently, and the result is an intriguing look at how he pulled this off.

There's no question that the most commonly asked book repair question is (in one form or another), "How do I remove odors from books?" Book Repair Editor Gail Altman tackles this question today, and you'll find her solution both simple and friendly to your pocketbooks.

Speaking of questions, I have an important one for you today: How many of you choose inventory primarily on the basis of online comparables? More to the point - if a book, when researched, comps high enough to meet or exceed the lowest price you'll bother selling any book at, does it automatically earn a place on your shelves? If so, why? How many of those once promising books have been sitting on your shelves for a year, two years or more? If there's more than a few, it might be time to rethink your strategy. Part of succeeding at bookselling necessarily requires that we focus not only on what we perceive our books to be worth but also on how likely it is that they'll sell before the end times. In next month's Gold Edition, Part VI of "How to Become a Full-Time Bookseller," I'll get into depth about this. If you're already a subscriber, stay tuned; if not, there's no time like the present to get on board - and please note that all new subscriptions will start with Part I of this series. Back issues will not need to be purchased to get caught up. If you've already purchased one or more issues from the series and are interested in subscribing, write me at and we'll credit your purchases toward a subscription. All others may subscribe here.

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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