New Directions at the Brooklyn Book Festival
Here is what our permissions editor Quinn Marshall had to say:
“For my part, I would say that the event was a very positive experience. Everyone was exhausted by the end of the day, but getting the chance to meet new ND fans and nerd out with all the other bookworms that visited the festival definitely carried us through the day. Of course we also had lots of help from our wonderful interns. Throughout the day they helped to keep things running relatively smoothly. It was a beautiful day and many Brooklynites flocked to Borough Hall (along with others from all over the city I’m sure) to take advantage of a day full of wonderful speakers (including Anne Carson (who I heard was marvelous), Paul Auster, and Michael Palmer (who stopped by just as someone was asking us questions about his books, which, of course, Michael was happy to answer and sign)). We were in great company; the New York Review of Books, Ugly Duckling Press, Akashic, Soft Skull, Archipelago; and many literary magazines, including Granta, Paris Review, Bookforum, etc. all had booths. It was literally astounding to look at the schedule of events and vendor attendees.
Our books definitely rose to the occasion. There was a steady stream of people visiting the ND booth. Throughout the day the table was chock-full of visitors standing shoulder-to-shoulder (often times with another row of people waiting behind them. It was great to see the wide variety of people visiting us: older people, younger people, and people of all nationalities (including a couple Brazilians who were thrilled that Clarice Lispector was enjoying such a renewal of interest due to the recent biography). One elderly gentleman stopped by and asked, “Is this the New Directions founded by Laughlin?” He then started rattling off all our books that he had read, including newer books like the Bolaños (By Night in Chile he said was “basically perfect”) and of course the older classics. I think that guy probably sold 3 books all by himself just among the other people around him listening. It was inspiring to see how much our books meant to people, and how excited they were about what they had yet to read. Everyone’s eyes lit up when they saw Robert Walser’s Microtexts proofs and the Anne Carson’s artbook Nox mock-up.
We sold out of a lot of the books we brought. Big sellers were The Halfway House, Nazi Literature in the Americas, Rings of Saturn, The Tanners, Emigrants, She-Devil in the Mirror, Skating Rink, Melancholy of Resistance, The Armies, By Night in Chile, and Ghosts. The good thing was that even if we had sold out of what someone wanted, they most always found something else to pick up. Everyone was asking for Clarice Lispector in the morning, prompting me to run back to the office to scrounge up what I could. I brought back about a dozen copies of her various books and they all sold out within a few hours. One thing we might consider: we had no bags for people to carry home their purchases (possibly an opportunity to sell tote bags?)
So on the whole, it was a tremendous amount of fun for us, and a fantastic event for ND to participate. It seemed like it meant a lot to people who stopped by. I would definitely put my vote in for participating again next year.”