Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What's a book collector to do? Four author events -- all at the same time!

What’s a book collector to do?

Tuesday in Washington there were four book events I wanted to attend. All four were at the same time. As I don’t have a clone, I had to make some decisions on where to go and why?

The authors appearing on Tuesday were:

  • Michael Connelly, The Overlook
  • Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe
  • Nathan Englander, The Ministry of Special Cases
  • Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Greg Bear, numerous books

Although he is among my favorite authors, I eliminated Connelly. A signed copy of his new book will be arriving soon from Murder By The Book, the superb Houston independent bookstore that’s one of my favorites.

I also scratched Isaacson from the list although this would mark the fourth time he’s appeared in the Washington area and the fourth time I missed him. I think Isaacson, who lives in the area, will make another appearance or two here soon. Plus, it gives me time to nab a first edition of his biography on Benjamin Franklin to go with my first of Einstein.

That left the sci fi writers or Englander. I opted for Englander, but prepared for both events.

Englander was reading and signing at Politics & Prose, another independent bookstore and another that’s among my favorites. I choose Englander because 1) I loved his only previous book, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, a superb short story collection, 2) I’m 60 pages into his new book and loving it, and 3) I felt his new book was the most significant of the offerings Tuesday and, although I don’t focus on this, potentially the most valuable signed.

There was also a fourth reason. The bookstore where Niven, Pournelle and Bear were appearing was on my way home. Maybe, just maybe, I could pull off a rare double-double.

So, I slipped down to Politics & Prose. Listened to Englander’s reading and then nabbed his signature. I was second in line. From there, I headed home. The trip home took me past Reiter’s Scientific & Professional Books on K Street near the heart of D.C.’s lobbying district. I was unaware of the store until I saw this signing listed in The Washington Post’s Book World.

I rolled up in front of Reiter’s about 8:20 p.m. (Remember the event began at 7 p.m.) There was a parking spot in front of the store; incredible for D.C. I dashed in. The author’s were still there. Still signing.

I had three bags of books – 21 books; two for Bear (both Nebula Prize winners), about a half-dozen for Pournelle (who is a frequent co-author with Niven) and about 15 for Niven. I showed the bags to Niven and asked if was willing to sign them all or just a few. He gave me a skeptical look and then said he’d sign them all. And he did. Pournelle and Bear signed too.

It was a good day. Tonight: Michael Chabon. We'll see how that goes.

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