Work Title: Booksellers Can Balance the Timely With the Proven
Work Author(s): David Priess
Byline: David Priess
Booksellers have a difficult time selecting books related to terrorism. The attempt to present solid titles on various aspects of this issue often pushes booksellers into a minefield of sloppy titles that fail to educate readers. Book buyers find it difficult to stay on top of it all because terrorism titles cross standard bookstore divisions, from current events to religion to history. And booksellers face the nearly impossible task of providing readers with timely and relevant titles on the methodology or geographical setting of a new bombing or foiled attack.
As Middle East tensions escalated into war this summer, for example, customers requesting books on Hezbollah confounded many retailers. Like most bookstores, Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon, saw sales of Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem (Anchor, 0-385-41372-6) skyrocket, according to Backlist Inventory Supervisor Gerry Donaghy---even though Friedman last updated the book more than fifteen years ago---when little else was on the shelf.
To help booksellers best prepare for terrorism-related demand, the following pages provide some tips for a balanced bookshelf.
Bestsellers and Best Titles
Several forthcoming books addressing U.S. policy toward terrorism seem bound for the bestseller charts. ReganBooks offers former senior Department of Defense official Douglas Feith's memoir about his experiences fighting terror from 2001 to last year: The Best Defense: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism (0-06-089973-5). Bob Woodward's latest, Inside Bush's White House: The Second Term (Simon & Schuster, 0-743-27223-4), is sure to address the war on terrorism, and radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy will sound off on the topic in Fight Back: Tackling Terrorism, Liddy Style (St. Martin's, 0-312-19945-7). Robert Fields, history and politics buyer for Waldenbooks, points to Pervez Musharraf's memoir In the Line of Fire (Free Press, 0-7432-8344-9) as a big fall title.
According to Mitch Brown, general manager at Washington, D.C.'s Kramerbooks, bestsellers like Thomas Friedman's updated and expanded The World is Flat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 0-374-29279-5) get most of the rest-of-the-world focus from people casually interested in international relations. These books, however, can spark a deeper reader interest in terrorism---a good reason to...