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News from Square Books

Sandra Beasley Broadside Now Available

Sandra Beasley made a big impression during her stint as poet in residence at Ole Miss this summer.  She befriended many of us in her short time here, and, with her stunning book of poems, I Was The Jukebox (Norton, 24.95, signed firsts available here) having been recently published, we discovered her work at the same time we got to know her.  Her visit culminated in a reading at Off Square where she was introduced by Beth Ann Fennelly to a room crowded with students, faculty, and townspeople, and, at the close of the event, was presented with a beautiful broadside made by Jan Murray.  The broadside has been produced in a 100-copy limited edition, numbered and signed by the poet and the artist, and is now available from Square Books for $20.

Click read more to view photos of the broadside. 

Man's Best Friend (In books and on the screen)

One might believe, with the current popularity of Marley and Me, that man-and-dog memoir is a new genre.  However, there is a great deal of wonderful writing that preceded Marley about canine companionship.  One such was My Dog Skip, the moving tribute by Willie Morris, which went on to achieve even greater fame once it was adapted into a movie.  Willie Morris himself,  gave his book that title in homage to a book published in the mid-1960s called My Dog Tulip.  In it, the distinguished British author and editor J.R. Ackerley recounts his relationship with Tulip, an Alsatian (what I believe  we would call a German Shepherd).  Mr. Ackerley, already a middle-aged bachelor when he came into possession of Tulip,  lovingly and humorously recalls his sixteen years with her in what remains, more than forty years later, one of the finest examples of  canine-man literature. 

Wylie World Deflates

  From news reports around the world today it is now known that Random House and literary agent Andrew Wylie have reached an agreement over the control of digital publishing rights of authors represented by the Wylie agency and published in the U. S. by Random House.  Apparently Random House controls those rights.

But whether this agreement occurred as a result of legal authority or through Random House's threat not to do business with Wylie's clients we do not know.  Wylie's overnight enterprise, Odyssey Editions, still apparently has digital rights to the works of Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, William Burroughs, and Oliver Sacks.

The day we heard at Square Books that Wylie had created an exlusive arrangement with Amazon to publish e-book editions, we immediately created a window display of Wylie authors' books, all tagged with a "This book NOT for sale" bookmark, as a way of demonstrating the harmful potential that such a monopoly held for readers.

In Celebration of James Dickey

    Dwight Garner has an interesting article in today's New York Times--a piece written about James Dickey on the occasion of  the 40th anniversary of Deliverance.  It reminded us of the visits that this writer, who had a sort of deliberately constructed larger-than-life personna, literary and otherwise, made to Oxford and to Square Books.  Lisa and I first met Dickey in 1977 when we were booksellers in Washington, D. C., and attended a public reading by all the then-former poetry consultants to the Library of Congress.   

Square Books is teaming up with the Southern Foodways Alliance

This fall the SFA will be releasing a new cookbook simply titled The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook (University of Georgia Press, 24.95). Editors Sara Roahen and John T. Edge picked over 170 recipes for the collection with a foreword by "Good Eats" host Alton Brown. The recipes span over 12 chapters and cover a wide range of the best of southern cooking. Sections like Gravy, Garden Goods, Roots, Greens, Rice, Grist, Yardbird, Pig, The Hook, The Hunt are all here. You’ll find recipes for chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, chess pie, and many more.

Sustainable & Unsustainable Books (now at Off Square Books)

It is logical that the amount of books published about the environment continues to increase in relation to the environment's worsening. Finding the proper category in our bookstore for these books has proved difficult. Many are closely related to nature, and have been shelved in our NATURE section, but a book on, say, solar power more aptly belongs in SCIENCE. A lot of the new books on the "slow" and "go local" movements are in some way related to environmental studies, but many of those have been categorized in GARDENING or HOME LIVING. As our inventory on these sorts of books has grown they have spread throughout various sections of the bookstore.

Calling all Reading Groups

Starting a Book Club:

We offer a 15% discount for book clubs on books ordered through the store. Read on for more information.

At Square Books we are happy to stock books for your book club and provide your members with a discount. Here’s how:

Write up the selection of books you’ll be reading each month, as far in advance as possible. Email your list to

We’ll order in the books approximately one to two months ahead of time, based on when we receive your information, and place them on our Book Club section for your club members to purchase.


Book Club Tips

-How big should a group be? Try to keep it around 10-12 to ensure that there will be at least 6 at each meeting. The room should be small enough to be comfy.

-Keep selections diverse. Read works that one might not normally read.

-Try to get a variety of participants (age, experience, etc). Avoid groups that are too uniform in background and make-up. Invite members to bring their friends.

-Encourage interaction! Share contact information with each member of the group to enhance communication.

-Listening is as important as talking. A group leader can assist in allowing everyone to participate in a discussion.

-Everyone’s opinion is important. Try beginning with a ‘whip around’ question, to which everyone must respond quickly and spontaneously before settling into a more detailed discussion. Or, hand out paper and pencils and give a minute for participants to think about their answer before speaking.

-Ask participants to avoid using “I like” or “I hate” – a discussion should be an exchange of ideas, rather than emotional responses.

-Read only books readily available from the library or bookstore and try to stick with paperback editions.

-Utilize the library! Libraries are a great way to find information and recommendations, and librarians have ways of finding groups for individuals to join.

-Do you need a facilitator? A facilitator is not necessarily a part of the group, but exists to keep the discussion going smoothly and to bring in materials, which add to the discussion.

-Food is not necessary, but water is! If food is going to be a part of the meeting, set aside half an hour before or after eating and socializing. Socialization can be just as important to a group as discussion!

*Thanks to our friends at King’s English in Salt Lake City for sharing these tips with us.

Welcome to Wylie World!

On Thursday, July 22, the Andrew Wylie Agency announced it had formed an agreement with for the online bookseller to be the exclusive supplier of e-book editions written by authors represented by Wylie.

The Wylie Agency lists 757 clients, the vast majority of whom are writers and writers’ estates, including Dave Eggers, Richard Flanagan, Mary Gaitskill, Ian Frazier, Philip Roth,  Anne Lamott, Hendrik Hertzberg, Wells Tower, and the estates of Richard Yates, W. H. Auden, I. F. Stone, and Saul Bellow.


Amazon is the company that, when Macmillan Publishing refused to agree to the company’s price demands, removed the ”buy” button from all the company’s titles.  Amazon is the company that, once threatened by the George Orwell estate for selling 1984 without their permission, electronically removed the text from its customers even as they read it.  

Amazon manufactures a reading device, the “kindle,” which requires its owners to buy digital merchandise exclusively from Amazon – a bit like our selling you books that you could read only by using the bedside lamp you must also purchase from us.  And this would be the only way you could read these books.  Wylie’s authors’ electronic books will be available only via the kindle, only via Amazon, a soiling of first amendment principles that many of the agency’s authors, such as Arthur Miller and Salman Rushdie, have fought so hard to protect.

As you look at this display, we encourage you to think about the ramifications of this effort to vertically integrate the book industry and limit or exclude access to information and free expression.   And, as always, we encourage you to support independent booksellers everywhere.  Together we can let books live.


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