Tagged books

Support Microcosm and Learn our Craft on Drip

a screencap of the microcosm drip pageRecently we were approached about starting a new thing on a new platform that was all very top-secret, and we jumped at the chance (we like shiny things). That platform is Drip, Kickstarter’s new subscriptions program, and our project launched today in its inaugural class of creators.

We’ll still be using Kickstarter to fund the production of some of our individual books. Meanwhile, Drip is a little different: it’s about monthly support—it’s similar to Patreon, which we also use. It offers various levels of support; you can get ebooks or credit for our online store. By backing at our core level, you can have access to regular posts with advice about all aspects of our publishing work. You can ask us anything and we’ll do our best to talk you through it. And we’ll share regular windows into the life of our office.

Some posts we have planned for the near future include:

  • How to judge a book by its cover (and make sure yours has a good one)
  • How to run an effective publicity campaign in an era when traditional review outlets are dwindling and reviews don’t work as well as they used to anyway
  • When you SHOULD self-publish and why (spoiler, we don’t think it’s very often, but it’s definitely not never)
  • How our marketing department informs our editorial decisions (controversy alert!)
  • Regular “from the desk of” diaries
  • Whatever YOU want to know!

We’ve been doing this a long time, and we love sharing our books with you. Now, let us share our knowledge and lore, too.

Thank you for your support!

Good Trouble Giveaway

Greetings!

One thing I love about my new position at Microcosm is that now I get to give away books — free! I mean, not all the time… but a lot, and it is becoming one of my favorite things to do.

Here’s the deal: This year I’d like to spend time telling the story of not Microcosm but the people who work here, make us what we are, and helped build this business along the way. But for each month I’d like to host a great big book giveaway of past books! Each giveaway (hosted on Goodreads) will offer up 50 copies of one back-list title.

For the first, though, we start at the beginning:

Good Trouble: Building a Successful Life & Business with Asperger’s is the memoir of Joe Biel, Microcosm’s founder, and the story of Microcosm itself; how it came into existence, the troubles it (and its members) faced along the way, and how it became what it is now [a thriving indie publishing house with books and zines all over the world, of course]. The history involved is deepened by Biel’s rocky childhood and (at first un-diagnosed) place on the autism spectrum. Published one year ago to mark Microcosm’s 20th anniversary, Good Trouble dives into all the shit and splendor that’s gone into making us who we are, from the very beginning.

Check out this book trailer from a kickstarter project launched for the book’s release:

So, starting today and ending March 31st, just before the start of Autism Awareness Month, enter to win one of 50 copies of Good Trouble, and get a nitty-gritty glimpse behind the Microcosm curtain.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Good Trouble by Joe Biel

Good Trouble

by Joe Biel

Giveaway ends March 31, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Stay awesome and good luck!

Cyn

Call for Submissions: Bikes in Space 5 (Theme: Intersections)

Submissions are open for Bikes in Space Volume 5, published by Microcosm’s Elly Blue Publishing imprint. The theme is Intersections. Stories that are accepted will all have a feminist perspective and incorporate bicycling in some way, whether or not they are actually about feminism or about bicycles. We especially welcome submissions from writers of color and transgender and nonbinary writers, and seek stories that portray more diverse perspectives than are classically found in sci fi.

Your story should be in the neighborhood of 2,000 to 6,000 words. If your story needs to be longer or shorter, then by all means write it to be the length it needs to be and we’ll work with you on edits as needed. There are no formatting, document type, or style requirements, and no strict definition of what exactly counts as science fiction. You may want to familiarize yourself with previous volumes in the series before submitting.

Black and white art is also sought. Payment for art and writing is a share of net profit from the Kickstarter project that funds the book.

The deadline for this volume is March 1, 2017.

Send submissions and questions to elly at takingthelane dot com

P.S. Volume 4, Biketopia, is funding on Kickstarter through March 2, 2017.

What’s a Book Good For Anyway? Our Spring Season on Kickstarter

It’s been a while (okay, over a week now) since our last Kickstarter project ended… and we’ve just launched another this morning, for Microcosm’s Spring season.

This project is a little different. Instead of promoting just one book, we’ve decided to give you six at once—six very different books that span our interests and eras.

The norm in publishing is to put out multiple books each season (of which, in this industry, there are three–Spring and Fall are the main ones, and then there’s a small Winter season right after the xmas holidaze). Usually the publisher picks one book from each season and puts all their resources behind it, gambling on making it a blockbuster. We’ve never done this, mostly because we haven’t had the money to gamble on promoting books in the traditional ways. Instead, we spread our best efforts equally around all the books and hope they all win.

So this project represents our (cough) brand, our business model, and a strong sampling of the topics, styles, interests, authors, and books that we care about deeply.

Sandor Ellix Katz’z Basic Fermentation is the blockbuster here… it’s a substantial new edition of the cute little zine-turned-book, Wild Fermentation, that has been winning hearts for years. We also have new editions of Cristy C. Road’s underground classic Indestructible and Dan Méndez Moore’s gripping comics journalism account of Six Days in Cincinnati. we’re putting a spine on Raleigh Briggs’s friendly, hand-written Fix Your Clothes, and we finally gave Kelli Refer’s Pedal, Stretch, Breathe an ISBN. And we have a brand-new book in the mix, too: The Prodigal Rogerson represents J. Hunter Bennett’s meticulous and spirited research into the mysterious disappearance (and reappearance) of the Circle Jerk’s original bassist and songwriter.

Like any good books, these ones are good for entertainment… and so much more. Fixing your clothes, your gut health with fermented food, your wounded sense of community and political rightness… books can provide all that and more, and that’s what gets us up in the morning and keeps us going day after day.

Read more about them over at Kickstarter, where you’ll also have a chance to get to live chat with some of the authors and the people who make Microcosm go!

Check it out, and consider backing it to get some good books to last you through winter.
microcosm publishing storefront with bookstory sign

Independent Publishing Love: Our Radical Friends at OR Books

the team at OR BooksAs part of our Year of Independence, we’ve been interviewing independent booksellers who we love. This month, instead of a bookstore, we’re turning to OR Books, a fellow radical independent publisher that, like us, also sells a substantial portion of its books directly to readers. That’s a relative rarity in the publishing world, where it’s the norm for every book to go through a string of distributors, wholesalers, and booksellers before making its way into your hands. We were stoked to meet these kindred spirits and immediately started gleefully conspiring to support each other… another activity that breaks the mold of mainstream publishing.

Check out their offerings, we think you’ll like them. Their recent releases include such helpful gems as Pocket Piketty and The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto.

OR Books publicity manager Natascha Uhlmann answered our questions over email.

1. What’s the story of OR Books? What matters most to you as publishers?
OR Books arose out of a desire to forge a different path for publishing—one centered around progressive politics, selling direct to consumers, and intense marketing. Our model varies pretty drastically from the standard publishing houses: we avoid Amazon and other traditional distribution methods. It allows us to sidestep some of the pitfalls of traditional publishing and focus our energies where they should be: on the book itself.

2. You are a politically progressive publisher—what does that mean to you?
It means taking on titles that are progressive, transgressive, and sometimes outright bizarre. I think we can all recall wrestling with a book that made us engage with the world in a different way—it’s a revolutionary, world changing thing, and I hope to recreate that same experience for others.

3. What are your personal favorite books from the OR backlist? Any favorites you’ve recently read from other publishers?
Extinction: A Radical History by Ashley Dawson makes the case that the environmental crisis we currently face is fundamentally tied to our economic system. Ashley traces the history of extinction and ties its catastrophic rise to capitalism’s unrelenting drive to expand.

What’s Yours is Mine by Tom Slee is a critical look at the sharing economy. He pushes back against the portrayal of platforms like Uber and AirBnb as democratic, pointing to the means by which these technologies simply shift risk onto the worker and encourages us all to settle for less.

Beautiful Trouble ed. by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell is a tactical manual for radicals. It traces a wide variety of activist groups and the approaches that they have found valuable. I’ve found it to be an incredibly valuable resource throughout my organizing, and a great primer for interested younger activists.

As for others:

In Defense of Housing by David Madden and Peter Marcuse (Verso Books) explores the commodification of housing and the violence of gentrification. They highlight that housing is endemic, not incidental, under capitalism and point to the successes of several movements organizing for housing justice – and how we can learn from these.

Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel (Melville House) is a brilliant look at the global food economy and engages with some urgent questions: How are hunger and obesity interrelated? What avenues for resistance do we have in an ever consolidating system of food production?

Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination by Alondra Nelson (University of Minnesota Press) explores the Black Panther Party’s fight for health justice. We as activists owe so much today to their organizational tactics, and I think their articulation of health politics greatly informs current debates around single payer activism.

4. What are the most urgent issues facing the publishing industry right now? If you could look into your crystal ball, what is the biggest piece of advice would you give to yourself and other independent publishers?
The advent of new technologies means that it’s harder to command the attention of would-be readers. That said, the field is adaptable and at the end of the day, no one walks away from a good book.

I think the best advice I can offer is to remember why we’re here: because we believe deeply in the power of ideas. To get to work on a book that may go on to shape the way someone sees the world is an incredible gift. It’s a challenging field, but an utterly rewarding one.

Rockstars Eating: An Interview with Automne Zingg

automne zingg standing next to word dead

Automne Zingg

Ever since Automne Zingg sent us her zine called “Comfort Eating with Nick Cave,” the world has seemed like a friendlier, funnier place. So we schemed to do more work with her, culminating with a book of the same name that came out last month, along with its companion, Defensive Eating with Morrissey. And now you too can delight in some of her work. But these books are just the thin end of the wedge. We talked with Automne about her art (some of which involves rock stars eating, and some of which doesn’t). Read, watch, and listen on!

Lacey Spacecake

You have a great intro in each book about its origin story. What’s the short version of the story of how these two works went from idea to zines to books.
The short version is basically me dealing with poverty and heartbreak through art. I couldn’t afford to eat and drawing these pictures of my idols comfort eating amused me and served as an almost type of therapy. Turning them into zines to sell made it so I could afford the luxuries of eating. Having those zines turn into cookbooks was the thanks of you dearies at Microcosm as well as Joshua Ploeg. It’s one of the few artistic projects of mine that went somewhere and actually had a happy ending. Usually my creations die in obscurity or my ideas go unnoticed. This has been a great change of pace.

Rockstars Eating by Automne Zingg

Rockstars Eating by Automne Zingg

The response to these books has been tremendous! Have you had any particularly funny, touching, hostile, or weird encounters as a result of the books (or zines)?
Hahha. For the most part, I have been really floored by the support. There have been a few Morrissey fans not so amused by it but I expected as much. Honestly, I was really worried about the timing of the Nick Cave one since these were made before he lost his son and I didn’t want anybody to get the wrong idea. Fortunately most people get that this all came from a humorous place of love.

Old Manzig by Automne Zingg

Old Manzig by Automne Zingg

You do a lot of music and video art. What are your other projects? What are you working on right now that you’re most excited about?

lacey spacecake video stills

Lacey Spacecake Video Stills


Right now I have a one woman band called Lacey Spacecake where I write and record all the songs, play the instruments, sing, and make the videos.

I’m also in a band called Bat Fancy. Unfortunately none of the members live in the same state so we are temporarily on a hiatus but here is a spooooooky Halloween video I made for us.

I’m also doing the art for my friend’s documentary about The Cure’s fans. She’s been working on the thing for 16 years.

Other than that, I do a lot of comedy videos and have a day in music segment (From Day To Zingg) every Tuesday for my buddy Kurt’s WFMU show. It’s never scripted and I usually say a lot of nonsense ranging from accusing Meatloaf of the assassination of JFK to telling people that if you play Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” backwards, it’s actually Peter Cetera’s recipe for grits.

But you can find most of my art, musings, videos, words, and projects on my website.

What’s next? We hope you’ll draw more rock icons eating…
Definitely more zines and definitely more rockstars consuming things. Currently I’m working on an “Adult Activity Book” with things like “YO MAMMA JOKES WITH JARVIS COCKER” and “HANGOVER CURES WITH THE CURE.” I’m also doing an illustrated guide to these bizarre weather reports I used to write in LA. What else? I’m trying to get a public access show in Queens where I play the part of a sad bear that asks artists and musicians really existential questions. It’s called “I CAN’T BEAR THIS.” I’m still looking for the perfect bear costume. There are worse problems to have.

Depeche Mode eating a hoagie

Violator

(P.S. You can also watch an election video Automne made for Kickstarter right here! You too may find yourself supporting David Boowie and the Ghost Formerly Known as Prince on the 2016 ballot.)

Ultimate Bernie by Automne Zingg

Ultimate Bernie by Automne Zingg

Merry Krampus by Automne Zingg

Merry Krampus by Automne Zingg

Mama Tried creator Cecilia Granata on the cover of Vegan Italy

Cecilia Granata on the cover of Vegan Italy MagazineWe got word last month that Vegan Italy magazine would be featuring Cecilia Granata, the author and tattoo artist behind our recent cookbook, Mama Tried: Traditional Italian cooking for the Screwed, Crude, Vegan, and Tattooed. It turns out that she’s on the cover of their October 2016 issue! Cecilia sent us the cover this month, and a couple of the interior shots from the feature inside the magazine. All these spectacular photos were taken by Luca Boveri.

Since we can’t read the feature, she told us a bit about it:

Cecilia Granata wearing an Eat Like You Give a Damn apron and holding a rolling pinVegan Italy magazine is the main vegan paper publication in Italy. It usually focuses on one personality (chef, artist, activist, celebrity, etc.) of the Vegan world (not just Italian) and then adds more articles about veganism, recipes, etc. They interviewed me and asked some photos and decided to put me on the cover because apparently I make a good character. 🙂

Basically the asked me about my life (moving twice from Italy to the US, how did that happen). How, when and why I became vegan; what are the main differences between veganism in Italy and in the US, including a perspective on which approach will be more successful for the future. And also how my passion for tattoos was born and how/when did it cross paths with veganism. A little bit about my art, iconography, inspiration, references, things I get inspired by. And how from there I also became a writer, with the publication of Mama Tried and to talk about the book.

Then a little bit about activism and they also published 2 fall recipes from the book, of which they took photos. Plus pictures of my book, art and tattoos. And me. 🙂

Veganism in Italy is exploding. In the last few years an unbelievable amount of offerings have been added to the market in a quantity and quality never known before. Starting from finding plant-based milks and breakfast in many coffee places, to ice cream parlors, bakeries, un-cheese shops, restaurants, public schools, supermarkets, tv shows, tv satire, you name it. I think the tendency will only increase and I am the happiest. I love Italian food and Italian products, whenever I go to Italy I bring back entire suitcases of food.

cecilia granata holding up her mama tried vegan cookbookItalian vegan food making has definitely a “healthier” characteristic that is not always found in Vegan made in the USA.

The debate is opening up a lot too, many events and projects are starting up.”

Punk Rock Entrepreneur: An interview with Caroline Moore

Punk Rock Entrepreneur coverCaroline Moore came to us with a book that really hit home: Punk Rock Entrepreneur: Running a Business Without Losing Your Values. We’re thrilled with how the book turned out. Moore’s examples are drawn from her own life, other scrappy entrepreneurs including bands like Green Day. This is like the anti-startup guide. Instead of coming up with an idea and looking for funding, this book is about turning your craft and art—what you would do no matter what—into a viable business without the benefit of having much (or any) money.

You can find out more about Moore’s design, illustration, and photography on her website, and check out her sweet goods (some of them Punk Rock Entrepreneur-related) in her Etsy shop. Oh yeah, and we still have a bunch of signed and doodled copies of her book. Order soon and snag one of them!

1. What’s the origin story of Punk Rock Entrepreneur? Where’d the idea come from? How did you end up with Microcosm?
Depending on how far back you want to go, the origin story is an interview I did with a group that focuses on entrepreneurship for teens. They asked what made me want to start a business, and I didn’t have a great answer for them, so I spent some time thinking about it. The truth is, when I started out, I didn’t even really think of it as starting a business, in an official way. I was used to my punk friends touring, starting zines, making and selling art, and that’s what I did—starting my photography business was very unceremonious.

After I’d put some serious time and thought into it, I found that a lot of what I knew about starting and running a business was from that DIY scene. I had been volunteering for a few years with Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, and it seemed like the kind of thing that would go over really well with their crowd. So I pitched it to Jeff Finley and Joseph Hughes (Jeff founded the Fest, and Joseph was handling the speaker lineup that year), and they let me have a spot on their stage. So the idea got upgraded to a 30 minute… well, it was supposed to be 30 minutes, but closer to a 40 minute conference talk. One of my favorite comments that someone tweeted about that was something like “punk enough to get kicked off stage, professional enough not to knock down the podium on her way out.”

My process for writing conference talks is that I basically write an essay, exactly what I want to say, and then practice that and make an outline to actually use as a reference on stage. Which meant that I had everything all typed up, so I posted it to my blog after I got home for anyone that had missed the talk. I was still doing contract work for a design agency a few days a week then, and my boss there said “you should turn this into a book.” I knew I had a ton of material that I had to cut for time, so I started putting together proposals to send out to publishers. I had heard of Microcosm because I’d done some interior illustrations for Bobby Joe Ebola’s book, which they published. After meeting with Joe and Elly at a Dinner and Bikes event in Pittsburgh, and looking over the catalog, the book seemed like a really good fit both for the types of books that Microcosm puts out, and the way that they do business.

2. This is your first book (congrats!). What has surprised you about writing and publishing a book? Any advice for other first-time authors now that you’ve been around this block once?
Thanks! One of the first things that surprised me was the sheer volume of words that I needed to write. It seems like you have so much to say, but then you type everything up and it’s six pages. I had gotten used to writing for blogs, for twitter, for conferences, for things that are meant to be short form. You have to be really concise and get to your point. Which is still important in longer form books, no one wants to read you droning on belaboring a point, but you do have a lot more room to really flesh out a concept. I also say something in the book, “you can’t edit a blank page, but you can edit a bad one.” Staring at a blank sheet messes with you, so just start putting words down. Even if they’re terrible, stupid words, just start writing for the sake of having something that you can work with. We learned to write in chunks when I was in college, and that’s still how I do it. The introductions are the last thing that I write, I start in the middle.

3. In Punk Rock Entrepreneur you propose the counter-intuitive idea that not having a lot of money or resources can actually be the best thing for someone starting a business. Can you elaborate a little bit on this?
It’s certainly not the easiest way. Having a huge pile of money to throw at a project would make things much easier. But not having a ton of cash up front does make you think creatively about how to get your business off of the ground, and it makes you look at the money and resources you do have VERY critically. In particular, you’re very thoughtful about what you’re getting for spending that cash. A band with a trust fund might be able to get an RV to tour in, spend a lot of cash on hotel rooms, food, top of the line gear, clothes, you name it. But that stuff might not be helping them bring in any more money (or fans). They have a lot of money going out, but may not have any more money coming in than the band that’s touring in their car and sleeping on floors. Those folks are keeping their overhead low, so they get to keep the money they bring in.

4. What are you listening to or reading right now that inspires you?
I’m actually giving a talk in Louisville in October (at MidwestUX) about how routine input leads to routine output. I’m really big on interdisciplinary education, because I think the bigger your pool of experiences, the more connections you can potentially make to create interesting work. I’m actually working on condensing that entire chapter (“We Live Our Lives Another Way”) down to a 10 minute lightning talk. I don’t have a ton of dedicated reading time right now (I have a 15-month-old), so I’m reading a lot of psychology articles. Why people behave the way they do is really interesting to me from both a human perspective and a business one. I just discovered the joy of Instapaper to keep track of all the things I want to read.

As far as music, I’m a little all over the place. My husband and I just discovered Smoke or Fire’s The Speakeasy, which is great because they stopped being a band in 2004, which is a recurring theme when we find albums that we both like. I’ve had that in the car on loop lately. I just picked up Signals Midwest’s new one, At This Age. We did a joint book launch/record release show, and I don’t have enough nice words to say about those guys or the music they make. And the last show that we went to was Sikth, which is sometimes hard for me to listen to, because they’re super erratic. But they’re doing some really cool things that I don’t hear much elsewhere, so I find it really interesting even though sometimes it makes me agitated.

5. What’s next for you, in business, art, and life?
This is always a super busy time of year for me, for some reason October is always booked solid. We’re taking our kid on his first plane ride, to go to his dad’s work conference. We’ve already done a work conference each this year, and we both have another one coming up where we’ll be separated. So for this one, we’re going as a family to spend some time together, plus also the hotel is right next to Legoland. I have a few events coming up, Whiskey & Words in Pittsburgh, then Midwest UX in Louisville. I’ve got a wedding to shoot, and I’m setting up mini portrait sessions to benefit Children’s Hospital’s Free Care Fund. Definitely more speaking engagements coming up, and some more events where I can set up and talk to folks about the book.

Things tend to slow down in the winter, and I can get into my “someday” list. Throughout the year I’ll have ideas for art that I want to make, and it just goes into the giant someday pile for whatever time I carve out for personal projects. Sometimes I don’t write up the best description, though, and months later I don’t understand my own notes (like that episode of 30 Rock where Kenneth has a notebook that just says “bird internet.”) I’m also rebranding the photography site over the winter, Ryan Troy Ford agreed to work on a new logo for me, and I’m pretty excited to update that. It feels weird to hire someone to design anything for me, since my undergraduate degree is in design, and I’ve spent a lot of years working as a designer. But designing for yourself is so much harder than for clients, and fighting the urge to just tweak it for all eternity is difficult. Getting someone a little more removed from it is definitely going to be good for the project.

For the business, this is the first time I’ve very intentionally done it part time. Even when I had a full time job, I was still really treating the business as a full time endeavor (which was not great for my health, but that’s a whole other interview.) Being our son’s primary caregiver, I can’t also work full time. We decided I was going to stay home with him, instead of doing day care, so my hours are limited. It’s a good balance for us right now, and I’m happy with the direction it’s taking. But the rebrand is part of a bigger theme of refocusing what I’m putting out there, so that I’m really getting the right clients to work with during those limited hours. Another thing that comes up in the book is how important it is to be attentive to your goals, and to revisit those goals to see if that’s still what you want. I can’t just look at someone else’s business to see what they’re doing, I have to really consider what I want out of my own business, and whether my actions are getting me closer to that.

How Amica’s World won us over


Microcosm is the sort of place where we have an idea, the wilder the better, and immediately implement it. This leads to some big bellyflops, but our silliest, most outlandish ideas have often led to our best successes. Whether it’s books, business formulas, or how we manage our building or alphabetize the books our store, we tend to do things differently than most. The best way for us often looks deranged and physically impossible to others—like hauling furniture by bike, doing most of the work on our building ourselves, and publishing books that go against every piece of conventional publishing wisdom out there and still end up being our bestsellers. These things not only works for us, it’s the reason that we get to keep getting up in the morning to make books that matter to us and our readers.

So when Meadow Shadowhawk got in touch to tell us that she, her husband, and their son Washo share their small home and yard outside of Portland with a six foot tall livestock bird with dangerously fragile legs who requires constant attention, hogs the remote, and causes massive everyday trouble for the whole family, we got it. A giant, loving, pain-in-the-neck bird is a great metaphor for the choices we all make that baffle friends and strangers but that for us are essential and make life worth living.

Working on making Amica’s World, the book about this bird, a reality has been personally delightful, and also made us all the more aware of the value of this sort of story in the world. “Do not do this at home” is a major message of the book, but at the same time, it’s a parable about the absolute imperative of doing what you’re best at and pursuing your life’s passions and needs. For most of us, that’s not understanding and relating to birds in the profound way that Washo Shadowhawk does. But whatever it is for you, what are you waiting for?

Back Amica’s World on Kickstarter to help us get this book out into the world, and into your own hands. The rewards are pretty special (several of them involving Amica’s feathers!), so be sure to look through the list.

Our August Indie Bookstore Valentine: King’s Books in Tacoma

The giant mural on the wall of King's booksWe have long been fans of King’s Books in Tacoma, Washington. It’s a humongous store full of new and used books and it’s clear from the minute you walk in that it’s run by kindred spirits. I’m not going to say it’s curated, because that word implies a sort of holier-than-thou poshness that is absolutely not going on here. But like any good bookstore, the books are chosen by someone who knows what they like and cares what you’ll like. A huge bonus is that it’s in Tacoma, which is, as locals told us, the best-kept secret of the Pacific Northwest, and it really is a place we recommend visiting over Portland or Seattle. When you go there, be sure to visit King’s.

King’s owner sweet pea Flaherty answered these questions over email. He promised photos, but for now you’ll have to make due with this one I found on the Tacoma Ledger‘s website.

1. According to your website’s About page, “Originally founded by King Ludwig I as a gift to Lola Montez, King’s Books was painstakingly moved to Tacoma on April 1, 2000.” There are some major historical gaps here—do you mind filling them in a bit? What made the store proprietors choose Tacoma? Were they fleeing a scandal? What is their stance on the rational dress movement?

Right. So what had happened was, Lola Montez had an illegitimate daughter named Fanny Gilbert. Fanny was an entrepreneur who, in her early 30s, bought passage to Tacoma, shortly after its founding. She set up the leading brothel near the port, appropriately titled Fanny’s. The ensuing wealth was passed down until several times great-granddaughter Petunia Smirk brought the original bookstore over from Bavaria. I think that should clear any historical gaps.

At King’s Books, we are strongly opposed to the rational dress movement. Our clothing closest resembles that of Flo-Jo, while also mixing stripes and patterns, not to mention warm and cool colors. Plus corsets are required for all employees, including the cats.

2. What are your favorite books right now and why? What about your favorite Microcosm title?
My most recent favorite read is The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo. In modern Finland, women are raised as vapid commodities and all drugs are banned. The most easily smuggled drug is capsaisin, the component of chiles. It is a quirky, feminist, bizarre take on society.

I also love all the picture books coming out where you get to learn about little-known historical figures, like Miss Mary Reporting, The First Step, The William Hoy Story, and Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea, about one of the first female sports reporters, a school desegregation case from 1847, a deaf baseball player, and the woman who mapped the ocean floor respectively.

King’s Books does well with the biking titles, like Bikenomics and Our Bodies, Our Bikes. My most favorite title has to be Walking with Ramona. I haven’t done the tour yet, but I CANNOT WAIT! I might cry.

3. How did you get involved in bookselling? Can you share any hair-raising/funny stories?
I became a bookseller because I was always in bookstores. They are among my favorite places, so it was a natural transition. After my first bookselling convention, I knew I wanted to make it my life.

King’s Books has had a number of, um, colorful customers over the years, including a woman usually in a Marilyn wig who cut pictures of Gandalf out of books (as she thought he was God) and once bled profusely on our floor and a man who is possibly an Amish robot and/or a cannibal who has a number of interesting theories about the most random of topics.

4. What do you think the future holds for the book industry?
Independent bookstores are thriving. I think bookstores that are community centers will only increase their relevance. I love the close relationships bookstores have forged with independent publishers over the last decade. I am always excited to see the smart, innovative things independent bookstores across the country are doing.

Anything else I ought to be asking?
We have two store cats, both rescues, both named by the public. Atticus (Finch, obv) has been with us for a decade and is all black. Herbert (from Tacoma native Frank Herbert) has been with us since October and is a tuxedo cat. They are the welcomers of readers and the scourge of canines.

Visit King’s Books at 218 St Helens Ave in Tacoma, Washington every day from 11-7!