Olsson's: Event News

Olsson's is a locally Owned & Operated, Independent chain of six book and recorded music stores in the Washington, D.C. area, started by John Olsson in 1972. As Event Coordinator, Tony Ritchie handles the author readings at our stores. Each week he blogs about his experiences.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ground Zero!

It had to happen.
It had to.

Like any good book, there has to be an ending. --Okay, maybe the Good part is an exaggeration. We will just call it a story.

I am leaving my position as Event Coordinator with Olsson's. I will wait here a few seconds while you pick your collective jaws up off of the ground. . . You ready? Okay.

I have taken a position with a web marketing firm in Bethesda doing the same sort of things I am doing now except over there things will be a little different. Instead of juggling events for five different stores, I am going to juggle the projects that come in and make certain they go to the right designers and get completed before deadline. We will see how it goes.

I wanted to thank everyone who has read along as I typed my drivel over the last, however-many-months. I have had the chance to work with some of the best people in the industry and have made some great friends. What other job could I have hung out with famous authors, worked alongside great teams of publicists and publishers, made contacts into all the media and above all, been supported by the greatest team of booksellers around. A special thanks to the Olsson's Infantry, working out there on the front line, hosting the events, dealing with the people that bring 200 copies of the night's book that they purchased on Amazon and smiling the whole time. Thanks Everyone!

Okay, enough sentimental crap. There is an event!

Anyone remember that song by Helen Reddy, "I am woman. . "? A banner of the early feminist movement? Ever wonder what happened to her? You can ask her yourself when she is at the Old Town store on the 26th of April! I know it is Saturday and you might prefer to be out mowing grass or some other silly thing , but stop by Old Town, say hello to Andrew and Sarah and the rest of the hooligans there and take in a bit of Helen Reddy. Should be good times although she isn't going to be singing. Just talking.

Okay kids. It is a short one this week. Thank you all for reading, thanks for coming out to the events and if you are an industry person, thank you for letting me book the events. I am not sure if this is a complete goodbye. Elizabeth left years ago and she still writes. Who knows, you might just see me around next week talking about more events that I booked. I have stuff on the calendar up until July. I can talk all day about nothing . . . Okay, I am going.

Oh, if anyone is buying drinks, I will be at Dupont on Friday night for the Min Jin Lee reading. But only if you are buying.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008


First let me say to everyone that I am sorry I missed you last week. I had to go back to Idaho for a funeral and was traveling or sitting with family most days. There was enough time to check mail and to keep tabs on the day to day stuff, but blogging didn't make the cut. Sorry.

Well everyone, I have some news.

I know what you are probably thinking, "The Blog is called "Event News" this goof should be bringing us news every time he writes something but more often than not, he just blabs about something that has made him angry during the week. What kind of news is that? "

Okay, I will give you that one. I do rant a little too much about things that irritate me. This time, I am bringing you some actual news, two pieces actually.

First up, the rocking event for next week.

Friday night, April 18th sees the return of a big friend to Olsson's and most of our staff. It was over a year ago that I first received an invitation to attend an author dinner with a debut author who was going to be in the area. Never one to pass up a free meal, I accepted and cleared my schedule for the night of the dinner. I had never heard of the lady who penned an ambitious novel with a funny name, which is why I was so surprised when I I got to the restaurant to fine a very beautiful woman who knew my name and had brought me a gift. A ball cap from the Yankees that I still have and wear. You see, Min is from New York and brought gifts to all the booksellers that came to her dinner. Chocolates from one of her favorite shops in Manhattan or a ball cap from the Yankees, also she said her mother would kill her if she didn't have a gift for everyone.

I was excited about dinner, who would have thought I would be getting gifts on top of it. We went to New Heights and I have no idea what I ate (odd for me) but we ended up staying very late and pouring everyone into cabs but not before we all made a new friend in Min.

A few days later, I received a letter at the office. It was a thank you note from Min. Not just a note, but she remembered things that were said in our conversations that I imagine no one else ever would. She remembered that my first job was painting semi-trucks and I hardly remember that job.

I ran into Min at BEA that year as well. She was pushing the book and signing copies for the screaming masses. She looked a little frightened up there with the Beetle-esque fans swirling about her. She was worried about how well she had done and was remarking to her handlers that she wasn't sure if she did alright. . .She ran out of books which is better than Nelson Demile had done --That is just what I heard. It is unsubstantiated-- and that is nothing to shake a stick at. She bought me and ice cream to counter the heat of the Javitz and we promised to catch up later. We did catch up the next day and had lunch with her Brother in Law at a great little pub. After lunch, when everyone else went back to wrap up their commitments at BEA, Min and I skived off and although completely stuffed from lunch, we went for cupcakes and coffee at another of her favorite spots. We chatted about crazy families over the most beautiful cupcakes ever and drank coffee while outside the cafe, a warm summer rain dropped the temperature a couple of degrees.

When I decided to start up a fictitious book club, Min was one of the first authors I asked to play along. When she needed help coming up with a playlist for her characters, I helped her with some songs. Last time she was touring about with her hardcover, she read at P&P with a host of Olsson-ites in the crowd. After her talk, we al went to Indique and ordered everything on the menu, staying out way past our bedtimes and trying all sorts of crazy cocktails. This time around, I am VERY happy to announce that She will be reading with us. Not just a reading, Min will be interviewed by our very own Andrew Getman (Longtime Olsson's guy, formerly of the Airport, now running Old Town and pinch hitting at Courthouse) I will be on hand to introduce the event and let Andrew run the show from there.

If you missed her book on the first run, if you thought it looked good, but didn't want to spring for the hardcover, If you liked the book and missed the chance to hear her talk last time she was in town, or if you just enjoy seeing a very beautiful girl answer questions about her work, please come out to Dupont on Friday night. Bring your date, enjoy the show and see me, Andrew and Min Jin Lee (just back from a stint in Japan. She is huge in Japan) as she discusses her book, Free Food for Millionaires, now out in paperback and widely available for all off you to purchase.

As for the other news. . . Ah, I will tell you next week.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Antideluvian Blog

I sort of get the feeling we must be mildly righteous. If I were a bit more religious, I might actually think that we dodged the flood-bullet for a reason. Mostly I think it is because we are four floors away from ground zero. Well, maybe Karma helped us out a little too. Thanks Karma. My ancient Gateway thanks you too. --Next time, could you maybe drip a little bit of water on it?

Right. I asked a friend what I should write about this week and her first reply was "What has made you angry this week?" I get the feeling that I am getting slightly predictable. To keep you all on your toes and to show that I have more than one trick up my sleeve, I am going to talk about a plain old event we are having.

The only question is what one. . .?

I could tell you about the Event at Dupont on the 31st. It is a double header with two, fine authors. Elizabeth Crane and Paul Fattaruso will be in town to talk about their respective books. Elizabeth's is called "You Must be This Happy to Enter" and Paul's is called "Bicycle". I have read Elizabeth's book and enjoyed it very much, and I looked at the pictures in Paul's book, they were very nice. I sent my copies of the books to Ama Wertz in the Dupont Store so she could read up on them. She looks like a responsible young lady, but she left the books in her bag on the metro and they are no more. ~Poof~ Good thing the publisher printed more than the ones I had. If you are a fan of the Bike, and you are looking to pedal on down to the Dupont on Monday night, stop in and hear the words of two tres cool, Punk Planet authors.

If Bikes and Surreal Fiction are not exactly your cuppa. . .

Maybe you are interested in Arlen Specter. Or should I say, Senator Specter? That's right. I said it. We are happy to host Senator Specter for his book, "Never Give in" about his battle with Cancer.

See? We aren't all about the dense, high-brow literature here, we love a good human interest story. In fact, we like it so much that we have Sen. Specter in our Lansburgh store on Thursday, April 3rd. If you are a fan, you should come out and show your support. I know he would like to see you and I know the store staff would like to see you too. When you don't come to the events they host, they get a little sad. Pay up your Karma-tab and get out to a bookstore event in your area. I you don't like the two I have mentioned, look back at the event listing and find one you do like. You might even dodge a flood.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Deluge

You ever have one of those weeks where you know you should have just stayed in bed? Please allow me tell you about mine.

Last week, I had an appointment on Friday to meet with a lovely young lady named Rebecca. She was putting together a conference at a tiny hotel here in DC and wanted to sell books for a couple of the authors she had booked. The tiny hotel is the Hilton where president Reagan was shot and is about the size of a small town. the authors she wanted to sell books for were Madeline Albright -- that would be former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright for those of you with deficient recall -- and a young lady named Jenna.

For those of you that didn't know, this is Sec. Albright's third book. Along with being one of the most powerful women in the world, she is an accomplished author who is very generous with her time.

This is Jenna's first book. Before writing it, she worked as an elementary teacher in DC and before that, She was just Barbara's twin sister. You may also remember her for being George and Laura's daughter. Yes, she is THAT Jenna.

It was a fairly big deal and after meeting with Rebecca and dropping off some of the books at the Hotel, I came back to the office to collect more and make another trip. Three trips in total to get all the books to the Monday morning event. I think my little car was as tired as I was after moving them all.

So that is all the back story.

Monday morning I rolled into work to pick up the last few books and my offsite kit. I thought I would park close to the office door because I had books to bring out and crossing our street is a challenge when you have the ability to sprint, pulling a trailer of books makes you a prime target for speeding-crosswalk-ignorers -- Small Aside. If there are any cops who would love to pad their numbers and make a tidy fortune for Silver Spring, come ticket people that burn through the signed crosswalk on Fairview and Spring. Millions to be made and pedestrians lives to be saved -- but there was no place to park. In fact, there were 5 times the normal amount of cars packed around the building.

So I parked like normal and walked in the front door to find puddles. A flood. Wee! Good thing is was just on this floor and not down in the basement where I work. Down the damp stairs, through the puddles to my very wet office. Stupid gravity! Why do you have to make water run downhill? So my office took a bit of a shower and the elevator is out of commission until all it's parts can be replaced/repaired. No big deal, how often do I need the elevator? Except for TODAY! when I have to lug forty pound boxes of books up three flights of stairs.

The event went very well, a two day sell-a-thon with lots of nice people saying loads of nice things about the two lovely and talented booksellers that were there. Okay, I made that last part up. After it was all over, I loaded all the unsold copies into my tiny car and we limped back to Silver Spring. I was not looking forward to the reloading of the books into the office sans elevator, but our genius staff here came up with the great idea of loading them in through the window! Done in no time at all with a minimum of smashed fingers and accidental deaths from falling down cement stairs while carrying forty pounds of books. Whew!

I would like to say that Tuesday ended on that bright note, but it didn't. I then had to run back to Dupont to collect books and make my way a the National Geographic event at 7:30. That one was going fine until someone watching the film passed out and was not responding. Ambulances were called, panic gripped the audience, it looked like all hell was about to break loose... when the staff at Nat Geo stepped in and sorted out the problem ~snap~ like that. You know, there is something to be said for having great people around.

Speaking of great people, Michael Farquhar has written another of his wonderful treasuries. This one is all about American heroes that might have escaped the notice of historians. You may have never heard of them, but they are paramount to American History and the shaping of our country. Most of the events he talks about happened right here in DC and I bet you have no idea about them. For example; Most of you could tell me who shot President Lincoln, right? Can you tell me the name of the woman who was tried and hanged for the crime along with the men who planned the execution? She lived right here in Maryland. She was the first woman ever executed by the United States Government.

I wont tell you who she was, I will let you pick up the book and find out about her and all the other "Foolishly Forgotten Americans" the Michael is talking about. If you are a fan of American history or if you just want to be the smartest guy at the bar for Monday night trivia, you should stop by Lansburgh on the 26th and listen. You might find out about some of the more interesting people that helped make your country what it is today.

If you were wondering what I will be doing, I will be sitting in my office with my three industrial fans blowing and the two dehumidifiers going deaf and trying to find all the things that got soaked in the flood. I will check in with you all in forty days. the water should be gone by then.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

English 'Merican

I am still fired up about this Boeing thing. This morning (Tuesday again) it was announced that Boeing was filing a formal complaint over the loss of the $40 billion contract. Really? Come on, Boeing. You lost. Northrop won. Go build something else. Boeing is complaining that if it loses this contract, it will have to discontinue production on the commercial version of the 767. That is fine with me, because I have flown on many 767's and they are not that great.

Okay, I could go on and on again about this, but I am going to give it a pass and talk about some cool events coming up. I might also talk about more nonsensical things that occur to me as we go along.

Book CoverThe Event! Thursday! Lansburgh! Come down to hear Alison Larkin. Alison is going to be talking about her new book "The English American". How would she know anything about being an American? Alison is English, she was adopted by a lovely English family and grew up in England with tea and biscuits, beans on toast, cricket matches and pints of lager. Imagine her surprise when she found out 'Merican. She doesn't sound very American. Here is her Bio from Simon Says:

Alison Larkin was adopted at birth in Washington, D.C., by British parents and raised in England and Africa. After graduation from the University of London and the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, she became a regular on the British stage with appearances on Broadway, a ubiquitous voice-over artist, and a successful stand-up comic. Her internationally acclaimed one-woman show, The English American, was a highlight of the London Comedy Festival.

Alison is a very funny lady and I know you will all want to be there to hear what she has to say. Her story is oddly enough based around an English woman that finds out, late in life, that she was adopted from a family in America. Not just any old America, the Deep South. This is the true heart of America. In my head --Having not read the book yet-- there would be no greater punishment. To go from the capital of the world to the capital of deep-fried-peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches. A bit like hell, if you asked me, but no one did.

I, for one, am looking forward to hearing Alison's talk. I am planning on being there for it so I can present her with a treat. Something I have discovered that makes the mornings a little more palatable here in the US of A. With any luck, Alison will enjoy it as much as I do and we can have a tiny bonding moment after I hear her hilarious tale of finding out in her 20's that she is in fact 'southern'. I hope to see you all there. 7pm, Lansburgh, March 20th.

(Happy Birthday to my brother on the 14th and to my Mom on the 20th)
Staff Photo

Tony Ritchie is settling into the job of Events Cordinator. He has been working with authors and books for the last three years, two in London at Waterstone's and one here in the U.S. He reads lots of new fiction and is partial to debut novels. He is an occasional vegetarian and a non-practising Buddhist who watches documentaries, enjoys long walks on the beach and is training for the Olympics.

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