Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Taschen Warehouse Sale

We art book lovers in Weller World are just beside ourselves with glee at having been asked to host a Taschen warehouse sale. Last month our Taschen sales rep, the marvelous and lovely Sarah Boyd, called me with a tantalizing offer: Join a group of select independent booksellers to do what has never been done before -- hold a Taschen Warehouse sale. Previous sales were held only at the Taschen stores in New York City and Los Angeles. Well of course we said, "Yes!"

At the end of last week 500 bargain priced Taschen books landed on our sale tables. They range from travel guides for Paris, Barcelona, Berlin and London to a nice range of architecture books including Green Architecture and Architecture in the United States to Andy Summers' collection of Police tour photographs taken in the early 1980's to the fabulous Movies of the 20s and Early Cinema and beyond. I'm talking books about Bunuel, Polanski, girly magazines, and China. Prices range from $6.99 to $19.99. It's a wonderful ecclectic selection from one of the best art book publishers out there. The catch is, the books are only here for a limited time. Come in by May 5th and you'll be delighted. Look for the Taschen warehouse sale books after that and you'll be disappointed because we will have shipped them all back.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Blog Written as Old SLC Bookstore Announces Historic Move

This is my first blog post. I've been meaning to blog thing for months now. A coalition of younger booksellers convinced me i must. But who reads this stuff? Aren't we all too busy? So i drew myself an outline of all the fascinating things i want to write. But other tasks always pushed blogging aside and i have always striven to put a wall between my work and my home. It takes effort since Catherine, my wife, and i operate the bookstore together. But tonight i am writing at home, when i want to be in bed. This night is second in surreality only to the evening of February 27th, when the scale of my judgment tipped and Cat and decided that we would be moving our old giant bookstore.

And since i know no better, i am writing in a word doc until someone shows me again how to post. That's also the reason why what was largely written last month, is only being posted today.

For my first blog, i had wanted to describe my strenuous relationship with language to you, as way of explanation, or excuse. But considering what other stuff has been happening, that will have to wait.

I am writing this only hours after delivering the press release announcing the immanent relocation of our 80 year old family-owned bookstore, Sam Weller's Books, also known as Zion Bookstore.

Late this afternoon after about two weeks of intensive planning, we announced that we have begun a search for a new location. Our store occupies 37,000 square feet. The public accesses 20,000. The other 17,000 is used for work space and storage, much storage. Some of it is well used. Since 1961 we have grown within the bounds of the David Keith Building, built on Salt Lake City's Main Street in 1902. Since my parents, Sam and Lila Weller, moved in here i think we have tripled in size with small expansions being nabbed when opportunity and necessity coincided. Our last expansion was in about 1996. When i think of what that cost and the last 13 years i wish i had invested in computers.

Catherine's and my decision to relocate this giant old bookstore did not come easily nor as quickly as it may seem. We have lived bookselling for many years. Like most booksellers, we love books. We are people shaped by books and certain of their importance to sane and civil society, and their relevance to the mind and one's sense of being. I have worked in books since i was 10 but when asked i start the ticker at the age of sixteen, so let's say i have been a mostly cognizant member of the trade since the late 1970's. Before computers altered our lives, i read Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and understood that change's pace continues to increase and that things are going to get faster and more fractured. I read Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media and knew that changes in technologies had unpredictable but definite effects on not only society but the workings of our minds and the physiology of our bodies. We see differently than our ancestors. We taste differently. We think differently.

So i am not really surprised to now be facing the prospect of moving the best of this giant old bookstore into a yet unknown location, in a manner derived to no small degree from my dreams. I am excited by the mere idea of putting our substantial experience to the task of creating a new kind of bookstore. I am overflowing with ideas and the grounding knowledge that only some can work. Oh but a lot of work precedes. I have moved from despondency to idiot glee.

Our press release went out at about 5:45 last night. Between then and 8:00, i gave four interviews and have two more coming. I saw it covered on television tonight and the sentiments caused me to briefly question our decision despite the years of analysis and consideration. But though i feel a certain affinity for Don Quixote, i cannot tilt further against the windmills of time. I have gone from dread to excitement.

We recognize that the market for books is shrinking. We are also certain that there are parts of the book trade that will endure. I'll write more about that some other time. Right now i am spinning darkness into light.

I am too tired to go on. The date is 12 March 2009. It is the day we announced the movement of an icon and one of the last remnants of an era i will miss.

I will awaken tomorrow, face more inquires and bargain hunters. Face the giant task of steering a massive boat into a tight harbor. Resist making too many plans until our new home is determined. Brace myself to greet my friends.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Salt Lake City Loves Mary Roach!

Last night we spent the evening with the fabulous Mary Roach author of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. Co-sponsored by Sam Weller's Bookstore and the City Library, we were excited to see a standing room only crowd!

Mary dazzled the audience with her spot-on humor, interesting anecdotes and supremely curious factoids that emerged out of her research on the science of sex. If one felt squeamish about the canon of sexualized words, Mary had a way of using these terms so scientifically, that squeamishness turned into delight and really, delight was what the audience felt at the end of the night.

If you missed Mary's reading last night, we have signed copies of Bonk, as well as signed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Please come down and visit us at Sam Weller's Bookstore, 254 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Extreme Makeover: Book Club Edition

I've decided that queereads needs a makeover. As it stands, queereads focusses on lgbt specific literature. I'd like to expand our horizons. The word "queer" can mean so many things and I want to branch out into some literature that isn't specifically lgbt. I see it as a new exiting evolution of the club and I hope you will too.

Join us for our next discussion on Wednesday, May 20th at 6:30pm where we will be talking about Audre Lorde's classic "Zami: A New Spelling of My Name".

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An 80 year old bookstore is an ANALOGUE island

There are too many things to talk about right now. There are too many things that haven't been discussed on our blog yet. Our 80 year history, the exciting possibilities of the big move, this old space and how we've used it in so many ways to create a fruitful, fluid, dynamic place to experience the written word and art. In curating shows for our gallery on the mezzanine, in creating displays for the front window and throughout the store, we have used both the physical relics of our history and the intangible presence of it to spin something new. Shari Zollinger and I have pursued artists for many of our past exhibitions and challenged them to respond to this place or a certain idea, but artists in the community have also come to us with their own projects. In all cases, this place has carried some magnetic force or gravitational pull for creative people. Of course, when we find the new perfect location, we will continue with this exploration. I just want to address this building and give a tribute to the things we've been cultivating here for the last few years. Forward thinking, beginning with retrospection.
That said, our ANALOGUE island exhibition has been the most experimental of the art shows we have put on here. We brought in sound-based projects, a performance art piece, and works that the viewers could actively engage with. The opening reception was truly a consideration of "the analogue in sound, vision, and human gesture." In looking over the photos of the opening, folks are moving, interacting with art and each other. The whole store was integrated in a sonic way with the sounds created by people activating Trent Alvey's sculptures and Mathieu Ruhlmann's sound installation. People on the street were drawn in by the gestures happening in the front window between Michael Handley and Brandon Garcia. Henry Jones's ongoing site-specific project, Tales on Tape, surprised the viewer in the midst of our fiction section. The recording booth truly embodies an "analogue island" concept, as it stands there a plexi-glass enclosure/display with two tape decks inside -one to play back, and one to record your own story. ANALOGUE island runs through May 8th, so come down and check it out! For more images of the show, please go to our flickr album. There you will also find sets of our past exhibitions and events.
Read more about Tales on Tape in this interview, or go:
To download Mathieu Ruhlmann's sound piece, go here or to learn more about his impressive body of work, visit
We are a non-traditional gallery exhibiting work in all media by emerging and established artists. For more information on our future exhibitions, or directions on how to submit your work or show proposals, please email me at

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Sam Weller's Bookstore and Slug Magazine celebrated the year anniversary of the Hardboiled Book Club this month! We kicked off things this time last year, with Jess Walter's The Zero (a satire about the aftermath of 9/11). We have covered books by Paul Auster, George Saunders, Douglas Coupland and so many more. When I think back to the mission statement (check it out on facebook, type in Hardboiled (one word) and you can read it) about this club I think we have stayed true to it. In a nutshell the mission was/is : to build on community and engage in spirited discussion (last meeting we even had spirited beverages!). We are so grateful to have been blessed with inspiring smart thoughtful members, who know each other only from the bookclub. Which could be one of the keys to our shared success.

A year ago when I thought about doing a bookclub, hosting/moderating/bullshitting, I had no idea what an incredible experience it would be. We have 3 Chris's in the group, all equally thoughtful, the ladies don't come regularly, which is good or bad, could go either way. I think it's important for a bookclub to be enjoyable for the members. I look at it like we're all shareholders in a collective stock ( in this case--shared experience ) and I don't want to see our shared stock plummet, nor do I think it will.

This month we are reading Steven Millhauser's Dangerous Laughter. Not only will this book kick your ass, but you will thank Millhauser for doing so when you're done with it. The title story is actually more of a cartoon, it's called Opening Cartoon: Cat & Mouse. Think of it as a very elegant episode of Itchy and Scratchy, transcribed by a wizard from a far off land.

Well, in summation, we hope to keep building on community and keep engaging courageous readers. Thanks to everyone who is a part of this.