The Shelf Life


UBS Press – New Titles!

posted on February 4, 2014 at 2:54 am by Blog Archive

The University Book Store Press galloped into 2014 thanks to some incredible new titles from our authors. Many of these new books were works long in progress. It’s exciting to finally see them on the shelf, even more exciting when they leave in the hands of a new owner. Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the latest & greatest from Homer (our trusty Espresso Book Machine) and the UBS Press!




Brad Craft, our senior Used Book Buyer, has been doodling daily. Incredible doodles. Hilarious doodles. On the same scraps of paper for jotting down customer names & phone numbers, he’s drawn portraits, caricaturesSerialDoodler, one-off jokes, brilliant running gags and more, all beautifully rendered in pencil. We (his coworkers) certainly hoped he’d kept the drawings, but we could only dream that he would, one day, publish them in a book. Earlier this month, that day came. Ladies in gentleman, collected in a single volume for the first time, we are proud to present The Serial Doodler. And not only that, Brad will be reading & signing at the store Feb. 25 at 7pm.


Here’s a taste, from the introduction (and a drawing from the Book Store Birds section below): “I’m not completely ignorant of the social niceties. I’ve never doodled at a funeral, for example. It’s true, I’m seldom without a pencil and scratch-paper. Truth be told, I haven’t the kind of memory that can be made to work without reference to notes, but, yes, making little pencil drawings is also something more than a habit of mine. Not a day goes by, as they say.”





PlaysThatPlayThe newest collection of plays from Martin Ingerson is now available, and we heartily invite you to come to the store and take a look. To truly get an idea about this collection, you really need to read the whole thing. But you can start with a bit about the playwright himself: As an actor he first appeared as the Big Bad Wolf – at age 6. As a teenage pianist he concertized throughout Northern California with a string trio. As a magician-illusionist he once lost an audience to a grizzly bear in Yosemite National Park. As a playwright he studied poetry at the University of Washington. His plays have been produced in New York, San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Sacramento, and Seattle. He founded-directed The Over Players, the first successful nightclub theatre in San Francisco. He now is Secretary of Chrysanthemum Literary Society and works at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.


ALSO NEW: Roscoe, Ergonomics of the AbsurdSpecial Delivery: A Memoir of an Improbably Love Affair and more to come! Stay tuned, and contact Michael at with any questions about UBS Press and the Espresso Book Machine.


All Our Discontents

posted on January 18, 2014 at 12:50 am by Brad Craft

“All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

— Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

Here’s a very brief story of a rescue.

Our own Nick is, among a host of other things, the host of The Seattle Gay and Lesbian Book Club.  The Club meets every Wednesday, and reads a new or classic title by a GLBTQ author every month.  Nick picks the books.  I make helpful suggestions.  (The current title under discussion is Alysia Abbott’s Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, her late father having been the good, gay poet and novelist, Steve Abbott.  Director Sofia Coppola is said to be working on a screenplay.)

Nick came by to see me the other day.  He needed a new title for the Club to read next month.  Various suggestions were bandied about over breakfast, as is our all-but weekly habit.  Time again for a classic, we thought.  Had he considered Ronald Firbank?


For any that don’t know, Firbank (1886 – 1926) was an English novelist, playwright and aesthete, and among the supreme practitioners of camp.  If you have to ask just what that might mean, you must trust me when I tell you that you shouldn’t believe anything the late, lamented and profoundly unfunny Susan Sontag had to say on the subject, and nor should you probably try to read Ronald Firbank.

It’s just here that the discontent comes into it.  For decades, most American readers will have found his work first in two classic anthologies of his novels from New Directions


Five Novels, with the familiar lady giving the reader the eye on the cover and


3 More Novels, with a delightful cover design from Andy Warhol.

To say we were distressed to learn that neither is now available as anything other than “Lightening Print” books — i.e. books printed on-demand and requiring prepayment — would be an understatement.  Quel dommage, darlings!

We live in debased and degenerate times, my dears, and this time I do not mean that in a good way.

Were this an isolated instance of something wanted and wonderful being unexpectedly either out-of-print now or all-but, I think my friend and I would have simply shaken our bald ol’ heads and wondered wearily at the changing times, the ways of the world and the fading of fame, etc.  Just the day before, however, I’d thought of making a proper display of all the available editions of Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock Holmes.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  (The long-anticipated third season of Sherlock premieres this Sunday on PBS.)  How hard should it be to make a display of Sherlock Holmes books?  Well, “not on,” as the Brits say.  Turns out, there are shockingly few books to choose from, even had we had all the editions, paperback or hardcover, in print, let alone on our shelves.

Now, it’s one thing to see exquisite minor classics like Firbank evaporating from the shelves of American bookstores and yes, even from the inventories of their traditional publishers.  Quite another to find so little evidence of the world’s greatest detective to be had, no?


I could go on.

But then, like a light in the darkness, what should our tired old eyes espy but the bookstore’s EBM; the Espresso Book Machine, the vehicle of our salvation, the engine of recreation, the very means to our end!


And so to our happy ending.  A few minutes research, a note scribbled to the good and talented operators of the mighty “Homer,” (as we named it long ago,) and hey presto!


So, now, thankfully, I give you the February selection of the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Book Club, Ronald Firbank’s VaingloryQuel plaisir!  Western civilization, independent bookselling, good taste and Ronal Firbank redeemed!  (Copies, attractively bound, at a reasonable price, available soon, for Club members and any other discerning readers so inclined.)

Un triomphe, mes chéris.

Check it out.