Fall Books Readers Will Be Buzzing About

Embattled booksellers like Cathy Langer are ecstatic about the impending arrival of The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's first novel since The Da Vinci Code. Langer tells NPR what her customers will be buzzing about this fall at the Tattered Cover in Denver.

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GUY RAZ, host:

Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

It's been a tough year for the publishing industry. According to the Association of American Publishers, sales were down nearly 18 percent in the first half of the year. But this fall, heavyweight writers like Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood and John Irving are fighting back with new novels, and that's good news for folks like Cathy Langer. Cathy, how good is it for you?

Ms. CATHY LANGER (Lead Buyer, Tattered Cover): Oh, it's wonderful. We are so excited about this fall. The publishers and the authors are pulling out all the stops.

RAZ: Cathy is the lead buyer for the famed Tattered Cover book stores in Denver, Colorado, and she's in the studio at member station KCFR. Welcome to the show.

Ms. LANGER: Oh, thanks for having me. This is great.

RAZ: So what do you think your customers are going to be reading this fall?

Ms. LANGER: Well, certainly they'll be reading the big books that we're all looking forward to, the new Dan Brown, which is his novel that's the first one out for many years since "Da Vinci Code." That will bring customers into the store. Once they're here, they will have just an amazing selection to choose from, and we're really looking forward to piling the books up in their arms.

RAZ: So that's the book that's going to draw them into the store.

Ms. LANGER: That's the book that's going to draw them into the store, and that's one that no one knows really what it's about, but you know, it doesn't matter because it's Dan Brown and he's so popular.

RAZ: I mean, this is going to be the biggest thing since "Harry Potter," right?

Ms. LANGER: Yeah, for adults, I think it is. I think you're exactly right, and that's wonderful.

RAZ: So people come in for Dan Brown. But of course, you want to sort of steer them in other directions, as well. What kind of books should people, you know, anticipate?

Ms. LANGER: Well, we're going to steer them towards some of the really wonderful fiction that's coming out. Lorrie Moore, who hasn't published a novel in 11 years, has one coming out called "A Gate at the Stairs." She's a really wonderful, funny, literary novelist.

And Audrey Niffenegger, who you'll recall wrote "The Time Traveler's Wife," has a new one coming out called "Her Fearful Symmetry" that is a ghost story that takes place at Highgate Cemetery in London, and it is really wonderful. It's very different and very compelling.

RAZ: Cathy, let me ask you about the current economic situation. Are you concerned that people will rush out to buy books this fall?

Ms. LANGER: You know, it's been slow. The last year has been really tough, but I've seen a trend starting about a month ago with some of the new novels that have come out and also some of the non-fiction that I think people are ready to actually buy books again. And that's why we're so excited because boy, are there books to buy.

RAZ: I mean, Dan Brown is like a one-man stimulus package.

Ms. LANGER: Well, he is, he is. And I think the publishers sort of rallied around that and decided, let's just get it all out. If people are going to be in the stores, let's have everything there for them.

RAZ: Bottom line now, if you were going to pick one book, you know, just one to buy this fall, which would it be? Tough, huh? Put you on the spot there.

Ms. LANGER: That is such a hard question. But I'm going to pick one that may surprise some people, maybe not. It's called "Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall." It's five short stories by the writer Kazuo Ishiguro, who you'll probably know for his novel "Remains of the Day." He is such a beautiful writer. And he just has poetry and lyricism in his language and stories. And I really believe this one will rise up and be wonderful.

RAZ: That's Cathy Langer. She's a lead buyer for the Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver, Colorado.

Cathy Langer, thanks so much.

Ms. LANGER: Oh, it's been wonderful. Thanks so much for having me.

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