Half Price Books looks around for a new home; Roddy Doyle, gloves off, comes to Austin

Half Price Books has declined an offer by its landlord to buy the building at 3110 Guadalupe and is scouting locations on that avenue, as well as on Lamar and Burnet Road, in the event that the store faces a forced move, according to store staff members and corporate representatives in Dallas. "We're dealing with several different landlords here, because there is a family trust that owns the building and two different owners of the parking lot areas," Executive Vice-President Kathy Doyle Thomas said as we went to press. "It was not a viable option for us to purchase the building, because, one, they're asking way too much, and, two, the parking lot wouldn't be part of the deal." Thomas said that the Guadalupe store building lease is "up in a matter of a few months" and that the current owners are not interested in signing a long-term lease in case they are able to sell the space. "I want people to know that we are not going out of business in that area," Thomas added. "We've been around forever [in the Guadalupe location]; we love it, we love the community, and the community loves us. We want to stay somewhere in Central Austin. If we move the store, we plan to expand the store. ... This is a glitch. We've had great relationships with all of our landlords, but whoever buys the building might not want a retail space. They might want to level it and build a skyscraper. Or a restaurant." More on this as it develops... Coming at the crest of the controversy regarding his recent comments in New York City about James Joyce's Ulysses and Finnegans Wake (on Joyce's birthday, no less) – "Ulysses could have done with a good editor. ... You know, people are always putting Ulysses in the Top 10 books ever written, but I doubt that any of those people were really moved by it. ... I only read three pages of Finnegans Wake and it was a tragic waste of time" – is Roddy Doyle's Friday, Feb. 27, 7:30pm, appearance at the Katherine Anne Porter House in Kyle as part of Texas State University's reading series. As we wrote a while back, the author of The Commitments and The Van is not to be missed... The night before, tonight, Thursday, Feb. 26, 7pm, in the Avaya Auditorium of the ACES Building (24th & Speedway), Scott Blackwood and Tracy K. Smith will read from their fiction and poetry, respectively, as part of the Zero-to-Sixty reading series. Highly recommended. I, in fact, will make every effort to attend after my softball game. For more information, see www.en.utexas. edu/interests/creativewriting... BookPeople's British Invasion week begins on Monday, March 1, 7pm, with Ian Rankin (A Question of Blood); Jasper Fforde (The Well of Lost Plots: A Thursday Next Novel) is next on Wednesday, March 3, 7pm; and Danny Wallace (Join Me) shows up on Thursday, March 4, same time... The temporary Carver Branch located in the two portable buildings at Kealing Middle School will close on March 22, as the transmission poles carrying the branch's voice and data will be removed from the construction path for the Carver Museum and Cultural Center Expansion at Angelina and 11th. The renovated branch library, which was already one of the best in the city, is expected to open in October... Finally, congratulations to Edward Nawotka, the new programs and communications manager for the Texas Book Festival. Nawotka, previously the editor of Publishers Weekly Daily for Booksellers, will work closely with new TBF director, Mary Herman, who said that he'll "bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm to our ranks. We will benefit greatly from his relationships with authors, publishers, media, and many of our other key constituents."

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Kimberley Jones, March 28, 2008

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Carver Museum and Cultural Center Expansion, Kealing Middle School, Carver Branch Library, Tracy K. Smith, Scott Blackwood, ACES Building, Katherine Anne Porter House, Roddy Doyle, Half-Price Books, Danny Wallace, Ian Rankin, Jasper Pforde, Edward Nawotka, Texas Book Festival, Mary Herman

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