Here's the book description that got me to the event:
How a "Johnny Appleseed" from the Heartland spread American books across three continents.
In Spreading the Word, we meet publishers as different as Giangiacomo Feltrinelli and Random House's Bennett Cerf; we visit booksellers as incomparable as Lillian Friedman at Brentano's on Fifth Avenue and Theo Chukuku at his dirt floor bookshop in rural Nigeris; we come across celebrities as diverse as Paul Newman and Mary McCarthy, or as dissimilar as Ray Bradbury and Burl Ives.
And we ride along in the cars or on the trains and airplanes that take the author on an odyssey across Europe and Africa as he strives to bring American books, American thought, and American culture to foreign readers.
The book is a memoir of the years Karl Zimmer spent in the bookselling business, which took him from the streets of Manhattan to cities across Europe and Africa. He was in on the ground floor when Ian Ballantine founded Ballantine Books, the first to offer simultaneous publication of hardcover and paperback editions, in 1952. Hearing Karl speak about his life and the early history of paperbacks was fascinating, and I can only hope the book lives up to my expectations. The owner of the bookstore says it is "charming and delightful." I trust her opinion, so I'm betting I will enjoy it.
Karl Zimmer also writes fiction. He is currently working on a novel and has previously published a thriller titled Deadly Cargo under the name Erik Carlsen. He's planning a new edition of both Deadly Cargo (to correct the poor editing his book received...apparently, there are a lot of typos) and Spreading the Word (the original publisher went out of business). I haven't been able to find an online vendor of Spreading the Word, but if you contact Big Hat Books & Arts directly, you should be able to purchase a copy.
Overall, this was a sweet, intimate event that introduced me to a new local author and helped land two more books on my TBR pile.