Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-21491-3
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For those who fear that the Internet/e-readers/whatever-form-of-technological-upheaval-is-coming has killed or will kill paper and ink, Sloan’s debut novel will come as good news. A denizen of the tech world and self-described “media inventor” (formerly he was part of the media partnerships team at Twitter), Sloan envisions a San Francisco where piracy and paper are equally useful, and massive data-visualization–processing abilities coexist with so-called “old knowledge.” Really old: as in one of the first typefaces, as in alchemy and the search for immortality. Google has replaced the Medici family as the major patron of art and knowledge, and Clay Jannon, downsized graphic designer and once-and-future nerd now working the night shift for bookstore owner Mr. Penumbra, finds that mysteries and codes are everywhere, not just in the fantasy books and games he loved as a kid. With help from his friends, Clay learns the bookstore’s idiosyncrasies, earns his employer’s trust, and uses media new, old, and old-old to crack a variety of codes. Like all questing heroes, Clay takes on more than he bargained for and learns more than he expected, not least about himself. His story is an old-fashioned tale likably reconceived for the digital age, with the happy message that ingenuity and friendship translate across centuries and data platforms. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-374-70883-2
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-250-03775-6
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-250-04701-4
Library Binding - 383 pages - 978-1-61173-609-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4272-3115-4
Ebook - 357 pages - 978-1-921961-38-0
Compact Disc - 7 pages - 978-1-4272-3374-5
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-4434-1578-1
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-986-6319-86-0
Ebook - 380 pages - 978-1-78239-120-3
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4434-1580-4
Hardcover - 343 pages - 978-4-488-01018-8
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