Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Do you love books? Did you ever play Dungeons and Dragons or watch Star Wars? Would you like to read about code breaking, a quest, or Google? Then welcome to the three-story-tall independent bookstore in San Francisco where Clay Jannon gets a job as the night clerk. The recession ended his job as web designer at NewBagel after only a year. Mr. Penumbra asks Clay three questions when he applies for the job. One is to describe a book he loves (the made-up Dragon-Song Chronicles by Clark Moffat) and another is if he can climb the ladders up three stories to retrieve books. The bookstore has only a small selection of books for sale. Most of the books are written in code, and are checked out by regular customers. Clay tries to market the bookstore, reads the log describing all the customers, and decides to map the entire bookstore on his laptop. Kat Potente from Google visits the bookstore, and helps Clay and his roommate scan one of the log books to try and solve the mystery that is the bookstore. Clay’s quest involves friends old and new and takes him to a museum for knitting, the Google campus, a storehouse for unwanted museum artifacts, and a secret reading room in a New York City cave, supported by sales of an ancient type font known as Gerritszoon. Many book lovers are trying to crack the code of one of the first book printers, Manutius. Google staff help, also, but the answer is most unexpected. A real pleasure for fans of both old knowledge and new technology. The author’s website has more about Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.