A very curious thing happens when the weather starts to change in Vermont. The first hint of chillier weather brings out the oddest clothing in my customers. We’ve had a delightful summer of gorgeous weather, with very little rain. Too little rain, according to gardeners, but perfect for the bookstore and seasonal visitors. During the summer folks all seem to dress the same way. There are no massive ranges in clothing, but the below 60 degree day really creates a range of clothes that are worthy of mentioning. Continue reading
All Vermont schools, both public and private, are in full swing. Families are adjusting to the new schedule of classes, sports, and homework, and this affects the bookstore. There is a rhythm to the school year that is very different than the summer, and it’s one that often saddens me. Gone are the long days of summer reading. They are replaced by the workload of school. It’s been three weeks since school began here, and already I’m noticing that all my customers who started high school have been notably absent from the store. Continue reading
I’m not being strictly scientific here but given my 25 years of bookselling, and not having missed more than one or two New England regional trade shows over the years, I figure that I am reporting on my 23rd NEIBA Fall Conference. You may well ask if I find myself haunted by the ghosts of trade shows past while doing the things we attendees do, such as walking the exhibit floor, attending Rep Picks lunches, publisher dinners, and educational sessions. It’s a good question, and I promise to answer it later on. Talk about narrative suspense, eh!
We are often stymied by publishing decisions: ski stories that release in May, paperback versions of the previous novel in a series released a month after the new hardcover comes out (instead of simultaneously), nonfiction that screams “Perfect Father’s Day gift!” saddled with a late-June release date.
Our current brow-wrinkler is the pub date of the new James Patterson-Chris Tebbetts Middle School series title, Dog’s Best Friend. It’s scheduled to hit bookstores on October 24, two weeks after the new Middle School movie hits movie theaters on October 7.
Since we are lucky enough to have the book’s co-author Chris Tebbetts in the neighborhood, we have a very cool event lined up: after the 4 p.m. movie on Saturday, October 8, Chris will field questions from the movie crowd about any difference between the books and the movie, what it’s like to co-write books with James Patterson, and life as the co-author of a #1 New York Times bestselling series. Then we’ll have a signing table outside the screening room so Chris can meet young readers and autograph books.
We’ll be selling all of their co-written Middle School titles, but won’t have any copies of the brand-new one on hand to sell. This feels like a huge missed opportunity! Kids will be so jazzed up after the movie, they’ll want the books. Longtime fans who have read all of the books in the series will wonder why they can’t get the new one at this special event.
Why is the delay a good idea?
Is it connected to the impounded dock issue that has held up shipments for many publishers?
Is the printer’s schedule so tight that the books cannot be printed and shipped any sooner?
If those are not the reasons, I can’t think of a motivation for losing out on two weeks’ worth of immediate-gratification buying after kids see the movie.
One of our staffers conjectured that perhaps the publisher was concerned that sales of the new title might cut in to sales of the movie tie-in version, but that doesn’t make sense, since the kids who have already read the series are waiting for the new title; they aren’t the customers for the movie tie-in of book one.
This feels like one of those areas where the priorities of publishers are shrouded in mystery. Publishers – you don’t need to address this book in particular, but can you shed any light on what kinds of issues affect release-date decisions? Inquiring booksellers wish to know!
The happiest sight in a bookstore is the book hug, where a customer is so overcome by excitement or nostalgia over the book in their hands that they hug it to their chest. We’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the book hug countless times over the past 20 years. It’s a gesture most often used by children, but grownups have been known to embrace their books, too. Today, I saw a new version of the book hug: the soul tap. It was an adult man’s gesture, but you can see a recreation of it here from our staffer, Emily: Continue reading
When independent bookstore buyers venture beyond the fields we know, beyond the familiar world of trade books and out into the strange domain of educational publishers, we find that things are not only unfamiliar but at times unwholesome. I venture there often and am here to report on a particularly thorny problem: the need to acquire books for schools at terms significantly worse than what the schools could acquire them for directly. I also aim to offer a solution. In order to help cast this murky issue into a clear light, I have called upon none other than Socrates himself to assist me.
Socrates: Why have you summoned me, Kenny?
Kenny: Suppose you were traveling with a dog and had to stay at a hotel that didn’t allow pets. That is the situation independent bookstore buyers often find themselves in when dealing with school purchase orders.
Socrates: How so?
Kenny: Some hotels are pet friendly. Others are not. The same is true of educational publishers and independent booksellers.
All bookstore owners think they live amongst readers. How can we not? People come to our stores to buy books. But a new article from Quartz magazine, using census data and NEA statistics, breaks down which states are populated by readers, and which are not. I was saddened to see that the criterion for being a reader is someone who has read at least one book in the past year for pleasure. One book! I can’t imagine having read only one book last year. So, where does your state land on this list? Continue reading
One of the best things about owning a children’s bookstore is getting to know kids. This might sound obvious, but there is real joy in becoming friends with kids. Often we have the privilege of being part of a child’s life from birth on and that is a truly amazing thing. Watching a children grow from babyhood to full-fledged readers, to high school and college students and beyond is one of the unspoken joys of bookstore life. As we celebrate our 20th year in November, I am struck by how many children I’ve seen grow into fine young adults. Continue reading
Recently, a teacher sent me a link to an article recommending books to help children understand some of the struggles their peers of color – and those friends’ ancestors – have faced in our country. The teacher hadn’t read most of the books on the list and wondered if we at the Flying Pig would recommend those titles. It is a good, if short, list; I’m familiar with almost all of the books and those I’ve read, I’ve liked. But I didn’t want to think of her classroom collection stopping there.
Kenny: Thank you for taking some time for us.
Autumn: It’s my pleasure, Kenny. Though I must ask you to sign this document please.
Kenny: Sure. Let’s see. Hmmn. What is this?
I, __________________________ interviewer of Seasons, in the interests of the sanctity and safety of said Seasons do hereby agree to respect the principal of Genre Singularity without exception.