A few weeks ago I wrote about planning for a third attempt at wooing educators en masse to the bookstore for a special event. I’m happy to report that we hit an all-time high attendance, had great sales, and started some promising new relationships with teachers. Continue reading
BookPeople has offered free literacy booktalks for years. Topher Bradfield, our Literary Camps Director, goes to more than 80 schools a year to talk up great books and inspire kids with the love of reading. Where he goes, whimsy, magic, a little bit of mayhem, and an irrepressible love of reading are sure to follow!
But the job of reaching every kid in Austin is too big for one man alone. Plus, Topher’s sweet spot and true love is middle grade. So we recently brought a new face onto our booktalking team to focus on middle schools and high schools. Shannon Brewer came to us through her longterm involvement as a volunteer coordinator at the Texas Teen Book Festival, and has recently taken over as BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps Liaison and School Events Coordinator. As a reader she lives and breathes YA, something that shines through in everything she does. She has been the perfect example of what can happen when you match the right voice to the right crowd.
Because she’s been such a hit on the Austin YA scene, I asked her to give us all a little insight about what she’s learned on the job — as well as some of the books kids are responding to right now. Continue reading
On the same principle that leads us to select the freshest catch of the day off a seafood menu, it is time for a little live reporting from the 2017 NEIBA fall conference that began on Monday. I started the show off with the The Publisher Pick Nic, NEIBA’s rep speed dating marathon. The first rep to approach the table was my stellar Norton rep Suzette Cianco. Suzette had a terrible fall from a horse recently and it was wonderful to see her back in the saddle.
Another person who was very much in high form was my pal Vicky Titcomb of Titcomb’s Book Shop, seen below leaping on some irregularities in a free freight offer that was being presented. Seeing Vicky in action was like witnessing Diogenes lashing out after finally spotting an honest man and then discovering suddenly that he was mistaken. The rep assured us that the matter would be attended to straightway!
Booksellers and librarians across the country are planning, constructing, straightening, and promoting their displays of challenged books in preparation for the “celebration” of Banned Books Week beginning just a few days from now. If you’re like THIS bookseller, and are still stacking the apple-picking books and hanging autumn leaves from the light fixtures with fishing line, you are madly, frantically clearing space, pulling backlist titles from the shelves, and looking for ideas beyond the tired “WARNING” police tape and construction paper flames. A very clever librarian used the heading “BOOKS THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO READ”, and I think that’s the theme we’re borrowing this year.
Today’s post is about pretty much the *opposite* of horror, but I must begin by sending thanks to all of the people who answered last week’s post, “Oh, the Horror!,” with recommendations of favorite recent spooky-to-terrifying books (and memories of some long-ago favorites, as well). So many great titles! Thank you.
And now I will be quick because I’m at the New England Booksellers Association trade show in Providence, Rhode Island, it’s already 11 pm, and tomorrow starts early! But what I wanted to say is that a regional bookselling trade show is just about the most book-loving environment you can imagine for grown-ups. Filled with booksellers, publishers, editors, sales reps, publicists, authors, illustrators, and many other bookish folks, every single room you find yourself in radiates a passion for books.
Often a really wonderfully written and original book defies easy classification, encompassing more than one category or genre. The best-case scenario, as far as I’m concerned, would be having enough copies of every title we carry so that we could shelve it in multiple sections. We usually don’t have that many in stock, though, unless it’s a hot new release or related to an upcoming event. So hard choices have to be made.
‘Tis the season to build the BookPeople holiday catalog book list. The catalog comes out in November and is BookPeople’s biggest production. Featuring book essays by booksellers on each spread (paired with themed photos), the catalog offers a fun window into who we are.
With only three spreads of our catalog dedicated to kids’ books (one for ages 0-7, one for ages 7-12, and one for ages 12+), I have to be strategic about my selections. There are always some shoo-ins, but I also carve out space to spotlight 2017 titles that aren’t necessarily as obvious or that haven’t already been highlighted through in-store events or other promotions.
When autumn approaches it is time to return the favor, and so I sought her out for my annual interview to get some insight into which books published this Fall will be most worthy of our attention. I found her in high spirits and unusually preoccupied.
Kenny: Hi there, Autumn.
Autumn: Ah, I was wondering when you would turn up. Hail and well met and all that. Now mind yourself and don’t get in the way of our training.
Kenny: Training? Who is training and for what?
Autumn: Why, for the seasonal primacy of course!
Kenny: Seasonal primacy?
I visited a local preschool this week to share some books during their reading time. We offer visits to pretty much anyone who asks, from schools to nursing homes to service organizations, sometimes bringing a guest reader (police and firefighters are especially popular) or a book rack and a few dozen titles for a mini book fair, or to present state reading award nominees (can I “booktalk 14 titles in 30 minutes, to 8 middle school classes in a row?”… yes, yes I can) and sometimes just to share new releases that we’re excited about.
Regular visits outside the store are not only nice breaks in the retail schedule, but they keep relationships with local organizations active and offer the opportunity to meet additional school staff and administrators. While this particular preschool is one that I have visited many times before, the invitation for this week was from a new teacher, and as the school has grown by one class per age level, this was also a new group of kids to meet. Packing my tote with 4 picture books, a puppet or two, and a bottle of water, I confidently set out to greet my new friends, and reminded the store staff that I’d be back in about an hour.
Requests for thriller and horror titles have been creeping steadily upward over the past year, and I realize that I’m not up on the best of the recent scariest kids’ books anymore. It’s been several years since horror had a strong fan base among our children and teen readers, but it seems to be coming back. Continue reading