‘Robot Goes to the Big City, Y’all!’

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- February 16th, 2018

As a buyer, I meet with sales reps, go to conferences, read reviews, and research small presses to make sure I’m staying informed about what’s new and interesting. And then I read as much as I can. Booksellers don’t have quite as many opportunities to review the lists, but it’s just as important for them to know what’s coming out and to find new favorites to recommend. Our adult buyers heavily utilize Edelweiss for targeted ARC distribution, encouraging all staff members to indicate books they are anticipating so that we (or our attentive sales reps) can connect them. I have a few kids’ staffers who take advantage of that system, particularly for YA releases, but we also take a slightly different approach. Since our kid specialists kind of function as a team within a team, we reserve an hour for a standing meeting every other week to discuss upcoming programming, plan ahead, and talk books. I typically see between 5-8 booksellers, depending on the week.

Hachette’s Jan Coco Day presents books to the staff.

Often we use our meetings to power through prep work, like making valentines to put up for some of our favorite authors or cutting gold stars for a unicorn display. But the meat of the meeting is generally devoted to book presentations. A lot of those presentations are mine, which obviously I love to do, but it’s great when a pinch hitter can stop by in the form of an all-star sales rep! Until recently, Jan Coco Day was one of BookPeople’s own, but now she’s one of our four (yes, four) sales reps who used to come to work with us every day. Now working for Hachette, she stopped by our meeting today to give the staff a look at some of her favorite children’s picks and talk about what she thinks they might love. Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Favorites

Kenny Brechner -- February 15th, 2018

Valentine’s Day, as the love-conscious among you know, which I hope is everyone, arrived yesterday. To show the holiday itself a mark of affection I thought I would share some Valentine’s Day store favorites in three categories. Which three categories? Well, I didn’t want to append them directly onto the opening sentence, or the whole first paragraph would have been one sentence. Now that I’ve deftly avoided that trap I will reveal that the three categories are favorite Valentine’s Day card, favorite new Valentine’s Day book, and favorite old classic Valentine’s Day book.

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Roses Are Read

Cynthia Compton -- February 14th, 2018

Happy St. Valentine’s Day, friends and colleagues! I hope this day finds you either 1) curled up with a book that you love OR 2) doing work that you love, with people you love, for people that you care about. And if at the end of that day, you get to go home to share a meal with someone special, or just treat yourself to dinner out and order dessert first, even better.

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Working Hard and Finding Joy

Leslie Hawkins -- February 12th, 2018

Recently I had the pleasure of taking staff and customer favorite Nick Bruel to two local schools. Not only is Nick the talented author and illustrator of the bestselling Bad Kitty chapter books, among many other great titles, but he is a grade A first-class presenter as well. Being an engaging and effective presenter to an audience of kids is its own skill set and not one that automatically goes hand-in-hand with being able to write or illustrate for kids. Nick is one of those few who is the complete package. Continue reading

Time for a Change

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- February 9th, 2018

One of the nice things about a new year in a bookstore is that, after the climactic holiday season, it really does feel like turning over a new leaf and starting again. And sometimes it creates a nice opportunity to take a new look at something that hasn’t been shaken up in a while.

Ready to party with BookKids event coordinator Eugenia Vela.

One of the defining characteristics of Austin in recent years has been change. Whatever metric you use, whichever tracking you look at, Austin’s growth over the last decade has been explosive and continues pretty much unabated. There are many obvious upsides to that dynamic growth—a growing community of readers for one—but one big downside is traffic, and our store sits pretty much at the center of it all. Austin has such a strong book culture that there’s not really a question, when booking someone as popular as Robin Preiss Glasser, that we can get a crowd. The real question is how to time our events to make it easiest on families who want to attend.

For years we’ve generally stuck to an early evening, post-work timeframe for weekday kids’ events, but traffic can sometimes present an issue. For such a young crowd this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out an earlier time to bring people in after school but before the evening rush. There were reasons an afternoon time hadn’t worked as well in the past, but Austin dynamics have changed a lot since then. What better way to test it out anew than with a 4PM Fancy Nancy tea party with Robin Preiss Glasser? This afternoon we pulled out our best finery and got ready to party. Special outfits? Check! Cookies and snacks? Check! Fancy mustaches? Check! Continue reading

The Amazon Band and the DDG Corallaband™

Kenny Brechner -- February 8th, 2018

The potential social, economic and political utility of Amazon’s newly patented wristbands are obvious. As you may have heard, “Amazon’s proposed technology would emit ultrasonic sound pulses and radio transmissions to track where an employee’s hands were in relation to inventory bins, and provide “haptic feedback” to steer the worker toward the correct bin.” The author of the article suggests that “What may sound like dystopian fiction could become a reality for Amazon warehouse workers around the world.”  Why term it dystopian, though?

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What Do You Do with a Bookshop?

Cynthia Compton -- February 7th, 2018

This week we celebrate the publication of the final title in a favorite picture book trilogy: Kobi Yamada’s lovely What Do You Do with a Chance? (Compendium), beautifully illustrated by Mae Besom, whose wistful pencil and watercolor illustrations move from black and white to brilliant watercolor panels as a brave little child tackles the challenges of possibilities, obstacles and uncertainty while facing the future. The two earlier books, What Do You Do with an Idea? (2014) and What Do You Do with a Problem? (2016) are consistent sellers in our store, and we had a list of preorders waiting for this Tuesday’s release.

Personally, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this book, and as I slipped special order forms inside book jackets on Monday night so that staff could make reminder phone calls to customers, I paged through a display copy on the counter, reflecting on each spread and the short sentences they contain like they were written just to me.

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Countdown to the Big Awards, and a Contest

Elizabeth Bluemle -- February 6th, 2018

In less than a week, 18 of the most important awards for children’s and teen’s literature will be announced live via video feed from Denver, at 8 am on Monday, February 12. Tens of thousands of viewers will be riveted as the American Library Association reveals the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Printz, Sibert, Stonewall, Geisel, Wilder, and many other awards. This is our field’s Oscars ceremony, our Olympics, and while the auditorium won’t contain as much glitter (literally speaking) as the Academy Awards or perhaps quite as much muscle tone as the long track, the literary shimmer and tone will be spectacular.

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“And Over There Are All the Kids’ Books (Ack!)”

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- February 2nd, 2018

So sad to miss you, Wi13!

Unlike my ShelfTalker colleagues who were blogging away from Memphis last week, I had to miss Winter Institute this year. I had planned to go, but had an unexpected conflict arise. I always hate to miss the show because of the education and idea starters I always receive there. One of the sessions I had wanted to attend was the ABC Idea Exchange about training general booksellers to hand-sell children’s books, because this is actually something that’s been on my mind lately. One of the most useful things about the ABA education sessions is that they sometimes come along at just the right time to help nudge a simmering brainstorm into action. But even if you can’t go to the show, simply getting some notes from a colleague can help focus your own thoughts and push an idea forward.

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