Author Archives: Josie Leavitt

Happy Independence Day

Josie Leavitt -- July 3rd, 2015

The Fourth of July is a great holiday that celebrates our nation’s independence. I can’t think of a better weekend to shop at an indie bookstore. Small and large bricks and mortar stores represent everything that is great about our country: individuality, eclectic collections of books, and a deep commitment to community. Indies have great books for summer reading for kids and adults alike.  Continue reading

A Book to Watch

Josie Leavitt -- June 30th, 2015

As a die-hard mystery fan, I knew about Soho Press, but I have to confess, their teen imprint, Soho Teen, had flown a little under my radar.  Luckily for me, when I was packing up galleys to take home for the anticipated rainy weekend, I grabbed The Girl with the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller. I had no idea about the book when I started reading, choosing not to read the blurb on the back of the book, but just diving in. I actually enjoy reading like this with no preconceived notion of what to expect. I started reading and was immediately hooked.  Continue reading

A Memo to the Credit Department

Josie Leavitt -- June 29th, 2015

Part of doing business in any field is dealing with your bills. Those pesky bills come every month and pastdueevery publisher has a different of reminding you about them. I would like to offer some tips for all the credit departments and bookstores on how to work better together and get paid faster. Continue reading

Amazon’s Latest Idea

Josie Leavitt -- June 23rd, 2015

I read with increasing fury the news of Amazon’s new royalty payment for authors who self-publish books for the Kindle. The Telegraph reported this new plan this morning. Rather than paying a royalty when the book is purchased like a traditionally published book, self published authors are now going to paid by the number of pages of the book the customer actually reads. This is a frightening way to value books and a very scary way to observe readers’ habits. So, if someone downloads a book but only reads 10 pages, then the author gets that percentage of his or her royalty.  Continue reading

Strangest Question, Ever

Josie Leavitt -- June 22nd, 2015

All bookstore staffers get asked a lot of questions every day. They range from simple to complicated. Often we are asked if we carry certain books. These are usually straightforward questions about where a book might be in the store. Occasionally, we get asked questions that just stop us in our tracks, and leave us scratching our heads to wonder what’s happening at a customer’s house. I know everyone has a hobby or two, and there is the expectation that bookstores should reflect all of them. I have learned after 19 years of owning a bookstore that there are some hobbies we just don’t even think about. Sure, I have knitting books, cookbooks, books on how to build treehouses, gardening, even stamp collecting, but I found out last week I have a gap in the collection.

I was working with Laura when a man and his teenaged daughter came up to the counter. The father looked at me and asked quite seriously, “Do you have any books on how to clean a skull?” Continue reading

The Joy of Galleys

Josie Leavitt -- June 15th, 2015

I am just now getting to unpacking the box of galleys I mailed myself from Book Expo. Most of these galleys, some signed, are for friends. The sheer plethora of available galleys at the trade show really feels like a mini-shopping extravaganza with other people in mind. Yesterday I gave out the last of the gift galleys to two friends and a friend’s kid. After almost 20 years in business, it’s easy to forget that galleys are special and very, very fun to have.  Continue reading

“They Took My Reading Away”

Josie Leavitt -- June 10th, 2015

Working in a small village means I run into customers all the time when I’m doing my own errands. Yesterday I was at the drugstore picking up some much needed allergy relief, and two of my favorite young customers were also shopping. Manny is nine years old and is a fixture at the bookstore with BBbookhis younger sister, Daisy. Manny is a voracious reader of all things Hardy Boys. He started reading the series months ago and is now on book 50. He comes in weekly and orders two more books. We now have the entire series in stock, just for him. I’m already plotting for what to suggest for him to read when he finishes the series. Continue reading

They Didn’t Need Any Help

Josie Leavitt -- June 8th, 2015

We have a saying at the bookstore when summing up the retail day, “We worked hard for no money.” We sing this out like the Donna Summer tune we’ve borrowed it from. Oftentimes there are days where we feel like we offer help to everyone and show them books and they just don’t buy anything. Book talking, whether to folks intent of buying or just curious to learn more about books, takes just as much energy and focus. Sundays are usually the “I’m just browsing” crowd, so we’re used to that. But every bookseller has a fantasy of folks not needing a ton of help, and still buying heaps of books.  Well, this day was yesterday. Continue reading

Tips for the End of School

Josie Leavitt -- June 5th, 2015

sunSomething happens to people, parents, teachers and kids this time of year: the frenzy of the end of school winds people up in a blur of assemblies, graduations, cupcake parties, and getting teacher gifts. The slow slouch towards summer vacation sees a flurry of activity for most bookstores. This is a wonderful and slightly exasperating time. Here are some helpful things to make the the last few of school a little easier for your local bookstore. Continue reading

Author’s Stories: Best Heard Over a Meal

Josie Leavitt -- May 28th, 2015

I walked into the Javits Center this morning in time for the adult author breakfast. The room was full and I had missed the crush of people usually waiting to get in. Mercifully, there were seats. Elizabeth and I had paid for the continental breakfast with fruit. We were told straight away by one of our funny tablemates that there was one strawberry and she ate it. Half a stale bagel later, I realized that I had had far too many cups of good coffee, which is actually a good way to start the day on the trade show floor. The breakfasts are always a window into how these writers came to become authors, and there journey is often unexpected, full of surprises and touching. The speakers were Lee Child, Diana Nyad, and Brandon Stanton.

The breakfast was hosted by Kunal Nayyar, an actor from The Big Bang Theory. I do not watch this show at all, but after he was done speaking I was certain I would order his book, My Accent Is Real and Other Things I Haven’t Told You, for the store. He was engaging and very funny about being an Indian in America.  His path to becoming an author was somewhat fraught as was his path to becoming an actor on the hit show. Lee Child was up next and he was also humorous. I loved hearing about how he became an author. He got fired from the job he’d had for 18 years and bought himself a pad of paper, a pencil and an eraser. The next thing he knew, he had finished the first of his 20 Jack Reacher mysteries. I still can’t believe he wrote a bestselling book with a pencil! And it was his first book!

Diana Nyad followed and she spoke  of her swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys that is the basis of her book that’s coming out in the fall, Find a Way. A wonderful storyteller, she roamed the stage and told the incredible story of her upbringing. She spoke about her Greek father showing her the word nyad in the dictionary when she was five, and it meant water nymph, will remain as one of my favorite BEA moments. When she turned 60 she was inspired by the Mary Oliver quote, “What are you going to with this wild and precious life?” Then she decided to try again to make that distance swim again. Part motivational speaker, part comedic storyteller, she was absolutely riveting.

Brandon Stanton, author of the wildly popular Humans of New York series, was so honest and engaging. He said Diana spoke with him backstage before the breakfast and said, “Being nervous shows respect for the audience.” He then told the audience, “I have so much respect for you.” His journey to the bestseller list was one of risk and following his passion. Like Lee Child, he too, had been fired from his job and decided to take photos everyday. Slowly, he got over his fear of talking to strangers and began asking questions of his subjects. He asked deeply personal questions aiming at getting folks to really open up. His talent for photography and for knowing what to ask made his blog grow slowly from hundreds of follows to over a million. When he said that he sobbed in the car for two hours when he found out he’d made the New York Times bestseller list, there was such an openness to him that many folks teared up.

The beauty of these meals is getting to know authors in a very personal way. They choose to share part of their lives with us and for that we are all enriched.