There is a powerful new suitor in the high stakes quest to be chosen by Amazon as the host city of its second headquarters. Major American urban centers such as New York, Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Chicago have lined up ravenously to offer Amazon lavish tax breaks and many other substantial inducements. Nonetheless, for all their tumid supplication of Amazon these cities were still surprised to learn that they have been joined in the pursuit of their prize by a very formidable challenger, the planet Saturn.
Titan, the proposed home of Amazon’s second headquarters
How has the entrance of an entire planet into the contest changed the stakes and the playing field? Is Saturn, despite its great size and considerable resources, really a serious option for Amazon, given some of the possible logistical burdens? To find out more I spoke with Saturn’s economic ambassador to Amazon, Don Smilk, who was gracious enough to answer our questions.
Kenny: Hi Don, are you a native of Saturn or are you an earth native hired to represent Amazon?
Don: I am a Saturn native.
We are experiencing a baby boomlet in central Indiana, borne out (hah!) by both the sudden length of the birth announcements in the local paper and the increase in sales activity in our board book section. If I were more of a detective, I’d probably investigate the increase in local “activity” about nine months ago… which was during a spell warmer than usual January temps, but full of thunderstorms, heavy rain, and lots of evenings just perfect to stay home. Our NFL Colts franchise quarterback (and great reader: check out andrewluckbookclub.com) underwent shoulder surgery that month, and our NBA Pacers maintained a rather uninspiring 8th place in the Eastern Conference Division, just enough to predict that we’d probably make the playoffs, but we’d probably have to play Cleveland early. All in all, it was a good month to stay home and work on personal relationships.
I love asking customers — especially kids — to guess how many books we have in our store. “One hundred?” the littlest ones ask, looking around at the full shelves. “One thousand?” revises an older sibling. “One million?” asks the wiseacre class clown. They are all amazed when we tell them there are between 25,000 and 30,000 books in our small store. Yesterday, a group of second-graders from the local school came to the Flying Pig for a publishing party with parents and teachers to celebrate the books they had written, illustrated, and hand-bound. As surprised as they were to hear how many books were on the shelves around them, they were just as surprised to hear this fact: that every single book in the store, including theirs, including the ones written by their very favorite authors, began in exactly the same way: as a blank page.
Last weekend Spellbound had a special guest at story time: Jaime Kim, illustrator of one of the hottest (and, as it happens, best) picture books of the year. A nearly wordless picture book with story and concept by Kate DiCamillo, La, La, La: A Story of Hope is brought to life with Jaime’s breathtaking illustrations that draw on her own feelings of loneliness and connection from childhood. Continue reading
After months of prep, the day of the Texas Teen Book Festival finally arrived. And it was awesome!
Keynote speaker Marie Lu and her adoring fans.
Kicking the day off with a conversation between headliner Marie Lu and Rooster Teeth’s Ashley Jenkins and wrapping it up with an awesome closing note from superstar Jason Reynolds, the day was a blast from start to finish. Outside our slate of powerhouse author panels, we spent a lot of time crafting a robust slate of more interactive events designed to give readers more of a voice in the festival throughout the day.
One thing I need to get done today is go through the picture book frontlist of Harper’s Winter ’18 titles. I have a sales call for it on Friday. We are a rural store and rep appointments are mostly done by phone, so this means reading though a sales kit of F&Gs beforehand. I thought it would be interesting to make a list of what I was hoping to find in the box and then see how what I found matched up. Here’s the list.
- At least one book, hopefully two, that I absolutely love and can handsell to the nines. Ideally it would be an easy handsell, whose interplay of text and illustration is gestalt and intrinsically engaging. A true store favorite like A House in the Woods.
- Around five strong books which fill evergreen needs at the store, great new baby gifts, sibling anxieties, birthday books, books that have a moose in them, solid new entries by established authors and whatnot.
- Some really strong nonfiction titles that have both school library and in store appeal.
- Something totally unexpected that I learned from and will be fun to show customers.
- Finally, recognizing that most of the books will fall into the category of being not so bad, and being mindful of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s observation that “there is nothing quite so bad as something which is not so bad,” I hope that one of the books will be spectacularly ill considered, a la Bronto Eats Meat, just for the edifying window it provides into the industry and humanity in general, and the appreciation for quality titles which we should never take for granted. All right then, off to the task at hand.
If you give a bookseller a suitcase*, she’s going to ask for three days off to go to a regional association fall show.
When you pay her registration and buy the drink tickets, she’ll probably ask you for seats at the breakfast, too, because that’s where the children and YA authors speak. When that’s finished, she plans to get autographs, so that the books can be donated to the local charity auctions that the store supports, and raise lots of money for worthwhile causes back home.
Most emails that come in to the bookstore are very business-y, so it’s practically a birthday present when one arrives that is simply for fun, especially when it’s a celebration of books and favorite book characters. On Monday, the bright surprise in our inbox came from a customer, Julie H., who sent the following (and gave us permission to post it):
Flying Pig Bookstore,
We are big fans of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, including their book Triangle (bought at The Flying Pig). My daughter came up with the idea of dressing up as Triangle for Halloween. We made the costume…and he came to life. We tried to store him safely on the porch, but didn’t have the heart to leave him there. We have been bringing him on our adventures and taking photos. Here are a some of our favorites. We thought you might get a kick out of them.
Mice (and a few rats) have played outsized roles in the world of children’s literature over the years. From Stuart Little to Angelina Ballerina to Martin the Warrior, these small heroes and heroines have earned a special place in readers’ hearts. But what is it about these resourceful little rodents that draws us in? This month an exhibit in BookPeople’s cafe by Tomoko Bason, our Art Director, explores that very question. Here’s a look at Tomoko’s series, in her own words.
LITERARY MICE By Tomoko Bason
The series “Literary Mice” is based on my love of books about mice (rodents in general, really), from my childhood to now. For every illustration on the wall, I also have a recommendation for another title I’ve read and loved.
It is true that Scheherazade only related 1000 tales during her 1001 Arabian Nights. She had exhausted her reservoir of tales at that point but let us suppose she needed to buy a bit more time. Given the number of fine tales written under the potent influence of The Arabian Nights over the centuries it seems likely that she would have been able to extend the number of nights with the works of her favorite successors. There are many of those to choose among, particularly since Arabian Nights-themed books are coming into greater currency in Young Adult fiction of late, Renée Ahdieh’s excellent The Wrath and the Dawn and its sequels for example.
All right then. If Scheherazade stood in need of three more tales, and I had the honor of her asking for my three top choices in this genre, I would pick William Beckford’s Vathek, Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus books,* and S.A. Charkraborty’s trilogy opener, City of Brass, coming out in November.