I’m afraid I ran out of time to write a very thoughtful blog this week. Between catching up from being at Children’s Institute and prepping for our annual overnight inventory on Sunday night, things got a little tight. So I thought this week I would just give you all a little window into some of the prep that goes into putting on an operation like inventory at a store like ours.
Store 2 books counted and marked “Do not scan.”
Now that we have a bookfair warehouse and a separate POS system, that inventory needed to be taken into account differently this year. We obviously return a lot from the season, but we do keep books that we absolutely know we’ll need again come September (why pay shipping on books we’re just going to re-order?). So earlier this week, Ellen Greene and Rachel McGinnis from our bookfair team worked to get those books counted and reconciled. Meanwhile, teams of inventory managers and buyers and receivers at the store have been working hard to make sure everything we have in the store is clearly sorted so that our scanning team knows what needs to be scanned and what does not. We technically have a separate “store” in our point of sale system just for large festivals and conferences, so those books need to be kept separate and not scanned with the rest. Of course, they do need to be counted, so I personally spent much of the week counting, sorting, and tracking down those discrepancies. Booksellers have been diligently alphabetizing, and our inventory managers for each section have amped up their regular cycle counts—scanning sections and running discrepancies in advance of inventory to make our job just a little easier. On Sunday, one of our longtime booksellers will also pull out and alphabetize into baskets some kids sections that can’t really be alphabetized normally, like early readers, coloring books, 8x8s, etc. (really books that are shelved in waterfalls and spinners). We also do a turn around the section and pull out any display copies that aren’t in inventory—books we put out to show off the insides of easily damaged books that normally live in shrink wrap. And then we’re as ready as we’ll ever be! Continue reading
There is no question that many of us share the pleasure that Frog and Toad took in tales of terror. “Frog and Toad sat close by the fire. They were scared. The teacups shook in their hands. They were having the shivers. It was a good warm feeling.” We are glad to learn from Clark Ashton Smith that “The skies are haunted by that which it were madness to know; and strange abominations pass evermore between earth and moon and athwart the galaxies. Unnameable things have come to us in alien horror and will come again. ” Why are we cheered by nameless horrors and fetid vapors wafting up from forgotten vaults? The answer to that question lies in the pages of Small Spaces, the middle grade debut of Katherine Arden, whose justly acclaimed adult novels, such as The Bear and the Nightingale and the Girl in the Tower, have blended Russian folklore and history in a sublime manner.
As I continue to navigate around my open suitcase on my bedroom floor (I pulled out the ARCs, obviously, but the laundry can wait) and sort through the jumble of business cards in my purse in search of the store keys and the taxi receipts that I PROMISED to put in the bookkeeper’s envelope this week, I am picturing all my dear kid lit colleagues returning home and doing the same re-entry quadrille after CI6. In honor of our reluctant homecomings, I offer a Top Ten list of our collective responsibilities upon our return:
TEN phone messages that must be returned IMMEDIATELY, in order to keep the event schedule running, “Where’s Waldo” business partners on track, and the backorders released. Fortunately, at least 4 of these scribbled messages are legible, and the others contain vague clues to their origin and issue — and after attending the ABA Financial Management workshop, deciphering acronyms is my specialty. COGS = cost of goods. CFD = Carmel Fire Department, confirming an upcoming Story Time with a Firefighter. (insert winking joke about NOLA not the only place that’s “hot” here… or not. This is a G rated blog post, y’all.)
Studious financial management seminar attendees at CI6
Macaroni and cheese casserole
As you may have heard (or been lucky enough to experience), Children’s Institute 6 took place last week in New Orleans. Thanks to a scholarship from Simon and Schuster, I was able to attend even though my bookstore is very small and has no discernible travel budget. In addition to the overall CI6 experience, I also have to thank the staff of Simon and Schuster for a delicious excursion to Calcasieu for a break from hotel food and a chance to enjoy some leisurely conversation with amazing authors over several courses of fancy comfort food.
Blue Willow goes big!
As with any good Children’s Institute, the last two and a half days in New Orleans have been a whirlwind. There’s the delightful blur of familiar faces: colleagues we adore for their expertise, enthusiasm, and creativity (who we don’t see often enough) along with a packed slate of programming designed to challenge the status quo and push us forward. A long time ago, an adult book buyer told me that at trade shows he could always identify the children’s booksellers because they’ were so much more prone to smiling. Whether or not that’s true, Children’s Institute’s first annual costume contest certainly opened the conference with flair, creativity and a whole lot of smiles, as Kenny and Cynthia documented earlier this week. I’ll admit I neglected to take as many pictures as I should have the last few days, but of course I have to give a special shout-out to my fellow Texans from Blue Willow whose costumes (that they carefully drove down from Houston) were as outsized as our state. Continue reading
Well I have 20 minutes to do a post from New Orleans. Not enough time. So here is a tiny FAQ about last night’s opening ceremonies. As you will know from reading Cynthia’s account yesterday, the Children’s Institute opener was a costume party.
Did you get a chance to meet up with any of your fellow ShelfTalkers, Kenny?
When 309 children’s booksellers gather to learn, to share books, and to tell stories, they act them out, too. Our opening reception at ABA Children’s Institute was billed as a Welcome Mardi Gras, inviting all attendees to dress as a character from a favorite backlist titles. Our fellow story-time professionals took this invitation quite seriously, and we enjoyed a lovely party as many childhood characters came to life (although I don’t remember that Pippi Longstocking ever drank rosé, she certainly looked charming holding the glass). Here are some favorites of mine from last evening:
Dr Seuss’s Cat appeared in every corner, it seemed, and guest author (and judge) Andrea Beaty was feted by her own Ada Twist.
Children’s Institute is one of my favorite book events of the year. It’s a conference that gathers booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, authors, and illustrators passionate about books for children and teens. We know that, in addition to including the most rewarding and inventive of books imaginable, children’s books are also the segment of the book industry most helping to keep the whole darned machine afloat. Children’s Institute, with its author parties, educational sessions, keynotes with luminaries like Chelsea Clinton, Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson, Phoebe Yeh, Kwame Alexander, Temple Grandin, and Angie Thomas, is a great big party / work-inspiration fest filled with some of the best people on the planet—which is why I am bereft that I am not able to be on a plane to New Orleans this week.
Events conspired to keep me from attending this year, which is a colossal bummer! My fellow ShelfTalker blogger pals doubtless will fill you in on the week’s grand activities. What I have to offer instead is this: seven things I’ll do to distract myself from the fact that I am not actually in The Big Easy and to create my own version of Children’s Institute here at home: Continue reading
Astronaut Clayton Anderson talks to a rapt audience.
I imagine it’s a different cycle for stores in resort communities, but for us the bulk of our kids events programming tends to correlate to the school year—whether that’s school events, book festivals put on in partnership with librarians, or bookfairs. Even our in-store author events calendar calms down a little bit for kids, as attention turns to stocking up on books for summer camp and vacations. Even though summer is always a shorter season than it seems, I find that this slower programming season offers an opportunity to step back and make sure that we follow through on all the things we’ve started along the way.
While it’s scaled back, our public author event schedule for kids isn’t totally on hiatus. Yesterday, we were lucky enough to host astronaut Clayton Anderson for more than 100 budding explorers—helping us test our new 4PM picture book event slot for the second time since we piloted it, and supporting the idea that this slightly earlier time just might be the solution to getting families through our area’s after work traffic crunch. It was an awesome, space-tastic event that let out in time for everyone to get home to dinner. I even picked up my own kids from camp early to join the fun. Although as this photo of my little astronauts proves, any well-planned event photo op is only as good as its participants!
Who are these children, you ask yourself? They are the students of two fourth grade classrooms at Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon, Maine. I’ve had an Advance Reader’s Review project running for 12 years now with Mrs. Perry’s class there. Each year Katie breaks down the reading levels and interests of her students and then I bring in a set of ARCs, talk about the publishing process, and then leave them for the kids to read and produce reviews. Afterwards we get together again, look at their reviews online, and talk books.
I look forward to the project every year as the kids have always engaged strongly with it bringing insight, honesty, and charm to the table. It’s a chance for them to learn about the book industry while participating in it at the same time.