At a recent school visit Hope Larson, who writes and draws amazing graphic novels for young people, said in her opening comments to the students that she refers to herself as a cartoonist, not a graphic novelist. This piqued my curiosity, as I often struggle with the correct nomenclature for comics and graphic novels and the people who create them. Based on past conversations on the children’s bookseller listserv I participate in, plenty of others in my job wrestle with this, too. So I followed up with Hope after the school visit and she shed some light on it for me.
Schools are letting out, releasing kids into the glorious summer months. For many, summertime means camp, and for some that means leaving home for weeks at a time and heading into an uncertain future in the great outdoors. Sleepaway summer camp offers kids the opportunity to head off the beaten path, experience new things, and explore who they are on their own. Plunged into a completely foreign environment and routine, campers navigate a complex social world where personal identities are unknown and relationships must be negotiated from scratch. For some, camp offers exhilarating freedoms. For others, it offers deeply disconcerting new terrain. Either way, the experience is usually one to remember—a premise explored in two new graphic novels that explore the singular mix of excitement and adventure, anxiety and discomfort that can define the summer camp experience. Continue reading
I don’t know if necessity is the mother of invention but they are at least close relatives. Take ARCs, for example. We’ve always hated not finding them a good home once their sale date has come and gone. What is the definition of a good home? I have always considered it to be any place that allows the ARC to further achieve its reason for being, promoting a particular book and providing engagement with reading in general.
Summer vacation began in earnest this week for our school-age kids, and the last of the high school commencements were held on Sunday. The graduation open houses, catered taco bars and video highlights of the JV tennis team season will sputter on for a month or more, but basically we’re in full sunscreen season here in Central Indiana. While our weekly activity and storytime schedule stays the same all year, lots of other things change in our store in the summertime, and we make some adjustments to accommodate the differences in tempo and volume.
I’ve been to 22 BookExpos over the years, and last week’s was on the quieter side, not as jam-packed as usual with booksellers and the general public (the latter surely poured in after I left, at Saturday’s BookCon). This was not a bad thing from an attendee standpoint; the lack of claustrophobia made browsing booths and meeting with editors, publicists, and authors much easier. Some of my discoveries are in a box heading back to Vermont, but I can share — in pictures more than words — a few of my favorite highlights, from inspiring speakers to cool promo merch to celebrity sightings:
No, I’m not referring to the electronic, needlepoint, or Whitman’s variety here, but the handy volumes of chapter samplers sometimes made available to book buyers. Twice a year the Publishers Lunch Buzz Books collections (adult and young adult versions) arrive in a mailing from the American Booksellers Association. They’re also made available to the general public as free downloadable ebooks. Personally, I appreciate getting the hard copies that I can flip through. I also appreciate getting a taste of some titles for which I may not have received an Advanced Reading Copy or just haven’t gotten around to digging out of a huge box of ARCs yet.
Many of my colleagues, both at BookPeople and at ShelfTalker, are off at BEA this week, discovering new books and enjoying some time with friends and colleagues. I wasn’t able to get away this week due to my family’s schedule, but we’re still having a lot of fun here at home.This Tuesday we were joined by fabulous Drag Queens Honey St. Claire, Louisianna Purchase and Mascara Rivers along with Drag King Papi Churro and over 60 listeners for our second successful Drag Queen (and King) Storytime. And it was fantastic! One of the books they featured for their event was the dazzling Julián Is a Mermaid, a book that’s not only perfect for this event but that honestly takes my breath away. I am certainly not the first person to rave about this book, but it’s worthy of all the ecstatic buzz. Not only is the book stunning, with radiant aquas and greens and corals bursting from the book’s warm brown pages, but its intimate celebration of creativity and individuality captures something astonishingly poignant and tender. Continue reading
My Book Expo started out in a noteworthy fashion. Following two days of ABA Board meetings in Westchester, virtually the entire ABA brain trust nearly suffocated to death in a van en route to the New Yorker Hotel. There were 13 of us Board members in the van along with CEO Oren Teicher, Senior Program Officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, and Senior Program Officer Dan Cullen. The only executive officer not in the van was CFO Robyn DesHotel.
The van’s air conditioning was not working. It was very hot and humid out. There were no windows that opened, and we were stuck in serious traffic. After an hour and a half of shop talk and chatting, conversations began to shift to the recognition that we were drowning in sweat, couldn’t breathe, and were well positioned to expire in a van whose resemblance to a Viking funeral ship was increasing every minute.
As it turned out, no one died. You are probably wondering if this was a brilliant, diabolical scheme by Robyn to remove all obstacles to her total takeover of the ABA. Well I have my suspicions but the matter is still under investigation.
Like many of my colleagues, I’m packing and traveling to New York CIty this week for BookExpo, followed by another trip to New Orleans for the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA) Marketplace & Academy, rebounding with a quick trip home to dump out the dirty clothes and go back to NOLA for ABA’s Children’s Institute. It’s a lot of planning, a lot of airport time, and definitely requires all my flat shoes…. and I think, perhaps, a bit of wisdom. Here, in the tradition of Gandalf to our friend Bilbo Baggins before he leaves the Shire, I offer all my fellow trade show explorers the wisdom from our oracles in the children’s book department.
On impossibly early flight reservations, with the accompanying wait in TSA lines before sunrise:
“Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly.” CHARLOTTE’S WEB, E.B. White
A year and a half into sole ownership of the bookstore—after twenty years with a co-owner—I’ve found my business behavior transforming. Once, I was a kind of groundskeeper with four or five bookstore “gardens” to tend. I’ve now become a lighthouse keeper, needing to shine a beam on every aspect of the store in a never-ending revolution of shifting attention. My gaze is steady when it lands on an area: bill paying, event planning, frontlist buying, budgeting, customer attention, marketing, display, new programming, backlist restocking, returns, donations, and so on. But then the lighthouse beam must move to the next area, leaving the rest in the dark until the light sweeps back in again. I have wonderful staff to help with these islands of store needs, but I have to gaze on all of them regularly in order to run a tight … lighthouse?