Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trade Show Focus (Group)

Cynthia Compton -- May 23rd, 2018


I love to go to trade shows. Not for the inevitable accompanying airport fiascos, the tiny hotel rooms located too close to the elevator, and the stress of all the minor store emergencies that occur while I’m away, but for the possibilities. I love being away, briefly,  from my own aisles, where I stare and obsess about things that are selling and those that are not, and look instead at all the pretty, shiny new merchandise and just unveiled dust jackets of new titles and series from authors both familiar and new. I love to imagine whole new sections in my store, innovative displays, different programs and promotions, and new ways to delight customers. I picture giant stacks of boxes arriving at the store, and the staff exclaiming (with delight, not with “WHERE DO WE PUT THIS?” frustration) and getting excited about building displays and fixtures that require total section resets.  I crave the time spent visiting with colleagues, hearing about what’s working in their stores, and commiserating about what isn’t. Choices and possibilities abound, inspiration flows like wine at the hotel bar, and all those hundreds of pre-show phone calls (“Hi! Are you attending …….? We are in Booth # …….”) fade away like the well-intentioned plan to pack at least TWO pairs of comfortable shoes and to be back in the room to sleep every night before midnight.

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When Elephant and Piggie Came to Town

Elizabeth Bluemle -- May 22nd, 2018

When the Elephant and Piggie Thank-O-Rama tour was offered to us for Sunday, May 13 (which fell on Mother’s Day), we knew it was one of those big events that needed planning within an inch of our lives. Venue, staffing, supplies, activities — all of these needed to be locked down as soon as possible.

The tour van comes with plenty of supplies — a reading corner with six colorful, tiny, soft armchairs for little readers and felt bins for books, a prize wheel with some truly excellent merch ranging from Elephant and Piggie postcards to a plush Pigeon bus (!!!), a craft station with tables, crayons, child-safe scissors, etc., sturdy cut-outs of favorite Mo Willems characters, a big backdrop against which families could pose for photos with the Elephant and Piggie costume characters, and two official Thank-O-Rama staffers to set it all up and help the event run smoothly.  Continue reading

Magna Cum Sapientia

Leslie Hawkins -- May 21st, 2018

Magna cum sapientia means “with great wisdom,” a title honoring authors with words of wisdom for graduates and making some use of eight years of Latin instruction (or at least my ability to look up the ablative case in my ancient Cassell’s dictionary). As it’s graduation season, you may be looking for something fresh to add to all those copies of Oh, The Places You’ll Go on the display table. Here are a few favorites at Spellbound. I’d love to see some of your recommendations in the comments, as well. Continue reading

Skulduggery Pleasant’s Second Invasion

Kenny Brechner -- May 17th, 2018

I know. The Beatles only had to invade America once, so what does that say about Skulduggery Pleasant making a second incursion? This nine-book middle grade fantasy series by Irish author Derek Landy was published simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2007. It was a giant hit in Europe but passed almost unnoticed here in the U.S. where it was ignominiously retired after the third book.

Skuldguggery’s publisher, HarperCollins, is making a second attempt here now, simultaneously re-releasing the first three books in new paperback editions. Is this second invasion merited? The Secret Code* of bookselling demands an answer to that question and so I undertook the process of providing one.

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Pass the Sunscreen, It’s Summer Reading Sign Up Time

Cynthia Compton -- May 16th, 2018

The Mother’s Day displays are down in our little shop, replaced with Indy 500 themed books and graduation titles. The weather has turned from winter directly to summer temps, and the sneezing and sniffles of my poor allergy-ridden staff indicates that the pollen count has achieved May-in-Indianapolis levels. Mothers of school-aged children look haggard and over scheduled, and newborn-ish babies are making appearances, toes revealed, in brand new expensive strollers, and most days there’s a teenager or two dropping by after school asking about summer employment….. it’s time, indeed, for our summer reading program sign-ups.

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The Trouble with (and Triumphs of) Trends

Elizabeth Bluemle -- May 15th, 2018

When you’ve been a bookseller for more than 21 years, you see a lot of trends come and go. When we opened in 1996, middle-grade realistic fiction and mysteries were big and the young adult genre was considered “dead.” Ten years later, YA was exploding, and picture books were declared to be critical condition. When Harry Potter burst onto the scene, catapulting longish MG fantasy into the stratosphere, realistic MG fiction languished. When The Hunger Games launched a torrent of dystopian fiction, classic fantasy took a backseat. Then, when Game of Thrones hit the small screen — well, you get the idea. One genre rises, another falls, and thus spin the wheels of publishing.

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Serial Reading

Leslie Hawkins -- May 14th, 2018

A frequent question I get from customers at the bookstore is whether a particular book series needs to be read in order. Depending on the series in question, I’ll usually respond with a) Yes, each installment builds on the previous one and it would be difficult to follow if read out of order; or b) You can read them in any order and not miss anything, like Nancy Drew (a reference that always clicks with parents and grandparents); or c) Well, each book has a stand-alone plot with a beginning and end, but there’s also an overarching background plot that builds throughout the series. And, then again, there are some series that defy any of those broad categories. I began wondering recently if there are standard publishing terms for the different types of series–some better, more succinct verbiage I could borrow for booktalking and, possibly, for some handy in-store signage.

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Twelve Debuts, Twelve Questions, Twelve Prizes.

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- May 11th, 2018

We have seen an exciting spate of new local releases this spring, many with coordinating pre-order campaigns. I feel like it must be such a personal thing, sending a new book into the world, so I love seeing what each author builds out around their launch. When I met Samantha Clark recently to talk about her new book and her launch plans for The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast, she showed us these ingeniously soothing comfort squares that she had printed with the hashtag #MakeYourOwnCourage. If you’ve read the book, you know that the boy at the center of it all must do exactly that under perilous circumstances, battling his own fears along the way. She gave each of us a square, and as we chatted, we realized that we were all rubbing the velvety comfort squares against our cheeks or fingers without even thinking about it. We loved them! She told us that she was going to be highlighting them as prizes in an upcoming scavenger hunt that she had coordinated with 11 other debut authors from around the country, and I was intrigued.

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Every Week Is Children’s Book Week?

Kenny Brechner -- May 10th, 2018

I’m sure we’ve all experienced having  a long forgotten* passage or scene from a book, one that resonated particularly with us as a child, suddenly resurface to mind as though summoned by a spell cast by the present moment. I devoured Peanuts books as a lad. My collection was acquired by walking to town with a quarter to get a new Fawcett Crest Peanuts paperback from  a little bookstore there anytime I had the means. There were a handful of pages that I came back to many times, even though I had no clear sense as to why I was drawn to them.  The other day, as I was thinking about the anemic response to this year’s Children’s Book Week at the store, one of those long forgotten Peanuts pages suddenly reappeared to my thought.
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Why Booksellers Do What They Do

Cynthia Compton -- May 9th, 2018

My colleague Elizabeth Bluemle wrote a lovely post yesterday entitled Why Children’s Books Creators Do What They Do, and little parts of it echoed in my head today as I moved through a list of events and errands for and at the shop. I’m going to borrow her idea and extend it a bit (even though she, too, runs a bookstore and does many of the same tasks – WHEN do you find time to make books, Elizabeth? – I struggle to find time to READ every day!) because her post made me think about all the reasons I love owning a bookstore.

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