Monthly Archives: February 2008

This I Believed (or Crazy Kid Brains)

Alison Morris - February 6, 2008

One of my favorite light, quirky reads to recommend to adults is Amy Krause Rosenthal’s delightful Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Written in encyclopedia format, it gives short explanations for events or people or things that Amy has lived, observed, opined — you name it. And FUNNY! Oh, is it ever funny! I was reading it on an airplane and laughing so loudly that multiple people asked me about it and wrote down the title. If I’d had extra copies with me I’m confident I could have sold them on the spot.

One of my favorite sections of the book is "Exhibit A" under the entry for "Childhood Memories": "Things My Friends Were Confused By As Children." Here are a few of them:

I couldn’t understand the difference between a sound track in a movie, which the actors supposedly could not hear, and if there was a radio on in the movie, which the actors could hear. Music would be playing and I’d say to my mom, "Okay, can they hear that? Okay, now can they hear that?"

Whenever I saw those tiny planes that leave streaks of white in the sky, I thought that it was someone’s job to do that. And that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up; I thought I would revolutionize the field by drawing more creative things in the sky than just straight lines.

Recently I stumbled across a website that is CHOCK FULL of gems like the ones Amy shares in her book. It’s ("the childhood beliefs site"), and it’s pretty much a storage place for childhood stupidity (or "innocence" if you want to be nice about it). I was particularly taken with the section on ice cream trucks — I suppose because I never realized there was so much to be confused about when it came to these particular vehicles, and because I wasn’t giving parents enough cleverness credit. To whit:

I thought the music would play faster or slower depending the speed of the ice cream truck. That’s why the music stopped when the truck stopped.

My mum used to tell me that when the ice cream van came around it played the music to tell children that it was bed time. The van used to go past my house at noon.

I used to belive my Dad when he told me that if the ice-cream van was playing a tune, it meant that it was empty. When I asked about why people were queueing up, he would reply "well, they’re going to be very disappointed". I didn’t get an ice-cream for years.

I thought it would be especially appropriate to share with you some of the things people say they believed about books and/or reading:

I used to think that "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea" was a story about an awful lot of sports being played under the sea, since there were 20,000 leagues there, in the story.

I thought, in kindergarden, in order to read a book you had to read the page then turn it around and wave it back and forth. Little did I know the teacher was just showing us the pictures and it was not required if you were reading to yourself.

When I was little I used to believe that cursive was read in a British accent and print was read in an American accent. I have no idea where this one came from.

My parents had a lot of self-help, how-to, historical, and factual books when I was a kid. I used to think that authors didn’t write stories for adults, and that when I grew up, I’d have to read boring stuff about gardening and wars.

When i was little i overheard my older cousin say that he had to write a letter for english. Well being 4 at the time i thought that he was inventing a letter (as in a letter of the alphabet). i couldnt wait till i was in high school and got to invent my own letter. its name was going to be anzy and look like a spiral.

What about you? If you’ve got any entertaining memories of childhood confusions, do tell!

A Cutpurse, A Wimpy Kid, A Tremendous Crowd

Alison Morris - February 5, 2008

Last Thursday was a big day for Wellesley Booksmith. First, Linda Buckley-Archer made a brief stop at our store to sign stock and charm our socks off. Authors don’t get much nicer than this one! I thoroughly enjoyed the time Linda and I spent chatting, while she graciously signed copy after copy of her Gideon books for us.

Linda wrote about her visit to our store on her trip blog, which is apparently receiving 6,000 hits a day! Yowza! You know your books are popular when approximately 6,000 people are following your daily affairs.

Below Linda talks with Kristine Van Amsterdam and two of her daughters, Juliana (in the stripes) and Olivia (in orange). Missing from this photo is the third Van Amsterdam daughter, Katrina — my "teenage sidekick" and occasional guest reviewer. The Van Amsterdam family are HUGE Linda Buckley-Archer fans and have given her books away to almost everyone they know. I can’t imagine a higher compliment!

Less than an hour after Linda left the store, a crowd began assembling in our store’s Used Book Cellar, eagerly anticipating the start of our event with Jeff Kinney — the first stop on his Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules tour. When people began showing up at 5pm for a 6pm event, I knew we had reason to be worried….

As this event had garnered considerably more pre-event publicity than almost all of our previous events, I’d been figuring all week that we would probably overfill our events space, guessing that we might attract a crowd of about 150 people. As the Wellesley Free Library was unavailable the night of our event and we couldn’t move it to a school on late notice, or hope to notify people if we *did* we had to make do with what presentation space we had.

To do this we cleared all mobile bookcases out of our Used Book Cellar and set out just one row of chairs, along the back wall of the room The rest of the space was left open, so that we could seat kids on the floor and pack them as close together as seemed reasonable. I used masking tape to mark off an aisle through which Jeff could enter, exit, and "work the crowd" then stuck felt cheese to the floor in the aisle. Anyone who sat in the aisle would therefore be in danger of getting the cheese touch!! (If you’ve read Jeff’s books this will make sense to you.)

All of these preparations, though, plus seven years of events experience didn’t prepare me for the crowd we got: somewhere between 250 and 300 Jeff Kinney fans mobbed the store!! UNBELIEVABLE!

The down side of this was that not everyone got to see Jeff’s presentation — there was simply NO way we could accommodate everyone in our basement space, and having him make his presenation upstairs on the sales floor would have possibly allowed more people to hear him but even fewer would have been able to see and Jeff himself would most likely have gone hoarse. We eventually (even before the clock struck 6!) had no choice but to cut off the flow of families entering the basement. We even asked if there were adults in the room who’d give up their seats to accommodate disappointed kids. Anyone who didn’t make it into the basement for the presentation had to settle for getting some Kinney face time in the signing line. We all felt terrible about this, but what else could we do?

I was trapped in the front corner of the room during Jeff’s presentation, so my photo capabilities were SORELY limited, but I did snap a shot or two, which I’ll post here so you can see what the basement crowd scene was like. As if the angle isn’t bad enough, I didn’t have a chance to ask for photo permissions from the entire crowd so I’ve blurred these pictures quite a bit. Still, you should be able to pick up on the event "feeling" from this!

In the back right-hand corner of the room are the stairs leading up to the main sales floor. Notice that people are crowded into the stairwell too! (But, YES, there’s easy access to a fire exit on the basement level, so there was no cause for worry.)

The toughest crunch of the evening was when this sea of people left the basement to proceed upstairs for the signing line. It was slow going at first, but eventually we got everyone upstairs and lined up in order of the numbered tickets we’d handed them on the way in. I stood up on the counter at our back register to direct traffic, and the view from there, looking toward the front of our store, was like this:

 Unfortunately I didn’t turn around and a take shot of the back of our store (I had my mind on more important things!), but the back was where Jeff sat to sign books, looking very much like this throughout the evening:

We offered to get books personalized for families who couldn’t hack the wait and many took us up on the offer, thinning out the crowd somewhat, which was helpful. Those who stuck with it, though, seemed to be relatively pleased with the speed at which things were moving. Most of them spent their waiting time in EXACTLY the same fashion as Elizabeth Collins, Max Collins, and Dominic Giugliano, shown in the photo below:

All in all things went INCREDIBLY well, considering that no one knew we’d be quite this overrun for an author who has so far published just two books! Jeff was funny and gracious and sincerely happy to meet every one of his budding young fans, who asked him some surprisingly astute questions and shared some very entertaining observations. Oddly enough, the character they seem to find funniest in his books is MANNY!! During Jeff’s Q&A several cheered for the idea that he should do a book starring Manny. Jeff responded that he wasn’t sure it would work very well to write a novel starring a character with a one-word vocabulary. Ladies and gentlemen, the gauntlet has been thrown!

It’s great to see two people as down-to-earth and good-natured as Linda Buckley-Archer and Jeff Kinney finding themselves at the center of so much attention and seeing them turn so many kids on to books! Abrams Books has already sold through the entire first print run of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules which currently tops the New York Times Bestseller List in the Chapter Books category. In the number two slot sits Diary of Wimpy Kid, which has been on the list for 41 weeks. Amazing to think of the number of kids who’ve discovered it in that time. In comparison it makes our Kinney crowd look tiny!

(If you missed it, be sure to listen the interview with Jeff that aired on N
Saturday, Feb. 2nd.)

Handselling Reports from Coast to Coast

Alison Morris - February 1, 2008

When I wrote my handselling post of 1/9/08 I hoped to make the point that even a small independent bookstore can make a solid impact in the sales of a book, just by practicing the art of handselling. The trouble was, the only examples I gave you came from one bookstore — the one I work for.

Not wanting you to think that sales phenomena like the ones I posted about are unique to our store, I asked other independent bookstores to send me examples of their ’07 handselling successes, so that you can see for yourself what independent booksellers are doing for books throughout the country. (And throughout the world, for that matter.)

First, though, I want to share a few statistics that bookseller Karl Pohrt (owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop in Ann Arbor, Mich.) included in a speech he delivered at this year’s Beijing Book Festival:

We need to also carefully consider how the independent sector functions within the various retail channels that sell the top 500 titles each week. Of the retail channels that sell the first 150 titles on the list, it turns out that we underperforms in terms of its market share. Independent bookstores account for less than 9% or 10% of the sales of the most popular titles on the list.

However, for the next 150 titles, we dramatically exceed our market share. We also exceed our market share for titles sold in the 300 to 500 range. Ultimately, of course, many of these titles will move up the list.

When we do our job properly, independent booksellers act as an early warning system for publishers. We help publishers launch books. It should also be noted that the 150 to 500 range of titles is where publishers are making money, because they haven’t made huge investments that they have to recuperate in contracts with best-selling authors and large ad campaigns. So we also augment sales from the top 150 to 300 titles. 

Got that? Good. Now on with the show.

From Susan D. Mercier of Edgartown Books in Edgartown, Mass.:

Greetings from the island of Martha’s Vineyard. I would love to share our numbers and story from Whistling in the Dark by Leslie Kagen (Penguin). My fantastic sales rep Peter Giannone had sent me a copy of this book and EVERYONE on our staff loved it. We put it in the Staff Pick section and it took off this summer! We sold well over 200 copies of the book in July and August of 2007. Somehow the author heard of our love for the book and sent us a delicious tin of chocolate chip cookies this past September!!

From Vicky Uminowicz of Titcomb’s Bookshop in Sandwich, Mass.:

We’ve been handselling an adult book called Flame Keepers by Ned Handy for several years now. It’s the true and very moving story of the man who dug the tunnel at Stalag 17 during WWII. The author lives part of the year in our town. It’s an adult book, but we often recommend it for older teens. We talked about it with our high school librarian, Deb O’Brien, and she decided it would be an excellent book for the entire high school to read. Mr. Handy spoke at the high school and every class did something related to the book, including art, phys. ed, history and math (how many square feet of dirt was removed for the tunnel?). Our town-wide reading committee held a program on Veteran’s Day with a panel discussion including Mr. Handy. The result was an enormous feeling of community and good will. I spoke with a 5th grader from a town 20 miles away who had read the book and couldn’t wait to meet the author. We have now sold 164 copies of the hardcover and 788 of the paperback.

Another example: There is a wonderful picture book called Riptide by Frances Ward Weller. It’s based on the true story of a dog who saved someone’s life on Cape Cod. We only have to share a bit of the storyline and show customers a few of the beautiful illustrations by Robert J. Blake and it’s sold! We’ve sold 229 copies so far.

From Jill Moore of Square Books, Jr. in Oxford, Miss.:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart was so good when I first read it that I talked my 12 to 15 year-old SBJ Book Society into reading it, even though it was a youngish title for them. The kids loved it! Soon after the SBJ Book Society teens pronounced their love for the book, the 8 to 11 year-olds were after it. So, being precocious, the 8 to 11 year-olds championed the title with gusto. As was the case with The Sisters Grimm (which I would like to think my handselling helped its success), The Mysterious Benedict Society became a must have for libraries, a read aloud to young children, a book choice for middle schoolers, teenagers and adults. The author contacted me shortly after the book’s release because he had heard through the grapevine that both my book clubs had chosen the title. If you haven’t yet read The Mysterious Benedict Society, get a move on. I have sold 130 copies.

Hildegarde and the Great Green Shirt Factory is a colorful and fun picture book written and illustrated by Ravay Snow…. In an age of "Project Runway" and "America’s Next Top Model," Hildegarde is a picture book with contemporary flair that celebrates personal expression. Loaded with good lessons about being yourself, taking a stand and accepting a change, [it] is now one of my favorite books, for girls and boys of all ages and adults too. I am proud to say that we sold 89 copies. Of course, we were graced by Ravay Snow’s delightful presence at our Saturday storytime.

Last fall I had the pleasure of stumbling across a galley of Jaguar Stones by J&P Voelkel, the first installment in the Middleworld trilogy. With great delight I realized that the book filled that empty space in my heart I once reserved for pirates and treasure…. I foresaw selling huge stacks of the books to precocious middle schoolers and adventurous preteens. However, when I went to order the book I found it was scarcely available through normal channels. In fact, as standard practice, it was not a book I could afford to sell. But I loved this book, like one loves a stray puppy or kitten. I loved it so much I contacted the publisher, Smith & Kraus, and then finally the authors to secure the delivery of 10 copies to Square Books, Jr. I was unsure I could convince others of the book’s greatness. Sometimes if you like a book too much, people don’t believe you, they think you are trying to trick them…. I am glad to report I have sold 18 copies of this title. There are mainstream titles that never do this well. Also, the author has scheduled a visit to Oxford to do a signing and presentation at Square Books, Jr. and the schools. I intend to sell many more, and have already had kids report back about how much they love the book and how it has spurred interest in archeology and Latin America!

From Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, Ill. and Downers Grove, Ill.:

This list doesn’t include the obvious bestsellers that are made before they hit the shelf, but those favs that staff goes to again and again in our two stores. Several of these titles were also big hits at our bookfair company but I didn’t add those numbers to these.

Mysterious Benedict Society: 477 copies
Football Genius: 229
Kimchi and Calamari: 54
The Seems: 189
That Girl Lucy Moon: 144

rst Light: 67
True Meaning of Smekday: 229
Leepike Ridge: 63
Thing About Georgie: 89
Miss Spitfire: 80
How to Steal a Dog: 79
Cracker: 140
Aurora County All Stars: 74
Gallop: 805 —this was such a blast just demonstrating — not talking to customers about!

From Kari Patch of Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.:

Last year I fell in love with Oliver Jeffers. Seriously. Lost and Found (when we could keep it in stock) sold really well. When I saw the f&g for the Incredible Book Eating Boy, I loved it. One staff recommendation later, we’ve sold 68 copies of Book Eating Boy. I’m guessing that’s about 60 more than we might have sold otherwise. (We’re also at 80+ copies of Lost and Found sold. For someone that’s not Jon Muth that’s amazing for us.)

Our YA hit of the year (aside from Harry and Percy and Hugo) was Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. We got 2 ARCs of this last spring and both Liz and I read and loved it. Liz got a staff recommend in first. With the recommendation on the staff picks wall and some steady handselling, we’ve sold 48 copies thus far. Normally, we’re amazed at 5-10 copies of a teen book selling in hardcover. I’m guessing we’ll sell about 60 before Wicked Lovely is out in pb.

From Janet Bibeau of Storybook Cove in Hanover, Mass.:

The book we sold the most was The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies: 70 copies. 27 copies were sold at the SCBWI conference which are to her credit. About 19 were presigning sales and sales on the day of the signing, but 24, a huge amount for Storybook Cove, were sold by handselling. This is a great book for the kid reading above grade level (identifies with the sister), for the struggling student or those that live in the shadow of siblings (identifies with the brother), for those who like math more than reading, for those who don’t like math but like reading!

From Ellen Mager of Booktenders’ Secret Garden in Doylestown, Pa.:

I depend on the author/illustrator visits in my store and putting them in schools for at least 50% of my sales, but handselling is most of the rest.

Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: 240 (150 = Involved in signing: 40 to a school he visited, 23 because I hand sold it to a teacher and she read 1 chapter with them and the children bought them and I took them to the school to be signed for them!) 90 books sold between 3/5/07 and 12/31/07 (35 in October!) 

The World’s Greatest Elephant by Ted Lewin: (85 in 2006 with a signing) 60 COPIES SOLD IN 2007! I LOVE book talking this book and watching the listeners’ facial reactions! 

Jungle Bullies by Steven Kroll: 56 copies sold — 31 sold due to teacher night presentation/signing, 25 others sold ONLY "bully" book where the bullies behavior is positively changed by those he’s wronged.

Patches Lost and Found by Steven Kroll hand sold to teachers as a "patterning" book for writing personal experiences… 38 sold — 17 @ Teacher Night

Giant Hug by Valeri Gobachev (Our Valentine’s choice every year!) 30 sold due to V. Day signing. 16 others hand sold during the rest of the year.

Main Street # 1: Welcome to Camden Falls by Ann M. Martin: sold 40 at a school signing and hand sold 30 in the last 6 months of the year, including 5 for a neighborhood book club.

Living Color by Steve Jenkins: hand sold 14 this fall! (His books are the way science should be taught in elementary schools!)

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson: hand sold 12 ! (Other than Jerry Pinkney, African American books are a hard sell in this area so that number is great!)

The Wall by Peter Sis: hand sold 10 this Fall
Igraine by Cornelia Funke: hand sold 15
Artist to Artist: 10 copies 
Where in the Wild: 11 copies 
Lissy’s Friends by Grace Lin: 10 copies 
Rabbit’s Gift by George Shannon and Laura Drozek: 11 copies 
Five Little Gefiltes: 12 copies
The Geronimo Stilton series: 135 copies over 33 titles
Magyk by Angie Sage: 16 in 2006 and 14 in 2007

From Maureen Palacios at Once Upon a Time in Montrose, Calif.:

Besides children’s titles, we carry a smattering of very select adult titles (book club titles mainly) among them a little-known second book authored by a friend of a friend. Although not marketed or written as a children’s book, Maria Amparo Escandon’s adult book Gonzalez and Daughter Trucking Company was our store’s favorite hand sell for 2006 and 2007! Two of our smart high school female employees absolutely adored the book, started recommending it to similar minded mature YAs and adults and then started a "Tough Girls Club" based on the story’s female protagonist’s decision to start a book club while being incarcerated in a Mexican women’s prison.

Anyway, when Ms. Escandon visited our store for a book signing, the store was jam packed. Mind you, this was in 2006. OK, so along the way, many other folks got interested in the book and in 2007, after reading many titles for consideration (including more well known books such as Water for Elephants), the city one mile down the road from our store La Canada One City/One Book committee choose Gonzalez & Daughter Trucking Company for their 2007 book for both adults and high schoolers based, in part, on our store’s enthusiasm for the book, its quirky characters and ability to provoke discussion. The city held successful and well-attended One City/One Book events in October of last year including an author appearance.

We hand sold close to 100 copies of the book in 2007 even though the book has been out for a number of years and this is mostly a children’s store. In 2006, we sold about 380 copies. When one person on the staff gets excited about a title, spreads the word to others, but most importantly, has other staffers read and agree this book is a great title for our demographic, it’s almost like magic, how customers respond to enthusiasm and excitement about a little-known "gem."

From Elizabeth Bluemle of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Charlotte, Vt.:

After Doug Cochrane made me read the beautiful Samsara Dog (Kane/Miller) at his booth at NEIBA, and it reduced me to actual sobs (but the good kind), we stocked it at the store and recommended it via the newsletter and handselling. Customers handsold it to other customers. People bought twos and threes. We’ve sold 59 copies so far, and it’s still going strong. Had it not been for a persistent sales rep ("You MUST read this RIGHT NOW"), we might not have discovered our sleeper hit of the season.

From Pat Byrne of Bookends in Winchester, Mass.:

101 Things You Gotta Do Before You’re 12 by Joanne O’sullivan: 58 copies
101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12 by Joanne O’Sullivan: 65 copies

We all think these books are great and so much fun to suggest. They’re not pretentious and are a great aid for parents who are l
ooking for things to do with their kids during the holidays and vacations. Some right in their own back yards!

From Carol Chittenden of Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Mass.:

Here are the titles and numbers we felt worked well this past year because we loved them and recommended them face to face with our customers. They also became our Picks of the Year during the holiday season, when we recommend them in newsletters, online, in displays, AND in person.

49 copies of A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban.

34 copies of Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller, and 32 copies of The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper, illus Gabi Swiatkowska: we displayed them together, since their theme is the same.

68 copies of Global Babies by the Global Fund for Children.

68 copies of Little Rat Makes Music by Monika Bang Campbell, illus. by Molly Bang. We have a local hook on this one, but anybody who reads it and looks at the illustrations will see that it applies to any child who’s frustrated at not becoming an instant success.

12 copies of Maybelle in the Soup by Kate Speck, in spite of an awful cover and much doubt on the part of reps that we could sell a book about a cockroach. But Maybelle’s not just any cockroach!

9 copies of What’s Eating You? by Nicola Davies, illus Neal Layton. Again, the reps were doubtful we could move even a single copy of a book about parasites. I’d rather sell information about parasites than stories about flatulence, personally.

43 copies of No Talking by Andrew Clements. We always love and can sell his books, but this one was so good it far outranked his other recent hardcovers.

25 copies of A Second Is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins, illus. by Kady McDonald Denton. I was surprised, because it’s so brief — but not surprised, because it’s a subject kids think about endlessly.

33 copies of Stick by Steve Breen. Loved it, and the text is so brief, customers recognized that a kid could follow it solo after just one or two readings with an adult.

38 copies of I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. One of the best this side of calamari.

22 copies of Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed…and Revealed by David Schwartz, with photos by Dwight Kuhn. It was easy to show customers why this would work for children they didn’t know very well, because it offers both poetry, science, and a visual tickle.

There are other titles we sold more of, but these were the ones where we felt our own enthusiasm made a real difference. There were some others whose covers made it impossible to sell, no matter how we enthused, though.

From Sandy Scott of The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vt.:

12 copies of Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (We rarely sell hardcover young adult books, but between my own and my co-worker Kate’s praise, we had to keep re-ordering this one!)

From Kenny Brechner of Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Me.:

In mid-November I was one title short for our holiday gift guide, namely I lacked a 13-up title I could handsell with abandon. Something that didn’t help morale was that two books which would have been absolutely perfect, Runemarks by Joanna Harris, and Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams, were set for release on January 8th, a cruel proximity. While I was stewing about that fact Judith Rosen of PW called to chat about the wisdom of major releases made just after the Christmas season. I lamented to her that I really wished I had one of those two titles in hand, and that no greater amount of handselling would ever occur than the two weeks before Christmas. On December 8th one of our staff opened a Scholastic box and yelled out that, like a basket of foundlings left on the doorstep, a few copies of Tunnels were in it. I hadn’t pre-ordered it in force, as it wasn’t expected till January. After making sure that Tunnels had in fact been deliberately shipped early, I immediately ordered 50 more copies. We sold the last one at 4:00 on Christmas Eve. The moral is, more December 8th and less January 8th. What is finer than having a book in hand in mid-December that you know gift recipients will both love and be unfamiliar with?

From Shirley Mullin of Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis, Ind. [the store that launched my — Alison’s — career in bookselling!]

So, I know you said books but we had outstanding sales of Bananagrams. It is the best toy to sell with books–sort of a simple Scrabble and with great packaging. Anyway, I played it at Thanksgiving with the amazing grandchildren who LOVED it and told the staff, and between Thanksgiving and Christmas we sold 190, mostly as add-on impulse items. We ultimately ran out a few days before Christmas and just yesterday got more and sold three on a slow day!

And one more thing: Illustrator Katherine Tillotson wrote to me to sing the praises of a program at Hicklebee’s in San Jose, Calif., called "Worth the Candle." In August Publishers Weekly featured an article on the program that is more than worth reading. Talk about a great way to handsell books… I think this program is worth several VATS of wax. As are all the booksellers who shared their numbers with me for this post! (Thanks, everyone!)