Monthly Archives: February 2010

Weather and Customers

Josie Leavitt - February 24, 2010

On the eve of a major winter storm, my thoughts turn toward shopping patterns in bad weather. Our store is in Vermont, so we’ve got snow, often lots of it, for long periods of time. Do folks hole up when the weather’s bad? Not so much. The beauty of our store is folks can snow shoe, cross country ski or pull their kids on sleds right up to the front door. Vermonters are an anticipatory bunch. Rumors of bad weather tend to send families in for books to read during snow days.  There’s nothing like a stack of books to calm kids during a long snow day. Let’s face it, not every kid wants to go outside and play in a snowstorm.
Not every family or person plans ahead. These folks brave the weather when the need for reading takes over. They do come to the store in a myriad of ways. There is a perverse pride in braving even the worst storm. These folks arrive triumphant and spend a lot of money as if saying, “Thanks for being open.” Younger children who can’t stay outside that long tend to get pulled in sleds to the store. There’s nothing quite as cute as an entire snow-suited family that comes clomping in, shaking snow off their boots. I can always tell how long a family has stayed in the store by how large the pile of winter clothing is in the picture book section.
Customers generally don’t mind the snow, it’s the rain they hate. Too many rainy days in a row, especially in the summer, makes customers crabby even while they’re buying the book that they hope will be their salvation.  Rain tends to make customers stay away. It’s as if they’re just angry and don’t want to be bothered. Cold weather seemingly has no effect on shopping patterns.
One thing I’ve noticed is most Vermonters just like to come to the store to complain about the weather, whatever it is. Too many sunny days in a row during the summer,   people start to worry about drought and we recommend books about the dust bowl. If the summer is too rainy, well then there are mosquitoes and I’ll recommend a book about exploring the Amazon. If there isn’t enough snow, people stand around the register wondering about global warming and we’ll hand them the latest Bill McKibben book. A late spring storm has gardeners agonizing about when they think they’ll be able to put their garden in, so we soothe them with The Secret Garden.
One very strange thing I’ve noticed is the first beautiful day after a spate of ugly weather tends to put people in a bad mood. It’s almost as if they’re angry because they’ve realized how nice the weather could be. For them I recommend David Sedaris or Calvin and Hobbes, because life is short and you need to laugh.

Teens and Shelftalkers

Josie Leavitt - February 22, 2010

On Friday night we had our first-ever teen appreciation night, and what fun it was. There was no author, no activity, just seven pizzas (which the school paid for) and twenty kids who wanted to talk about books with us.
We’ve been working very closely with the Vergennes seventh and eighth grade teacher choosing books for her classroom. Ms. Lawson, Jen to me, comes in with a list and a deep knowledge of her students and together we match the kids with books. Jen is the kind of classroom teacher all kids need, someone who cares a great deal about them and knows them as readers. Jen had the kids write shelf talkers for us. She asked who would like to participate in this and all thirty kids said yes. That was gratifying to say the least. photo3.jpg
Look how cute this shelftalker is! Hand-drawn by an eighth grader from our newsletter, this is so much more appealing than our index card shelftalkers. These have only been up a day and already I’ve heard kids reading them and talking to their friends about the books. Now that’s a successful shelftalker. I am going to track the sales of the books these kids choose to write about and see if kid-written shelftalkers increase sales.
I have a feeling they will. The kids and I finished the pizza and then talked about books. The conversation turned to book covers with one boy asking,”Why are they so ugly?” Well, that’s direct. He said he hated photographs of real kids on covers, especially modern-looking kids on historical fiction titles. Many girls chimed in that they were getting “really tired” of covers that had girls’ bodies, but no heads. The consensus was the photographs ruined the book in a way because it dictated what the characters looked like, and that might not be how the reader actually saw them. Editors, are you listening?
I  gave out galleys at the end and the kids were excited, but one boy was disappointed there weren’t more 2010 galleys. I told him I hadn’t finished reading them yet.
The teacher and I decided that we will do this quarterly. So, in the spring, I’ll get 30 more reviews, we’ll have some more pizza and honestly, I can’t wait.

Write or Die, and Freedom

Elizabeth Bluemle - February 19, 2010

Computer attackHere are two programs to help you best your worst self. Or at least your most procrastinating self. This post is for the writers (and editors, booksellers, teachers and librarians) who want to tame the Internet beast and get some work done.
Write or Die iconThe first one is called, somewhat alarmingly, Write or Die.  This nefarious, effective program was created by a developer who calls himself “Dr. Wicked,” and he really is. Wicked, that is. I doubt he’s a doctor.
Write or Die (cleverly subtitled “Putting the ‘Prod’ in Productivity”) basically has you choose a time goal or a word-count goal, and then holds you to it. If you stop typing before you meet your goal, you get a warning that leads into … a consequence. I won’t tell you what it is, but you can choose Gentle, Normal, or Kamikaze mode. You can also lengthen or shorten your grace period (the time it takes for a warning to turn into a consequence) by choosing Forgiving, Strict, or Evil. And let me tell you, “Evil” is truly evil. You will gasp at Dr. Wicked’s diabolical genius in devising that particular consequence.
Write or Die main“But what if I have to go to the baaaathrooom?” you whine. Well, Dr. Wicked has that covered. You can pause the program, but you only get to do it once per writing session. He’s good, that guy. He also has a podcast called Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die Podcast, a collection of stories and/or poems by writers on a theme.  This month’s topic is “Dark Lullabies for Strange Children.” I haven’t listened to all of it, but what I have heard is pretty good. Of course, I’m ready to like it for the title alone. By the way, I discovered Write or Die through YA writer Stacey Kade. I thank her. My agent and editor thank her. I’m pretty much going to have to buy her coffee and a giant cookie if we ever meet in person.
Dr. Wicked's PodcastYou can use Write or Die for free online, or pay $10 and download the program. The download version has some perks: customizable font and font color, a fullscreen mode, the ability to keep the window on top of all other windows. You can also choose to disable certain functions on your computer—like the backspace button—to further motivate you to keep writing. No backspacing! Ack! That’s great for those endless line-by-line polishers who never seem to make it to the second chapter, or the ends of their novels, not that I personally have any experience with that. Ahem.
You can also alter the consequences. Oh, okay, I’ll spill a little here. Let’s say you stop typing for more than five seconds. You can either stick with the violin skreeks or crying babies Dr. Wicked has programmed into Write or Die to annoy you back into writing, or you can set up something even worse: for ecample, an mp3 of a song you hate, or the kind that becomes an earworm and drives you crazy. (Wait, is that Miley Cyrus I hear? So I put my hands up, They’re playing my song, And the butterflies fly away, Noddin’ my head like yeah, Moving my hips like yeah….).
Writing WarMy favorite download-program feature is the Writing War — you and that favorite writing buddy you moved away from two years ago can now get together to write. You can watch each other’s progress bars as you work, viewing them either companionably or competitively, depending on your flavor. The download version has one major advantage over the online one, too; as Dr. Wicked says, it offers “[a]ll the features you know and love (or are deeply vexed by) from the online version now available without the gigantic kitten of distraction that is our modern internet.” Snort! I love that phrase, “gigantic kitten of distraction.” So terribly true.
Freedom iconWhich leads to the second program: Freedom. I don’t know if there’s a similar program for PC users, but for you Apple folk, this is great. It practically strong-arms you into staying offline for as long as you choose, or can stand. (Thanks to Sascha Zuger for reminding me of the program!)
Freedom screenshotHere’s the developer’s description: “Freedom is an application that disables networking on an Apple computer for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom will free you from the distractions of the internet, allowing you time to code, write, or create. At the end of your selected offline period, Freedom re-enables your network, restoring everything as normal. Freedom enforces freedom; a reboot is the only circumvention of the Freedom time limit you specify. The hassle of rebooting means you’re less likely to cheat, and you’ll enjoy enhanced productivity.”
Freedom screenshot 2This is a bare-bones, extremely simple application. No bells and whistles—which is the point. You turn off the internet and get your work done. Or take the dogs on a walk. Or communicate with, say, your family members.
It’s a strange world when adults have to set limits for ourselves as though we are our own children—but the fact is that our work machines have also become our toys. Programs like Write or Die and Freedom help us leave our virtual worlds to get back to something the head of Google refers to as the p-world (for “physical world”) and my bookseller friend Leslie Reiner refers to simply as “THE world.”
Writers, booksellers, editors — what keeps you on track? (Or, if you are a contrarian, what are your favorite procrastination sites?)

The Power of the Regionals

Josie Leavitt - February 18, 2010

Booksellers can sometimes toil in isolation. We work in our stores and live in our communities, but meaningful contact with other booksellers can be difficult to achieve except at the trade shows, unless you’re a member of your trade organization.
There are nine regional organizations in the country and each puts on a trade show. But they all do so much more. In the words of Hut Landon of NCIBA, the Northern California Independent Bookselling Association, works “to promote the vitality, diversity and prosperity of independent bookselling in the region.”All the regional associations fight the fight for the indies; they know the local issues, be it sales tax, or the influx of big-box stores. They are another voice of the indies with publishers and media. They focus on issues so the booksellers can focus on the art of selling books.
All the organizations have websites that are literally chock full of information for booksellers and publishers. Every region publishes its own regional bestseller list (they are great fun to look at and compare with your region), monthly newsletters and posts when there are get- togethers. There is a wealth of info for the new bookseller or the seasoned bookseller looking for specific info about a bookselling topic. Some websites offer author touring maps, lists of authors/illustrators in the region, and educational links.
The New England Independent Bookselling Association (my regional) is very active in many ways. NEIBA has 281 member bookstores, 77 publishing members and 36 others, usually authors or agents and a vibrant, active website. NEIBA really works with bookstores to give us the tools we need to compete in tough times. Our holiday catalog is sixteen pages of full-color book yumminess with very shrewd title choices that represent New England. Member stores get 100 catalogs free, after that you pay a very reasonable price. The best part of this is, should you choose to insert the catalog in your local paper with your imprint on it, NEIBA pays half your costs, up to $1,000. This set-up allowed me to afford inserting the catalog into three local papers, which resulted in very good sales this past Christmas season.
As someone who sells kids’ books, I love NECBA, the New England Children’s Bookselling Advisory Council, as it is extremely actively with an Internet listserve. The power of the listserve cannot be underplayed. On a busy Saturday last week, Elizabeth posted a query about a title that was vexing her and within an hour several folks had offered suggestions. This kind of instant help is wonderful when faced with a title that’s elusive. More important than title help, the listserve allows you to talk to many booksellers at once about any issue you might be having in the store.
As if title help weren’t enough, NECBA has a long tradition of compiling member reviews of Fall and Spring books into the Review Project. This is an incredibly valuable resource as NECBA members try to weigh in on all the Middle grade and Young Adult novels of each season. See the website for a complete list of review projects since 2005.This kind of camaraderie allows you to vent, get advice and in so doing, get to know your fellow booksellers in a different way. Conversations begun at the trade show can continue on-line.
Need advice about good sidelines? Talk to the members of your regional organization. I don’t know as much about other regionals, although it was great fun to share ideas with the folks at NCCBA, the Northern California equivalent of NECBA, at Winter Institute a few weeks ago. There is something so uplifting about being able to talk books with others in the trade. The shared sense of struggle and achievement helps make the day to day a little brighter. If you’re not a member of your regional organization, know that the cost of membership is nominal and the benefits you can reap are substantial.
I wonder, has your regional done anything great that has really helped you as a bookseller?

To OP or Not to OP, That Is the Question

Josie Leavitt - February 16, 2010

If an independent bookseller can’t get a book for a customer, but it’s available somewhere else, say (Advanced Book Exchange), or, don’t say it,, what’s      the bookseller to do? I’ve done some investigating and it seems Amazon does own outright and has a pretty swell set-up for out-of-print resellers on Alibris, but does that mean independent booksellers should not use them?
Here’s the scenario: a customer comes in wanting an out-of-print book, say, Ruth Carlsen’s classic, Mr. Pudgins. This book is easily available on Ingram’s professional level Ipage, so you can literally just add it to your selection list, click order and you’re done. The out-of-print resellers are on Alibris. The book ships net, you are charged freight and the charge is added right to your Ingram bill. The ease of this transaction makes this an attractive option.
Baker and Taylor offers a similar service, though it’s not quite as smooth. Out-of-print books are available, but the link takes you right to Alibris and you have to have an Alibris account and a credit card to process the sale. This can be cumbersome if a staffer who doesn’t have access to the store credit card is trying to place an order.
Because the book is net from Ingram or Baker and Taylor, so the bookstore gets no discount, now you have to decide if you’re going to mark up the book to cover your staff time in researching the book, or do you just order these types of books as a courtesy to your customers? Or is it enough to pass on the freight cost to your customer and have them come in the store to pick up their book? (I just played around on Ipage and learned you can set a default discount or price increase for Alibris books. So, when you’re searching the Hard to Find database, the price you’re quoting customers already incluce whatever pre-set mark up you’ve determined.)
Or, perhaps, you just give the customer the info he needs to order the book himself at or any of the other places he could go?
The real question, I guess, is, do you want the customer to come to you for the book, regardless of where you get it, or is it easier and more efficient, staff time-wise, to have them go to an on-line competitor and risk maybe losing them?
We have a general rule at the Flying Pig: we’ll always get the books for older folks who maybe aren’t as tech-savvy as the folks who work at the store. Students coming in seeking books will sometimes get directions to websites so they can save the most money. But as more people come in seeking out-of-print titles, it has become a real dilemma for us.
In a perfect world, all our stores would be down the street from a great used bookseller and none of this would be an issue, but I’m really curious to hear what other bookstores do.

There’s More to Community Than the Store

Josie Leavitt - February 15, 2010

Living in a small town affords chances to participate in the community in interesting ways. Friday night I found myself hosting the fourth annual Charlotte Central School K-8 Variety Show. Being the bookstore owner who performs comedy in a town of 3,500 means I get whoops and hollers when I start the show. The whoops are not for me, they’re for the bookstore, which is wonderful. One of the stagehands, an eighth grader whose been shopping at the store since she was born, commented, "Do you think there’s anyone in the audience who hasn’t been to the Flying Pig?" Bless her heart.

Emceeing a variety show that begins with the kindergartners acting out Do Re Mi is just about the cutest thing ever. Picture 40 squirming five-year-olds who are on stage too long before their song starts. They are pulling their underwear, picking their noses, bouncing up and down and generally ignoring their teachers at the foot of the stage trying to get them to be still. The song started and it was lovely.

A variety show usually consists of kids who sing, surprisingly well, but suffer the same problems as contestants on American Idol: poor song selection. Not every 10 year-old should sing Lady Gaga, really no one should sing Lady Gaga. There were a lot of poets at this show and I applaud them. To get up in front of 500 people, most of them other kids, and recite poetry is a brave act. One girl, Hannah, read a poem she had written herself. The poem was called "The Wheelchair," about her grandmother and the time Hannah was confined to a wheelchair after breaking her leg last year. It was moving, beautiful and stunningly sophisticated. One thing about the MC is I can’t let my normally mush-ball self take over and tear up when moved. So, after Hannah’s poem, I gathered myself and introduced the next act: basketball-throwing third graders. Nothing like a huge juxtaposition to shake me out of a sad moment.

I have been emceeing this show for four years and in that time I’ve never seen anyone act out a book, until this year. A lovely third grader took it upon herself to interpret Go Dog Go. She made all the dogs herself, the tree (well, this is Vermont, she just grabbed a branch from a tree in her yard) and the backdrop. She read loudly with conviction and ended to rousing applause. When she finished I remembered that Go Dog Go was my breakthrough "learn to read" book. To see an eight-year-old embrace one of my childhood favorites in such a creative way was heartwarming to say the least.

In the words of a bouncy kindergartner after Do Re Mi, "I had so much fun."

A Bookstore Photo Tour: The Midtown Scholar

Alison Morris - February 12, 2010

While I was growing up in and around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there were few independent bookstores to speak of. The term “independent bookstore” was, in fact, a complete unknown to me until I became an undergraduate at Smith College, where the surrounding town of Northampton taught me to value locally owned independent businesses of all stripes — bookstores included.
During a trip home at Thanksgiving, I was pleased to see that a few of my favorite independent stores in Central Pa. are still alive and well, and that Harrisburg has recently added another indie bookstore jewel to its crown. The Midtown Scholar is a cavernous space filled with some 100,000+ second-hand, out-of-print, and scholarly and books. As if that’s not large enough to be impressive, consider that if you combine the books housed on this store’s six levels of retail space with what’s also stored in its warehouses, you’re looking at 1 million volumes, all of them listed in the store’s computerized database, making this “the largest used book collection between New York City and Chicago,” according to one recent article. (Yowza!)
Did I mention they also serve a mean cup of coffee, and host music concerts, author readings, political debates, book clubs, story times, art exhibits and more?
My parents, Gareth, and I spent a blissful morning perusing the shelves and admiring the physical space of this magnificent store, and by some luck wound up chatting with Eric Papenfuse, who co-owns the store with his wife Catherine Lawrence. While their business isn’t new (they operated The Midtown Scholar in a smaller nearby building before renovating this space and moving it here), they are seeing a wealth of new readers come through the door of this, its larger, newly renovated home. Having grown weary of tales about indies having to downsize or (worse) close their doors completely, it was invigorating to witness the success of this business. I’m overjoyed that their online bookselling efforts have been lucrative enough to fund the creation and operation of such a princely brick-and-mortar store. (Would that this was the case for everyone.)
Take a look at the photos below to see why The Midtown Scholar is worth adding to your list of “must-see bookstores” and make plans to pay them a visit!
Can you tell from the marquee that this building was once a theater?

I love the former ticket booth out front.

One of the very inviting window displays…

A beautiful stained glass window mounted inside — the first hint that you’ll want to pay close attention to the architectural details in this place.

Ta da! You walk in the front door, note the Famous Reading Café on your right and step into this bright and airy space.

Look again at the photo above. See that mezzanine level ahead of you, up the black steps? The photo below was taken from that level, looking back toward the front entrance of the store.

Turn around again. The mezzanine level you’re standing on right now looks like this, below… And it’s jam-packed with books on art and photography. Seriously. That whole level. Nothing but art and photography. Be still my beating heart.

At the back of the mezzanine stands this doorway to a room full of recently received titles, not yet priced or sorted for sale, above which hangs this fantastic window.

Eventually this room looks to become the home of Rare Books and Pennsylvaniana (love this term), but the day we were there it was a delicous hodge-podge of titles on every imaginable subject, newly unpacked and awaiting the eyes of eager readers… I had so much fun exploring the shelves of this room!

I resisted the urge to climb that ladder and peruse the higher shelves, but I was sorely tempted.

Walking now along the table-lined balcony, toward the front of the store and the Yellow Wall Gallery…

Peering down from the table-lined balcony gives you a terrific view of the low stage on the first floor, which is flanked by the children’s section, and the terrific mural that fills the wall above it.

The antique staircase on the right was reportedly salvaged from a 19th-century Baltimore hotel.

Now here we are in the upper lounge, called the “Yellow Wall Gallery” for, um, obvious reasons.

Looking down on the store from that level… You can’t see it, but (just to help re-orient you) the entrance to the store is almost directly below me at this point.

The Yellow Wall gallery is home to rotating art exhibits, and wow, is it ever cozy! This is the left-hand side of the space…

and this is the right. Can you imagine a more lovely space for small readings?

Just to the left of the staged reading space above is a door to an actual outside balcony. At a bookstore. A balcony! Outside! I love this!

On the balcony, looking left.

On the balcony, looking right. Across the street is the wonderful old Broad Street Market (founded 1860), which is still a working farmer’s market and a place my parents and I frequented in my youth. The green dome in the distance is the state Capitol Building (another must-see stop on your Harrisburg tour).

Now we’re back inside, at the top of the antique staircase that leads up to the gallery. That’s owner Eric Papenfuse in the red sweatshirt below, gesturing about the enormity of his bookstore.

Look to the left of Eric in that photo above. See the sign for the lower level that appears there? Here’s a closer view of it and the room to which it’s pointing, below. As you might be able to tell, this room (of which you’re only seeing about half in this photo) is FILLED with books on the subject of American History. And still more books that have yet to be sorted and shelved. And cases filled with recently arrived remainders, sorted by publisher. Books, books, books, as far as the eye can see.

And you’re not done yet. Below the American History room, is yet another — this one filled with scholarly books on every imaginable subject. I could spend months in this store and still find myself making a magical new discovery every hour or two. If not more often than that.

Talking with Eric about the enormity of this store and speculating about its future success, he mentioned that what he and Catherine would really like to see are other bookstores opening in the area. They’d like to see Harrisburg become a mecca for readers and book collectors — an admirable goal if ever I’ve heard one. Telling Eric about my own adventures in bookselling and Gareth’s illustration career, he enthusiastically suggested that we open a children’s bookstore right next door. (See the yellow building on the right, below).

I chuckled amiably at Eric’s suggestion, thinking (for the umpteenth time) that I’d never be crazy/gutsy enough to own my own store, until he mentioned what the rent would be for both the first floor retail space and the newly renovated studio above it. The figure was one-third what Gareth and I currently pay in rent for our small Boston-area apartment. (Insert sound of my jaw hitting the floor here.) For one brief, shining moment the idea of owning my own bookstore didn’t seem quite as crazy any more… Especially not when I’d have such incredibly cool neighbors.
But, alas. The ownership plan is just not in the cards for me. If you’re interested, though, you should call the store and let Eric or Catherine know! In the meantime, read the mission of the Midtown Scholar to understand why every town should want to have and support businesses like this, and pay this terrific store a visit.

What You Wish They Knew: A Conversation Between Authors, Publishing Folks, and Booksellers

Elizabeth Bluemle - February 10, 2010

Publishers, what do you wish booksellers knew? Booksellers, what do you wish publishers, editors, and authors knew? Editors and marketers and reps, what do you wish booksellers, or your authors, knew? ShelfTalker is not just a blog; it’s a wonderful opportunity for people from all sides of the children’s book industry to come together and talk about our field: the good, the bad, and the bunny. (Sorry, the bunny cliché hopped out—har har—before I could stop it.)
Whenever I’m at a writing or bookselling conference, I’ll be surprised by at least one comment made by an editor, sales rep, art designer, or publisher, which suddenly clears up some misperception about that person’s work. For instance, I didn’t know for a long time that at most trade shows, publishers must pay for their authors to sign books (in addition to badge and travel and meal expenses for the author, publishers also pay a fee for the table signings). Now, when my author friends are confused about their publishers not leaping to have them sign at a trade show, even when the author is planning to attend on his or her own dime, I can share that infomation: it just may be too expensive. Understanding the business better can only help everyone involved.
Even experienced book-industry folks are limited by their own blinders. For people new to the field, or with just one perspective, how overwhelming must it be to navigate the ins and outs, the etiquette and netiquette, the expectations and taboos?
I’m convinced that most of the frustrations we face in our work lives come from misunderstandings, miscommunications, or poorly understood expectations. I’d love to start a website—but am too lazy to do it—where people in various kinds of jobs could articulate to their co-workers, customers, and clients, the things they wish the other side knew. Like coffee shop baristas: I can imagine them saying, “I really wish customers would move to the right after paying. I could help six more people an hour if they wouldn’t just stand there, blocking the register.” You know, something simple, that people should know, but may not realize.
I have a little ambition for this post: for people to bookmark it, and when something comes up that triggers familiar annoyance, you come here and post a tip for the rest of us (albeit kindly, understanding that ignorance, not malevolence, is behind most people’s missteps). Anonymity is perfectly fine. Label your comment: “What Xs Wish Xs Knew,” and fill in the Xs with the appropriate nouns. It’s fascinating and helpful to learn from each other. Personally, I’d love to know what marketing people wish authors knew, and what publishers wish booksellers knew.
I’ll start with a few:

What booksellers wish art directors knew: Static covers that don’t invite curiosity, ask a question, or begin to tell a story will be a tougher handsell than those that do. Also, teens are getting sick of photographs of teens (and parts of teens) on covers. They’re starting not to be able to tell the books apart, and to make fun of the sameness of the covers. Some teen wags lined up all the leg/feet books in a row on one shelf, and the half-faces on another. It was pretty funny, and definitely revealed 2008-9 cover trends.
What booksellers wish book designers knew: PLEASE put clear, legible, easily located series numbers on book spines and covers. This is such an easy thing to do, but you’d be surprised how hard some designs are to read; customers shouldn’t have to work so hard to locate (and decipher, often) those series numbers.
What booksellers wish authors knew: If you come to the store and we don’t have your book, please don’t be discouraged. Chances are we’re just out of it at the moment. Booksellers carry thousands of titles in our stores (the Flying Pig has about 40,000 items, including non-book goods, for example) and if we’re out of your titles, it doesn’t mean we don’t carry it or don’t like it. It can be reordered quickly, and is usually just a day or two away. Better yet, give us a heads-up that you’re coming, so that we can restock in time for your visit. (Caveat: not all stores will be able to do this, though. Distributor orders require large-ish minimums to meet free freight threshholds, and bookstores operate on slim margins. Every book on our shelves for longer than 30 days has been paid for by us. That’s a lot of money tied up in inventory. If a store can’t/doesn’t get your book in time for your visit, it may be because, at the moment, these factors are in play.)
Anything you wish people knew? Please add your comments!
It’s okay for editors, art directors, etc., to post anonymously. The information is so helpful and important.
And everyone, please try to keep your comments constructive and not let frustration get the better of helpful, open communication. Particularly helpful are the insights into your own end of the business.

Young Readers, Beyonce, and "Scholar Ladies"

Elizabeth Bluemle -

Watch how a group of students take a song about sex appeal and make it about smarts. Alison’s charming video with the pint-sized Hamlet yesterday reminded me that I’d been meaning to share this one, which has been making the rounds recently, and I can’t tell you how much I love it!! What a fun school environment! What great kids!!! Somehow, I’ll just bet they have a great library there in Milwaukee.

This has me all jazzed up to reclaim a bunch of songs featuring scantily clad women gyrating, and turn them into girl-power, kid-power, reading-power power ballads, pop songs, and raps. Any ideas? I’ll start.
POKER FACE becomes READING RACE, to celebrate a county-wide reading competition (can’t you hear it now? “ma-ma-ma-my reading race…”.)
DISTURBIA becomes DYSTOPIA, and the lyrics booktalk a bunch of great novels in the genre.
And really, so much could be done with The Black-Eyed Peas’ LET’S GET IT STARTED (already a revamp of a less appetizing version of itself), the mind reels. Listen to the murmur growing: reading-reading and reading-reading….
With apologies to the band, it would go something like this:
And the kids keep readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and readin’ readin’, and…
In this chapter, there’s some laughter, we got to finish it, there’s math after.
We got five minutes to reach the denoument, so don’t hem and haw, work your jaw read loud now
Characters are in a pickle, a villain holds a sickle, there’s suspense you feel the hair back of your neck prickle.
And when we read yeah, we succeed, yeah.
You won’t believe how much we know about.
Read till the light’s burned out.
How does it all turn out?
Books are from north, west, east, south.
Everybody, everybody, let’s get into it.
Get reading
Get it started, get it started, get it started.
Let’s get it started (ha), let’s get it started in here.
Let’s get it started (ha), let’s get it started in here.
Let’s get it started (ha), let’s get it started in here.
Let’s get it started (ha), let’s get it started in here. Yeah.
You have any hit song/reading mash-up ideas to share? Post ’em here.