Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Heartbreak of ‘Watchman’

Josie Leavitt - July 14, 2015

Today is the day many in the book world have been waiting for: the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. The book has been long-awaited since it was announced with much discussion about whether or not Harper Lee was of sound mind to actually approve the release. These rumors were quickly quashed by her legal team, but folks are still scratching their heads a little at the release of what is a draft of the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird. Obviously, it’s great fun to have another book by Harper Lee to read, but was it the right thing to do? I guess that doesn’t really matter now. The book is here and opinions are flying.
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Another Favor Amazon Wouldn’t Do For You

Josie Leavitt - July 13, 2015

People ask us to ship books to them all the time. This is usually a very straightforward process: the book or audio comes in, we process an invoice, and then ship the items out via the customer’s designated carrier. Simple, right? Then there are the times when things are not as easy, or economical as they could be. But sometimes through these travails greater things are revealed, like the heart of a bookstore.  Continue reading

Books You Can’t Bring Yourself to Read

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 10, 2015

Have you ever found yourself avoiding a book a friend has recommended, or that everyone in the universe seems to be reading, orworst of alla gift book you just cannot force yourself to crack open? I want to hear about it.
I’m one of the only adult women of a certain age I know who never read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbertdespite its appealing cover and many rave reviews, and even after enjoying her wonderful TED talk. I think it was partly because that book sold itself by the dozens; other books needed me more, to read them so I could recommend them to customers. There are several books like that: The Red Tent, Room, Gone Girl, Water for Elephantsbestsellers so popular they have no trouble finding their audience. Those, I don’t feel so bad about. But then there are the books that have dogged me for years.
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A Recipe for Young Readers

Kenny Brechner - July 9, 2015

We’re having a very busy summer at the store this year. Huzzah to that! Vacationing families browsing in the bookstore are always an instructive pleasure. There are three main reasons for vacationing families to spend time together in the store. Some families are directed by parents who want their children to have books. The children are happy to be here but the choice to come was made by their parents. Other families are here because they have an established internal culture of reading. They all read, always share books among themselves, and consider the merits and demerits of various previously consumed titles to be an important and ongoing conversation topic.  Coming to the store was a no-brainer.
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Round Things, Metal Things, Silhouettes, Faces Framed by Leaves, and Other Book Cover Tendencies

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 8, 2015

I haven’t done a book jacket trends post in a long time, in part because photos of partial faces and girls in gown continue to not go away, and it would be silly to point out such obvious things. But there are other trends emerging—some intriguing, some irritating—so I’ve gathered covers. This blog post isn’t just aiming to find look-alikes; there are some amazing cover designs below, and it’s fascinating to see how different designers treat similar themes. While I might poke gentle fun at some recurring elements, I am truly in awe of what designers create. Cover design is an incredibly challenging art—it’s art on a deadline with a budget, which has to be carried out multiple times a season. I really don’t know how they do it.

I’ll start with a micro-trend that alert Flying Pig staffers Sandy and Laura noticed: books with partial faces surrounded by leaves. First, there was last August’s The Badger Knight by Kathryn Erskine (Scholastic Press). Then came September’s Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion). And now, fresh on the shelves, is April Henry’s The Body in the Woods (Henry Holt). Faces in leaves are in the zeitgeist.

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Pandering to or Presuming Shorter Attention Spans?

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 6, 2015


Bill Peet’s books are still huge favorites among children. This one has 1333 words, according to

In the 18-plus years I’ve been a bookseller, the average word count in picture books has dropped, and dropped again, and dropped again. When we opened the bookstore in the mid-1990s, 1,500 words was at the upper limit of what was considered to be an acceptable length. Now that’s a laughable number, and the general rule of thumb is that you’d better watch yourself if you’re over 500.
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Happy Independence Day

Josie Leavitt - July 3, 2015

The Fourth of July is a great holiday that celebrates our nation’s independence. I can’t think of a better weekend to shop at an indie bookstore. Small and large bricks and mortar stores represent everything that is great about our country: individuality, eclectic collections of books, and a deep commitment to community. Indies have great books for summer reading for kids and adults alike.  Continue reading

The Once and Future Whirl-O

Kenny Brechner - July 2, 2015

You might think that shallow people miss out on a lot of the things which they are insensible to: faith, long-term conviction, the pursuit of a lofty goal, and so forth. You most likely also believe that it is obvious to outside observers that shallow people lack these things because, as Voltaire observed of himself, “I’m as small streams; they are transparent because they are shallow.”
It turns out that shallow and mordantly secular booksellers are not wholly immune to experiences of that sort. We feel loss and injustice. When the signature wrap of our store is discontinued, or a go-to handsell is not filled on an order because it has been placed out of stock indefinitely, we feel pain at the insensibility and injustice of the world in a manner not unlike our deeper colleagues.
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