Newsdesk – Friday April 1, 2017
The development of digital reading apps is obviously a source of progress in the purest sense of the word, particularly regarding children. Phone and tablet apps for kids offer the appealing prospect of liberating young “readers” from the perils of comprehension related side effects recently correlated to traditional reading. These pernicious processes, long given euphemistic terms such as learning, retention, and intellectual engagement, are now widely understood to be a potent source of reading-induced cognitive indigestion.
The past few years have seen a veritable explosion of board books introducing sophisticated concepts to babies and toddlers. We’ve seen Shakespeare and Jane Austen, quantam physics, quarks, aerospace engineering, relativity, and much more, all pared down for tiny tot consumption. Just consider these series: BabyLit, Charlesbridge’s Baby Loves, Chronicle’s Cozy Classics, Little Simon’s Baby Loves To, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky’s Baby University and Young Historians, among others.
Now there’s a new line. Produced by a newcomer publisher, Debunk Bed, these new board books will have an unabashedly political agenda. “We want babies to think ‘right’ from the very beginning,” said publisher and CEO Mark Whitemun, adding, “We’re proudly creating our content — even our facts — from scratch. And we’re extremely well-funded.”
Debunk Bed will debut five titles in its inaugural 2017 line:
There’s a wonderful award given annually that recognizes excellence in children’s bookstores: the Lucille Micheels Pannell Award. Generously co-sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association (another fab WNBA!) and Penguin Young Readers Group, the award “recognizes bookstores that enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading and books in children and young adults.”
Anyone can nominate a favorite bookstore, including customers, sales reps, publishing folks, authors and illustrators, staff, owners, and managers of the store, and more. Once all of the nominations are in, the award committee (made up of a group of publishing professionals) notifies the nominated stores, who then submit supporting materials. Continue reading
One of the joys of working in a bookshop is the opportunity for great conversations on wide-ranging topics as people stream in and out during the day. Sharing passionate opinions on books is an obvious and frequent topic. Often, talk turns to the news of the day or upcoming store events or issues in education. Some days there ends up being a recurring theme. Some themes are more pleasant than others. (Warning: if you’re reading this as you eat maybe you should save your food, or this post, for later.) Continue reading
I’m writing from the road this week! I’m currently in New York, wrapping up a week of publisher meetings, which I always enjoy. It’s always nice to come and chat with colleagues on their own turf. While I was here, I also took the opportunity to head out to Greenpoint to see the Enchanted Lion offices. I’ve been collaborating with the publisher, Claudia Bedrick, on a dedicated Enchanted Lion display for the store and wanted to connect.
Claudia’s books are beautiful and thoughtful, and her list reflects a great deal of care in vision and design. From the exquisite paper choices to the art direction to the stories told, her list radiates love for the picture book as art form. And I’ve found that when presented together, the books sing with a distinctive voice, bringing together titles in translation with original works under one carefully curated point of view—a point of view that I think brings something unique to the fabric of our store.
I got an email from HarperCollins in August that caught my attention. It began like this.
Indie Book Stores needed for HarperCollins Facebook Live Initiative!
The idea: Go LIVE from one Indie store in each of the 50 states in 50 weeks EVERY SATURDAY.”
Two things about the promotion appealed to me.The message noted that the promotion “costs nothing more than time creativity and a willingness to think off the shelf.” I liked the idea that a publisher was recruiting bookstores for a challenging project that called for creative thinking. Second, I had no experience whatever with Facebook Live and taking the plunge seemed like a good opportunity to learn something new that might have good marketing potential. I signed up right away.
When picture book author Ruth Horowitz (Are We Still Friends?) contacted us last fall for an author event in March, we wavered. March was shaping up to be a crowded month with several offsite events planned, and we wanted Ruth to have a successful reading. Since Ruth was sure she could help draw a crowd, and we like to say yes if we can, we did. And boy, were we happy we said yes! Little did we know how much of a crowd Ruth would gather.
Ruth has lots of local connections, having once lived and worked in Vermont. She was sure her friends and colleagues would turn out, got in touch beforehand to warn us that she’d run out of books at a previous event. We’d ordered 30 copies from Scholastic and another 10 from a distributor, so we felt comfortable. Authors—optimists that they/we are—tend to overestimate how many books will sell during an event, sometimes by a lot. They also aren’t usually aware that the cost of returning unsold stock can make a bookstore actually lose money on an event. Forty books is a solid number for most regular events, and we’d also brought in Ruth’s backlist.
Allan Wolf writes literary young adult fiction. Mo O’Hara writes bonkers early chapter books. On the surface, they couldn’t be more different as authors. But they share an amazing capacity for holding an audience captive and illuminating the work and the joy of writing. I was fortunate enough to host each of them at the bookstore over the weekend, and it was fascinating to learn how they each approached writing about childhood events and to watch them work the crowds– engaging, inspiring, and entertaining their readers. Continue reading
We are lucky enough to get a lot of touring kids’ authors coming through our store for either in-store or (even more frequently) school visits around Austin. Connecting readers with interesting authors who have something to say is one of the best parts of what we do. And a lot of what we do to host authors involves planning logistics, facilitating public conversations, and being a calming, structured presence in the face of fan ferocity. But sometimes we get a chance to just be fans ourselves, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
One of the things we’ve started doing is to periodically invite authors with robust backlists full of stories booksellers cherish, to sit down with us over some cookies or sandwiches and just chat. We don’t often have time in the schedule to do this, so it’s a luxury. But when we can squeeze it in, it gives us a chance to appreciate and enjoy an author’s presence and it arms us with new energy (and anecdotes) to use in our regular business of talking up his or her books.
With Spring looming, hard as the recent blizzard here in the Northeast makes that to credit, I made an appointment to speak with her and learn which books she has picked to feature during her coming term.
Kenny: Good morning!. How are you, Spring?
Spring: Good morning to you, Kenny. Truth to say, I am a bit downcast.
Kenny: I’m sorry to hear that. Is your mood a victim of the blizzard that came though earlier in the week?
Spring: Oh, nothing like that. The proximity of the seasons to each other is no cause of melancholy. No, it was the news of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s passing from ovarian cancer. Her work was beloved in the Vernal Glade. All the woodland creatures adored her books especially. It was hard to tell them.