Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Book I’m Currently Obsessed With

Elizabeth Bluemle - March 14, 2017

We are a nation governed by distraction; If You Give a Mouse a Cookie could be our memoir–at least, our most benign one. Everyone I know complains of spending too much time online. They regret the minutes and hours lost, but admit to getting sucked down rabbit holes. We bemoan our lost book-reading time, but can’t resist the eddies of interest and tentacles of curiosity that Googling and link-hopping can provide. Fortunately, there’s a new book out that satisfies all of these tendencies—it can be dipped into like a squirrel’s nut hoard, enjoyed a quick nibble at a time, or dived into headfirst, one fascinating tidbit leading to the next to the next to the next—yet still qualifies as literary.
This new book I’m currently addicted to is called Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal about the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing by Ben Blatt (Simon & Schuster). It’s an entertaining, list- and graph-filled, statistical look at what the words in classic and contemporary literature reveal about writers, our attitudes toward writing, and the ways those are changing over time.
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The Very Happy Costume Event

lhawkins - March 13, 2017

I hate to name-drop, but over the years I’ve hosted a lot of celebrities: Curious George, Corduroy, Winnie the Pooh, and Bad Kitty, to name a few. Picture books are the bestselling section at Spellbound, so costume character events bringing the stars of classic picture books into the bookstore can be pure gold both in terms of customer engagement and sales. The operative word here is “can.” Success is never a given for any kind of event, but over the years I’ve a learned a lot about what works for us with costume events. Continue reading

My Pictures Before, During, and After the Storm

Meghan Dietsche Goel - March 10, 2017

If you haven’t seen it, I would love to introduce you to the charms of My Pictures After the Storm, which explores concepts that cheekily open up prompts for all kinds of conversations between parent and child. Dramatic and delightful changes transform each page as we see the greasy aftermath of eating too many potato chips or the glamorous impacts of a hairdresser (who turns ‘a lion tamer unconcerned’ and a ‘seal having fun’ into ‘a lion tamer nicely permed’ and ‘a seal with a bun.’). While some pages may need a little parental explanation, I think it’s a whole lot of fun with an offbeat humor reminiscent of one of my favorite out of print books, Elephant Elephant by Pittau & Gervais, which I dearly miss handselling.
In honor of this instant bookseller favorite, I was inspired to document the after-effects of some tumult that came upon us just this very week.
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The Cheerfulness Challenge

Kenny Brechner - March 9, 2017

Angst and anguish unquestionably have their role to play in literature. Some genres, like luxury vehicles that can only run on super premium gas, positively require them.  I know. I get it. Still, one can perhaps be forgiven for wondering if the peculiar strain of poetry entirely dedicated to conveying suffering, the sub genre I call Anguish Verse, that style which so commends itself to Poetry Readings in bookstores, is really quite the thing. Every occupation has its hazards, of course. Someone has to convey nuclear waste from the reactor to the underground cave.  Poetry reading  are going to be held and we are going to host them. Nonetheless, let us put fatalism aside for a moment and think more deeply about this matter.
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Greetings from Hoosierland!

Cynthia Compton - March 8, 2017

Hello to friendships old and new! This is my first post for ShelfTalker, and I’m so pleased to be here. I’m writing today from the stockroom at 4 Kids Books, with an electric portable heater plugged in underneath my desk and a giveaway towel (promoting a beach book, obviously) wrapped around my shoulders like a shawl. Yep, that’s a typical spring week here in the heartland, where we ricochet from 60 degree days full of sunshine and kite sales to snow blowing under the store doorways, and hail warnings in between frequent power outages from high winds. We’re a hardy bunch, we midwesterners, and the daily weather eccentricities pale in comparison to what’s really important: March Madness and our college basketball pools.
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The Most Dreaded Task?

Elizabeth Bluemle - March 7, 2017

First order of business: awarding the prize from last week’s contest. The person who guessed which Jason Chin book was the next bestseller after Grand Canyon was Linda, who aptly reasoned, “Island: A Story of the Galapagos because kids like big tortoises.” I’m thinking she might have a future as an acquisitions editor! Linda, send me an email as per contest instructions, and we will send you your signed copy of Grand Canyon. Heck, or Island! Your choice.
And now on to the dreaded tasks.
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Simply Brilliant

lhawkins - March 6, 2017

As Cary Grant famously said, “I’ve often been accused by the critics of being myself on the screen.” He was so talented and worked so hard that his performances seemed effortless and were often underappreciated. This seems to be a common problem for artists of all kinds.
Lovers of picture books know how frustratingly often the spareness of a text is equated with being easy to write. Even as a bookseller, I grit my teeth when I hear casual comments to this effect from adult customers and would-be writers; I can only imagine how infuriating it is for hardworking authors and editors. Ironically, when the hard work pays off, the text seems so simple and flows so naturally that it looks, well… easy. Continue reading

Over-Embargoed? And What Is Skwuff, Anyway?

Kenny Brechner - March 2, 2017

The way I see it, certain necessities of the publishing business tend to follow a downward cycle beginning at necessary, trending to overused, and ending at being a source of inconvenience, money loss, and petty annoyance. We all know we need Strict On Sale dates for high-profile frontlist releases, for example, but do books that virtually no one is anticipating need them too just so that they can keep the big titles company on the holding shelf?
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