Monthly Archives: June 2017

Book Swag Essentials

Kenny Brechner - June 29, 2017

Great book swag makes the world a better place, but it is an ephemeral and unforgiving art form to be sure. A good idea is required, but even if you have one of those there are still many ways to fail. Take this swag for the Alice in Wonderland themed Whatever After book, Abby in Wonderland.
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Ain’t Life Grand?

Cynthia Compton - June 28, 2017

“Are you eligible for any discounts today? Are you a teacher, or perhaps a grandparent?”
We train our staff at the store to begin each transaction with these phrases, both to underscore our commitment to local schools but also to politely sidestep the awkwardness of asking a customer if they are old enough to have grandchildren. The discount for grandma and grandpa is small — only 10% — but its acknowledgment almost always elicits a proud smile, and we follow up with a request to see pictures while we’re wrapping their gifts. There’s usually a rather complicated list: this group in Chicago, this bunch here in town, and one or two in…. somewhere too far away to see frequently. Often, too, there’s the grandchildren that live with just mom, or just dad, or some calendarized combination that also includes stepparents and their children, all of whom have birthdays and special days carefully noted.
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Wednesday, Floody Wednesday

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 27, 2017

“Elizabeth?” said my co-worker, Sandy’s, voice on the other end of the phone. “We have a bit of a situation.”
Every business owner dreads hearing those words, especially on her one day off a week.
While most people hail Saturdays as the start of their weekend, Wednesdays are mine. Occasionally I’ll agree to a sales meeting if I absolutely have to, but I usually try to hold that day sacred. Two weeks ago, I was feeling great on my “weekend” day: I’d just worked out and was having brunch with a friend at a new place about a half hour outside of town. That’s when the phone call came.
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Social Justice League FTW

lhawkins - June 26, 2017

Over the last few months, Spellbound has been collaborating with one of our local independent toy stores on a series of workshops for kids called the Social Justice League. Some of the workshops are held at the toy store and some at the bookstore.  It’s been a great way to introduce kids to ways they can make a difference and be better citizens. As a bonus, it’s also led to strengthening customer and community ties.
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Fabulous First Lines of 2017 (Round 1)

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 22, 2017

By now, halfway into the year, we booksellers have seen hundreds of advance reading copies for books, all of which try to stand out in a crowded field. We can’t read them all, so those opening lines can have a big impact. Obviously, we don’t choose books only based on first lines, or even first pages, but a great opener is like a promise to the reader: enter and ye shall be entertained.
What makes first lines exceptional? I admit that, for me, a not-young reader with thousands of books in my rear-view window, anything that takes me by surprise has special oomph. I appreciate freshness and authority, and style that stands out from less distinctive writing, and I appreciate first lines that immediately reveal character or situation or mood, or offer me surprise, dread, suspense, or humor. 
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The Stories We Hear, the Stories We Tell

Cynthia Compton - June 21, 2017

Beth stopped by the shop this morning, carrying little Noah in the pumpkin seat, making him look much bigger (and heavier) than his two-month-old self. Ostensibly, she came for story time, but  Noah snoozed through the whole experience, which was good, because judging from the circles under Beth’s eyes, he’s been up at night a bit. His mom comes in at least once a week—during her pregnancy, she would drop by after OB appointments just down the street, usually adding a board book or baby toy to her collection for their first child. Beth is an attorney, and plans to go back to work in another month, but she’s struggling with the decision already, and we spend a little time comparing childcare options and work-from-home realities. We end the visit with muffins and hugs for mom, and a furtive squeeze of one exposed little foot…. oh, baby toes.
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When Less Is More

Meghan Dietsche Goel - June 16, 2017

When people ask me what kinds of books I like, I don’t know that I’ve ever answered that I really love novels in verse, but when I look over my personal staff selections at the store, a pattern clearly emerges. I’ve read several verse novels in a row that I’ve liked a lot, and it made me reflect on the impact of the format. This is not really a Reading Without Walls post for me, since that challenge invites us to focus on formats that we resist (and I clearly don’t). But it feels akin to that conversation because I feel like it’s still an under-appreciated genre for many.
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A Wrinkle in Summer’s Reading List

Kenny Brechner - June 15, 2017

Summer is all but here. Why I had such difficulty in making an appointment to interview her is certainly one of my many questions.
Kenny: Hello, Summer.
Summer: Hi there, Kenny. I suppose you asked for an appointment to hear my Summer Reading picks but I must warn you that it is not an ordinary year here in the glade and my time is short. It is only your longstanding service which made force upon me to allow a meeting at all.
Kenny: How so? Hmmn. Actually, where all the woodland creatures?
Summer: Your two questions are bound together. For this summer is an All Glade Gather.
Kenny: All Glade Gather?  I know not of what you speak.
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PG Can Mean Pretty Good

Cynthia Compton - June 14, 2017

We spend a lot of time on the sales floor handselling in the summer, when kids have more time to read, and less assigned reading by genre to complete for school. Usually, at our store, this is a conversation between three people: the bookseller, the young reader, and the parent or grandparent with a credit card. Often, the adult is the one asking for recommendations, as left to their own devices, most kids are very capable of finding reading material that they think they would enjoy. Adults, too, often have an agenda for their children. They want summer reading to be something healthy like exercise and eating kale, with a vaguely educational tone to the content or the process itself. Sometimes they want the “magic bullet” for a reluctant reader… “I don’t understand it, his brother LOVES to read, and but he’s just not that interested. He’d rather play (fill in the blank with sport, video game, or fidget device). ” Cue sympathetic look from the staffer, who then gives our secret sign* towards the register, alerting another bookseller to engage the kid as quickly as possible, in hopes that we can have a conversation without a hovering parent. Perhaps they want to feed the voracious reader with a new series, preferably one with lots of titles for ease of purchasing subsequent books, or a shiny sticker that exudes quality. Perhaps they want to share books they remember from their own school days, or provide some context for an upcoming family trip (quick, name three middle grade titles that reference Colonial Williamsburg. Ding! Ding! Ding!)
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