This time of year is when this job gets fun! They say March roars in like a lion, but around here, it’s definitely September (although you can forget about the whole going out like a lamb thing). In September, the whirlwind of school event planning blends into book fair planning blends into holiday catalog production blends into the winter/spring buying season blends into the phenomenon known as the Texas Teen Book Festival.
I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Texas Teen Book Festival (formerly known as the Austin Teen Book Festival) since librarian Heather Schubert brought a group of interested parties together in her middle school library in 2009. Nine festivals later, that experiment has turned into a really special affair that brings together 4000 readers annually to celebrate books and offer wide-ranging discussions about life, the universe, and pretty much everything.
Supporting a festival takes a large team, so my biggest piece of advice for launching a book festival is always the same: Build the best team you can. Our planning committee brings together a lot of different strengths into one collaborative, dedicated group. Aside from our committed BookPeople team, the planning committee that has come together over the last almost-decade includes the experience and savvy of the Texas Book Festival; the teen-centric approach of festival director and school librarian Shawn Mauser; the PR instincts of local librarian and book blogger Jen Bigheart; and a crew of hospitality and volunteer coordinators, PR interns, and more. Continue reading
As the July page from the old Men of NECBA calendar indicated, decision-making has always been my strong suit.
Moving an old but active website onto an entirely new platform is a great deal like moving to a new house after spending many years at your current residence. That is particularly true if you generate a lot of archived content. It’s a big job, with an array of menial chores, but it is also an opportunity to assess and discard the labors of the past. What do you take with you, what do you discard and consign forever to the “poppy that abideth all of us by the harbour of oblivion?”*
FIFTEEN (15): Minutes until Story Time, so here’s our countdown of today, dear readers:
FOURTEEN (14): (besides being the number that I always have to spellcheck when I write – sorry, Sister Augustine) is the total number of the floor tiles between where I’m standing (at the register) and the back counter where I left my coffee. My rapidly cooling, just purchased coffee that I brought in from the car to sip before story time, but is now just out of reach, as I am trapped with a very disgruntled customer who wants to return a book she purchased for her granddaughter, as it “has offensive language.” Quickly offering an exchange or a store credit (glancing wistfully at my coffee while doing so) I ask if there’s another title I can get for her. She pulls the printed copy of an email from her granddaughter out of her purse—oh, wait! I remember this list! I helped her!—and points to the second title requested. (The first, of course, was the book I sold her.) “That book is a bit more high school in tone,” I say with that one-raised-eyebrow look that somehow warns most people that I don’t wish to offend, but might suggest something else. “Well, it’s what she wants.” (SO WAS THE FIRST BOOK, LADY!) “Absolutely. Would you like that wrapped?”
This is the second of a projected trio of posts about irresistible first lines in 2017 MG and YA books. The first post, Fabulous First Lines of 2017 (Round 1), divided them into categories, and while I’m tempted to do that here, there’s also something appealing about letting the flow and juxtapositions of this collection of openers speak for themselves.
What qualities of first lines hook readers? Happily, there is no formula. Some lines stand out because they take us by surprise, or enchant us with brilliant images, or appeal to our moods for suspense, dread, gentleness, adventure, humor, mystery, kindredness, delight, even moods for the familiar. What I would say is that all good opening lines project a certain confidence—bold or quiet. They announce or unfold the beginning of a story in such a way that the reader thinks, “Ah, I can relax; I’m in the hands of a true storyteller.”
A few weeks ago I wrote about planning for a third attempt at wooing educators en masse to the bookstore for a special event. I’m happy to report that we hit an all-time high attendance, had great sales, and started some promising new relationships with teachers. Continue reading
BookPeople has offered free literacy booktalks for years. Topher Bradfield, our Literary Camps Director, goes to more than 80 schools a year to talk up great books and inspire kids with the love of reading. Where he goes, whimsy, magic, a little bit of mayhem, and an irrepressible love of reading are sure to follow!
But the job of reaching every kid in Austin is too big for one man alone. Plus, Topher’s sweet spot and true love is middle grade. So we recently brought a new face onto our booktalking team to focus on middle schools and high schools. Shannon Brewer came to us through her longterm involvement as a volunteer coordinator at the Texas Teen Book Festival, and has recently taken over as BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps Liaison and School Events Coordinator. As a reader she lives and breathes YA, something that shines through in everything she does. She has been the perfect example of what can happen when you match the right voice to the right crowd.
Because she’s been such a hit on the Austin YA scene, I asked her to give us all a little insight about what she’s learned on the job — as well as some of the books kids are responding to right now. Continue reading
On the same principle that leads us to select the freshest catch of the day off a seafood menu, it is time for a little live reporting from the 2017 NEIBA fall conference that began on Monday. I started the show off with the The Publisher Pick Nic, NEIBA’s rep speed dating marathon. The first rep to approach the table was my stellar Norton rep Suzette Cianco. Suzette had a terrible fall from a horse recently and it was wonderful to see her back in the saddle.
Another person who was very much in high form was my pal Vicky Titcomb of Titcomb’s Book Shop, seen below leaping on some irregularities in a free freight offer that was being presented. Seeing Vicky in action was like witnessing Diogenes lashing out after finally spotting an honest man and then discovering suddenly that he was mistaken. The rep assured us that the matter would be attended to straightway!
Booksellers and librarians across the country are planning, constructing, straightening, and promoting their displays of challenged books in preparation for the “celebration” of Banned Books Week beginning just a few days from now. If you’re like THIS bookseller, and are still stacking the apple-picking books and hanging autumn leaves from the light fixtures with fishing line, you are madly, frantically clearing space, pulling backlist titles from the shelves, and looking for ideas beyond the tired “WARNING” police tape and construction paper flames. A very clever librarian used the heading “BOOKS THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO READ”, and I think that’s the theme we’re borrowing this year.
Flanked by fab illustrators, Salina Alko and Sean Qualls, library guru Bina Williams and I bask in the glow of their brilliance.
Today’s post is about pretty much the *opposite* of horror, but I must begin by sending thanks to all of the people who answered last week’s post, “Oh, the Horror!
,” with recommendations of favorite recent spooky-to-terrifying books (and memories of some long-ago favorites, as well). So many great titles! Thank you.
And now I will be quick because I’m at the New England Booksellers Association trade show in Providence, Rhode Island, it’s already 11 pm, and tomorrow starts early! But what I wanted to say is that a regional bookselling trade show is just about the most book-loving environment you can imagine for grown-ups. Filled with booksellers, publishers, editors, sales reps, publicists, authors, illustrators, and many other bookish folks, every single room you find yourself in radiates a passion for books.
Often a really wonderfully written and original book defies easy classification, encompassing more than one category or genre. The best-case scenario, as far as I’m concerned, would be having enough copies of every title we carry so that we could shelve it in multiple sections. We usually don’t have that many in stock, though, unless it’s a hot new release or related to an upcoming event. So hard choices have to be made.
Hmmm…let’s put you in… General Fiction!