Our local schools have been embarking on renewed efforts to enrich the diversity of their elementary and middle school classroom libraries, and we’ve been helping them build their lists. Last week, one school principal contacted us in search of books about gender and asked for more suggestions. Her initial list had some great titles, and we were able to add some spectacular books from this season.
Imagine a magical tea bag, an ever-renewing pouch that provides new inspiration and refreshment every time it is steeped. Picture it in your mind’s eye. All right now, look and see if you can spot it in the picture below.
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is a magical book indeed. What’s in this tea bag of a book, you ask? Let us not fall prey to making a list of ingredients but instead focus on the inspired effect produced. After all, few things lend themselves into being a repository of the gestalt so much as a great picture book.
Greetings from NYC, and 30,000 or so folks who gathered for the 115th North American International Toy Fair at the Javits Center over the last 5 days. Since I couldn’t tuck you all into my recently acquired, large and rather garish selection of free tote bags, I thought I’d spend this week’s space to share this small shopkeeper’s observations, and some key trends that were clear as we wandered the aisles.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert had been high up in my to-read stack for a long time, but it was propelled to the top by my colleague Emily’s recent text. “I have a new obsession,” she wrote, and sent the photo shown at right, adding, “Omg. I’m actually scared. It’s scary! And delicious! I feel like a teenager.” (Emily’s in her young 30’s, so she IS practically a teenager, comparatively speaking.) She said she was reading under the covers, she was so scared. Who could resist that level of engagement with a book?!
The premise is creepily appealing: a teenage girl, Alice, has been on the run with her single mom all her life, both of them followed by eerie, sometimes violent runs of bad luck in each new way-station and haunted by fragments of twisted, dark fairy tales written by Alice’s grandmother—a woman Alice doesn’t know—in a book that is impossible to find but has a huge cult following. When Alice’s mother disappears after a particularly disturbing encounter with—but no, that would be telling. Suffice it to say that she disappears, and Alice is frantic to find her. And that fairy tales have a way of coming horribly true.
As a buyer, I meet with sales reps, go to conferences, read reviews, and research small presses to make sure I’m staying informed about what’s new and interesting. And then I read as much as I can. Booksellers don’t have quite as many opportunities to review the lists, but it’s just as important for them to know what’s coming out and to find new favorites to recommend. Our adult buyers heavily utilize Edelweiss for targeted ARC distribution, encouraging all staff members to indicate books they are anticipating so that we (or our attentive sales reps) can connect them. I have a few kids’ staffers who take advantage of that system, particularly for YA releases, but we also take a slightly different approach. Since our kid specialists kind of function as a team within a team, we reserve an hour for a standing meeting every other week to discuss upcoming programming, plan ahead, and talk books. I typically see between 5-8 booksellers, depending on the week.
Hachette’s Jan Coco Day presents books to the staff.
Often we use our meetings to power through prep work, like making valentines to put up for some of our favorite authors or cutting gold stars for a unicorn display. But the meat of the meeting is generally devoted to book presentations. A lot of those presentations are mine, which obviously I love to do, but it’s great when a pinch hitter can stop by in the form of an all-star sales rep! Until recently, Jan Coco Day was one of BookPeople’s own, but now she’s one of our four (yes, four
) sales reps who used to come to work with us every day. Now working for Hachette, she stopped by our meeting today to give the staff a look at some of her favorite children’s picks and talk about what she thinks they might love. Continue reading
Valentine’s Day, as the love-conscious among you know, which I hope is everyone, arrived yesterday. To show the holiday itself a mark of affection I thought I would share some Valentine’s Day store favorites in three categories. Which three categories? Well, I didn’t want to append them directly onto the opening sentence, or the whole first paragraph would have been one sentence. Now that I’ve deftly avoided that trap I will reveal that the three categories are favorite Valentine’s Day card, favorite new Valentine’s Day book, and favorite old classic Valentine’s Day book.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day, friends and colleagues! I hope this day finds you either 1) curled up with a book that you love OR 2) doing work that you love, with people you love, for people that you care about. And if at the end of that day, you get to go home to share a meal with someone special, or just treat yourself to dinner out and order dessert first, even better.
Recently I had the pleasure of taking staff and customer favorite Nick Bruel to two local schools. Not only is Nick the talented author and illustrator of the bestselling Bad Kitty chapter books, among many other great titles, but he is a grade A first-class presenter as well. Being an engaging and effective presenter to an audience of kids is its own skill set and not one that automatically goes hand-in-hand with being able to write or illustrate for kids. Nick is one of those few who is the complete package. Continue reading
One of the nice things about a new year in a bookstore is that, after the climactic holiday season, it really does feel like turning over a new leaf and starting again. And sometimes it creates a nice opportunity to take a new look at something that hasn’t been shaken up in a while.
Ready to party with BookKids event coordinator Eugenia Vela.
One of the defining characteristics of Austin in recent years has been change. Whatever metric you use, whichever tracking you look at, Austin’s growth over the last decade has been explosive and continues pretty much unabated. There are many obvious upsides to that dynamic growth—a growing community of readers for one—but one big downside is traffic, and our store sits pretty much at the center of it all. Austin has such a strong book culture that there’s not really a question, when booking someone as popular as Robin Preiss Glasser, that we can get a crowd. The real question is how to time our events to make it easiest on families who want to attend.
For years we’ve generally stuck to an early evening, post-work timeframe for weekday kids’ events, but traffic can sometimes present an issue. For such a young crowd this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out an earlier time to bring people in after school but before the evening rush. There were reasons an afternoon time hadn’t worked as well in the past, but Austin dynamics have changed a lot since then. What better way to test it out anew than with a 4PM Fancy Nancy tea party with Robin Preiss Glasser? This afternoon we pulled out our best finery and got ready to party. Special outfits? Check! Cookies and snacks? Check! Fancy mustaches? Check! Continue reading