Monthly Archives: March 2018

Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Three: Take Three

Kenny Brechner - March 15, 2018

I’ve written twice here to have a little fun with the prolonged non-appearance of The Doors of Stone, the third and concluding volume of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller trilogy. There is no question, however, looking at the comments for those posts, that for many readers said non-appearance is a very serious topic. The strong senses of frustration, attachment, and resolve being expressed revolve around an age-old issue: the nature of the relationship between author and reader. It is not only an inherently interesting issue but, given that social media has transformed access to authors, an evolving one as well.
The author has himself added another log to this fire recently at the Emerald City Comic Con. When asked by a fan, “Are you like a DM [Dungeon Master] taking us on a journey where the bard is the hero of the story?” Rothfuss responded,  “It’s way worse than that. I am an author who has tricked you into reading a trilogy that is a million-word prologue.” Sure, it would be wonderful to have many millions of words set in the world of Kingkiller, but given the vast length of time that has gone into the “prologue,” frustrated readers might be forgiven for wondering if Rothfuss has been spending his time overcoming the temporal limitations of mortality.
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This Is the Way We Sweep the Floor

Cynthia Compton - March 14, 2018

There’s a rhythm to the weeks in a bookstore, one that repeats underneath the counterpoint melodies of author events, school visits, and the rising and falling bass accompaniment of holiday seasons. Some of that arrangement is due to the musicians themselves… errrr.. I mean staffers, who know the weekly task lists and choose their own ‘solos’ to work on during their shifts. We arrange our staff schedule based on regular events — I almost always conduct Monday’s Paint-a-Story event, and so usually work the sales floor that day, giving me also the joy of deciding where Tuesday’s new releases will be placed face-out, and the evening staff gets the added entertainment of watching me assemble the standing cardboard displays for featured titles. (Duct tape, the secret weapon of the liberal arts major.)
Monday staff are also tasked with running inventory reports for my review, as weekend sales have (hopefully) depleted some sections, allowing us to move things around to feature less obvious items, and perhaps free up some space for the next day’s arrivals. It was a revelation to me to learn, some years ago, about the Top 25 sellers in my store, and to focus on restocking those items every 7 days. Avoiding the discordant “I’m sorry, we’re out of that” conversation made everyone whistle a happier tune.
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Slightly Surreal Serendipity

Elizabeth Bluemle - March 13, 2018

‘My Pet Wants a Pet’ by Elise Broach, illus. by Eric Barclay (Henry Holt)

There are times when we wonder if the universe lends a hand in connecting books with just the right readers. Last week, I was looking at some new arrivals when I came upon a charming picture book I’d ordered months ago that just released on March 6. “Oh, this book is adorable!” I said, remembering it from my sales meeting. I flipped through the pages near a customer who was checking out at Laura’s register. I turned the book toward them and continued, “My Pet Wants a Petsuch a great premise!”
The customer whipped her head up from signing her credit card receipt and repeated, “‘My Pet Wants a Pet?!’ My granddaughter said that exact same sentence to me on the phone not two days ago. I have to have that book.” It hadn’t even hit the shelf before selling!
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The Art of Comping

Kenny Brechner - March 8, 2018

It is hardly possible, for bookstore buyers, to overstate the importance of comping, the provision of comparable titles in Edelweiss by publishers to enhance the buying process for us frontlist buyers. High quality comping takes into account a myriad of factors: whether to use titles from other publishers, whether to show both hardcover and paperback titles, recognizing series books and comping accordingly, avoiding low-hanging fruit such as using Gone Girl and Girl on a Train for every thriller written by a woman, putting in just the right number of comps, showing genuine insight in using cross-genre titles, just to name a few elements involved. We should also also recognize at the outset that comping is generally not done by reps but by specialists in-house at the publishers.
Let’s look at a sample I chose more or less at random. It is also a little shout out to Olga Nolan, my longtime and beloved Harper rep who just retired. (Sigh and best wishes, Olga!)
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The Tale of Peter Reader*

Cynthia Compton - March 7, 2018

Once upon a time there were four little Readers, and their names were Flaubert, Montesquieu, Cocteau, and Peter. They shopped with their Mother in an indie bookstore, located underneath the locally owned coffee shop and bakery on the town square.
“Now, my dears,” said Mother one morning, “you may go into town and look for new books to read over Spring Break, but DON’T go online into that giant-website-named-after-a-river: your Father had an accident when he was run over by a same day delivery driver, who was muttering something about pie and got distracted.”
“Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.”
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Cover Story: The Ups and Downs of Redesigned Book Jackets

Elizabeth Bluemle - March 6, 2018

One of the ways publishers can breathe new life into older titles is to redesign their covers. This can be a boon, especially if the cover images are seriously outdated, unappealing, or inaccurately represent their contents—or even if a series has just seen a diminished audience and needs a kicky introduction to a new crowd.
Some recent redesigns that seem promising include Candlewick’s relaunch of the Judy Moody jackets; the older ones are perfectly delightful and kid-appealing, and the new ones are snazzy and even likelier to draw kids’ eyes:
Original cover of the first Judy Moody title:

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Let’s Shelve This, Home Edition

lhawkins - March 5, 2018

Last year I wrote about the unique challenges of deciding how to shelve children’s books, as opposed to books for adults, when you have to take into account reading level, developmental stages, maturity of content, and other considerations right alongside genre, subject, and author’s last name. Now I’m facing a whole ‘nother shelving challenge: how to shelve my books at home.
I’ve just moved to a new apartment for the first time in a decade, which means that I’m now faced with how to shelve my books in the new place. The ones lucky enough to earn spots on actual shelves, that is—some will inevitably be relegated to floor stacks and table stacks because I never have enough shelves.
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So You Want to Start a Festival, Part 3

Meghan Dietsche Goel - March 2, 2018

Starting a new festival is exciting. Yes, it’s also nerve-wracking, but mostly exciting! I’ve been involved in launching a festival before, but it’s been 10 years since the Texas Teen Book Festival got off the ground. So it has been a lot of fun to dive back into the heady whirlwind of possibility and collaboration that marks the birth of a big community event. We are just a few months out from launching a brand-new summer reading kick-off event in partnership with the Austin Independent School District, and it’s starting to take shape. Continue reading

Meet Emile, the Sheep of Doom

Kenny Brechner - March 1, 2018

We still do a robust special order business at DDG. Nonetheless, the insatiable ubiquity of Amazon’s presence seeping into the backdrop like a well mannered poltergeist has put increasing pressure on us to have books in stock that our customers walk in for. Given limited space, this is a challenge to me as a buyer and also puts added pressure on inventory management, meaning that we have had to be increasingly active in returns.
The gradual migration from being a softhearted co-dependent enabler to being a ruthless executioner is not an easy one for a book buyer. At least, I personally have found it to be a grim necessity. That’s why I am so grateful for Emile. Emile, one of our store sheep, turns out to have a gift for culling and expunging under performing books from our shelves. Well-earned, to say the least, is his full name, Emile the Sheep of Doom. Above you can see Emile assessing our Children’s Classics and New Arrivals section with his ever-present clipboard. Emile is about two things: intuitive statistics and decisiveness.
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