Monthly Archives: April 2018

Well Hello There, Universe

Meghan Dietsche Goel - April 27, 2018

ADL’s curated No Place for Hate display in our store.

I wrote last year about partnering with the Austin chapter of the Anti-Defamation League to foster discussions about anti-bias and inclusivity. Since 2004, Austin schools have been implementing the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate® initiative, working together to challenge biases and pre-conceptions to help kids see themselves and each other with empathy. ADL has also done a lot of work to champion the idea that “books have the potential to create lasting impressions” through their Books That Matter program, a terrific book list we promote in-store. One of the books they have recently added to their recommendation list for topics of ability, disability, and ableism is Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, which of course was recently honored with the Newbery Medal. So when we learned that Erin Entrada Kelly was coming to Austin for school visits, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to invite educators to join us for a directed discussion between Erin and ADL Austin’s education director, Jillian Bontke. Continue reading

Considering the Great American Read

Kenny Brechner - April 26, 2018

PBS’s The Great American Read is an interesting beast. Of course any platform with broad reach whose reason for being is to explore and share the power of reading requires our promotional love and respect. Absolutely! Also, let us recognize at the outset that any top 100 books list will by necessity have grievous omissions and will please some people more than others. Yet here among our book industry selves it is still well worth considering the enterprise more critically.
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Family Treasures

Cynthia Compton - April 25, 2018

My mother celebrated her 91st birthday last month at her assisted living senior residence. She’s lived there for almost four years now, initially going for a “brief stay, maybe a month or two” to recover from pneumonia.  A couple of other illnesses followed, some arthritis gathered in her knees and shoulders, and then she found that she appreciated having others around for company, after living alone for some years after my dad died.
We kept their condominium nearby, all this time, just in case she decided to move back home with some visiting nursing as support. Each day or two, I drop by the empty residence and pick up the mail, run the water in the sink, and in the warmer weather, I water the hostas around the patio. But on her birthday last month, Mother decided that it was “all too much, really” and asked me to put the unit on the market. I began the process of finding all the documents, listing the property, and sorting through furniture and clothes, files and boxes of pictures, setting things aside for donation, to keep for someday grandchildren, or to move into my house for now. Some of it was easy: box up the dishes for college-aged kids moving into apartments, send the towels and sheets to the women’s shelter for folks starting over from scratch, and carry all those albums of black and white photographs home to spread out in the dining room at home and try to identify the generations of relatives and neighbors, birthdays and graduations.
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A Newbie Heads to NOLA

lhawkins - April 23, 2018

This year’s ABA Children’s Institute is being held June 19-21 in New Orleans. An offshoot of the very popular Winter Institute, Children’s Institute is full of educational and networking opportunities tailored to booksellers specializing in children’s and young adult books. This is the sixth annual “kidstute,” and I’m excited to be attending for the first time this year. It will also be my first time visiting New Orleans, so I reached out to a few current and former NOLA residents to find out what I absolutely have to see in the limited time I’ll have to explore the city.
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Meeting the Authors in Our Neighborhood

Meghan Dietsche Goel - April 20, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, Austin author Chris Barton emailed to see if we could use a fresh infusion of signed stock and to let us know that he had proofs of Ekua Holmes’ gorgeous art for their upcoming Barbara Jordan picture book biography What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? to show us. Of course we were thrilled! We love seeing what Chris is working on. We’ve gotten to know Chris really well over the years, hosting him for release parties, educator panels, and even collaborating on a diverse book curation program together.
His email actually reminded me of the very first time I met Chris. Years ago, he came up to me at an event for a fellow SCBWI author to see if I wanted to look at an f&g of his first book, The Day-Glo Brothers, the story of the brothers who invented paint that glowed. I started thinking about different ways we have first connected with authors and how we might help make that interaction easier for local authors who are debuts or just new to town.
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The Delightful Clare Fournier

Kenny Brechner - April 19, 2018

When you’ve owned a bookstore for what Dr. Phibes would have termed “some considerable time,” you have the mixed blessing of hiring many new booksellers along the way. I say mixed because it is often as Legolas described. “For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream.” You see Farmington is a college town, being home to a small branch of the University of Maine, and I have had many great students work here for a time and then move on. Recently I had the pleasure of hiring someone who is a book person to her core, the delightful Clare Fournier! No need to take my word on that; here she is to answer a few questions for us.
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Many Unhappy Returns

Cynthia Compton - April 18, 2018

There was a brisk discussion among some retail colleagues online yesterday about merchandise returns at our stores. One shopkeeper inquired about other businesses’ refund and exchange policies, and after a back and forth of standard policies copied from everyone’s receipt printer, the conversation evolved, as it often does, into a “craziest customer returns” contest of anecdotes. As a distraction from a dreary midwestern spring in which sales are weak, freezing rain is a daily occurrence,  and a sense of humor essential, I’m going to do a quick roundup of the best of these for your entertainment. (Please note that only the customer quotes were uttered out loud. The italicized responses are strictly from my flippant imagination, and were not actually verbalized.)

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The *Other* Books Coming Out Today

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 17, 2018

Readers outside the publishing world may not know that Tuesday is almost always the official release day for most traditionally published books. It’s the perfect day to release new books, because booksellers have one last chance (Monday) to order from our overnight distributors any great new releases that have slipped past our radar up to that point. It also allows any lagging shipments one extra day in the new week to catch up.
Since today’s book release news will be entirely focused on James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, I’d like to take this opportunity to trumpet the children’s books born today that may not hit news channels quite as notoriously.
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Bookmarks, Bookmarks Everywhere!

Meghan Dietsche Goel - April 13, 2018

We got up our annual bookmark contest on our cafe art wall last week, which is one of my favorite times of year. The prompt encourages kids grades K-6 to create a bookmark inspired by their favorite book. And what we get back are hundreds of colorful, hand-drawn tributes to books that when viewed together generate an entirely kid-driven buzz list. Of course you get a fair few cats in hats, boy wizards, and elephant-piggie pairs every year. It’s definitely interesting to track trends up and down, which tells us that Pokemon is on the rise and that Dog Man is catching up to Captain Underpants. Those trends are no big surprise, but it’s still fun to see what kids are buzzing about. You also get a few entries that have clearly been done by friends sitting together and collaborating on similar designs.
You can see the influence of community events too. Last year’s musical in the park was devoted to The Wizard of Oz, and lots of schools around town coordinated with performances of their own, so it’s no surprise to see a surge in representation there. But even among odes to the trendiest of characters, some artists manage to stand out with interpretations that offer just a little something extra, whether that’s personality or humor or good old artistic talent. Take a look at the joyful energy in this elephant and piggie as they go for a drive, the valor of this Dog Man, the charisma of a particularly well-drawn Harry Potter, or the hopefulness of this Tin Man (dreaming of his heart perhaps?). Sometimes it’s the composition itself that catches our eye. Can you feel the danger lurking along Little Red Riding Hood’s journey through the woods as she glimpses the safety of Grandmother’s house ahead? Continue reading

The Murdstone Challenge

Kenny Brechner - April 12, 2018

A dark epiphany has occurred! What to do if we are suddenly made aware that the allotted time in the sun of an exceptional book, published a few seasons ago, is ending in an untimely fashion, without its quality and value having been recognized? Three years after publication one has suddenly discovered that routine wholesaler backorders of our beloved book are not being filled. Its discount has been marked down to an ignominious 30%. No paperback is scheduled. The book has been all but abandoned as an enterprise, left to be swept into darkness, unmarked, hidden amidst the other literary detritus accompanying it into oblivion.
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