Monthly Archives: July 2018

Impulse Shopping as a Bookseller

Meghan Dietsche Goel - July 13, 2018

Wind-up toy wonderland.

One benefit of working in a bookstore in which I only pick out one department worth of inventory is that I am constantly gifted (or cursed?) with the experience of discovery when I least expect it. Our store offers an enormous selection of gift items, clustered in baskets on the stairs, artfully arranged on fixtures and slatwalls, and curated by our talented gifts buyer Cassie Swank—who talks a lot these days about sloths and geodes and witchy candles. Cassie’s craftiest trick? She positions this case of wind-up toys right at the cash registers. I have yet to get through the line with my kids in tow without picking one up. Continue reading

Summer Stalwarts and Surprises

Kenny Brechner - July 12, 2018

Our summer off the floor sales have, in keeping with the weather, been pleasantly feverish so far. I’m always interested to see what’s moving fastest and why. What is the breakdown between handselling, and word of mouth driven sales, which titles have caught fire from face-out display alone? Are there any titles which are not selling as I think justice demands? The answer to all these burning questions lies below.
Picture books have been more prone to surprises than other sections. For example, why has Lora Koehler’s The Little Snowplow been selling so well this summer?  Did a week of temperatures in the 90’s make people nostalgic for the Maine winter?  Surprising but possible. I had absolutely no idea how Greg Gromley’s The Prince and the Pee book would do. Picture books on urinating, however worthy, are somewhat hit and miss. This one has been a hit. Our top seller though has been the fabulous Grumpy Monkey. We have not needed to handsell it much. It draws customers in like a grumpy tide. People pick it up, open the pages, and take a copy home.
Continue reading

The Girls Will Lead Us

Cynthia Compton - July 11, 2018

Through the serendipity of vacation* reading, I spent two days last week with two memorable heroines of young adult titles to be released this September. It is interesting, isn’t it, how the ARCs in a tote bag, stuffed in the back of your car, manage to rearrange themselves into a perfect order to be plucked out while sitting on the deck at the vacation house? I make it a practice to pull titles without discernment while on holiday, and just plow through the next available paperback galley, without regard to store schedule or nomination deadline – relying instead on the benevolence of the literary universe to put “just the right book” in my hands. The universe rarely disappoints, and this week I am humbled by its generosity and inspiration.
Just four years ago in April, I remember standing in front of a meeting of Catholic high school cheerleaders and fellow parents here in Indianapolis to offer a quick prayer for the team’s year of performances, football halftimes, and competitions ahead. I ended my petition with the following words: “Lord, there are 276 mothers and fathers in Nigeria who would give anything, anything at all, to be thinking about only their girls having fun and competing safely tonight. For those parents, whose daughters were brutally taken away from them, just survival is a dream. Please, please, keep those girls safe, and know that people all over the world are worried and trying to help them get home.”
Continue reading

Alpaca Lunch (and a Dinner) the Night Before Release Day

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 10, 2018

You may recall the story of Vermont hobby farmers John and Jennifer Churchman, who self-published their picture book locally, were blogged about here in ShelfTalker, and subsequently hit the publishing lottery, winning a three-book deal from Little, Brown in a bidding war among five houses. Now, two and a half years later, the Churchmans (The Sheepover, Brave Little Finn, and A Farm for Maisie) are ushering in their fourth book, Alpaca Lunch. The book may be releasing today, but preparations for its launch began at our store back in January, when we received our first pre-order. Continue reading

What Should We Share with Our Children?

Kenny Brechner - July 5, 2018

The seasons pass (publishing seasons, that is) and we frontlist buyers cannot help but observe obvious trends in picture book as they appear before us in our buying materials. The Fall 2018 lists have two marked trends. The first one is books that convey the idea that we all have differences and we are all alike in having those differences. We find similarities in language, color, and dress, and we share other similarities with those who sound and look differently from us, curiosity, anxiety, the potential for an enriched and expanded belonging. The second trend involves books that seek to convey a meaningful context for the stark ills which trouble our world in the present: war, bigotry, prejudice, and other forms of dangerous misapprehension, exclusion, and violence.
It is hardly surprising that the ills of the world, which are so engrossing and concerning for most of us right now, are front and center in the Fall frontlists as well. What we should tell children about the troubles of our time, their history, their present, and the means for their redress, is a timely preoccupation if there ever was one. It is the centerpiece, for example, of a major anthology being released this September, edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson, We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices. For this book, 50 acclaimed diverse authors were asked to answer the question “In this divisive world, what shall we tell our children?”
Continue reading