Monthly Archives: October 2018

Confusion Pops Up, in a Pop-Up Bookstore

lhawkins - October 15, 2018

It’s funny what can happen when you throw around industry jargon assuming everyone is familiar with only to find that they are not, in fact, familiar. I’ve written here before about trying to phase out my usage of the terms “middle grade” and “young adult” in store signage and handselling. These phrases tend to be heard as “middle school” and “young adult” (as opposed to 12 years old and up) by anyone not in the book business. And what’s the point of holding on to a phrase that doesn’t communicate what we intend it to? Continue reading

The Texas Teen Book Festival Turns 10, Part 2

Meghan Dietsche Goel - October 12, 2018

Last Saturday, thousands of readers from all over Texas celebrated the 10th annual Texas Teen Book Festival at St. Edwards University in Austin. As I wrote last week, the months leading up to the event are filled with planning meetings, emails, and spreadsheets, as BookPeople, the Texas Book Festival, and our dedicated team of librarian volunteers put everything in place. Once the day arrives, though, there’s nothing left to do but let it all happen and enjoy the show. We did have a few uncertain moments when we decided to enact our rain plan for the first time, but the show must go on, and it was great!

We kicked off the morning with an exclusive roundtable discussion for our We Need Diverse Books Essay™ Contest winners, all of whom wrote thoughtful essays about “The hero I want to see…” These lucky young writers got to sit down with authors Julissa Arce, David Levithan, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Cynthia Leitich Smith along with Brenda Conway from Random House to ask questions and share thoughts about writing and publishing and the power of representation. One of my personal favorite moments of the day came when Julissa Arce realized that a number of the winners were from her old high school in San Antonio. They couldn’t have been more delighted. Continue reading

Guessing the New Rainbow Fairies Theme

Kenny Brechner - October 11, 2018

Most bookstore’s have little traditions built around recurring elements in our world. One of our traditions at DDG is the Rainbow Fairy Theme Guess. First of all, for the uninitiated, here is a little background information.
Little is known about how Rainbow Fairies come into the world, whether they are hatched or not, but we do know that when they come into their maturity many Rainbow Fairies join a thematically related group. Past themes have been Dance, Color, Earth, Sports, Baby Farm Animals, Jewels, and so forth. Each fairy represents an element of her theme. For example, the Party Fairies include Jasmine the Presents Fairy, and Polly the Party Fun Fairy. Or again the Candyland Fairies, whose members include Monica the Marshmallow Fairy and Gabby the Bubblegum Fairy.
Some themes are rich enough to have two related incarnations. For example, the Candyland Fairies came after the Sweets Fairies, or again the Baby Farm Animal Fairies were followed by the Baby Farm Animal Rescue Fairies. It should be noted that there are occasionally special Rainbow Fairies who stand alone, such as Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy, but by and large themed groups of Fairies, in sets of either four or seven, are revealed twice a year on the Scholastic frontlist. This brings us to the DDG Rainbow Fairy Theme Guess.
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The Fourth Quarter Tiptoes In

Cynthia Compton - October 10, 2018

We are a year-round children’s store here in Central Indiana, with sales seasons punctuated by holidays but driven mostly by the school calendar of our young readers. Our local community disappears for Spring Break and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, but otherwise, our sales are spread pretty evenly over the entire year — unlike some of my colleagues in beach and lake communities, who are now slowing down after a busy summer. Here, we march steadily through the months of the year,  celebrating birthdays and lost teeth and first days of school and travel soccer and new siblings… all with wrapped gifts of books and toys and “little somethings” for siblings purchased by doting grandparents and busy, over-scheduled parents en route to parties at the local trampoline center or gymnastics studio.
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A Brief Salute to Editors

Elizabeth Bluemle - October 9, 2018

My hat goes off to editors. Their work is amazing; a great editor understands an author’s vision and works to help him or her realize that vision by asking the right questions at the right time and making suggestions that spark a creative response. Great editors have enough distance from a project to consider it, if not objectively, then with a particular kind of outside perspective that can be enormously helpful. They are not only the stand-ins for future readers, noting where a passage is muddy or out of place and likely to confound an audience, but they attend to both minute details—suspect grammar, awkward word choice—as well as overarching concerns of theme, structure, arc, etc. They navigate tricky waters, rowing away from what might be personal preference to shape a manuscript in a certain direction, and toward professional support of an author’s intention. Editors are also a project’s most resilient cheerleader. And they do all of this with very little external acknowledgment; the public rarely knows whose skilled and thoughtful analysis has guided a manuscript to its best form.
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The Texas Teen Book Festival Turns 10, Part 1

Meghan Dietsche Goel - October 5, 2018

As I write this, we are about 34 hours away from the 10th annual Texas Teen Book Festival. Planned in partnership between BookPeople, the Texas Book Festival, and several amazing librarians who do this in their free time, TTBF has grown from an experiment launched in a high school theater to an event that takes over St. Edwards University campus with 35+ authors and 4,000 readers every year.
At this point, the truck has been packed with books, giveaways, banners, props, and all kinds of miscellany. Final emails have been sent out to authors, publishers, and moderators; announcements are getting a final polish; and signage has been printed.
Festivals are whirlwinds of energy and activity. Every year is different, so there’s always a new wrinkle to adapt to and learn from. But here are a few things I’ve learned over the last decade in the trenches as TTBF Programming Director.
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A Really Good Book With An Ill-Advised Cover

Kenny Brechner - October 4, 2018

With the Nobel Prizes in science being handed out this week one might be forgiven for seeing the bookstore floor as a laboratory for assessing the interaction between a book’s cover as art and its intrinsic purpose to help induce suitable readers to purchase it.
Suppose we have read, enjoyed and are primed to handsell a particular book. Further suppose that we have framed a hypothesis that its cover will impede sales because many suitable readers will find the cover off-putting. With the book’s on-sale date at hand the scientific method now comes fully into play out on the bookstore floor, which has been prepped for our experiment with a prominent display of its test subject.
We will take a book released on Tuesday, Kill The Queen, as a case study. I want to say up front that I have been wrong about the effect of covers many times over the years. We are interested in science here, proving or disproving a hypothesis. The role of opinion is strictly limited to establishing the hypothesis.
My opinion of Kill The Queen is that it is an excellent book with a cover that will seriously hamstring its sales to an audience broader than the author’s existing fan base, Let’s look at the matter in a little more detail.
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Packing for Fall Regionals: What Do You See?

Cynthia Compton - October 3, 2018

Booksellers across the country are tucking their stores in for a few days in order to attend regional fall forums and meetings. I’m going to borrow the images of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s classic read aloud* this week, so that you can join in to the storytelling (and the flurry of tasks to be done ) with me.
Brown box, brown box, what do you see?
I see a bunch of new product receiving looking at me…. which needs to be done before I leave for Heartland Fall Forum in Minneapolis. I could leave it all for the staff to do, as long as I identify somewhere for them to put the damages. There will be damages, of course, which increase exponentially with the following criteria: if you order only one copy of a book, it is twice as likely to be damaged. If the book is a BIG RELEASE with lots of pre-orders, count on damages to equal the number of books over the preorder amount plus one.  If the book is has a silver cover, a clever cutout on the paperback cover,  or some kind of strange texture…. well, you knew better when you ordered it, and you got what you deserved.
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Picture Books That Invite Connection

Elizabeth Bluemle - October 2, 2018

When I’m in need of heartening, I turn to books. I’ve been so happy this fall to bring to the store several beautiful new books that feel like open arms welcoming and celebrating all of our citizens. Here are a few of my favorites. I hope you’ll share some of yours in the comments.

First Laugh—Welcome Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson (Charlesbridge). in this bright picture book, Navajo author and artist Tahe and Nelson, together with Flood, share a joyful tradition from the Navajo Nation: the first person to make a baby laugh gets to host the First Laugh Ceremony, a big party welcoming the baby to the community. (Bonus: The book also mentions similar celebrations from other cultures.) What a wonderful tradition!

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