I’m currently in the midst of Children’s Institute with over 300 other booksellers. I am seeing so many familiar faces, which I love, but what I love even more is that over half of this year’s attendees are actually first-timers to the event. Personally, I think that really speaks to the power and relevance of this growing conference. I love feeling the energy of this incredible group of people, all passionate about children’s books and all passionate about what we do to engage kids in our communities.
Monthly Archives: June 2019
From Today to Today at CI7
Kenny Brechner - June 27, 2019
I admit that knowing what day of the week it is may well be a dubious source of pride. Still, when a fresh set of circumstances leave us shorn of our habitual productive rhythms, then being mindful of what day of the week it is becomes suddenly relevant.
Take today, Monday June 24th. I’m writing my post for a different today: Thursday June 27th, when Children’s Institute will be in full swing. My normal rhythm is to write posts on Wednesdays but I’ll be too busy getting ready for the institute, and traveling, to write about it any later than today.
Happily, the three sessions I’m preparing for at Children’s Institute are among the things I’m most looking forward to there.
Prepping for Pittsburgh
Cynthia Compton - June 26, 2019
If you’re joining me and 350 of my best bookselling friends at ABA’s Children’s Institute this week, you’ve probably spent the last few days scurrying around your bookstore or office, checking items off both the to-do list and circling the open suitcase on the floor, shooing out both pets and reconsidered wardrobe choices. Here’s a few of the things you need to be SURE to bring.
The Nutritional Value of Potato-Chip Books
Elizabeth Bluemle - June 25, 2019
Summertime bookselling is oh, so different from the rest of the year. Parental restrictions are relaxed, and children come to the counter with piles of comics and light series books that usually would have been rationed to one per visit during the school year alongside what parents might call “real books.” The joy of free choice lights up children’s faces, and adults similarly allow themselves to indulge in less literary pursuits. I call these fun, light escape reads “potato-chip books.” They are delicious and addictive, and while they wouldn’t make up a full and balanced diet on their own, they add delightful crunch to a reading life, and almost all of us, no matter how bookish, love our snacks now and then. The variety of indulgences might vary, but most of us delight in them.
The Importance of Looking Up
Meghan Dietsche Goel - June 21, 2019
When I was a kid I had a book which (in my inaccurate memory) was titled something along the lines of “What the Moon Astronauts Do All Day.” I have no idea where my copy ended up, and an online search doesn’t turn up a book with that title, but it’s not important. What I remember was that it was a photographic look at the astronauts who participated in the Mercury and Apollo space missions. I must have read that book over 100 times, imagining what those trips must have been like. I was also seven years old at the time of the Challenger accident, watching with my class as the disaster occurred in real time. So the allure of space exploration has long captured my imagination, along with a heightened awareness of its risks.
With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing around the corner (or, as a particular customer asserted the other day, the “alleged” moon landing), books commemorating the historic achievement abound at the moment. And that’s a great thing. I personally relish the opportunity to celebrate our quest to understand what lies beyond our atmosphere—as well as the serious math and science skills it takes to do that. We just put up a big space-themed display to lead up to the historic anniversary next month, and it’s chock full of great choices. Continue reading
A Second Field Trip!
Kenny Brechner - June 20, 2019
A recent field trip made by two kindergarten classes to DDG embodied the principle that sharing the love of reading in person is the best means of nurturing a new generation of readers. We had the opportunity to arrange a second field trip to the store, this time for a class of middle schoolers. I was approached by Patty Veayo, the Alternative Learning teacher of Mt. Blue Middle School. What is alternative learning? Patty teaches the core curriculum classes to a group of students who are temperamentally not suited for a traditional, sit down for long periods of time, classroom.
Salsa and Sympathy
Cynthia Compton - June 19, 2019
Classroom teachers often tell stories of running into their students out in the community – at the grocery store, the car wash, and the bank – and how taken aback the children often are about seeing ‘their’ Mrs. Johnson “out in the wild.” Kids can be shocked, tongue-tied, or entirely delighted to see a teacher wearing jeans or sweatpants, pushing a cart through the cereal aisle at Super Target, looking entirely different than she does at school. Children’s booksellers are not quite as remarkable when spotted outside of our stores, but still worthy of comment, and are usually asked a couple of questions about why we’re away from the shop, and in my case, “who is taking care of the giraffe.”
Rules for a Slow Sunday
Cynthia Compton - June 17, 2019
Most weekend shifts at the shop simply fly by — there are presents to be wrapped, regulars dropping by to pick up “stuff we brought over from the warehouse” (because we NEVER say “Special Orders” at the Bookstore), and new customers drawn in by parties, costumed characters or author events. Last year, we added a Saturday story-and-art session to the mix for parents who can’t attend events with their kids during the work week, and in the summer we extend our Saturday evening hours to accommodate the patio diners at the restaurant next door, who linger in the pleasant Midwestern evenings with another glass of wine and an indulgent attitude for the kids who want “just a little something” next door at my shop. We staff accordingly for all of this activity, and typically have the most members of our team on the floor on the weekend than any other time.
Austin Teens Report on Best / Worst of BookCon 2019
Meghan Dietsche Goel - June 14, 2019
As a bookseller, I’ve attended BookExpo many times (and blogged last week about my personal buzz book of the show). But even though it’s sort of the second half of the same event, BookCon is a whole different beast that I’ve never personally experienced. This year, Maddy and Colleen from BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps made the trek to New York for BookCon for the fifth time, so I asked them a few questions about what they like best and worst about the event, what’s changed over the years, and what they’d like to see more of next time. From exciting debuts to long signing lines to sore feet to great swag, it sounds like an exhilarating, slightly chaotic, book-filled weekend to remember! Continue reading
The Sequel Audit
Kenny Brechner - June 13, 2019
For many frontlist buyers reading sequels is a luxury we can rarely afford. The character of new series demand our assessment. The unknown is our stock and trade. Once the quality of a series opener has been settled favorably we tend, when the ARC of the next book appears, to quash the beguiling desire to dive back into familiar waters. The duty of discovery is a heavy taskmaster.
Yet perhaps duty sometimes takes a different form. Consider the potential consequences of a first book of a series which we handsold with particular vigor and conviction, casting a great many of our customers into its current. Do we not have a moral obligation to know whether that current will deliver its promise, and that our trumpeting of the arrival of book two is merited?