Monthly Archives: April 2020

When the Mail Makes You Cry Happy

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 28, 2020

Last Tuesday morning’s postal delivery was possibly the best in the history of the Flying Pig. We’ve been working singly, one staffer at the store each day, and while it’s a hectic run, it’s also lonely without the collegiality of coworkers and the friendly faces of customers. It’s also a bit stressful tracking down loose ends, website peculiarities, shipping issues, etc. So to come in that morning, open the mailbox, and find these letters — well, it was winning the lottery of happy.

Continue reading

Two Twos

Kenny Brechner - April 16, 2020

Today we’ll do two twos. Two things I’m pretty sure are true and two things we’re doing at DDG to work around the closure of our selling floor.

One true thing is that Allison Hill is the Winston Churchill of independent bookselling. It’s obvious that walking straight into the pandemic after taking over a giant job like being the new CEO of the American Booksellers Association would have overwhelmed most anyone. Allison is not overwhelmed. She is decisive, a great listener, and an authentic motivator who conveys both value and values to everyone she’s working with.

A second true thing is that as much as bookstores are in dire trouble and looking for help from our publishing partners, publishers are not having a rosy walk in the park themselves. They are in fact under great strain. Collateral damage to publishers would be a wonderful side benefit for Amazon, whose ultimate goal of replacing a diverse marketplace with a single Amazon market has found a boon companion in the pandemic. Financial assistance from publishers needs to be done as collaboratively as possible therefore. We need each other. They are partners, not lifeguards.

One thing we’re doing at the store is an idea I copied from Cover to Cover Books. For many of us, store windows are now our only display space and the idea of providing what our customers are seeing there on a web page is a terrific one. Here is our version.

A second issue is having a store full of great non-book items but no easy means behind closed doors to get them into the homes of our customers. Pictures of stock on social media are great but I also just built this.

Take care, everyone. Time to get back to working myself to death…

Publishers: Think Like a Kid

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 14, 2020

When we heard the news that one of spring’s most highly anticipated books for kids wouldn’t be coming out until late summer, I’ll be honest: it felt like a gut punch—to kids.

All these children who had just learned they would be sheltering in place at home for weeks to come, whose worlds had shrunk practically to the size of their living rooms, were so in need of the kind of joy a new book by their favorite author brings.

I understand why a publisher would think it was a good idea to push back pub dates, and for adult books, I get it. But for children’s books, it’s different. Kids don’t care if a book tour happens three minutes or three months (or three years, pretty much) after a pub date, and I think spring sales would have been through the ROOF with parents desperate to entertain and buoy their kids. The proof is in the bookstores; those of us still operating and fulfilling orders are seeing Christmas-like sales.

Very possibly, these pushed-back release dates have to do with factors I don’t know, like questionable sourcing for the books or delays at the printers during these crazy times. But if they don’t, if it’s just a matter of author tours or marketing strategies, well, then, Publishers, I entreat you to think like a kid.

Books are friends for lonely children. Taking away a promised friend at the time it’s most needed seems a sideways strategy. Children are the most loyal, ardent fans, and they will hanker for that book no matter when you bring it out. They’ll buy it whenever it comes out, so why not now?

Children don’t understand a publisher’s reasoning for the delay. All they know is that a book they were so excited about, that was going to brighten their mood in quarantine, that they could chatter about over a video with a friend, has been suddenly taken away—like everything else this spring.

Stars and Stares

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 7, 2020

Times of crisis test tempers, fortitude, and endurance, and reveal so much about our temperaments, attitudes, and resiliency. In addition to watching our leaders grapple with all the uncertainties, shortages, demands, and disaster this virus has wrought, we are witnessing ourselves and our neighbors in rawer states than we are used to, seeing all our strengths and weaknesses exposed in the face of our particular challenges. Out in public, on our necessary errands, we are balancing on thin edges of welcoming and distancing behaviors. Walking our dog, for example, we dart away from strangers on the sidewalk to keep six+ feet of distance, but flash a rueful smile and a quick wave as if to say, “I’m sorry I’m leaping away from you like you have the plague, but you might, and I might, and so there we are. (And please don’t pet my pup right now).”

Continue reading