The Changing Face of ShelfTalker

Alison Morris - April 2, 2009

After two years of supplying ShelfTalker readers with odd insights into my bookselling life, quirky questions to contemplate, photo tours of bookstores, and the occasional book-related craft project, I am handing over the blogging reins and taking a backseat to two other more-than-capable booksellers.

The decision to make this change has been a long time coming for me. About six months into writing this blog I began to question my own sanity. I’d come home from a long day at the bookstore to sit down in front of the computer and try to compose blog posts, all the while thinking that this was the time I was "supposed" to be spending on my as-yet-unfinished book. A few hours later I’d crawl into bed and Gareth would shake his head at me, his look saying what we both knew: I couldn’t keep this up. I told him (and everyone who said, "How do you find the time?") that I felt I had to stick with it for a year. I didn’t want to give the appearance of someone who jumped in and out of things, and besides? The blog was gaining steam. People were contacting me all the time to tell me how much they were enjoying it. I had things I wanted to say. Fun topics I wanted to explore. True, I had almost zero time to devote to them, but still…? I could do this for a year, I said.

And then somehow that one-year commitment became two, and with it came lots of great things, like connecting with so many of you! But now if you ask me about the timing of anything that’s happened to me in the past two years I draw a blank. The past two years feel like one big blur to me — a sign that I’ve been doing WAY, WAY too much and that something’s got to give.

SO, let the giving begin. Starting next week, PW will be giving you the voices of not one but TWO talented and very entertaining booksellers. Your new ShelfTalker bloggers will be Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt of the The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont (see my post about their store from March 2008). I feel certain you’re going to enjoy and appreciate their intelligent insights into the book business, their infectious enthusiasm for books, and their creative ideas about… everything. Elizabeth and Josie have been trusted and well-respected colleagues of mine for many years, so I assure you that I’m leaving you in EXCELLENT hands. I’m looking forward to seeing what things they post in this new phase of life for ShelfTalker — a phase during which I too get to sit back, read, and learn a thing or two!

As for my role here, I will continue to offer up occasional posts for the next few weeks but sometime thereafter will assume the intermittent role of "guest blogger." (Hopefully a much more relaxed and happy guest blogger, at that.) There are still SO many things that I want to say, share, ask, explore with you, entertain you with, and that will still happen, just on a less frequent or consistent basis — and hopefully in part through my book(s)!

Before I hang up my "blog owner" hat, though, I want to do two things. The first is to ask you to share what it is you’ve liked about this blog, so that Josie and Elizabeth will have some idea of what they might want to think about continuing or exploring in greater detail here. Tell us why it is you’ve come back for more and/or tell me what things you’d have liked to see me do differently. (Seriously. I want to know.) If you’d prefer not to post your thoughts on these things in the comments field where the whole world can see them, e-mail me. My address is ShelfTalker (at) Gmail (dot) com.

The second and most important thing I want to do is thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the time and attention you’ve paid to my blog over the past two years. As an (overly) busy person, I know how much competition there is for any one person’s time and attention nowadays, and I’m overwhelmed by the fact that so many of you have thought that my little missives were worth the expenditure of those two things. I don’t think that, as a reader, I ever realized what a privilege and HONOR it is for a writer to have an audience. As a blogger, though, I’ve experienced that honor first-hand, and it humbles me. Again, thank you for that. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

And please tune in next Monday, when you’ll officially "meet" Josie and Elizabeth, who are very much looking forward to blogging for you. Onward, ShelfTalker readers!

45 thoughts on “The Changing Face of ShelfTalker

  1. Boni Ashburn

    Alison, nooooooooooo! Oh, I am so sorry to see you go. I have so enjoyed your thoughts, opinions and insights here on ShelfTalker. I’m sure that Elizabeth and Josie will do a fine job, probably a wonderful job, here with ShelfTalker, and I’ll read everything they have to say too, but it won’t be the same blog as Alison’s ShelfTalker. You will be missed. Thanks for each and every one of your posts- they enlightened me 🙂 And good luck to you!!

  2. Mandy

    I’ve never commented here before, but I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts over the past year since I discovered this blog. My favorite part is the insider stories – author events and customer interactions. Pictures definitely make the blog a must-read (must-see?). Thanks for all your hard work and I look forward to reading Elizabeth’s and Josie’s posts as well as guest posts from you. Best of luck in the future!

  3. Kellie Olsen

    Awww, how sad! But I definitely understand that you need a chance to rest and relax a bit. I have thoroughly enjoyed your mentions and reviews of new books that you just can’t put down. I’ve bookmarked several books because of your recommendations, and I’ve yet to be disappointed with your choices. I also enjoy the posts that get lots of comments and discussion. I love the interactions with other children’s book enthusiasts.

  4. Lesley

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for almost two years now. My favorite part has been hearing about the great books you’ve read – I’ve really come to trust your judgment, have run out to buy several of them, and recommended them to others.

  5. jean

    We’ll miss hearing from you Alison. You are a scholar and a poet! And a great bookseller. Thanks for all of the time and wisdom you’ve shared with us.

  6. Vicky Uminowicz

    Oh, Alison, I am so sorry to read that you will not be writing this blog any more (Could this possibly be another great April Fool’s joke???) – but I can’t think of better people to take it over!!!! This is one of the few blogs I regularly read – you have that perfect combination of great information, fun and incredibly good writing. Elizabeth and Josie are SO wonderful – they are also hugely knowledgeable about children’s books and bookselling in general, passionate about books, creative and just plain funny. I really look forward to their writing. Thanks for 2 great years of stories and information, Alison. You’ve done a wonderful job and left it in style as always!!

  7. Mary Quattlebaum

    Alison, your insights and lively humor will be sorely missed. What I’ll miss most about your blog is its constant ability to surprise. When I clicked, I never knew whether I’d find a quirky contest, a list, a reflection on an author, book or event, or a field trip. Your blog was playful and far ranging (yet always tuned to the children’s book world). Thank you for giving so much of your precious time to it. And I look forward to “magic words” from Josie and Elizabeth soon.

  8. Carol Chittenden

    I, too, groaned until I saw who’s succeeding you. (Like Benjamin Franklin, you cannot be replaced, merely succeeded.) Elizabeth and Josie are brilliant, funny, extremely well read, and their BS detector works exactly as it should: keen, but kind. I look forward to many an amusing insight. Actually, the blog probably SHOULD rotate about every 2 years, come to think of it.

  9. Hester Bass

    Thank you, Alison, for giving ShelfTalker such a glorious flying start! I have most appreciated your insights regarding author events, all that “behind the scenes” info on book selling, what you’re reading and why, and those intriguing calls for “favorites” – and love those pictures! Best of luck with your writing – whoever welcomes you to their list will be fortunate indeed – and howdy to Elizabeth and Josie!

  10. Carolyn McCready

    I have loved your posts, Alison. Thanks so much for all the time you’ve put into sharing your life and thougths with us. Your blog was always the first one I went to. Thank you from all of us. And please do guest blog – we’ll all be watching for you!

  11. Julianne Daggett

    Although Elizabeth and Josie sound like very good successors, the blog won’t be the same without an occassional post by you, Alison. So please guest blog a few times a month about your bookseller and writing missives. And, please, please post about your tours of bookstores and meetings with authors (like the ones in Maine!). They’re the best of your posts, so please continue posting them when you can. Also, I would tell Elizabeth and Josie to try to experiment and find things that they’d personally like to blog about from their own experience in children’s bookselling. Perhaps a post about how being a children’s bookseller in a rural New England town is different from being one in a big city? Or, how the Flying Pig is able to arrange author visits and signings in a small town when most publishers prefer to send authors to big cities like New York, Boston, Dallas, Los Anglos, and Seattle.


    A quick hello from the ShelfTalker successors: Alison is the world’s best blogger, and Josie and I also reacted with a giant, “Noooooooo!!” when she told us she was leaving to, um, you know, have a life. We have incomparable shoes to fill, but will do our best to surprise and entertain ShelfTalker readers, and share thoughts about the ever-changing world of children’s books. Now, off to learn how to decoupage birdhouses….

  13. Cathy C. Hall

    Alison, I’ve really enjoyed the peek into the world behind the bookstore counter. And I love all those quirky, book-related sites you find. Some of my best shopping came from your tips!


    Best of luck,Alison. Use those new found hours each day to spoil yourself,at least for a while, reading, writing, or…just taking a few breaths without thinking, the blog awaits…I am a regular reader and will miss your insights but look forward to getting to know Elizabeth and Josie’s ShelfTalker. All best, Janet

  15. Sondy Eklund

    Alison, I think I like your blog because I like your writing. So I am comforted that you won’t be writing your blog when you say you’ll be writing a book. I’m an aspiring children’s book writer myself, and so I want to encourage you to DO it! Your writing is something people like to read. (I know I do!) Write that book!

  16. Michelle

    Thank you so much for all of the time you spent allowing us to get to know you and your world. Your blog was truly enjoyable and the only one I read consistently. Please post your future wedding pictures for those of us that have been following your life.

  17. Bina Williams

    Hi, Alison– I echo the previous postings by saying a huge thankyou for your two years of wisdom, wit and wonderful words. (No, I am NOT auditioning for a blog!) All of us share fond memories of your Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows tote bag skirt, bird house decoupage, suggestions for F&G crafts, trips to bookstore armed with a camera and no fears about taking TONS of pictures, ditto trips to visit authors and/or illustrators, odd findings on the internet with fabulous t-shirts and other doodahs of interest to children’s book folk, trips to BEA, non-trips to BEA, and so much more. Especially sweet has been the way you shared with us your dear Gareth. Please send us a few blogs as you plan your wedding and after. Will you have children’s book themes around the reception tables? Graphic novel-themed programs? A totebag dress? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And thank-you Diane Roback for finding just the perfect combo to help us with our Alison (and Gareth) withdrawal, the delightful Flying Pig duo of Elizabeth and Josie whose own unique spins on the world of children’s books we all inhabit. Best of luck to all of you!

  18. Brian Kelleher

    Well this must be the perfect combination of bitter and sweet. Bitter part — Alison, as many other commenters have said…your blog is the one I read most consistently and voraciously, and I’ll miss it very, very much. And I’ll miss happily forwarding bits and pieces of it to my colleagues, and basically blowing your horn and — by extension — the horn of children’s booksellers and children’s book experts and enthusiasts everywhere. But that’s the sweet part…becuase I’ll still be able to do all that, but I’ll be reading and spreading the word about Elizabeth and Josie’s blog now! Great store, great booksellers, and now…great bloggers-to-be. To the Flying Pig People…you don’t need to be told you have big shoes to fill, but fill them you will and we look forward to every word. Thanks Alison!

  19. Jim.

    There are only two kidlit blogs I read religiously. ShelfTalker and Fuse#8. I will miss yours. Now get some well deserved rest. And best of luck on your book.

  20. Four Story Mistake

    Oh, I will miss you! You were my favorite-must-read-daily blog. I will be glad to read your book, though! I loved your sense of humor, your clever questions that made me think and your reader merch suggestions. Thank you for your wonderful and happy blog!

  21. Elaine

    I’ve really enjoyed this blog and will miss your posts! I loved everything you shared, from insider concerns and insight into coming books (I wouldn’t have known about Graceling nearly as early on), to literary purchases and birdhouses. Thank you and good luck!

  22. Beth J.

    I, too, will miss your enthusiasm for life in general. I enjoy everything about your blog, but especially all the places you go and visit. And the pictures are always outstanding. I’ll look forward to the new ladies from the Flying Pig as I always enjoyed when you talked about them, too. But please, will you post pictures of you and Gareth when you get married???? I need to know the happy ending! Good luck.

  23. Disappointed Debbie

    Since my interest is in adult books rather than children’s books, I loved the “other” parts of your blog. I loved the bookstore tours, merchandise leads, etc. You seemed to voice many of the thoughts we all have, so it was like reading a friend’s blog each day! We’ll miss you but certainly understand the time it took out of your life to give us this wonderful blog each day! Don’t be a stranger!

  24. Sara Hunter

    Oh darn, Alison!! Could we please switch your April 1 and 2 posting and make this the April Fool’s? Rats! I will welcome Josie and Elizabeth with open arms (love their store in scenic Shelburne) but will miss, miss, miss your generous, informed, and funny posts. I will just have to console myself with the fact that you’ll have more time to finish that book to share with all of us and more time to tempt me with goodies from Wellesley Booksmith.


    Alison, this post makes me sad. I always look forward to your blogs, knowing I’ll be informed, amused and will often laugh for fun. I’ve read some YA books I’d never have looked for except that you mentioned in ShelfTalker. (& I don’t even buy or sell “Children’s Books”) Luckily I’ll still be able to see you when I see Lorna. Enjoy the moments of rest before you hop into something else.

  26. Spellbound

    What can I say that hasn’t just been said? I think I actually gasped at the thought of you leaving Shelf Talker, but I am excited about seeing what kind of mischief Elizabeth and Josie will stir up! Glad you’re going to guest blog occasionally; we wouldn’t want you to leave us “cold turkey.” Yours is the only blog, book related or other, that I read regularly. I think what I have enjoyed most is the variety. As someone earlier said, you never knew what the subject or tone or scope might be, and that was great! Insights on the book life from your various perspectives as buyer, seller, and reader were all very relatable and welcome and often very, very informative. (And yes, the shopping tips were cool, too!) Thanks for all your hard work and your enthusiasm!

  27. Lisa Yee

    My best to you, Alison. Thanks for the wonderful blogs. And hey, Elizabeth and Josie, It’ll be good to see you here! (Oh, and I liked the handmade and/or unique book-related merchandise that Alison flagged for us.)

  28. TeeLee

    As a newcomer to your blog -I’ve only been reading it for about 6 months- I want to say thank you for the laughs and the insights and for making me feel as though I was sitting down with an old friend. One of the things I like about your blog is the worldliness of it. When you post links to other product you’ve discovered or things like the best bookstores and boy does our staff love the videos of the raving bookseller!!! Good luck to you and the new bloggers.

  29. Karen Gray Ruelle

    Drats! I only started reading your blog in the past year, and, now you’re leaving! Thanks for all the great links and info and insights and good humor. I think I liked the pigs best, followed closely by the links to handmade goodies. I look forward to seeing what the new bloggers are like, but I’ll miss you. Good luck with the writing; let us know when your book is published!

  30. e. van lowe

    Wow! Alison, what a blow. I do not know if I have ever made a comment, but I can tell you for the past 2 years, you (and Gareth) have been a part of my life. I will miss you immensely. I am certain you have chosen your replacements well. I am sure I will enjoy them. But I will miss YOU. Cherish the time you’ve gotten back, and use it wisely. Regain your sanity, continue to nurture your business and relationship, and maybe in a year or two we will all be lucky enough to hear from you again. Thank you for two years of great blogging. I will look for you on Project Publishing.

  31. Becky

    Goodbye, Alison. You will be sorely missed. I just hope that from time to time you can pop in with a update!!!! Best of luck in all you do! 🙂 Elizabeth and Josie: Welcome to Shelftalker! Just want to let you know that you already have a fan, as I absolutely LOVE Shelburne, VT. I went there on vacation and I hope to visit again soon. The Flying Pig would be one of my first stops. 🙂 I know Alison left the blog in good hands, judging from past posts, and I look forward to your first entry!

  32. Elizabeth O. Dulemba

    Alison, I’ve so enjoyed your thoughts these last two years. Thanks so much for being so generous with your time. Of course, I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth’s and the Flying Pig already, so I look forward to enjoying the new voice of Shelftalker – but most especially when you drop back by. Best of luck with your writing and hope to hear good news from you soon! 🙂 e

  33. Mallory

    Alison, you have been like a best friend that I never knew. I will miss your sense of humor and unique shopping sensibility! Good luck with everything! There will be a lot of editors fighting over your manuscript when it is done!

  34. J

    What a shame! I really enjoyed the blog and did follow it regularly. It’s the only blog I read as well! I look forward to new viewpoints and opinions. Good luck with all future projects – I keep my fingers crossed for a TV show as you described it in the future.

  35. Dave Baker

    Thank you very much for all your efforts! I’ve enjoyed the stories, the ideas (we’re working on book-character Shrinky-Dinks now, too!), seeing the bookstores you’ve visited, and meeting your bookstore friends. The breadth and quality of your blog has been outstanding. I look forward to seeing you in the store and at future author-events. Good luck with everything!


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