If You Give a Bookseller a Suitcase

Cynthia Compton -- October 11th, 2017

If you give a bookseller a suitcase*, she’s going to ask for three days off to go to a regional association fall show.

When you pay her registration and buy the drink tickets, she’ll probably ask you for seats at the breakfast, too, because that’s where the children and YA authors speak.  When that’s finished, she plans to get autographs, so that the books can be donated to the local charity auctions that the store supports, and raise lots of money for worthwhile causes back home.

Checking the mirror, she’ll notice that she needs a pre-show haircut, so she’ll probably need an afternoon off before she leaves. Might as well get a manicure, too, for all that hand-shaking and holding drinks at cocktail parties.

She’ll start cleaning her desktop in the office before she leaves. She might even get carried away and clean up the stock room, too. She might alphabetize the catalogs, call the special orders, and box up the returns. When she’s done, she’ll probably want to take a nap.

You’ll want to make her hotel reservation early, so that she doesn’t get the room next to the ice machine or the elevator, or on the same floor as the youth hockey team in town for a tournament.

She’ll call you from the room, unpack her stuff, and make sure her name tags and meal tickets are tucked into her nametag lanyard. She’ll probably ask you to tell her which educational sessions to attend.

So you’ll read the program, and remind her which authors to be sure to meet, and which ARCs to grab. She’ll get so excited, she’ll make a list of her own, and wrangle an invitation to an offsite dinner with a publisher just to meet her favorite writer.

When the list is finished, she’ll go to a reception, and want to take pictures of herself holding new books with every author on the list. Then she’ll want to post those on the store’s Instagram. You’ll remind her to tag everyone involved, and be sure not to miss dinner. Sadly, getting caught up in the hotel bar with a group of sales reps will cause her to miss the UPS shipping deadline on the trade show floor.

At dinner, she’ll get even more books to bring back, and it’s time to get on the airport shuttle for the trip home. Since she’s already sent pictures to fellow staff members of all the great stuff she’s bringing home to them, she needs to fit all this bounty into her carry-on bag.

Recognizing that’s impossible, she’ll call to ask if she can buy another suitcase.

*This week’s post is a fall-trade-show-themed homage to Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, whose beloved picture book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (HarperCollins) has been teaching delighted children and traveling booksellers about cause and effect for over 30 years (while maintaining an admirable pro-dessert position in every book).

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About Cynthia Compton

Cynthia is the mom of 4 kids, the walker of 5 dogs, and the owner of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Indiana. The 2600 sq. ft. childrens store was founded in 2003, and hosts daily story times and events, birthday parties, book clubs and a large summer reading program. She is a current board member of the American Specialty Toy Retailers Assn, a past president of the Great Lakes Bookseller Association, and her store was honored with the Pannell Award in 2013.

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