Back Home Again in Indiana

Cynthia Compton -- June 27th, 2018


As I continue to navigate around my open suitcase on my bedroom floor (I pulled out the ARCs, obviously, but the laundry can wait) and sort through the jumble of business cards in my purse in search of the store keys and the taxi receipts that I PROMISED to put in the bookkeeper’s envelope this week, I  am picturing all my dear kid lit colleagues returning home and doing the same re-entry quadrille after CI6. In honor of our reluctant homecomings, I offer a Top Ten list of our collective responsibilities upon our return:

TEN  phone messages that must be returned IMMEDIATELY, in order to keep the event schedule running, “Where’s Waldo” business partners on track, and the backorders released. Fortunately, at least 4 of these scribbled messages are legible, and the others contain vague clues to their origin and issue — and after attending the ABA Financial Management workshop, deciphering acronyms is my specialty. COGS = cost of goods. CFD = Carmel Fire Department, confirming an upcoming Story Time with a Firefighter. (insert winking joke about NOLA not the only place that’s “hot” here… or not. This is a G rated blog post, y’all.)

Studious financial management seminar attendees at CI6

NINE boxes of receiving missing packing slips or invoices. Manager Cynthia voice says: “YAY! New stuff!” Tired Cynthia voice says: “Who the heck ordered this, and why didn’t they enter the P.O.?” Note: These two Cynthias are the same person, and will probably eat ALL the pralines while sorting things out.

EIGHT hours of sleep that it would be REALLY GREAT TO GET. In a row, preferably. Each time I attend a trade show or industry meeting, I resolve to do a better job of keeping regular hours — but just like the airlines, I generally find those commitments to be more of the “anticipated arrival” variety.

SEVEN damaged items/wrong shipments/special orders gone awry that are all waiting on my desk. See above “ten phone calls” and add a few more.

I’m sure that Chelsea doesn’t have to deal with returns

SIX staff requests for schedule changes in July, along with shift changes/payroll adjustments that need to be addressed because of unexpected absences while I was away. It’s summer concert, graduation open house, and summer camp drop off season — all good reasons to smile and nod at the folks who kept the doors open and the register ringing while I was away.

FIVE hours that I need to find to visit the gym, one for every day this week. Publisher dinners are always a treat, but a food destination city like New Orleans was just a brilliant choice for those special events. I especially love the “matchmaking” that goes on behind the scenes at Ci6 to make sure that all booksellers who want to be are included in these festivities, and on behalf of all my overfed colleagues, want to say thank you for the amazing hospitality. It was the year of shrimp and grits and beignets and elastic waistbands.

FOUR boxes of ARCs and signed copies that will be arriving from CI6 any minute now, to the joy of the frontline staff, and the total disruption of all productivity while the literary spoils are pored over, distributed, and tucked into bags to take home. This was a new volume record of boxes for me, as I normally don’t ship quite this many volumes home… but something about The Big Easy made picking up books…. easy.

Our friend Gordon enroute to the drive-thru

THREE dogs at my house that are very, very happy to see me, and have a few comments to make about the dog-food-only meals that were offered in my absence. Sadly, I can’t win back their affection with signed copies, but a quick trip to the magic drive-through window might restore my “favorite human” status.


TWO big ideas that I want to implement in my store right away. There were lots more, of course, but over the years I have found that the mark of a successful conference is measured by two ideas that can be put to work in the store without a lot of research or expense. Those two ideas allow for some instant change and results, and create the kindling for the growth of a larger fire, clearing away the brush of old practices that don’t serve us well anymore. Just two ideas. What are yours?

ONE moment it takes to log on to the ABA Ci6 app, and evaluate the sessions. If you have ever planned an event, you know how valuable that feedback is. If you have ever presented, you know how helpful the comments and ideas are from your colleagues. If you were in the room, you have a thought (or two) to share. Make that your ONE resolution, and give it a voice.


Welcome home, and I’ll see you next year!

PS: My title this week is in honor of the song “Back Home Again in Indiana” by James F. Hanley, with lyrics by Ballard MacDonald. It was published in 1917, and while not our official state song (that would be “On the Banks of the Wabash”) it is probably the best known Hoosier state tribute, particularly as sung by Jim Nabors at the Indianapolis 500 from 1972 until 2014. It is now performed at the pre-race festivities by our friend from Chicago, Jim Cornelison of Blackhawks fame. If anyone wants to call me and sing either song, that would be just fine.


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About Cynthia Compton

Cynthia is the mom of 4 kids, a rescuer of English Bulldogs, 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 just completed her term on the board of the American Specialty Toy Retailers Assn, is a past president of the Great Lakes Bookseller Association, and her store was honored with the Pannell Award in 2013.

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