BEA: Start Your Planning Early (April 1 edition)

Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt - April 1, 2010

It’s that time of year again, folks: BEA looms and there are some exciting (and sobering) new educational sessions in 2010; we’ve got the inside scoop. Conference rooms fill quickly, so we thought it might be useful to help children’s booksellers get a jump on this year’s planning.
See you in NYC!
Day of Education Offerings:
Serving the “Twoddler” Reader: Issues and Best Practices (Room 1E12)
The Twoddler is the largest untapped market in children’s books right now. Join our panel discussion of how this little person between the ages of 3-5 is really the decision-maker when it comes to which books the family will purchase. In this workshop you’ll get the tools you need to encourage these powerhouse pre-readers to target their tantrums toward expensive hardcovers. Rethinking eye-level placement: 24″-36″ is your new best friend. Effective marketing and containment strategies will be discussed, including the use of favorite costumed characters and bossy older siblings to keep these twoddlers in the section they belong.
The Nuts & Bolts of Children’s Bookselling: Roundtable Discussions (Room 1E12dada)
Join us for frank conversation about the day-to-day operational issues that we rarely get a chance to discuss in a conference environment. Learn the best ways to clean spit-up off dust jackets, lift ground gum out of carpets, and retrieve expensive sidelines that have been “stored” under bookcases by curious children. That noise you hear is a ripped book, so get up and make them pay for it. Tips for when story hour turns into a siege. Tips on what to say to the parent whose child has just wiped his nose on a copy of Knuffle Bunny. Also: the benefits of Goo-Gone and other safe substitutes for soap to use on dirty hands when parents refuse to take their kids to the bathroom. Learn time-trusted techniques for getting through the day when you just don’t like kids anymore. Bonus: why crying toddlers are bad for business.
Medium- and Large-Store Roundtable (Room 1E12 SW)
An interactive session for those who own or manage large stores. Sit at a table with seven other booksellers and listen to the loudest person dominate the discussion about why their store is better than yours.
Small- and Truly Wee-Store Roundtable (Room 1E12SWEscalator)
A moderated session geared for owner-managers in smaller stores. Why not take a two-hour break and hear tales of woe as you share or learn about the challenges of owning a small indie in today’s market? Discover why publicists chuckle when they receive your author request grids. Leave feeling lucky you still have keys to your store. Tissues available for purchase (via agency model), along with DVDs of Mighty Mouse and a custom adaptation of a Dr. Seuss classic, The 500 Hats of the Small Indie Owner.
It’s in the Payroll (Room 1E12 A)
This brief workshop will outline ways how all bookstores, from tiny to large, can offer less and less to their employees in an effort to remain open and compete in the marketplace. The role of barter for staff will be thoroughly discussed.
The Business of Accepting Credit and Debit Cards (Room 1E12 34DD)
In this session you’ll learn why taking credit and debit cards is important since no one ever has cash, even for that fifty-cent eraser. Learn more efficient swiping techniques and ways to get that slow second receipt to print out before the customer starts tapping her pen on the counter. Strategies for helping customers who just can’t remember their PIN are also handled in this session, as well as the top five alternatives to rolling your eyes during difficult transactions.
IndieBound Workshop
This educational session focuses on how you can train your customers that IndieBound actually refers to books and not bondage. After a tour of educational materials available for download, strategies for covering all your windows with banners and posters will be thoroughly examined.
IndieCommerce Demo (Room 1E12 Right Corner)
This session is aimed at bookstore owners and managers who don’t yet know what a website is.
It’s a Wrap: Video Workshop
Bring a Handycam and your sense of humor! Come prepared to learn how videos —which you will never actually make; I mean, come on, who are we kidding?—could, but won’t, boost sales at your store. Experience the thrill of discovering yet another new social networking opportunity to feel guilty about neglecting.
Succession Planning: Valuing Your Business (Room 1E12$)
What to do when you really want to get out of the game, but no one will buy your bookstore. How to cook the books so your brother-in-law thinks your business is a profit center. Ways to make long-time customers think that you can read all day long and succeed as an indie bookseller.
The New Reality: Alternative Business Models for Independent Bookstores (Room 1E12 Sidewalk)
This panel discussion focuses on job retraining for bookstore staff who are soon to be no longer working in independent bookstores. Listen as the panel speaks about the advent of the “paycheck” — a side benefit of working for another kind of business in the new reality. Featured extra: how to negotiate with your landlord to break your lease with the smallest  penalty.
Google Editions (Room 1E12 Loft)
This educational panel will show you yet another way electronic media and free downloads will cause your store to close in the next ten years. See how the “cloud” is one you’ll float away on after people stop reading actual books.
Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) Events:
This year’s Good Ol’ Not-a-Dinner (GONAD) and Silent Auction — Continuing the tradition of surprising guests with an all-new, improved structure, this event gathers luminaries in the children’s book field: authors and illustrators who speak movingly, announce awards spiritedly, and then elbow one another out of the way to get at the silent auction pieces they’ve been coveting since before that first glass of wine loosed their crazy inner-Jerry-Springer-show-guest clipboard-hogging bid-monster alter egos. Bring checkbook and brass knuckles.
ABA/CBC Events:
Tea with Children’s and YA Authors: This ticketed event includes coffee and dessert at eight-person tables in a room filled with topnotch authors and artists and discussions moderated by fascinating, accomplished booksellers. A pre-session offering tips on table envy will be offered to those ready to fret that their author has won just one, not multiple, Newbery awards.
Speed-Dating with Children’s and YA Authors: This ever-popular, always oversubscribed event is a first-come, first-served morning session you won’t get into, so don’t bother. This is not a ploy to free up some spots for us. Surely not.
That brings us to an end of our planning guide. What sessions are YOU looking forward to from the perspective of this fine April 1?

8 thoughts on “BEA: Start Your Planning Early (April 1 edition)

  1. Spellbound

    Oh my god, that’s hilarious. I simultaneously cringe and smile at the thought of the Truly Wee Store Roundtable…it probably would go something like that!
    “Experience the thrill of discovering yet another new social networking opportunity to feel guilty about neglecting.” I actually had someone take some video at an event in February because I thought I needed to get on the bandwagon… the video has not made it off the memory card as yet, but maybe soon…

  2. Lapsed Bookseller

    How about:
    Costumers, Not Customers. What to do when the only “people” coming into your store are a giant Clifford the Big Red Dog, A seven foot tall Cat In The Hat, Arthur, D.W., Maisy, Dora, Madeline, and all those other beloved character costumes. How to attach a breathing tube inside one of those big heads, how to assess the amount the gift certificate to the massage therapist/chiropracter should be for after wearing the costume, and self defense from twoddlers who think that kicking a Wild Thing is much more fun than putting toast with peanut butter into the DVD player.

  3. k.b.

    I was actually hoping that there would be a panel called Mickey Use in Children’s Bookselling, focusing on the legality of drugging parents who are engaged in vociferously trying to force ill chosen books on, or loudly soliciting unwanted advice for, their mortified teenage offspring while said child is trying to browse in peace. It’s gratifying and effective, but are their liability concerns?

  4. Carol Chittenden

    Brilliant post, as funny as it is dead on target. Here are my additions:
    Merchandising Fairies. Find ways to fit more large hunks of empty cardboard displays into fairy-size retail spaces. Includes demonstration of sky hooks and reversible shelving, legal use of basements (with or without trolls, and crawl spaces.
    Inventory Systems and Technology: Listen to people who have not been booksellers for a decade, if ever, tell you why all your difficulties in using their software are your fault, not that of their slow, expensive system. Upgrades available for a large annual fee.

  5. Elizabeth Bluemle

    This April Fool’s post made me laugh out loud all over again, if I can say that as the co-author, and I can’t believe how much is still relevant, twelve years later. Love the comments, too!! Thanks for reminding me of this, Josie – a fun trip down memory lane!


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