A New Strategy for Digital ARCs?

Elizabeth Bluemle -- March 10th, 2020
Cartoon © 2010 Jon Huckeby

Ah, booksellers. It seems that no matter how much we dive into delicious stacks of advance reading copies, we are always running to catch up with all of the books we need to read, have meant to read, yearn to read. Access to digital ARCs is extremely helpful, via Edelweiss and NetGalley, and lately I’ve been wondering: is it the smartest strategy for publishers to remove them from these sources the moment a book hits bookstore shelves?

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Field Trip Follies

Cynthia Compton -- March 9th, 2020

Like most booksellers, we “take the show on the road” every single week, to sell books and sidelines offsite. Community and professional events are a large part of our monthly sales, and we look for every possible opportunity to sell books not only in our stores, but out “in the wild” where the readers are. Festivals, conferences, public lectures, concerts, parades and other events that have some tie to literacy or our customer base of families with children are all fair game – and we have become semi-professional movers at wielding our luggage cart piled with boxes of books through parking garages, loading docks, and into hotel and convention center hallways.

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“If You Read, Say Bahahaha!”

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- March 6th, 2020
Our 2018 bookmark wall.

For the last few years I’ve been posting about our annual bookmark contest. It’s one of my favorite things that we do all year. We collect hundreds of submissions every March and let the full BookPeople staff vote on designs across five categories, selecting a winner from each to be printed for distribution the rest of the year. We also display all the entries we receive on the art wall in our cafe for the full month of April. I honestly wish we could have them up year round. They just make me smile! Take a look at this blast from the past and tell me it doesn’t make your day a little better:

If you read say bahahaha!
I don’t read. Do you? (NO)
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Ten Things Before Elevensies

Cynthia Compton -- March 4th, 2020

It’s Tuesday morning at the shop, and our weekly “Stories and Snacks” program begins at 10:30. I picked up the muffins on the way in this morning, but forgot to get napkins, so I text a staffer to stop at the grocery store on her way to work. Normally, we’d have lots of extras, but we hosted an author event with cupcakes last weekend, and the napkin situation is now dire. (Note: cupcakes require WAY more napkins than frosted cookies. Plan more cookie events, and put napkin inventory on the Friday task list.)

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The Best Compliment of an Author’s Career?

Elizabeth Bluemle -- March 3rd, 2020
Pam Muñoz Ryan laughs with an audience member (who happens to be fellow MG author Lindsey Stoddard)

(Please remember to vote today!!)

While it’s hard to think about much else besides Super Tuesday this morning, plus coronavirus prep (retail = lots and lots of wipes for surfaces and hand sanitizer for credit card and cash handling), we are still aglow from a lovely visit on Sunday from the brilliant and (in the words of one of my staffers) ‘badass’ author, Pam Muñoz Ryan.

It was a gorgeous day, and we had popped into the bookstore before the offsite event. While there, Pam graciously signed a copy of Esperanza Rising for a customer who had come in to show us his 17-year-old daughter’s self-published picture book. We mentioned that we had a bona fide superstar in the store, and the dad lit up as he told us that he’d read Esperanza to his daughter years ago and they’d loved it. (While that was a happy moment, it isn’t the one this blog post title promises.)

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Cell Phones and Story Times

Cynthia Compton -- March 2nd, 2020

We do a lot of preschool events in our store. There’s a themed story time each and every weekday morning with activities, several Saturday events per month, and usually a few offsite events for local MOPS groups and preschools. All in all, we sing “Open, Shut them, Open, Shut them” more than the average bear, and if you wake me up in the middle of the night, I’m just as likely to launch into “Itsy Bitsy Spider” as to stumble out of bed to let a dog outside. So I feel pretty confident in my ability to keep the attention of a group of two, three, and four-year-olds, and savvy enough to know when a case of the wiggles has taken over the group, and it’s time to wrap things up or break out some music and dance.

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Austin Kids Take on the Battle of the Books!

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- February 28th, 2020

I’ve been hearing about Austin ISD’s epic Battle of the Books events for years from the middle school librarians we work with. I’ve always been curious, but I didn’t actually know what these literary competitions were like. For the past few years we’ve been donating ARCs for all the participants, but this time we were invited to attend a big regional match as booksellers, and I jumped at the chance. Honestly, it was a blast!

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Ruby Red Shoes: Virus Sage

Kenny Brechner -- February 27th, 2020

There are moments when one of the shadows which linger on the edge of stories leave their station and begins to approach us in earnest. Before going to the store today I swung by our Downtown’s health food store. I reached the front door at the same time as another customer.

Sally: Hi Kenny.

Kenny: Hi Sally.

Sally: Are you here to get elderberry extract?

Kenny: I can’t say I am. You sound like that should be my mission?

Sally: Oh didn’t you hear that elderberry really helps protect you from catching viruses? It’s been all over the news.  

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Scouting Trends from Toy Fair

Cynthia Compton -- February 26th, 2020

As I sit down (finally!) after four days in the aisles at Javits for the 2020 New York Toy Fair, I’m flipping through my notebook and order copies, trying to distill all that browsing into some trends in toys to report back to you this year. A couple of factors, however, are making this year a bit more challenging for the toy industry, so I’ll include those as well, and we’ll sort it all out together.

Every conversation that I had with a vendor this week included a reference to the coronavirus outbreak, its recent spread from China (where so many of the toy production facilities are located) to Europe (where so many toy company headquarters reside) and all points in between. Specifically, the continued closure of Chinese factories will at best delay production until they re-open, and at worst cause companies to seek other locations for manufacturing, a daunting and expensive gamble. Some manufacturers actually currently have more inventory than usual in the United States, as they tried to avoid potential tariff increases in December, and shipped more product than usual stateside. A flat holiday season, sales-wise, has kept some warehouses full, and that merchandise will be used early in the year. Other manufacturers were understandably vague about delivery dates; we heard lots of “we’re hoping for July delivery, but we’ll see” in response to customer queries.

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A Crystal Ball for Bookselling

Elizabeth Bluemle -- February 25th, 2020

Back in 2009, I wrote a ShelfTalker post called “Lost in the Pixels of a Good Book” about the surprising (and concerning) appeal of being able to access the world’s libraries at the touch of a button. Back then, digital reading was on the rise in a big way, with ebook sales more than doubling each year and publishing pundits predicting the demise of “p-books,” a ridiculous term invented to differentiate physical books from their audio and digital versions. (Happily, we still call those just ‘books.’)

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