Unpredictable Pairs: Surprising Publishing Coincidences

Elizabeth Bluemle -- June 6th, 2016

It happens often in children’s publishing: suddenly, a topic no one’s written about in years (or ever) manages to surface in more than one book. Sometimes, there are enough coincidental titles they constitute a mini-trend. Last November, I wrote about The Year of the Yeti; a few years ago, it seemed every YA book cover trumpeted The Season of Windblown Hair, among other trends. And there was one year when I served on a book committee, and three or four MG and YA novels involved severed hands as major plot points.

Lately, I’ve noticed some modest two-book coincidences. Celestial-body home visits, club feet, and free-verse Tuskegee Airmen are just a few of the past several months’ coincidental releases.

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DDG’s 25th Anniversary Party

Kenny Brechner -- June 2nd, 2016

If there is anything that calls upon even the most feckless of us to pause and reflect it is the 25th anniversary party for one’s bookstore. At least that’s what I found. We pour effort into our lives into particular vessels, and some hold the effort more than others.

A community-oriented bookstore is a particularly retentive vessel. It is in the knitting, I think. There are so many strands, friendships with customers, community partnerships, school partners, staff friendships, a cornucopia of joint efforts and gestalt rewards offer so many layers of interwoven meaning to strengthen the innate character of our enterprise which is, after all, sharing books, sharing vessels of meaning.

In 25 years you’ve had plenty of time to talk Russian literature with someone you once picked out board books for. You’ve helped pick out a get well card for a customer and then discover that the card is for someone who has become very dear to you over the years so that you pick one out for her yourself and send it along. It is little wonder that the bookstore captures the effort poured into it so well and so dynamically.

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Quick Reminder: June Book Blast Begins Today!

Elizabeth Bluemle -- June 1st, 2016

Hi, avid readers.

If you want to add your name to the book-a-day June challenge, go here: June Book Blast.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here: E’s Invitation to Join the June Challenge
(I’ve also updated the post to include the rest of the books I read in May.)

Remember, you can bulk up on books some days and not read on other days. That’s how life is. And just for kicks, try zipping outside your usual genres once in a while to challenge yourself.

Happy June Reading!


Random Customer Comments

Josie Leavitt -- May 31st, 2016

One of the great things about a bookstore is working with customers. People come in looking for books, obviously, and often there are hilarious exchanges that occur in this process. In addition to these funny moments, people feel comfortable sharing, and sometimes oversharing, what’s going on in their lives as they inquire about specific books. I often find myself doling out advice on a range of topics from marriage advice to finding the best realtor to well, just listening.  Continue reading

The Great June Book Blast Challenge

Elizabeth Bluemle -- May 27th, 2016

Want a great way to cut down on Netflix binges and catch up on all those books and ARCs you’ve been meaning to read, especially now that Kenny has shared some of the season’s top picks? Take the June Book Blast Challenge with me! The goal is 30 books in 30 days, apportioned however you like. (Here’s the Google Doc link: As in the May’s Book-a-Day Challenge, all books in all genres count toward your total. Continue reading

Summer Reveals Her Top Picks

Kenny Brechner -- May 26th, 2016

With summer poised to settle in with us us, and thoughts of summer reading occupying our prized moments of leisure, I was delighted to find that Summer herself was willing to take a few minutes of her time to share her book picks for the upcoming season..

Kenny: Hello, Summer. I know how busy Spring is is for you. Thank you so much for spending some time with us on this lovely May afternoon!

Summer: It’s a pleasure to speak with you, Kenny.

Kenny: When I think of summer reading I think of happy readers having time at last to immerse themselves in books of their own choosing or desire. What about reluctant readers, though? Is there some book you would recommend sharing with them that might be both a delightful read-aloud but also a spur to get them to engage in reading?

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Gift Cards: The Perfect Teacher Gift

Josie Leavitt -- May 24th, 2016

As we head into the final weeks of school here in Vermont, the end of year teacher gift becomes something customers start to agonize about. Often families want to acknowledge the very hard work teachers have done all year for their kids, but find that they don’t really know what the classroom teachers might enjoy when it comes to an actual book. People often feel that getting a gift card is a sign of gift-giving defeat, but it’s not. It’s giving someone free reign to get whatever they want, and for most teachers this means getting something for the classroom.  Continue reading

Score One for Indies

Josie Leavitt -- May 20th, 2016

Yesterday was a slow morning. It was one of those mornings where it’s easy to think,”I’m actually losing money being open.” I was getting ready to leave for the day (blissfully, on Thursdays I leave at two) and feeling really badly about the slowness of the day, when an older man come in the store. He looked a little bit like Jack Nicholson, complete with the iconic Vermont spring-day outfit of a sweater, shorts and sandals with socks. He was looking for a card and Lizzy and I told him where to look for all the different cards we have. He lingered over the cards, very carefully looking at the ones he was interested in and then looking some more. We let him look, curious at his thoughtfulness over one card. Then something amazing happened.  Continue reading

Dead Authors Follow the Living into Children’s Books

Kenny Brechner -- May 19th, 2016

Deceased author agent Armand Jean du Plessis.

The New York Times recently noted that “Masters of Prose” such as Jane Smiley, Calvin Trillin and Elena Ferrante had warmed up to writing children’s books. This trend, however, has not stopped at the boundaries of the river Styx, as the major publishing houses have now confirmed that some of the most accomplished deceased authors of all time have begun submitting children’s books as well.

Some of these new manuscripts, such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s middle grade fantasy, The Potter’s Tale, seem openly derivative. In a statement released by Chaucer’s agent, Armand Jean du Plessis, however, the Canterbury Tales author denied having read the works of J.K. Rowling until after he completed his own novel, and called the plethora of similarities, from the village of Swinemeade to lead character Henry Potter, a sure sign that Rowling was a medium who had used her abilities to peek over his shoulder as he worked on the other side.
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Why Partnerships Matter

Josie Leavitt -- May 17th, 2016

I am on the board of the Pride Center of Vermont and through my work there, I’ve seen what happens when passions combine and the benefits that can bring to the bookstore. There is an amazing organization called Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility that works very hard to network businesses of all sizes with each other. Both the bookstore and the Pride Center are members. I had gone to a VBSR mixer in March with my Pride Center hat on and found that I was networking for the store just as much, with great results. Continue reading