The Anatomy of an ARC Review Project

Kenny Brechner -- January 14th, 2016

ARCs are objects that have a very particular Prime Function, namely to create interest in, and generate sales for, their on-sale trade versions. As both a frontlist buyer and a bookstore owner I consider ARCs invaluable and I take their prime function with actual gravity.


Archibald the DDG store Walrus is seen here examining the Little Snowplow. (Okay, I admit the photo is staged. We didn’t have a photo of Archibald reading the actual F&G and took this photo today using a trade edition.

For example when I receive an ARC instead of a regular trade edition from a used book dealer when ordering an out-of-print book for a customer, my outrage is unfeigned.

There are many ways to maximize the prime function of ARCs. There are little things, like letting the store plush animals review F&Gs pertaining to their particular interests, as you can see to the right. The main route I have taken, however, is through literacy outreach in the classroom. I have done ARC review projects in local classrooms for more than 15 years, and I thought I would share my particular mode of operating them.
Continue reading

A Goofy First Day Back

Josie Leavitt -- January 12th, 2016

Every year we close the bookstore for a week after New Year’s Eve. Yesterday was my first full day of work since this annual break. And what a day it was. I was reminded almost immediately that a bookseller’s day is largely determined by who walks in the door. All of us have the best ideas of how our day will go and then projects get derailed by odd questions, customer unhappiness, and strange happenings. Continue reading

And Then There Are THESE Awards…

Elizabeth Bluemle -- January 11th, 2016

snoopy typingUPDATE: CONTEST EXTENDED UNTIL MONDAY, JANUARY 25! Great entries, everyone! Keep ’em coming. And I will reveal that the Grand Prize is… the new Kate DiCamillo ARC!!!

By the time you read this post, the ALA Youth Media Awards will have been announced. (In fact, why are you reading this at all? You should be out celebrating the winners, buying books that slipped under your radar, and ranting on Twitter about favorites that weren’t recognized. Still, we are so glad you’re here.)

At the time of the *writing* of this post, however, Monday’s winners are wrapped in a gauzy haze of dream and mystery. So allow us to present these awards instead: The fabulous Bulwer-Lytton award for the world’s worst sentence.

Continue reading

Graphic Novels: Afraid No More!

Josie Leavitt -- January 8th, 2016

In light of Gene Yuan Lang’s appointment as the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature, I have a confession to make: until last year, I was terrified of graphic novels. It was the section of the store I felt the least capable in; the genre confused me and I had convinced myself I “just didn’t get it.” Here’s the funny thing, though. As a kid I loved reading Archie comics, but graphic novels for some reason seemed new and incomprehensible to me. I know this is absurd, but that’s how I felt when we first started carrying manga books years ago. I felt like a someone’s great-aunt who clung to 8-track while eschewing CDs out of fear.  Continue reading

An Interview with the Year 2016

Kenny Brechner -- January 7th, 2016

A new Year walks among us now and she has graciously offered to provide her insights into what lays ahead, in this exclusive interview!

Kenny: Thank you indeed for taking the time to speak with us.

The Year 2016: Happy New Year to you Kenny!

Kenny: Are you all right? You look a bit peaked.

The Year 2016: Oh I’m fine. 2016 is a Nithos Bell Ringing year and I just completed the ringing. It is a very exhausting ceremony.

Continue reading

Bookstore Bingo

Elizabeth Bluemle -- January 6th, 2016

Recently, when we were all a little punchy from the pace of holiday sales, Josie’s friend Patty created a hilarious Bingo game for us to play as a way to let off a little steam. It was such a great idea that I couldn’t resist taking it and adding some things here and there. For anyone who works retail or has a job involving customer service, some of these squares will be very familiar. Ditto for anyone with co-workers. I encourage all librarian and bookseller friends to make your own Bingo boards.

Continue reading

A Book Challenge for the New Year

Josie Leavitt -- January 4th, 2016

As the new year starts, it occurred to me that maybe this year I would set a reading challenge or two for myself. I have not normally done this, but a friend shared a challenge on her Facebook wall that got me thinking about the nature of a reading challenge. Why a challenge? Well, as a bookseller, surprisingly there are many things I don’t read. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m reading for the store. Two staffers regularly read heaps of adult mysteries, so I tend to skip all but my favorites in this genre. I avoid adult nonfiction because I’ve convinced I don’t care for it (which is silly because so often I adore memoir, I just don’t like history books). I read young adult and middle grade novels because they are the ones I enjoy the most and the sections of the store where people often need more help. But this year, I’m going to do a challenge. Continue reading

Turnabout Is Fair Play!

Kenny Brechner -- December 23rd, 2015

This will be ShelfTalker’s last post of 2015! The next post will be on January 4th. For this serious, last of the year type of undertaking, given that I’ve been spending most of my waking hours in December matching up customers with gifts for their loved ones, and turnabout being fair play, I decided to ask some of my customers what they wanted from DDG in 2016.

Continue reading

Counting Sheep

Josie Leavitt -- December 22nd, 2015

In October, Elizabeth wrote a blog When a Self-Published Book Is Done Right about the book Sweet Pea & Friends: The SheepOver. The authors, John and Jennifer Churchman, got an agent two days later and then the book went to auction; 10 days after the blog post ran, the Churchmans got a three-book deal with Little, Brown. We have been selling the book like crazy since we got it, but then last night the CBS Evening News ran a story on the book. Our website has exploded with orders that can be directly tracked to when the news aired across the country. Yes, we’ve been selling hundreds and hundreds copiesmof this charming book, which is a delightful holiday story for our small independent bookstore in Northern Vermont. But the book and the subsequent news coverage has meant much more.  Continue reading

A Snowfall of Books

Elizabeth Bluemle -- December 21st, 2015

Like many indie bookstores with similar “book angel” holiday drives, the Flying Pig’s Snowflake Giving Program helps local children receive wonderful gift books every December. Our customers look forward to this as part of their own tradition each year, and it’s especially fun to see parents and kids conferring earnestly and happily about which family book favorites they most want to share with another child.

While we won’t list all 160 titles people bought, we thought it might be interesting to gather a sampling of the choices that people purchased for one of the organizations, who supplied us with gender, age, and a special interest of each child (family, animals, fairy tales, humor, farm, space, etc.). Sometimes customers ask for help choosing books, but most often, they choose their own. Here’s what went out to these kids, from the sublime to the silly: Continue reading