This time of year finds bookstores feeling under-staffed, mightily worked, and exhausted. There are so many things happening at stores, especially smaller stores, that things can get really hectic. We have ordering deadlines to meet which often find us scrambling to restock books that are selling better than expected, doing back flips to get special orders in, and mailing out books in addition to helping customers find just the right books for everyone on their list. We are fried. We are brain-dead by the end of the day, usually because no one has stopped long enough to eat lunch. We are seriously over-caffeniated and are doing the very best we can. The list below are ways to hinder or help your local bookseller. Continue reading
I’m on the ABA’s Revise and Revisit Kids panel, whose reason for being is to select great, languishing backlist titles to be featured in the Kids’ Indie Next List. One of my ambitions was to pitch the selection of an all-time personal favorite book, Ant and Bee by Angela Banner. I was thrilled to find that my colleagues were like-minded about this first book in a glorious series which has brought inter-generational joy and knowledge to so many children and parents.
A few months ago, I listened to a guy tell a great story in a barn. He told the listening crowd that as a younger man, he had been an aspiring writer who took a job as a bartender at a fancy restaurant. He liked the idea of being a bartender because, unlike the busy wait staff, he envisioned having time to connect with patrons while polishing glasses, looking wise, and dealing out “life-changing pearls of wisdom” at just the right time. (He did get his chance to do all of that, but that’s his story to tell.)
Bookstore events during the holidays boil down to creatively having people in the store but not interrupting business. Yesterday we had the Churchmans and their dog Laddie for an event celebrating what is turning out to be one of the best-selling books we’ve ever had, Sweet Pea & Friends: The SheepOver. We tried to have the event off-site, but between church on Sunday and holiday bazaars and craft fairs, no spaces were available. That actually turned out to be a good thing, because all these new customers came into the bookstore. But we had to get creative. Continue reading
The wonderful thing about owning an independent bookstore is that 100% of the decisions are yours. The terrible thing about owning an indie is that 100% of the decisions are yours. I run up against this dichotomy every year during the holiday season, which seems to creep into stores earlier and earlier. Even though I personally love the holidays, I really hate the commercialization of them. And I’m a retailer! So it’s a conundrum. Continue reading
I find a lot of things during the course of a day at the store: books that have slipped behind shelves, a pile of invoices from 2004, a check on my desk from a school order, marketing materials tucked aside for possible use in 1995. The quality varies, I mean to say. The other day I was brought into possession of something of rare and exceptional value. Nothing less than a terrific bookstore gift program, and I wanted to take a minute to share it with you.
Holiday shopping flip-flops between stressful and fun. Our goal at the bookstore is to be on the enjoyable side of that teeter-totter, and sometimes that takes a little bit of work.
Recently, a woman came in with her two children, ages 10 and 12. In addition to buying some presents for other families, they were looking for a family read-aloud book. The mom was clearly frazzled and a little bit cranky. When we had to inform her that all but one of her favorite Bruce Coville Shakespeare retellings were out of stock indefinitely, she was mad. At us.
When Dav Pilkey came to the bookstore in October, he gave over $1,000 in Flying Pig gift cards to kids who correctly answered Captain Underpants trivia questions. The cards ranged from $25 to $250 and there were seven questions asked. One young man, Carter, won the $200 gift certificate and he was ecstatic. Beaming, he leaped up to get the gift card, not knowing how much it was for. When he opened it and saw it was for $200 his smile was extraordinarily bright and almost made me tear up at his genuine joy. Continue reading
Our local Public Radio station, VPR, does a holiday book show every year. This year, Liza Bernard of the Norwich Bookstore and I were the guests. This holiday round-up happens on the show Vermont Edition which is hosted by Jane Lindholm. The show airs live at noon and then repeats at 7 pm. We sit and talk about our favorite books for the season for kids and adults and listeners call in with their picks as well. I love being invited on this show for several reasons. Continue reading
It is time. Time, I mean, to announce the Seventh Annual DDG Stocking Stuffer of the Year Awards! The superb quality of the contenders demanded a worthy judge, one who could assess the degree of fun with a deep understanding of stocking stuffer qualities. Fortunately, a past winner of The Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award, The Whirl-O, agreed to do this year’s judging.
Kenny: As noted earlier, you returned to retail life after disappearing five years ago. It is so great to have you in the store again.
Whirl-O: Thanks, Kenny. It’s wonderful to be back. I really appreciate the delicate challenge you’ve given me of assessing the merits of my new shelf mates. Justice is not dispensed by those who stand still. Let us get things spinning, shall we?