Monthly Archives: July 2009

Retro-fit Your Walls with These Posters

Alison Morris - July 31, 2009

Longing to dress up your home with some outmoded images of freaky-lookin’ kids or laugh-inducing images of freaky-lookin’ animals? Look no further than, where you can get almost every imaginable type of image to be printed for you in poster size, including the following GEMS, which are the covers of some now out-of-print (whew!) books once published by Rand McNally.

Click on each poster to read more about it and/or make a purchase. Note that if you search the site for "children’s book" you’ll find still more of these beauties.

When Mommy was little, phones weren’t portable, but they sure were SPECIAL!

Cute or creepy? You decide.

Does this turtle look overweight to you?

"Y’see, Mike? We can fight this fire one-handed!"

Because "Benjamin Engamin" was just too ridiculous.

"Extra eyeliner helps me keep an eye on my baton!"

I love that they’ve chosen to feature "The Naughty Side" of this book, rather than the "Goody" one. (Note the tears of anger/shame.)


For the record, Gareth and I will be taking a Honeymoon at some point during the months following our wedding, but a Punnymoon is not on our agenda. I’m guessing a Punnymoon is a several-days-long bus (or TRAIN) trip, during which an overly chatty tour guide tells the WORST JOKES EVER, accompanied by winks and elbow nudges. ("Did you get that one? Hunh? Hunh?")

GAH! My eyes! My eyes!

OMG. Latawnya the Naughty Horse has relatives!! 

Otherwise known as "Charlton Heston for Children."

A kinda pathetically cute excerpt from the Ten Commandments for parents:

I should note that also carries a lot of beautiful book images painted by N.C. Wyeth for those of you who are more keen on, say, putting ACTUAL art on your walls.

But something tells me those Rand McNally covers will generate more conversation!

Eric Carle, Eric Carle

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 30, 2009

The lovely illustrator, Claudia Rueda, recently shared a video of a short, moving interview with Eric Carle about his collaboration with Bill Martin, Jr. In turn, I want to share it with you at the end of this post. It made me think about the time I got to meet him. There is something so magical about Eric Carle; his joy and tenderness and generosity shine gently outward, infusing his art and warming his interactions with the many, many people who love that art.

Some years ago, Mr. Carle allowed a group of New England children’s booksellers to tour his studio. We filed up the stairs, excited and a little nervous, into a large open room with a high ceiling, lots of light, and a restful emptiness in the center. My memory is that the walls were lined with cabinetry about waist-high, appealingly clean and bright, with artist’s materials and works (both finished and in progress) here and there about the room. (Please note: the three photos here are screenshots borrowed from Eric Carle’s website, and were not taken during our visit.)

Mr. Carle put us at ease instantly, showing us all the nooks and crannies and sharing tidbits about some of the pieces. We were enthralled by the slim drawers he pulled out, filled with colorful handpainted collage papers, the sculptural and "experimental" art in glass and metal and other materials I hadn’t associated with his work. I admired the light pouring in through the high Amherst windows and the bookcases filled with large, slightly worn art books that have clearly been read and loved and used well over the years. At one point, he mentioned an artist’s name that was unfamiliar to me, and he darted over to the bookcase and pulled down a volume, eager to show me, to pass along a piece of his own joy to a new set of eyes. It was a revealing moment, that gesture.

Next to the studio was a spacious room that served as a meeting area for visitors, furnished with comfortable, handsome sofas and chairs and a coffee table, and the walls were festooned with framed art by Eric Carle, including one three-dimensional piece created out of brightly colored, interwoven ribbons of metal — the singlemost joyful piece of art I’ve ever seen.

The greatest gift of our tour was watching the artist in action. Toward the end of our time in the studio, Mr. Carle invited us to gather around his large work table while he stood, creating a small collage piece, cutting the papers into varied shapes with small sharp scissors, holding the pieces one at a time with tweezers, placing them quickly and surely onto the background to create a form. These fluid motions became a beautiful bird, a red bird, I think; I remember its lively bright black eye. Working, he radiated so much joy (I keep using this word because it’s the most apt one), and I was overcome by a surprising, embarrassing, sweep of emotion. What I mean is, I cried. I was so moved that tears leaked out of my eyes and wouldn’t stop. I actually had to back out of the studio as unobtrusively as possible and go outside, where I sobbed on the street, overwhelmed.

This kind of emotional response to an artistic experience is all well and good when it happens within the walls of one’s own home, but in public, you could be seen as kind of loony. I especially worried that Mrs. Carle, a lovely, intelligent woman who had registered my reaction before I managed to hurry downstairs, would think I was some kind of unstable fan and have me barred from the Eric Carle Museum for life. However, she left the studio to run some errands while I was waiting downstairs for my bookseller friends to emerge, and when she saw me, she patted my shoulder, said something perfect and gracious and brief about the power of art (but without any of the pretension that phrase might conjure) and went along her way. That brisk kindness was worthy of Eleanor Roosevelt herself, and I am still grateful to Mrs. Carle for it.

I think seeing anyone at the peak of his or her craft, fully engaged, at ease, doing beautifully what he or she loves and seems meant to do, is one of the great human discoveries in life. We are surrounded by this kind of joy, and when we see it, we are so, so lucky.

Here is the interview. Enjoy.

I refuse to believe Eric Carle has illustrated his last children’s book, but if that turns out to be the case, what riches he has given us!

When Kids Pay with Money

Josie Leavitt - July 29, 2009

I love summer; it’s a great time to be a bookseller in a small town. Kids as young as seven ride their bikes to the store from their houses in the village. No one ever uses the bike rack, they just drop their bikes on the lawn and hang their helmets on the handle bars of bikes and bustle into the store.

There is freedom in coming to the store alone. Kids can browse without parental hindrance or guidance. The only thing that needs to happen is the kids need to have money. Now, money to grown-ups often comes out of a wallet or perhaps a pocket. With kids, it’s a little different.

Kid money sometimes comes out of a wallet. Oddly these days that wallet is made out of duct tape. I don’t really understand how the dollars just don’t ripped or stuck, but they don’t seem to. Did you know duct tape comes in a variety of colors that extend far beyond silver and black? I’ve seen red, blue and even purple.

Kid money, though, mostly comes in the forms of balls. Balls of dollar bills wrapped tightly around a core of coins. These balls appear from the depths of backpacks or are held, clutched in small hands until the first layer of dollars is just a little damp. In all the anxiety of picking the right book, sometimes these money balls get squeezed, almost like a hand exerciser. Ringing up a ball of money takes a long time. What seems like a lot of money usually turns out to be not quite enough. First you have to peel the ball apart carefully so as not to rip the bills. Then you lay them out flat and then you count the coins. I once had a kid who had ten dollars in quarters wrapped by twelve singles — pretty impressive. I really wanted to iron the bills; they were so wrinkled, they would not lie flat in the cash register drawer.

My favorite kid with money is the really little kid. The one who is still learning what the coins mean, the one who comes in with Mom and Dad. These kids have bags of change, or in several cases, they just bring their piggy bank right into the store. It always breaks my heart a little to see a kid shaking that last dime out of Miss Bianca (as one girl named her bank) to see if she had enough money to get her early reader. And what kills me is they never factor in tax. Ever. So now you’ve spent ten minutes watching some little person struggle to organize and count out the coins. Sometimes they start over several times to get the counting out rhythm right. I let them do it all rather than leap in. It’s cute to watch, and how else are they going to learn? They count and then they come up short. They ask again what the total is, $5.25 I tell them. They have $4.83.

At this point, little lips start quavering. This is the one time I get to be a magician. We always have a stash of change for just these occasions. For some reason there are lots of adults who no longer want their change and they basically donate it back to the store, so we use for the kids. With a flourish, I add the missing forty two cents. Smiles abound.

I like being the place where children can count out their grubby money and not feel rushed. It’s oddly cozy for me to watch and listen as little kids count out coins and bills. And what really thrills me is these kids are saving their allowance for books. Imagine, saving money to buy books! The best part about this is the kids usually hug their book on the way out of the store.

Oh, and what’s really interesting is, kids always want a bag.

Fun on the Cape

Josie Leavitt - July 27, 2009

My recent vacation to Cape Cod was highlighted by visits to two great bookstores: Titcomb’s in East Sandwich, and Eight Cousins in Falmouth.  


Titcomb’s is celebrating its 40th anniversary this summer. To see their amazing line-up of authors check out their website here — really one of the best five months of events I’ve ever seen.  It was so nice for me to spend sometime with my bookseller friends outside of the two trade shows. I love looking at other bookstores and seeing what books are selling well for them, what sidelines are doing well. But most of all, I love talking about the book business. Call me a dork, but it’s really fun.

I had the pleasure of going to Titcomb’s because my partner, Elizabeth Bluemle, was reading from her third book, How Do You Wokka-Wokka?

Vicki Uminowicz, Titcomb’s esteemed owner, was a gracious hostess, who greeted us with possibly the
happiest face in bookselling.   The story hour was loads of fun and it culminated in a very cute craft activity, lead by Elizabeth, but organized by Titcomb’s Story Hour Queen, Edye, who had all the crafts ready to go — the sign of a real children’s bookseller is always having red fabric balls and glue on hand to make dog noses.  All the participants had a grand time.

Elizabeth signed many books while I explored all the loveliness that is Titcomb’s. The store carries a mix of old and new books. The old books all seemed like treasures and I found myself having just walk away before I spent all my money. I was smitten with the sidelines area. It was full of interesting, fun and educational toys, puzzles and games that I hadn’t seen yet.

One thing I must say is, I actually had a hard time looking at the whole store because it was full of families looking for yummy treasures to take home on a rainy day. I mean, the store was packed. Kids in every corner, adults happily browsing for their own books, folks searching for used books. What a great store. 

We left East Sandwich and drove just a short way to Falmouth to visit with Carol Chittenden at her store, Eight Cousins.  Elizabeth was there to sign stock, but actually spent more time handselling. Jennifer Polk and Amy Green are regulars at the Flying Pig, and it was a surprise to all of us that they were the first people we saw at Eight Cousins. Elizabeth helped them find books. In fact, we had to remind her to sign stock. 

Carol’s store is a treasure right on Main Street in downtown Falmouth. To know it’s special is to sit outside in the metal ABC chair sculpture. It can hold many children, is made out of metal, and invites readers to sit with their books, beauty and fucntion and an homage to words. What could be better.

Eight Cousins was as crowded as Titcomb’s. Again, rain anywhere is very good for bookstore business. That’s the only good thing about rain in the summer — people buy books.  

Luckily for me, though, it didn’t rain every day on vacation and I was able to get outside and play. But it did rain enough for me to finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and am now poised for Tuesday’s on-sale date to get started with The Girl Who Played with Fire. Here’s hoping a day off and a deluge.

Book Trailers

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 23, 2009

Since we’re on vacation, a little light entertainment is in order. We’ve been watching book trailers lately, trying to determine the best way to use them at our store and with customers. Embeddable videos can be placed on bookstore websites and in email blasts and on Facebook, links can be included in e-newsletters and in Twitter. I can even imagine turning to a great book trailer to intrigue a browsing teen if a book talk isn’t doing the trick.

I’ve often wondered why books didn’t have commercials the way movies did. (Well, I wondered that as a young person, before I understood the comparative economics of books and movies….) It seemed like such a great way to get the word out. So I’m happy that  authors and publishers are putting trailers on YouTube to let more people know about their new titles.

Some of these trailers are very slick, almost like mini-movies. Some are produced by publishers. Others are created by the authors themselves, who are either tech-savvy or hire help from companies that specialize in these kinds of bite-sized videos. Even the home-grown, simpler efforts can be quite appealing. Some trailers present only information about the book itself; others might include footage of an author sharing behind-the-scenes tidbits, or stop-action montages, or images and music that evoke a feeling rather than tell a story. Some of the best trailers are created by fans, out of sheer love for the book.

The possibilities are only just beginning to be explored. Like anything technological, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a deluge of offerings, but there is so much possible good to be had from an effective book trailer that it’s worth taking a look at what’s out there.

Below are a few examples of trailers for recent and upcoming books. Booksellers, do you seek out book trailers? If so, how have you used them? Publishers, when you make the trailers, do you alert booksellers to their existence?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

And below, winners of the 2009 Teen Book Trailer Contest. Teens were invited make a short video (30 seconds to 3 minutes) about their favorite book, upload it to YouTube with a certain identifying tag name, and let the contest begin. We were impressed with what they came up with.

Booksellers, don’t forget to tell us if and how you use book trailers!

War Horse Gallops Across London Stage

Alison Morris - July 22, 2009

I have never read Michael Morpurgo’s book War Horse, but just reading about its adaptation as a play for the London stage makes me think I ought to, if for no other reason than to prepare myself for the play’s eventual arrival here, where I will, mark my words, go and see it. Why am I so gung-ho about a horse play? Watch this trailer, admire the magnificent puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, and I think I KNOW you will understand!

Want to see more? Here’s a short Channel 4 news clip that will give you a peek behind the scenes:

And, finally, here are a few clips from the show and short interviews with folks associated with it, including Michael Morpurgo:

(Thanks to sales rep Adena Siegel, who first brought the New York Times article to my attention!)

Call in Well Day

Josie Leavitt - July 21, 2009

Once again disco music is thumping again. I always seem to write during the Tea Dance next door. This is a short blog post because I need to get back to reading. Yes, I’m reading, all day. It’s bliss. I have no other commitments, save a noon-time court time with friends. Vacation is a really new concept to me, so unbroken time is a revelation to me.

I have been reading adult books. I feel like I’m sneaking them. I should be reading kids’ books, but I am out of touch with the adult book world and I miss it. There have been some great galleys; the new Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood, harkens back to The Handmaid’s Tale. Very good, long in a great way, and a really good read. I finished that yesterday and now I’m sinking my teeth into Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niefenegger’s book coming out in September. I’m only eighty pages in, and loving it.

Next on my list is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I want to finish this in time for next week’s release of the sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I think it’s really clever of me to read the book now so there is absolutely no waiting for the next one — this way I’m avoiding the agony of waiting a year for the next hot book.

So, go read. Find some time, be it raining or sunny, and give yourself a "well day."  Instead of calling in sick, call in well and go read.

Vacation Stores

Josie Leavitt - July 20, 2009

The disco thump of the Tea Dance next door accompanies me as I write my blog post from vacation in Provincetown, Mass. View from house can be seen to the right.  I have spent the day luxuriating with my friends in our rented house on Commercial Street, the busiest street in town. Some of you might wonder why on earth I’m blogging from vacation (PW is making me). I am wondering the same thing, frankly, but Ptown, as the locals refer to it, has a rich literary history, although not one steeped in children’s literature.

That may appear to be the case, but there is a gem of a bookstore that has an astoundingly rich, well-rounded kids’ section. I spent some time today at Provincetown Book Shop, est. 1932. Every time I come to Ptown, I marvel anew at the depth of their children’s stock. Ptown, long a gay and lesbian mecca, is not a town people think of when they think about kids’ books, but the Provincetown Book Shop knows that many tourists, most of them straight day-trippers, have kids, and those kids need something to read when the drag queens cease to be a curiosity anymore, which these days takes about five minutes.

Jane, one of two employees,  has worked at the store for thirty eight years. Wow! I’ll stop complaining about my thirteen at the Flying Pig. Since the owner passed away several years ago, she’s buying the kids’ books, and she’s doing a damned good job. The store is tiny, no more than 500 square feet, and the kids’ section takes up just under a quarter I always measure a kids’ store by the classics it stocks. Do they have Virginia Lee Burton? H.A. Rey’s Find the Constellations, D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, The Red Balloon? Do they have the modern classics like The Book Thief and Twilight? Yes and yes for this little store. They also have an entire spinner rack of Dover coloring books right next to the lesbian fiction section. I love this store.

I can walk in here and get the latest vampire novel or Gossip Girl (really, don’t kids need beach reads, too?) as well as a hardcover Charlotte’s Web. The thing I like the most about this store is its assortment of reading material. Just under Clam I Am! (its bestseller this year) you’ll find the adult, and I mean “adult” overstock, with such diverse titles as Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star, (also a bestseller) and Code of Conduct. In any other place, these titles might not mingle so freely. But this is Provincetown, and nothing is taboo and it’s all good, More power to Jane, an astute buyer who knows her customers so well, she knows what they’ll need to read and she knows her largest market share right now are teenage girls who have all read Twilight and come in looking for something new. And she’s got it, right there next to the Cape Cod history books. Really, if you’re in Provincetown, stop by and see what marvels can occur in five hundred square feet with someone who is a shelving savant. A store this good kind of makes me want a rainy day.

Throughout the week Elizabeth and I will be posting news from other stores we visit on the Cape. Stay tuned!

My Bookstore Crush

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 16, 2009

Some bookstores are so legendary, everyone assumes you’ve been there. Or know the owners. "Well, of course you’ve met [famous bookstore owner] Alexandra Pastafagioli," people will purr at BEA, when you’ve never even so much as glimpsed a lock of Alexandra’s golden hair. Or they’ll exclaim, shocked, spraying crumbs from their convention-kiosk cookies, "You mean you’ve never been to Old Possum’s BookPlace?" And you shake your head sheepishly no, because what they’re really saying is, "You call yourself a book lover and you’ve never visited heaven on earth?"

Over the past thirteen years, I must have heard a hundred people talk in this manner about Hicklebee’s, a children’s bookstore in San José, California, and about its owners, sisters Monica Holmes and Valerie Lewis. Valerie I knew at least a little from the pages of her excellent resource, Valerie and Walter’s Best Books for Children: A Lively, Opinionated Guide (now out of stock indefinitely, but surely an updated version is on its way? hint hint, Harper!). And in the past couple of years, I’ve been delighted to meet both owners in person at Association of Booksellers for Children events.

But last week — oh, last week I died and went to bookstore-lover Nirvana. I had a meeting in San José, and not only got to spend time with Valerie (left) and Monica (right), but got the in-person, super-special, fantastic tour of their completely enchanting, unbelievably inspiring store. (I know I just got docked for over-adjectival activity, but that’s what a bookstore crush can do to a person.) I only had my less-than-perfect phone camera with me, so I hope these pictures capture at least a little of the magic.

Hicklebee’s sits nestled on a block of several other inviting businesses in an appealing community in San Jose called Willow Glen. Outside the store is a book cart with a rotating selection of sale titles. Giant red animal tracks on the sidewalk outside (Clifford’s, if you must know) lead customers to the front door. The tracks are part of Hicklebee’s summer reading program, which changes annually; this year’s has a safari theme. (Watch for a separate post on this program next week.) The windows are also eye-catchingly decorated—with enviable skill—in "safari." (Photo at right shows a cardboard zebra-striped painted Jeep, a bevy of animals, and safari-related books.)

You can sense, just walking through the door, the boomerang effect of book love Hicklebee’s has engendered in the community over the past thirty years. Inside, every inch of the place—from the floors to the 22′ ceiling (!) to the insides and outsides of the bathroom doors—is lovingly decorated with art created by staff members, children’s-book authors and illustrators, and customers. It’s a living treasure trove celebrating children’s literature, a grand cave of wonders, an ever-changing embodiment of Valerie and Monica’s passion for the world’s best books for young people. (Above left, the Hicklebee’s elf in stained glass.)

Below are just a few photos of the store’s bright, happy interior.

And some familiar friends along the walls and ceilings Sendak’s Wild Things; David Small’s Imogene and her antlers; the Traveling Pants of Ann Brashares; Rosemary Wells’s Read to Your Bunny in stained glass.

Also, Max in his boat; the bathtub plug from Don and Audrey Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub; the backpack from Brian Selznick’s Runaway Dolls:

How about Hicklebee’s Hall of Fame, a truly drool-worthy collection of items, such as Sylvester’s actual (ahem) magic pebble and Dr. De Soto’s razors? If my inner five-year-old had not already been brought out by everything else, this display alone would put me right over the edge. Then, there’s Gordon Korman’s first acceptance letter from a publishing house at the ripe old age of, I think, fifteen (above an original piece of Ghost Tree art). And Martha’s Alphabet Soup can next to an original Don Wood painting. The enchantment goes on and on.

I think it’s safe to say that Hicklebee’s is about the only bookstore that makes a person want to linger in the bathroom. Over the years, every children’s book illustrator you have ever heard of has made a pilgrimage there and left drawings, notes, and scribbles on the doors, walls, even the inner door edges to express their love for the store, not to mention bathroom advice and commentary:


There i
so much more to share — but I don’t want to spoil ALL of the surprises. You’ll just have to make the trip to Willow Glen for yourself, and lose yourself in Hicklebee’s. In the words of the finest writer in the English language, Charlotte, I think Hicklebee’s is simply

Feel free to share your own Hicklebee’s love! I know I’m not the only one with a crush.

Hold the Pickles, Hold the Lettuce…

Josie Leavitt - July 15, 2009

Special orders are the engine that drive the bookstore. Since July 1, we’ve had a staggering 521 special orders. Some of these are for teachers who are eager to jump the gun on ordering their books for school, but the lion’s share are for regular customers who want specific books to read. What I love about special orders is that they keep the customers coming back to the store.

Special ordering should be a fairly straightforward process: a customer wants a book, we order the book, the book comes in, the customer gets called, they pick up the book. But special ordering generally involves patience on the customer’s part, detective work on the bookseller’s part, and a good sense of humor from both parties. Usually what happens is a customer comes in, stumbles over the desired title. Most requests begin with, "I’m not sure of the title, but it was on NPR three months ago." Off we go to search the NPR website, only to be told five minutes into the search, that no, it wasn’t NPR, it was some other news outlet. Eventually, though, working together, we find the desired book. Refer to my earlier post, When Titles Go Bad, to see the real challenges we face when trying to order books for customers. 

Now we tag the order with the customer’s name and phone number, so no matter where I go in my point of sale system, that title is tagged with a note indicating that book is an order for so-and-so; this tag remains until they purchase the book. The book gets placed in the purchase order and ordered with either a distributor or a publisher. Ninety-five percent of the time everything works this smoothly. This is in a perfect world. My world is not so perfect. Often I’ll order the book, and then forget to tag it. So, when Straw Bale House Design comes in, I know it’s clearly an order, I’m just not sure who it’s for. I put it on the shelf and hope the funky homebuilder calls and wonders where her book is.

Our orders, if timed right, can come in the next day. If a customer comes to me before noon with her request and one of the distributors has it, it should be at my store by one the following day. Yesterday a very eager twelve-year-old girl ordered the Lisi Harrison book, Boys R Us, only after I told her it would be here today. I saved a sale because of overnight book delivery.

Well, we open at 10 in the morning, and she came bouncing in at 10:05 wondering where her book was. I told her the UPS man hadn’t delivered it yet. She pouted and said she couldn’t possibly wait until he came at noon. Calmed by her friend, they went and got creemees (Vermont’s version of soft ice cream, usually only available in the summer) and came back at 11:59 just as eleven Baker and Taylor boxes were being unloaded in the store. Nothing like ripping through eleven boxes searching for a slender paperback. This is another reason why all book boxes should have an exterior packing list glued on, because what took me ten minutes today, could have taken 30 seconds. While eager readers are lovely, I don’t really enjoy them standing over me while I’m ripping the tops off boxes and reading each packing list and then tearing a box apart to find the book. Finally, the book was found and the young reader literally skipped out of the store.

At least this young customer knew what she was waiting for. I’ve actually had customers order a book in the morning and then call in the afternoon wondering if their book was in. When asked what the title was, they had already forgotten. The only thing they knew, was they needed it right away. Once the book came in, the following day, the customer got a call and then waited a week to pick it up. The good thing was within that week he found two more books he wanted and we ordered them, thus starting the process again.

Every season there is always one person, for whatever reason, whose special order gets lost, over and over again. This past fall, a good customer had ordered a paperback copy of The Book Thief, repeatedly, and I just kept messing up. Finally she came in and stood at the register when I told her, for the third time, that her book wasn’t in, she smiled broadly and said, "You’ve got to be #%&#* kidding me." Instead of getting angry or defensive, I just burst out laughing since I wasn’t expecting to be sworn at, but also because The Book Thief is a staff pick and much-loved book at our store. I must say, we’ve haven’t been out of it since.

Special orders are not rocket science. They’re a simple process of information gathering and execution. A good special order transaction leads to more transactions. It can be the building block to a long-term relationship and can lead you to learning about books you might not have known about previously. It’s a win-win for all involved. That is, unless you’re ordering The Book Thief for Leigh Kilborn, and then you’re screwed.