Monthly Archives: May 2010

BEA Recollections

Josie Leavitt - May 31, 2010

My BEA experience this year is somewhat different than in the past.  My stint in the emergency room two weeks ago (see What to Read in an Emergency for full details) made me take BEA a lot more slowly than in years past.
The first day I got to the Javits Center later than normal. I had to pick up my electric scooter first, a sad necessity this year, but a really fun one: bright red with a real back-up horn and a headlight. I was all set for cruising the floor.  One comment I have to make about finding myself in a wheelchair is how people look, or more accurately, don’t look at me.  People looked past me all day and it was disconcerting. I had real empathy for folks who are confined to wheelchairs as people just didn’t notice me at all.  Wheelchair or not, I will not be denied my coffee.
My first session was the Children’s Bookselling Roundtable that Elizabeth Bluemle and I moderated. While the discussions at each of the 11 tables was lively, the group share found everyone suddenly shy. This was a little frustrating for me as I only sat in on the co-op discussion and would have liked to hear from every table. I did learn that one store has developed a rate sheet for every part of her store for getting co-op. A front counter display for week? $50. Front window for three weeks? $300. What I loved about this approach is it’s smart. It treats the  whole store as the valuable selling space it is.
After struggling to get a cab (4 pm is taxi shift change and it’s a near impossibility), I made my way to the ABC Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction at the Edison Ballroom. I loved this venue  — very art deco and lovely, perhaps a wee bit small for the throngs of children’s booksellers, publishers, author and illustrators who happily filled the two levels of the ballroom.
Michael Buckley was the  emcee for the evening and he did an admirable job considering there was a lot of crowd noise to contend to speak over. He sang a lovely rendition of “I’ve Been Everywhere Man,” mentioning every bookstore he’s ever been to. I was thrilled when he included the Flying Pig, as I’m sure all the other stores were when they heard their names.
David Wiesner was the keynote speaker. I always love it when illustrators show slides from when they were kids. David showed one slide of himself painting at an easel with two art instruction books by his feet. There was a loveliness to that image will stay with me. I must confess, David Wiesner is one of my favorite illustrators and Sector 7 continues to delight me. The process of making art and story fascinates me; I loved learning that he makes models for characters he’s drawing. David’s new book, Art and Max, looks to be another visually arresting story about art.
The E.B. White Read Aloud awards were announced with flair by Elizabeth Bluemle, ABC President and Valerie Koehler, ABC Vice President. What made these awards really special was, much like the Academy Awards, there was a fun moment of  “the envelope please,” as the winners remained secret until announced. The award for younger readers went to Peter Brown for The Curious Garden. The winner of the older read aloud award was none other than Kate Messner (who shops at the Flying Pig!) for her middle grade novel, The Brilliant Fall of Gianni Z.
After the awards presentation, the bidding began in earnest for the amazing art that ringed the room. While this year’s event had more style than last year’s, it was awfully hard to see all the art because of the throngs of people. Last year, the room of art was easier to walk around and view. I placed a bid or two for some pieces, but didn’t get them. Judging from the dollar amounts I saw on the bid sheets, this was a good night for ABC.
Wednesday was the show floor. I tried to get there early  as the scooter did make it hard to navigate the aisles. I felt like the end of every aisle was like merging on a California highway, just too many people. I  saw as much as I could and tried not to take too many galleys or catalogs, although the scooter’s basket made it a lot easier to load up on things.
That night I was lucky enough to have a dinner with the lovely folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt with David Wiesner at Mesa Grill. While David was too far away to speak to, I enjoyed the riotous company of the HMH staffers who had me in stitches the whole dinner. And this is where BEA ended for me. Shortly after getting home from the dinner, I found myself heading for an emergency room because of some complications from my earlier hospital stay. I can happily report that everything is more than fine with my health. I have been deeply touched by everyone’s concern, and I can’t wait for next year when I’ll be scooter-less on the show floor and can really zoom around.
I must say, the folks at Beth Israel Hospital were great. The emergency room was packed, so Elizabeth and I didn’t make it back to the hotel until 6 am. I missed her author signing Thursday at 9 am (I heard it was great), the ABC annual meeting (informative, but sparsely attended) and the author tea, which I always love.
This BEA was a bad blur for me. I felt like I barely connected with anyone and that was such a disappointment for me. I missed my bookseller friends and I missed the chance to really talk to publishers. One thing I’ve learned, though, is just how much I love BEA.
And I can’t wait for next year.

Why I Go to BEA

Josie Leavitt - May 24, 2010

I’ve been to BEA 10 years in a row and every year I think, “Should I go? Can I afford to go? Can my store do without me?” And every year the year, the answer is yes, yes and yes.
BEA is a special event that leaves me fulfilled and excited as a bookseller in a way that nothing else can. I’m excited to see my bookseller, author, and illustrator friends again, always a highlight for me. I often forget, as I toil in isolation, that there are other booksellers who are facing exactly the same problems I am. This is why I love the roundtable discussions. This year, the children’s bookselling roundtable takes place on Tuesday from 2:30-4 (see the BEA Planning blog post for a full schedule of children’s-bookselling-related events). Getting a room full of children’s booksellers together is a powerful thing, and I always leave the discussion lighter, more hopeful, and inspired.
The ABC Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction evening is another yearly treat. The speakers are always wonderful (this year: Michael Buckley MCs, and David Wiesner gives the keynote talk), and for the past couple of years, the ABC has unveiled the E.B. White Read-Aloud awards live at the ceremony instead of announcing them beforehand, which adds some fun suspense and jubilant celebration in the moment. As for the auction, the artwork available for bidding is truly outstanding. This year there are about 140 pieces, with 60 more to be auctioned online (this will be great for booksellers who can’t make it to BookExpo this year). One of my pre-BEA planning sessions is figuring out what my budget is for the silent auction. This year I’ll be hard-pressed to stay within budget. But as I bid, I’ll remind myself that the auction is a benefit for the ABC. That means I can justify bidding on something by, say, Marla Frazee or Peter Sís, knowing that my funds are going into programming that will benefit my store. (Note to self: see if accountant goes for this.)
Wednesday and Thursday are days for the show floor, looking at books and sidelines and stopping by some author autographing sessions. I will be zipping along in my rented scooter (I wasn’t kidding about that in my last post; it was the only way my doctor would let me come to BEA) to look at the vendors. I am hoping to make the scooter work for me because my feet won’t hurt and I can really look at things. Of course, I’ll probably be cruising sloooowly rather than zipping, since the show floor is packed at the Javits Center and people probably won’t want me rolling over their toes. I apologize in advance for the hip checks and poor turn control; I haven’t gotten my license yet.
Honestly, BEA never gets old. Every educational session imparts important facts that can make your store run more smoothly and more profitably. Every interaction with colleagues, whether at an author breakfast or in the hall, can lead to great ideas. The chance to meet new authors and speak with their publicists is always a pleasure.
As for leaving my store for almost five days, it’s actually good for the staff to not have the bosses around or readily reachable. They prove again how very capable they are and I know they are not only doing a great job, but taking more ownership.  This works out great because when I come back all fired up, ready to share, they’re full of great ideas, too.
So, as you get ready to travel to NYC, remember the real joy of BEA: each other. Plus, swag.

What to Read In An Emergency

Josie Leavitt - May 21, 2010

This past Wednesday I found myself in a new position when my brand-new cardiologist suggested that my minor symptoms of chest and jaw pain necessitated a trip to my local emergency room. Wednesday, when hauling in boxes on the hand truck brought on the chest and jaw pain again, I called my doctor. Not only was I told to I had to go to the ER, but that I couldn’t drive myself. Elizabeth was working at home, so I had fifteen minutes to pace the store before she came to pick me up.
So, what does a bookseller do while awaiting transport to the ER? Well, I carefully picked through galleys I thought I looked good. My thought process was surprisingly complex: what books could I pick that would fit every mood I might have at the hospital? I was anticipating the worst, that I might have to stay in the hospital; I needed books that would take me away, that looked compelling and looked fun.
I chose an adult galley, Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann, that just looked wonderful and large enough to captivate me. My younger reader was Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, a book of friendship and romance. To round out my selection I chose The Invisible Order by Paul Crilley for any fantasy mood that might strike me.
Each of these books filled a need in me  as I waited to go to the ER. What I didn’t know is, even after spending the night, the hospital is not a conducive place for reading. I had a cardiac catheterization done and while I had six hours of waiting before I was cleared to go home, I could neither move my head off the pillow or raise my right arm above my heart. So, I lay there, barely able to see my stack of books out of the corner of my eye.
The only good thing about all of this is my heart is just fine and now I have to take the next three days recovering from the procedure by doing nothing but reading.

Five Fun Things Authors Have Said

Alison Morris - May 20, 2010

More tidbits from Paris and London are forthcoming. In the meantime I bring some you quick, light entertainment — perfect for those of you having weeks as hectic as the one I’m currently experiencing!
During the three years in which I’ve been writing for ShelfTalker, I have amassed an untold number of notes, ideas, links,  suggestions, thoughts that have never made their way into blog posts. Over time these unmentioned bits and pieces have become a depressing symbol of the things I haven’t done on or for ShelfTalker. I’ve hated to throw them away (in the case of the physical notes) or send them to the recycle bin (in the case of all the e-mails I’ve sent to myself!), because 1) I still like them, and 2) I keep hoping I’ll find some opportunity to include them in a post here or there.
Enter the theme of today’s post and a new plan for yours truly. Every now and again I will do a post featuring five fun things. They will all be book-related, as that’s the theme of ShelfTalker, but in some cases that may be the only thing they have in common, in others not.  Many of them will be culled from my archive of unmentioned tidbits, but others of them will be new material. The point will be to give you five book-related bits of entertainment, or  fivenew things to think about, look at, or long for in each of those five fun things posts.
To kick things off, I give you five interesting or entertaining things that authors have told audiences during events at or sponsored by Wellesley Booksmith at some point during the past nine years (the length of time I’ve been with our store). I KNOW they’ve said these things because I wrote them down at the time. (I find I retain and process their words better if I take notes. The notes later become useful tools for advising other authors on what makes a good school or public presentation and also make for fun trips down memory lane on the rare occasion when I shuffle back through them.)
1. About his dog Earl, author/illustrator/comics artist Patrick McDonnell says, “I always try to put his happiness into my artwork.”
2. Michael Scott, author of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series (and an terrific presenter), explained to students at a local middle school that mythologies evolve, change, and even relocate over time because they travel with the people who know them. He has found dragon lore in San Francisco that no longer exists in China and banshee stories in New York City that no longer exist in Ireland.
3. Kate Klise (who writes for People magazine when she’s not penning terrific picture books, novels, and non-fiction) tells kids that she never interviewed a guitarist who hadn’t grown up wanting to play just like Joni Mitchell or others in that league. The point, she says, is that imitation is a good way to learn how to do pretty much anything.  (Kate, by the way, cites Harper Lee as the person she was the most excited to meet, out of all those she’s covered in her reporting career.)
4. Until John Green was seven years old he thought he was the only human on earth and that all other “humans” were actually aliens in disguise.
5.  Kid to Kate DiCamillo: “Where do your ideas come from?”
Kate DiCamillo to kid: “Do you know what eavesdropping is?”

What *Really* Makes Learning Fun

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 18, 2010

It seems as though every ad or promotion for an educational tool promises to “make learning fun!” This reflects our culture’s lazy habit of talking about learning as if it’s inevitably tedious, something kids will resist as vigorously as canned asparagus. Granted, any subject can be made dull by a disaffected teacher, and any lessons centered around “teaching to the test” is not going to light young minds on fire and change lives. But children are learning machines; they love discovery. They enjoy new ideas, and knowing things, and engaging with the world around them. They even love the hard work and discipline involved in learning, as long as it makes them feel purposeful and alive. We all do.
A segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes reminded me of this truth; it featured Gustavo Dudamel, the 29-year-old Venezuelan phenom conductor now heading the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Watching his passion for music was mesmerizing, and was made even more powerful by the way he shares it with thousands of children who might otherwise never have a chance to be involved in anything like the not-for-profit music program he’s helped found in Venezuela and L.A. Watching this wild-haired, unpretentious, semi-goofy wunderkind radiate his love of music, and communicate it to roomfuls of children from kindergarten through high school, made me a little teary. I’m always moved by people doing what they were born to do, and doing it with joy.
If you have a chance to watch the full segment about Dudamel, I guarantee you’ll be inspired, too. (It’s just under 14 minutes.) If you’d like to read about him and see more video clips, here’s a good place to start.
Watching Dudamel’s story made me think about those lazy assumptions we can sometimes make about kids and what they won’t want to do or learn. It left me re-inspired to make sure I not only share my own passion for books with the children at the store, but to share with kids all kinds of books that communicate an author’s or artist’s passion—for language, for story, for history and science and sport and fantasy and family and art and music and friendship—that might resonate with a child’s heart and mind. It’s the least we can do.

Who inspires you, and broadens your thinking about the kinds of books you share with young readers?

A Lovely Little Book

Josie Leavitt - May 17, 2010

I love wordless books. I think they work for kids of all ages. The freedom to create your own story each time you “read” is liberating and fun. Every picture can be pored over to see new details.
I can happily add a new book to my list of favorites: The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez.  This book is delightful in every way. Foxes and chickens don’t get along, as we all know, as do Chicken’s friends Bear, Rabbitt and Rooster. So, when a sly fox comes and steals Chicken, her friends leap to save her.
As Fox runs off with Chicken, the gang leaps to follow, with all the animal friends on Bear’s shoulders. The scene goes into nighttime with the friends tired and despairing. But what they can’t see is Fox cuddling a sleepy Chicken in a tree. The friends continue their dogged pursuit of Fox, always working together to save their friend.
One of my favorite pages is when Bear gets stuck in a foxhole, and we see Fox and Chicken snug in a different hole playing chess. Yes, these two are destined to be good friends. The art is touchingly soft without being cloying. When Bear turns himself into a boat to follow Fox on the ocean, it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Finally, the friends meet up with Fox and Chicken in Fox’s house. Bear has club at the ready to clobber Fox, but when Chicken explains that Fox has become a friend, Bear heaves a sign of relief and all share a meal. An animal misunderstanding resolved!
This book deals with friendship in some really great ways that young children will understand and appreciate. Unlikely friendships are celebrated, the message of working together is dealt with nicely, and loyal friends are revered. And it all works. All the notes ring true and I’ve been happily handselling this book since it came in last week.

Reading is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (London, too!)

Alison Morris - May 14, 2010

Gareth and I have just returned from a blissful two-week honeymoon — one week in Paris and one in London. I’ve got lots of blog fodder to share with you in coming posts, but for now let me just say that EVERYWHERE we went in our travels we saw people (of all ages!) reading — and very often reading BOOKS. On the plane. On trains. In parks. At cathedrals. Standing in line. Sitting on benches. EVERYWHERE.

Reading Comics in Paris

I finally decided I ought to snap a few photos of readers, as it was weirdly reassuring to see so many of them.

Reading in Paris

These days I often feel inundated with speculations about the decline of reading and the demise of books, so it was heartwarming to head off on this trip and find myself face-to-face with so many people who are still connecting with the printed page. And with physical books too!

Reading in Paris

Of the several hundred readers we saw in our travels, how many of them were accessing their material of choice via eReaders? Surprisingly, just TWO.

Reading in Paris

We saw one Kindle in use on the flight to Paris and one iPad on the Tube in London. C’est tout.

Reading in Paris

I’m not drawing any conclusions from this, mind you, just sharing an observation.

Reading in Paris

Most of these photos were taken in parks where, of course, a backlit screen isn’t going to fare as well as traditional print material.

A young fan of Where's Wally? (a.k.a. Where's Waldo?) on the train from Paris to London

Readers on the Tube in London

We were in London during election time, so that may have had something to do with the number of newspapers being read in the photo above.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

Stay tuned for more posts about our book-related discoveries/experiences in Paris and London. (YES, we were honeymooning, but no, we couldn’t/wouldn’t completely leave literature behind!) Gareth will also be posting sketches on his blog, so there will soon be fun things to see there too.

2010 BEA Planning (for real)

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 13, 2010

Our April 1 column this year was a spoof of BEA programming — which caught a few of you by surprise when you sat down expecting to plan your trade show schedules. We cross our hearts that today’s post is the genuine article: a guide to children’s-book-related events and educational sessions at BookExpo America in New York City from Tuesday, May 25-Thursday, May 27.
First, a few handy links. After that, we’ll organize the events and programs in chronological order and expand on them a little. Finally, we’ll share a few tips for fellow booksellers and for authors about how to get the most out of a busy trade show.
The Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) registration site — Click on the link to register for the ABC Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction (a ticketed event open to all), Speed Dating with Children’s Authors (free; advance registration strongly suggested; open to children’s booksellers and librarians only), and Tea with Children’s Authors ($10; advance registration required; open only to booksellers and librarians). For more detailed information on these programs, and to see ABC’s entire BEA agenda, click here.
The official BEA site — For a complete BookExpo overview, click here. Click on the following for more info about the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast (a ticketed event). To use the BEA’s Show Planner to organize all your commitments, click here. Autographing Schedule — Hundreds of authors and artists will be signing books at BEA, both at the signing table area and at publisher booths. Here’s the page that will lead you to the full line-up.
American Booksellers Association members get at least one free badge for BEA. Register for the ABA Day of Education, including sessions on Serving the Tween Reader; Small-, Medium-, and Large-Store Roundtables, and Children’s Bookselling Cafés. (Note: these sessions are aimed at booksellers, though librarians should also find the Tween Reader session useful.)
Here’s the schedule of events directly pertaining to children’s and YA books and bookselling:
Tuesday, May 25 — ABA Day of Education 10:00 am–4:00 pm
Tues., 10:15 – 11:45 am (NOTE: this is a time change, so make sure you’ve corrected your calendars) — Serving the Tween Reader: a look at issues and best practices for this challenging children’s category, Room 1E10. Join a panel of experts from in and outside the publishing community as we discuss the definition of “tween” and examine a key issues including how to navigate content, how to interface with parents and teachers, how to shelve books for this market, what role outside services like Common Sense are playing in this category, how publishers are approaching books for this audience, and in-store strategies for helping families navigate this challenging developmental period. Moderated by Kristen McLean, Executive Director of the ABC.
Tues. 2:30-4:00 pm   The Nuts & Bolts of Children’s Bookselling: Roundtable Discussions, Room 1E12. Join us for roundtable discussions about the day-to-day operational issues that we rarely get a chance to discuss in a conference environment, but which can make a big difference in our experience as booksellers. Topics will include the changing nature of events, prioritizing tasks, managing co-op, community networking and partnerships, digital books, and more. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring your questions, ideas, and problems. We’ll learn from each other and emerge with fresh ideas and best practices to take back to our stores. Presented in conjunction with the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC). Moderated by Elizabeth Bluemle and Josie Leavitt of The Flying Pig Bookstore.
Tues. 5:30-8:00 pm   The ABC Not a Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction, at The Edison Ballroom, 240 West 47th Street. (Ticketed event: general admission $79; ABC Bookseller discount $59)

The Edison Ballroom, venue for the ABC Gala

This is one of the highlights of BEA: an evening filled with luminaries in the children’s literature world celebrating art and awards and independent bookselling, and vying for any number of fabulous original art pieces by the best in the field. Where else can you bid against Mo Willems for a David Small sketch? Or chat with Kate DiCamillo about the accuracy of dog cartoons? (These are examples from auctions past; this year’s bidding wars and author encounters will vary.) The coveted E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards are given out on this evening, and speakers are always smart, witty, and inspiring. For ABC bookstore members, the $59 ticket price is the lowest in years. It’s an event not to be missed! This year’s much-appreciated event sponsors are Random House, HarperCollins, and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
5:30 p.m. – Bar opens & (Mostly) Silent Auction Preview. 6:00 p.m. – Keynote program & live announcement of the 2010 E.B. White Read Aloud Awards. • Master of Ceremonies: Michael Buckley, bestselling author of The Sisters Grimm series (Abrams) • Keynote Speaker: David Weisner, Caldecott-winning author of Flotsam (Clarion). 6:30-8:00 p.m. – (Mostly) Silent Auction
Wednesday, May 26
Wed., 8:00 am – 9:30 am — Children’s Book and Author Breakfast, Special Events Hall. Presented in cooperation with the Children’s Booksellers and Publishers Committee [A cooperative committee of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC), and the Children’s Book Council (CBC)], this opening-day breakfast will feature Cory Doctorow, author of For the Win (Tor Teen); Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People (Charlesbridge); and Richard Peck, author of Three Quarters Dead (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers).  Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and author of Helping Hand Books: Emily’s First Day at School (Sterling) will be the Master of Ceremonies.
Wed., 10:30 am – 12:00 noon — Speed Dating with Children’s Authors (for booksellers only), Room 1A10-1A12. (Free; advance registration strongly suggested) Get to know children’s book creators up close and personal! Each bookseller will get quick get-to-know-you chats with up-and-coming children’s authors and illustrators, moving from table to table to meet them all. After the Speed Dating, enjoy longer discussions with those who piqued your interest. Advance registration is recommended, as space will be limited! Participating “dates” include: Heather Brewer (Penguin), Bryan Collier (Little, Brown), Eireann Corrigan (Scholastic), Beth Fantaskey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Adam Gidwitz (Penguin), Charlie Higson (Disney), Lauren Kate (Random House), Sean Kenney (Macmillan), Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster), Carolyn MacCullough (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Matt McElligott (Bloomsbury), Kate Millford (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Daniel Nayeri (Candlewick), Mitali Perkins (Charlesbridge), Diana Peterfreund (HarperCollins), Matthew Reinhart (Candlewick), Karen Gray Ruelle (Holiday House), Bob Shea (Disney), Nadja Spiegelman & Trade Loeffler (Toon Books), Jonathan Stroud (Disney), Iza Trapani (Charlesbridge), Maryrose Wood (HarperCollins). Presented in cooperation with the Children’s Booksellers and Publishers Committee (ABA/ABC/CBC).
Wed., 11:00 am – 12:00 noon — A New Look at Nonfiction for Kids, Room 1E14. With two kids’ nonfiction books on the National Book Award for Youth list this year, is younger nonfiction becoming the new hot category?  Nonfiction has always been an essential part of school and library collections – now that popularity is reaching the bookstore.  With perspectives from publishing, bookselling, writing, and the library world, this panel discusses why kids love nonfiction, why it’s becoming a larger part of the market today, and what you can expect in the coming years.  The panel will close with a discussion (open to the audience) about how to better sell kids nonfiction in the bookstore, followed by questions. Panelists include Steve Sheinkin, author (Which Way to the Wild West?; Rabbi Harvey Vs. the Wisdom Kid; King George: What Was His Problem?); Angela Carstensen, chair of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; Elizabeth Bluemle, Flying Pig Bookstore owner and PW ShelfTalker blogger; and Laura Godwin, Editorial Director, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
Wed., 11:00 am – 11:50 am — Author Stage — Paranormal Fiction for Teens: From Vampires to Werewolves to Zombies and Shape Shifters, Location: Downtown Stage. Host: Charlie Jane Anders, contributing editor, Authors: Richelle Mead, VAMPIRE ACADEMY #6 LAST SACRIFICE; Andrea Cremer, NIGHTSHADE; Holly Black, WHITE CAT and ZOMBIES vs UNICORNS.
Wed., 11:00 am – 11:50 am — Author Stage — YA Authors Crossing Over, Location: Midtown Stage. Host: Elissa Petruzzi, Romantic Times magazine. Authors: Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely series and GRAVEMINDER; Jennifer Donnelly, REVOLUTION and THE WINTER ROSE; Stephanie Kuhnert, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA and I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE; Michele Jaffe, ROSEBUSH, BAD KITTY (young adult), STARGAZER, BAD GIRL (adult).
Wed., 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm — BEA (Young Adult) Editors’ Buzz, Room 1E15. Insightful and passionate, this intimate editorial exchange will provide you with an editor’s perspective on some of the fall’s new YA discoveries and potential breakouts. Program Chair: Jack Martin, Asst. Dir., Public Programs and Lifelong Learning, New York Public Library. Editors: Julie Strauss-Gabel, Associate Publisher at Dutton Children’s Books, with Ally Condie’s Matched; Jennifer Weis, Executive Editor at St. Martin’s Press, with Rebecca Maizel’s Infinite Days; Cindy Eagan, Editorial Dir. at Poppy, with Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF; Farrin Jacobs, Executive Editor at HarperTeen, with Sophie Jordan’s Firelight; Arthur Levine, Editorial Dir. of Arthur A. Levine Books, with Erin Bow’s Plain Kate.
Wed., 6:30 pm ’til the cows come home — Kidlit Drink Night hosted by Editor Cheryl Klein and NYPL Librarian/SLJ Fuse #8 Blogger Betsy Bird, at the Houndstooth Pub. In Cheryl’s words: “Booksellers, authors, agents, publishing people, teachers, librarians, and anyone else who loves children’s literature are all invited to a Kidlit Drink Night on Wednesday, May 26, at the Houndstooth Pub at 520 8th Ave. (at 37th St.). Betsy Bird (Fuse #8) and I have been hosting these for several years now, and they’re always a good time! We’ll have a private room in the basement starting at 6:30, so you can drop your bags at your hotel and then come by for a revivifying libation.”
Thursday, May 27
Thurs, 12:00-1:00 pm — ABC ANNUAL MEETING, Location 1E10. Join us for ABC’s annual meeting where we will review 2009, approve new Board members, and continue discussion of ABC’s ongoing conversation with ABA regarding the possible merger. We encourage participation. Open to all members of the ABC.
Thurs., 2:00PM – 3:00PM — BEA YA Authors’ Buzz, Location: Downtown Stage. Host: Jack Martin, Asst. Dir., Public Programs and Lifelong Learning, New York Public Library. Authors: Ally Condie, MATCHED; Rebecca Maizel, INFINITE DAYS; Kody Keplinger, THE DUFF; Sophie Jordan, FIRELIGHT; Erin Bow, PLAIN KATE.
Thurs., 3:00-4:00 pm — Tea with Children’s Authors,  Javits 1E11 ($10.00- Advance registration required; open to children’s booksellers and librarians only). Come join us for the second edition of this great new program which gives librarians and booksellers a chance to chat with some of the industry’s brightest stars in a more relaxed and casual environment. Each author will join a table of book enthusiasts for refreshments and an open-ended conversation about the author’s life and work. Each table will be moderated by an ABC bookseller. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and we will try our best to accommodate registrants’ preferences as space allows. Authors scheduled to appear: Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster), Jan Brett (Putnam), Peter Brown (Little, Brown), Eoin Colfer (Disney), Doreen Cronin (HarperCollins), Jennifer Donnelly (Random House), Russell Freedman (Holiday House), Cornelia Funke (Little, Brown), Gordon Korman (Scholastic), Megan McDonald (Candlewick), Brandon Mull (Shadow Mountain), Richard Peck (Dial), Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee (Disney), Rick Riordan (Disney), Peter Sís (Macmillan), and Carmen Agra Deedy (Peachtree).
Newer booksellers, here’s a BEA tip: this is a good time to make appointments with publicists, to introduce them to your store and the kinds of events you do well. It’s also a great time to place backlist orders, since most publishers offer show specials (which are also available to booksellers unable to attend BEA; ask your reps for details), and to score free freight from many of the sideline vendors, who usually charge for shipping. So come to BEA with your business cards, store brochure, and prepared backlist orders! And don’t forget a few store checks in case you establish any new accounts with vendors at the show and need to pre-pay your first orders.
New and aspiring authors often ask us if it’s worth their while to attend BEA. The best place to solicit answers to that question is from other authors. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has wonderful, active discussion boards full of people who will share their collective wisdom with you. This organization is well worth the membership fee. One thing I will caution is that BEA is NOT the place to meet editors and publishers with the intent of showing them your work. These folks have a million meetings at BEA; their priorities for the show revolve around rights and promoting their fall books and authors. Attempts to hand them manuscripts or pitch ideas will not be well received, and you don’t want to alienate the very editors you’d like to work with. Save that ambition for writers’ conferences where there are times specifically set aside for submissions and pitches. At BEA, take the opportunity to become familiar with which houses are publishing what kinds of books, so you’ll know where yours might fit. Meet other writers. Drink in the intoxicating experience of being in a place with thousands of books and the people who most love them.
Finally, Kristen McLean of the ABC invites feedback on this year’s BEA. What is your reaction to the show moving its schedule to midweek? Have you attended BEA in the past, but aren’t this year? And if so, why? Has the change in format and timing affected your decision to come? How about bringing your staff? If you wanted to offer any feedback to the administration of BEA, what would it be?
P.S. And now that you’re all in a BEA mood, do go back and check out the spoof BEA schedule. Josie and I thought it was hilarious, if we do say so ourselves.

Do the Write Thing for Nashville — An Irresistible Auction

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 12, 2010

Photo by Keith Gallagher at Flickr

Children’s book professionals are raising some serious cash for flood-damaged Nashville through a creative auction organized by three enterprising writers: Victoria Schwab, Amanda Morgan, and Myra McEntire. Not content with the inadequate coverage of a natural disaster that has leveled neighborhoods—no excuse for the oversight even though the oil spill and car bomb were simultaneous stories—these three women have drawn attention and monetary relief to the problem by auctioning off valuable goods and services donated by industry folks, including publishers, editors, agents, authors and illustrators.
I’m a little late in discovering this amazing effort; the auction is already in its fifth round. Items in the current grouping (bidding goes for three days) include manuscript critiques from agents, editors, and one publisher; a book-marketing package including one piece of “marketing swag,” such as a postcard or bookmark; autographed books and totes and goodies; five days at a Montana ranch; three pieces of laundry handwashing done in Manhattan (!); an author Skype visit for a school or to talk about publishing; and—wait for it—a Dolly Parton clothespin doll. (I’m not linking to these examples individually because there are 16 items in this round, and each one deserves checking out. But I will start you off on Round 5, Item 1, and you can browse from there.)

Photo by Keith Gallagher at Flickr

This auction is an incredibly generous effort; the organizers have not only gathered the donations and partnered with a Tennessee Flood Relief organization (readers, you can donate directly if you’re not bidding on items), but have spent countless hours sorting out the organization of the rounds, answering emails, and smoothing out bumps in the process. Anyone who’s ever done this kind of thing knows the sheer amount of time it all takes.

Photo by Keith Gallagher at Flickr

As someone with a family member in Nashville affected by the flood, I am particularly appreciative of Do the Write Thing for Nashville. I love the children’s book world, and this is one of the reasons why: because people in our field are a helpful breed in general, and are better than most at making good on good intentions. Brava, DTWTN, and thank you.

Photo by Keith Gallagher at Flickr

Where’s the Crowd?

Josie Leavitt - May 10, 2010

Last week I blogged about Cynthia Lord coming for a store visit on Friday for her new picture book Hot Rod Hamster. She was well prepared. We were well prepared. The event was advertised heavily via email (we have a 1,600-person email list), through the schools’ lists, on our website, on an event flyer posted all over the store and available for customers to take with them, listed in all the local paper’s calendar listings and parenting calendars, really — I could go on.
We were expecting between 30-45 people at this event, based on the excitement of our customers about the book — we sold half our stock before the event even happened! — and about having a NEWBERY HONOR AUTHOR in our town. Everyone meant to come. I do not normally like to talk about under-attended events, but it happens to all us. It seems three things were working against us: (1) Friday afternoon is not a great day for a younger child event, (2) Mighty Mites sports had tournaments, and (3) several birthday parties reared their cupcaked heads.
Authors, I know, must feel horrible when an event is underattended. I know I do, and I resist the urge to apologize every minute about where the kids are. But it’s a fact of life that sometimes even the best advertised events will have less than a stellar turnout.
The upside to smaller events is trifold. The audience has a very personal experience and the kids who were there were delighted — calling out sounds and choosing their vehicles and engine parts and flags. They clearly loved the book already.
Elizabeth and I got to really to talk to Cynthia Lord, who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She even brought clothes for my cousin’s child who lost everything in the Nashville flooding last week. Her presentation was informative and fun. And her choice of projecting the book on a screen, rather than holding it, is genius and it worked beautifully.
We love having authors visit the store. One of the things that’s always fun is giving them a gift of thanks afterward. It’s a rare thing when we find a gift — okay, Elizabeth found this one — that’s so absolutely perfect for the author we make her open it in front of us.
It’s hard to see, but here she is holding her brand new Critter Cruiser, a car for hamster to roll around the house in.
And lastly, the signed copies of Hot Rod Hamster and Rules have already been selling quite well.  It’s easy to despair when a great,
fun event isn’t as well attended as you’d like it to be, but booksellers need to remember that events last far beyond the actual presentation. Signed books will sell until there aren’t any left. Right after events, we leave a big display on the front table of signed books from our recent events.
Every day I hear customers say, “Oh, that event was last week?”  They realize they missed the event, and they buy the book.
We had a first during the event, because Children’s Literature New England was up the road, Peter Sis came to the event. It’s not every day that I’ve had an event where Peter Sis was in the audience. For a brief moment I felt my store was in a far larger city where this wouldn’t be such a wonderful shock.
Cynthia has already blogged about the event and I’m including a link to it so   folks can see two sides of the the same event.
And the great thing about this event is,  Cynthia and I have already made plans for her to come do an event with us when her book, Touch Blue, comes out in the fall.