Another article came out last week extolling the benefits of reading books, actual books with real pages. This comes as no surprise to me. MIC.COM ran the article summing up the studies that have been conducted. The benefits of reading not on a device can be easily summed up: readers remember more, can concentrate better, and are more empathetic than readers who use an e-reader. That people are still studying this surprises me. These gains seem obvious to me. Continue reading
At BEA’s Author Speed Dating event this year, Patrick Ness was one of the authors who had three minutes to share his upcoming novel with a table full of booksellers. We were one of his last tables — which meant he’d given his pitch approximately 15 times already — but he was relaxed and fresh. He said (and I’m paraphrasing from memory): “You know how characters in all these YAs discover they are the Chosen One with a destiny to save the world? AND they always have really interesting names, like Satchel and Finn? Well, I wanted to write about the kids who aren’t the chosen ones.”
I loved this. The Chosen One formula starts to grate after reading too many dystopias or fantasies in a row, so I was charmed that a writer with Ness’s talent decided to take on the challenge of creating a world in crisis where the main characters are not the superkeys to salvation. Now, having read the ARC, I’m impressed with how cleverly he pulled it off.
Given that Alice Cooper’s pronouncement that “school’s out for summer, school’s out forever” is only true for a month or so, it is past time for Back to School table displays to be up now. Our display is highly curated because if First Day of School books all attended the same classroom it would present an overcrowding issue. Though the table is largely populated by old standbys (our favorite remains Edda), it is our duty to scour the frontlist for great new books in this genre. Thanks to Jared Chapman’s Steve, Raised by Wolves (Little, Brown), this year’s quest for an outstanding new First Day of School book was not in vain.
One of my favorite summer pastimes as a kid was to pedal around the lake at my Indiana grandparents’ place reading a book. I’d drag this wonderful, scuffed old orange-and-white (actually, once-white) pedal boat down to the water and set off with my book in my hand and a plastic glass of iced tea or lemonade in the handy cup holder. Then I’d pedal myself along the shoreline to the next little connecting lake, around its perimeter, back out to Irish Lake, and then down Grassy Creek. It was idyllic.
Sure, I was a little lopsided without a right-side passenger, but I loved being so close to the water, with the sun on my face and a breeze in my hair and the promise of double adventure: in real life (who knew what turtles, fish, lilies, and potential cute boys in fishing boats might appear on my journey) and in my book. It was also a great way to get at least some exercise while reading. Truth be told, it was much better than reading in a hammock.
Flash forward 35 years…
Every once in a while, stupidity borne of impatience gets the best of me. Like many bookstores, we have a small fridge in the back room. And like many shared fridges, ours got a little funky. There was a horrible smell coming from it and we were all afraid to use it. Afraid, in fact, to open the door, the smell was so bad. I did my best to clean it up one day recently, but the smell grew stronger. We were all puzzled and were convincing ourselves that something had died in the back room. Continue reading
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an article called “Bedtime Stories for Young Brains” and it confirmed what those of us in the book world know: reading aloud to children is a potent and very important thing to do. The article focused on studies that measured a child’s brain activity when hearing stories, and kids who had been regularly read to showed greater activity when listening to stories than kids who hadn’t been read to. Early literacy matters, as Perri Klass, the author of the article, states: “We know that it is important that young children hear language, and that they need to hear it from people, not from screens.” To this is I can’t help but think, duh. Continue reading
This week the NAIBA board, supported by a letter from their NEIBA counterparts, called for a renewed investment in the ABA’s indiecommerce website platform, and expressed pointed dissatisfaction with the current, recently upgraded status quo. The letter asserts that “the customer experience feels as if it’s at least a decade behind other online sites, highlighted by a completely inadequate search engine. We do not expect ABA to offer a site equal to that of Amazon or other online giants, but we do believe the current site is in immediate need of significant upgrades.”
Let’s spend a moment thinking about how Tantalus and the Danaides spent their time in Hades. Tantalus, inflamed with an extreme thirst and hunger, looked upon a sumptuous feast that moved away from him whenever he reached out for something to eat or drink. The task of the Danaides was to fill a bathtub with water carried thereto with sieves dipped in a well some distance away, thus arriving at the tub with nothing. The strenuous attempts of the ABA, acting under a very strong mandate from members, and carried out by skilled and resourceful staffers, to invest and labor its way toward filling the online appetites and tubs of its constituents has closely mirrored the efforts of our underworld cousins.
Today’s guest post, by Eight Cousins Bookstore founder and longtime bookselling lioness Carol Chittenden, is not to be missed if you want a rational, fact-filled, beautifully articulated article about the effect Amazon is having—beyond local bookstores—on entire communities.
In July, Carol was invited to address a community group at the Woods Hole (Mass.) Library’s annual meeting. The following is her talk, very lightly edited for length and to omit some specifically local content.
I was a bookseller in Falmouth through some challenging years. The reason Falmouth still has a bookstore, unlike many other towns, is because of loyal customers. There were six bookstores in town when Eight Cousins opened in 1986. The reason Eight Cousins is now the only one left is Amazon. Ursula K. LeGuin and others have spoken eloquently about the censorship issues connected with concentration in the publishing industry. Today I’d like to talk a bit about the impact of Amazon not on bookstores, but on communities.
I’ve been doing a lot of frontlist buying the last month, and have noticed a lot of publishers are offering specials where buying five copies of a particular title will earn you an extra 3% discount. So, if a book would normally be purchased at 46% discount, you can get 49% on the ones the publisher is promoting. I’ve often wondered just how much of a deal this really is. Continue reading
The Flying Pig has had remarkably low turnover in our 19-year history. We hire carefully, relying both on our interview process and gut instinct (and past experience) to tell us whether or not someone will be a good fit for the store, customers, and co-workers. We have had the most wonderful people at the Flying Pig, and so it’s always a joy to welcome a new member of the team.
I’m so pleased to introduce Lizzy, a college student and avid reader. We knew right away that she would be great with customers, terrific with kids, fun to work with, and knowledgeable about books. Golden combination!
On Sunday, I worked with Lizzy and our other college student staffer, David. I’d shown David one of my recent favorite picture books, Stick and Stone by Beth Ferris and Tom Lichtenheld, and David – a 19-year-old baritone sax player who gravitates to fantasy, science fiction, and books about jazz greats – fell in love with it. He started telling Lizzy the plot, and was so animated and charming about it that I grabbed my iPhone and said, “Wait, wait!”