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.
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
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
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.