Earlier this year in a post called Folded and Gathered Fun I shared some examples of ways to use pages from picture book F&Gs, including some great DIY craft projects. For those of us who aren’t all that crafty and/or are perpetually short on time, here’s a look at some great ready-made products you can order wholesale from small businesses to add some DIY flair to your bookstore’s gift section.
photo credit Suzanne McBride
One of the things that I love best about being an independent bookseller is collaborating with members of Austin’s booming creative community to engage readers all over the city and champion the importance of books in Austin life. Getting to do that is the part of bookselling I probably understood least when I transitioned from publishing 12 years ago, but now it’s one of the things about this job that I enjoy most. I also think it’s an essential part of our mission as a community business.
When we heard that the downtown Zilker Hillside Theater was featuring The Wizard of Oz
for the centenary of Austin’s Zilker Park, I jumped at the chance to sponsor their performance of a story that, while perhaps best known now as a musical, has been charming readers of all ages for over 100 years (well before Dorothy’s famous slippers ever transformed from silver into dazzling Technicolor ruby). Continue reading
What are you reading? And when?
I had an undergraduate literature professor who frequently liked to reference earlier works by the authors of the assigned reading during lectures, usually to underscore how little we earnest, bespectacled English majors actually knew about the context of the work we were discussing. “In your mythical free time,” he would intone dryly, “you might peruse ….. (insert three or four titles here) … ,” which had those of us in the front two rows frantically scribbling titles in the margins of our looseleaf paper binders. (No laptops in class for those of us of a certain age.)
Author Jan Gangsei and her loyal helper, with treats for the Wild Bunch.
It’s been such a fun few days at the Flying Pig! We got to celebrate the launch of Jan Gangsei’s new MG novel, The Wild Bunch
, and we got to help 17 exuberant ELL students in grades 2-5 pick out summer reading books. These are the days I most love my job!
Jan Gangsei is a rock star of an author. She writes extremely kid-appealing books, she gives a great presentation, and she comes armed with book-themed goodies — in this case, gummy worm “bait,” Goldfish crackers in a pail marked “fresh fish,” Raisinets labeled “squirrel poop” and an empty M&M bag (you have to read The Wild Bunch
to understand this one), and s’mores made with marshmallow Fluff instead of toasted marshmallows (brilliant!).
Not by design, Spellbound has always seemed to reach very different audiences on Facebook and on Twitter, which in turn has informed the tone and content of what I post on each platform.
Movie adaptations can create exciting bubbles of energy and enthusiasm around beloved titles in a bookstore. Regardless of the box office performance, this can be a really great thing for a book. And why not? Who can resist the allure of seeing a beloved story or world brought to life? Of course, sales following the movie surge taper off and can even be impacted by a film’s reception, but the heightened media awareness definitely helps get the book in readers’ hands. We’ve seen a huge surge in Captain Underpants series sales all summer; Everything, Everything is going strong; and now we’re starting to see a ramp up on A Wrinkle in Time.
Sometimes the relevance of a book to contemporary events is not linear, even if that is the author’s intent. An old-fashioned sensibility, and a commitment to the truth, layer even the most current of event topics with the upsides and downsides of a personal attachment which reaches beyond literary pragmatism. Take Trell, for example.
Dick Lehr, a one-time Boston Globe Spotlight investigative reporter, current Boston University Journalism professor and author of many well regarded nonfiction books, has written an upper middle grade novel. If we imagine justice as an overturned cart, Trell explores the role that journalism and law can play in working to set the wheels of the cart back on the ground even when set against the competing pressures of racial politics and corruption. For a book whose primary sell in point is its immediacy to current events Trell is surprisingly, and in many senses pleasantly old fashioned.
A is for alphabetizing, the simplest and yet most challenging of frontline bookseller tasks. It’s on every day/s “to do” list, yet will never, ever be truly done.
B is for Board Books, which exponentially expand each buying season. As the phenomenon of childhood compression continues, longer and longer stories are reduced to cardboard pages with flaps. Where do we shelve the Touch and Feel version of the City of Bones series, now?
C: Camp care packages, the salvation of the July end-of-day ztape, as padded envelopes are filled and mailed to Lake Mosquitogotcha, replacing the weekly shopping trips for wrapped birthday gifts.
The fastest-growing, fastest-selling section of our store over the past year has been graphic novels for younger readers. Long ago, it outgrew its shelves and graduated to a full wall case. Truth be told, we need a bigger wall case for middle grade graphic novels. Here are a few recent and upcoming titles the kids in our region are excited about:
The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (Graphix; out now) The marketing materials say 8-12, but I think 10-13 is the sweet spot for this spooky/dark action adventure tale from Philip Pullman.