Monthly Archives: July 2019

Rainy Days and Mondays

Cynthia Compton - July 17, 2019

We had a blessedly rainy day this week – a balm for our sunburned souls; for bookstores, as you know, flourish in the rain. My dear friend and colleague Jessilyn Norcross, from the renowned McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., once told me that ideally, every summer week will begin with a sunny forecast, so that the tourists will leave the city and venture up north to visit, but then include a cloudy or rainy Tuesday or Wednesday, forcing everyone off the lake and into town. Then, Friday needs to be sunny again to leave everyone with great vacation memories and reservations for a return trip, but that middle-of-the-week gloom is just perfect for both summer holidays and commerce. Sales are brisk on rainy days, as precipitation grows both crabgrass and chapter readers, green beans and graphic novel sales. Here’s a little peek into our rainy day at the shop.
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It’s Like Walking Into a Hug

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 16, 2019

© Last19 |

Summer is an amazing time to be a bookseller, at least here in Vermont. We have finally shed our winter layers (of clothes, if not pounds), and are so darn grateful for every morsel of sunshine and warmth that we, as a population, are in a very good mood. It’s also a great time for us because all of our out-of-town, out-of-state, and out-of-country customers come back and visit us, and those reunions are magical.
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A Happy Ending For ‘A House in the Woods’

Kenny Brechner - July 11, 2019

When you see something shockingly wrong it sets in motion a chain of cognitive events. Take the case of A House in the Woods, for example.
A House in the Woods is my favorite picture book to sell at the store. It is a handselling tour de force. Exquisitely illustrated, this story of friends building a house in the woods is the perfect choice for so many picture book needs. It has a genial, wry, comforting warmth that pervades every page filled with problem solving, building, and a togetherness that celebrates the value of work, community, friendship and follow-through. What begins as a very full day of hard work ends with our tired friends heading upstairs, red hot water bottle in tow, for bedtime. It is one of the most engaging and comforting books in all the world. Timeless too.
So what is wrong with this picture?
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Here’s What You Should Do…

Cynthia Compton - July 10, 2019

There are a few things that the world does NOT need any more of, in my opinion:

  1. Gift books for the bathroom, the coffee table, or any other specific location. If they are worth reading, books can travel anywhere. (If they are not, they can be sold online.)
  2. Stuffed animals that are not unicorns with unicorn horns. There is no such thing as a Cat-icorn, and llamas are quite cute enough, thank you very much.
  3. The Seven-Word-Phrase-of-Doom from Customers:  “Do you know what you should do?”

Every shopkeeper has been the recipient of this kind of unsolicited advice. It happens multiple times on a busy Saturday, as new-to-you customers visit the store, and as they wait for their purchase to be gift wrapped, look around the store with an executive gaze, and utter those words that make you swallow hard and smile like a beauty pageant contestant with Vaseline coating her teeth…..  “Do you know what you should do?”
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How Babies Choose Books

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 9, 2019

© Pawel Strykowski |

As you might imagine, babies are a special kind of bookstore customer, with very particular browsing habits.
The first thing to look for, if you are a baby choosing a new book to read in a bookstore, is how a book feels under your feet. A good board book should offer a satisfying one-footed slide, and a good hardcover picture book should allow both feet good purchase for a long scoot or stand. The bookstore lady might come over and help you off the book when the scoot is over. Why does she always put the book way up high?
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Happy 4th of July!

Cynthia Compton - July 3, 2019

Our patriotically themed story times in the last week have been crowded and busy, as the temperatures have (finally) reached the 90’s here in the Midwest, and the cool air-conditioned bookstore beckons parents with preschoolers after a few sunburned days at the neighborhood pool. The very process of packing up several kids under the age of five for a day of water fun is exhausting to even think about: find all the bathing suits (bring an extra, because accidents happen), swim diapers, floaties and pool noodles, a basket of diving toys, towels for drying and towels for draping over chairs to create shade, and even towels to make a path over hot pavement to the edge of the water…. sun hats and sunscreen, aloe and flip flops, sunglasses and goggles, and SNACKS, so very many snacks, and money to buy the snacks that are sold at the pool, which just look better than anything you brought….. well, it makes a trip to the bookstore look like a mini vacation, doesn’t it? So we oblige with lots of morning events, including Paint-a-Story, Stories and Snacks, Stories & Play, Silly Songs & Stories—you get the idea. If we can fill the store BEFORE nap time with little people and their adults, then the afternoons are free to entertain the big kids and restore order to the train table while the staff polishes off the leftover mini muffins and cinnamon rolls. It’s a zero-waste, zillion-carbs solution to summer break scheduling in the bookstore.
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What Shall I Listen to Next?

Elizabeth Bluemle - July 2, 2019

As audiobook fans know, a good narrator makes all the difference. You could be listening to the best-written book on the planet, but if the reader is too breathy, too nasal, too dramatic, too choppy, too monotonous, too effortful, too precious, or too something else, or if the pitch of his or her voice hits your ear badly, you won’t get past the first 10 minutes.

Image courtesy of

I’m just coming off a trifecta of excellent narrators. The first was Elizabeth Acevedo, reading her YA title, With the Fire on High. Sometimes authors aren’t the best narrators of their own works, but Acevedo is one of those rare stellar performers (Philip Pullman is another) who create magic, providing what feels like a satisfying fullness of storytelling. Her voice is rich and brings the story and characters alive in exactly the right ways at the right times. I absolutely loved her reading style and the way she portrays Emoni Santiago, the teen main character who’s trying to plan her future after high school, a future that will include her toddler daughter. Emoni is strong, conflicted, smart, funny, fierce, loving, and courageous, and Acevedo writes her—and her abuela—as truly three-dimensional people. I was sad to say goodbye to them.
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Celebrating Independents Day

Cynthia Compton - July 1, 2019

It’s the 4th of July this week, and whether that means your store is in full summer tourist mode (have you eaten today? drink some more water, and how about a little snack?….) or you are wistfully straightening shelves in an empty store because your regular customers are off at the lake, let’s take a few minutes to celebrate our independence, shall we?

Front and center on our 4th of July display is Jerry Spinelli’s new picture book.

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