Speed Dating, Flying Pig Style

Josie Leavitt - April 20, 2010

Last night we ventured into the speed dating world, for books, not people. We hosted our first ever Eat Your Words Book Sneak Peak night at one of our favorite restaurants, Bistro Sauce, right in Shelburne, Vt. This was an adult event originally aimed at book groups, but became just about people who love books.
The goal of the evening was to present new books to attendees. Four Flying Pig staffers came and spoke about new books either just out now or coming out by the end of June. Twenty five people came to the prix fixe $30 dinner, and the tables broke up nicely into four sections. Each staffer started in a section and then moved clockwise to the next, so we gave our book talks four times. It was lots of fun to really talk books for an hour and half. Folks seemed thrilled to be there and be in on some of the hot books not yet released.
Each staffer — Darrilyn Peters and Sandy First joined Elizabeth and me — has a different way of talking about books, so it never got dull for the diners. It felt a lot like a show, actually. We all fed off the energy of each group. I fielded questions about my choices, made suggestions for who might like a particular book, or why a book group might choose a certain title.
One thing Elizabeth did, which is genius and very green, was make an Excel spreadsheet of all our titles that we’ll be emailing to everyone today. The genius part is she made hyperlinks for each book that leads directly to that book’s page on our website; it’s smart to make it simple for everyone to order right from us. And it saved us the expense of creating and reproducing a flyer. One thing I learned was this group is very a much a Shop Local group. These folks were thrilled to find a new way to support our store and Bistro Sauce. We also had a galley giveaway table, so everyone went home with at least two new books.
Some of the books we all spoke about ranged from Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One, Linda Greenlaw’s Seaworthy, Brodeck by Phillipe Claudel,  Heroic Measures by Jill Clemente, Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan, The Passage by Justin Cronin, Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende and Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott. This is really just a smattering of the discussed books. Elizabeth actually had two tote bags full of books she wanted to share, and for the most part, she found a way to talk about all of them, but then, she is the book talk master.
We got some publisher help for the event as well, which was lovely. Random House actually sent a box of books to give away — some galleys, some brand new. How thrilled was one book group to get six copies of Cutting for Stone for their next discussion? Our other reps sent lists of their favorite new titles with book group guide links to share, which we’ll have in the spreadsheet and at the store.
It was truly a wonderful evening. And the nicest part was sharing a meal with staff after the event, basking in the glow of a job very well done.

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