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Monday night I went out to the first reading I've been to in a while. Desiree Cooper, whose story collection, Know the Mother, I had just reviewed, was reading. Earlier in the afternoon I also happened to hear her give a great interview on the local NPR station.
As is typical with readings at Literati, the introduction was fantastic--not too long, but not a simple announcement. Desiree had a great reading voice, was plenty loud for those of us who opted to sit in the back, and she had the ability to, without using voices, convey the different characters as she read her work.
The collection has many flash stories--and many of her flash stories are 750 words or less. This allowed her to read more than one or two complete works and not excerpts. She began with the opening story, "Witching Hour," which is a wonderful introduction to her collection.
Cooper then discussed the various types of women in her stories and how they were the focus of the collection. She brought up women that worked and then read"Ceiling," a story about a lawyer asking about maternity leave and hearing the phrase: 'If you wanted to have babies, why did you go to law school." This followed by "Cartoon Blue," a story about a lawyer who actually goes through the beginning of a miscarriage while on the phone with a client. It's a brutal story and maybe even more so having heard it read aloud.
Other works I remember Cooper reading include:
"Princess Lily," about a 14 year old who got pregnant while living in Japan and how she stayed with a Japanese family during the time of her 'condition;'
"Mourning Chair," a story from the point of view of a mother waiting for her daughter to come home (containing the line she knows she'd tell a cop if one came to her door---'She's the one with her heart beating in my pocket;'
She read "Soft Landing," sort of a fantasy story, and she also read "To the Bone," and I'm glad I was there to hear the introduction to this one as it pointed out a very specific element of repetition that I hadn't noticed that really works well.
It was a nice evening as Desiree Cooper lives locally and so the crowd mostly knew her, or her work. She even had a relative show up. She did a Q&A at the end and signed copies of the book and all in all it was a good reminder of why I used to attend a lot more readings than I have lately.
Despite ongoing worries about periodical sales for comics, graphic novels seemed to do just fine in 2015, according to figures reported at Publishers Weekly. Graphic novels sales were up 22% with 10,591,000 copies sold, up from 8,669,000 in 2014.
In support of Independent Bookshop Week, a campaign run by the Booksellers Association that supports independent bookstores, we asked the Oxford University Press UK office what their favorite independent bookstores were.
This post is the first in an ongoing series we’ll run answering questions about book marketing and publicity.
So, here you are: you’ve gone through the long, grueling process of writing draft after draft of your book. You’ve gotten an agent, who then sold it to an editor. You’ve revised and revised, until finally it’s ready to go to print. And now…you wait.
Authors often ask me: What can I do while I’m waiting for my book to come out? Here are five of my top suggestions:
1. Develop your list of contacts. It may seem obvious, but one of the most important things you can do while waiting for your book to be released is to simply put together a list of all your professional and personal contacts who you think should know about your book. This includes family, friends, coworkers, professional contacts, fellow writers, and contacts from any communities you’re personally connected to: religious communities, volunteer organizations, even neighborhood restaurants where you’re a regular. Don’t be shy! All of these people will be excited to find out that you’ve published a book, and many of them will want to support you by buying a copy. Create a clean list of email addresses so that when the book is released, you can easily send out an email to everyone to let them know (even if you are connected to many of these people on Facebook, studies show that they will be more likely to make a purchase from a direct email). After that, don’t forget to add new contacts to your list as you meet new people at conferences or events.
2. Reach out to your local bookstore about hosting a launch party. As soon as you have a release date for your book, get in touch with your local bookstore to see if they would be willing to host a launch party for you. Many bookstores are happy to do this, especially for local authors. Launch parties at bookstores are a win/win: you get a space for hosting and don’t have to worry about handling book sales yourself, and bookstores get an influx of people who are excited to purchase books. Coordinate with your publisher to make sure you pick a launch date when books will definitely be available.
3. Refine your online presence. Now is the time to make sure that your online presence is everything you want it to be and contains all the most updated information about you. This means, first and foremost, having a clean and updated website. Put a book cover, release information, and any reviews you’ve received on your website as soon as possible. You may feel like only your mom visits your website now, but once your book comes out, traffic will increase, and your website should be in top shape before then. You should also use this time to decide which, if any, social media platforms you want to use. Delete accounts you don’t use instead of letting them languor un-updated for years (or, at the very least, add links that redirect people to your website) and start getting in the habit of updating content regularly on any platforms you want to use.
4. Come up with a list of topics related to your book. Book releases today are almost always accompanied by blog tours or some other type of blog coverage. You can do your part to get ready for this by putting together a list of topics related to your book on which you would be willing to write guest posts or answer questions. These could include anything from the research you did for the book to your playlist of songs you listened to while revising. Be creative! Share this list with your publishers so they can use it when shaping their pitches for bloggers. They may also work with you to shape some of these topics into longer pieces to pitch to online or print publications.
5. Get to know local opportunities. Spend some time looking into any local or state book awards for which you might be eligible, and pass them on to your publisher to make sure they are submitting your book. Are there any book fairs or book festivals in your area? The deadlines for getting on panels at these events are often many months before the event happens, so the earlier you find out about them, the better the chances that you’ll be able to participate. Don’t assume your publisher already knows about everything; while publishers have extensive lists of awards and book festivals, no one knows your area better than you, and you may find something they’ve missed.
Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to bother your publisher! Even if they’re busy, they’ll appreciate the work that you are doing to prepare for your book release and be happy to work with you.
What am I missing? Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments.
In the next installment of this series, I’ll answer the question: What do I need to include on my author website? (use the links in the top left sidebar to subscribe so you won’t miss it.)
There was some good news in bookstoreland this week as beloved San Francisco science fiction and fantasy bookstore Borderlands announced that they would be able to stay open at least another year thanks to a successful (and unique) crowdfunding and sponsorship campaign. They had previously planned to close in part due to rising minimum wages in San Francisco.
Is this a harbinger of things to come for bookstores?
In support of Indies First, a campaign run by the American Booksellers Association that supports independent bookstores, we asked OUP-USA staff what their favorite independent bookstores were. We received quite an enthusiastic response, and discovered that our staff visits and revisits indies all over the country thanks to the love that these bookstores inspire. Here’s what they had to say about their personal favorites:
“My favorite thing about walking into town is grabbing a cup of coffee and stopping into Watchung Booksellers (Montclair, NJ). The store has a great collection of local authors, a nice selection of literature, and a fun and interactive children’s room. The staff is friendly and they are super creative in their events and workshops. It is a true neighborhood treasure.”
— Colleen Scollans, Global Marketing Director
* * *
“Unnameable Books – This is my local store in Prospect Heights on Vanderbilt Ave. I considered it a good omen that the store opened a few months before I moved to the neighborhood in 2009. Unnameable has a great selection of new and used books, and I still remember finding a copy of Anais Nin’s diary that I wanted to give a gift (published last year by Swallow Press, an imprint of Ohio University Press) and by some miracle they had a copy on the shelf. They also had a great event a few summers back in the backyard, where they screened Godard’s A Married Woman, with New Yorker writer Richard Brody.” — Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Publicity Manager
* * *
“There are few things better than stepping off a Chicago street, unraveling the many layers of clothing required for -10°F weather and stepping into the warmth of the Seminary Co-Op. It’s easy to start gushing about the Sem Co-Op’s maze of books, where you can hide in a corner for hours reading store’s eclectic, charming and comprehensive collection.” — Alana Podolsky, Assistant Marketing Manager for History, Academic and Trade Marketing
* * *
“I’ve been in the book business for over 30 years, starting as a part-time bookseller at Atticus Books in Richmond, VA to my current job working with indie stores nationwide. Throughout this time, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some of the largest independent stores to the smallest specialty stores across the country, each with its own charm and treasures. Indie bookstores offer a chance to discover new authors, a connection to the local community, and a wonderful antidote to the “sameness” that pervades much shopping today.”
— Richard Fugini, Field Sales Manager
* * *
“One of my favorite places in the world is Von’s Books in West Lafayette, Indiana, near the campus of Purdue University. It is jammed with great books – so many that they overflow onto stacks on the floor between shelves – and there is reliably a familiar face from my undergraduate days behind the front desk when I go back for visits. (Von’s is also very conveniently located down the block from Harry’s Chocolate Shop, another Purdue institution.)”
— Kandice Rawlings, Associate Editor, Reference
* * *
“While visiting Seattle media in the winter/spring of 2014 my sales rep for the great northwest, George Carroll, took me around to some of his account (indie stores) in town. My favorite store was Ada’s Technical Books on 15th Ave. East in Seattle. It was a small intimate store with interesting lab equipment and technical gadgets displayed throughout the space. I remember walls lined with books about science, engineering, mathematics and technology, of course. And a few tables made out of shadowboxes in a café space, and a small backroom for events. The store has reclaimed and repurposed a lot of its decor from whatever had been in the space before it became a bookstore. Most memorable, however, was the congeniality of the staff. George and I had arrived just after they had closed, but they opened their door to me so I could browse the space for possible future events for OUP authors coming through Seattle. They never rushed me or complained, instead they halted their closing ritual and chatted amiably with me about books, publishing, bookselling, and the vibe they were trying to create at Ada’s and the neighborhood that surrounded them. The whole experience was rare and extraordinary. They will have a lifetime fan in me for their graciousness.”
— Purdy, Director of Publicity
* * *
“The community has really taken to Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, as they offer a great selection of books and they have held numerous readings and book signings of local Brooklyn authors/artists. I’ve purchased a few books on reggae and cookbooks. The staff there is super friendly and they have a well-curated inventory of books on lots of subjects. It’s been great for the neighborhood.”
— Alan Goldberg, Demand Planner, GAB Operations
* * *
“Litchfield Books in Pawley’s Island, SC, has been a magical place for my family and me ever since we started vacationing on the SC coast 20 years ago. I don’t think any of us have ever left there without a half-dozen titles! Everyone who works there is so knowledgeable and kind, and you feel their love for books just as soon as you walk in the door. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you are ever at a completely loss for a new book—they are bound to point you in the right direction!”
— Sarah Pirovitz, Associate Editor, Classics, Ancient Art, and Archaeology
* * *
“My favorite indie bookstore is Quail Ridge Books located in Raleigh, North Carolina. I started visiting Quail Ridge as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University located just down the street. I love this store mostly for their selection (I especially love their section on regional books) and also for their helpful and courteous staff. There is truly something to be said about Southern hospitality…it is definitely present at Quail Ridge.”
— Victoria Ohegyi , Sales Assistant
* * *
“Cobble Hill’s Book Court has been my dealer ever since I moved to Brooklyn seven years ago. They have a great selection, amazing author events, and if they don’t have it on the shelf, they’re happy to order it. As a new parent, I get to share their kids section with my one–year old, who already loves books and story time. We love to wander among the shelves and find new books to read. The neighborhood has gone through tremendous changes since Book Court first opened and it’s great to see that this indie book store is a true foundation of and for the community.”
— Burke Gerstenschlager, Acquisitions Editor
* * *
“Readings in Carlton, Melbourne, Australia is my favorite independent bookstore. I discovered it while studying abroad at the University of Melbourne when I was in college. The staff is so helpful and the store’s location on Lygon Street is perfect for grabbing a cup of coffee and spending an afternoon browsing through their great selection of books and cards.” — Ciara O’Connor, Marketing Assistant
* * *
“My favorite bookstore is and will always be Rakestraw Books, in the heart of my hometown in Danville, CA. They’ve been around since 1973 and have hosted events with a diverse and often eclectic range of authors over the years, making the store a favorite destination for both me and my mom. I still remember roaming the stacks as a kid, painfully deliberating between dozens of books before finally selecting on ‘just one’ book to bring to the check out. Even just thinking about Rakestraw Books still brings a nostalgic smile to my face.
“I also have a huge soft spot for Bookworks, a literary wonderland in my parents’ hometown of Albuquerque, NM. One of my most treasured Christmas gifts was a beautifully illustrated copy of the first Harry Potter book in Italian, Harry Potter e la Pietra Filosofale, which I received from my grandpa the year after I started learning Italian in college. Apparently, my grandpa and the Bookwords owners had teamed up to locate a copy and ship it over all the way from Italy — now THAT’s a dedicated staff!” — Carrie Napolitano, Marketing Associate for Linguistics, Religion & Bibles
* * *
“One bookstore that really caught my eye is WORD Bookstore in Jersey City. It’s really a lovely place to go because there’s a coffee bar in the back, and they regularly host book group meetings, music shows, and a bunch of other types of events in addition to the typical author appearance and book signings. They also stock a lot of neat stationery, which (unfortunately for my wallet) happens to be one of my weaknesses…”
— Connie Ngo, Marketing Assistant
* * *
Heading image: A cubbyhole with education/sociology books, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, IL, by Connie Ma. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.
It's that time of year when everyone everywhere has a list of gifts for your favorite mom, or golfer, or skier. So here's my list of gifts for writers and readers. Mostly these are things I personally want or like to have, so it's pretty self indulgent. I'm sure you can add items to the list.
I'd like to preface my list with this statement: I am all about gifts of experiences or things that can be used up, consumed. I don't need more stuff in my life, but I do want more life in my life.
1. SCBWI membership for your favorite aspiring/published/nationally known children's author or illustrator. Many of us on this blog are SCBWI members, and I'd just like to throw out a couple of wonderful benefits of this membership. First, it's the world's largest and most respected professional organization for children's publishing. It's important to your career to belong to the professional organization for your industry. We have great programs, great publications, resources of all kinds, networking, critiquing, and conferences. You'll make contacts with editors and agents, fellow authors, and learn from the best.
2. Audio books. Personally, I have never outgrown my love of being read aloud to. My mom hooked me early on, and my fourth grade teacher read to us every day after lunch. My husband reads to me every night before bed. When I was in the hospital once, he read me Beatrix Potter stories. Audio books are perfect for car trips, subway rides, plane travel, or just doing the dishes. I have an app on my phone, so I can take my audio books anywhere I go. And when the hubby is out of town, I let my audio book read to me before bed.
3. This one is sort of obvious. Gift cards to bookstores. One of the highlights of our Christmas celebrations is going to the bookstore after Christmas and using our gift cards. I prefer indie bookstores.
4. Send your favorite author/illustrator to a conference. There are dozens of workshops and events close by, or if you want to splurge, send them somewhere like Highlights workshops or Big Sur. Of course, SCBWI conferences are awesome, and there are many. The big ones in LA and NYC every year, as well as regional conferences all across the U.S. and around the world. Go to http://www.scbwi.org/events-home/ to check out all the possibilities. Conferences are invaluable investments in perfecting one's craft and meeting people in the industry.
5. Pens and paper. Yes, I know it's the age of the computer and other electronics, but I have yet to find an author or illustrator who doesn't use the old-fashioned method once in a while. I keep a notebook with me wherever I go to jot down ideas, images, resources, etc. I used to write out all my first drafts in longhand, and even now that I've trained myself to write at the computer, I still occasionally like to write a chapter on paper. It uses a different portion of the brain. If you don't know what your author friend likes, a gift card to an office supply store is also a good bet.
6. Chocolate. I don't think this needs any explanation, except that I prefer the highest quality dark chocolate available.
7. Coffee. See #6.
8. Time. Writers need time. Life is busy and there are a million other things demanding our attention. Give your writer the gift of time. A weekend at a cabin. A babysitter once a week. An offer to do the dishes every night (or insert appropriate chore here) while he/she writes. A nudge to attend a critique group.
9. Buy your writer/illustrator a critique with an editor/agent through one of the conferences in our area. Learning what professionals see in your writing is so important and valuable.
10. A puppy. So this is personal, but I have to include it. My dogs are always by my side when I'm writing. I have two of them. But I've been asking for a golden retriever for almost a year, and if anyone who loves me wants to buy me one, that would be the best gift. Pets comfort you when the writing isn't going well. They encourage you to get out for a walk when your butt has gone numb from the butt-in-chair work ethic. They are also characters in many children's books. There's a reason for that.
There you have it. A complete guide for gift-giving for the writer. Print it out and give it to your family, or use it to thoughtfully gift your writerly friends. Or hound my hubby about giving me a puppy.
What happens when there is a lack of or break down in communication between stakeholders about the tools used to assess children’s reading? One bookseller shared her experience when parents, booksellers, and students attempt to find the right book within a leveling framework.
In our previous post, “7 Strategies to Help Booksellers and Librarians Navigate Lexile,” we presented strategies for the book experts out in the field on strengthening the communication lines, sharing resources and context, and building a community invested in each child’s education. In doing so, we show our students, children, and customers that they have a whole team cheering for them and invested in their growth, joy, and success.
Now for educators! Want a child to achieve a year and a half of reading progress and develop a life long passion for learning? The more adults you have involved in your students’ success, the better chances you have for meaningful growth and creating a love of reading.
Next week, we will offer strategies for parents.
For teachers and school staff who want to invest more stakeholders:
1. Don’t wait for summer break to provide reading lists. After each assessment cycle or parent-teacher conference period, provide parents with book ideas to help students get to the next level. Research or create booklists to hand parents at a parent-teacher conference. Except for the outliers, you can generally get away with making 3 lists (above-, on-, and below-grade level) of where students are reading.
2. Assume that no one knows your leveling system outside of school. Create a toolkit (that can be re-printed each year) for parents when they go to a library or bookstore. At parent-teacher conferences or Back-to-School Night, arm parents with 1) pre-made booklists (see above) 2) addresses and directions to the public library, bookstore, or community center you trust or have reached out to 3) a level conversion chart—If your leveling system doesn’t provide one, download one from Reading Rockets, Booksource, Scholastic Guided Reading Program, Lexile, or Lee & Low.
3. Hold information sessions at Back to School Night or other times in the year for parents. Explain what leveling system you are using to assess a child’s reading ability. Demonstrate how to find books at that child’s reading level when in a store, online, or at a library. “What does an such and such level book like? Below-level book? Above-level book? What should a child be able to do at such and such reading level?” With colleagues, consider another session for nearby bookstores or public librarians. All leveling systems have websites and FAQs sections addressing misconceptions and how-tos that you can show parents, librarians, or bookstore staff.
4. Find out where your students and families are going for books. My students borrowed books from the local community center or bought books at the nearby discount retail superstore. We built a community by reaching out to the children’s librarian and community center coordinator. Reaching out to these places helped me learn about my students outside of school and familiarize staff with our goals. Share any booklists and conversion charts. Libraries and bookstores will be thrilled to be a part of your community. As I said last week, students may move on, but you and book staff are in it for the long haul.
5. Extend the classroom to your local library or bookstore. When I learned where my students were looking for books (and what poor quality those offerings were at a discount store), I realized that many had not been to the neighborhood branch of the public library and did not know what the library had to offer.
Invite a librarian to class to talk to students about finding books when they are outside the classroom. Show students how to find books when they don’t know a book’s level (Hello, five finger rule!)
Post in class or send home the library or bookstore’s calendar of monthly events.
Encourage families to join you at a weekend storytelling event at the library or an evening author event at the bookstore (you might be able to persuade your school to count these events as parent community service hours).
Is your local library or bookstore on Pinterest, such as Oakland Public Library TeenZone? Check out your branch’s or favorite bookstore’s new releases and collections. Show families how to engage with the library or bookstore from a school computer or on a mobile phone.
6. Simulate the real world in your classroom. Many teachers organize their classroom libraries around their guided reading levels or assessment leveling system to make it easy for students to find the right book. Yet, students need experience interacting with books that aren’t leveled—as most books in bookstores and libraries won’t be. Consider organizing your classroom library by author, theme, genre, or series—or at least a shelf or bin—so students can practice figuring out the right fit book.
7. Remember: You will most likely have at least a few parents whose first language is NOT English. They will rely even more heavily on librarians and bookstore staff for help finding the right fit book for their child. The more you help librarians and local bookstores and the parents, the more you help the child.
8. Think about the message. Parents may hear that their child is at Lexile level 840 and try to help you and their child by only seeking out Lexile level 840 books. Coach parents to continue to expose students to a wide range of texts, topics, and levels. Parents may need a gentle reminder that we want our readers to develop their love of reading, along with skills and critical thinking. This may include children seeking out and re-reading favorites or comfort books that happen to be lower leveled or trying harder books that happen to be on their favorite subject.
Next week, we will offer strategies for teachers and parents.
What have we missed? Please share in the comments your tricks, tips, and ideas for helping families and children navigate the bookshelves.
Jill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Specialist, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Yesterday I was in the Market Street Bookshop at Mashpee Commons in Mashpee, Massachusetts. My traveling companion and I were discussing the book about trucks or trains that we wanted to find for a very young family member. We did see a truck book on a shelf, but we both agreed that there was too much text for our young one.
I saw a bookseller come out from behind the counter, and the next thing I know she's bringing us a copy of Trucks, a "slide and find" book from Priddy Books. It's a board book, which works very well for our guy, and there's no lengthy text for him to sit through. It's mainly "What is this?" type stuff with some color matching thrown in. It also has a little something for little fingers to do. Instead of the small lifting sections you usually see in kids' books, which often end up torn by those little fingers I was just talking about, this book has sliders. We'll see how those hold up.
I was incredibly impressed with the way that bookseller hit the nail on the head for us. I've never experienced real bookseller handselling like that. I also know a lot of people have never heard the term "handselling."
Well, if you haven't, that's what it is--matching customers/readers with books. I thought it was exciting.
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The New Yorker (online) has a fascinating article titled, "The Bookstore Brain." It's by Sam Sacks who writes the Fiction Chronicle for the Wall Street Journal and is an editor at Open Letters Monthly.
I came upon this article while doing research for another article on by-pass marketing for selling books and became engrossed. It's an inside look at book stores and how they determine which
A small publication party at my local bookstore today here in Winthrop, WA. Much thanks to Trail's End for hosting and for the small but attentive crowd for turning out in the middle of your Sunday afternoon. Special thanks to Abby for making AWESOME COOKIES!
I'll be posting a Facebook event announcement later this evening, but Harts Pass Comics and I will be making our next appearance at Village Books in Fairhaven/Bellingham, WA on Saturday, May 17th. Don't miss it. GRRR!
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Eight years ago, the question shocked me: “Mr. Ribay, where do you buy these?”
The student was holding up a book. He had no idea where to buy a book. That was my first year teaching in Camden, NJ and the first time I had ever encountered someone who had to ask this question. But it wouldn’t be the last.
“Umm,” I said, “a bookstore.”
The answer seemed obvious, but later I thought about it further. Had I bought it in a physical bookstore? I probably purchased it online. This eighth grader couldn’t do that without a parent with a credit card. And where was the nearest bookstore? It was in the suburbs, and, again, this eighth grader probably couldn’t get there without someone willing and able to drive him.
Furthermore, the city’s public libraries left much to be desired. They actually closed down completely a few years later, making Camden the largest city in the United States at the time without a public library (thankfully, a couple branches eventually reopened as part of the county system).
The Camden Free Public Library
That simple, surprising question actually spoke volumes: Camden, the resting place of Walt Whitman, was a literary desert. It’s not that there weren’t people who still read and wrote, as there certainly were. I knew students who read well above their grade level, inhaling books like oxygen, and then offering profound comments that left me reeling. But the sad truth was that they were few and far between.
Many students in the inner-city do not grow up in literacy-rich environments. They may not have been read to regularly as children. Their houses might not have contained several shelves of books. They might not take regular trips to the library or a store that only sells books.
Eight years later, I now teach high school English at a charter school in West Philadelphia, but this question and its implications have remained in the forefront of my mind. Relative to the nearby neighborhood schools, our students perform pretty well, with a vast majority of each graduating class gaining acceptance to four-year colleges or universities.
Yet our average student still reads below grade level, our top students’ SAT scores are unimpressive, and a majority of our students couldn’t tell you the last time they read an entire book for fun.
I appreciate the complexity behind acquiring language and literacy. But it seems to me that on the whole these are the cumulative consequences of not being surrounded by books and learning to love them. It’s a simple truth overlooked amidst today’s mania for testing: if kids experience the joy of reading, they will read more and become better readers. A student bombarded with practice reading comprehension questions or scripted intervention curriculum for hours a day, year after year, learns only that they hate what they are being told is “reading.”
So, fellow educators, how do you get your students to love reading, to enjoy a book so much that they want to find a bookstore and go buy it? How did you ever get to that point?
better way to continue celebrating our 4 x 4 Blogiversary Celebration by
introducing our readers to the incomparable Pat Wroclawski, Bookseller
Extraordinaire to the 4th Power.
Pat left the world way too soon in March of 2005 but her Spirit lives on in the
countless individuals she touched – readers, writers, parents, teachers, me.
many times I finish a novel, or page through a picture book, or wonder at a
biography and think, “Oh, how Pat would have loved this book!”
knew of Pat long before I – boldly –
introduced myself to her. She’d managed
the Chestnut Court Book Shop in Winnetka for 15 years, then headed the Children’s
Department at Kroch’s and Brentano’s flagship store in Chicago before returning
to the renamed Bookstall at Chestnut Court as a consultant. (FYI: Kroch’s and Brentano’s was the largest
bookstore in Chicago and at one time the largest privately-owned bookstore chain
in the U.S.It closed in 1995.)
I’d heard about Pat proved true and then some.
never-ending knowledge of children’s literature. Her
impeccable taste in books. Her
love of reading. Her
respect for and interest in writers and illustrators.
passion for All Things Children's Book glowed from within.
Bookstall’s Children’s Book Section became an invaluable resource for me as I
traveled my Writer’s Plotline. The best
of the best lined the section’s shelves.
course Pat herself proved the best resource of all.
cheered me on as I made my way, introducing me to esteemed authors and
illustrators, to books I should know, to opportunities that helped me grow as a
writer, and to the Association of Booksellers for Children, which Pat helped
found, now a part of ABA re-named the ABC Children’s Group and a most vital piece
of the Children’s Book World. I shall always remain grateful for how warmly Pat welcomed and embraced my fellow
She personally decorated the store’s windows and
greeted each and every guest. And
she was there in the audience of Northern Illinois University’s March 1999
Children’s Literature Conference keeping me strong in my first-time-ever speaking presentation to 500 educators and librarians
Pat’s smile undid my buckling knees.
well as mentor, teacher, advocate, friend.
somehow made time too to help found in 1989 yet another important children’s
book organization, Winnetka’s and Northfield’s Alliance for Early Childhood - “a
community collaboration that promotes the healthy growth and development of
children from birth age to eight by providing resources, programs, and support for
the parents and professionals who teach and care for them.”
years Pat wrote the organization’s monthly column “At Home with Books.” In the
Fall, 2005 issue, her daughter Margaret Wroclawski Griffen shared with readers
what her mother taught her about children’s books.
“Everything I Know About Children’s Books I Learned From My Mother,” this beautiful tribute keeps Pat’s Spirit alive. The Margaret Wroclawski Memorial Collection now holds some
100 titles at the Winnetka/Northfield Public Library.
the books they hand their readers, booksellers change lives too. Especially
extraordinary ones, like my Pat Wroclawski.
forget to celebrate our 4th Blogiversary by entering our 4 x4
give-away!You can win one of 4 $25 gift
certificates to Anderson’s Bookshop!All
you need do is share the name of your favorite
independent bookstore, and maybe even bookseller. Click
HERE for details.
I was in Storrs, Connecticut earlier this month and noticed the UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center. I didn't get in there, but should be able to do so in the next few months. Though the main UConn Co-op has a parking garage these days, this new bookstore should be even more convenient to shoppers.
Yeah, I'm a pragmatist. Things like parking matter to me.
The good point the author makes is one that I find few people want to discuss--the cost of books. There are people who truly can't afford to buy much in the way of full-price, hard cover books or even your classier paperbacks. Your really serious readers need to get their hands on a lot of books. How many of those people can support a local bookseller for all their reading needs? Making books available at more affordable prices and whenever readers want to buy them, as Amazon and Barnes & Noble do, makes books more available. It encourages the sale of books, and it encourages reading.
Having said that, I did have a great independent bookstore experience while on retreat last week. Our cross-country ski spot was suffering from weather shock--too warm and too rainy. Trails were closed almost all week, and we never took our skis out of the car. I was worried about running out of reading material, which was ridiculous because I always overpack books and magazines. So we wandered down the mountain to Bear Pond Books, where I browsed and, yes, stumbled upon what was a perfect book match for me, Jo Walton's Farthing. I'd never heard of Walton, and I believe I'd never read an alternative history story. But what this book does is mash together the mid-twentieth century British Scotland Yard detective story, along with the British country estate story, and the British World War II story, all of which I've been known to enjoy over the years, and puts them into that alternative history world. This was kind of a custom made book for me, and it is unlikely I would have found it on Amazon.
Farthing is the first in a three-book series, and I'm interested in picking up the others. Is that great for that author? Yes. Is it great for her publisher? I hope so. And, yes, it's because of the classic independent bookstore experience.
But you know what? I may end up getting them through Amazon. And not just because I can get them cheaper there and may decide to purchase them for my Kindle. An equally important reason is that I have to go quite a way to find an independent bookstore. That one I visited during retreat week? It's five hours from here. Limiting myself to independent bookstores means limiting book purchases, both because of price and because those stores are few and far between in these parts.
Good independent bookstores provide a wonderful shopping experience for readers. But let's face reality. Amazon provides a good, though different, shopping experience, too.
Recently The New York Times paired articles by Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers, discussing the lack of representation of people of color in children’s literature. Those excellent articles—which pointed out that in the long history of children’s literature we haven’t made much progress—caught the attention of best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, who started the #colormyshelf hashtag on Twitter asking for suggestions of diverse books that she could go purchase for her daughter. What a wonderful way to bring attention to what parents can do!
Just because diverse books don’t always show up front and center in bookstores doesn’t mean they don’t exist.Here’s a list of places to find great diverse books for young readers. Buy them, read them, recommend them. Showing demand for diverse books is one of the best ways to encourage the publication of more of them!
1. Publishers: Several small publishers (us included) focus on diverse books. They’re a great place to start, and you can usually buy books from them directly, order them through an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or ask your local bookstore to order them (which also displays a demand for diverse titles):
Lee & Low Books (diverse books for young readers featuring a range of cultures) Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low (diverse middle grade and young adult speculative fiction) Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low (bilingual English/Spanish picture books)
Cinco Puntos Press (adult and children’s literature, and multicultural and bilingual books from Texas, the Mexican-American border, and Mexico)
Just Us Books (black interest and multicultural books for children and young adults)
Roadrunner Press (fiction and nonfiction for young readers focusing on the American West and America’s Native Nations)
Groundwood Books (Canadian publisher of books for young readers with a focus on diverse voices)
2. Blogs That Recommend Diverse Books: There are some great bloggers out there who do the hard work of seeking out, reading, and recommending diverse children’s books, so you don’t have to! Just hop over to their blogs to find great new books to add to your collection:
3. Awards: If you’re simply looking for the best of the best that’s been published each year, awards are the place. Books that win these awards have been vetted by experts (mostly librarians) so you can expect them to be top quality, beautiful, and culturally accurate.
4. Bookstores: If you prefer to purchase your books through good old-fashioned browsing, there are several great independent bookstores that make it a point to stock diverse books. Below are a few we’ve been to, or that have been recommended to us by readers. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by to support them!
Stacked is our sister-site's weekly mailbox-sharing feature.
Crikey, it's been a while! I've only acquired a handful of books since last time, which is good for the hoard, but I do also have a ton of news. I'll try to bullet-point it and use lots of photos so you don't get antsy :) Sorry, not going to happen. I have a lot to say, I guess!
First off, I finally started hitting the bookstores near my parents' place in Manila. Did you know that in a recent study by the World Culture Score Index, the Philippines is the top 4 country in the world in terms of time spent reading per person? The US is #22 on that list, though only a couple hours less per week on average.
In the mall near my mom's house alone there are at least 4 bookstores, that I know of anyway. One is inside the supermarket. In some of the malls the bookstores take up 3 or more floors! There's even one mall where I was getting so confused because the same company would have a store on the ground level and one on the third floor. Not just one company, but two different ones with multiple locations in the same mall. It's pretty crazy.
Anyway, here's one shelf from a store called Book Sale. It's basically a used bookstore (they sell some new books from local presses as well as magazines and assorted stationery like gift wrap and notebooks) and they are freaking everywhere. I was too embarrassed to take a photo of the store to show you what one looks like (I was already kind of lurking and surreptitiously taking pics). They basically cram everything into a tiny space, pile books on the floor, triple-stack them on shelves and tables with no real order. You just have to pick through and find something you might want to read. I think it's pretty fun! I ended up with Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and Ann Patchett's Bel Canto for about $2 each.
I also went to Fully Booked at the GreenHills Promenade. I like them because the interior is kind of cool, they face out a lot of their books (especially in arts and design, where it matters so much!) though this isn't one of their coolest locations. Their kids/YA section was in disappointing disarray, but at least they have some nice huge display tables for new and bestselling YA. I even found some sale books for half off!
The thing they really have going for them is their selection. I just have to stop myself from going in and re-organizing their shelves. I will be doing a Shop Hop post soon (yep, bringing that back) where I will go into more detail.
Also, next weekend is the 3rd Annual Yarn Crawl LA--our friends at Unwind in Burbank will be hosting Salina Yoon on Sat, Apr 5 from 11am-1 pm. There will be storytime, crafting, and snacks. My cousin and epic-level cake popper Adri P. is bringing Penguin and Bootsy pops! Our very own Thuy is running the show. Salina will show kids how to do finger-knitting, even though she admits she doesn't know how to knit for reals, haha! Once Upon a Time Bookstore will be selling Salina's books, including the Penguin titles and her latest book, Found! Awesome yarnista and knitwear designer Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarns created a scarf and hat pattern inspired by Penguin in Love. You can peek at the samples here and pick up the kit at Unwind during the Yarn Crawl! Last but not least, our favorite photographer Katie Ferguson will be on hand to document the event. I can't be there, sadly, but maybe I can eat some cake pops while I look at the photos afterwards!
This weekend, I headed out to Glorietta Mall to meet up with some of the Filipino book bloggers (find them #PHYAbookbloggers on Twitter). Thanks Louisse (@louisse_ang), Kate (@BookishBlurber), and Jesselle (@_jessellev) for hanging out with me! They actually had to run off to Becca Fitzpatrick's blogger forum and OMG you have to go look at their photos because Black. Ice. ARCs. Who do I have to beg, bribe, or bake for at Simon & Schuster to get a hold of one of those?
My selfie skills were strained to the max, haha! You can see the rest of our photos on my Instagram feed @frootjoos. I totally missed Kai (aka @amaterasureads) but I still hope to meet up with her and get a #PHYAbookbloggers t-shirt because how cool is that?!
Anyway, about the signing. I didn't get to go because I was going to have to work at 11 pm (I know, time zone madness) and the signing was at 4 pm. So what, you say? That's plenty of time!
This was the bottom floor of the bookstore (which has 4 floors I think, I didn't get to them all) at 1 pm:
Scheiße! American YA fans, you don't even know. I think we sometimes take these events for granted, since so many YA authors actually live there. On the other hand, publishers, this is where you should send YA authors. Pinoys read! They read widely. We love fantasy as much as we love contemporary. We love Andrew Smith as much as we love Cassandra Clare--yes, they've read and loved The Marbury Lens. We are equal-opportunity readers. We buy books (libraries aren't really a big thing here) and we wait patiently in massively mind-numbingly long lines. We fangirl like it's going out of style (you would know how over the top we go if you had been here the year Michael Jackson died--I swear I didn't enter a single mall, jeepney, or restaurant that didn't have MJ songs playing or being performed by avid karaoke singers).
In case you're wondering, here's who I heard they want to see the most: Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer E. Smith, and Leigh Bardugo.
I actually really wanted to see Kate Evangelista (Til Death, Entangled Teen 2014) but I had to work that day, too. Bummer! Her launch party looked like it was a lot of fun. I did buy her book at National yesterday.
National actually books auditoriums for some visits, where they expect way more people than will fit in their store. Example:
Anyway, I'm sad I didn't get to see Becca, but I have already met her 3 times, and hopefully she'll tour in SoCal when Black Ice when it hits the shelves on October 7, 2014.
Crap, I just thought of three more book-related things to tell you. But this post is way over tl;dr already so I'll just leave you with this:
Folks, I legit fell off a futon when I read the email telling me to expect one in the mail. Like I wasn't excited enough to get Ruin & Rising when it releases on June 17! Anyway, my husband took a photo of the package contents with my lil' Darkling-wannabe John Carter, but he refused to read me the chapter sampler over FaceTime. *frowny-face*
I've been so busy this week. I went to San Antonio and signed at The Book Festivals of Texas booth at the Texas Library Association's Annual conference. I also shared the news of my upcoming YA Rom-Com PLUMB CRAZY. Best of all, I spent a few days with some true heroes this week -- water for my soul this week. I'm chatting about that.
The wonderful DannyWoodfill of The Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas was the bookseller for the Book Festivals' booth. Oh, independent bookstores fill me with happy feelings of freedom of speech. I also feel this happiness that someone is spending his life investing in the future, in his community and ultimately our whole county by adding fabric to the community. How? Who supports local authors? Who understands the specific needs of a local reading community? Who creates a hub for creative folk within a community? Who can guide a non-reader into the world of reading? (So huge!) I hope this makes you want to drive over to your local independent and buy some books!
Big shout out for Tabatha Perry. She heads up the Montgomery County Book Festival. Again another cultural investment maven! A real hero! Here's an interview with her. How does she add to the fabric of our community? Who supports local writers? Who will create communities of readers who have a wide vision of the world through reading? Who will light imagination fires in the minds of teens? Yes, Tabatha Perry! Books saved me as teenager. I have no idea how I would have survived those years without books. I wish there had been book festivals when I was a teen.
Finally, I'm not forgetting the army of heroes, the Librarians of Texas!!!! Yes, these folks are the best ever. I am at war with Texas. Why? This stuff: Why do we need librarians in elementary schools? Let's save money in the budget and do away with those librarians.Why do we need any librarians at all? Here is my why....we must facilitate life-long learners, an informed global community and all-access educated citizenry.
This apparently means little to so many Texans. Here is a link to Texas Literacy facts. Understand me. I love Texas. I'm a generational Texan. This is my home. But this galls me: Football is the important thing. I know this is not a popular stance, but I don't seen giant shining libraries across Texas. I see football fields, really fancy ones. I'd like to see a huge library as the fabric of community in every small town in Texas. I'd like to see a big staff of librarians stamping out ignorance that is choking the people of my state.
Don't believe me? My home town football field: Waller ISD stadium (accommodates 10,000). My hometown library: The Melanee Smith Memorial Library (no words for how much I treasure this place as teen). The library doesn't have a website. Just a page. There is one librarian.
Do me a favor -- visit your local bookstore, your wonderful local library, and/or a book festival and thank important heroes in our world.
I will be back next week with more April Showers.
Here is the doodle: Girl in Bluebonnets.
From a Texas gal I like, a quote for your pocket.
The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance. Libba Bray