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by Josalyn Moran
On Saturday November 19 we had the opportunity to visit the Swedish American Museum in the Chicago Andersonville neighborhood and to participate in their first Flick, Ricka, Dicka celebration.
The event was keynoted by readings throughout the day from the Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr series by Swedish author Maj Lindman.
Children delighted in having their pictures taken behind or with a life-size cut out of the literary triplets.
Delicious hot drinks were served from a hot chocolate bar complete with a tempting array of toppings. Swedish holiday cookies were provided by the Swedish Bakery.
The craft room was abuzz with decoration making including felt ice skates and cone shaped Christmas trees.
Attendance at the event was free and open to the public. Several merchants in the area, including Women and Children First Bookstore, Swedish American Museum Gift Store, The Wooden Spoon, and The Red Balloon Co. generously supported a raffle by donating delightful gifts.
Copies of the newly reissued Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka and The New Skates (complete with paper dolls) sold briskly at the gift shop.
A splendid time was had by all and we look forward to partnering with the museum on future events. A special thanks goes to Jessie Aucoin, education manager for the museum, for all her efforts in making the day so wonderful.
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by Kristin in Editorial
Last Friday afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting the wonderful Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Illinois. Winnetka is a beautiful suburb north of Chicago—and it is particularly gorgeous in the fall, with leafy trees hanging over every street.
Winnetka’s downtown shopping center is very quaint and adorable and welcoming, with independent clothing boutiques and a high-end pet-supply store and restaurants. Nestled right in the middle is the Book Stall at Chestnut Court.
The children’s section at the Book Stall is one of the best kids’ sections in Chicagoland. It’s extremely well-curated by Robert McDonald, who I had the pleasure of meeting during my visit.
The care that goes into stocking the shelves here is evident upon walking inside the children’s section, where you are welcomed by an open space with seating surrounded by picture books, board books, and other titles for very young readers. (While I was there, a couple of little boys sat reading and giggling their heads off.) To the left, the bookshelves holding titles for older readers span out in front of you.
One of the most fabulous things about the Book Stall’s kid section is its gigantic YA section. Many an indie book store carries a somewhat slim margin of YA in comparison. The Book Stall, however, has an entire wall of shelves devoted to the genre. For a YA reader like me, it’s a dream.
The chapter book and middle grade sections are similarly swelling with fabulous titles. The Book Stall even has a section devoted to toys and games. Whether you’re looking for a book or a toy, the Book Stall really is an excellent place to shop for that perfect birthday present.
All told, I spent about an hour at the Book Stall and left reluctantly—but not before buying a few books for myself. If there’s any drawback at all about a visit to the Book Stall, it’s that your already-burgeoning list of fabulous children’s books to read will grow exponentially.
By: Michelle in Marketing
Blog: Albert Whitman & Company Blog
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Albert Whitman & Company has been located in the Chicago area for most of its 90-plus years in business. As such, we’ve been blessed – both professionally and personally – with a wonderful assortment of independent bookseller for decades. Happily, this remains true today. In a semi-regular blog series, we will visit “Chicagoland Indies” for your information and enjoyment.
I walked into Anderson’s Bookshop on a sunny, summer Friday afternoon – and the children’s section was hopping! Kids and parents were perusing the shelves, playing together, reading, and having fun.
After checking out the Boxcar shelf (my first stop in every store), I met up with Jan Dundon, Anderson’s Children’s Coordinator.
Jan has been with Anderson’s for many years and has produced some of the best children’s book events in the country. Among her big projects is their Mock Newbery program – schools from all over the area participate. We exchanged thoughts on this year’s crop of contenders – which I can’t share with you, but the list is looking pretty good.
Which brings me to my favorite part of talking to booksellers – the recommendations. The staff read as much as they possibly can before the books hit the shelves, so they can do more than just hand you the latest bestseller (although they’ll do that too). Jan made a point of telling me that ALL of the staff members really just work there to feed their book habits.
That’s when I asked her the tough question: What are you favorite Albert Whitman books to handsell? Jan immediately answered, “MISS FOX! I love her.” She also mentioned The Buddy Files and Zapato Power, our two new early chapter book series.
I rarely (well, really, almost ne
A couple of Tuesdays ago, Wendy and I walked into the Book Cellar, an independent bookstore in Chicago, just a few minutes before it closed at six PM. (Wendy knows all too well that the store closes a little early on Tuesdays, since she’d tried to pick up her copy of Mockingjay there the week before!) But this time, when the doors were locked, we got to stay inside and attend the GLIBA meeting.
GLIBA—the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association—holds regular meetings around the region at local bookstores. The primary goal of these “Indie Nights” is for booksellers to network with other booksellers from their area. It is also a chance for the association to share news and for the booksellers to discuss issues in a more informal basis. Publishers and sales reps also attend Indie Night on occasion, too.
That night, at the August 31st meeting, Wendy and I represented Albert Whitman, and one of our sales reps from Abraham & Associates, John Mesjak, was there, too. The rest of the crowd was made up of booksellers—folks from independent stores all over Chicago and the suburbs (we’re planning field trips out to all of them, so you’ll hear more about them here soon).
Since GLIBA’s annual trade show in Dearborn, Michigan is coming up, there was plenty of talk about the show. Everyone went over logistics—schedule, author events, ride sharing opportunities—but there was plenty of discussion about why many of us were going. For booksellers, the trade show is a great opportunity for networking, education sessions, face time with publishers, and, of course, lots of galleys and ARCs to bring back! And what do publishers get from the show? Lots of one-on-one with bookstores off the beaten path, as well as exposure for local and regional authors. (Wendy’s attending part of the show as an author, and she’ll report back on her experience in a few weeks.)
The meeting was a great way to put faces to the bookstore names, and to better understand how independent booksellers do business.
Many thanks to the Book Cellar for locking us in the store hosting! (And for the cupcakes, too!)
I’m often asked by my colleagues in New York City, “So, how’s Chicago?” By this they mean, how could anyone leave New York! It’s where the action is, where all the great publishers are, where all the authors are (FYI, every other person on line at a grocery store in Brooklyn is either a published author/illustrator or an editor).
Of course, while NYC is a great place, and it really is where much of the children’s book publishing industry is located, it is not necessary to live there and still be in children’s book publishing. Early on in your career, when you’re likely to change jobs every couple of years in order to gain experience, promotions, and salary increases, it’s a good idea to be in New York. After that, you can really be anywhere. There are wonderful companies all over the country—from right here in Chicago, to San Francisco, Boston and beyond.
So, now that I’m a midwesterner (or as much of one as a Long Island girl can be), “How is Chicago?”
Things that are different:
- Far fewer social/networking events and none of them are children’s- or even book-specific. I find myself walking into cocktail parties filled with editors of poetry journals and art directors from textbook companies. While I enjoy meeting new people, no new project ideas have resulted from any of these events (yet). I am, however, building some nice relationships with the local children’s book publishers. Exhibit A. We’ve also been having lunch and finding each other at these larger events. The downside: fewer events. The upside: we get to create our own. (FYI: The Chicago publishing community is also continuing its efforts to expand programming and has even created a website devoted to publishing in the area.)
- Our warehouse is an hour away. I can drive over there if I really need something today. I don’t think anyone outside of sales/marketing/publicity can truly understand how wonderful this is.
- On a personal note, I can afford to own my own home on a publishing salary. My commute is even shorter than when I rented in Queens!
Things that are the same:
- I still do most of my networking at trade shows and via email/phone. Even in NYC, you don’t drop everything to run uptown to Random House to discuss sharing an author at a trade show…alright, so we do plan meetings for that, but I still go to those. Although sometimes, I’m on speaker phone along with my counterparts in Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, etc.
- Children’s book publishing people work very hard and with what (sometimes) feels like not much reward. Parents, teachers, and librarians get to see the results of our work first hand—we rarely get to see kids jumping up and down, excited about a book. We have to leave our workplaces to do that, and when you’re having a hard day, you can’t just leave in the middle of day to grab a child off the street and read to them—possible criminal repercussions, regardless of good intentions.
So is there life after NYC publishing? Yes! and while sometimes it can feel that I’m far away from the action, the truth is that the consumers of children’s books are located all over the country. Most of them don’t really know (or care) where my office is…so long as phones and emails are answered and books are shipped. Because in the end, it’s all about putting books into the hands of children and we can do that from practically anywhere (The moon? Perhaps someday…)
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Like everyone else in the book business these past few months, we’d been wondering about the fate of Borders—whether the whole company would go under, completely taking out one of the major bookstore players. We knew there’d be a big announcement soon, and we’d been waiting for the shoe to drop.
So this week’s news—that Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is closing about a third of its stores—wasn’t worst we were expecting, but it’s pretty bittersweet. Galleycat and other sites posted lists of the stores slated to close, and this week on Twitter we watched as the lists circulated and the news hit closer to home—lots of homes, all around the country.
Reading over the list of stores from Illinois, my heart sank as one by one, I recognized the locations. Goodbye to the store on Lincoln Avenue that was such a convenient stop on my way home from work; farewell to the Evanston store that my fiance and I loved to browse after seeing a movie at the Century; so long to the store in the gorgeous old terra-cotta building in Uptown. And goodbye and best wishes to all the dedicated booksellers who worked at all these stores that are soon to be shuttered. Hope they find other opportunities in the world of books soon.
Here in the Chicago area it appears that the store in Oakbrook, Border’s oldest Illinois location, will stay open. I have good memories from that store, too: it was the first Borders I ever visited, just after I got out of grad school. After six years of university life I wasn’t looking forward my stint of living with my folks in the suburbs while I searched for jobs, but that Borders was a terrific oasis for me and helped remind me that people who love books are everywhere.
No matter what happens in the book business, that’s still true.