While I look for a full-time gig, I have been working in an independent children’s book/toy/clothing store. I am receiving a crash course in the finer points of “retail” – you should really see me count change now, it’s a thing of wonder – but I am also thinking a little bit differently about books and about reader’s advisory. It’s been really eye-opening.
One major difference is the satisfaction in selling someone a book. I’ve “hand-sold” books in the library before, but I feel like checking a book out of the library is a low-pressure engagement. Maybe I’m inserting my own experience as a library patron here, but you can check out 10 library books and only read three, and only really like one. The other 7 are not that important, and maybe only the one will stick with you forever. It’s a numbers game.
When you buy a book, you buy a book. That book better be good, otherwise you’ll stare at it on your shelf for years and resent its existence.
Convincing people to spend money, therefore, seems like more of an accomplishment than convincing them to take free books off your hands for a few weeks. Here are some books that I’ve enjoyed selling to folks since beginning my job in March.
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
I have never read this book, but here lies another lesson learned in retail: that’s okay. You can learn to talk about books you haven’t read, Jessica, you really can! I get a lot of 9, 10, 11 year old girls come in the store looking for a new series. This one is about mermaids. I have read a Phillipa Fisher book, another series by Kessler that is about fairies, but it seems that Emily Windsnap is the more popular of the two.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Myers, Illustrated by Marla Frazee
This is a board book about babies, but instead of cheesy, close-up photos of Gerber babies in diapers, smiling and frowning and making faces, these babies are Marla Frazee-illustrated darlings… I can’t get over how adorable this book is.
Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell
I had a customer come in during graduation season, asking for this book by name. “I want to buy it for my daughter,” she said. “It’s such an empowering story for a new graduate!” We didn’t have it, but got it in later in the week. I put them on display immediately and sold both copies in a single day.
Also to note – one fellow picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down, repeat repeat repeat and finally came up and asked if I had a similar picturebook but instead of Jane Goodall, maybe it could be a girl-journalist? His friend was graduating from J school…
Again, reader’s advisory, you are weird.
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From A Children’s Book edited by Anita Silvey
Another book I haven’t read in its entirety, but I flipped through it for a class a few years ago. This is a popular pick with parents, a nice coffee table book, with essays from children’s lit greats and celebrities. I’d love to get a chance to read this one through myself, to see what kind of wisdom/nonsense it contains about these books that I love.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I really just love to sell all of these Penguin Threads editions. The Wizard of Oz is one of the most gorgeous copies, in my opinion, and I try to put it on display with our Scanamation Wizard of Oz novelty book, our Wizard of Oz t-shirts, and anywhere else I can squeeze it.