Friday, October 8, 2010

(Not so)Scientific Findings

This morning I came across this recent Harris Pole showing that mystery, crime and thriller novels are the genre most read. No surprise here. This did cause me to wonder how BayShore Books LLC
resembled what this pole reflects, so I thought I’d spend a few minutes looking at what sells here.

Granted, I will have to accept quite a large margin for error. For instance, the poll includes those who say they read at least one book in an average year while mine will include every book purchased in a year, although I did eliminate all local, event, and bulk order titles which would skew the results. Only the genres of the pole were included but that even leaves room for debate. Stephenie Meyer and Harry Potter are classified as young adult in my system, although I have sold just as many (if not more) to adult readers. We don’t have a separate “chick lit” category, so we just used a “fiction” category. Literature for us includes only classics, the rest are included in fiction.

By now you have probably figured out that my pole in no way, shape, or form reflects the Harris Pole.

Types of books read in the past year

Notice just for fun we used our totals and then broke it down based on new or used

Total                       New                      Used
Mystery                  Fiction                    Mystery
Romance                Mystery                  Romance
Fiction                    Romance                Western
Science Fiction       Science Fiction        Fiction
Western                 Literature               Science Fiction
Graphic Novels      Graphic Novels       Graphic Novels
Literature               Westerns                 Literature
Mystery was no surprise. Romance is more popular here than reflected on the Harris Pole while Science Fiction is not. Could they have counted the young adult titles?

Probably the largest variable not yet mentioned is availability. If we do not have a certain author, title, or genre, we will order it for our customers. Most likely we would sell more of a title on the shelf, though. Of course we order what we sell so maybe that variable isn’t as great as first presumed. Moving on…

For non-fiction we just eliminated “other non-fiction”. What is “other non-fiction” exactly? Did they include cooking, gardening, pets, parenting, reference books, sports, travel? Who knows. Easier to just dump it.


Total                     New                         Used
History                 History                     History
Biographies          Biographies               Biographies
Religion                Self Help                  Religion
Self Help              Religion                    Self Help
True Crime           Political                    True Crime
Business               True Crime               Business
Political                Business                   Political

What I found interesting is that in their poll the number of people who read fiction and those who read non-fiction are pretty even. Here it’s not even close. We sell a lot more fiction. Do we sell more fiction because we stock more fiction or do we stock more fiction because we sell more fiction? The number of non-fiction titles stocked has been reduced over the years based on sales so that answers that question.

The number one author on their poll is Stephen King, followed by James Patterson, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, and Tom Clancy. Remember, this is based on them asking “who is your favorite author” with no regard to what was picked up at a garage sale or borrowed from a friend. Once again taking out local favorites, bulk orders, special events, and my personal opinion; our list isn’t that different. Stephen King didn’t rate quite as high, but James Patterson and Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb did along with Fern Michaels, Nicholas Sparks, and Debbie Macomber.

So there you have it, my not so scientific findings thrown together in a few minutes for no other purpose other than my amusement. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week is coming to an end. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. Think it doesn't happen where you live? Think again! Check out this map of challenges in the US from 2007-2010.

Out of 460 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2009 the 10 most challenged titles were:

ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, offensive language, drugs, and unsuited to age group

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: racism, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Twilight (series), by Stephanie Meyer
Reasons: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: sexaully explicit, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: sexism, homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group, drugs, suicide, violence

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: nudity, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

How many have you read? Have you celebrated your freedom to read this and every other week?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Guest Blogger

Today we have a special treat. We asked the author who will be visiting us tomorrow, Deb Baker aka Hannah Reed, if she would like to be a guest blogger .
Q. I haven't started my blog yet for today so if you have something written that you would like to send I would be happy to have you on as a "guest blogger".

A. I don't have time to do a guest post. I'm signing today in Oshkosh and doing store drop-ins.

So there you have it, our first ever guest blogger!

Maybe I should have given her more than a twenty minute notice.

Plan B – here is the press release for her visit tomorrow:

Meet Hannah Reed. Hannah Reed is the pen name Deb Baker uses to write her just released Queen Bee mystery series. Deb was born in Escanaba, moved to Wisconsin in the 60s, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in English at the age of 45, but she imagines Hannah younger, sassier, and much more daring.

BayShore Books LLC in Oconto will be hosting a visit with Deb Baker aka Hannah Reed on Saturday September 11th from noon until 2pm. Her first novel, Murder Passes the Buck, earned her the Authorlink International First Novelist Award. She went on to write two others in the same series, which is set in Michigan. The first in her newest series, Buzz Off, has just been released with a 4 star review:

"... a rollicking good time. The colorful family members and townspeople provide plenty of relationship drama and entertainment. The mystery is well plotted and this series promises to keep readers buzzing." ~ Romantic Times

It’s September—National Honey Month—in Moraine, Wisconsin, and things are looking up for Story Fischer. Her messy divorce is final; the honey from her beekeeping business has been harvested; and the Wild Clover, the market she owns, is thriving. Life seems pretty sweet until her mentor in the honey business is found stung to death in his apiary.

Story is still trying to explain to the panicked locals that Manny was killed by wasps, not honey bees, when another body is found floating in the Oconomowoc River. This time the evidence points to Story’s ex. Sure, Clay’s a womanizer and a buzz kill—but a murderer?
With the townsfolk stirred up against her honeybees, and a handsome cop—who also happens to be Story’s former high school sweetheart—putting Clay in cuffs, it’s up to Story to get them both out of a very sticky situation.

Find out how this story ends by stopping in at BayShore Books LLC 302 Collins Avenue in Oconto, meet the author and have your copy signed from noon-2pm on Saturday September 11th. For more information or to reserve your copy, call 920-834-3220 or visit online at

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

We had an exciting week at BayShore Books! Let me tell you about how this all got started first. Months ago I received a phone call from Roger Rapoport, who published a book called Waterwalk by Steven Faulkner. He found my blog about the book and the author’s visit to BayShore Books about two years ago and wanted to know if he could use the information to market the movie version he was producing. I gave him permission and then went back to find the blog. To my horror it was this smart a** piece more about my parenting skills, or lack thereof, than about the book!

Months later Roger called to ask if they could film a scene outside the bookstore. Who am I to say no?? Weeks later he made a surprise visit to check out the store and we discussed what would be needed. He said filming would begin in the end of August and would take a total of 28 days throughout Michigan and Wisconsin. Tuesday he called to let me know they would be here the next day.

The cast and crew arrived around 7pm and there was a bustle of activity. This case needed to be moved, more books here, bring a chair out, print up a sign, everyone moving and talking at once, thanking us while barking out orders. Suddenly they were all gone. One minute the lot was filled with people, the next it was completely empty. It turns out the moon was in a perfect position for the river shots, so they quickly packed up and headed toward the city docks. The female extra from Milwaukee returned to the store a number of times for costume changes, other than that we just waited.

Shortly after 10pm the activity resumed and it was definitely worth the wait. It’s very interesting to be a spectator on the set, watching the actors run through their lines while the director makes suggestions, one camera man needs more light, the other needs less, sound is perfect, QUIET ON THE SET! Action! Of course that’s the moment a car speeds by and the process needs to start all over again. The scene, which will probably be about five minutes in the completed film, wrapped up just after 1am.

The beautiful woman on the left was browsing the bookstore after hours. They operate on the honor system, just choose a book and put the money in the slot. It is perfect for addicts like her; she actually met her husband in the fiction section. The gentleman in the white shirt is the sound guy getting ready for the shot. The man in the shorts is the talented Robert Cicchini playing Steven Faulkner and the one behind him is absolutely adorable eighteen year old Chase Maser playing Faulkner's son.

The entire cast and crew helped haul books, cases, and furniture back into the store even after working since 7am that morning. They were amazing! They signed autographs, thanked us, shook hands or gave out hugs and were on their way. A dark independent bookstore on a quiet street in a small town once again by 2am.

*Find out more about the movie at

Friday, August 20, 2010

You Have the Right...

There is a business in town that only allows one student in the store at a time. No exceptions. That is their policy and whether we agree or disagree they know what is best for their company and have the right to make that decision.

My business does not have this policy. It would be very difficult to encourage students to read more for pleasure if I didn’t allow them in their local independent bookstore. Groups of kids or teens gathered around a section grabbing books off the shelf and talking all at once is one of my favorite things about this job. This is not the library, no need for silence. Share that enthusiasm!

This is how I felt five years ago when we opened and this is still how I feel today. Over the years I have realized that some policies will have to be implemented, though, if I want to stay in business. The first is that all food and beverages stay on the table in front of the store while browsing. This came about after one gentleman with arms loaded dropped his cup splattering coffee over an entire display. Very expensive accident. For me, not him. It was an accident after all.

Backpacks and school bags are also left on this table or at the front counter. Many times I don’t even have to ask. The kids file in, dropping their bags on the way to their favorite sections near the back of the store. Sometimes we have one lonely backpack slung over the chair and sometimes the table is stacked with bags. This frees up little hands for turning pages and prevents bags full of homework from being left behind. And yes, it does prevent shoplifting. I never had a problem with this policy, never a complaint. Until today.

Last Saturday two girls stopped in to browse for the first time. They were visiting grandma and were very excited to discover the bookstore. When they walked in I greeted them and asked them to drop their bags on the table. They did without complaint and set off to get lost among the shelves. When the older of the two set her choice on the counter we had a great discussion about why that book was chosen and how excited she was to read it. Then they picked up their bags and were off on their merry way.

Today grandma stopped in very upset that I took away her granddaughter’s bag. She wanted to know if that was the policy because she has been telling everyone about this incident and they were all as shocked as she was. Her granddaughter was embarrassed and if I was worried about her stealing I should have just asked her to open her bag so I could see she didn’t hide a book in there. What? Asking the girls to set their bags on the table is embarrassing but singling one out to search her bag wouldn’t be?

This is a small town business, so we don’t set a lot of rules. More than a few kids have brought in their new puppy, kitty or baby sister for me to meet. They have visited in swimsuits and on roller blades. They read out loud to me, to each other, or to the stuffed dinosaur. They are like family and I would never intentionally embarrass or hurt them in any way. I believe searching their bags before they leave would be an injustice 99% of these kids no more deserve than 99% of the adults do. What do you think? Is our current policy offensive and more embarrassing that the alternative?

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Authors

I’m always excited to discover great reads from new authors. In May I found such a book and was eager to write my review. This past week I received an email from the author thanking me for the review and asking me to post it on Amazon. I was shocked to say the least!

After taking a deep breath I reminded myself that this is her first book and she may not be aware of how offensive this request is to an independent bookseller. Books that we are particularly excited about can be nominated for the Indie Next List which promotes new authors much better than one review among many on the online giant. I explained this to her as kindly as I could, pointing out that not only did I nominate her book, but it was chosen as a notable pick for August. The sting of her request was slightly diminished after looking at her site and seeing listed as a site to purchase her book.

On the flip side, in May of 2009 I wrote a short review of an amazingly original first novel by Brian DeLeeuw. This one was chosen for the Indie Next List last summer. Yesterday in the mail I received the paperback version, which will be out in August. The book was not only signed, but personalized! Included was a letter from Brian thanking me (me - not "Dear Reader"!) for nominating In This Way I Was Saved and promising to thank me in person if he’s ever in Wisconsin. In the letter he discusses his strong feelings about the increasing relevance and necessity of independent bookstores in this current age of depersonalization and tells us to keep fighting the good fight. Wow! Now this is an author I want to support! He does not have a link to Indiebound on his website yet (Brian, if you are reading this, please add one.), but the first link to purchase his book is an independent bookstore. It is authors like Brian that make me love coming to work each day.
I had to include both covers and would love your opinion.
Personally, I prefer the hardcover (left) over the paperback (right)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Books to Babies

One week ago today I became a grandma. I know what you are thinking – I’m waaaaaaaay too young to be a grandmother and you would be right. My first born is on the verge of passing me up in age.

Packing baby and new mommy up to come home from the hospital after an extended stay we all felt a little apprehensive. It’s been a few years since we had a baby in the house. The hospital did what they could to help with the transition by sending us home with everything we would need – a folder full of information, a t-shirt from the hospital, and baby’s first book.

Our hospital, in partnership with the local school district, started a Books to Babies program to spread the word about the importance of reading to newborns right from the start. Each newborn is sent home with a book and brochures about the benefits of reading to baby.

Like the folder full of information, we followed these instructions right from the beginning. Baby and mommy both have trouble staying awake during story time, but it gives them an opportunity to cuddle. When grandpa reads he adds in the animal sounds. The entire family perks up and listens in - what kind of noise could he possibly come up with for the gerbil?

We don’t have much to offer a newborn, we are merely bookstore owners, but we have plenty of love and books – lots and lots of books. Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny are coming home tonight. Mommy put in a request for Pat the Bunny– with the stuffed bunny of course. Starting today and for the rest of his life, we will be building his personal library one book at a time. Any suggestions?

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Little Help Please

Looking around the store I can’t help noticing all the reviews haphazardly taped on shelf edges. These little slips of paper seem to really help customers make their selections, but they are also a big help to me.

I can’t tell you how many people have asked if I read every book in the store. I wish! I love to read or I wouldn’t be in this business. New books come out every week so there is no way I can keep up. More often than not the books I am most excited about sharing with my customers will not be published for months. So, what’s an overworked bookseller suppose to do?

Reviews help me decide if certain books will appeal to my customers. Those, along with blogs, articles, past sales and catalogs help me make buying decisions. They also help with recommendations.

This is why The
BayShore Bookworms was created. Customers can help by reading and reviewing books. The program is geared toward new releases, but if you read something you can’t wait to talk about, write us a sentence or two about the book. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. These kids had no problem sharing their opinions. Grade school students and teens, how cool would it be to send your friends into the local bookstore for them to see your review displayed beneath your favorite book?

Join The BayShore Bookworms or just drop off any reviews you have written on your own. If you don’t know what to read next, stop in and let’s chat. Or read about why your friends and neighbors loved a book. This is a community bookstore, so your input is invaluable to us.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Those of you who receive our monthly newsletter have probably stopped in by now to pick up your free copy of IOU: New Writing on Money. If you don’t receive the newsletter, What are you waiting for? Sign up on this blog or on our website.

Concord Free Press is experimenting with “generosity based publishing” and they are taking us, along with other independent bookstores, along for the ride. They have supplied us with copies of their fourth book to give away to all those interested in participating. The concept is simple: pick up a copy of the book, make a voluntary donation to a charity or person in need, chart your donation on their website, and then pass the book along to someone else so the giving keeps going.

The donations are posted online so it’s exciting to chart the progress of the books. It’s fascinating to see what causes are important to our customers and who they choose to donate to. If you like this idea, you can make a donation to this small publisher so they can keep the idea going. They also have t-shirts and posters for sale on their website. If you live outside of Wisconsin, you can
find a participating bookstore near you.

Let’s help Concord Free Press connect reading and giving like never before!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer Camp

Memorial Day is the kickoff to the long awaited summer! Finally many of us can put away the textbooks and required reading and choose books just for fun. During the summer no excuse is needed to pick up some light reading. Now there is no need to read Moby Dick when you would much rather read the latest James Patterson mystery or Debbie Macomber romance.

This is a difficult time to be a bookstore owner. Each day as I wander the shop my must read list grows longer and longer. I imagine myself lounging on the deck this weekend with a cool drink and a copy of No Time to Wave Goodbye, written by a Wisconsin gal who knows how surviving a long Wisconsin winter should be considered an accomplishment worth celebrating. Or Coop written by another Wisconsin author who knows what it means to work hard and understands the need to relax.

Running my hand over these titles gives me something to look forward to each day. Is it any wonder that I feel a little sad each time one leaves the store? I realize my job is to share my excitement with other readers and I should feel pride when one of my favorites is chosen to be enjoyed, but some small part of me feels like saying goodbye to a child off to summer camp. This summer when you stop in to discover your perfect beach read, please take care of my child and if you loved it as much as I did, let me know. Let’s discuss it, share a tear, maybe a picture or two.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Required Reading

This should be required reading for every eighth grade girl!

Can you guess which book a customer was talking about when she made this statement?

Let me give you a clue. It is a children’s book. Much like Oh, the Places You'll Go! is a great graduation gift. Many children’s books find a niche with a completely different age group than was initially intended. Some children’s books are given as gifts because of sentimental reasons, others because of the message hidden inside what at first glance is a simple story.
The book the customer was talking about is Be Happy! By Monica Sheehan. This book was originally published as a self help book and last month reappeared as a children’s board book. The format makes no difference, although the illustrations in the new edition really liven up the pages. Remembering back to eighth grade, and all through high school, this customer was spot on. Be Happy! is a great reminder for anyone of any age.

What are some children’s books you have given to grown children or received as adults that made a difference in your life?

Friday, March 12, 2010

What are you reading?

“What are you reading?”

Sometimes what should be such a simple question is so difficult to answer. More often than not what I am reading has absolutely nothing to do with what I would like to be reading.

There is a pile of books by authors and publishers that I offered to read and review, foolishly thinking I could fit this into my schedule. There is another pile customers have been inquiring about. How can I give an honest assessment on a book I haven’t read? Reviews by others do make this task a little simpler, which is why the BayShore Bookworms began. Members choose one book a month, supplied by BayShore Books, to read and review. This benefits all of us since I can’t possibly read every new book set to be released and the members can choose subjects they have an interest in without paying hardcover prices.

My last book tower is new titles by authors I already know and love. Unfortunately these must be viewed as the lowest priority. I can recommend the latest installment based on my knowledge of the author and his or her previous work. This is the reality that is hardest to handle, though.

So, what am I reading right now? A book that must be completed and reviewed by the end of the month. I don’t remember the author or title, but I will by time I’m done with it. After that? This month’s book club pick, which I have been anxious to read since its release in hardcover – a year ago. What do I wish I were reading?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Family Reading Night

Each year our local elementary school held a family fun night. This year the parent teacher organization has decided to put the focus on reading, so it has become Family Reading Night. This is a welcome change, especially after reading this article about how less than half of children aged nine to 14 read fiction more than once a month.

The goal is to focus on award winning titles such as Caldecott Medal winner The Lion & the Mouse, Geisel Award winner Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!, Newbery Medal winner,When You Reach Me, and books by the Wilder Award winner, Ashley Bryan .

During this year’s Family Reading Night, the school will also announce the winner of the 2010 Family Reading Night Kids’ Choice Award. Entry boxes were placed in the school library, public library, and here at BayShore Books. The choices are:

Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type(Cronin)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Archambault/Martin)
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Numeroff)
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (Scieszka/Smith)
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (Yolen)

Tough choices! Which would you choose? Or is there a favorite not on the list?

It would be great to see this idea spread to the middle school and high school, too. Even the entire city. Many communities, including Brown County, have One Book, One Community which is an initiative that brings communities together to read and discuss the same book. This is a partnership between the schools, libraries, and independent bookstores. What a great concept!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekend of Romance

Do you have plans for this very important weekend?
You do know what this weekend is, don’t you?

That’s right – Sturgeon spearing starts on Saturday!
I’ve never actually tried it, but these monsters are fascinating. People of the Sturgeon tells the unique history of this ancient fish in central Wisconsin. The photos are fantastic!

I’m sure you realize that this weekend is also Valentine’s Day.
If you are looking for a night out, it looks like there are still tickets available for tonight’s performance of WHO'S ON FIRST by the Machickanee Players. To get tickets, just follow the link on our website or stop in. We now sell tickets at the store.

If you plan on staying home, how about bringing a little romance into your weekend with a good book? Previously cherished romance paperbacks are only
today and tomorrow in the store. There is no limit, so this is the perfect time to stock up!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Not in Stock?

“I can’t believe you don’t have it in stock!”

When I hear that phrase a little piece of me curls into a ball. Knowing what is popular and what customers are looking for is my job and I do it to the best of my ability, but the sad truth is, I am human and sometimes mistakes are made. Or are they?

Each time someone complains about having to order a title they were hoping to pick up today, I have to step back and look at the larger picture. Is this a regular customer? Someone from one of the communities I serve? I say “communities” because, although the shop exists in one community, I serve a number of different communities who all have very different needs.

For instance, I sell to school districts in twenty six states. I’ve found products I believe in, locked in the best possible prices, and have begun to know these schools and what they are looking for. They in turn, share their knowledge of what is needed in the school market and guide me in the best practices for that market. It’s a win/win situation.

I also have a community of retailers who count on me to find the products their customers are interested in. They know that since I am also a retailer I will find a way for them to be profitable while making their jobs as easy as possible. I can find them many products from many sources, hand deliver them and give them the convenience of one simple invoice. They open my eyes to different trends in different areas and share great ideas for my own retail location.

There is an entire community of online shoppers who know me and trust that they will receive what they order. They know that if they are not fully satisfied, I will do whatever I can to change that. This was a huge learning curve and I am grateful to all of these patient customers who have shared their knowledge of the best ways to package and ship as well as how to describe the items for sale. Each morning is a thrill to come into work to discover what sales occurred while I slept.

These different communities all make up what I do and who I am, but a customer that walks into the store doesn’t know or care about that. Why should they? They care about their experience and the service they receive. When I don’t have something they are looking for I feel like I have failed them. Like I made a mistake. Not all of these instances are mistakes, but I do learn from them.

If a regular customer is looking for something I currently don’t have in the store many times they order it. By doing this they are telling me what authors or subjects they enjoy. Next time that author has a new book out or there is a new addition to that series, you can bet that I will have one in stock waiting for that particular customer. The entire store selection is built around the customers. I may not have every “bestseller” in the store at all times, but I do my very best to have just what my bookstore community is looking for. Each book is ordered with a customer in mind. If you walk through the door and find exactly what you are looking for, just know I was thinking of you when I ordered it. Thank you for selecting the perfect books to place on the shelves of your community bookstore!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ah-Ha Moment

This week I had two new customers visit the shop. We are Facebook friends and just had to check out the store, they explained. That was an ah-ha moment for me. Social networking actually does work! Sure, I’ve received orders through Facebook and MySpace, but were these from new customers or regulars who just found another convenient way to order? This was the first time I was told straight out that my babble on one of these sites actually brought someone new into the store and what a fantastic feeling that is!

If you aren’t a
Facebook , MySpace or Twitter friend of BayShore Books yet, please find me now. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Did you friend me? Great! Now as a thank you, watch for special deals just for my friends. You will never know when it’s coming, but when it does just stop in and let me know where you heard about it. This will help me know which deals you are interested in and which sites you are on. Another way you can help me to help you is to comment. Tell me what you like about the store, what you don’t, what inventory would you like to see more of or what authors would you like to hear from. We can have actual conversations now! How exciting is that? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Customer Types

Many people from all walks of life visit bookstores for many different reasons. In a small town bookstore it is easy to identify the different types that walk through the doors.

We have those in a hurry. They walk in, grab or order what they want and walk out.

Others have no idea what they want, but feel fortunate to have an independent bookseller to help them. These are the customers who are frantic because Sally’s birthday is tomorrow and they haven’t found a gift yet. Luckily, I know immediately from other visits who Sally is, how old she will be and what books she has enjoyed in the past year.

The browsers have yet to realize there is a difference between a library and a bookstore. They plop down in a chair with a stack of books and learn how to bake a pie or build a deck or decorate their house all while sitting in the bookstore. One such patron finished Breaking Dawn in its entirety the week it was released. Every day this high school student would sit in the back and read until we closed. Her friends would call and she would say “Can’t hang out today. I’m at the bookstore. Have you read the Twilight series?” She never bought the book, but I can’t pay for that kind of marketing!

Finally there are the chatters. They stop in every week or every month just to chat. They have never made a purchase and probably never will, but they have to be on top of whatever is happening in town. They stand by the counter or follow me from shelf to shelf complaining about life, their health, the government. They believe if no one is waiting to be checked out I have absolutely nothing to do, so they deserve my undivided attention.

I had one such customer, if they can be called customers, yesterday. Unlike most, this one is only in first grade. He has been coming in to visit since the day I opened over four years ago. By himself! It gives him something to do while his mom is in the bar across the street (parents, be careful what you tell your kids – they will most likely share the information).

In our usual routine he wandered the front of the store chatting away while I nod and say “really” and “hmm” in the appropriate places. Suddenly by the tone of his voice I realized something was different. He was no longer telling me about his day, he was sounding out book covers. This little boy was reading!! He was excited to show off his newly acquired skill, even though he “still likes football more than reading”.

Easy fix. I took him to the children’s section and showed him books about football. There is a book about Brett Favre? He LOVES Brett Favre!! Too many words, though. The Clifford early reader was perfect. We sat at the children’s table as he sounded out each word, using the pictures as his guide. I couldn't come up with a single task more important than that moment. Soon he read the entire book! He promised to return today to read me another story. Maybe as an incentive I will let him keep the Brett Favre book as soon as he is able to read it on his own. No one else in Wisconsin would be interested in it anyway.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, the inventory is complete, in another week or two I should have everything completed that I didn’t have time to touch over the past two months. Whew! Soon I will be able to get back to what I love most, reading! Not that I ever stopped completely. I don’t think that’s possible. Reading is like breathing to me. I feel like I haven’t gotten through nearly as many books as I hoped by year’s end, but I have great expectations for this year!

I did manage to complete two young adult novels which did not disappoint. If you are as big a fan of Ellen Hopkins as I am, you probably finished Tricks months ago. What did you think? She never disappoints, does she? She isn’t afraid to tackle the tough subjects and she doesn’t tiptoe around the real issues. Her writing style is brilliant and amazes me with each and every addition. How can I possibly wait until September for the final chapter in the Crank trilogy??

The other new series I discovered is the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Have you read it? Oh, you must!! I couldn’t put it down! I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next with Catching Fire.

Many of our local favorites published new books recently, too. Victoria Houston joined us for her annual visit last month with the tenth, but thankfully not the last, book in the Loon Lake Mystery Series, Dead Renegade. Nelda Johnson Liebig completed the fourth book in the Carrie series, Carrie and the Homestead, and was generous enough to sign a few copies for us. Unfortunately she will be moving on to other adventures so this is the last planned for this series. Torture at the Back Forty is still a best seller and another true crime with local ties, The Monfils Conspiracy has been getting a lot of press.

Lately I have been reading a few intriguing titles to be released next month. Sorry, you will have to wait for my opinions on those.

What about you?

Have you read anything exciting over the holidays or that you are looking forward to now that things have quieted down?