Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Shrinking Violets Do BEA 2008

Dear Friends,

There just couldn't have been a more perfect way to end May's celebration of National Independent Bookseller Month than for Robin and I to spend it at Book Expo America 2008 in Los Angeles. Wow! What an amazing event! We were up to our armpits in booksellers, authors, publishing houses, giant cartoon figures in those big floppy shoes (way scarier than clowns IMHO), and bibliophiles by the kabillions.

Robin was an absolute **rOcK sTaR** had a really great time all weekend-- rubbing shoulders with the likes of and was humbled to be in the same room with Ann Patchett and Sherman Alexie at the Book Sense luncheon yesterday where they honored all those Book Sense picks of this past year. She had two book signing sessions today, along with so many of our favorite children's authors. (I'm going to be in so much trouble with her for the rock star comment, but she like totally was. :->)

Wow! I have the energy reserves of a anemic gnat right now. Wow! This is diet coke (x 4) and a venti latte speaking. Mary Hershey crashed at approximately 3:45pm. But-- we absolutely wanted to check in with all of you before we pulled up the rug for the weekend to thank you all for all that you've done to join us in the month long celebration. It has been such great fun to discover all the indies that you love and the have you cheering alongside of us.

We will be back on Monday for the exciting finish to the month-long love-a-thon! Get ready! We're going to announce the WINNER of the 2008 Indie Bookseller of the Year! Do not miss it!

And we will be announcing which one of YOU will be winning our fabulous and biggest SVP prize ever-- TEN children's books, a Shrinking Violet coffee/tea mug, assorted sweets and schwag, and with your picture, bio and your book/future book/WIP posted in an upcoming blog with us.

This is the view from our room this weekend at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel, where the National SCBWI Convention is held ever year. It's our fave hotel in the universe on account of the Nap-Like-A-Dead-Girl event that we always enjoy while we are there. Totally random, but I did want to do a plug for Nationals.

Lastly, Robin thinks you should try and guess which of us is wearing which shoes in the pictures above and below. For bonus points, name the nail polish color.

-] -}
Over and out!
The Sleeping Violets

[Photos of feet by the awesome Thalia Chaltas, Because I Am Furniture, Viking, Spring 2009]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Whale of a Bookstore!

This Southern California gem is located in Irvine California and is an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the community. Owned and managed by Alex Uhl for the last twenty years, they have won the prestigious Lucille Pannell Award “in recognition of its excellence in stimulating, promoting and encouraging young people's interest in books. Whale of a Tale embodies the unique creativity and effectiveness in bringing children and books together.”

Past author visits read like a Who’s Who of luminary children’s authors, including J. K. Rowling, Julie Andrews, Maurice Sendak, Lemony Snicket, Henry Winkler, Sharon Creech, and Brian Jacques.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, they give back in a major way to their community (can we say Karmic Marketing?) and donated over $40,000 last year to local charities and organizations.

They cater to readers of all ages and invite you to browse at your leisure (and what is more fun than spending hours browsing in a great bookstore?) or their dedicated staff will happily assist you in your selection.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet Alex at a booksellers luncheon, and she was indeed a huge wealth of information and her knowledge about the book world was encyclopedic. She was also warm and generous and funny. What’s not to love?

Next time you’re in the area, check them out!

A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe
4199 Campus Drive, Suite A
Irvine, CA 92612

or find them on the web at:

Also, there will be no indie bookseller featured tomorrow because the Violets are off to BEA! We'll try to report back to you and let you in on all the exciting goings on at the Los Angeles Convention Center. If any of you are planning on attending, Robin will be signing Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos at the ABA Author Autographing on Saturday at 2:00 then shortly after that she'll be signing ARCs of Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris in the Autographing Area in the West Hall at 3:00. Do stop by and say hi!

Until then...

Mary and Robin

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Before Ebay, before Amazon, There Was Logos Books & Records"

LOGOS BOOKS & RECORDS in Santa Cruz, California is nearing it's 40th anniversary as the "premier buyer and seller of books and music on the Central Coast."  They have grown from a small one-room store to a two-floor, 11,000 square foot building with over two hundred and fifty thousand used books, records, CDs and DVDs.  Thank you to Becky Levine for pointing recommending them!  If she hadn't, I would have had to, because my big brother works at Logos, and he is one of my heroes.  (Hi, Greg!)  Most all the employees at Logos wear the requisite Santa Cruz uniform of gothic black-- Greg wears Hawaiian shirts.  Love that guy.

With all of us being increasingly committed to a greener life and a smaller footprint on the earth, I didn't want our celebration to end without recognizing the critical role that used bookstores play in our world.  As Becky and I can both attest, Logos' children's section is large, well-organized, home to both classics and contemporary works.  These books are accessible to kids and families who may not be able to shop at a retail store.  And Logos buys books every day of the week.  They've been in the recycling business a long time!  Moving books in and out of the hands of readers.  Again and again.  Great concept.  

I bought my audio copy of Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith at Logos. And, many of the books from my childhood that I wanted to recollect for my current collection. Trixie Belden mecca!

Logos Books & Records
1117 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA  95060
(831) 427-5100

Logos, thanks for keeping these thousands and thousands of books in circulation, and for all you contribute to the world of literature and music.

Rock on, Santa Cruz!

Mary & Robin

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Like We'd Forget Florida!

VERO BEACH BOOK CENTER in Florida comes to us courtesy of the hysterical author Donna Gephart, who raves about this bookstore.  We couldn't possibly finish out our month without featuring them!  VBBC has a separate children's store with a stage, separate teen area, and plenty of author events.  I had a chance to visit them, too, during a trip to Florida a couple of years ago.  One step inside their children's store, and I wanted to leave my home, my kinsmen, and get a job there.  I know nothing about book retail, but I'm a heck of a duster.  Truly. Amazing.  Place.  Donna says check them out at this great website.

I love their store motto.  "We Wrap, We Ship, We Smile . . . Seven Days a Week." And by the by, I just discovered they are hiring!  (Just not dusters, dang.)

The Vero Beach Book Center recently took the Honorable Mention in the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award, in great company with the Flying Pig Bookstore and Kepler's.  Congrats, Vero Beach!

Coming up on their June event calendar is Doughnuts with Dad and Pajama Hour with Miss Julie.  Both sound irresistable. 

Here is where you can find them!
Vero Beach Book Center
2145 Indian River Blvd
Vero Beach, FL 32960
(772) 569-6650

Let's hear it for the Vero Beach Book Center team!


~('-p    ~(:>]
Mary & Robin

Monday, May 26, 2008

And the Winner of the 2008 Independent Bookseller of the Year Goes To . . .

. . . goes to . . . WAIT!!! Stop the press! We haven't gotten your entry yet!

I know! It's hard when your eyes are spinning from the orgy of indies we've been teasing you with all month. Serious brain candy, I know. But now it's time to get down to some VIB. (Very Important Business).

It is time to select our Bookseller of the Year! That very special person of yours that has toiled for you, your friends, your family, your readers, your fourth grade class, for the elderly woman that takes forever to pick a book, and the lonely guy that waxes on about his old hometown bookstore --that special bookseller that happily climbs over the stack of kids splayed in the aisles, that really is the Yentl for books and readers, that never tires of talking up a a new work, that will jump on that sliding ladder to get you the book you need from the very tippy top shelf-- yeah, that's them. That's the person we need to know about. And, how will we know if you don't tell us??

Don't know their name? Call your bookstore right now. Uh-huh, n-o-w. Find out. And, then email us their name and why you think they should be Bookseller of the Year. Do you really want us to have this contest without your bookseller entered?

Didn't think so. Send it to Here's my bookseller, Mary!

We will be announcing the winner on Saturday from Book Expo America. Don't miss it.

Mary & Robin

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guess Where We Are Today?

Please join us by shopping at your local independent bookseller today,
or on-line at Book Sense.
Back on Monday, friends!

Northbound to Seattle!

I had the great pleasure of both meeting and recently interviewing indie bookseller Heidi Erdahl of the Magic Mouse Toys in Seattle. The store is located in the historic, underground part of Seattle, home to many restored, spacious buildings.

Heidi is, among other things, responsible for the store's children's book collection, which is sizeable, taking up almost half of their basement level floor. The store is owned by Pam and Walt Powers, who have run the store for "thirty plus" years. Heidi loves meeting with the books reps that come to the store, studying the catalogs and making book selections based on what she knows her customers will enjoy. She says the classics continue to be big sellers, as well as the poetry books for children.

Heidi is currently getting more acquainted with the 'tween genre, reading Gossip Girls and some of the newer titles. When pressed for her favorite author, and I did have to squeeze a bit, she said she was a big fan of Kate DiCamillo's. Excellent taste!

Her favorite indie bookstore is Powell's in Portland-- and I hope we get time this month to feature them as well. That place is truly a reader's mecca.

I asked Heidi if she'd ever want to own her own bookstore, and she says she goes back and forth on that. She knows first hand how much work it is, but thinks it would be a great life experience. She's been with Magic Mouse for twelve years and loves her work-- loves all the variety and fitting the right book to the right customer.

Her favorite customer is "um, the polite kind". :-)

Magic Mouse Toys
603 1ST Ave
Seattle, WA 98104-2209
Phone: (206) 682-8097

Website? These great folks are busy hand selling books and haven't yet set one. Gosh, I guess we'll just have to go to Seattle and visit in person.
Thanks, Heidi-- it was great talking to you! And, big thanks to Tracy Patterson for recommending the Magic Mouse!

:] :}
Mary & Robin
Violet Tour 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Identity of Secret Indie Bookseller Revealed!

So just who is our Mystery Indie Man? Meet Clark Kepler, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of KEPLER'S BOOKS in Menlo Park, California.

A resounding high-five out to Amy Rea who cracked the case in record time. Amy has a $25.00 Books Sense gift certificate winging its way to her now. And, hats off to our runners up to TadMack,  Thalia Chaltas and Jennifer Bertman. Man, you guys are good! I thought I might have you stumped for a few days! I can see I'm going to have to pull out my dusty 17-pound manual of Really Brutal Contest Challenges. You've driven me to this.

If "Kepler's" sounds familiar, they should, because they were just awarded the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award for BEST FAMILY BOOKSTORE-- in the nation! Very impressive. And, our mystery man, Clark Kepler, was awarded Bookseller of the Year by Publisher's Weekly in 1994.

After spending some time on their website touring their many events, photos, community projects, charitable donations, author interviews, books clubs, staff picks, I can see why this bookstore gets such stellar marks.  This is a veritable hub of literacy, outreach, and rich tradition.

Here is a photo of authors Shannon Hale and Libba Bray cavorting at a Kepler's sponsored event--

And where else but Kepler's might one buy a Jane Austen Action Figure?? I don't have one of those yet!
Not to be missed-
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park CA,
(650) 324-4321

Til tomorrow, friends--

8-] {(:-]
Mary & Robin

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Guess the Identity of this Indie Bookseller and Win!

Here's the deal. Guess the identity of the bookseller above and you will win a $25.00 gift certificate! Your prize goes right back into the hands of the people that we've been honoring all month. See how great that works out?

Here are your clues:
1. He loves to read.
2. He is wearing khaki pants. (This could potentially be a red herring)
3. He's been working in the same indie for 29 years.
4. Publisher's Weekly recognized him in 1994 for something significant.
5. His bookstore has a motto but if I gave that to you, you'd be able to Google it, so just never you never mind.
6. Barbara Walters was in this indie during the past week.

Good luck, detectives! You can post your guess as a reply, or email me off-line at I've cracked the case, Mary!

Mary & Robin
(Having way too much fun! :-) :->)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Forty-Five Years Old and Still Going Strong: The Odyssey Bookshop

The old girl looks pretty good, doesn't she?  Meet THE ODYSSEY BOOKSHOP in S. Hadley, Massachusetts recommended by D. Dina Friedman.  (Thanks D-- good luck in the raffle!)

This has got to be one of the most interesting indie histories I've read so far!  The Odyssey Bookshop is reported to have been established in 1963 by a French-Canadian, Romeo Grenier, an immigrant who was a passionate reader.  In 1935 he had became a pharmacist, and in 1957 he bought Glesman's Pharmacy, across the street from Mount Holyoke College.  Soon, his drugstore became a literary gathering place.  The soda fountain booths, and round tables were filled with students, faculty and townspeople discussing books and current events.  Romeo decided to move the toothpaste and aspirin aside to create a book department in front of the drugstore. He began his new venture with 500 Penguin titles.  

In 1991, the store passed to Romeo's daughter, Joan Grenier, who now runs the store with co-owner Neil Novik, who joined the business in 1998, bringing his expertise in management and technology-- and the crime fiction genre.

In the years since, the Odyssey has lived up to their goal of bringing readers and writers together, with a literary event schedule including more than 150 events a year for adults and children, attended by more than 2,500 people annually.  (!!Wow!!!)

The Odyssey Bookshop
9 College Street
S. Hadley, MA  01075
Phone:  413-534-7307

If you have a sec, do send Joan & Ken an email and wish them a Happy 45th  Odyssey Anniversary!

8-]    '->
Mary & Robin

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Airsick Yet? Off to Children's Book World in Pennsylvania!

The recommendation for CHILDREN'S BOOK WORLD in Haverford, Pennsylvania comes to us from our good friend liquidambar (aka writerjenn). She recently posted about CBW at her blog so follow this link for more 4-1-1!  CBW is an independent, full-service bookstore with a comprehensive inventory, knowledgeable staff, and a full calendar of great author/illustrator events.  

From their gorgeous website:
"Children's Book World has long been a place for a meeting of the minds. In our eighteen years of business, we've brought together parents and children, teachers and classmates, authors and illustrators, and above all, stories and imaginations. Bringing people together to share in the joy of reading is our passion, and we strive to make our store the meeting place for just that.  Whether you're a child, a parent, an educator, or a book lover, you'll see the difference that quality makes in our selection, our staff, and our service."

I've seen a lot of great, innovative stuff since we've been on our Indie Tour, but this is the first time I've seen an indie (or any bookstore) that offers a Baby Registry.  Brilliant!   Also, starting June 1 and through the summer months, children aged 7 and up are invited to participate in the Children's Book World Summer Review Program, reading and reviewing advance reader copies of books to help the store decide which new titles to purchase.

Next time you're in the great state of Pennsylvania, home to my personal Mother Ship--HERSHEY-- don't miss the awesome folks at:
Children's Book World
17 Haverford Station Rd.
Haverford, PA 19041
Phone: (610) 642-6274

And off we go-- where we'll land next, nobody knows!  So, stay tuned!  

You are now in the Big Time Raffle, Jenn.  Start eating your Lucky Charms!

"p   :>]
Mary & Robin

Monday, May 19, 2008

Next Up...Mrs. Nelson's!

Located in Southern California, Mrs. Nelson features over 35,000 titles of the highest quality books and a whole lot more besides!

They act as a liaison for school visits with selected local authors and offer an extensive book fair program for schools in the Southern California area. In fact, they’ve donated over $890,000 to schools in 2007 alone! (Hm. Can we say, karmic marketing?)

And if that isn’t enough Value Added Service to float your boat, they have three different story time offerings each week (our favorite is the Friday night pajama story time) and art classes. Some of their upcoming events include a visit from Melissa Marr for a signing of her newest book, Ink Exchange, and a Junie B. Jones Stupid Smelly Bus Tour.

So if you live in the area, or are just passing by, make a point of visiting Mrs. Nelson and her 35,000 titles. You won’t be sorry.

Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop is located at:
1030 Bonita Avenue
La Verne, CA 91750
We are on the southwest corner of Damien and Bonita Ave.
Phone (909) 599-4558

Or find them on the web at:

And yes, Virginia, there really is a Mrs. Nelson. We’ve had the privilege of meeting her and she’s a warm, wonderful advocate for children’s books. Don’t just take our word for it, go visit her yourself!

Mary and Robin

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rev Your Engines, Folks. We’re Off to Vrr—Vrr—Vroman’s!

Located in Pasadena, Vroman’s Bookstores has been in business since 1894! How’s that for a long, honored literary tradition? We here at SVP have known about them for a long time. As you may or may not remember, Kris Vreeland of Vroman’s was chosen as SVP’s 2007 Bookseller of the Year.

Publisher’s Weekly has named Vroman’s Bookstore 2008 Bookseller of the Year (following our example, no doubt!)

And another reason we like Vroman’s is they engage in karmic marketing with their Vroman’s Gives Back Program. And you know what suckers we here at SVP are for karmic marketing.

They also offer classes, free Wi-Fi, a twice weekly story time, and a monthly Graphic Novel reading group. They also host scads of author events, most recently Jimmy Carter. How’s that for status?

So if you find yourself in Southern California, do yourself a favor and check them out.
Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: 626-449-5320
Or you can check them out on the web at:

So Vip Vip Vooray! For Vroman's!

Until next time...

Mary and Robin

Saturday, May 17, 2008

And On to Atlanta!

"We don't mean to brag (ok, maybe we do but just a bit) but we are the premiere bookseller for children in the Atlanta area."

What a pleasure it is to introduce the Little Shop of Stories in Atlanta, Georgia. We have our reader SamMiddleBurger to thank for waving a flare for us on this one. The Little Shop opened in 2005, and offers a strong selection in children's and young adult literature, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as a unique, handpicked, collection of adult fiction and non-fiction. Store "mothers", Diane and Lynne, have done a bang-up job in just three year's time of bringing stellar programming and events to their store.

And, the Little Shop of Stories has spawned the Little Blog of Stories, which is big fun. "We love kids and we love books for kids. We love it when kids write reviews of books for us 'cause then we don't have to work so hard."

And here is where you can find them, next time you're in Atlanta!
Little Shop of Stories
515 North McDonough Street
Decatur, GA 30030


Let's give it up for them, shall we? Hoooo-RAH!
Back soon, friends--
Mary & Robin
Official Indies Fan Club Co-Chairs

Friday, May 16, 2008

Next Stop on Our Tour: Island Books

Welcome to our first island indie! Since 1974, Island Books on Mercer Island, Washington has been serving the Mercer Island community and the greater Seattle area. They cite "staying connected" as their thirty plus year goal.

You won't find the proverbial on-line shopping cart on their website-- and why? "...we honestly prefer to have you come into our store. We love talking with you, giving book advice, and swapping stories. We have chosen rather to invest in an intelligent cadre of booksellers who average more than 12 years of bookselling each. They delight in answering challenging book queries and finding gifts for the enigmatic, rushed, or needy. They like to listen, and they give pretty good advice."

Their desire to connect and create community is evident from the photos above with their permanent chess table in the travel section, and Pajama Time Story Hour. (Man, I could use one of those tonight!)

Where can you find these cool people?
3014 78th Ave. SE
Mercer Island, WA 98040
800.432.1640 206.232.6920

Thank you to our reader, Alkelda, for nominating this island indie! Alkelda says that Island Books booked her for her first storytelling gig outside of the library.

Congratulations to Melissa Wilkins, the first to correctly guess that the Indie Formerly Known as Yearning Toast is actually the Learning Post in Urbandale, Iowa. Melissa has won her own SVP coffee/tea mug, and is entered into our big end of the month drawing.  And a big thank you to Susan Schmid for nominating them!

Tadmack, Boni, Shari, Kristi, Amy, Ampace4 and Jennifer B also correctly guessed the mystery indie, and are all being entered into the drawing. Best of luck to everyone to one and all!

Let's launch some official whooping and hollering for Island Book Owners, Nancy and Roger, and all their fine staff. Thirty-four years of dedication in service of books. Amazing.

Anchors Away!
Mary & Robin

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Power of the Independents

Hand selling. Word of mouth. These are worth their weight in gold in the publishing business. And it's just one of weapons the independents wield with brilliant success. In spite of discouraging numbers of books being sold in outlets other than bookstores, such as discount stores and warehouse stores, as well as the proliferation of big chains, the independents are still a force to be reckoned with. (And don't you forget it!) Having them on your side is golden, and it’s important to recognize exactly what a passionate committed group of bookselling professionals can do when they put their minds to it.

I’m sure many of you have heard of the book WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. But what you might not have heard of is the tremendous role the independent booksellers played in making this book the enormous success it was. Even better, the American Booksellers Association put together a case study of how this book came to market, and the series of steps that led to it’s phenomenal success.

It’s worth taking a look, for a whole host of reasons. Not the least of which is to see how the clout of the independents can propel a book straight to the top .

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Name that Indie!

You're going to have to guess the name of today's indie-- that is, if you want a chance to be in the drawing for our aMaZiNg prize at the end of the month . . . TEN new children's books, your very own Shrinking Violet coffee/tea mug, and a signed 8x10 of Robin's *new* author photo. (I may be teasing about one of those prizes.)

CITY: Eladnabru (You'll have to crack the code)
STATE: Got corn?
~Where children are special and learning is fun!~
WEBSITE:  To be announced later

The YEARNING TOAST is the largest store in state of ________ specializing in educational materials, toys, games, and books for teachers, parents, and children.  You can visit their great on-line store, or shop at either of their two locations, Eladnabru or Ynekna.  The shop was started in April of 1977 by two educators, and they are still at it.  

Happy 31st Anniversary, Yearning Toast!  

And, good luck to all of you that are going to take a shot at Name That Indie! You can enter your guess as a "Reply" or send it privately to Mary, I think I've got it!.  If you are the certain person with the initials SS that nominated this indie off-line to me a while back, you're already in the drawing.  You can just sit back and let the others sweat trying to figure it out.  

;-]   ~'-]
Mary & Robin
Your SVP Cruise Directors

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winging Our Way to Wisconsin for Butterfly Books

Butterfly Books Children's Literacy Center in DePere claims it's place as Wisconsin's largest local children's independent bookstore. Thanks Boni, for this recommendation!

Butterfly Books sells quality books for children from all ages from birth through high school--- board books for infants, picture books, nonfiction literature, beginning chapter books, popular series, novels for the intermediate and advanced reader.  

Established in 1991, they "... vow to provide all who nurture the love of reading in children the opportunity to locate, experience, appreciate and purchase children's books which honor the needs of growing young minds."

In addition to all the great stuff above, BB also has a busy calendar filled with Story Times, Story Fairs, Birthday Club, Leave a Book program, Buddy Chefs Classes, Adult Book Group, and author signings. The enormously famous and deservedly celebrated Tomie de Paolo will be there this Fall!

Their Literacy Center supports area educators and parents in the task of growing young minds. "We believe strongly in the partnership of educators, teachers, librarians and booksellers to foster literacy in our community."

You can find these great folks at:
Butterfly Books and Literacy Center
118 N. Broadway
DePere, WI  54115

Set-- Ready--  Let's give Butterfly Books and literacy a cyber standing ovation!

:-)  ~(-]
Mary & Robin
Shrinking Violets (on tour)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Some Indie 4-1-1 (and the Party Continues)

We briefly interrupt our celebration of indies to pass on some important information!

First off, I wanted to let readers Jen Robinson and Debbie Freedman know that I just discovered that they had also submitted recommendations for both Hicklebee's and The Alphabet Garden. The two of you are I-N the big raffle, along with Becky Levine and Jennifer Stewart, who were listed in the blog. Mea culpa for the oversight. The train is back on track!

Secondly, as we move into Week 2(.5) of our celebration, I want you to be thinking hard about potential nominations for the Bookseller of the Year. This special award goes to an individual who works at an indie, who in your opinion epitomizes all the best qualities of a bookseller-- a love of books, great customer service, expertise, and enthusiasm.

Does that sound like someone that works in your favorite haunt? And, if so, and you don't know their name, just call the store and ask. We'll do the rest! If your bookseller wins, we will do a blog all about them, and send them a dinner certificate for their favorite place to eat in their town. I'm going to try to nab an interview with our reigning Bookseller of the year, Kris Vreeland from Vroman's in Pasadena. And, if you bookseller wins, you'll recieve one of our classic Shrinking Violet coffee/tea mugs. So, get those nominations in!

We mentioned in a recent post about Book Sense and I want to make sure everyone knows what this is, and how you might use that to support your indies all year long.

Book Sense is a community of independent booksellers across the country who share five attributes that "... collectively distinguish them in the bookselling marketplace." The attributes are Knowledge, Passion, Character, Personality and Commitment to Community. Many of these stores offfer Book Sense gift cards, which is a wonderful alternative to-- let's say, oh, I don't know, a chain store gift card. If you want to send a gift to a friend in another town, or state, you can go on to the Book Sense website and enter their zip code. will send you to the indie local to their area, and you may be able to purchase them a gift card for their nearest store.

You can also sign up to become a Book Sense affiliate and put their logo and link on your author/illustrator website. Your customers can then purchase your books directly from an independent bookstore. This is a great additional option for you, instead of sending them exclusively from your site to a chain store that might start with the letter "B", for example, or a maybe even an "A". :-) I have both on mine so people can make a choice.

Lastly, for those of you that are in the West Coast area, the big news for us is that Book Expo America is being held in Los Angeles the last weekend of the month. BEA is put on by the American Booksellers Association, (ABA) which is the national trade association for independent booksellers. BookExpo America (BEA) is the industry's premier trade show. Held annually, it is a great opportunity to get a sneak peek inside the world of bookselling at their biggest national bookselling event of the year. In addition to the floor show, where exhibitors show their Fall titles, there are education and information sessions, author breakfasts and lunches, and a number of special events. Robin will be signing books their this year, and I will in tow wiping her brow and drying the sweat of her pen.

Lastlier, or lastliest, I am thinking that our reader TadMack should be voted Head Cheerleader for the Indies. Tad, are you game? Need a squad to help you? As HC, you get to pick. Get ready for try-outs, everyone!

:0] ~'-}
Mary & Robin

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day, Everyone!

Wishing you all a very lovely Mother's Day-- whether you've given birth to a child, or love a four-legged or winged creature-- maybe you're giving care to a parent, or gave birth to a book, a piece of art, or an idea that makes the world a better place. Celebrate your motherhood today, and give thanks for Mother Earth that sustains us all.

~~ The Shrinking Violets will be back on Monday ~~
Much more to come!

Here Comes . . . Adventures for Kids!

ADVENTURES FOR KIDS in Ventura, California delivers exactly what its name promises--a porthole to adventure, with lots of square footage, nooks, hideaways, places to sit, dream, rock and read!

Founded in 1979 by the legendary and beloved Jody Fickes Shapiro, this bookstore has provided decades of rich, dedicated service to the children, families, educators, authors/ illustrators and the commmunity.

Jody turned AFK over the reins of the store in 2005, so that she could pursue her writing career. The new owner, Barbara O'Grady, continues in this strong tradition of literary excellence and service, providing an ongoing, stellar line-up of talent. On May 25th, our buddy and recent guest blogger, Greg Trine will be signing the sixth book in his hysterical Melvin Beederman series, Attack of the Valley Girls, and author/illstrator Mary Ann Fraser will be signing Mermaid Sister on June 7th.

From their website: We have provided quality children's books and music to families and teachers throughout the country and internationally. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect book or gift from our thousands of books. We love our work, and it shows. Ask about our hand-picked collection of great reads for grown-ups, including our suggestions for book groups.

Here is where you will find this great indie!
Adventures for Kids
3457 Telegraph Rd.
Ventura, California 93003
(805) 650-9688

Please give Barbara and Jody a big rah-rah-sis-boom-bah for their inspired work!

Two fans from Santa Barbara,
Mary & Robin

Friday, May 9, 2008

Our Indie Hit Parade Continues!

The Alphabet Garden (Where Young Minds Blossom) is a full-service children's bookstore. They carry books for all ages, including grown-ups. And, they are happy to special order anything. Don't you love that about a book store?

The AG offers storybook-themed birthday parties, storytime, a full range of speakers, authors/illustrator signings, and a Teacher's Only Night with free classroom materials and discounts, and snacks!

Pictured above is the Owner/Manager Karlene Rearick. She looks very happy, and if I had my own independent bookstore, I'd look that happy, too (Sigh)

Today's indie comes to you courtesy of SVP reader, Debbie Freedman who is now in the running for our big prize-a-rooney.

You can find The Alphabet Garden at:
132 Elm Street
Chesire, Conneticut, 06410
Phone: (203) 439-7766 Fax: (203) 439-7768.
Check them out, give them a howdy and congrats at their website.

Let's hear it from our SVP cheer squad! Give me an "A"! A "B"! A "C".
What's it spell? ALPHABET GARDEN!

**If you are just coming by our blog for the first time in a few days, make sure you read Robin's entry from yesterday about Solo Book Signings. It's terrific and I don't want anyone to miss it.**


Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Introvert’s Guide to Solo Book Signings

Since our focus is on bookstores this month, we thought it would be a good time to touch on the subject of book signings. Mary’s talked about them recently and had some compelling reasons for doing a buddy signings. But what if you simply don’t have another writer you can pair with? What’s an introvert to do?

Alas, not having a buddy does not give you carte blanche to completely bow out of book signings altogether. Book signings, specifically book signings at independent bookstores, are worth their weight in gold, even if only two people show up. How can that be? Remember—publishing and bookselling are all about connecting with readers. Indie bookstore employees are some of the most dedicated, passionate readers around. Even if no one else shows up, you can take the opportunity to chat with them, ask what books are going like hotcakes in their store, what their personal favorites are, what helps them sell and get behind a book. You can also sign stock.

So repeat after me, even poorly attended book signings give you a terrific opportunity to connect with booksellers, and connecting with booksellers is one of the best tools in your marketing arsenal.

But what are some other strategies you can employ to help you feel less like a pimple on the bookstore’s nose as you sit at a table waiting for someone to come buy your book. Here are a few suggestions.

1) Think abundance. Mary and I have found through trial and error that if you sit with a big pile of your books, it tends to draw people to you. Occasionally, we’ve sat at tables with just one or two of our books with the bulk of the copies some place else. This doesn’t seem to work as well, so see if the store will let you have plenty of books on your table.

2) Bring a couple of ice breakers along. Candy is always good. Few can resist a piece of candy, although I recommend something that can be popped into one’s mouth in a single bite in order to avoid any sticky residue on fingers that could end up on the inventory!

3) Consider a raffle or giveaway. That way instead of asking people if they’d like to BUY something, you can ask if they’d like to WIN something by entering a drawing. This can be much more comfortable way to approach people. You can raffle off a copy of your current book, an earlier title, or even a small prize that ties into the theme of your book.

4) Schwag. Have enticing little piles of bookmarks, pencils, tattoos, whatever. Things that you can ask customers if they’d like (free) so you can break through that invisible wall that seems to exist between customers and signing authors.

6) Consider donating a portion of the proceeds to some worthy cause: the children’s library collection, a literacy group, the local Girl’s or Boys club. Often if you can find a way to give back to the community, the community will feel even more enthusiastic about supporting you. Plus, it shifts the focus from you to your worthy cause.

7) Keep your expectations realistic. Do not expect throngs of people. Every author has had a book signing where only one or two people show up.

8) Stay in the moment and focus on gratitude for those people who did show up. Connect with them, chat for a few moments.

9) See if the bookstore hosts any reading groups or knows of any local reading groups who might be interested in your book or attending the signing as a group.

10) When setting up the signing, ask if the bookstore will consider doing presales for customers who would like a signed book but have other obligations on the date of your signing. This helps make the even just that much more worthwhile for everyone.

11) If all else fails, be a mimic. Pretend you’re somebody else, someone you’ve seen who is able to interact comfortably with people and always seems gracious. Just pretend you’re that character for the duration of the event.

12) If you know you’re bad at small talk, make up a list of conversation starters. What books have you read recently? What grade are you in. What are you studying in school right now? What’s your favorite book? Have you seen the new Spiderwick movie? Whatever. But something that shifts the focus from you to them.

If any of you have other strategies that you’ve found helpful, or if any indie booksellers out there have additional ideas on what you’ve seen work well, feel free to pass it on in the comments!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Hear it for Hicklebee's Children's Books

Our Shrinking Violet reader, Becky Levine, gave a thumbs up to HICKLEBEE'S in San Jose, California. After poking around their  impressive website, I couldn't agree more.  

1378 Lincoln Avenue
San Jose, CA  95125
(408) 292-8880

From their website:  "Of our nineteen person staff, eight of them have averaged fifteen years on staff at Hicklebee's-- their combined experience equals more than 200 years of immersion in children's books.  On a daily basis our staff is relied upon to recommend books for a variety of readers of different ages, cultures and lifestyles.  We match children to books!"  Gee, there's concept that some 'other' bookstores might want to consider!  

Upcoming author events in May include appearances/signings by Barbara Kerley, Rick Riordan, and Linda Sue Park. (Becky, want to a host a big slumber party for all of us this month?)

One of Hicklebee's founders, Valerie Lewis, has been a regular guest on CBS Morning for 12 years, and co-authored the book Valerie and Walter's Best Books for Kids.  Co-owner Monica Holmes has worked devotedly for two decades to bring this store to the level of a nationally known independent bookstore.

Hicklebee's has been voted Best Bookstore and Best Children's Bookstore by the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury.

So there you have it-- another fine indie surviving and thriving.  So, friends, do you know the way to San Jose?  (You must have been born a really, really long time ago to get that.)

:-)   =]
Mary & Robin

The Staff of Hicklebee's

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Watch Out for Flying Pigs!

If you haven't yet heard, it has just been announced in Publisher's Weekly that the FLYING PIG BOOKSTORE in Shelburne, Vermont has been selected for the the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award for Best Children's Bookstore. Wow--some pig! Congratulations!

Best "general" bookstore went to Kepler's Books & Magazines in Menlo Park, and you'll be hearing more about them on another day. The Vero Beach Book Center in Vero Beach was given an honorable mention.

This award goes to bookstores that "...display creativity, responsiveness to community needs, passion, and understanding of young readers."The winners will be presented with a check for $1,000 and a framed piece of original artwork at the ABA's annual Celebration of Bookselling at BookExpo on May 29.

The Flying Pig is owned by the fabulous children's author, Elizabeth Bluemle, and her zany sidekick, Josie Leavitt. 

From their great website: "The Flying Pig Bookstore carries more than 40,000 books and other goodies for book lovers of all ages. Like most online stores, our database allows you to order just about any book available in print. Plus, we offer at least 20% off all regular titles online."

5247 Shelburne RoadShelburne, VT 05482
Tel: 802-985-3999

The Flying Pig is also affiliate.

Amazing, pigs DO fly! They really, really do. And introverts can cheer-- they really, really can! Thanks to our reader Kate Messner for recommending FPB.  Kate is now in the running for the cool prize that starts with ten children's books, includes a Shrinking Violet coffee/tea mug, and that's still not all.  Stay tuned--

Mary & Robin
Your Personal Indie Tour Guides

Monday, May 5, 2008

Let's Make Some NOISE!

Robin and I worked on this lift all weekend long. For god's sake, it couldn't possibly be any more uncomfortable. You need the neck and ankles of Iron Man. But, we'll do just about anything to rouse up some whooping and hollering for our Independent Bookstores. Uh, like asking a lot of introverts to make some N-O-I-S-E!

As you can see, we've started our daily posting of the indie bookstores that we want to recognize-- cool places that you've recommended. And uh, it's as quiet as a church on Monday around here. Would you help us start a cyber wave here?

Every time we post about a new indie, will you reply with an e-cheer? We're inviting all the booksellers to come on by and wallow in the groovy love. And, if you'll click on the indie's link and give them a personal wave, even cooler.

SHOP your indies this month! If you can't get out, and you don't have an independent near you, you can orders books through Booksense, your on-line connection to all the independently owned bookstores. Please help us support these heroes of our literary world.

Let's hear it! Robin and I have vowed to stay in this godawful lift until we've got some happy noise going! (And, a-hem, one of us has a very busy little bladder--and her name doesn't start with an "R". Please don't leave us like this.)

So, here's to Chaucer's in Santa Barbara, the Toronto Women's Bookstore, and Maria's Bookshop in Durango! You're all THAT and a bag of books!


Sunday, May 4, 2008

And On To Colorado!

Welcome to MARIA'S BOOKSHOP, in Durango, Colorado, recommended to us
by our reader Marisa.

"A full-service general bookstore, Maria's Bookshop carries an inventory of nearly 40,000 books on custom-made wooden bookshelves in 2200 square feet of retail space. Antique snowshoes, skies, and sleds as well as some beautiful work by local artists hang from our walls. We have a staff of fourteen dedicated booksellers, and a large and loyal clientele from the local community of about 45,000. Maria's Bookshop sponsors 85 active book clubs, hosts dozens of special events a year, and helps support several local non-profit organizations. We are proud to be a long-standing community resource!"

Andrea Avantaggio and Peter Schertz are co-owners of the bookshop, and along with their two children, Evan and Lydia, are longtime Durango residents, avid unicyclists and champions for their local community.

I have a crush on Maria's Bookshop, especially the canoe hanging from the ceiling! Next time you're in Durango, friends, stop on by and say hello to Andrea and Peter.

Congrats on 24 years in business, Andrea and Peter!
960 Main Avenue
Durango, CO 81301
Tel: 970-247-1438
Fax: 970-247-5916

Mary & Robin
Shrinking Violets

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Next in our Parade of Cool Indies: A Visit to Canada

Thank you to our reader Neesha Memminger who shared with us about the TORONTO WOMEN'S BOOK CENTER in Ontario. Why not take a hike over to their site, say hello and thank them for their good work? Click here to have a look.

"We are a bookstore that nurtures diverse communities through special events and ventures. We offer a multitude of community services such as bulletin boards, reading groups, and courses. We also host author readings and book launches. Some of our previous launches include Alice Walker (By The Light Of My Father's Smile), Dionne Brand (At The Full And Change Of The Moon), Patricia Hill Collins (Black Feminist Thought), Dorothy Allison (Cavedweller), and Shauna Singh Baldwin (What The Body Remembers)."

You can find these great folks at 73 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1G4
Phone (416)-922-8744

Hats off to you, TWB, from the Shrinking Violets--
Mary & Robin