Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let's Hear it For our Amazing Field Reporters!

We have reached the end of our annual National  Independent Bookseller Month, and I want to catch our collective breath and thank each of our Shrinking Violet Field Reporters for the outstanding job they did with their profiles.  We have been all over the continent-- from Canada to Utah, Colorado to Texas and Alabama, Illinois and California. Whew!  It has been such great fun hearing about each of these indies, their owners and staff, their philosophies and mission statements, and all the innovative community programs they offer.  So, please join me in giving each of our stellar reporters-- Sherrie, Bonnie, Emily, Irene, Elizabeth, Mar'ce, and Yat-Yee --a cyber-standing-ovation!  Stellar work, everyone!

Congratulations to our Field Reporter BONI ASHBURN whose name has been drawn from those that submitted a indie profile.  Boni, you have  a $50.00 Indie Bound gift card with your name on it to enjoy! 

And, EMILY WING SMITH is the winner of our $100.00 Indie Bound gift card!  Way to go, Emily.  Emily's name was pulled from the raffle of all those readers that linked one of our Indie Profile posts to their blog or website.  So thrilled for you, Emily!

In this Thursday's post, Robin will be making the BIG announcement-- WHO will be crowned our 2009 Independent SVP Bookseller of the Year? Former winners of the SVP crown include Kris Vreeland of Vroman's in Pasadena, California, and Alex Uhl of A Whale of a Tale Book Shoppe in Irvine, California.  In addition to the much sought after title, 
our new royalty will be given a generous gift certificate for dinner for two at their personal favorite restuarant, and we will be profiling them here shortly.  It's a nailbiter, for sure!  Do make sure you come on back Thursday for the results!

Field Reporters starting with top row left to right:  Sherrie Petersen, Boni Ashburn; second row:  Emily Wing Smith, Elizabeth Loupas; third row: Irene Latham; fourth row: Mar'ce Merrell, Yat-Yee Chong.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Time For Some Crocodile Pie! Bookstore, That Is...

by Shrinking Violet Field Reporter
Boni Ashburn

The story of this independent bookstore reads like a movie script: Struggling but wonderful children’s book store, on the brink of closure, is rescued by a dentist who can’t bear to see it go out of business. She buys the store and the community cheers! Can’t you just see it?

Well, you can- just head over to Crocodile Pie in Libertyville, Illinois. It’s located in a non-descript strip mall, but don’t judge this book by its cover. Inside, the store is bright, spacious and well-designed, with an inviting wall of picture books and friendly stuffed creatures everywhere. You might find Dr. Kim Zizic, the dentist/store-owner, behind the counter, but if she’s not there, you’ll be lucky to find Amy Moran, the store manager, who will know exactly what to recommend. Or if it’s a Wednesday, you can join in Crocodile Karaoke with Amy’s husband Jackie, a professional musician.

Is Kim glad she bought the store, even in these tough economic times? “Yes!” says Kim. “I loved Crocodile Pie- my dental office is right next door to the mall and I would go there to shop on my lunch hour. I used to go to story time every week with my kids when they were younger.” She even has a photo of them doing just that hanging behind the counter.

Crocodile Pie still has those story times- twice a week, on Thursday and Friday at 10:30am, and they host other events too, like weekend birthday parties, Crocodile Karaoke and Camp Crocodile Pie- a $25 punch card kids can use to visit up to 10 times to participate in the daily craft/project/story/music.

Under its new ownership, Crocodile Pie has had several author events, most recently hosting Amy Krouse Rosenthal. And while the author events are something they strive to do as often as possible, Kim says, “Crocodile Pie is just a warm, fun environment, always open for hanging out.”

Making Crocodile Pie a meaningful part of the Libertyville community is important to Kim. She gives out Crocodile Cash to her child patients to encourage reading (and shopping at the store!), and she tours mother’s groups and schools to discuss dental health and reading. The store has also teamed up with local schools for a Shop-N-Share program, which offers a donation back to the school of 20% of sales during a certain time frame. Wishlists for teachers and kids are another thing they offer to help people pick out birthday presents or teacher gifts and keep people coming back to the store.

As a small, independent children’s bookstore, “we can’t carry everything,” Kim acknowledges, “but we have a lot of insight and knowledge and love for literature and our community.” Although it’s hard to agree with her about not carrying everything (they had every book I was looking for there!), Kim is dead-on about the benefits of shopping your local independent bookstore. If you live in the greater Chicago area, Crocodile Pie is worth the trip. And if you don’t, it’s still worth the trip- but you can also visit them on the web at

* * * * * * * * *

About Boni Ashburn

-Boni Ashburn is a children’s book writer. Her first book, Hush, Little Dragon (Abrams Books For Young Readers) came out last year, and her next book, Over At The Castle, comes out next spring. This year, she has no books coming out, so she is writing furiously, reading furiously, and spending way too much time at bookstores.

And we're so glad she does! Thanks for this aMaZinG profile, Boni!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rocky Mountains' READER'S COVE

By SVP Field Reporter Yat-Yee Chong

If your image of a bookstore involves dark shelves, half-lights, and coffee-colored walls, you’d be surprised by READER'S COVE. This independent bookstore in Fort Collins, Colorado is bright; its Caribbean-inspired blue and green walls decorated with colorful surfboards. To further convince people who walk into the store that this is a fun and friendly place, there is a custom pirate ship in the children’s section.

Owner Charles Kane opened the bookstore 2 ½ years ago when a much beloved independent bookstore closed it doors. “I love Fort Collins, and I felt like we were lacking in a community book store.”

The community bookstore he’s started has quickly become much more than a provider of books. It is an integral part of the community. Take a look at the stats:

Number of book clubs that meet at the store: 14

Number of writers’ groups (including the local SCBWI chapter): 5

Number of book reports submitted during the ‘08 summer reading program: 1700

Number of children who participated:  450

Number of events in the 19 days up till May 11th: 23

These events include story times, book launches, readings, book signings, and Opera 101, an outreach event in collaboration with Opera Fort Collins. This collaboration with other organizations to bring the arts to the people, is yet another example of the Readers Cove’s commitment to the community.

The bookstore has planted itself firmly in Fort Collins, but Charles is equally committed to building his community of employees. When I asked, tongue-in-cheek, if employees have to be English Majors, he laughed. “No, but we did end up with many who are.” And luckily for the store and its patrons, the employees’ eclectic tastes and expertise span the spectrum from YA to literary works to religion studies to reference materials. 

Pictured right: Book launch and book signings by local authors, Barbara

Fleming and Malcom McNeil "Images of America: Fort Collins, The Miller Photographs"

Pictured left is authorDenise Vega, (on the very next day) with some of her young readers building paper burritos to celebrate her picture books, "Build a Burrito" and "Grandmother, Have the Angels Come" as part of the events celebrating this year's Fort Collins Reads program.

Charles’s attitude toward his employees is based on his respect for their whole persons. For example, he encourages them to volunteer in non-profit organizations of their choices, knowing that their passions and beliefs span as great a range as their expertise. He builds camaraderie by requesting each employee to regularly report on the books they read as well as post their goals—anything from playing the piano to going to grad school to visiting Nepal-- so they can help one another to reach their goals.

“We actually had a backlash from this,” Charles says. One of his employees wanted to work for a particular company. By using the six-degrees-of-separation theory, they manage to link to someone from this company. “And so we helped him fulfill his goal but we lost a great employee.” 

This forward-looking attitude has led Charles to split up management duties among the employees so that whe

n they leave, they’ll have management skills on their resumes.

Despite the difficulties inherent in running a successful independent bookstore: competition from chains and gargantuan online stores in a weak economic climate, Readers Cove stands its ground, continuing its mission to provide books, support local authors and artists, and grow young readers.

From Reader's Cove fan, Maddy, "Ahoy, Matey!"


Yat-Yee Chong lives within 15 minutes of three public libraries and several bookstores. It is the perfect town for her book worm family. Her first novel, for middle graders, won second place in two contests and is being readied for submissions. She discovers that the best way to handle the nail-biting uncertainty of this process is by writing another novel and collecting information for a third. Every once in a while, she writes restaurant reviews, recipes, essays, and short stories. She records her writing journey here.


Heads up, everyone!  We are beginning our last week in our month-long celebration of National Independent Bookseller Month.   You have just FIVE DAYS  left to nominate someone for the coveted SVP crown of Independent Bookseller of the Year.  And, just FIVE DAYS left to link your website or blog to one of our indie bookstores profile.  In addition to getting the word out and supporting these fabulous bookstores, it puts you smack dab in the running to win a $100.00 Indie Bound gift certificate.  Yeah, there's  that! 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And From Up North: A Trip Through the Greenwood (Bookshoppe, that is!)

by Shrinking Violet Field Reporter Mar'ce Merrell

Before the internet was in everyone's home and chain bookstores were fewer, aspiring writers for children and young adults spent hours among the shelves of their local independent bookstore. It was one way a beginning writer could read fifty first sentences of the day's fiction for inspiration or discover what sort of books publishers were marketing. While it may be easier today to go on-line for information, a writer (especially a Shrinking Violet) is missing out on an opportunity to meet the very people who may one day hand her book to parents, grandparents and your loyal readers: your local independent bookseller.

Imagine your hand wrapped around a large hot tea or creamy latte (okay, it's summer for many of you- an iced tea or lemonade), walking among the shelves of Greenwood's Bookshoppe in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Greenwoods' Small World, the kids section, is set apart from the adult world, a few steps above the main floor with warm lighting and a stay-here-awhile ambience. The books are organized by themes (fantasy, mysteries), by Canadian authors, by series and on each shelf, green tags reveal a Young Readers Choice Award Nominee, a Staff choice, and all-time favorites. 

You think like a writer while you're here pulling books you'd never consider buying, asking yourself what makes this story special? Who would read this book?. You read first sentences of books that are award nominees or winners. You read last sentences of the same books. If you're like me, you create a list of titles you'll order from the public library because there's no way you can afford to buy all these books. And then, an employee asks, "Can I help you?" If you're like me, you'll answer a dozen times. "No, thank you. Just looking." However, a little courage in this situation can pay huge dividends. 

Years ago, right before my first book was due to come out and I was feeling about for a second one, I found my voice, "I'm doing a little research and looking for some inspiration." The conversation wasn't a long one, (booksellers hear the same phrases we writers do from people who want to write, but haven't started), but I walked away feeling I'd met someone who wished me well and would be willing to answer any questions I might have. It's difficult to put a value on inspiration. Or a supportive smile. An independent bookstore like Greenwood's is a local writer's cheering section at the back of the auditorium, one that holds their lighter flame high during the dark weepy ballads.

Karen Wickstrom, primary buyer for the children's and young adults collection (on the right in the picture) and Shannon Colgan, bookseller and avid reader sat down with me to answer questions authors might have about their local bookstore. Read all the way to the bottom to find out how authors can help themselves get better shelf space and more sales.

How do you choose your books? 

We look at past records of sales to see what's been popular, we consider school curriculum tie-ins because teachers shop here, we look for cool titles based on interesting ideas, and we listen to the sales reps from the publishers.

How much of the choosing is gut instinct? 

We know what won't sell. Disney products don't do well here. And we're always looking for a unique title that we can handsell  (For a peek into some of their choices, follow this link to see their favorite picks. Greenwood's Bookshoppe suggestions. I guarantee there will be books on this list you won't see in your bookstore.)

What does an independent bookstore do to compete with a chain? 

We pride ourselves on customer service and staff knowledge. We're always talking to adult customers about what their 10 year old granddaughter or daughter might like to read next. We know many of the books we have on our shelves so we can make informed suggestions. Those customers will come back. We are also willing to do research to track down a book and we're good at dealing with vague questions. (It's about a girl and a dragon and the cover is red?) We'd also like to add that we can bring in out of print books for a customer – that's a service that many of our customers appreciate.

Tell me about hand selling books. 

We all have books that we've read or that we know about from one another. We know they're great books that kids enjoy reading, but they might not get as much attention because of the cover or they haven't won an award yet. When we discover someone who is looking for that sort of book, we suggest it. (It's as easy as that- they just put it in the customer's hands.) We hand sell many, many books to overwhelmed book browsers. There is so much choice.

Over the past 30 years, what has been your favorite promotion? 

It's got to be the Harry Potter events. They took so much work but the kids loved it.

What have been your favorite author events and why? 

Caroline Lawrence was here with The Roman Mysteries and she kept the kids entertained with the most bizarre questions about history. And a local author/illustrator, Lorna Bennett (M is for Mountie) was high energy and got the kids very involved. The kids had a great time.

What were this year's sleeper hits? 

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

What subject trend are you tired of?

 Fairies. And vampires could taper.

What can authors do to help themselves at the local bookstore level?

Self-promotion is so important. We have a local author, Marty Chan, who is in schools all over the city and kids come in asking for his books. And the books are funny and set here in Alberta. It's important to get reviewed, too. Shelf space, though, is a very small part of the equation.

So, Shrinking Violets, that's the report from Greenwood's Bookstore.


About Mar'ce Merrell:

Mar'ce's latest project is a seriously cake-infused young adult novel, The Cake Princess, to be published in April 2011 under the Feiwel & Friends imprint, Macmillan US. The Cake Princess has inspired all matter of baking, from endless kitchen creations, a friendly obsession with British Food TV star, Nigella Lawson, and a blog written in the main character's voice of the novel. Chantal posts a new cake for weekend baking each Friday and Mondays are how to days. Wednesdays are all about giving cakes away.

Monday, May 18, 2009

On to Texas! Roanoke's Treasure

By Shrinking Violet Field Reporter Elizabeth Loupas

Tucked away like an unexpected treasure on the shady streets of Roanoke, Texas, is THE BOOK CARRIAGE—a locally-owned bookstore that brings together everything delightful about independent bookselling.

The dream business of owners Larry and Angie Granados, The Book Carriage opened in November 2008 in a brick storefront on Roanoke’s Oak Street. When I walked in, I thought: “How beautifully they’ve restored this lovely old building!" Angie Granados laughed as she offered me a mocha lattè (to die for) and sat down with me to chat at one of the coffeehouse-style tables. “We built the building from scratch,” she said. “It’s all new. But you’re not the first person to comment on the ‘restored’ feel. I take that as a great compliment.”

First, of course, books. The Book Carriage has a hand-picked and beautifully displayed selection, including everything from New York Times bestsellers to fascinating history books by local authors. Want something a little out of the ordinary? A friendly bookseller will order it for you and call you when it arrives. And chat with you about other books you might like when you go in to pick it up. It’s personalized bookselling by people who truly love books and the delights of reading.

The children’s corner is decorated with a floor-to-ceiling hand-painted mural by a local artist. Toys and a comfy rug for sitting cross-legged and poring over picture books add to the charm. Every weekend The Book Carriage hosts children’s story times—a treat for the kids and a moment of respite for the parents, who can relax with a cup of espresso and a muffin.

And that’s not just any espresso. The Book Carriage is the proud owner of a La Marzocco Espresso Machine, handcrafted in Florence, Italy and considered the gold standard in the specialty coffee industry. Here you see barista Keith Nolan preparing a lattè, complete with a complicated and delightful feather design in the froth.

The Book Carriage also hangs art by local artists, and in its saloon-style upper level are tucked away meeting rooms for book clubs and other local groups. Halfway down the beautifully finished stairway is a miniature stage where local musicians play on Saturday nights. There’s a gift corner and tables for coffee-drinkers, with free Wi-Fi.


But the heart of The Book Carriage is its staff. From left to right, bookseller Samuel Granados, co-owners Larry and Angie Granados, and barista Keith Nolan.

“Larry and I always wanted to retire early and start our own business,” Angie Granados said. “We fell in love with Roanoke, and we’ve both found our true callings as independent booksellers. We had so much to learn! We joined ABA and spent an intense week in their Booksellers School, and when we came home we got to work.”

Angie’s smile glowed and her enthusiasm was irresistible. “I’ve always loved books and art and music and teaching,” she said. “And it’s all part of The Book Carriage.”


ELIZABETH LOUPAS  is a freelance writer and novelist who lives in Coppell, Texas, just a hoehandle down the road from Roanoke. She hopes to have good news soon about her first book, The Second Duchess, a historical novel based on Robert Browning’s narrative poem “My Last Duchess.”

Elizabeth hates housework, cold weather, and wearing shoes. She loves books, animals, gardens, and popcorn. Not surprisingly she lives in a state of happy barefoot chaos with several rooms full of books, an herb garden, a popcorn popper, and two beagles. 


Saturday, May 16, 2009

fAiRy gOdSisTeRs, iNk 2nd Annual SCBWI Summer Conference Scholarship Winner

We'd like to interrupt National Independent Booksellers Month for just a moment to announce the winner of the 2009 fAiRy GoDsIsTeRs, iNk Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference Scholarship. The winner receives a $1500.00 cash grant to pay for travel, lodging, tuition, and manuscript critique at the August conference held at the tres chic Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

And our winner is . . .

Amy Lynn Spitzley!

Amy hails from Traverse City, Michigan and was nearly dumbstruck at the news. In the manner typical of so many creative folk, her first question was "Uh-- didn't very many people apply?" We loved her humility, when in fact, her essay was absolutely bang-ON. And one of three hundred entries!

Having recovered her wits, she had this to share today. "I owe a huge debt to the godsisters. Their magic is gently forcing me to get out of my shell. Having written down many thoughts, promises, and ideas in my essay, I intend to live up to as many of them as I can in LA--and have fun in the process!"

We want to thank all our Honorary Godpersons who contributed toward this scholarship! (You know who you are!)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...

Thursday, May 14, 2009


by Emily Wing Smith
Shrinking Violet
Field Reporte

The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah looks like a converted house, and at one point it probably was. More recently, though, the building was a drugstore. In 1977, Betsy Burton bought the space in this mainly residential neighborhood so she and her friends would have somewhere to write. Additionally, she decided to have books for sale in the front area.

It soon became clear that the front area alone wouldn’t suffice. The store took over the entire building and eventually, Betsy purchased the gas station next door to create what now serves as the children’s section.

Betsy is so community-minded that the King’s English was one of the first businesses to promote the “Buy Local First Utah” initiative Betsy herself helped found. It seems to be working, too. Even with the economic downturn, the King’s English actually sold more this Christmas than last. “It’s great to find so many people who are educated about the importance of local businesses,” says Jenn Northington, Events and Managing marketer at TKE.

There’s no shortage of events for the community here. “In 2008 we had one hundred events in-store,” Jenn reports. And it doesn’t seem to have slowed down in 2009. The store works hard to make TKE a place publishers want their authors to stop on tours. Just last month, the store hosted National Book Award and Printz finalist Laurie Halse Anderson. Jenn is especially looking forward to the upcoming visit from Andre Dubus III (seriously, who wouldn’t?).

But most patrons go out of their way to shop here because of the knowledgeable staff that takes time to help customers find that certain book. It’s what sets the King’s English apart.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

EMILY WING SMITH is the author of the YA novel THE WAY HE LIVED, which was released in 2008. Her upcoming YA novel, BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE, comes out in early 2011.

Emily lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, where she writes, bakes chocolate chip cookies, and occasionally substitutes at her old high school. Visit her online at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

MILESTONE BOOKS Goes the Distance

By: Irene Latham, Shrinking Violet Field Reporter

Tucked in Vestavia City Center, just outside the city of Birmingham, Alabama, Milestone Books has been an integral part of the community for the past five years.  Owner Linda Brown (pictured below) credits her husband.  “He is much more entrepreneurial,” she said.  “I’m just the bibliophile.  We’re the type couple who would go out to dinner then go to the bookstore instead of going to the movie.”  And the city of Birmingham has come to love this family-oriented bookstore for it’s strong children’s section and knowledgeable staff. 

An extrovert herself, Brown finds meeting the needs of introverted booklovers a personal challenge.  “Most of my employees are introverted and approaching customers [who are often also introverted] doesn‘t always come easily,” Brown said.  “So we include ways to communicate without being intrusive, like posting recommendation notes and author quotes on the bookshelves.”

Brown enjoys being known as the Book Lady and is proud of the sense of place Milestone Books has earned in the community.  She also especially enjoys the Mother-Daughter and Father-Son Book Clubs.  And because she got her love of reading from her mother, she is eager to pass that enthusiasm along to others.  Which is why she keeps two baskets stocked with free books.

“I don’t think we have to worry about the extinction of the written word,” Brown said.  “Even with the popularity of Kindle, I believe there’s enough kids out there who still want to turn the page.”  She encourages authors to continue to support Independent Bookstores first and foremost by their presence, and  also by continuing to mention them on their blogs and in interviews with the media.

If you happen to be in the Alabama Saturday, June 13, stop by Milestone Books for Summer Reading Wave!  Children’s authors Hester Bass, Tony Crunk, Faye Gibbons, Jo Kittinger, Peter Huggins, R. A. Nelson and Bob Whetstone will be signing books and doing fun activities from 1 - 4 pm.  Shop Independent!

. . . . . . . . . . . . 

IRENE LATHAM is a poet and novelist who writes heart-touching tales of unexpected adventure.  She and her husband have spent many a date night in a bookstore, and she is a big fan of little notes attached to bookshelves.  Her debut midgrade historical LEAVING GEE'S BEND will be released by G.P. Putnam's Sons in January, 2010.

. . . . . . . . . . . . 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Indie Parade: WHAT A LEGACY!

One of the major highlights of my recent Dallas trip was getting to visit Legacy Books in Plano, Texas. I’m telling you, this bookstore had me drooling. So much so, that my escort had to almost drag me to the signing table because there were so many BOOKS calling to me, and so many NEAT THINGS. And as if that all weren’t enough, it was all laid out in a huge, clean, elegant space. No crowding, just lots and lots of room to browse. Honestly, I have never seen an Indie this big. 24,000 square feet of books? Their kid section alone is as big as many indie’s entire stores! I was hooked.

Unfortunately, they are quite a few hundred miles from where I live, so stopping by often to browse is not an option. I thought instead, I’d profile them for our Indie Bookseller Month and be sure all of you in the area knew about them and so could stop by and browse to your heart’s content.

Legacy Books is an event powerhouse, hosting 27 events in April and 33 in May! How author friendly is that? They also have kiddie hour and get this, a demo kitchen for cookbooks--and a café if you get hungry while browsing those cookbooks!

And speaking of author friendly, while I was there I mostly got to hang out with Kyle Hall, Legacy's Director of Marketing and Events. We had a great time chatting books and tours and he did everything he could to make me feel welcome and ensure my book signing went smoothly. Very helpful, knowledgeable guy! Exactly what you'd expect from a stellar independent bookstore.

On their website, they point out some very compelling reasons to shop locally; such as 68% of your money stays in your community when you shop independents, as well as leaves a smaller carbon footprint with less packaging and transportation costs.

Legacy Books is located at
7300 Dallas Pkwy
Plano, TX 75024
(972) 398-9888

or can be found on line at LegacyBooksOnline.

Don't forget, if you'd like to enter our drawing for a $100 Indie Bound gift certificate, link or re-post any of our indie profiles on your own blog. If you come back and post the link in our comments, your name will be put in our drawing. Or, purchase a book online through one of the Independent Booksellers we profile during the month. That will get your name in the drawing, too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Leading Off Our Indie Parade: THE BOOK LOFT

Owner Kathy Mullins pictured at top
Staff photo from left to right:  Tom Gerald, Echo Molina, 
Ed Gregory, Kathy Mullins.
By: Sherrie Petersen, Shrinking Violet Field Reporter

Forty minutes up the road from Santa Barbara's dazzling coastline lies the town of Solvang, California. Known as much for its kitschy décor as its delectable pastries, the Danish village is a popular tourist destination.

One store has managed to carve out a loyal fan base by catering not to the tourists, but to locals who love to read. After 39 years of serving the Santa Ynez Valley, owner Kathy Mullins knows a thing or two about books, customer service and marketing.

"It's labor-intensive work," she says. "There are a lot of places where people can buy books so you have to build customer loyalty. It helps to be in a place not too close to the box stores!"

While the lack of chain stores in the area has certainly helped The Book Loft to survive, Kathy's enthusiasm for what she does and the service she gives her customers has helped the store thrive.

"I think all independent book stores pride themselves on having knowledgeable employees," Kathy says. "Our staff has been very stable. We know our customers."

And they reward them. 

Known as the "Reader's Advantage" program, locals can give their phone number to book store staff when they make a purchase. For every $100 spent at the store, customers earn a $10 coupon. "It's worked out well," adds Kathy. "For the customers and for us."

The Book Loft has a section for local authors and for books about the Santa Ynez Valley. They have hosted many book signings and launches, and really try to cater to their market. For instance, rather than take advantage of space allowances from publishers, the staff tries to pick and highlight books that they like. Because the store is small, Kathy says they have to be very selective about what they carry. But she and her staff are open to suggestions from customers as well.

"Authors really have to be marketers. You have to work to get your voice heard," she says. "But one of the best ways of publicizing a book is word of mouth. Some people might have other motives for recommending a book so sometimes the only test is to have it and see if it does well."

The Book Loft is near the corner of Alisal on Mission Drive in Solvang. They are open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. While their website isn't updated often, you can find hours and other information:

(And  check out this mini review Kathy had in a January 2007 article for The Valley Journal. It mentions a book by a certain Shrinking Violet!)

In addition to writing for several regional magazines, 

Sherrie Petersen enjoys writing fiction for children. 

Her middle-grade novel, “Secret of Undine,” recently 

won 3rd place in the 2009 Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest. She lives in Solvang, CA.

Sherrie's website    Sherrie's blog


Robin and I want to thank The Book Loft for the marvelous work that they do in support of reading and literature for children and young adults!   And, we thank our Reader/Reporter Extraordinaire Sherrie Petersen for bringing us this great profile. Sherrie has won a signed copy of Thalia Chaltas' new YA novel entitled Because I Am Furniture, which had just been named to the Summer 2009 Kid's Indie Next List as an Inspired Recommendation for Kids from Indie Booksellers.  In addition to winning Thalia's amazing new book, Sherrie is now entered into our raffle to win the $100.00 Indie Bound gift certificate! 

If you'd like to get in the drawing as well, link or re-post any of our Field Reporter's indie profiles on your own blog.  If you come back and post the link in our comments, your name will be put in our drawing.  Or, purchase a book online through one of the Independent Booksellers we profile during the month.  That will get your name in the drawing, too.



Friday, May 1, 2009


Welcome to our Third Annual Independent Booksellers Celebration Extravaganza!

At Shrinking Violets, we are all about Indie Love and first started singing their praises on the web when we first showed up here in blogsville. In May 2007 we held our First Annual Independent Booksellers Month, which many of you participated in and helped turn it into a real event.

So how excited were Mary and I to learn that Indie Bound has declared May 1 their Buy Indie day! Really, we couldn’t have planned that one better ourselves. So we are very excited to use that as a jumping off point for our own month long celebration of independent bookstores. Many of you have offered to be our Field Reporters, and others have nominated some fabulous individual booksellers for our Indie Bookseller of the Year Award. But there are still other ways you can participate! Go buy a book today, Buy Indie Day, for one. No Indie near you? No problem! You can buy it online through Indie Bound. If you forward a copy of your receipt to us here at Shrinking Violet, your name will be entered in our amazing drawing!

But maybe you don’t have much of a book budget right now. That’s okay. We understand. There are still more ways to win! Consider linking to or re-posting one of our Field Reporter’s indie bookstore profiles on your own blog. If you come back and post your link in the comments, you’re name will be put in the drawing for a $100 Indie Bound gift certificate! (You’ll have plenty of budget for those book then!) Or purchase a book online through one of the Independent Booksellers we profile during the month. That will get your name in the drawing as well. And you know what? If you can think of another way to spread the Indie Love around, we’re open to hearing about it and using that as a way to get your name into the drawing.