Monday, July 6, 2009

Meet Hannah Schwartz: Our 2009 Newly Crowned Independent Bookseller of the Year!

Pictured top row left to right:  Bridget Suback, Kristen Kucharczuk; bottom: Jane O'Connor, Hannah Schwartz

At last!  Robin and I are both thrilled and honored to introduce you to Children's Book World's owner and our newest Independent Bookseller of the Year, Ms. Hannah Schwartz!

In our recent month-long search for our next bookseller to be inducted and crowned, Hannah proved to be the hands-down People's Favorite, with both her customers and industry professionals.  She joins a stellar lineage-- following in the luminous footsteps of Kris Vreeland of Vroman's Bookstore (2007) and Alex Uhl, A Whale of a Tale Book Shoppe (2008).

Robin and I dashed across to Haverford PA in our luxury Shrinking Violet jet to interview Hannah, and wished we could have taken you all with us.   In our custom introvert-friendly Boeing, there is spacious room between seats, a No Talking section, a No Eye Contact section, and a serve-yourself refreshment bar.* :-]

Without further ado, Violets and Vinnies, our newly crowned Indie Queen, Ms. Hannah Schwartz, is in the building!  Please join me in giving her a rousing welcome and congratulations! 

SVP:  We are always curious about booksellers and librarians. Demographically, are they as introverted as writers tend to be?  Where  do you fall on the introvert/extravert continuum?

Hannah: I am extremely introverted.  I dislike talking about myself which is probably why it took me so long to answer these questions.  It certainly wasn't for lace of enthusiasm for this award!

SVP: Of all your trillion duties as an Indie owner, which part of your job do you most enjoy?

Hannah: Unquestionably, I love to read the upcoming books.

SVP:  If you had one wish for the publishing industry, what would it be?

Hannah: I hope that the publishers will continue to support independents.

SVP: What was your most memorable author event?

Hannah:  When I first read this question, I threw it out to my staff, saying I didn't want to say J.K. Rowling.  But guess what?  It was hands down J.K. Rowling.  It was not only the anticipation and preparation, but mostly the faces of the kids when she looked and connected with them.  We still think about it.

SVP:  What are you reading now?

Hannah: Since we are in the process of buying fall books, the answer is many books, all at the same time.

SVP:  Complete this sentence: The most challenging thing about being a bookstore owner is:

Hannah: Having the time and energy to deal with the business end and still have time for the fun (reading and talking about the BOOKS).

SVP: What is your biggest wish for your bookstore?

Hannah: To continue to be a part of the community by bringing students, teachers, and parents together with authors and illustrators and, ofcourse, books.

SVP:  We keep  hearing that bookstores are becoming less and less interested in having authors do in-house book signings,  unless your first name is Stephanie, and your last name rhymes with Deyer or Beyer.  :-) Any comments from your perspective on the future of in-store author signings?

Hannah:  In-store author appearances are tricky, at best.  Our ideas about them change constantly.  When I first opened (20 years ago), I only wanted events on Saturdays.  Then I only wanted them other days if could bring a class into the store.  Now I am on a different page.  We have had much success with authors (often sent by publishers) we place into schools at no expense to the schools. However, they must be comfortable presenting to the age group the book is intended to reach.  I could go on, but I guess the bottom line is that in-store signings are often not what they are cracked up to be.  Perhaps panels or visits with children or teachers does a better of job of spreading the  word.

As an aside, the author you were referring to was sent to us and did an appearance for her second book at a school.  The students were very well prepared (by one of our staff) and it was a happy experience for all.

SVP: As a book buyer and seller, is there any book you keep waiting for someone to write?

Hannah: Any book that connects a with a child, and makes her a reader.

Thank you!  Now that she has been inducted, Hannah will be receiving her official SVP coronation certificate,  a $100.o0 gift card to Tango in Bryn Mawr, and a small assortment of goodies befitting her royalty.  Unfortunately, the life-size cardboard stand-ups of Robin and me would not fit in the box.  Dangitall. :-)

*I might be making this tiny part up about our jet, but every other single detail is 100% true guaranteed.


If you have a second, Violets, follow the link to Hannah's bookstore, on her home page, she has a youtube video book review by one of her staff (I'm assuming that) of Rebecca Stead's new book When You Reach Me. I haven't seen this done on a bookstore's website before, but what a great idea.  Have you seen this done before? I loved Rebecca's First Light, can't wait to read this next one. 

And just a reminder that starting this month and this week, we will be posting on Monday's only-- our Eco-Cyber contribution to reducing some of the information overload in your life.  As Robin suggested in her recent post, do take that extra 5-10 minutes each week, clear your head and just breathe.  May the Muse reward your stillness!




Anonymous said...

So glad to see this! I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of Hannah and Children's Book World.

Wild About Words said...

Great interview. Thanks, Hannah! And thanks to Mary and Robin for shining a spotlight on indies and the great people who make them an integral part of the community.

lkmadigan said...

Congratulations!! Megan Frazer sent me here to offer up my congrats. :-)

Irene Latham said...

Thanks so much for this, Hannah and Mary and Robin! All hail the Indie Bookseller Queen! :)

Kate Messner said...

Congratulations, Hannah! I'm here via writer-friend Megan Frazer, who loves your store. I'll definitely stop in with my family if we're ever in your neck of the woods!