The 2017 Book Concierge

The 2017 Book Concierge

NPR’s 2017 Book Concierge comes out today! Here’s the link!

The Book Concierge is a web-based app that features more than 300 titles NPR staff and critics loved throughout year. This list has been published annually since 2008. It includes filters like “staff picks” and “book club ideas” and “eye-opening reads” and dozens more that can be combined to help listeners find their next great read.

Independent bookstore patrons tend to be NPR listeners, so it’s not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the list (even though you’ve probably read everything on it).

In fact, if you provide book coverage for your local NPR station, there’s a good chance your reviews were submitted to the Book Concierge project; if any match the books on the list this year, a link to your coverage will be included.

300 Seconds: Cash Back

300 Seconds: Cash Back

The past weekend I walked to my neighborhood wine shop to pick up a hostess gift. I was able to pay with a $20, but I walked out with a nice bottle of wine and $12 cash.

I was only supposed to receive $3 back.

Yes, I walked back in to explain that I’d been given too much change, and the clerk just looked at me like I was crazy. When he had just shoved the cash in my hand, he had no idea he was giving away the store.

This is a harried time for you and your employees, but it’s worth 300 seconds of everybody’s time to remind them of the best practices for handling money during the holidays.

  1. “Out of $10?” It’s always a good idea to say aloud to the customer the amount tendered. When the total is $9.95 and you say “out of $10?”–that’s the time for the customer to correct you if they actually handed you a $20.
  2. It’s also a good idea to rest the cash paid on top of the cash drawer–or someplace out of reach–until you count the change back. Then if a customer says, “but I paid with a $20” you can show them the actual $10 bill they handed you. After you complete the transaction, you can put the cash tendered in the drawer.
  3. This brings me to another good practice: Count back the change. Customers actually like having their change counted back, and it’s not a difficult concept to to teach your staff. If you start with the amount owed and count up to the amount paid, there’s no subtraction involved. If the amount owed is $5.63, most customers won’t mind if the coins aren’t counted back. You can place the 37 cents in their hand when you say “37 makes 6.” But when you hand over the remaining $14, they’ll love to hear the “7, 8, 9, 10, and 10 makes 20.” I promise.
  4. When the wine guy handed me a $10 and two $1s, it could be because the $10 was inadvertently placed in the $1 slot in the cash drawer. This is why it’s a good idea to have all of the bills facing up and in the same direction. It makes it easier to find any bills mixed in with other denominations.
It’s December. Time for those lists.

It’s December. Time for those lists.

Do you compile an end-of-year “Best of” or “Top 10” list from your staff? Instead of prompting booksellers for lists during the last week of December, you might establish a timeline now so there are clear expectations of format and deadlines. This gives everybody time to consider books, alter their lists, and have time to actually participate.

Video: Steads in Studio

You know I’m a sucker for a good studio tour. Most of your customers are, too. This video features a studio that Caldecott Medal-winners Erin and Philip Stead created from a 100-year-old barn in Michigan.

The Steads recently published The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarinea book that Mark Twain started, and Philip and Erin finished, and I visited with Philip about it a few weeks ago for the Marginalia podcast.

Their respective websites are beautiful. Here’s Philip’s and here’s Erin’s.

National Book Award Whatnot

National Book Award Whatnot

Congratulations to all of the National Book Award winners announced last night.

Below are some of my favorite tweets from a couple of the winners as well as an audio clip from fiction winner Jesmyn Ward. I recently interviewed her for the Marginalia podcast and I asked her if her awards–the National Book Award and MacArthur fellowship–affected her writing. This clip was a favorite from our conversation. (To hear it–and see a nifty SoundCite feature from KnightLab–click on the paragraph below.)

“I don’t have any of my awards at my house. I bring them all to my mom’s and she keeps them at her house. So out of sight, out of mind. You know, it helps so that I can forget them, in some ways, when I’m writing. Of course, when I come out of the writing daze I remember that I’ve been really lucky and that I’ve won these things. But while I’m writing I can’t think about it. It really affects my creative process.”