Video: A Child of Books

In this video, Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston give a preview of their new book, A Child of Books, coming this September.

If you’d like to share this in your own newsletter or website, here’s the embed code:

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Animal Party Sleepover

Animal Party Sleepover

Lisa Nehs of Books & Company in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, has figured out a way to turn a traditional storytime into an event that not only showcases books, but also one that requires more than one visit from the customer.

animal-party-sleep-over-005“I called it my Animal Party Sleepover,” she explains. “I pick out books that would be good bedtime books, but that usually feature animals as the main character. Sometimes they’re really silly, and sometimes they’re sweet. I make a mix of stories and I tell them all to bring their stuffed friends along.”

While the kids are at the storytime, they create a craft with the stuffed animal in mind–like little blankets for the stuffed animals, or matching hats for the stuffed animals and kids to wear. Then after the stories are read and the crafts are crafted, the kids go home, but the stuffed animals get to spend the night in the bookstore.

animal-party-sleep-over-002“And so once they all leave the store then I get all the animals together and I put them in different situations doing all kinds of silly things; sometimes it’s playing on the computer or sitting down by a puzzle,” she says. “I get them together and prop books in front so it looks like they’re all reading the story together.”

animal-party-sleep-over-004When the kids come back the next day to pick up their stuffed animals, they get to see, through photos, everything their stuffed animal did at the party–like that year they had a pizza party and soda and started climbing on everything–or which books they read through the night. And here’s the part I really like: they have to search around the bookstore to see where their stuffed animal fell asleep.

The party pics are mounted on a board so customers can enjoy looking at them, and Lisa is considering sharing the photos digitally through social media.

animal-party-sleep-over-006“I mostly have them for the kids and their families when they come and pick them back up, but we leave them up for a while so that other people can look at them and laugh,” she says.

Lisa has hosted the Animal Party Sleepover for three years. It is an expanded version of the store’s regular storytime, which are themed and take place monthly. They promote the special event through word of mouth, display, window signage, the store’s regular advertisement and at the storytime event the month prior. Books & Company does not charge customers to attend storytime events.

animal-party-sleep-over-001“It’s all free, so I try to keep it as inexpensive as I can,” she says. “Usually the families all end up making purchases that night anyway when they come in.”

Most of the kids who attend the Animal Party Sleepover are between the ages of 4 and 7. And sometimes it’s difficult for them to leave the stuffed animal they sleep with every night, so Lisa tells them ahead of time that they can bring their second favorite.

I love this idea because of the books you can showcase, the customer engagement, but best of all, the staff gets to go home.

Chatterbox: May’s Winner and The Next

Congratulations to Cheryl Hare of Village House of Books in Los Gatos, California. Your May ChatterBox from Doubleday is on its way!

June2016ChatterBox_IMG_3673-e1463169334554It’s time to enter the June ChatterBox giveaway from Doubleday. If you’d like to encourage your booksellers, bloggers, book lovers, and book clubbers to sign up for the monthly giveaway, here’s the link to share. And if you’d like to try to win a sample reserved just for Books & Whatnot readers which features Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend, enter the drawing below. Here’s what’s inside, with a description of each of the contents from the ChatterBox website:

  • Hardcover Copy: Learn more about Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend HERE
  • Discussion Guide: Questions to get the chatter started at your next book club
  • Neon Sunglasses: There’s nothing worse than the sun in your eyes while you’re trying to read your favorite beach book. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with these neon sunglasses.
  • Tropical Flower Candle: While going to a tropical island might not be a reality for everyone this summer, we can help you pretend with a tropical flower candle. Lightly scented and brightly colored, you’ll think you really are on the Galápagos Islands.
  • Luggage Tag: And if you are going to a tropical island this summer (or anywhere for that matter), we’ll help you hold onto your luggage. With a bright color that matches the cover of your new book, you’ll know which suitcase is yours.
  • Tropical Umbrella Drinking Straws: Whether you’re reading on a beach somewhere or in your own back yard, you’ll need a cold drink on a hot summer day. Raise the umbrella and give your glass some tropical flair!

Algorithms to Live By

Since I started riding the bus a few months ago, I’ve tried to use the time I would normally spend concentrating on driving on increasing my productivity instead. I read. I write. I listen to podcasts. Or I tackle my inbox.

This morning, I found myself combining a couple of tasks when I clicked from a WNYC email to the Note to Self podcast hosted by Manoush Zomorodi. In the podcast titled “6 Algorithms That Can Improve Your Life,” Zomorodi spoke with Brian Christian about some of the subjects in the book that he co-wrote with Tom Griffiths: Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions.

The two discussed ways that mathematical and scientific algorithms can actually help improve how we live.

This episode is 20 minutes. If you don’t have that kind of time, I recommend listening to the first 291 seconds–Algorithm 1: Temporal Locality–to determine if you should take the time to organize and file that stack of papers on your desk. And if you have an extra 120 seconds, listen to the next discussion–Algorithm 2: The Search/Sort Trade-off–to see if you should bother organizing your email inbox.

Here’s the entire episode if you have 1243 seconds to listen:

And if I can tack on one more marketing take-away? Those links in emails work.

Vroman’s Summer Reading Program

Vroman’s Summer Reading Program

acv-reading-bookmark-2015-(front)As I see graduation images scroll across my Facebook feed, I’m reminded that schools wrap up the academic year at different dates across the country. To explore this transition from school to summer, I’ve been visiting with some booksellers about different events they schedule specifically for summer break.

We’ll kick off this series with Vroman’s Bookstore and their summer reading program. Here’s how it works:

  1. To participate, kids stop by the store to pick up a special bookmark created just for the summer reading program.
  2. Throughout the summer, participants write on the bookmark the titles of at least 10 books that they read over the summer.
  3. They’re also asked to write up short reviews about three of the books they read.
  4. Finally, they need to attend (and check in at) one of Vroman’s events during that time. The event can be any of the regular storytimes, book clubs, or author events that Vroman’s offers, or one of the special events offered as part of the program.

acv-reading-bookmark-2015-(back)Danielle Borsch is the store manager at Vroman’s Hastings Ranch location. She was the children’s department manager during last year’s summer reading program.  “Once they show us their bookmark, turn in their reviews, and have attended an event, they get prizes,” she says. “We also try to do an end-of-summer reading party event.”

Not only does Vroman’s offer a summer reading program, it’s also themed.

“Last year, we played with the ‘Awesome Mix’ idea from Guardians of the Galaxy and had them create a book ‘playlist’ for their list of 10 books. The bookmark looked like a cassette tape,” says Borsch. “We did a Jam in Your Jammies event where the kids could bring an original or favorite short piece of writing to read aloud or perform something if they play an instrument. Singer/songwriter Emily Arrow led the group in a group sing-along storytime and talked a little about songwriting, too.”

Flash Read Mob

Flash Read Mob

Borsch says that this past year was their first attempt at the new format. In the past, they tried to require  a mix of recommended books and reader’s choice, but now participants can read whatever books they want. “Also, we used to only do the reading part, but it makes it too easy for kids to just write down titles without really having done the reading,” she adds.

To market the event, Vroman’s sends a series of e-blasts to their subscribers, features a splash in their monthly newsletter, distributes flyers at the store, and creates large displays to promote both the theme and store recommendations. “We have regular teachers who do summer school pick up packets for their whole classes every year, too,” says Borsch. “And we tell kids and parents about it throughout the summer, since you can join in anytime.”

During the “Awesome Mix” summer, Vroman’s had 250+ kids do at least part of the program, and 90 kids completed the program and received prizes: a $5 gift card to Vroman’s, advanced reading copies of published books, plus a drawing of a prize donated by a community partner, like gift certificates, free art classes, or free desserts.

“I think our favorite thing was adding the event requirement,” says Borsch. “We have so many regular events offered that it didn’t put us out to add a few extra fun events, and also there’s enough going on all summer that everyone should be able to attend at least one–many kids attended several. It was a way for us to promote all of the kids’ programming we offer in a new way.”