Beth Golay

Video: Mike Lowery’s ‘Doodle Adventures’

There’s something a little mesmerizing about watching author/illustrator Mike Lowery doodle in his Doodle Adventures books: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!, The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!, and The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat!

I like that he’s introducing the entire series, and that he’s showing and telling how to use the books–demonstrating that it’s actually okay to write in some books. (A hurdle I only recently cleared myself, but that’s another story.) The video production is well-done.

If you want to be mesmerized a bit more, check out more videos on Lowery’s Instagram. But don’t plan on getting any work done for a while.

And if you’d like to share this video with your customers, here’s the embed code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

New employees? Show them off.

I saw an employee nametag at the grocery store the other day, and just above the name ‘TONY’ was a little sticker that read, “I’m new!”

I thought this was nice to know, because it made me a little more forgiving when ‘TONY’ couldn’t direct me to the cream of coconut. It also made me appreciate when he joined in my search, explaining, “This is how I learn.”

I recently wrote a post about ‘exposing’ your staff to your customers through images, specifically by showcasing their smiling faces on the staff page of your website. Meeting ‘TONY’ reminded me that new hires warrant a mention in both the store newsletter and on social media. You do not have to post a long biography. Instead share an image with something like:

“Jordan joined the Whatnot team this week! It might take her a few days to learn where the key to the towel dispenser is located, but if you’re looking for help in the art history section, she’s your gal.”

And if your new hire tweets about books a lot, you can encourage your followers to get to know her through a tweet of your own. Snap a quick pic and post something like:

Meet our newest bookseller @Jordan. (And follow her! She really knows her #bookstuff. 📚)

And don’t forget to introduce your new employees to your regular customers as you see them. It’s likely that they’ve invested a lot in you, too, and an introduction goes a long way in making them feel appreciated.

Say As I Do: John Boyne

Say As I Do: John Boyne

John Boyne’s book The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Hogarth | 9781524760786) was released last week and I interviewed Boyne for this Friday’s Marginalia podcast. While I had him on Skype, I asked if he had a message he’d like to send to independent booksellers. Here’s what he said (as well as how to correctly pronounce his name):



This is John Boyne. I’m the author of the novel THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES.

My younger sister actually works in an independent bookshop and has done for many years now in Dublin. And I worked in a bookshop for many years as well–for seven years–while I was getting my writing career off the ground. So I know what it’s like to be in those places, to work in them and the joy of really hand selling to customers… of feeling that kind of passion for books.

And you know that lovely moment where somebody comes in maybe and says, “My 13-year-old kid has just really got into reading and has read this and this. What would you recommend next?” And the bookseller goes, “Great! Well, come with me!” I miss that; I loved that; and I am grateful for the passion and support that all booksellers really bring to bookselling and to literature and to writers. I think all writers should be grateful for that.

Chuck’s Big Ride, part 2.

Do you remember Chuck’s Big Ride?

In 2015, Chuck Robinson–who co-founded Village Books in Bellingham, WA, with his wife Dee–began a 2400 mile journey on his bicycle, while Dee followed with the support camper. The goal was to bike from Bellingham to Galva, Illinois, where Chuck was to attend his 50th high school reunion. Chuck pledged to contribute $1 per mile to three separate non-profit organizations.

I ‘covered’ the trek through StoryMap, until day 37 when an altercation with some dogs ended Chuck’s ride. The dogs were fine, but Chuck suffered a broken rib.

Two years later, Chuck is ready to climb back on the bike, starting another 2000 mile journey where the last one ended. And we’re following along again with another StoryMap: Chuck’s Big Ride Redux 2017.

“I’ll begin the ride on September 1st where those dogs took me down and, after saying hello to them, I’ll pedal on to Bar Harbor, Maine,” Chuck writes. “Once again, I’m pledging $1 per mile to each of three organizations.”

The three organizations are:

  • The mission of the Whatcom Community Foundation is to “amplify the force of philanthropy—by connecting people, ideas and resources—so that communities flourish.” It helps folks do amazing things in Whatcom County and beyond, making this world a better place for all of us to live. Donate to WCF.
  • Whatcom Community College is celebrating its 50th year—“building futures together since 1967.” WCC has been recognized as one of the leading community colleges in the nation and leads the region in cybersecurity and nursing education. Donate to WCC
  • The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) has been assisting booksellers in need since 1986, by helping in times of unexpected financial crises. BINC also has given scholarships to bookstore employees and their dependents, and assisted booksellers in attending industry events. Donate to BINC.

Those who want to help may pledge as little as 1¢ per mile for a total of $20, or you can join Chuck and pledge $1 or more per mile.

And if you want to join the ride along the way, Chuck welcomes the company. Just email him to set up an rendezvous point. It’s time to check bounces. It’s time to check bounces.

When I send an issue of Books & Whatnot to your inbox, I use a program called Campaign Monitor. I also use Constant Contact on a daily basis for several of my clients. It’s when I look at campaigns and all of the open rates and click throughs involved that I’m reminded of the differences in various email marketing service providers.

Today we’re going to tackle bounces.