Alex Is Reading

Alex Is Reading

I follow several of your blogs, and when I see something that I like–something that intrigues me or prompts me to say, “Well done.”–I write about it. Recently on Brookline Booksmith’s blog, I noticed a periodic posts with the same title: Alex Is Reading.

Alex Schaffner is one of the team of four children’s booksellers at Brookline Booksmith, along with Kylie Brien, Amy Brabenec, and Clarissa Murphy.

“I started working at the Booksmith in August of 2014 and my first blog post went up in November. I post to the blog generally every second Monday,” she says. “I alternate Mondays with one of the other kids’ booksellers, Amy, who posts kids’ related bookstore news and has an awesome comics feature called Stick Figure Amy. Kylie spearheads a monthly blog feature of If You Like book recommendations (all YA) for different popular TV shows.”

The blog is linked from their main website,, and individual blogposts are linked on Twitter. All four of the children’s booksellers post on @kidsmithbooks, which is one of the stores two Twitter accounts.

“One of the biggest struggles we have is not having actual, physical room to show love for all the books we want to–or even carry everything we want to on our shelves. Alex Is Reading posts are sort of designed to draw attention to titles people might not be noticing–maybe some of them have shelf talkers and some of them get handsold, but others go by unnoticed, even though there are definitely readers for them in our community,” says Alex. “And the hope is always that if one familiar title ends up on a list, every other title on that list will suddenly become a lot more appealing. ‘Hey, I liked this book! Maybe I’ll like these other five books as well!'”

Their efforts are paying off. A recent blogpost announced an expanded YA section, and the booksellers wrote about having the room to display their favorite backlist titles.

“Our store evaluates how every section is doing periodically, and the result is sometimes, gloriously, more shelf space. The whole kids’ section has been expanding over the last few years,” she explains. “YA got to grow this year, and we thought it would be a good time to give it more features–like bringing the nonfiction titles actually aimed at teen readers into their space, and grouping together YA short stories and poetry where they’d be easier to browse. We did also get to bring in some backlist titles we each cared for.”

I like the way the booksellers at Brookline Booksmith divide the blog writing responsibilities to consistently deliver content while making the task less daunting. And I like that each writer has established a consistent theme for her individual posts so the reader knows what to expect when they see Stick Figure AmyIf You Like, or Alex Is Reading.

It was difficult to find all of the children’s booksellers in one place at the same time, but the four recently Holly Black’s launch party for THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley. From right to left: Kylie Brien, Amy Brabenec, Alex Schaffner, Clarissa Murphy, courtesy of Alex Schaffner.

Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay