Archive | business tactics

Paper Lantern Lit UPDATE

REVISITED!

Do you remember the post I did a few weeks back about Paper Lantern Lit and its work as a “literary incubator” (read: book packager)? In it, I puzzled over the PLL model and tried to figure out how I felt about the fact that some extremely popular books (Meant To Be, Venom, Fury, etc.) were essentially a think tank’s brainchildren. PLL crafts an outline, but paid writers are the ones who step in and attempt to breathe life into the constructed frame.

We chatted about it. A consensus was reached… sort of. Judging on the comments, you all (and I) agreed on the following statements:

1) The PLL model is not that different from ghost writing, which has been around a long time.

2) It’s a really cool idea in theory, because it gives fresh talent a boost.

3) One big caveat is whether the model is inherently fair to the writer, given the flat fee involved. We will not let our writers be taken advantage of!

4) It also is cool only as far as the writers involved are allowed to voice their opinions. Don’t put the authorial Baby in a corner!

5) Despite the positive feelings in 1 and 2, and even if the concerns in 3 and 4 are proved invalid, it still makes us feel squicky.

Some of that squickiness is, I suspect, due to the lack of information. It’s hard to feel comfortable with something new and untraditional without a full plate of information to feast upon. We as humans are wary of angles. What’s the catch? What aren’t you telling us?

With that in mind, I thought it best to update you all with the information that has come to light since I posted my ramblings.

First, we received clarification via the gracious Beth Revis regarding which books are certainly not from the PLL stables. It turns out that Fast Company, the site that had originally posted the article that I used as the starting point for my own post, had used a very misleading photo. In their original photo (which I should have saved, dagnabit), they featured PLL books such as Venom and Fury, but behind those books were other books such as Across the Universe (Beth Revis), Origin (Jessica Khoury), Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta), and Matched (Ally Condie). I and others mistakenly assumed that these books were PLL books as well. However, it turns out those other books were NOT PLL books, and after a push from Ms. Revis, Fast Company changed their photo to better reflect the PLL catalog. (Though, as Ms. Revis points out, Matched is still incorrectly lurking in the background.)

Second, Ms. Fiona Paul (a.k.a. Paula Stokes) decided to take the initiative and write her own blog posts about her experiences with PLL while writing Venom and its sequels. I LOVE that she’s doing this, because knowledge is power, right? The more you know, the more you grow, or something like that. At her invitation, I emailed a bunch of questions I had about her experiences, which she in turn incorporated into her posts.

The first post, which explains what work-for-hire is and how she first started working with PLL, as well as answering some of my questions, appeared on March 12. The second half of the Q&A appeared on March 14 and finishes answering my questions. Granted, it’s all based on Ms. Paula’s personal experiences, but I thought the answers were very enlightening.

For instance, I loved learning about the give and take between PLL and Ms. Paula when it came to changes to the outline. Also, Ms. Paula is a BEAST when it comes to writing. Seriously, I am in awe of her stamina. I also really enjoyed that PLL gave her little “homework” assignments in the beginning, such as character interviews and analyses of scary books. (Oh, and the big question about Venom‘s six-figure deal is answered as well.)

The big takeaway for me was a truth that Ms. Paula eloquently summed up in our email exchange, which she has allowed me to quote directly. The underlined sentences are my favorite bit.

In the end I get that a lot of people wouldn’t want to do work-for-hire and I would NEVER advocate it for anyone if it meant putting their own writing on hold, but I managed to do both so it felt beneficial without hindering my dreams. It’s a pretty common business model though … and I felt the need to speak up for that part of it. We writers aren’t talentless hacks who can’t make it on our own or schmoes being victimized by corporations. We’re just people who like to write and so why not get paid for freelance stuff along with doing our own things?

Take some time and check out both parts of the Q&A and let me know what you all think. And if you’re interested in reading more about work-for-hire, check out the the final part of Ms. Paula’s series, where she helps readers figure out whether work-for-hire is right for them. It’s a great list, and she has a whole slew of links at the bottom for further reading.

6

I Have A Tumblr!

It’s true! I’ve joined Tumblr. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’ve joined nonetheless.

Yay?

If you all would like to friend/follow/whatever they call it on there, you can find me here. Really, I’m excited to learn a new form of social media, and I’m already pretty addicted to GIFs. Also, it has a handy-dandy Ask page that I’m hoping people might use.

Like I said, I’m still figuring things out, but here’s some things I know for sure I’ll be reblogging:

  • Bookish things
  • Doctor Who
  • Sherlock
  • North & South
  • The Queen’s Thief fan art
  • Quotes

At some point, I’ll figure out how to non-obnoxiously tie my blog into my Tumblr feed and vice-versa. I’ll also hopefully be a little better about posting immediate reactions to books that I’ve read to keep you all and myself tided over until I can write a full review. And who knows, maybe I’ll even find non-spoilery ways to share more about my daily life.

I look forward to seeing you all there, and please feel free to send any helpful hints my way. I don’t want to be like the clueless Facebook gramma. Oh, and if you leave your own links, I might go snooping around. :)

12

Pay To Browse?

An article hit this week at The Bookseller talking about the possibility of bookstores charging their patrons to browse their stock. Supposedly, the idea is being floated around as a way for bookstores to stay afloat as they compete against Amazon and other cheap e-distributors.

David Tennant is baffled by your illogic.

As a bookshelver, may I just say that this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

Are you kidding me? Can you imagine going to a bookstore and having to pay a buck just to walk through the doors?

Gosh, looks like physical bookstores really are a relic if we’re going to start treating them like museums, complete with admission prices.

“Hi, welcome to World o’ Books! Let’s see, that’s two adult tickets, two child tickets, and one under-two? Come in and look, but make sure not to touch the artifacts!”

A large percentage of our customers come from browsers. They may come in with one book in mind, but they’ll leave with several more. Kids are the best at this. Mom might come in to buy a birthday present for a friend, but the whole clan will leave with a book apiece. Kids are always picking up a book that catches their eye, and most parents are squeamish about saying no to “educational” pursuits. But do you really think Mom will take the brood with her if she’s charged entry? Do you really think Gramma and Grampa will take the grandkids for a fun weekend trip to the bookstore if they’re charged by the head?

As a buyer, browsing how I find many of my books. Some of my best discoveries come when I don’t have a precise goal in mind. Rather than provide a way to compete with Amazon, a browsing charge would drive even more customers into the arms of e-stores. Heck, I wouldn’t pay to go browse, and I need books like I need air.

“Let them!” you might say. “I’ll browse at the library and only go in to buy.” Good luck with that. It might work for a little while, but guess what? If bookstores see a big drop in patronage, they’ll buy fewer books. The fewer physical books bought in a bookstore, the less incentive publishers have to print physical books. They’ll turn to e-books instead. Why not? They’re cheaper. And what do libraries stock? Yep, physical books. It might take some time, but if bookstores pull out, they affect all carriers of physical books, even those backed (however grudgingly) by the government.

And even if this idea of paying to browse were economically sound (which is laughable even to type, because it’s so not), how is it in any way practically enforceable? Would you charge people to come in the door? What about the guy who just wants to buy a cup of your Starbucks-knockoff coffee? Or the grandmother who wants to pick up the book she put on hold for her granddaughter’s birthday? Will you make them sign a contract pledging that they will conclude their business and leave without browsing? Or will you follow them around the store to make sure they don’t sneak a peek?

I know this is just a daydream being floated around by scared booksellers, but the fact that such a crazy scheme is even being voiced makes me shake my head in wonderment. Stop it, frightened book people. Yes, the future is scary. Yes, the ever-changing market requires innovation and ingenuity. But if you choose to pursue such crazy, short-sighted schemes as charging customers to look, it won’t be Amazon that drives you out of business. It will be you.

I’m finished kicking this idea in the teeth. It’s your turn. Chime in with your opinions/thoughts/feelings in the comments below.

21

Paper Lantern Lit – Squicky Or Ingenious?

Screenshot of logo taken from the PLL site

Paper Lantern Lit. Heard of it? Perhaps not, but you’ve certainly heard of the works it has produced.

Founded by Lexa Hillyer and Lauren Oliver (yeah, that Lauren Oliver), Paper Lantern Lit is a responsible for hits such as Meant To Be, Venom, and Fury. But PLL is not a literary agency, nor is it a publishing house. PLL is a self-described “literary incubator.”

If you’re anything like me, that title means absolutely nothing. Thankfully, I first learned about PLL through an article that explains a little more. According to the Fast Company article, PLL is a kind of idea factory. They brainstorm a concept, develop characters, and even write an outline for the story that details what should happen in each chapter.

The only thing they don’t do is write the books. Instead, that task is passed to “fresh writing voice[s]” such as the now well-known Lauren Morrill, Elizabeth Miles, and Fiona Paul. There are others (the article says PLL has sold over 20 books so far), but I can’t find a definitive list online of authors represented.

Once the chosen author writes the book, it’s shopped out to publishing houses, with the advances and rights going directly to PLL. The authors receive a flat fee, as well as certain other rights.

Attribution

I must admit, when I first read the article, my response was not positive. It felt squicky (an icky thing that makes you squirm). To me, if felt like a cold, calculating idea factory, rather than the organic, love-based process that writing a book should be. It’s not traditional. It’s not the way things should be done. A writer should be creative enough to come up with his or her own ideas without being spoon-fed by someone else. Who wants to pay to read a book essentially written by a monkey at a typewriter, filling in the mad libs blanks of someone else’s work?

A part of me still feels that way. I do squirm just a little. But look again at the PLL page. Those are some dang popular books. I mean, at this point, who hasn’t heard of Meant To Be, Venom, or Fury? The Fast Company article includes a picture of a bookshelf, which, if we’re meant to believe holds only PLL books, blows my mind a bit. Origin by Jessica Khoury is on that shelf, as is Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, Matched by Allie Condie, and Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Across the freaking Universe!

[Shelver note: I have been informed that the aforementioned photo is VERY misleading. It includes many books that are NOT represented by PLL, including those by Ms. Revis, Ms. Condie, and Ms. Khoury. Bad Fast Company, bad.]

Those are best-selling books, books with massive fan followings. Penguin paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire Venom, for Pete’s sake. If you read any of those books without knowing they had come from PLL (and chances are you did just that), would you notice anything awry? Odds are you didn’t. According to the article, PLL has sold every book it has ever pitched. Ever. Publishers are snapping this stuff up. Clearly, something works.

So is it ingenious? Maybe.

I’ll admit, I think working at a “literary incubator” would be one of the best jobs in the world. It would be like the literary version of being an inventor in Willy Wonka’s factory. I love coming up with awesome ideas, especially if I’m free to come up with ideas that I love but I might not necessarily be able to write (as was the sticking point with the insanely talented Ms. Oliver).

Attribution

And the idea of using undiscovered writers to bring the idea to life is just awesome. There are some fantastically talented writers out there who can craft a sentence that would bring you to tears, but they can’t write a viable story. Their hooks stink, their plot line is ten years old, whatever. It’s like taking the idea behind Twilight (because say what you will but Ms. Meyer can think up a hook like nobody’s business) and pairing it with the brains of J.K. Rowling.

Okay, that last bit may have been too hyperbolic, but you get the idea.

But then I wonder, how great of a writer can a person be if they can’t think up their own story? Isn’t that an integral piece of being a writer?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. The question in this post’s title is an honest question. I don’t have an answer.

Attribution

I think the stinking point for me would be in the fuzzy details that the article and PLL’s website don’t cover. Must a chosen author follow the given outline point for point? Are they allowed to change things, give the story their own spin? Go “off script,” so to speak? How much control is an author allowed and how much does PLL retain for itself? Are the writers treated like trained monkeys or are they an integral part of the process? Is the deal the writer is given fair to them? In most cases, possibly, though I wonder if Ms. Paul thought her flat fee was fair after Venom‘s “six figure deal” was announced.

Was my initial reaction against PLL’s business model correct, or was it merely a reaction to something new and different that went against my preconceived notion of the “sacred art of writing”? Again, I’m really not sure.

What are your thoughts? What do you think of the PLL model? Does realizing a book you’ve read is from PLL change your opinion of the book at all? What about your opinions of the author?

EDIT: I posted an update to this post with additional information from a PLL writer, Ms. Paula Stokes (a.k.a. Fiona Paul).

29

The New Adult Category Revisited

In case you guys missed it, within the last month or so New Adult “officially” became a category. I’m not ready to fly the Mission Accomplished banner yet, but I am thrilled. Back in May, I set forth an argument in favor of New Adult, and the most common response I received was “That’d be awesome, but it won’t come for a long time.”

Tada! Here it is!

Of course, with progress, so comes the snark.

I normally don’t mind snark too much. With every new thing comes worry and confusion, and snark is often the way people choose to publicly express those feelings while avoiding vulnerability. I have to admit, though, that this latest round got under my skin a bit.

The snarky argument in the Twitter-verse and elsewhere is that the New Adult label is restrictive and even insulting. The snarksters throw out jokes like “What’s next, geriatric fiction?” and sarcastic comments like “Yes, because readers should only read books with characters exactly like them. I’m 32, so therefore my protagonists must be 32 and have three kids and a chinchilla!”

Variations on the last comment are the most prevalent, and the thumping noise you hear is me banging my head on the wall. The point of age categories is not that kids should ONLY read books about kids or teens should ONLY read books about teens. It’s about stages of life and having someone to relate to. A kid in the fifth grade doesn’t have the same issues as a sixteen-year-old. In the same way, a twenty-something fresh out of college is living in a completely different world that the aforementioned sixteen-year-old.

Arguing that the fight for NA fiction limits readership is akin to the argument that having a non-white protagonist limits readership. It very well may to those who are close-minded, but isn’t the risk worth it? Readers should have protagonists with whom they can connect. A well-written protagonist is relatable regardless of age, gender, or race, but does that mean that diversity should be dismissed?

Adding a new age category does not limit readership any more than adding the YA age category limited readership back in the day. I think most all of us can agree that allowing YA to grow by giving it its own category greatly enhanced the possible reading experience rather than restrict it. In the same way, NA fills in the neglected and tumultuous time of life that falls between the heyday of teenhood and the (relatively) settled life of full-blown adulthood.

Here are a few more arguments/concerns regarding New Adult that I would like to politely dismiss.

1. Gap? What gap? You’re either a teen or you’re an adult. Or, as the much-loved Ms. Kelly from Stacked puts it, all the stuff post-high-school “is simply called adulthood.” WRONG, I say! Legally, yes, that time of life is defined as adulthood, but emotionally, mentally, socially, culturally? Not so much.

USA Today posted an article on “emerging adults,” or those in the age range of 18-29. That’s an actual phase on human development being studied by researchers, thank you very much. In addition to putting off marriage and parenthood, emerging adults are also defined by their contact with their parents and the present economy. When asked if they felt like adults, the majority (46.8%) of emerging adults polled said “in some ways yes, in some ways no.”

I’ve talked with friends from college, and very few of us feel like “true” adults. Some of us still live at home. Few of us are completely financially independent. All of us are still going through that weird transition time with our parents. None of us have begun careers in our chosen fields. College, grad school, part-time jobs, and full-time jobs elsewhere for the sake of a paycheck are still very much in the picture. We’re not kids. We’re not happy-go-lucky teens. But we’re not adults either. The law might call us grown up, but we don’t feel grown up, and that’s what New Adult addresses.

2. There’s a gap, but they didn’t need books before, so they don’t need books now. There wasn’t always a gap, just as there wasn’t always a socially accepted age bracket for “teenager” or “child.” But there is now. The world has changed. Social structures, the economy, and many other factors have combined together to make this gap. Call us Millenials. Call us boomerang kids. Call us young whippersnappers, we don’t care. But we exist, and if we exist, we read.

3. There’s a gap, but the gap doesn’t matter. This particular belief irritates me for two reasons. First of all, it’s not true. Sarah over at CEFS repeats the widely known yet crucial observation that teens tend to read up. A fourteen-year-old might read about another fourteen-year-old, but odds are she also wants to read about seniors and all the super-cool things they’re doing. That’s all fine and dandy until suddenly the seniors reach the end of the YA line and find themselves staring at an abyss.

According to their books, life ends with graduation, disappears into unforeseeable nothingness, and then reappears from the void as a life full of kids, cheating husbands, and journeys where one must eat, pray, and love to find oneself again. Apparently, 17 is cool, but once you hit 18 or 19 you’re nothing until you find yourself a solid job and a good man. (Or a rake, if you’re into romance books.)

The second reason this argument makes me grit my teeth is because, essentially, I’m being told that I don’t matter. The gap doesn’t matter; I’m in the gap; therefore, I don’t matter. I don’t matter as someone with an experience to be shared, and I don’t matter as a consumer. Who the heck are you to tell me that I don’t matter?

In talking about YA lit, Read Now Sleep Later quoted a blogger (Tammy Blackwell of Miss Tammy Writes) who encapsulates why having YA fiction is so very important for teens. While her quote is true for teens, I believe it is also VERY true for emerging adults. Here’s a part of the quote:

I think it’s important for teens to feel like there is something just for them, that reflects their experiences. Most of them are struggling to find where they fit in in this world, and YA books reflect that journey and help them find their way.

Now replace “teens” with “emerging adults” and “YA” with “NA.” I believe so many emerging adults continue to read YA because of this issue. We desperately are trying to find a way to fit in and find our place. That struggle doesn’t end in high school; instead, it grows and stretches to envelope even more issues.

4. Writing about the gap is useless, because no one’s buying. Oh, you silly skeptics. Publishers are actively seeking NA lit. Agents are putting it on their wishlists. Why? Because people ARE buying! Dahlia of the Daily Dahlia wrote a bit about the growing market and Stacked put together a small list of published books that can be classified as NA. Leanna at Daisy Chain Books also has some recommendations.

5. We don’t know where to shelve the books! Valid point, but a bit weak. Trish Doller of Something Like Normal fame wrote a bit about this issue from a shelver perspective. Basically, there are NA-type books already out there (see point #4), but they’re shelved in YA or adult, so a new section isn’t necessary. I believe this issue will iron itself out with time as the number of NA titles grows. If my store can find a special place just for nature essays, it can find a place for NA books. Having a section that puts NA books together will aid with browsing, which is how I find many of my books. I don’t want to wade through 20+ snoozy adult lits about crumbling marriages and forgotten childhood traumas to find that one NA book.

6. New Adult (NA) is a stupid name. I’ll give you that one, but it’s not like it’s set in stone. Titles change.

To be honest, I probably won’t read a lot of the current NA titles, as the newest batch seems to focus a lot on sex. I don’t like sex in my books. But I do believe that, as the category expands, its focus will grow as well. Right now, NA has a lot of contemporary college books. This will not always be the case.

My hope is to one day find NA filled with as much diversity and adventure as YA. I want a twenty-year-old knight fighting dragons and a twenty-six-year-old explorer discovering a new planet and a nineteen-year-old graduate moving away from home for the first time. Life does not end at eighteen, nor does it begin again at thirty. Life is happening HERE. NOW. We’re living it, and our stories deserve to be told.

What do YOU think of New Adult?

Articles mentioned in this post:
Bookshelvers Anonymous – New Adult; or, There Be Rough Waters Ahead, Matey!
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – The “New Adult Genre”: Thoughts + Questions
Daily Dahlia, The – Whose “Failure” is New Adult?
Read Now, Sleep Later – YA Shame and Stigma
Stacked – Some thoughts on “new adults” and also “cross-unders”
USA Today – Many ‘emerging adults’ 18-29 are not there yet

30

Why I Love The Clearance Section

The holiday season is coming up. Christmas lists are being formed. Wallets are shrinking. Some of you probably dove into the crazy Black Friday shopping, metaphorical guns blazing and literal elbows flying. I admire people who derive joy out of finding a good deal. I’m one of them, though I tend to value sleep over money.

I can’t offer much help when it comes to shoes or leather jackets or big-screen TVs. However, I can offer tips when it comes to books. Most tips are pretty common sensical. Watch for sales. Sign up for memberships when it makes economic sense. Buy boxed sets when possible. (They’re cheaper in the long run.) And, as much as it pains me to say it, always double check prices online (but make sure to factor in shipping).

But there’s one tip that people often ignore, one that I slacked on myself until recently. Always check the clearance section.

Despite what you may think, the clearance section isn’t just for old, rejected books that no one else wants. Okay, yes, the clearance section isn’t filled with new books, but hear me out.

How I view Corporate

In most stores, what happens is the corporate office buys up big bins of surplus books from the publishers. For one reason or another, the amount of books printed outstripped the demand from consumers, so all these books sit in some dusty warehouse, taking up space and wasting money. When stores buy books to resell as sale books, the producers get the extra shipment out of their warehouses for some money (so it’s not a total loss) and the stores get to sell cheap books that their customers will snap up. At least, that’s my understanding of the way things work. I just have to deal with those stupid, scanner-unfriendly sale stickers.

Still, you may be underwhelmed at the thought of picking through unwanted books. And granted, some of the books milling about in our clearance section aren’t very exciting. But there are also some hidden gems to be found.

For instance, over the last few months, I bought the following sale books:
- Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
- Behemoth by Scott Westerfield
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore
- I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
- Lionness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
- Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted
- Heist Society by Ally Carter
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Thief Queen’s Daughter by Elizabeth Haydon

All of those books I bought for $6 or less, and all (ALL!!) with the exception of The Lightning Thief were hardcover.

It gets even better. Take the day I bought I Am Number Four and Graceling. Ordinarily, hardcovers of each title would run… oh, say, $16 each in store? That day, they were each marked at $3.32. A STEAL. But then I also used my 20% off employee discount (only a bit better than the 10% store members get) and a $5 gift card. So those two books, which would have originally costed $32 plus tax ended up costing me $.32 plus tax. How nuts is that?!

Granted, the sale section doesn’t give you the same selection as the rest of the store, but it’s still pretty stinkin’ good! Just last week, we had hardcovers of Scott Westerfield’s Uglies and Pretties, as well as all of Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, P.C. Cast’s House of Night series, and Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series. Again, ALL FOR UNDER SIX DOLLARS APIECE.

And don’t think that because we have a book displayed near the front that it won’t be back in the sale section. We’ve stocked books on our regular shelves and on sale shelves at the same time. I know. That’s tricky of us, but c’est la vie.

Therefore, for the health of your wallet and the happiness of your friends and relatives, I will repeat myself one more time: ALWAYS CHECK THE CLEARANCE SECTION.

You’re welcome.

What gems have YOU found on sale?

12

Borders – One Year Later

In memoriam

Can you believe it’s been one year since Borders officially closed? I know! A whole year!

Let’s go back in time to 2011 when the bankruptcy was announced. Remember the chaos, the horror, the grief? Moans over the end of traditional publishing, over books, over reading, over LIFE AS WE KNOW IT(!!) reached a fever pitch. Because if Borders, that noble box-store chain, could close, who would be next?
Readers clutched their hardcover darlings to their chests and eyed the remaining stores fearfully. Would Barnes & Noble be next? Books-A-Million? WOULD AMAZON SEIZE THE ONE RING AND RULE THEM ALL?!
Well, that’s what most people remember. (And in case anyone was wondering, Amazon did not turn into Sauron and squash competition with an iron fist. We’re still here!) I remember one thing from the Borders incident: The List. More specifically, I remember “Things We Never Told You: Ode to a Bookstore Death.”
You remember the list, right? Employees at some unidentified Borders store had used the freedom provided by the impending shutdown to write their manifesto, a list of all those things they wished they could’ve told their customers. (I’d have told them to just get a blog, but whatever.)
Ode To A Bookstore Death
When this list first appeared, I didn’t have a blog. I couldn’t really comment on its accuracy. (Well, its accuracy for me – I’m sure it was accurate for them.) But tada! I have a blog now! More importantly, I have a blog about being a bookshelver just like those poor Borders employees. So I thought that, in honor of the dearly departed Borders, I would go through each point and tell you my take.
Continue Reading →
12

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Rub that sleep from your eyes, I have an announcement to make. Technically, I’m about to announce additions to the blog rather than changes, but “A-A-Additions” isn’t as catchy.

Yes, there are two semi-big things coming down the pipe that I think you all should know about. At least, they feel semi-big to me because I’m super-excited for both of them.

The first addition is the new form on my Contact page. The whole reason I started this blog was to be able to connect with other book lovers. I get to talk to a lot of you through Twitter or the comments section on different posts, but I wanted to make it even easier to connect, especially if you have specific questions that don’t relate to a post.

I wouldn’t have a clue of what to do without the patience and support of other bloggers. I pestered them about blogging things (design, features, ARCs, etc.), book things (have you read this? is it good? oh my goodness, did you hear about…?), and other subjects, and everyone was so incredibly patient. I still don’t feel like I know a heck of a lot, but I’d like to share what I do know if it would help any of you.

The form is pasted below and is also on my Contact page. If you have any questions about being a bookshelver, working in a bookstore, blogging, reading, or anything else, please drop me a note. Every single question you ask will be answered, either privately (if you give me a way to contact you) or in a post. Help me help you!

Loading… Second order of business. I’ve thought long and hard about how to best utilize my favorite aspect of the blog, the book reviews. I wanted to give people a way to buy the books immediately if the review so moves them, but in a way that doesn’t benefit Amazon. As a bookshelver, I’m pretty much bound by oath to glare distrustfully at that site.

As of this week, I am a The Book Depository affiliate. What that means is that I’ll be placing a widget and links to TBD in my sidebar and reviews. You may have already noticed them. Using the widget will give you all easy access to cheap books. TBD has low prices on millions of books, they don’t charge shipping, AND they ship internationally. When you buy using my link, I’ll receive 5% of the sale. So, say, for every $10 book sold, I’ll get 50 cents. All of the proceeds will then be collected and funneled back into the blog to fund giveaways, so the more you buy, the more books I’ll be able to give to you!

That’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard one.

To recap, there’s a new form on the Contacts page for any question, big or small, that you all might have. I’m also teaming up with The Book Depository to give my readers a way to buy books, and all of the net proceeds (still gotta pay taxes and tithe) will be used for giveaways. So there you have it. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, comment below… or use the handy-dandy new form!

4

Shelver (Not So) Secret: Do Unto Others

This week has been insane and has left me very little time for blog posts. Here’s a thought I jotted down a few months back. I hope to be back in the swing of things soon.

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Photo attribution

It’s the little things, people. Working in a minimum wage retail position can be a real drag sometimes. I have to deal with stressed out, grumpy people with unruly kids and limited time all day long. That can make for a reeeeeeally long day. Add to that restrictions against talking with co-workers, eating, responding to any rudeness with something other than a sickly sweet “Have a good day,” or even just sitting for a few minutes, and my eight hours can turn into a personal hell.

We try to keep each others’ spirits up as best we can, but it can be tough (see: previous mention about socialization at work). But you know who can change my mood in a second? You.

I can’t stress enough how wonderful it makes me feel when a customer takes a second to verbalize his or her gratitude. You’re thanking me for finding you that book? No, thank you for recognizing that I’m a human being and taking a moment to utilize the rudimentary etiquette skills that you were taught as a child. Really, dear customer, you have no idea how many of your peers choose to use me as a servant to be treated with disdain. Yet a simple, heartfelt expression of gratitude from you can erase (at the very least!) a half hour of monotonous labor from my memory.

But hey, want to take it to the next level? Tell my manager. That’ll keep me going for an entire month.

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And while I’m thinking about it, thank you all for being such wonderful blog friends and for making my birthday week so much fun! Don’t forget to check out my giveaway. My “do unto others” includes spreading the book love. <3

8

Shelver’s Guide To Finding A Book

Ah, the back-to-school season is upon us. Wide-eyed parents and sullen students flood the store, paying penance for their procrastination. They need books – summer reading books – AND THEY NEED THEM NOW!!

This is not a new phenomenon. We’ll get the same people in looking for Christmas gifts, for spring school reading, for Valentine’s Day gifts, for Mother’s Day gifts, for Father’s Day gifts, and then back again next year for summer reading again.

People never learn. If they did, they wouldn’t routinely ignore the #1 rule of shopping for a book:

1. Don’t procrastinate. Do not! You know why? Because if you wait until the very last moment, your book will not be there.

I can’t tell you how much attitude I’ve had to put up with from adults(!) who have waited until the last minute and then are shocked and appalled that – gasp! – other people with the same event in mind may have bought it before them! Seriously, just stop and think for a second. Say you’re buying a book for your daughter’s AP class. In that class, there may be twenty other kids. If even only five other families waited until the last minute to buy the book, that means our stock is wiped out. No books for you!

Tip: If you’re in a book club, call a week or two in advance and order copies for your club. We can save them at the desk and each member of your group can come in and buy their reserved copy. It’s the best way to be sure that we’ll have enough for all of you.

Here are some other tips you should follow when looking for a book.


2. Call ahead. Calling ahead is a GREAT idea. Not that we don’t enjoy your presence, but if you call ahead, we can make sure we actually have the book before you make the trip out. Save gas, yeah? Not only can we make sure we have the book, but we can hold it for you so that it’s still there when you come in! What a concept!

Tip: Be sure to speak up. The store is often very loud and we have several different people trying to get our attention. You need to clearly articulate your request, or we may end up looking up the wrong book.

3. Come prepared. If you’re looking for a specific book, write down the title and author name. Odds are low that you actually remember the exact title, author name, and the spelling of said author’s name without writing it down. If you need a specific version of that specific book, also write down the ISBN number. The ISBN is like gold. Without it, I can’t guarantee that I’m handing you the exact book that your professor wants you to get.

Tip: Please make sure the book is actually out before trying to find it. And no, swearing up and down that you saw it at our competitor’s store will do nothing when the release date clearly says 2013.

Find a happy place.

4. Be patient. I have a million things to do. There are mislabels that need to be entered, audios that need to be tagged, books that need to be shelved, people waiting at the register, people waiting in line behind you, people waiting on the phone, and odds are that the cafe guy stepped out to go to the restroom, so I have to keep an eye on HIS spot, too. Oh, and my manager is on a conference call, so she’s unavailable. We’re not ignoring you, I promise.

Tip: You’re in a bookstore. Feel free to look around while you wait. Maybe you’ll end up adding a bonus book to your basket. Oh, and if you give me five different books to look up, don’t immediately start asking, “Well?! Do you have them or not?!” I don’t communicate telepathically with the computer, ma’am. I actually have to type in your title, and the computer has to bring up the results. Chill.

5. Know what you want. This goes beyond title and author. Do you want hardcover or paperback or audio? Does it need to be under a certain price? Does it need explanatory notes in the back? Do you need/want a certain edition? Do you want the kid version or the adult version? (You’d be surprised how many people neglect to mention that one.)

Tip: Maybe you don’t know all the details above, but if you’re buying the book for a specific reason (for class, for personal study, as a gift for a teen), please say so. We’ll try to help you navigate your options.

6. Be nice. Please. Thank you. Use the manners your mama gave you, ‘kay? If I tell you I’ll be right back with a book, stay put so I don’t have to hunt you down. Don’t berate me for not having a book. (Talk to Corporate if you don’t like our selection, not me. Not my fault.) I’ll be much more likely to stick around if you’re nice. If you’re rude, I’ll slip away as quickly as I can.

Tip: Threatening to go to our competitor if you don’t get your way won’t influence me one bit. Actually, I’ll probably wish you godspeed and be disappointed if you DON’T follow up on your threat.

7. Don’t use me as your personal Google. At least once or twice a shift, I’ll have a customer who does this. He’ll come in, make me scurry around to find a book, and then leave. Then why, you may ask, did the jerk in question come in if he didn’t want to buy a book? Oh, he wants to buy a book, just not from us. He’s going to go to Amazon! Look, if you want to support a faceless corporation instead of a part of your local economy, that’s your call, but don’t waste my time. Grrrrrr.

Tip: If we don’t have a book in stock, we can order it for you. If you have one of our cards, shipping is free. If you have it shipped to the store, shipping is free. For free shipping on Amazon, you have to pay $70 for Amazon Prime. We win.

8. Ask for help. We love to help! Seriously, we do. We’re a bunch of book nerds, and we’d love to help you find a book. We know where (almost) everything is, and we can find it a lot faster than you can. Also, we’ve noticed you tend to put books back when we’re around (as opposed to when we’re not and you act like a slob).

Tip: Ask for book recommendations. If you like a certain kind of book, I can probably recommend a book you haven’t read yet. Or if you just finished Book X and want one with the same kind of feel, I can ask other employees to find a good fit for you. Just ask.

So there you have it. These tips are good for you and me both. Don’t make me write a missive about you.

Are there any tips I forgot?

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