Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The 14-Hour Day, Some Shopping Philosophy, Dinner with a Genius.

I had another one of those 14 hour days yesterday, and since I was not scheduled on the floor today, and had sent out an email newsletter last week, I actually stayed home and gave our lawn an overdue mowing and our garden a good weeding.  Now you're probably either chiding me in your head for either having a lawn or not keeping it up particularly well. The truth is the matter is that I've found a way to fail everybody.  Had I realized how little time, energy, or inclination I would have to do anything homey, we would have stuck to our apartment.  But you don't know if you don't try, I guess.

So what did I do yesterday? We hosted two school events and one library event for Margaret Peterson Haddix, for one thing.  Amie did the schools, and I worked the Franklin Public Library.  It was a great group; Keri put out all stops to get a crowd. It was also a learning experience for me--I should probably play up the "purchase a book" angle a bit more in future events. And I really liked the presentation--who wouldn't like to think they were a famous missing baby as is premised in Found and its sequels?  This is a corollary to the "my parents actually adopted me and I'm actually the birth child of some famous celebrity" fantasy.

I drove back to Downer Avenue to catch the last bits of our event with Sophie Hannah.  We're sort of bummed about the small crowd, as we felt we did a good job of getting the word out--email newsletter, blog posts, targeted emails, a mystery reading group selection, lots of display, three staff reads. Maybe folks stayed away because they thought she was as sinister as her novels such as The Cradle in the Grave, but she's actually quite charming and fun.


Yesterday morning, I went to a meeting of Milwaukee children's librarians to give a little talk on display. I was a little taken aback because I thought our displays are hit or miss, and I see lots of good displays at the area libaries, but I suppose one should focus on your hits, so to speak, and so I gave a slide show/talk on what has worked for us. My battery gave out in my laptop about halfway through so the librarians didn't quite get to see everything that we can hang--leaves, snowflakes, puzzle pieces, watering cans...you name it. I think the biggest problem for a library is something we often come across--fear of taking the last book . Since most libraries an even greater percentage of onesies than we do, it appear that just about everything is the last book.  Do you think patrons go up to librarians and ask, "Can I borrow that?" the way they ask if they can buy the books we put on proppers?

I was hoping to find a photo of Gary dressed as a dog in our Wade Rouse/Jon Katz dog window (Katz's event is October 6 at the Wisconsin Humane Society) but I don't have it on my camera.  So why not have one last shot of our Paris table, promoting our Gioia Diliberto event for Paris without End this Saturday (9/24) at 2 pm?


As I was raking leaves today (yes, it's already that time), I chatted with my neighbor Sage, who owns Luv Unlimited, the retro vibed clothing/collectible/record/disco ball wallet store on KK. We traded "how's business?" stories and I mentioned that I've been worried about how the economy has been affecting a number of the entrepreneurial stores in town--I was saddened by the recent shuttering of several clothing stores on Brady, Future Green in Bay View, and our friends at The Loop in Riverwest.  When I thought about this, my first thought was to go over and buy a lovely brown plaid shirt from Olive Organic.  It was very reasonably priced and got a compliment from Wade Rouse's partner Gary the first time I wore it. Perhaps this will give you the idea to buy something from someone where the purchase will actually help your community. Who knows?


One of the nice things about Boswell is that we meet so many smart people, not just authors but customers too.  Even many of our sales reps are quite brainy.  But I have to say that I don't get to host too many certified geniuses, let alone have dinner with them.  That said, I can add one to my list.  Congratulations to Peter Hessler, author of Country Driving, Oracle Bones, and River Town, on his recent MacArthur Genius Grant. In retrospect, I'm not sure if Cafe Hollander was genius worthy. I think it is, but only if you upgrade to sweet potato fries.

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